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Phew… it’s over. No, not that story from New York, the story from Germany, the 2011 Eurovision song contest which I did, of course, watch as commanded by a French gentleman. No not that French gentleman, a different one who happens to work for an International Organisation. No, no, no, not that international organisation, a different one, one that has been hotly debating the eurozone debt crisis. What? Ok, stop this, it is a complete misunderstanding. Lets forget about it shall we?

Back to Eurovision…. Well, a good looking couple from Azerbaijan won and, if I remember well, some Italian pizzeria ensemble surged in the closing rounds to come second. There were others too… The Oompa-Loompas from Ireland, strange men in strange hats from Moldova, an improbable Greek hiphop outfit “featuring Stereo Mike”, the delectable Lena from the home side and for the first time in years (decades) a Britpop boy band that managed, as I heard on the BBC- to do 10 times better than the previous year’s Britpop offering: they finished 14th.

There was also a French boy who, embarrassingly, had entered for our grand Belgian institution of the “concours musical international Reine-Élisabeth-de-Belgique”, a staid classical music competition, but was misdirected on the road from Paris and ended up in Düsseldorf rather than Brussels. Obviously not fully realising something was amiss he sang his aria with some passion, collected his “zero points” and returned home none the wiser (he still ranked higher than the Brits).

Did I miss someone? Maybe… maybe not, I honestly can’t remember and that is my main grudge with this year’s competition: it was even more forgettable than Eurovision normally is. I missed “Lordi”, the Finnish musical parody act, Conan the Barbarian’s Ukrainian girlfriend, Russlana, the exquisite Dana International, Dita Von Teese making a show of herself during someone else’s song and so on…

Yes, aesthetically this was a very flat vintage. At this point I should make it clear that I will not touch upon the music. Eurovision isn’t about music after all. Surely three or more thousand years of European culture can’t have come to this.

And if you have your doubts, if you think that Eurovision is a music competition then try humming any one of the tunes, this year’s, last year’s, from 5, 10, or 20 years ago… Come on! No, I didn’t think so…

So what is it about? I have my own theory. It is about reinforcing national clichés and, most importantly about finding out who your friends are in this sad world. Politicians may say what they have to say, treaties may be signed and declarations made but there is only one certain way of knowing: the voting. So Germany and Austria, Greece and Cyprus, the UK and Ireland, the Nordics and the former Yugoslavs in all conceivable combinations, exchange 10s and 12s or whatever in an orgy of brotherly love.

Even more important are the smaller scores… If someone gives you a 12 then either they are blood relatives or your song is trending and set for glory before the singing even started. But if someone gives you a 3, a 4 or a 7 then they really like you (or they have lots of immigrants from your country, but that’s a different matter)… Then you know you can count on them to stick with you through thick and thin. You have friends in this world.

As for the music… Still waiting for you to hum a tune…. Hmmm no, of course not


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