Friday, 28 May 2010

Kitsch blandness

I’ve never known the cafe busier and noisier than it was this morning. It didn’t help that I was holding my eyes open with matchsticks, but the world and his wife, or more specifically the wives of the world seemed to rush through the doors at about 9.30 and literally shout at each other for about half an hour. And then the place fell silent again...

The Eurovision Song Contest season is upon us, which means gay men across the world are dusting off their giant scoreboards and rifling through their wardrobes for something sparkly to represent their favourite European Country. The event has been described as the gay men’s world cup and it does seem to generate hysteria amongst us, although it’s difficult to say exactly why. The ABBA thing obviously helps, and the fact that it's glitzy and tragic in equal measure, which seem to be two of the main ingredients of camp. It’s theatrical, musical and dependable and reminds many of us of the safety of our childhoods, which in this fast-paced world is a place we all occasionally need to visit.

So last night, I was with brother Edward, watching the second of the semi-finals. Most of the songs were of an incredibly high standard and it makes me furious and somewhat embarrassed to think that the UK is content to enter such a genuinely pointless song with such a talentless singer when the rest of Europe, baring France, is throwing absolutely everything at the competition. Watch out for Norway, Denmark, Turkey, Iceland and Azerbaijan this year. Spain deserves to do better than it will, but my prediction for the UK remains the same; fourth from last, with a score of about 27 points.

And if you want to hear a great Eurovision Song, take a listen to last year’s entry from Iceland, which came second. It literally ticks every box; a great vocal, a pretty girl, a key change, a lovely melody, a big show-off note, a 'cello... You can see it here. The video seems to have been filmed in the middle of volcanic ash cloud. How very prescient.

And the backing vocalist in this song, who was obviously considered too fat to appear in the video, is actually singing this year’s Icelandic entry.

Compare what you’ve (hopefully) just watched to the kitsch blandness of the UK’s entry and feel a deep sense of shame prickling through your veins – and to think we didn’t even get to choose it. Here it is...

It was a fairly dull day on board The Charles 350 years ago. Pepys was given his share of 60 ducats from the King’s recent gift. He was expecting 30L, but I’m reliably informed that European exchange rates meant he actually received the equivalent of just 27L. It didn’t seem to affect his mood, however, and he celebrated by being thrashed at 9 pins. The final statement in the diary is worth quoting as, not only as an example of incredibly candid writing, but also because it says much about Pepys’ rather fragile state of mind...

This night I had a strange dream of bepissing myself, which I really did, and having kicked the clothes off, I got cold and found myself all muck-wet in the morning, and had a great deal of pain in making water which made me very melancholy

Whenever Pepys had problems with his waterworks, he suspected the bladder stones, that had nearly killed him a few years earlier, were returning. To have something like that hanging over your head for an entire lifetime must be a fairly depressing state of affairs.

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