• The Only Way Is Up For This Euro Spectacle

    Mid Devon Advertiser
    19 May 2019

    All eyes were on Tel Aviv last week. This was the 64th edition of the Eurovision Song Contest. It was held in Israel as they won last time with a rather squeaky song by Netta called ‘Toy’ sporting the lyrics ‘pam pam pa hoo, turram pam pa hoo. Hey, I think you forgot how to play – my teddy bear’s running away’. This time it was The Netherlands who took the glory with GB coming last some way behind North Macedonia and San Marino. There were no less than 41 countries taking part but no deep reservoir of talent it has to be said. This event is not about quality material or great songs or indeed about whether one act is actually any better than another so I don’t think we should feel too badly about our score - this particular beauty parade is as much an expression of one country’s affinity or otherwise for another when the voting happens rather than a thumbs up or down for a particular performance. The late great Terry Wogan who used to compare the event from the UK end was marvellously biting about the whole affair  – ‘who knows what hellish events lie ahead?...I do, I’ve seen the rehearsals!’ he once famously intoned. This time Madonna gave an off key performance wearing an eye patch to add to a long tail of mediocrity. And yet, would we want to see it go? I say keep it as it still fascinates for all its dire moments but there was another dimension to the event this time around – the question as to whether it should have been boycotted due to the issues around the Palestinian conflict. There are of course many strong concerns around the Middle East conflict. My view is that there needs to be greater flexibility on both sides. Hamas rocket attacks from Gaza are utterly unacceptable but then so are illegal settlements being created on the West Bank. But is an event like the Eurovision Song Contest the right vehicle for registering protest by disengagement? Stephen Fry and Sharon Osbourne amongst others spoke out against such a boycott and I for one agree with them. There are clearly moments when perhaps participation becomes impossible for a particular country at a particular time but in the main, events that bring us together and I include the Olympics are best held without politics in the mix. So let the mediocrity roll, let Madonna shred her rendition of Like a Prayer and parade her patch and let the show go on and on. Next year Holland. Will the rest of Europe (and of course Australia who are curiously also a part of this cringe-fest) love us a little more by then? Given the outturn for us this time there is only one way to go for whoever next year comes forward to carry GB’s shining torch– rather like for the event itself – the only way is up.