Should you ever take a voyage on a container ship with a (very likely) Filipino crew, should you ever be invited to one of the crew’s parties, remember the following:
1. Never turn down an invitation to a crew party. The ship is small, rumour is like lightning and a snub means you will never get to see the most interesting parts of the ship or get to know the crew.
2. Don’t keep a tally of the number of times the glass of wine you have is miraculously refilled, the beer you have never seems to empty. The grog will loosen your vocal chords, so much so that you will experience that moment of all singing students: when you first take such lessons, you sing worse than you did before.
3. When the old able seaman grunts, ‘In the Philippines, we have a custom: either you sing or you dance’, opt to sing. Gyrating before twenty Filipino seamen is far less graceful than singing.
4. Let them set the example and be amazed at their high voices and sensuous song choices.
5. When it is your turn, do not choose hymns (they usually have them).
6. Do not choose national anthems, since they have a knack of spoiling the party mood.
7. Choose an old faithful, either a pop or folk song.
8. Do not bellow into the massive phallic knob of a karaoke microphone and don’t prance around as though you were in front of your own mirror.
9. Put down your smoke and beer while singing.
10. Remember: it is highly unlikely that anyone you know will have experienced this crucial seafaring moment.