Into The Valley

It was Christmas Eve and it seemed like the whole of Glasgow City Centre had an extra special buzz about it. Just like that warm tingle you get from a glass of wine or a whiskey before stepping out the door on a frosty night, there was excitement and a feeling that something special was about to happen. Not inside the Blane Valley pub though…it may have been Christmas Eve but it was just like any other Saturday night. The same faces were found in the same spaces all waiting for their turn to come up at the karaoke. Sometimes the running order changed and every so often, a song would be changed or a familiar singer would be unable to attend but the night tended to run like clockwork. There was an order about the karaoke sessions in the Blane Valley and that was just the way that the patrons liked it. The anniversary of the birth of many people’s Lord and Saviour was not going to get in the way of Jeannie from Cranhill belting out “Black Velvet”.

As it was Christmas Eve though, there were some unfamiliar faces hanging around the bar area. It is the sort of night when many people may pop out for a drink after work or decide to enjoy themselves in a way that they wouldn’t normally. There were one or two seats available in the pub but it was made clear that these seats were not for people like them. Some bars and clubs can seem like a chess board where certain people are only allowed in certain sections or they are only allowed to move in certain directions. There was also a clear seniority of the different people in the seated area but no matter what the rank the people in the seats were, they outranked those who were standing at the back. After all, if you started letting in the outsider to relax and enjoy yourself, what sort of night would you end up with?

“Do you think there’s any chance of Christmas karaoke songs the night? I really fancy belting out that ‘Fairytale of New York’ with my Kenny….it’s really funny when we do the swearing bit” asked one of the outsiders to a barmaid but the response was notably lacking in Christmas spirit.

“Nah, there’ll be none of that in here tonight..anyways, is that song no a wee bit Timmy? We have to watch ourselves…this is a city centre pub open to everybody, we’ll no be encouraging anything that can cause any bother” rolled out of a mouth which looked as though it had been sucking the limes that should have been gracing the gins and vodkas of the patrons.

Disappointed, Shirley turned away from the bar to be greeted by a Bernard Matthews lookalike grabbing the microphone. It would have made the night a bit more seasonal if they had hired the famous turkey killer but sadly it turned out to be the compere of the evening and he was not shy at singing a song or two. Or five. If you felt the days of “its my baw and I’ll go home if I don’t play” were behind you when you left the school playground, you were sadly mistaken. Every karaoke session hosted by Dangerous Dave saw him unleash “Shine” by Take That on the completely expecting masses. It may have been one of the songs that sound tracked the resurgence in popularity of Take That but you get the feeling the dangerous one only learned it through those mind-numbingly awful Morrisons adverts. Dave was certainly infusing the song with the passion you would expect from a man who had got lost while looking for the chunky Kit-Kats.

Dangerous Dave at the The Blane Valley, Glasgow Karaoke

Dangerous Dave at the The Blane Valley, Glasgow Karaoke

“This is awful Kenny, I was wanting a Christmas night…can we not go somewhere else?” asked Shirley but the pause before she received an answer said everything. Kenny eventually got round to replying “We’ve not long got these drinks in love and then we were only going to have one more before we left. We can get the 62 outside…let’s just make the most of it eh hen? Why not imagine the shine he is singing about is the shining of the star that hung above the stable.”

Shirley refused to dignify the thought that Mark Owen may have been responsible for guiding the three wise men on their journey with an answer and returned to her rum and coke. It was nice to be out in town at this time, her and Kenny didn’t usually get a chance but it was just that Shirley was wanting a wee bit more of a festive vibe to the night. Tomorrow will be a great day for the weans but it would have been great to have some grown up Christmas time…heck, it would have been nice to get a seat. Shirley nearly got a seat but it turned out a few lassies were outside having a smoke and the seats weren’t really free.

The Blane Valley Punters at another Glasgow Karaoke session

The Blane Valley Punters at another Glasgow Karaoke session

The evening continued with a run of songs that seemed to get blander with every passing track:

Johnny from Drumchapel singing that Bon Jovi song about being halfway there.

Kelly and her da from the Calton singing “Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now”

Gary from Nitshill singing “It’s a Kind Of Magic” and then some wee lassie with a surprisingly okay version of “Puppet On A String”. With that Shirley got the final round of the night in and had now given up on her Christmas wishes and was hoping for a couple of upbeat numbers to allow her to dance. The rum had kicked in and even though there was no chance to heading off to a club, not at her age, having a wee shimmy wouldn’t be a bad way to kick off the Christmas period.

And with immaculate timing, Shirley’s hopes were dashed when Dangerous Dave returned to this mic; “Right folks, that was a couple of good wee numbers there so we’re going to slow the pace down now.” Shirley’s edible gasp of “oh for fu…” was thankfully interrupted by Dave continuing with “You all know this song, it’s one of the special songs in the BV and we’ve a special woman for you. It’s Mary and she’s going to sing Paper Roses”

Shirley’s head collapsed into her hands at the cruel taunting of her hopes with a song that manages to be banal and turgid in equal measures but as Mary prepared to sing………….

The lights went out, the power went down and the bar was illuminated with the soft glow of candle lights. After the initial shouts and cries of “haw”, “hey” and “whats going on here?” a silence filled the room which was eventually punctured by the sour faced barmaid.

“RIGHT EVERYBODY…DON’T PANIC!!! Jimmy is having a look at the fusebox, stay where you are, we cannae sell drink until the powers back on but you can keep drinking or pop out for a fag if you want.”

A general murmur and chatter started back up in the pub but with the shimmering glow of rum giving her a bit of confidence, Shirley realised this was her chance to turn the night a bit Christmassy. Taking one last gulp for courage, she burst into song:

“You better watch out
You better not cry
You better not pout

I’m telling you why….” and as if by magic, other voices joined in with “Santa Claus is coming to town…Santa Claus is coming to town…SANTA CLAUS IS COMING TO TOWN”

A cheer went through the pub but the mass sing-along was well underway and before Shirley could grab a breath, the whole song had been run through. There was spontaneous applause with a few cheers and claps before Dangerous Dave saw a chance to grab centre stage again…even if there was no spotlight.

Santa Claus brings the Christmas Spirit to the Blane Valley Karaoke session

Santa Claus brings the Christmas Spirit to the Blane Valley Karaoke session

“Right folks…there’s still no power yet but let’s keep the singsong going” before launching into a pub singer version of Rudolph the Red Nose Reindeer. It took another three Christmas songs before the lights came back and when they did, Dangerous Dave knew that he was beaten and turned the rest of the evening over to Christmas karaoke songs.

“Right Kenny, that’s us done..let’s make a move.” “Are you sure darling?” came the response, “You got your Christmas songs on, we can stay for one mair if you want?” Shirley put her hand in Kenny’s and said, “nah, I got what I came for, that was nice…let’s get that bus and get up the road eh?”

And with that, the unfamiliar couple left the pub and left the regulars to their irregular night of Christmas fun and merriment…even if Dangerous Dave was privately seething about being robbed of his big “Sweet Caroline” finale.



Here’s some more Glasgow Christmas Stories:
Glasgow Christmas Story
Fair Means or Fowl?