Tuesday, 4 December 2012

Ordinary Girl

I met Rachel in 2005 at Latinos Bar in Wellington. I was in Wellington playing sevens that weekend, as well as watching the international sevens with my team from Invercargill, where I was working at the time.

On the Saturday night, my team-mates all went out to get drunk, and I went out to salsa, and she happened to be playing saxaphone in the band that night. During their interval, I asked her to dance, and we did (not actually indicative of anything in salsa- everyone dances with everyone), but we got talking, and got on quite well. We swapped numbers and made plans to meet the next day, but they never materialised, as she had to travel in the afternoon for a show, and I was playing in the morning. I even offered not to go to watch the international rugby, which she thought was very sweet, but still didn't make it any more possible.

I went back to Invercargill the following day, but told her that I often went up to Christchurch to dance salsa (there wasn't any in Invercargill at the time), and see my friends Carl and Amanda. It happens that her siblings live in Christchurch, and I got a message from her the following week saying that she would be in Christchurch the next weekend, and wanted to know if I would be there, and as luck would have it, I had already planned to be there that weekend.

We had dinner at Sams Jazz Bar and then went out to salsa at the Warner Hotel in Cathedral Square. We kissed for the first time. On the dance floor. An onlooker (who wasn't a salsa dancer) shouted out "So, what move's THAT, then???".

The next time we met was at Jambalaya in Rotorua: a world music and dance festival, but quite heavily centred on salsa. She was playing in two of the bands, and I just  went to dance.
We spent a lot of time together over those 4 days, and got on awesomely. Over that year, I was flying upto either Wellington or Christchurch to see her on alternate weekends, but it didn't feel like an effort at all. About 5 months into it, I was having a hard time at work, doing an orthopaedic rotation, which I hated. I got back from a weekend with her, and we messaged each other:

Me: being with you eases the pain. Thank you for being who you are.
Her: I think I'm falling in love with you.
Me: I think I love you, too.

It was frightening, but natural at the same time. I'd never been in love before (or since).

We went from strength to strength for the rest of the year, and my colleagues noticed that there was something different about me. I went back to London mid-year, and worked and extra set of nights so I could buy her a ticket, too. she was staying with some of her Kiwi friends, as my parents wouldn't allow her into their house, and didn't want to meet her at all, as they didn't want me to be in a relationship with anyone other than a nigerian girl. This made it really hard for me, having to split my time between her and family. She came to my friend Richards, wedding, though, and all my friends loved her. They said that they'd never seen me smile so much. And I smile ALOT.

When I went home for Christmas, my parents forbade me to go back to New Zealand to see her, and despite never having met or spoken to her, said some things about her that really were not very nice at all.

At all.

I packed my bags and left without telling them, and stayed in my friends empty apartment in North London. I called Rachel and explained the situation to her, and she burst into tears feeling like she was somehow to blame. I told her not to be ridiculous and that I'd come back to her soon.
While I was in hiding, Mum and Dad turned on each other, blaming each other for me disappearing. Personally, I think they were both as backward and african as each other, and it still fills me with anger to think of how smallminded they were being, and how mean they could be to somebody who had done nothing to them, and that they had never even spoken to.

Rachel and I were together for 2 more years after that. Although we're not together anymore, we're still friends, and she'll always be special to me.

The song (original draft):

The professional version:

The words:

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Ordinary Girl Lyrics

Ordinary Girl

I was told

Never go

back to you

I just say

There’s no way

I can lose you

When you call

I fall

More and more

Its just like

What both our lives

Were made for

What they say

There’s no way

For us two

What I want

Has always been

Me and you

Just hold on

Not long for us to wait

Our love is

Much stronger

Than their hate

There’s nobody else can take me there

We can pass the day without a care

Nothing more I need from you

That’s because I know you love me too

Even when they try to hold you down

You can raise a smile from a frown

Won’t give you an ordinary love

Because you’re not an ordinary girl

I don’t know

Where I’d be

without you

I'm lost in


About you

The joy that

You bring me

Is so new

You know I

Can tell that

You feel it too

There’s nobody else can take me there

We can pass the day without a care

Nothing more I need from you

That’s because I know you love me too

Even when they try to hold you down

You can raise a smile from a frown

Won’t give you an ordinary love

Because you’re not an ordinary girl

Anyone can see you were made for me

Won’t give you an ordinary love

Because you’re not an ordinary girl


There’s nobody else can take me there

We can pass the day without a care

Nothing more I need from you

That’s because I know you love me too

Even when they try to hold you down

You can raise a smile from a frown

Won’t give you an ordinary love

Because you’re not an ordinary girl

Anyone can see you were made for me

Won’t give you an ordinary love

Because you’re not an ordinary girl

[Ad lib.]

 Copyright 2012.
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Monday, 3 December 2012

Never Learn

In January 2010, I took a midweek break to Adelaide, just to check it out, as I'd never been there before. I was pleasantly surprised- it was quiet, but friendly, with a decent amount of things to do. I went to the botanical gardens, walked around the city, rode the O-bahn and went on a wine tour. In between, I would go to the gym. the Fitness First in the city centre had a receptionist that I thought was pretty cute- a little tom-boyish, but still cute. We didn't say much to each other apart from the usual business pleasantries, and I got on with my workout.

On my last night, I went to HQ: one of the main nightclubs. It was student night, so I was feeling a little out of place, but I just went ahead and did what I normally do in any potentially awkward situation: danced. and loved it.

As I was checking out one of the side rooms, a really pretty girl walked past me, waving and smiling. At first  I thought she was weird, but then I realised that it was the receptionist from the gym. I smiled and waved back.

I caught up with her as I was leaving, and we talked for a while. Her name was Tamara. We got on really well, and I told her how pretty I thought she was. She turned bright red, but also smiled. I asked for her number, but she said she was too shy, so I added her on Facebook.

We messaged each other occasionally, and eventually swapped numbers and began texting. Everything about her seemed genuine, and I don't get that feeling about a girl very often.

About a year later, I was on study leave for a week on the Gold Coast, and thought I would head down to Adelaide for a couple of days. I told her about this, and she agreed to meet up.
As I was at the airport about to check in, I got a Facebook message from her saying that she couldn't meet because she and her friend had to go look at cars. I didn't get on the plane, and went to work instead. She apologised profusely, saying that she didn't realise that I was going to Adelaide just to see her. She really was being genuine in that, as I deliberately never made it clear that that was what I was doing, as I didn't want to put her under any pressure, or make her think that I was expecting anything from her. We happily stayed in touch.

About 8 months later, we were speaking on the phone quite regularly, and I told her that I had a few days off coming up, and I could come down to Adelaide to see her. She said that would be cool. I booked my flights and a hotel room for the night.
I met her for a coffee just after she finished work, and we talked about what we were going to do for the evening. We made plans, and she said she just had to go home to change and sort some things out, but she's come back out to meet me. While she was doing that, I got a movie for us to watch, and started making dinner plans, but then I got a message from her saying that she was really tired, and would rather stay in for the night. I asked her if there was nothing she could do, like take a quick nap and then come out, but she said no. I explained that I had come from Sydney just to see her, but it made no difference.

So basically, I went to Adelaide to watch Family Guy and eat indian takeaway by myself.

You never learn, do you, Victor....?

The song.


Here's the professional recording:

The words.

Never Learn Lyrics

Never Learn

Once again
I come back empty handed
Once again
I sit here feeling stranded
Time and time again I swear I'll never find myself in this crazy situation

And then you turn around and then I fly right on to see you with no..... no hesitation

I don't know why I can't see
You'll never be what I deserve
And people try to tell me
But I never learn
I don't know why I give you
The respect you never earn
And people try to tell me
But I never learn
Please explain
What's fair about this
Would you do the same for me?
Do you really want this?
It's not about the time and money, I just hate the sudden feeling of being disconnected
If we turn this around would you not feel just a little bit disrespected?
I don't know why I can't see
You'll never be what I deserve

And people try to tell me
But I never learn
I don't know why I give you
The respect you never earn
And people try to warn me
But I never learn
Movin' on
Movin' on
I don't know why I can't see
You'll never be what I deserve
And people try to tell me
But I never learn
I don't know why I give you
The respect you never earn
And people try to warn me
But I never learn
Movin' on
Movin' on
Copyright 2012.
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Thursday, 13 September 2012

How You Make Me Feel

The story behind this one is pretty simple: After experiences like the ‘Nicolas’ of the world, I can’t help but remember how good a girlfriend Rachel was, to the point where I was on a night shift recently, and I just burst into tears at the memory of falling so passionately in love with her, and being so overwhelmed with emotion that I felt like I was suffocating. At the same time, thought “love you so much, feel I can’t breathe”, but to a melody that I’m pretty sure I hadn’t heard before. I hummed it into my iPhone, and when I got home, I plucked out a baseline, put some chords to it, wrote some words, and in under an hour, I ended up with this:


This is what it sounds like after the recording studio session:

The words are here:

Rachel and I have spoken, and I'm feeling a lot better now. We're still friends, and she thinks it's better we stay that way.

I don’t think I can call myself a songwriter ( I have 5 songs), but when I do write a song, my biggest fear is: “am I stealing this from someone?”, but I honestly don’t think it sounds like anything any of my musical idols have ever done. My singing teacher loves it, and I opened with it at my gig last week. I have a professional guitarist that I sing with, and I sent it to him to learn a few days before. He assumed that I was going to play as well as sing. The thought of doing that petrified me, but then I thought “screw it- do it: it’s my song”. He told me that I had nothing to worry about, as nobody had heard it before, so I could get it catastrophically wrong, and nobody would have a clue. Thankfully, it didn’t go catastrophically wrong. In fact, people really liked it. Not bad for 10 weeks of guitar lessons.

Some of you may remember that I was in a band at school, then the lead guitarist (Munawar) and I went to medical school, and the other 3 members turned professional. Munawar and I would still jam, and would do unplugged sessions and open mic nights, as well as background music for medical school functions. The guy I play with at the moment is really good, but, Munawar, as well as being one of my best friends, you are without doubt the best guitarist I’ve ever met. It’s sad that I’m so far from home. If the UK health service ever sorts itself out, I’m hoping we can start playing again.

What’s that….?

Budget cuts…?

Let’s not hold our breath….


How You Make Me Feel Lyrics

I wrote this :)))))



Been around before I met you

Start to feel my chance had gone

But when I held you, it felt so easy

That’s when I knew you’re gonna be the one


Look around, I’d feel so empty

Watching people walk in two

Now they’re the ones who look in envy

See me hand in hand with you


Love you so much, that it hurts me

You make me feel I can be free

Love you so much, feel I can’t breathe

You make me feel like a new me


Even from across an ocean

Never feel I’m by myself

Living in your pure emotion

Could never be with someone else


Try to tell you how I’m feeling

Try to find the words I need

I’m so happy just believing

That you want to be with me


Love you so much, that it hurts me

You make me feel I can be free

Love you so much, feel I can’t breathe

You make me feel like a new me


People see when we’re together

What we’ve got is really real

I could stay this way forever

That’s just how you make me feel


Love you so much, that it hurts me

You make me feel I can be free

Love you so much, feel I can’t breathe

You make me feel like a new me


(People see when we’re together

What we’ve got is really real

I could stay this way forever

That’s just how you make me feel) *4


(Ooh, really real…..

Make me feel….) *4


Copyright 2012.
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Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Be This Way

I remember being in the band at school when I was 14, and Munawar and I were going through our Pearl Jam phase (which, I guess still exists in a much milder form today), and writing a song that I thought was absolutely awesome.

It turned out to be Even Flow, but in a different key.

Since then, I hadn’t really made any attempts at songwriting, as I thought it was something only for musical geniuses, which I am most certainly not. I could play a few chords on the guitar and piano, but that’s about it. Even now, I can only read the very simplest of music.

Earlier this year, I was out at dinner in Paddington with some friends, and I saw a girl that I thought was incredibly striking at the bar, talking to her friends. I sat down with my friends, and a few minutes later, she and her friends sat at the next table. I couldn’t help but look and smile at her. She smiled and turned to her friend and whispered “that guy’s looking at me”. I don’t think she knew I could hear her.

One of her friends, on the other hand, had been eyeing up my friend Annabelles leftover piece of steak, and eventually plucked up the courage to say to her “I’m sorry- that’s a beautiful piece of steak. I just can’t let you throw that away!!!”. Both tables burst out laughing, and I told him I admired his courage, and in my own melodramatic fashion kitted him out with some cutlery, condiments and even applied a bib for him.

While he was tucking in, I asked the girl whether that was a regular thing for him. She said she wasn’t sure. We talked some more, and I asked her to come to the bar with me, which she did. Her name was Nikki. She’s a sports physiotherapist, and very sporty herself, which I love. We got on very well, and swapped numbers. She lives in a small town called Wollongong, just south of Sydney, but she comes to Sydney quite frequently.

We messaged the next day, and I called her a few days later, and we had a really nice conversation. I called her again the following Sunday morning and I asked if she wanted to meet up. I was pleasantly surprised to find that she was willing to drive almost 2 hours to come and see me. My medical friend Andy had his birthday at Wharf Bar that night. I invited her along and introduced her to people. The way Andy was drooling over her, anyone would have thought it was MY birthday. “She’s pretty nice, isn’t she?” I agreed.

I then took her on a mini-tour of Manly, and we had a great time, getting on even better in person than on the phone. We ended up watching a DVD at my place before she went home. I asked her to let me know that she got home OK, which she did.

I was on cloud nine the following day- not just because of “that”, but because I actually really liked her, and thought we had a genuine connection.
She’s a huge AFL (Australian Rules Football) fan, and when we spoke on the phone again, she invited me to a game, and got me a ticket. The day before, she called me and said she was bringing some of her friends along. I had quite an uneasy feeling about that, as we’d only been on one date, and thought it a bit early to be hanging out as a group. I went along, and enjoyed the game, but there was some awkwardness, as I didn’t want to ignore her friends, but I still wanted to get to know her better.

We agreed that I would visit her the following week, but she later told me that she’d rather I didn’t, as she felt awkward. I tried to explain to her that that was only because her friends were there, and that we got on fantastically when it was just the 2 of us. It’s not that I didn’t like her friends:

I like her friends.

I like my dad.

I’m not going to bring him on a second date with me.

It got pretty acrimonious, and I was left feeling emotionally crushed, and wasn’t sure what to do.

The match ticket had her surname on it. I found out where she worked and sent her a season membership to her favourite AFL team. I figured I had nothing to lose. I can make another $500 much more easily than I can make another Nikki.

She called me soon after and said that’s the most generous thing anyone had ever done for her, and that she wanted to see me again when I got back from my week in Dubai.

I thought about my experience with her while I was in Dubai, when a melody came to me. I hummed out a baseline and wrote some words, but didn’t play it until my next singing lesson. My teacher was fixed to the spot. I finished, and she said “How good is that…?” I was surprised. I had only had 4 guitar lessons to this point. It's so simple, it's almost embarrassing.

I played it with my guitar teacher the next week, with him on the bass. He turned to me in consternation.





The lyrics are here:


Here's the first draft:


And the finished version:


My singing teacher asked me if I’ve seen her since.

“Nah- she’s ignoring me again” I told her.

“She sounds like a pain in the arse!” She replied.

I tried to find something to say in her defence, but I couldn’t.

At least I’ve got a song out of it. I hope you like it.


P.S.: I've actually been working in Wollongong this year, and I've walked past Nikki twice. I haven't said anything to her. There's no point. In the intervening time, I've asked her on multiple occasions why she just stopped responding like that. She refused to answer. I even sent her her song. Nothing. An apology or an explanation seems beyond her over the phone, so it would be unlikely to be forthcoming in person. That would take guts. Which she doesn't have. One unfortunate life lesson is that people who treat you badly don't ever want to be accountable for the fact that they treat you badly. They just want to sweep it under the carpet and carry on as if they are nice people. And if you point this out to them, they'll always find a reason for you to be the bad person, not them. So, here's a picture of her. Nikki (Nicole) Hilton. Physiotherapist, surf lifeboat racer, West Coast Eagles fan. If you know her, maybe you'll have better luck getting an answer than I did.

Be This Way Lyrics

Words and music by..... um... me! :)

Who…. knows how things will turn out?

You think it’s never gonna happen to you.

It puts your whole world in doubt.


But then I saw you there

And you saw me there, too

And you noticed that

I was noticing you

We play the game

You tell me your name

I give you a call

But still after all


You didn't think I could be this way

(And) show how I cared about you

There couldn’t be any other way

(For you to) know all I said could be true

We…..seemed to stick like glue.

It’s almost never this easy, I know

To find connection like we do.


And so

You make the drive

I see you arrive

Shining like a star

(My) friends ask who you are

I show you around

Chemistry abounds

It was heavenly

You came home with me



You didn't think I could be this way

(And) show how I cared about you

There couldn’t be any other way

(For you to) know all I said could be true


You tried to say never

I just made it better

I saw what we had,

Me and you.


Who knew that you wanted me to?

I knew that you wanted me to be this way.


You didn't think I could be this way

(And) show how I cared about you

There couldn’t be any other way

(For you to) know all I said could be true


A-ha a-ha-a….


Who knew that you wanted me to?

I knew that you wanted me to be this way.


A-ha a-ha-a….

A-ha a-ha-a….

Copyright 2012.

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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

The Games

Watching the build-up and preparation for the Olympics from afar, I couldn’t help but have the constant feeling of “London, pleeeeeeeease don’t screw this up!”. I landed here the day after the opening  ceremony, and expected to be surrounded by collapsed buildings and guerrilla warfare on the streets, but surprisingly, everything is very calm and working virtually flawlessly. I’m impressed.

London is absolutely buzzing right now. I went to the weightlifting last week, and wanted to go to a few more things, but there wasn’t much left, and what was available was very expensive. The cycling was ₤250, and the athletics was ₤450. I thought it a better idea not to invest in those, and watch the rest of the games on the massive screens they’ve built in various points around the city. It’s incredible fun, and the atmosphere is amazingly positive, as team GB is doing really well, and after England didn’t really make an impression at the recent European football championships, people are warmly remembering that football isn’t the only sport in the world, and that Britain is actually quite good at a lot of other stuff.

My parents are back in the country from Nigeria, and are renting a house in Cambridge, so my siblings and I went to stay with them last weekend. My siblings and I are immensely close, and have a crazy relationship in that we can make each other laugh 24 hours a day. In between laughing fits, we managed to fit in watching 10 hours of Olympic sport each day. I don’t think any British person could forget Saturday night, when team GB won 3 gold medals in spectacular fashion. After we all got our breath back, we were staring at the TV in silence, which I broke by saying “That would have been worth ₤450”. Everyone nodded in agreement. I couldn’t get tickets for the following night, but by some miracle, I got tickets for the day and night sessions of the athletics for yesterday (Monday). It was mixed fortunes for Team GB, but it was still great to be there. The next time the games come to London, I might not be alive, so I thought “screw it- pay for it. Worry about it another time.” I’m glad I did. I’m going to the football and track and field this week.

One of the nurses at work commented on my love life a while ago saying that I’m always seeing someone. That’s probably true. I don’t like to write about every person I go out with, as that might seem like I’m trying to prove something. I think I’m a fairly interesting person, and I know I’m pretty nice, and I dress fairly well, as well as being quite a good conversationalist, so getting dates isn’t really a problem for me. I just don’t see the need to go around singing “Area Codes” by Ludacris, as if it makes me something special. I responded to that nurse by saying (apart from all those other things) “that’s because, when I see someone I like, I do something”. Admittedly, having a decent idea what to do is a big help when it comes to taking action, but if you don’t do anything, you’re dead in the water from the start. I really don’t understand people who do nothing, and expect something to happen. I don’t think that there are many areas of life for which that holds true.

After watching the sailing on the screen at Tower Bridge, I was walking along the Southbank of the Thames, when I walked past, probably one of the most beautiful women I have ever seen. I stopped and thought “What the Hell should I do?” My heart was in my mouth, but I walked up to her and told her how beautiful I thought she was. I wasn’t sure how she’d respond, but it turned out that she was really flattered. I introduced myself, and we spoke for a few minutes. I guessed that she was brazilian, and we spoke about my travels there, and capoeira. I then said “You look really sporty- what do you do?”
She told me “I’m a gymnast. I’m here with the brazilian team for the Olympics”. She handed me a Team Brazil badge.

The next minute or so was a bit of a blur, but I do remember saying to myself “OK Victor- keep it together! Don’t collapse! You’re doing well- she likes you: she’s smiling! Don’t screw it up!” I managed to stay standing, and politely told her how impressed I was, and asked if I could see her again, so we swapped Facebook details, and she added me the day after. I’m not sure if anything’s going to happen, as we’re both only in the country for another week, but there’s a chance. I’m glad I made that approach. You should be glad of any approach- if you don’t go, you don’t know. Or, as a great man once said:



That’s one successful approach that I’m happy to share. Stuff like that doesn’t happen that often. And it makes a nice change from writing about girls who are flakey and rude. I much prefer to be positive, but life isn’t always like that.

Until the next time.


Friday, 3 August 2012


Last month I was at my friend Jimmys naval graduation ball. It was a very formal occasion attended by about 200 officers and their spouses/friends. After the 3 course dinner, there were some speeches. One of the sergeants, who was also a doctor, got up and spoke of the six months of intense training that they had just been through, and how proud they should all be of themselves. He then said that there was an important announcement to be made. He left the stage, and the band took over, and started to play a song with a fairly mellow introduction which I didn’t really recognize, but still liked, as did most other people. But then the chorus came:

“Hey- I just met you… and this is crazy….. but here’s my number…. So call me maybe….”

All of a sudden everyone jumped to their feet and stampeded to the dance floor. The place went absolutely mental, as people were literally falling over themselves to get the chance to dance to it.
I looked around, completely dumbfounded as fighter pilots and marines were held captive by this song that is only marginally less frivolous than TikTok by Keisha. I, of course, couldn’t help but get involved with some of the cheesiest dancing that I could muster. Jimmy, who, unlike me, does have some shame, refused to dance. After the speeches resumed and concluded, the band continued and everyone danced. Someone made a request for Call Me Maybe to be played again, and they duly obliged (something tells me that this song is a bit of an anthem for them…..). It got to the end of the night, and the singer said that they had one more song left, and whether there were any requests. “CALL ME MAYBE!!” came booming back from the crowd. “AGAIN?!?!?” she said. These guys were as serious as a heart attack. They played it again, and everyone loved it again (except for Jimmy).

I had an absolutely fantastic night that evening. I guess the significance for me is that it’s important to never stop being a kid. I like being a kid. It’s fun.

I hope you are all well.

Since my X-Factor disaster, I’ve visited friends in Dubai and New Caledonia, which were both great trips, and. Being French-speaking, New Caledonia was an interesting exercise. My French is getting better, according to the locals, although they commented that I speak textbook French, as opposed to colloquial French. But then, if you’re learning form a textbook, that’s more than understandable.

I’m currently in London for the Olympics, and also to catch up with friends and family. I had to almost kick and scream in order to make it here, but, having watched the Sydney Olympics from London in 2000 because of exams, I wasn’t going to do the reverse when I didn’t have any exams for a change. Aside from loving the whole Olympic atmosphere, I always feel very loved when I am here. It’s always a bit of a logistical mission to catch up with the people I want to, but every day I get to see people who are very close to me. Not that I don’t have enough good friends in Sydney, but it’s always great to catch up with the people you went to school and university with.

My singing school has a guitar school next door to it, and I’ve started lessons there with the aim of accompanying myself when I sing, but also to start writing my own songs. I’ve been doing lessons for 6 weeks, and I’ve written 5 songs, which I don’t think is bad going, especially as people genuinely seem to like them. I’ll let you know how I go once I’ve finished recording them.

I guess the last 6 weeks have shown me that, despite the massively hurtful experience of being conspired against by X-Factor, I do have a huge number of positive influences and people in my life, and that I can’t really allow one negative to overshadow that.

My songs should be on here in a couple of weeks. I hope you like them.


Sunday, 3 June 2012


Hi everyone,

I’ve been a bit quiet recently, as commented by one of the nurses at work. It’s usually a sign that there’s something wrong. And there is.

I’ve been getting back into singing since returning to Sydney from London in January. In February, there was the initial round of auditions for X-Factor. They were held over 3 days, and I went along on the Saturday afternoon. There were reputed to have been about 20,000 people auditioning in the whole country. I’m not sure how many they were looking for, but I can imagine that it was only a small percentage of that.
I had to wait about 5 hours for my slot, and there was a lot of tension in the Sydney Convention Centre where it was held. There was a massive quarantine hall, from where people were called into the auditioning area in groups of 10.

While all that was happening, of course, some people were warming up and practicing, and some even took turns to perform in front of the other competitors. Everyone seemed to be very supportive of everyone else. Me being me, I jumped in and harmonized with some people. Which everyone really enjoyed, and people were impressed with me. However, some people left the auditioning area in tears, which didn’t do anything for peoples morale.

My turn finally came. You are supposed to have a list of four songs prepared, so naturally, I chose 4 of the songs that I do at my gigs. I sing all of them well, but, as I was quietly confident of making it through, I thought I’d save my strongest songs for the next round.

From the auditioning area, we were individually called into a room with 1 or 2 people to judge us. I sang “Breakfast at Tiffanys”, which people love hearing me sing, but I had a sinking feeling as the guy watching me remained completely expressionless as I sang. He asked me to sing something else, so I went into “Be Like That” by 3 Doors Down. He was still expressionless.
He sighed. He told me that I had a nice voice, but that I wasn’t ready for performance.

I wasn’t upset at all, but I couldn’t help but have a feeling of “are you serious??”. I was a little confused, but accepted his decision and calmly walked out. I bumped into some of the other contestants on the way home and they asked me how I did, and I told them. They were genuinely shocked. None of them had made it, either. To be honest, most of them, I wasn’t surprised, but some of them, I was. The biggest surprise was that there was a guy who, without being mean about it, had developmental delay (mental retardation). And he sang like somebody who had developmental delay. He made it through.

Not every contestant knew that there were no rules against auditioning more than once, so I went along the next day, because, without being arrogant about it, Saturdays outcome simply wasn’t right. Not only do I regularly get paid to sing, but I’ve had people from the crowd physically hand me money to keep on singing.
Sunday was a bit of a pressured affair, as I had a flight to Melbourne in the evening, so I was one of the first to show up. This time, I thought I’d do my best songs, so I did “Your Song” by Elton John. The judge smiled. He asked me to sing something else in addition, so I did “Under the Bridge”. As I was singing, he was writing things down. When I stopped, he handed me a card and said ‘Congratulations’.

I couldn’t help but feel a sense of justice about that. I then went into another area with the other successful contestants where we were interviewed, had our photos taken and signed various documents, and were given information about the next round. It was to be held in May, and we were to be told if we had been selected by mid April. If it got to May, and we hadn’t heard from them, that was to be taken as a no.

Not that I was hanging out for their call, but it got to May, and I hadn’t heard from them, so I assumed that I was no longer in the competition. But a week later, I got a call from them saying they wanted me at the audition in 2 weeks time. It would be at the Sydney Arena in front of the celebrity judges (Ronan Keating, Mel B, Natalie Bassingthwaigte and Guy Sebastian).

They called me again 2 days before the audition to discuss the music. I normally sing soft rock, ballads and easy listening music, but they were being really weird about what I could sing. They didn’t want me to do anything nice. They wanted me to sing Boogie Wonderland. Now, I love Boogie Wonderland from my time as a 70s dancer, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that I can sing it. They seemed insistent that I do something lively and cheesy. The only song I was vaguely familiar with that they would let me do was “Need You Tonight” by INXS, so I set about learning the words to it, remembering that they wanted a big performance from me, and the song choices were to be forwarded to the judges that day.

Things got even stranger when, on audition day at the Sydney Entertainment Centre, they insisted that we acted like it was the very first round.

We had a music check, but I was only allowed to listen to the beginning of the song.

As I walked onto the stage, one of the coordinators told me “Say nothing about the fact that WE chose the music”. I didn’t think much of it at the time, as I was more focused on not forgetting the words.

Ronan Keating did most of the interviewing, and was quite curious about my salsa background, as were the crowd. Natalie Bassingthwaigte asked me if I picked up al the nurses at work. I looked at her almost disdainfully, as I explained to her that I didn’t want to get fired.

Keating asked me what I was going to sing. I knew he already knew, but I told him anyway. The music started, and I proceeded to give the big performance that I was asked for. After the second verse, the music stopped. I was a bit confused.

I asked if I did anything wrong. Keating asked me “Do you not see anything wrong with this?”. I was still confused. He said my song choice was almost creepy. Mel B said that she couldn’t find anything good to say about it, Guy Sebastian said the song was too intense, Bassingthwaigte said it was entertaining, but that I should stick to being a doctor. I politely said “OK”. I love being a doctor, and no matter what happens with my performing arts, I’ll never leave medicine entirely.

I got 4 straight ‘no’s from the judges, but strangely, it didn’t bother me. I wasn’t nervous speaking to the celebrities at all. I wasn’t nervous performing. The only thing that bothered me was not being allowed to sing my best on (what will be) national television.

On my way out, I spoke to some of the other contestants. The guy before me also got voted off. He also had to learn a song that was completely not his style at 2 days notice (and completely screwed it up). But this wasn’t the case for everyone. Some people had a genuine free choice of song, and had weeks notice to prepare.

The next day, I posted a link to an apology to the judges on each of their Twitter pages, explaining the situation, and that I am actually a very good singer and performer, with YouTube videos as proof. That made me feel a little better.
Over the coming days, I thought ‘hang on a minute- why are you apologising? The judges knew in advance what you were made to sing, and yet they acted like they were surprised by it. Some other things came to mind:

The late call-up: I probably wasn’t a priority for them in terms of wanting me to progress.

Everyone who made it through had their music edited to about 2 minutes. everyone who didn't make it through didn't have their music edited, as the producers knew they were going to stop them partway through their song.

Also, people who progressed had at least a month to learn a song of their choice. People who didn't progress had 2 days to learn a song not of their choice, and highly contrasting to what they would choose to sing.

The fact that they would hand-pick someone with brain damage to sing on TV, and act like it was a surprise to them.

Being given very short notice to sing music that doesn’t really suit me: they didn’t want me to be at my best.

Being told not to reveal that the music was the choice of the producers: they knew the outcome of the choice would be bad. They wanted it that way.

As I walked off the stage, I was interviewed by 3 different people asking me how I was feeling. Each time, I said I was OK. They seemed disappointed. They just kept on asking if I had anything negative to say. I said no. They seemed even more disappointed. They wanted me to be upset. I genuinely wasn't.

They set me up.


Absolute bastards.

Not making it through didn’t bother me. Being manipulated into looking like a tool; that bothers me. That’s what weighs on me. That’s why I’ve been quiet at work. I can only dread what will happen if that footage actually goes on air. I took off to Dubai for a week to visit a friend and get away from performing. I’ve spoken to some people in the entertainment industry, and we are hatching a plan. I can’t say what it is, yet, but you’ll find out in good time.

Raz Al Ghoul (Batman Begins): there are those without moral, without decency, who must be fought without hesitation, and without pity.

And so they will be.


Monday, 21 May 2012

An Apology/X-Factor

Dear Judges,

I just wanted to say that, although it was very nice to meet you all last weekend at the Sydney Arena, I don't think my time on stage turned out the way any of us would have wanted. I'm not sure how much you know of what goes no behind the scenes of X-Factor, but I normally sing ballads, love songs and easy listening. I have 3 or 4 paid gigs a month in bars near me (although you're probably not in much of a position to believe that).
There were 2 preceding rounds of auditions before that day at the arena, when I sang Under The Bridge and Your Song, which went down very well. I got the call for this last audition 2 days in advance, and they wanted me to sing Boogie Wonderland or Le Freak, or anything flamboyant. I told the coordinators that that's not what I'm suited to, but they wouldn't have it any other way. The only song that they would let me do that I had any kind of lyrical familiarity with was Need You Tonight, so it was either that, or nothing at all. It's not a song that really allows much for vocal expression, or ability, so I was told to emphasise the energy and intensity of it.
I'm nothing if not honest, and I do guarantee that this is true. As I was walking onto the stage, the coordinators stressed to me again, not to say anything about the fact that THEY chose the song. They will probably deny this to their grave, but it would make no sense for me to break away from the melodies that I'm paid to sing to something as raw and sexual as Need You Tonight, which I've only ever done as a karaoke party piece.

My sincerest apologies to you all, as I think we all found it regrettable. I seldom record myself, but I would much have preferred you to see and hear this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NuOQr9v9sgg


Mr Keating: I saw a lot wrong with it, but had no option, really. The sexual energy and flamboyance were what were demanded of me, and I can completely see why you may have found it unsettling. In spite of that, I assure you that I am a gentleman, as are repeatedly testified by my patients and colleagues. If you were in the emergency ward on my shift, you would be in very good hands, as I became a doctor because I care about people, and that will never change.
Having said that, I am also a qualified actor, and can pretty easily assume any persona required of me, even that of a depraved desperado.


To more fully answer your enquiries about my salsa, as well as teaching, I've done a few national and one international competition at amateur level, and normally get a podium place.

Ms Bassingthwaighte: I'm glad you could at least see the cheesy side of it. I am good at that, at least. And yes- I do kick off at parties and at karaoke. However, if you were to ask me to show a talent, this wouldn't even be in my top 10 of things to do.

Mr Sebastian: I liked your diplomatic expression of opinion. You seem like a very nice guy. Too much intensity: I completely get it, but again, I felt like my hands were tied.

Mrs B: I get you, too: the cheese factor was probably the only good thing I could find positive to say about it. And if that doesn't appeal to you, then that's very understandable. I did mean what I said about you being my favourite Spice Girl. I wasn't saying it simply because you were sitting in front of me. I wasn't even saying it because I think you're the most attractive: you always gave the best interviews because you have humour and intellect: things that I value greatly in a woman. You have them in abundance.

It was nice to meet you all, and I hope you have a great time doing the show.

I live in Manly in North Sydney, a nice area. If you were ever to find yourself there, and I'm not on shift, I sing at the 4Pines and Sugar Lounge. You would all be more than welcome there.


Even aside from that, if any of you need a prescription for anything, I am more than happy to oblige.



Thursday, 3 May 2012

Have You Ever Done It?

"Gillian" is a bellydancer that I met while I was out at a bar. A very beautiful blonde girl. I approached her on the dance floor in my usual fashion, and we conversed and got on pretty well. We swapped numbers and agreed to meet up.

We had some cocktails in a cool bar in Kings Cross, and we got talking about dating.

Her: I don't think women should approach men, because that just makes things easy for the men.

Me: What if the guy is just shy and doesn't know what to do?

Her: well if he's too shy to approach, then he's probably a really weak character, and he wouldn't be a good match for me, anyway.

Me: you remind me of a girl I met at the Ivy. She said that men should be the ones to approach women because that's tradition. I agreed, and added that women should stay at home and cook and clean, because that's tradition. She didn't seem to like that tradition.

Her: would you respect a woman who approached you?

Me: of course. It's a very brave thing for a woman, or anyone to do. Provided she's polite and respectful, I'll always respect it. I can't guarantee that I'll be interested, but I'll at least have a polite conversation with her.

Her: but don't you think it makes things too easy for the guys?

Me: not really. You still have to see if you get on, and only a really desperate guy would follow-through with a girl he didn't really like just because she approached him.
I'll say to you what I said to that girl at the Ivy: you don't think that men should approach women because of any tradition or sense of needing to work for anything. You think that men should be the ones to approach because approaching somebody that you're interested in takes guts, and, like most women, you don't have it. Some women do. Most women don't.

Her: that's rubbish! I chat to strangers all the time!

Me: having friendly conversations with people to pass the time doesn't take much because psychologically, you have nothing to lose. There's no risk of rejection. Seeing somebody that you are interested in, approaching them, starting a dialogue with a view to starting some sort of intimate relationship is a completely different prospect because, psychologically, you have ALOT to lose: there's a big risk of rejection.

Her: If I approached a guy and he wasn't interested, it wouldn't be a problem for me.

Me: have you ever done it....?

Her: um........no.

Me: so how do you know it wouldn't be a problem?

Her: I just do.

Me: OK........

[there was a good-looking, sporty guy sitting a few metres from us. I point to him]


Go ask him out.

Her: [turns white]

and what if he says yes?

Me: well, then go out with him. He's good-looking, and it would be the polite thing to do.

Her: [starts sweating]


....what would I say?

Me: exactly.

Her: [starts to shake]

do you want to see me get rejected?

Me: no, not really, but you did just say that getting rejected wouldn't be a problem for you, so show me that it isn't a problem.

Her: [starts hyperventilating]



Me: I'm waiting.......

Her: [tears well up in her eyes]

I've never had to think about this before......

Me: it's difficult, isn't it?

[She never made the approach.]

Still think it makes you weak and a poor match for someone?

Her: [no answer].

It wasn't my specific aim to make her feel bad, although I must admit, a part of me was laughing hysterically at the fact that this thing that she claimed to be easy, and would ridicule a man for not being able to do, was actually something that

a) she had never done
b) had to confess that she didn't know how to do
c) the mere prospect of having to do was literally giving her a panic attack.

Me: it must be nice to just sit there and have people approach you: you can just sit back, say yes to the ones that you want, and no to the ones that you don't. It's a nice side of the equation to be on. At least now you know that there's someone on the other side of that equation, and it isn't very nice for them. They have to actually DO something. And knowing what to say and what to do is, in fact, incredibly hard.

Some of you will know that there's a way around this.

But that's another story..........


Wednesday, 11 April 2012

The Worst Thing.....


I’m pretty pleased to report that I haven’t (knowingly) kissed any prostitutes since my last update. That last incident was something of a precedent. Those of you who know me best will know that I’m never afraid to say hello to someone I’m interested in. And, when you meet a lot of people, inevitably, some of them will turn out to be crazy. I do actually meet a lot of normal girls in-between, but normal girls don’t give particularly interesting stories.

I met Lani online, and we chatted on the phone and decided to meet up. She's 28, a graphic designer, very personable, and likes to dance. We had a nice time, but we both agreed that we didn’t feel anything in terms of intimate chemistry, so we agreed to just be friends.

Nice girl. Not a particularly interesting story.

On the other hand, one of my best friends met an African-american girl who he thought I would get on well with. He gave me her number, and we texted for a while before I called her. She heard my english accent. She hung up on me because she didn’t believe that I was black.

“YOU ARE 100% NOT A BLACK MAN!!!” *click*

I just stared at my phone. I really didn’t know how to come back from that.

Crazy girl. Interesting story.

Now, an unfortunate stereotype is that white Americans are stupid. I see it as a sign of true progress and integration that there are black Americans who do their best to join the whole stupid act.

On a not unrelated issue, Australia is noted to be a place with not stellar relations between races. In particular, indigenous people and those from the Middle East have a history of being treated particularly badly. I remember being here as a medical student 10 (!)  years ago, and meeting a few idiots, which re-enforced the reputation. But then, you meet idiots everywhere, and I have to say that, since working here, I’ve encountered no more idiots than I have anywhere else in the world. In general, I’ve been very impressed with the tolerance and acceptance that you find virtually everywhere in Australia. Even within that 10 year interval, the whole country seems to be much more multicultural, and most people are perfectly fine with it. It’s good to know that real progress can be made within your lifetime.

Now, it being a long time since my last update, quite a lot has happened. Most significantly, was the rugby world cup. It is typical for anyone from England to absolutely hate Australian sports teams, but I’ve actually developed quite an affinity for Australia since being here. I worked with one of the Wallabies in the emergency department last year. Luke Inman quit international rugby for a career in sports medicine. I both commended him, and thought he was crazy as well. I remember speaking to him and thinking “You’re actually…..quite….articulate….!”
This was in stark contrast to the majority of the players that I met in New Zealand. I loved playing there, and I did make some good friends, but if I’m brutally honest, a lot of the people I played with and against weren’t the smartest on earth. Some of them were smart. Some of them were NOT.

England went into last years competition in good form, so I bought tickets to see them in their quarter final against France.

The day after, I was in the hotel lift, and three guys entered. There was a silence, which I broke by saying

“I take it you’re England fans as well”

There was a disappointed laugh.

I’ve often said that the good thing about growing up supporting sport in England is that you get so used to losing that it’s not actually that big a deal.

As a spectator, my experience of rugby in New Zealand can be summarized in a Facebook altercation I had with on of my salsa acquaintances from NZ:

[30 mins after NZ won the final]

Me: It's the worst thing that could have happened to world rugby........

        Debbie Fearon Big raspberry to u....

Victor Uwagboe I guess there was no winning- 4 years of whinging, or 4 years of gloating.... :-/
Derrick Tin or if the Brits won... 400 years of gloating!

Victor Uwagboe ‎2003 is a distant memory. England were deserved No.1 then, but are far from it, now.

Victor Uwagboe Having lived in NZ and experienced the sheer arrogance the kiwis have in rugby, this will only make it worse...
Marie-Louise Hudson Double *Raspbery* to you Victor !! Dislike your comments a LOT!
Victor Uwagboe  Ah, Marie-Louise. I used to be a MASSIVE All Blacks fan. I could do the Haka. While I always wanted England to win, I never wanted NZ to lose. Then I moved to NZ in 2004. I love the country, and the people. But 3 years of statements like "the only team that can beat NZ are the NZ reserves” gradually eroded my love of the ABs to the pint where I just can’t stand them. Kiwis are beautiful people, but there is an ugliness that emerges when it comes to rugby. Most of them can’t see it, but everyone else can. I don’t expect you to like my statements, but I stand by them. Enjoy your win. Maybe one day you’ll do it without home advantage ;)he only team that can beat NZ are the NZ reserves" gradually eroded my love of the ABs to the point where I just can't stand them. Kiwis are beautiful people, but there is an ugliness that emerges whenever it comes to rugby. Most of them can't see it, but everyone else can. I don't expect you to like my statements, but I stand by them. Enjoy your win. Maybe one day you'll do it without home advantage ;)

She never came back from that.

However, even with all of that, I do miss New Zealand quite a lot, and love going back there for the salsa congress every year. It feels like a family (well, the whole country is 4.5m people, so everything feels like a family there, I guess…), and much more welcoming than the salsa congress in Sydney. I’m working on another choreography for it this year, and will be enlisting Adrian and Antonio to help me with it again.

I remember sitting in the canteen at Palmerston North hospital one lunchtime with the surgical team, and saying:

“I find it quite difficult meeting girls in New Zealand

Siddarth: “What are you talking about? I’ve kissed LOADS of girls in nightclubs!”

Me: “yeah….. but I like sober, educated women.”

Siddarth: “WELL THEN, YOU’RE F@#KED!!!!”

Hmmmm…… sometimes I do feel I ask for too much.

The search continues.

Until the next time.