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Still flying the flag, but only ironically

Behind Christmas and my birthday, the night of the Eurovision Song Contest is my highlight of the year. By way of a disclaimer, I wish to point out that I'm not a fan of europop, and have never purchased one of Eurovision's questionably, musical offerings. I do, however, love the song contest and watch it year on year.

Helsinki witnessed a spectacular show on Saturday night. All the ingredients of a classic Eurovision experience were there: there were some shockingly awful lyrics that made the members of Busted look like poet-laureates, there were ridiculous shiny costumes, rubbish instrumental miming, crude cross-dressing and inappropriately suggestive dance-routines and that was only the Ukrainian entry.

In my living-room, bottles of Bucks Fizz swilled our jangling glasses to commemorate one of Britain's greater days in the competition. Score-sheets with the entrants printed in order were provided to each guest on which to mark the performance of each song out of douze points. Hush was generated every time Wogan made a sarcastic comment. We cheered ourselves hoarse when Scooch sang their song Flying the Flag with its camp innuendos and slick mid-nineties dance routine. Then came the voting.

Its a cliche to say the voting is political: it always has been. I, for one, wouldn't find Eurovision nearly so hilarious if Cyprus and Greece didn't swap maximum points and instead each country attempted an objective judgement on the musical merits of each performance. The songs themselves are not good enough for musical merit to vindicate a nations victory. But Eurovision now covers nearly fifty states, forty-three of which (so it seems) are Baltic, Balkan or Russian, end in -ia, and are located in a vague, large and anonymous area east of Germany. They all vote for each other, giving Serbia (Saturday nights winners) a hundred point head-start.

Western Europe, meanwhile, has had too many wars to vote for its neighbours.
Britain, of course, has no chance. Serbia borders six Eurovision nations; the UK sort-of borders one Ireland who could only afford us seven points. There have been suggestions that the big Western contributors should withdraw their funding in protest, but there is no need to panic yet. The previous two winners were Finland and Greece neither ends in -ia and both can be confidently located on a map. Plus, to take Eurovision seriously at all is to misunderstand it entirely.

However, the UKs strong record in the competition (twenty times winner or
runner-up) is not going to be improved upon in the future. Analysts suggest that the invasion and occupation of Iraq is to blame. Perhaps Britain�s euroflop fate is the silliest part of Blair�s legacy. The only way that the Eurovision crown will ever be seen on this island again is if the nationalists get their way. Wales, England, Scotland, Northern Ireland, the Channel Islands and Cornwall will all shower douze points on each other in a Britbloc that Estonians will complain about in their post-Eurovision blogs. And in this, the UK will only be following this years winner whose timely split since last years competition meant that it could award itself extra points in the shape of friendly Montenegro.

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