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Saturday 17th June 2006

I got a cab to the airport. I was on my way to Trinidad for the wedding of a man who I didn’t know, but who had fainted in one of my shows at the description of a cock getting its banjo string snapped causing it to spurt blood all over the place, who coincidentally happened to be getting married in the Carribean at the same time as I was on holiday here. I expect to get invited to the wedding of anyone in similar circumstances. I am prepared to fly for up to 20 minutes to get to the wedding, but no longer than that.
Many of the Tobagonians (annoyingly the correct description for the people here) I have spoken to have told me that Trinidad is a dangerous and crime ridden place, where I am likely to be attacked or robbed. The cab driver was no different. "The young people don't want to work," he told me and thus were likely to mug me the minute I stepped off the plane. I had been told by the holiday rep not to take my passport or too much cash and keep my money in small bills in different pockets. Could Trindad really be that bad? Was I progressing towards my own murder?
The cab driver got out a CD and said he would play me a song about the dangers of Trinidad. I laughed and told him to go ahead. The warnings had all been quite good natured and almost comical, just as in many areas local people will warn you of the dangers or stupidity of the nearest town.
He popped the CD into his player and the intro to the song began. It sounded like it would be a funny song from the upbeat tempo. Suddenly the cab driver started singing along to the music. I couldn't work out if the vocal had come in on the CD and I just couldn't hear them or whether he had jumped in too early. He was singing in quite a mumbly way, in the wrong direction, with quite a thick accent and I was straining to hear if the vocal had kicked in and was being drowned out by his singing or was just quite low in the mix. I couldn't hear anything and as he progressed with his singing, the likelihood of him having come in too early receded. I realised that this was in fact just a backing track and that the driver had always intended this to be a karaoke number. This was more than I had expected from the trip. He was completely unself-conscious about this and seemed to be enjoying himself. Once he got to the chorus I was able to better hear the lyrics. It went something like "I for me, you for you, that's how the story goes!"
I nodded along and smiled at him. It was a genuinely enoyable experience, mainly because the man was so happy with himself. It would have been better if I could have heard the words, but I could tell it was about selfishness and Trinidad not being as good as Tobago and those were messages that were enough for me. After the fourth verse and chorus I got ready to applaud him, but the song carried on. I wondered if it would ever end and the smile on my face was maybe a little more fixed than it had been to begin with, but I didn't mind too much. It's not a service you would be likely to get in a London cab and it's one of the reasons that I already love this crazy island (and hated Trinidad, even without having been there at this point).
Finally the incomprehensible song ended and the driver smiled at me broadly. I clapped and thanked him and he looked very pleased with himself- as he should. I don't know if he'd written the song too, but it's a nice gimmick to be the karaoke cab driver. If I ran a record company I would have signed him up there and then (and made sure that when he performed in other venues he faced his audience so they had a chance of hearing him - I am glad he faced the other way whilst driving though).
But his tactics worked. I gave him a tip. It pays to have a gimmick. He got almost two extra pounds out of me!

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