January 10th: Pretty Boy


What should occur at an annual company annual dinner?  In the UK: a reasonably formal dinner, or perhaps a party arranged by a specialised events company, replete with their own entertainment.  In China: the staff have to make their own entertainment.  And so, ignoring any random karaoke appearances or backing vocals for miscellaneous bands over the years, on Thursday night I made my first public singing appearance since I was about 10 years old. For one night only, I appear live, singing to just short of 150 people.  A duet, no less, with Haze, our lovely (but unforgiving – see below) receptionist.

A Chinese song (but with the chorus in English), my task was to memorise two verses of Chinese lyrics and sing them with a passionate yet earnest face whilst never quite being able to ignore the fact the song is called “Pretty Boy”*.

Much practice was required, resulting in the somewhat surreal experience of sitting in a meeting room with Haze on Christmas Day, declaring my undying love for her via the medium of Chinese lyrics.  On the night: I managed one verse from memory, the other from a piece of paper secreted away not so secretly in my hand.

“You forgot the words!”, exclaims my singing partner after the event.  I did, it’s true.  A video of the performance exists, and is available for a very reasonable sum.

Other acts on the evening included a rousing rendition of Angels by Tim, JB and Grace, and a strange but brilliant version of Chinese Blind Date.  We had a few excellent dancing performances and some truly bizarre ones.  Bronwen escaped somewhat on the night, having her brief solo spot amongst the Marketing team’s song stolen by Nancy.  I say stolen – I don’t think Bron was too upset.

And so how did I get roped into singing this beautiful duet?  Whilst walking past reception a few weeks before Christmas, Kiwi (one of our HR ladies) asks: “Paul, would you like to sing a song with Haze?”


“Because she needs somebody to sing with at the company dinner”

I think this is called walking past reception at the wrong time. Or maybe the right time.  It was nerve wracking, but I have to admit to enjoying it. Maybe just a bit. Sometimes China can be utterly brilliant.

*Not my choice of song.  Not exactly my style of music, but in China, these kind of choices aren’t always available.  The memory of singing a song called “Pretty Boy” in front of many people will always amuse me.

{I’ll post more images of the night soon.}