Eurodud and the Collapse of Western Civilisation As We Know It

In a word: disappointed.  For better or worse (and it was definitely for the worse) I sat through the whole thing in a feat of endurance rivalled only by the ascent of Everest.  Possibly.  It was not a pleasant experience.  For whole chunks I was tied to a chair with my eyelids forcibly open like Malcolm MacDowell in ‘A Clockwork Orange’.  In short, it was tough going.  In long, I am yet to recover.

I’ve always loved Eurovision.  I like the colour, the culture, the fashion, the movement and the positivity.  Granted, I have mixed feelings about the music, which generally covers the full spectrum from ‘inspired’ (albeit in a fairly polite kind of way) through to a disaster on par with the Hindenburg, if the Hindenburg involved choreography and a rapped bridge section.  But this year’s Eurovision was sheer drudgery.  Even those involved looked bored beyond belief.

What used to be great about Eurovision was its pace.  If one entry coughed up a song that made your ears want to escape from your head and hide under the couch, they’d be replaced by another entry in moments.  You barely had time to make a cup of tea before the next act was on stage and (hopefully) producing something approximating music rather than inflicting a full-frontal assault on your ears.

The venue wasn’t ideal.  In a perfect world, the competition would have been held in Ukraine, given they won it last year, but as the world remains stubbornly imperfect it had to be relocated to Britain.  It’s a compromise, for sure, and one that’s understandable in the circumstances.  It’s ironic, though, that a competition designed to promote peace and harmony in Europe was transplanted to accommodate a war.  But of all the locations in Britain, why did they hold it in Westminster Abbey?

As venues go, Westminster Abbey isn’t very festive.  Whether it’s the seating, the lighting or the architecture, it’s not the kind of place that welcomes a glow-in-the-dark headband.  It’s too solemn.  I suspect any attempt to start a conga-line would be immediately shot down with a withering glance.  And the chairs are pointing the wrong way!  To have the seating turned in on itself is a rookie error of Titanic proportions.  Then there’s the matter of the host.

Graham Norton looks entirely different.  I don’t know what kind of work he’s had done, but he should definitely consider switching surgeons.  And his decision to wear a Jedi-inspired robe may have been a well-intentioned tribute to last year’s runner up, ‘Space Man’ by the amazing Sam Ryder, but it looked ridiculous.  And, if I’m honest, he was really flat the whole way.  No energy. 

I fear the wheels on the Eurovision dune buggy have fallen off – I watched for three hours during which time the only contestant I saw perform was from the United Kingdom.  Who’s in charge?  I hadn’t read much about Britain’s representative.  At first I assumed that the powers that be had finally surrendered and allowed Morrissey to perform.  But no, this was somebody named Charlie W.

Although I’m highly critical of this year’s Eurovision as a whole, credit where credit is due – his costume was pretty good, even if faintly ridiculous.  Whilst his performance can generously be described as glacial in nature, he did bring a bit of bling to the occasion.  Which, as any viewer of Eurovision knows, is essential.  Not that I entirely understood it.

Firstly, there was the bit where he wore a gigantic glove.  The commentators referred to it by name, but I’m going to call it the ‘Oven Glove of Destiny’.  White around the hand with a golden sleeve that tickled the elbow, it looked ideal for plucking a tray of chicken wings out of the oven.  It’s not what I’d choose to wear when singing, but each to their own.

After the Oven Glove of Destiny, Graham Norton handed the contestant a massive Ferrero Rocher and, unbelievably, Charlie W held it for a bit rather than peel away the golden wrapping to get to the chocolate within.  Maybe he didn’t want to share it.  But what could have been a show-stopping moment of chocolate-fuelled anarchy was, instead, a total letdown. 

Costume changes are a big part of Eurovision. Think of the epic performance of ‘Making Your Mind Up’ by Bucks Fizz in 1981 as just one example.  This year, Britain tried to take it further.  Part way through, the world’s most decrepit looking back up dancers shuffled onto stage with screens so the singer could undertake a costume change.  Put simply, it was lethargic.  The singer then emerged wearing a spectacular golden cape.  It wasn’t enough.

In the end, even a magical golden cape couldn’t save Britain.  Ultimately, it finished second last on a measly twenty-five points.  Only Germany fared worse.  I’m not entirely sure how.  Given I didn’t see them, I very much doubt Germany performed at all.  Better luck next year. 

I’m not sure what can be done to save Eurovision from itself.  Come back, Bucks Fizz.  All is forgiven.

Democracy Manifest! The Great Sing Along Election

It’s genius.  There’s simply no other word that comes close to describing it.  To dissolve parliament and submit your fate to the will of the people is one thing.  To deliberately go out of your way to ensure that a Federal election occurs simultaneously with the finals of the Eurovision song contest is nothing short of totally brilliant.  Frankly, it’s been long overdue.

It was only a matter of time before they were brought together.  Whilst each event is great on its own, combined they’ll be unstoppable.  Eurovision is a splendid thing.  But if there’s one thing it lacks, it’s this: sausages.  You can’t tell me that the latest power ballad from Lithuania wouldn’t be vastly improved with a snag in bread.  Our electoral traditions will take Eurovision to the next level.  I’m not sure what that level is called but it’s probably somewhere between ‘awesome’ and ‘magic’.  Similarly, Eurovision will make our democracy stronger by introducing some much-needed pizzazz.

Election time is such a special time.  Already, I’ve seen my local Member of Parliament for the first time in three years (hooray!). Doubtless, that’s because he’s incredibly busy and, well, truth be told he lives somewhere other than the electorate he’s paid to represent.  By which I don’t mean that he’s slightly outside it because of a quirk of redistribution but, rather, that he chooses to live somewhere entirely different.  Nevertheless, it’s lovely when he visits.  

I spotted my local Parliamentarian whilst I was out running.  He was standing talking to local residents whilst dressed head to toe in cycling lycra.  I have to be honest and say that he looked terrific.  There was not a trace of sweat or a hair out of place. As I drew closer, I was caught up in the tractor-beam of his cologne.  I’m embarrassed to say it, but the man smelled like nothing else I’d ever smelled before in my life.  Like a cross between fresh cut flowers and freshly baked biscuits. It was intoxicating.

Rendered incapable of speech by his magnificent aftershave, I could only slow to a crawl and watch on as he weaved his magic.  He was chatting to a group of men who were also dressed in lycra.  It then dawned on me that my local member of Parliament seemed to be the only person dressed in lycra but not in possession of an actual bike.  If not dressed for cycling, he was meeting (if not exceeding) the dress code for Eurovision, where bike shorts without a bike is totally acceptable.  Granted, to get the full Eurovision effect, it’d be better if he was also crumping whilst belting out some kind of banger, but you can’t have everything. 

Whilst it’s wonderful that our election and Eurovision are occurring at the same time, that’s not enough.  To get the full benefits of synchronicity, they ought to be combined into a single event.  The vote for our nation’s parliament should only take place after a full gala performance from aspirant candidates.  Major policy announcements shouldn’t occur on random building sites by people in hi-vis.  No, sir.  They should occur on a stage, in song and with dancers, feathers and sequins. I, for one, am looking forward to the power ballad on franking credits, to say nothing of the full-on rave-up banger about childcare subsidies.

With Eurovision and our election now a full-blended event, expect candidates to wear a lot more white.  And don’t be surprised if, mid sentence, an aspiring politician reaches up and pulls down an invisible object from the sky (it’s a compulsory move at Eurovision).  Granted, there will be missteps – catastrophic miscalculations that rather than attracting voters will, instead, send them scurrying to the hills. It’s not hard to imagine some of the minor parties giving performances that don’t so much divide audiences as they do usher them out the door for their own safety.  But, overall, it’ll be a good thing.  When we’re not busy using our hands to cover our ears, we might just be tapping our toes…

Consider this – tight races could be resolved with a sing-off.  Or even a rap battle. It’ll be a vast improvement on the traditional election debates.  Instead of ‘the worm’ purporting to tell us whom the audience likes, politicians can, instead, perform ‘the worm’ as part of their act.  It’ll be great.

And whilst I’m looking forward to the performances from our elected leaders and those who would challenge them, I can’t wait for the commentary.  The only way to improve Antony Green would be to throw some Terry Wogan into the mix.  Granted, Terry’s moved on to the great Eurovision in the sky, but I really don’t consider that an impediment.

Buckle up.  The next few weeks will be an all-singing, all-dancing calamity from which a winner will eventually emerge, reflecting the will of the people. To say nothing of Eurovision. But I’m glad that these two events are finally coming together.  If nothing else, it adds momentum to my push for a thirty metre statue of Mr. Eurovision, Johnny Logan, on top of Oliver’s Hill.  Let the music begin!