Call Me A Crazy Fucked-Up Sonofabitch

Added on 11 May 2011

Last night on Twitter there was a lot of discussion about The Apprentice, which was really weird because the first semi-final of the Eurovision Song Contest was on BBC3 at the same time. Why would you watch anything else?

I always watch the Eurovision Song Contest. I know, call me a crazy, fucked-up sonofabitch, but there you are. At some stage I sucked TPCKAM into watching it too, and then it was pretty easy to lure the kids in. When they were really young it was the only night after New Year when they got to sit up late, so they came to view it as a treat. To this day, even though they have reached the bitter ages of ten and twelve, they haven't really cottoned on to the fact that it's one of the uncoolest events on Planet Earth. One of Two, still of a mind that Eurovision is something of significance, says things like, 'Did Pavarotti ever do Eurovision?' and 'How come the Greeks can afford to enter Eurovision when they've got no money?'

So, at our place, it's a much-anticipated family event, although the year that the kids suddenly wake up and realise exactly what it is they're watching, can't be too far off. When that happens, they will look at me with contempt, call Childline, and storm out, leaving TPCKAM and I sitting sadly on our own, lamenting the passing of the years.

The BBC, despite happily funding the UK entry every year, likes to play along with the general British conception of the event. Continental Europeans think it's great fun and of some cultural significance, while only we recognise it as being spurious drivel, thereby allowing us to view it with the haughty indifference of the musical elite, too cool to get our hands dirty. Eurovision started back in the days when we still had a bit of Empire left, and we've kept the same attitude ever since. We're too good for it. We, Britain, are the finest producers of popular music in the last 100 years, consequently we can look down on all these other nations with disdain.

The BBC pays presenters to endorse this attitude. They don't have Graham Norton for the semis, but one of those professionaly northern women, and a guy who thinks he's really smooth with his smug condescension, but actually he just sounds smug and condescending and you know, you're commentating on Eurovision, so get over yourself. Early on he said of one female singer: "She wrote this song all by herself." He stopped just short of nipping onto the stage, patting her on the head and saying, "Really, really well done, you didn't even have to ask a man, or a grown up, for help." The glib putdowns continued throughout.

That's all very well. Being glib. I'm glib all the time. We all are. It's one of the things that makes us British. But this is juxtaposed against the fact that the people at the BBC are always terribly excited by the British entry, are never glib about that, and are really rather desperate for it to win. Especially this year when we've actually made an effort. You can't be too cool for something, but want to win it at the same time. Well, you can - we are - but then, you just come across as even sadder than the people who are taking it seriously in the first place.

We might win, you never know, but the trouble is everyone else in Europe hates us, and the chances are that we'll have trouble transcending that. It's significant that we haven't won it since Tony Blair started bombing people. So there are all the countries that hate us because we suck up to the imperialistic Americans, the countries that are our old enemies who hate us anyway, the old Soviet block states who hate us because everyone was brought up hating us, and the French who hate us because we eat chips with pasta. That's a lot of cultural enmity to overcome.

I'm voting for Serbia, with the coolest bit of 60s-retro since Austin Powers.