The ancient art of karaoke

Karaoke. The word can provoke extreme emotions in many, from freezing fear to joyous abandon. I tend towards the latter, so when I got an invitation off Lal to go to a karaoke party yesterday, I was pretty pleased.

The two previous times I’ve done proper karaoke (SingStar, fun though it may be, is not the same) have been in front of large groups of people, so I’ve already gotten over the fear aspect and now actually relish the opportunity to get a crowd dancing. This time I was a little apprehensive when I walked into the club on Frith Street, which didn’t look like any karaoke club I’d been to before, and then even more apprehensive when I realised it was one of those where you hire out a room with a karaoke machine for a few mates. I’ve never understood why you’d want to do such a thing – surely the fun of karaoke is the big audience?

Anyway, a few beers later and my apprehension was dispelled. The real beauty, I now saw, of getting a karaoke room is not having to wait for a bunch of talentless hacks you don’t know to have their turn before you get your go – instead, it’s just you and a bunch of talentless hacks you do know happily singing along to the classics. Actually, I lie – everyone there was pretty good and had done it before, although when a girl started singing in pitch-perfect tune to a song, everyone went quiet and starting murderously muttering about being ‘too good’.

What songs went up for me? No less than the Very Best including Road Rage (Catatonia), Somewhere In My Heart (Aztec Camera) and of course, Sex Bomb (Tom Jones). It’s definitely a great way to have fun with friends and good for those who haven’t yet made the step to performing in public.


1:42:34 – that’s the time in which I completed the half marathon, and represents an average speed of 7.67 mph, which is okay, but not really that great. Granted, it’s about three minutes faster than what I managed last Sunday, but I’m sure I could have run faster. I’m certainly convinced I can break 1:40 next time now.

On the tube today: saw a guy reading a book with a strange inked-in graph. That looks strangely familiar, I thought, and then glanced at the title. I was very satisfied to see that it was Cryptonomicon, by Neal Stephenson – and the page was the bit with the plans for the mine in the mountains. Definitely a turnup for the books in the war against Dan Brown, I felt. Looking further down the carriage, there was a guy reading the Collected Works of Arthur C Clarke – truly, ’twas a veritable teeming mass of literary good taste!


This week has been a veritable social whirlwind for me. Along with the ridiculously fun and interesting work on the Top Sekrit Project Syzygy, I’ve been venturing outside South London recently. Last Sunday saw a visit to the National Film Theatre for Resfest, to see a session about filmmaking and gaming. In attendance was the Sony London Studio showing off their rather impressive Getaway 2 game with a rather less impressive and in fact pretty boring presentation. Luckily, the Red vs. Blue crew saved the day with a staggeringly funny and totally unscripted chat and Q&A session.

On Tuesday I managed to get an invitation to a party at Harvey Nichols, courtesy of Firebox, who were providing various games and toys there. Distressingly, they’d run out of all alcohol 30 minutes before I arrived. Even so, it was an interesting night out. Wednesday: a party at the Marquee Club in Leicester Square, arranged by Joystick Junkies. Suffice to say that while there were a whole load of (I’m sure) very interesting people there, plus free drinks, various arcade games and girls on rollerskates wearing far too little clothing for what is, after all, October, the deafening volume of remixed 70s music precluded any meaningful conversation beyond the following:

“I’m Adrian!”

Ho hum; I suspect it was one of those things which is much more fun when you know a lot more people there (not that I didn’t have fun). Tonight, I visited my friend Evan, an undergrad doing a semester at NYU’s London campus in Farringdon, for a dinner party he was holding. There are about 200 other American undergrads, mostly from NYU or Virginia, studying in London at the moment, and a fair few of them were at this dinner.

I’ve long had a desire to go to a stereotypical American undergrad party, mainly for ethological reasons. This party did not disappoint me in the slightest – I felt like I was on a set from a cutting edge teen movie; on the sofas were the requisite impeccably made-up girls wearing expensive designer clothing, thrown together haphazardly. Lurking nearby were several unshaven young men wearing messy shirts and jumpers, and those silly flip flops (in one case, with socks on). The two groups often made comments about the rapid consumption of a bottle of vodka, with the girls protesting their wholly inebriated state and the guys denying any similar accusations leveled at them. Meanwhile, I drifted in and out with my glass of wine (I was the only person to bring any…) and became involved in exchanges like:

“Yeah, I basically live in Oxford and London now.”
“Oh, so you’re a local then?”


“Well, yes, I’m British, if that’s what you mean.”

Lest you think that I’m being terribly cooler-than-thou and will collapse into some gravitational singularity of cynicism in the next few days, I didn’t really think it was that bad. The people there were interesting to talk to, and the food was great – and cheap!

I’m going back home to Liverpool tomorrow for a half-marathon on Sunday. I actually ran the equivalent of a full 13.1 half-marathon last Sunday in Oxford, just to see whether I could do it or not, considering that my previous record had been 9 miles. Not only did I manage it easily, but I actually made it within the 1:45 time I was aiming for this Sunday, which takes an awful lot of pressure off me. More updates on that later.

Sing a Song of Esso

Guerrilla advertising – Meg has cleared up a mystery for me! When I was in London last week, I saw a lot of anti-Esso Poems on the Underground which surprised me no end since I couldn’t see how the London Underground could get away with it. It turns out that someone has been printing and pasting these poems on top of existing ones such that they look, on the face of it, indistinguishable. Very clever.

London photos

London photos – from my sightseeing trip last week which included the Tate Modern, British Museum, London Eye, Trafalgar Square, Millennium Bridge and lots of good weather.