Normally we have the alarm set for 06:45 (Classic FM, even if it does insisting on playing the musical version of the Habanera all the time: hello, Bizet wrote the bloody thing with words for a reason), but we didn’t have to on Saturday as Grendel kindly agreed to wake She Who Must and I up at the back of five by vomiting copiously on the bedroom carpet, eschewing the wooden laminate that covers the rest of the ground floor. Hurrah. Nothing like a family member being sick where you sleep to really get the day off to a humdinger of a start. And this wasn’t a day to be walking round like a half-shut knife, for Saturday was none other than the Eurovision Song Contest! Mmmm, cheesy. Fiona and I have been meaning to watch the whole thing for years, not least for Terry Wogan’s commentary. Rumour has it that he’s locked in a little booth with a view of the stage and a bottle of Baileys (and quite possibly a bottle of Jameson's as well). As the event progresses he gets more and more inebriated, taking the piss out of bands and presenters alike.
Now, if you’re not from around here, the whole Eurovision thing is probably a bit of mystery. What you basically have is thirty-six countries (most of which are ‘European’ in the same way that fish grow on trees) vying to commit the most appalling crimes against music possible, while dancing about like idiots. Then, when they’ve finished, all the participating countries phone in their votes (every country usually votes for their friends and neighbours, completely ignoring the musical merit of the entries – or it would do, if they actually had any) and the whole thing rounds off at about midnight with the winning country performing the same song they did the first time. Only by this time they’ve been in the green room for about an hour and a half with a free bar. You get the picture.
The UK stopped taking the whole thing seriously years ago. To us the Eurovision is kitsch and cheesy and ripe for Mickey-taking, to everyone else it’s a celebration of music and an expression of national pride. I don’t think they know we’ve got a progressively drunken Irishman poking fun at them for the whole evening. Of course the fact that we lose all the time probably helps us keep it in perspective.
So this year, in order to get the full ironic benefit of the proceedings, Brother Christopher and his good lady wife, Kim, decided to host a Eurovision party. Five people, each picking a handful of countries at random to support and eating fondue. How 1970’s is that? White wine and enough cheese to sink a battleship. And nearly every song sounded the same. Or at least it did after a couple of bottles. No, I’m pretty sure they would have all sounded the same, even if we were sober. And being sober for the Eurovision Song Contest is not something I’d like to contemplate. And not only did they all sound the same, all the female competitors looked much the same as well: like Celine Dion clones in skimpy costumes. Except for the contestant from Malta. She looked like a cross between a Valkyrie and a mattress.
All in all it was a great night of schadenfreude. We’re going to do exactly the same thing next year. Eurovision: gotta love it.