The cleaner with the fluoro jacket and the mop was enjoying his work. I knew this, because he was singing.
“Sadie, the cleaning lady. La la la la you’ll always be a cleaning lady.”
The lyric-challenged rendition was taking place at the entrance to the shopping centre toilet block. John Farnham was under no great threat. But the mop-swinger was belting out the ultimate cleaning ditty with a grin.
It made the rest of us smile, as we stepped around him to go about our own business. Singing does that to you. Even ordinary singing.
There was a time, before i-tunes, when just about everyone sang in public. Pub patrons, and butchers, and barbers, and bus drivers. All sharing their favourite tunes. I don’t recall anyone complaining.
I grew up with blokes who didn’t think twice about tossing up a song. One would start, and the rest of us would join in. Loudly.
This would sometimes occur as we walked home, after an evening filled with cool drinks. We may or may not have been arm in arm.
“Show me the way to go home. I’m tired and I want to go to bed. I had a little drink about an hour ago and it’s gone right to my head.”
It could be said that for our age, we had unique tastes in music. As well as the Aussie pub rock bands of the time, we extended our listening to the albums played by our parents.
It meant we gained an appreciation of some amazing story tellers. John Cash, Dean Martin, Elvis, Neil Diamond, Kenny Rogers, Tom Jones and the Eagles to name but a few.
Yes, there will be those of you who think I’ve just described the welcoming choir to the gates of Hell, but it matters not. We liked them.
We could burst into song at any moment. To the dismay of those around us with more sober listening habits.
Some of us still do, even in these advanced years. A great chum of mine will dust off his Seekers album after a long day. Patsy Cline if it’s a long night. And The Beach Boys are never far away.
My dear friend Greg Cary will play a little Jim Croce, or John Fogerty or Jimmy Buffett on his radio show, and I’ll be crooning along. Can’t help it. To the great amusement of my younger, rap-loving colleagues.
“Well the south side of Chicago, is the baddest part of town. And if you go down there you better just beware of a man named Leroy Brown.”
Maybe it’s the style of music today. Without sounding completely ancient, the tunes I hear the girls playing at home seem harder to harmonise. More complicated.
That said, the females in my house love to sing. All of them wander from room to room, warbling whatever takes their fancy.
Daughter Two takes the prize for most impressive vocal display each day. Shower time now features the radio blaring, on a hip FM station. Our neighbours would be well aware of this.
She does her own version of every song that comes on. Through soap, shampoo and conditioner. Maybe there’s hope yet.
It won’t take much to have us all making beautiful music again. Do your bit today. Belt out a tune at your desk, and ignore any strange looks.
Think of your favourite childhood melody, and sing it on your way home. Maybe give the kids a rendition when you put them to bed. Nothing like a laugh before sleep.
Better still, next time you get some old mates together, sing something you all know. You’ll be amazed at the memories that will flow. Especially if you’re struggling to find your way to bed.
“Everywhere I roam. Be it land or sea or foam. You can always hear me singing this song. Show me the way to go home.”