x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Singing without shame

Weekly karaoke allows people to be singing stars with an audience.

I really can't sing. Well, technically I can, but past experience tells me that Dusty Springfield I will never be. I used to think I was tone-deaf; I certainly wish I was but alas, I am fully aware of just how excruciating my vocal range is.

Back in the day, when people used to listen to Sony Walkmans, I remember singing along to my favourite Linkin Park song at the time, pottering about the family house in Glasgow. About to get to the crux of the song, the half a minute or so that blew the rest of the (now) forgettable ditty away, I was rudely interrupted by a phone call from my next-door neighbour.

We may be separated by a pretty thick wall, but it would seem that mere brick and mortar is no match for my far-from-dulcet tones, which had prompted them to call up in protest. A good friend of mine, Lynsay, had no qualms in telling me, in the most blunt of manners, to please stop singing, so awful was the sound. Packing away my headphones with a tear in my eye, I spent the next eight years only going so far as to hum along to a tune, the fear of being responsible for bursting people's eardrums a hefty weight on my shoulders.

Fast forward to the tail end of last year, and I discovered that a very good group of friends like nothing more than to spend their Wednesday evenings singing their hearts out at a karaoke club in Abu Dhabi. Dragging my heels as they manhandled me into a chair near the front of the stage the first time I went, I prepared myself for the worst. I couldn't have been more wrong. Here I was, ostracised from the rest of society, my singing voice my enemy, or so I thought - until I heard the first performer of the night. Murdering the notoriously difficult song, I Will Always Love You, it came to my attention that instead of booing the criminally bad singer off the stage, the audience loved her.

This was it. I had found my home from home. I had found my calling. Now, I said, grabbing the microphone from her, now was my time to shine. Starting off with a couple of easy tracks - I'm Gonna Be (500 Miles) by The Proclaimers and My Way by Frank Sinatra - each week has seen me move on to something more pompous.

And the best part of it all? Better than having people be entertained by my horrendous singing? The fact that I can't hear myself at all. Not one little note. Well as they say, ignorance is bliss.