It’s Karaoke night in the Donegal and the Irish rebel songs are being blasted out. I feel bemused, embarrassed and a little drunk. The bemusement is due to the fact that I’m watching two Basque men and an English man singing Irish rebel songs. The embarrassment is because I don’t know the words to said songs. And the drunkenness is because I ‘m keeping up my part of the Paddy’s day shtick by swilling Guinness. I’m also wearing a stupid Guinness hat. We’re all wearing stupid Guinness hats.
Suddenly losing interest in the song James walks off stage. The Basque lads carry on. The crowd don’t seem to mind. They are lapping it up – hands are slapping tables, feet are tapping.
‘We need to change shit up mate,’ he says.
‘How’d you mean?’
‘We need to try different songs.’
‘I agree. I’m tired of taking a back seat while you guys sing rebel songs.’
‘Surprise our audience, you know, like Dylan!’
I wave a finger in James’ face.
‘Don’t compare us to Dylan; he can’t sing for shit.’
‘How do you follow up a load of Irish rebel songs?’
‘Punch an English man?’
James ignores this. He’s deep in thought.
‘I got it!’ he says. ‘What about ‘Work’ by Rihanna?’
‘I don’t know it.’
Mick comes back from the toilet. He is enthused by the change of direction.
‘What about ‘Dancin in the Moonlight’ by Toploader?’ he suggests.
‘No ‘Dancing in the Moonlight’ by Thin Lizzy,’ I suggest.
‘I dunno, I don’t wanna spoil a classic,’ Mick says.
‘It didn’t stop you earlier, what with your rendition of Billy Joel,’ James says.
‘It’s not my fault – the lyrics didn’t appear on screen!’
‘Billy Joel was turning in his grave.’
‘He’s still alive you dickhead!’
‘He’ll be fucking next, wait and see.’
Taking charge, James scribbles down a request on a piece of paper and hands it to the barmaid. She accepts it warily and casts her eyes about in the hope the next Adele is somewhere out there. The Basque lads aren’t too enamored with the choice of song and slip out for a cigarette.
‘You’re next,’ the barmaid informs us while we wince in the aftermath of shots.
We take the stage.
The keyboard pours outta the speakers. As we wait for the lyrics to appear James spots a costume inconsistency.
‘Mick, ye cunt. Where’s your fucking hat? D’ya think you’re better than us or something?’
‘I thought we didn’t need it, seen as we we’re not singing rebel tunes.’
‘Listen mate, those fucking hats are us. Without them, our audience-‘
It’s time to sing. I slap James on the back. His microphone thuds off the ground. Mick is offstage looming over a table where the people are shifting and twisting trying to locate his hat. I stare at the yellow line which is charging through the words we’re supposed to be singing.
‘You prick!’ Paul says, once he’s picked up his microphone.
Mick bounds onto the stage with his hat. We make the chorus. Some kind natured audience members clap along. It might be saved yet.
An over enthusiastic Mick launches into verse two. He’s galloping ahead of the yellow line. James and I try to keep time but slur the words.
James is the first to admit defeat. He pulls the microphone away from his mouth and slumps onto the stool. Mick and I struggle gamely on through the verse but it’s a bowl of soup and we are tackling it with forks.
By the second chorus no-one is clapping along anymore.
A lonely backing track plays verse three. Out of some strange loyalty to the norms of Karaoke we remain on stage and the audience keep looking at us. I’m drunk enough to muddle a song but not sufficiently drunk to feel impervious to embarrassment. James addresses the audience.
‘I’m sorry – we’re sorry. We fucked up. We were trying to do something different, but, you know, we should have just stuck with the rebel songs. But, anyway, while I have you there, I’d like to let you in on an amazing opportunity; I am selling a futon – it’s purple, perfect nick, €100 or nearest offer. I’ll be here until they kick me out or closing time; whichever occurs first. Probably the former, what with the looks the barmaid is giving me. So move fast people. Agur!’
A few minutes later we are invited to leave.
Something Different? What is she like?
Something Similar? It gets off to a bad start…