Imagine my fear Dear Reader. Here I am in Taiwan, invited to attend a study meeting on KM measurement (I’ll blog on the meeting later this week). Nineteen Asian countries participating with me as “technical expert”.
Every day, the participants and I were taken by bus about one hour out of Taipei to the venue. Then on Thursday, we all went on a “field trip” to a leading Taiwan company – to hear about their KM implementation. On the way to this company…on the bus….the representative from the Taiwan host company announced that we would have “bus karaoke”. Each participant was to sing a national folk song from their country.
I was paralysed with fear! My mind scrambled, thinking: does Australia even have a national folk song? I came up with a crafty solution – being a New Zealander, I would say that I will do the Haka (now, THAT would have been something to watch. Me doing a traditional war dance). But I was listed as the “distinguished expert from Australia” so I had to come up with something Australian.
Then the host, Eugene, announced: “we will sing in alphabetical order”. OMG. Australia starts with A, that means I’m first. Beads of sweat were starting to trickle down my forehead (and it was only 16℃/60.8 ºF). Okay, so should I sing one of these iconic Aussie songs?
- Down Under by Men at Work – I thought I could probably belt that out reasonably well but lacked the rhythmic accompaniment;
- okay so what about Peter Allen’s I Still Call Australia Home? A good song, even used by Qantas but heck I don’t know the words to it;
- so what about Eagle Rock by Daddy Cool. Looking around the bus at the young participants from Vietnam and Thailand, I doubted they had heard of this Aussie band from the dim, dark 1970s;
- mmm….John Williamson’s True Blue? neh, hate that song;
- how about Gangajang’s This is Australia (which I think is really titled Sounds of Then)? no hope of singing this one, no idea of the words;
- anything John Farnham??
- Tie Me Kangaroo Down Sport by Rolf Harris?
- could I possibly do a Jimmy Barnes and rock out Khe Sanh? nope, don’t have that gravelly voice.
Eugene starts to saunter down the aisle of the bus, microphone in hand, waving it towards me. Those beads of sweat were turning into huge rivers. My eyes must have looked wider than a deer with the headlights beaming on them. But Dear Reader, imagine my relief when Eugene by-passed me and went straight up to J for Japan (they did a fine rendition of Sukiyaki BTW). Then on to Philippines, Thailand, India, Indonesia, Vietnam, Thailand (okay he wasn’t good with the alpha order).
I started to relax, thinking to myself that the “distinguished expert” was to be saved the humiliation of having to sing…what???? Then I heard mutterings: “Eugene, you forgot Australia”. I turned around to give that person the “death stare” but it was the very nice Indonesian man, smiling happily at me.
I was doomed Dear Reader. My number was up. Like a lamb to the slaughter, the dreaded microphone headed towards me, with the lovely host, Eugene, happily chirping: “oh, how could we forget Australia!” (wish you had Eugene). So in a flash, I decided I had only one hope: Waltzing Matilda. But what the heck are the words?
I don’t recall having to sing Waltzing Matilda since I was a primary teacher, haranguing the kids with music lessons. Is it: “once a jolly swagman camped by a billabong” and what the hell was he doing under the Coolibah tree??
Eugene handed over the microphone. Stalling for time, I stood up and went on about Australia being such a multi-cultural country that we don’t actually have a national folk song, so really….I can’t sing anything, sorry. That didn’t work because several of them shouted “sing Waltzing Matilda, we know that”. You do? Excellent. I thought if they know it, they can sing and I’ll do a Britney and just mime the words.
That didn’t work either. They all looked at me eagerly, silently, awaiting the humiliation of the “distinguished expert” I guess. And then…..reaching back into the mists of time….I remembered the lyrics of Australia’s unofficial anthem. Deep breath. Swallow. And I belted it out. They stared at me. I remember thinking to myself: “If this ends up plastered all over YouTube, someone is going to die”. I finished. They clapped loudly and several asked if I was a professional singer. The Welsh genes finally came in handy 🙂