Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Eurovision boo

My dear friend Jo came to stay with us last night. She'd been rehearsing with an impro troupe in Islington and needed a place to crash, so we stayed up into the wee smalls, laughing hysterically at YouTube videos whilst drinking cups of tea. It made me miss the old days a little. A whole gang of us used to have all sorts of adventures together. Picnics, trips to the seaside and parties where we'd dance for hours on end. I'm hoping those carefree days will return at some point, when the kids are a little bit older and everyone's settled into the routine of who they actually are as opposed to who they long to be. It strikes me that almost everyone my age longs for something they don't have, be that kids, or a loving partner, or money, or happiness, or, in my case, a mortgage, a roof terrace, a pension and job security!

Julian and I spent the day in the Crouch End Vicarage, slowly working our way through the rest of the Oranges and Lemons mix. I'd had a mini-freak out in the night after listening to our end-of-day-one rough mix and deciding, as I always do at this stage, that I'd written something hopelessly dense and utterly pointless. Today, however, we took a deep breath and worked through the piece bar-by-bar, slowly polishing every hemi-demi-semi quaver until we started to see the gold hidden in the concrete.

Yesterday I extolled the virtues and inherent speed of the Victoria Line. Today I find myself forced to retract almost everything I previously wrote! The Victoria Line was on a go-slow today, literally crawling from station to station, just when I needed it to go quickly. The same recorded announcement came over the tannoy system every three minutes informing us that we were being held at a red signal. The driver eventually announced that the delays had been caused by someone pulling the emergency cord on a train somewhere ahead of us. I sincerely hope whoever pulled it did so in a genuine emergency situation. Rule number one: If you get into trouble in London, no one actually cares. In fact, you can consider yourself a nuisance if you don't have the decency to slink off somewhere convenient to have your heart attack.

I don't know what it is about me running late for Eurovision events. In fact, the one time I actually got to see the contest live (1998, Birmingham) the train broke down outside Northampton for five hours and the contest had started before we were on the move again. I don't think I've ever been so distressed!

As we pulled into Earl's Court (having changed onto the Piccadilly Line) the announcement came through that the train would be stopping "half in and half out of the station to enable Underground staff to go onto the tracks to retrieve an object!" We weren't told which object. I would have liked minute-by-minute running commentary by the driver, but none was forthcoming. Minutes later, the train was held in the platform to regulate the service. There was a collective sigh of "whatever next" from people in the carriage.

So, this evening I was heading to the 60th anniversary Eurovision concert at the Hammersmith Apollo. The last time I came here was to see Kate Bush. That place certainly allows me to tick off all my obsessions one by one!

Highlights of the evening were almost certainly seeing Brotherhood of Man singing Save All Your Kisses for Me and Nicole giving a rendition of A Little Peace. Both songs instantly took me back to scenes from my childhood, aided hugely by the presence of Brother Edward, who kept reminding me of little memories of his own. My first strong recollection of Eurovision was from the year Bucks Fizz won. 1981. I remember my Dad saying that if we scored more than (I think) seven points in the final vote, the UK would have won, and thinking how clever he was to know that.

The whole thing was being televised and will be shown on Friday night. I felt genuine pride when the entire auditorium erupted into jeers and boos at the mention of Russia. I am appalled the BBC opted to include a Russian act in this particular celebration. For starters it's not fair on the performer, but for puddings, there's no place in Eurovision for Russia whilst it has draconian anti-gay laws. As a result I believe the audience responded with appropriate noises. Sadly, we were later duped into cheering. The warm-up man came on a few songs later and said, "we're going to get some shots of you all cheering and smiling now..." It was plain to me that this was the emergency band aid for the Russian catastrophe, but the audience fell for it, buoyed up and excited by the presence of Loreen, so you'll be able to watch all of us  cheering wildly for Russia. Just know we weren't. Not even slightly!

The absolute coup de theatre was Conchita Wurst and Dana International appearing from behind a screen singing Abba's Waterloo. The room erupted with trans-pride. That, right there, encapsulated the joy and importance of Eurovision. Love or hate its campery and cheese, an extremely important political message about tolerance and equality was sent out tonight. If only every day Russians were allowed to see it.

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