Thursday, May 20, 2004

I've never really had truck with people who are coy about telling you their real age. I'm 40, coming up to 41, there you go. Not admitting your real age is ridiculous enough if you're one of the handful of people who's pictured falling out of a nightclub on the 3 AM Girls page. How vain do you have to be in the Real World to be self conscious about your age?

There are a few surefire ways of telling how old someone really is. One is the "celebrity hairdresser" strategy, but you'll have to resort to cutting your own hair - possibly a slightly drastic way of finding out if your so-called friend is really 29, but pretty reliable. If they remark "ooh, you could be the new Vidal Sassoon!" - you'll immediately know that they're in their 50's or 60's. "Ooh, you could be the new Nicky Clarke!" suggests someone in their 20's/30's, and anyone who says "ooh, you could be the new Teasy Weasy!" is obviously sitting in a bathchair in a residential home.

To decide, though, if you or someone else is Part Of The Future or Part Of The Past, is pretty straightforward. If you/they can remember when Abba won the Eurovision Song Contest, you/they are past it, basically.

Although their win is looked back on with nostalgic fondness, as far as this past-it individual remembers, Eurovision has always been considered an abomination. Despite the idea of it being a televisual union of European communities and their different cultures, there has always been cynicism about it - even back in the innocent 1970's.

As for this day and age, I can't remember the last time I spoke to anyone else who admits to watching it, even though somebody must. Although viewing figures are down on
years gone by, it still plods on into a new millennium.

Problem is , everyone in Britain involved in Eurovision seems to think It Could Be So Much More. The British just don't want to enter into the daft spirit of things, as if it is somehow beneath us. Even Terry Wogan (not even British, usually fairly witty) now counters his usual mockery with exasperation, as if things are just not serious enough. This year's final saw him endlessy berating the voters (yes, the general public, the great unwashed). Because they were giving top marks to neighbouring countries, he implied there was some kind of sinister political motive behind it. Merely the fact that people tend to prefer familiar sounding music, by someone singing in the same language, more like. Funnily enough, Terry didn't complain about the mutual British/Irish backsplapping. Guess what, our voters like adequate joyless ballads performed by blokes whose ambition is probably to have a long run in "Joseph And His Amazing Technicolor Yawn".

Wogan's other gripe was the quality of the music. In his world, anything silly, dancey or involving poncey costumes was Bad. Any "professional", "heartfelt" ballad by a drably dressed solo performer was The Business. Hence his liking for Britain, Ireland and Cyprus, whose performer was a 16 year old girl, going on 35, from Gillingham.

Mind, Terry is a bit full of himself, and with good reason. He has a powerful influence on album sales, with his promotion of the youthful likes of Katie Mellua and Jamie Cullum, who sell cd's in their bucketloads. It's not even music your parents would like, if they spent their teens scowling to Public Image Limited. It's music your great grandparents would like. It can only be a matter of time before the ultimate Real Music Star With A Twist arrives - 17 year old Josh, complete with waxed up hairdo. "For me, Matt Monro will always be The King, The Master. I can't stand all this modern thump, thump, thump. It's not singing, it's shouting. You can't tell the boys from the girls with all that long hair, either. I tell you though, I'd love to work with Kanye West, he's the bomb, man - total props to the guy!"

All in all, Eurovision this year was the usual barmy spectacle to accompany getting drunk to. Surprisingly, our favourite, the mournfully ethnic Serbia and Montenegro song, was runner up, and the Ukrainian entry (Duran Duran's "Wildboys" but less rubbish) was a perfectly acceptable winner. Neither was liked by Wogan, of course. We were also rooting for the Icelandic bloke, on the verge of spontaneously combusting due to his vocal histrionics, and the Poles, the Poles ... only on Eurovision would you see a man dressed as Hamlet accompanying a stout legged woman singing like the frontman from Blood Sweat and Tears, encouraging you to poke her all over (erm ... I think). They didn't do so well, and Britain's nonentity James Fox (clad in a Paul Calf suit) got rather too many votes for our liking. Still, the presenters, from Turkey via Transylvania, were up to the usual bizarre standards, and Eurovision will no doubt go on and on, until the end of the world. Which will probably be in a couple of years time anyway.

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