Those of you not from Europe do not get the annual pleasure of watching the Eurovision Song Contest.
The rules are simple. Each country must produce a song that makes telephone-hanging-on-music sound interesting, the singers and their obligatory backing group must perform a dance routine as synchronised as a box of table-tennis balls dropped onto a marble floor, and the presenters – one male, one female – from the host country (last year’s winners) must yell “whoo!” and “isn’t this great!” (yes, in English, no matter where they’re from) every few seconds, while conveying with every strained nuance of their body-language that they can’t stand each other.
Oh, and Portugal must enter the same song every year, although the Tinfamily seem to be the only people who have noticed this.
The growth of Europe from about thirty countries to about four-hundred-and three over the past 20 years (a Geography textbook has a shorter shelf-life than a carton of milk) means that we now have two Semi-finals as well as a Final, and the first of these is tonight.
Which means that Tingirl and I get to continue a Tinfamily tradition.
For those of you who weren’t around here two years ago, this is what I mean:
Tingirl & I sat watching the second Eurovision Semi-final tonight (well done, Ireland, by the way). RTE commentator Marty Whelan explained that this year voting opened from the very beginning, so that you could vote for Song 1, say, as soon as you heard it (apparently under the old system the later songs were doing better, as people couldn’t remember the earlier songs by the time the voting opened). After Song 4 he reminded us again: “don’t forget, you don’t have to wait, you can vote for any of the songs you’ve heard right now.”
“Or, of course, songs that haven’t been on yet,” I said. ”you could vote now for, say, Song 9.”
“Why, who’s Song 9?” asked Tingirl.
“Don’t know,” I said, “I’m just saying you could vote at random for anything, before you’d even heard it, if you felt like it.”
We looked at each other for a moment, my wonderful daughter and I, and then we both smiled.
We voted for Song 9.
It turned out to be the Netherlands, and anyone who’s ever watched the Eurovision knows that since it was the Netherlands, it certainly wasn’t dull. It was called “Ik Ben Verliefd” (Mwa?), the guy responsible for the Smurfs was involved in it in some way (I’m not making that up), and it featured a girl who seemed to be clockwork, a huge hurdy-gurdy and lyrics that included the words “Sha-la-la” an awful lot.
When it ended Marty laughed and said “well, they certainly sounded as if they don’t want to bother with hosting it next year.”
“Shut up, Marty,” shouted Tingirl and I in unison.
And sadly he was right, they got absolutely nowhere. But it kept Tingirl and me interested, even after Ireland had been read out early as one of the ten qualifiers, hoping that what Tingirl kept referring to as “our song” would get one of the last few places.
When it ended we shrugged, looked at one another, and smiled again.
We’re looking forward to the Final on Saturday. As soon as the voting opens, we’re voting for Song 9 again.
And why am I reproducing an old post? Because I don’t have a lot of time.
The Eurovision is on in a few minutes, and as soon as it starts Tingirl and I are voting for Song 9.