Thursday, 28 July 2011

Weird Scene in the Old Nags Head


2006. Just off Manchester’s Deansgate, there’s an old-man’s pub called the Nags Head. Standard attire: flat caps, pipes and piss-stains.

I was out of place among the varnished wood and worn carpets, but the stop wasn’t my idea. A and J are regulars, despite the fact that we’re all 24. The pub’s saving graces- A karaoke machine and a charismatic DJ. The DJ bestows me with a stage name: he calls me up as “Matt the Knife” for my Sinatra swing renditions. The crowd love it.

A and J pick out Sweet Caroline. A worships Neil Diamond for some reason. He’s already killed Love on the Rocks. This time we’re singing as a trio, even though I don’t know the song.

Where it began…

I’m sharing a mic with J, trying not to look at the screen, like I know the song. There’s a woman in her forties in the front row. She’s not enjoying it. She’s sat on her own stoney-faced, gazing through a speaker.

Jesus, I think. Are we really that bad?

Touching you…

I’m glancing between the screen and her. She’s not angry. She’s wet-eyed, crushed. Something is wrong. It’s not our singing. It’s her song.

Sweeeeeeet Caroliiiine…

Her shoulders shake. She’s alone, in floods. Her friends must be at the bar. Guilt kicks in- What have we done?  The more we sing, the more she cries.

I don’t lose gusto. I’ve got enough shit of my own. This is my night out- no space for negativity.

Hurtin’ runs off my shoulders…

The second chorus: We’re destroying her. Her composure’s broken. A and J don’t even waver.
Good times never seemed so good…

We hit a crescendo as the woman sobs, mascara leaving a high-tide line. The DJ thanks us. The rest of the bar- mostly aging men- applaud us as we leave. I bow.

I ask A and J about the woman. They didn’t notice her.

2 comments:

Tomleecee said...

That sounds familiar (the song and the pub...not the woman). Was I there?!

CageFightingBlogger said...

You might have been mate! I dug out an old notebook that I was writing in at the time and found details of this night in it, written the morning after. Just wrote up what was there.