Very little interesting happening over here as I’ve been housebound with my unfortunate chest cold for the past week. But I’ve insisted that I’m going to get out of the house today, and I can at least walk as far as the Cathedral which always lifts my spirits.
Since I don’t have anything interesting personally to report, let me tell you about yet another of those fabulously strange British traditions I became aware of when I first moved here. This one is called the Eurovision Song Contest.
The Eurovision Song Contest is where all the countries in Europe (and Israel gets to participate as well for some reason, which probably says something very profound about where Isreal fits conceptually on a nationalistic scale and things) get together and they have a giant pop song competition. Every country gets to submit one song to represent them and whoever wins the contest that year hosts the next year’s final competition. So this year, the contest will be held in Russia.
This year also marks a major change in the Eurovision Song Contest broadcast here in Britain: normally the announcer for Britain is a cynical old bloke called Terry Wogan. People often joke that as the evening progresses his comments become more ascerbic, leading many to wonder if he’s playing a private drinking game whilst watching the contest. And of course, the “drink every time Terry Wogan says something inappropriate and offensive” game is a very popular one during the Eurovision Song Contest.
Alas, Terry Wogan has retired. I believe Graham Norton, another popular TV host, is going to replace him, which is a bit unimaginative since he hosts everything under the sun now – the BAFTAs, all those Andrew Lloyd Weber casting reality shows – it might be nice to give somebody else a chance for once.
But then, it’s very possible that nobody wants to approach the whiff of scandal surrounding this year’s Eurovision Song Contest: it is widely believed that Russia won due to the fears of former Eastern-bloc countries that they would be threatened by their giant hulking neighbor if they did not vote for the Russian entry. Evidence for this theory? It was a truly horrible song, but then, it’s basically a rule that every entry to the Eurovision Song Contest has to be absolutely abysmal. It’s part of the rules.
Countries are allowed to submit songs in English, French or in their own language. One of the many high points of watching the contest is the ticker-tape translation of the entries into English. Last year’s Bulgarian entry may take home the prize for best lyrics ever: “We’ve been wasting too much time already lying on our backs eating bananas.” Classic.
And why have I chosen to devote a whole entry to the magic and mystery that is the Eurovision Song Contest? Because it’s on tomorrow night, of course! And I know I’ll be watching.