If we’re the greatest nation on earth, how come no one gives us any points at Eurovision?

The Guardian Posted on Tuesday, May 15th, 2007

If we’re the greatest nation on earth, how come no one gives us any points at Eurovision?

If we’re the greatest nation on earth, how come no one gives us any points at Eurovision?

Please let’s retire from Eurovision. It’s just embarrassing now, isn’t it? Let’s stick Eurovision alongside cricket and good manners on the list of things we used to be good at, but now can’t quite seem to manage. I’m not blaming poor Scooch. When they stepped on to the stage I thought I recognised one of them as a presenter of those late-night ITV quiz shows that are only watched by security guards and alcoholics. Then I started worrying about the fact that I recognised him, so to be honest the song kind of washed over me, but it seemed like quite good fun.

The problem is, we’ve got no mates. The UK turning up at Eurovision is like the unpopular teenager at the disco: “So you go and you stand on your own, and you leave on your own, and you go home, and you cry and you want to die,” as Morrissey put it – although I can’t forgive the organisers for raising our hopes that he was going to represent us at Eurovision. I think we should enter a proper pop star, but one who everyone already dislikes, like poor James Blunt.

Most of our points came from Malta, the only nation in Europe that still likes us. And we know that’s only because we gave them the George Cross. And that was in 1942. They’re still saying thank you for something we did 65 years ago. That’s going beyond touching loyalty and starting to become a bit creepy, if you ask me.
Basically, we all know we didn’t win because the voting was tactical. We’re used to the whole Greece/Cyprus thing, but now that all those former eastern bloc countries vote for each other, there is no way we’re ever going to win again unless we up sticks as a nation and try to squeeze ourselves in between Belarus and Ukraine. Actually, that’s not too far-fetched, since Israel seem to have somehow got themselves into Eurovision.

Maybe it’s not so much a question of popularity as simple proximity. After all, you had countries voting for Serbia who only stopped being at war with Serbia about last Tuesday. What short memories they must have – Malta, take note.  I don’t wish you to think that I’m anti-Eurovision generally. I didn’t really like the Serbian power ballad that won, but loved the singer’s lesbian prison-warder aesthetic. The Gaultier-attired French metrosexuals (featuring the dead spit of Peter Sellers on drums) were hilarious. I’m pretty sure Ukraine’s foil-clad drag act was a guest turn by The League of Gentlemen.

The circus spectacular was thrilling, and even the voting process was rendered quicker and less painful than in previous years. The only thing I didn’t like was that feeling of disappointment that comes from watching Britain lose yet again. Tony Blair says we’re the greatest nation on earth. Maybe he can prove it by representing us at Eurovision next year.

My favourite quote of last week came from an older relative I was talking to about the fact that I’m in my 30s and still renting. Horrified, she shrieked: “You’re saying you can’t afford to buy a flat? But I’ve heard you on Radio 4!” Clearly she was under the impression that appearing on Radio 4 pays incredibly well when of course we all know that Libby Purves lives in a caravan she shares with Martha Kearney and Nicholas Parsons sleeps in the bins at the back of Morrisons.

This year I decided that I’m going to stop worrying about the fact that I’ll never be able to afford to buy a flat, since the earth’s knackered and we’re all going to die soon anyway. Yes, I’m throwing money away on rent, but I’m avoiding all the extra costs that are involved in living in a house that you own. If you rent, the swirly-patterned carpets, antiquated kitchen fittings and wonky bookcases let you delude yourself into thinking that if you owned your home you’d replace everything with up-to-the-minute, state-of-the-art, it’s-all-Aga-and-Cath-Kidston kit. Of course, when you actually buy your own place, you realise that you will never be able to afford to replace the swirly-patterned carpets, antiquated kitchen fittings and wonky bookcases that you’ve inherited from the landlord who owned the flat before you.

I live in London. Other city-dwelling friends who are buying flats or houses all seem to have started off looking for somewhere that was near a good school and ended up settling for somewhere near a crack den – “but a really good crack den”.
I have always lived in those kinds of areas: the areas that estate agents describe as “vibrant”. I decided to move out of the last place when I stumbled across some children outside my flat having a knife fight and defending themselves with the yellow police incident sign that had been put up after the most recent murder.

I am now renting a tiny flat in a much more affluent part of town. I feel very lucky to be able to live here but I’ve discovered that there are pros and cons to living in a posh area. You get the nice things, like the trees and flowers and fancy little shops selling candles, but then you have to pay £1.50 for a packet of Jaffa Cakes in the corner shop, where you’re jostled by posh children with names like Raspberry and Echinacea. There’s a hairdressers nearby called Elysian Fields – presumably where heroic hair goes to dye. Where I’ve lived before hairdressers were more likely to have names like We’re Gonna F@*%ing Cut You, but at least they didn’t charge £25 just to trim your fringe.

This week Lucy read Live from New York – An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live by Tom Shales and James Andrew Miller: “It’s gossipy and quite bitchy – especially about Chevy Chase – but fascinating if you’re a bit of a comedy or TV nerd.” She listened to Prince: “I’ve been pretending that I went to his gig in London, but I didn’t really.”

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