Sunday, May 25, 2003

Oh the shame

I have a good brain for ‘tabloid geography’ – i.e. not real geography, but the geography of knowing the name of different capital cities. I know where Sofia is, and Bucharest and Tiblisi. This has come from years of watching European football on the telly. I also have a well developed understanding of underlying cultural politics, which I have developed from years of watching Eurovision.

I’m not sure where my family’s fondness for Eurovision comes from. As kids we’d get in loads of sweets, and watch all nine hours of it (well, what felt like nine hours). We’d score each song, sometimes using the Radio Times cut out and keep score card (does anyone keep those things) sometimes using dad’s very own computer scoreboard programmed on the Commodore 64 – which was often more hi-tech than the scoreboard being used at the show. My sisters would always score UK 10 out of 10, making the whole thing a sham but it was an important part of family bonding that has served us well as we’ve grown up.

That’s rubbed off on many people, My sister’s best friend has been known to engineer nights in with my parents to watch it, and whoever I watch it with becomes strangely obsessed. Last night, it was with Gareth and Sara. Gareth is an aggressively competitive 23-year-old boy’s boy who had just won his football team’s player of the year award. He had a notebook out collecting scores based on song, performance and look. When we’re in town, everyone goes Eurovision.

As a family we we’ve always been pro-Europe (the irony being, you can’t actually be anti-Europe), and Eurovision has always been the image of an idealised Europe. All countries smiling and dancing with each other, the UK in amongst them arrogantly confident that despite all evidence to suggest otherwise, we are still the greatest country in the world.

But it’s all changed, last night’s national disgrace Jemini (she’s called Gemma, so it’s like Gem ‘n’ I, but spelt with a J geddit?) failed to notch a single point for their woefully flat performance of Bye Bye Baby. In the past countries coming bottom have been relegated because of the influx of East Europeans wanting to enter, so like football in the eighties, politics in the, erm, well, now and business in the 70’s whilst we have smugly sat around thinking we were the best, things have moved on and we’ve slipped out of the elite into oblivion.

I for one will be thinking long and hard about how much more I can take.


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