Quizaoke – Get it wrong, you sing a song!

I was sitting in the office, minding my own business and doing some work on the computer (yes I do do that sometimes!) when one word made my ears prick up, my heart beat faster and had me jumping to my feet. ‘Karaoke’.

Back in the day (before active addiction turned me in to a quivering, self-conscious wreck) Karaoke had been a favourite past time of mine. People tell me I can sing and I have a natural attraction to the limelight. With my confidence returned, thanks to recovery, I was desperate to give it another go!

Josh was explaining to Andy that his mate who is a DJ and does karaoke was up for coming in and doing a night at Basement. Nice one Josh! In true recovering addict fashion the ideas did not stop there; eventually the concept of ‘Quizaoke’ was born! It sounded pretty straight forward – ‘You get it wrong, you sing a song’


When the night finally arrived I was consumed by a mix of anticipation and excitement. In the weeks leading up to the event the egos had been flexing their muscles and the banter had been flying. Various claims had been made about people’s singing and general knowledge talents. Would it transpire that these people were all talk? Myself included?!

When I arrived I was glad to see that Gary was there with both his Dad and his girlfriend. Gary had been in our detox house for about 10 days and had wholeheartedly thrown himself in to every activity presented to him – including the choir. His Dad and girlfriend seemed like lovely, friendly people and appeared genuinely delighted at his progress.

Myself and Choir Master Dickie Douglas were tasked with compiling a list of songs for the forfeits. We opted for some funny (e.g. The Beatles – Oh bla dee), some hard (Adele – Someone Like you) to the just plain obscure (Ace of Base – All that She Wants).

We drew numbers out of a hat to determine the teams. I drew out a number ‘4’ and embarked on a nerve wracking mission to find my fellow team-mates. The first two that I found were Sy and Jay. I wasn’t particularly hopeful about either their vocal abilities or their general knowledge; but I knew I’d have a lot of laughs with them. We searched for ages to find our other comrades; expressing our disappointment as the ‘big quiz hitters’ such as Colin Gaze, Graham and Michelle revealed they were on other teams. When Tom finally revealed he was on our team we were ecstatic. Not only is he renowned as Basement’s King of Quiz’s and a Trivial Pursuits Demon we also knew he could sing! We often get bursts of his somewhat surprising, soulful singing throughout the day at Basement! (No, I didn’t know Glaswegians could sing either!). A final and welcome addition to our team was Gary’s Dad who turned out to be a lot of fun and good at answering questions!

When the competition started the atmosphere was amazing. The usual teasing and banter was there; but there was also an overwhelming sense of support and encouragement of anyone getting up to sing. For the first round the whole team was permitted to get up and sing if they received a forfeit. I was torn between wanting to satisfy my competitive nature and getting a point for a correct answer and my desire to get up and sing! As it turned out we got the first couple of questions right meaning we did not have to sing.

It was great to see the groups getting up and getting involved with the crowd supporting by singing along to the chorus’. People were getting up dancing, everyone was smiling and the vibe was just fantastic.

Next we were informed that teams would have to nominate either a solo artist or a pair to do a duet if they received a forfeit. First up was team one (Made up of Michelle, Karla, Cath Cairns, Chantelle and Rob). The women sheepishly looked at the floor; so Rob chivalrously stepped up to take one for his team. The song drawn was Gun’s and Roses classic ‘Sweet Child of Mine’. He more than made up for what he lacked in pitch, tone and timing with his enthusiasm. He really went for it, throwing himself in to some challenging vocal acrobatics; much to the delight of his audience!

It was also nice to see Gary step up for his team. It was amazing to see the positive impact that such a short space of time in detox can have. He put his all in to the performance and was strutting his stuff around the ‘stage’.

Colin Gaze put in an entertaining and rather tuneful performance on behalf of his team. His crazy dancing and vocal improvisations went down a treat with the crowd. Rather bravely, as they didn’t know everyone; Colin’s lovely girlfriend Alison was joined on stage by Gary’s girlfriend. They belted out Girls Aloud’s ‘Love Machine’ for their team and won the respect and adoration of their spectators.

Eventually my team got a question wrong. Tom and I opted for a duet; hedging our bets, hoping that at least one of us would be able sing the song that came up. It was only bloody ‘Someone like You’ by Adele; the song that I had suggested because it is notoriously hard to sing! We gave it our all and the general consensus was that it was alright! However Tom’s wife Cath was mortified that he’d just murdered their daughter’s favourite song!

The quiz came to an end and it was apparent that there was a tie between our team and Colin’s team. Tom and Col would have to each sing and the audience would have to decide the winner. Tom smashed out an Elvis song I’ve never heard before in my life. Colin performed an acceptable but not as impressive cover of Cliff Richard’s summer holiday. It was clear to us that Tom had pulled it out the back for us and in our excitement we high fived round the table as Colin was still performing!

calderdale in recovery quizaoke winners

Quizaoke Winners ?

We were shocked and horrified when the audience did not automatically vote Tom the winner. Rumour afterwards had it that some unscrupulous members of the audience had plotted to stop Tom from winning yet another quiz event. Quizmaster Andrew then suggested a sudden death round of questions; which ultimately resulted in us losing! I was devastated.

At the end there was the opportunity for people to do a few songs. Quiz master Andrew Bryant was urged to give us a song. He sang the last remaining song to be drawn; ‘I bet you look good on the dancefloor’, which, with a little help from his friends, sounded fantastic. Erik tackled ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’ and Dickie D let rip to ‘Back in the USSR’. A personal highlight for myself came at the end of the night as I was joined on stage by my fellow ‘Spice Girls’ Michelle, Karla, Cath Cairns and Ann Lofthouse for a fun-filled rendition of ‘Wannabe’!

What a fantastic night! Everyone involved agreed that it should happen again soon! I can’t wait for an opportunity for my team to get our revenge and claim our rightful title! Until then I shall be reflecting upon resentments and bitterness. Many thanks to everyone involved in creating such a memorable evening!


Article featured in RecoveryTimes issue 9