04 February 2008

Now Nostalgia Is Past Its Prime

Meeting a friend in Manchester for coffee back in May, I was greeted with a wry smile and the rueful suggestion that it would probably be best if we didn't discuss the Eurovision. Ireland had come last, with John Water's mawkish 'They Can't Stop the Spring' having won a mere five points; the United Kingdom hadn't done much better, the uebercamp 'Flying the Flag (For You)' having come second-last with a dismal nineteen points, despite having been awarded an inexplicable maximum twelve points from Malta.

My prudent friend needn't have worried; I'd had no intention of discussing our national fiascos, as unlike Brother the Elder, I've never seen the charm of the Eurovision Song Contest. I'll concede that the Brother's right when he says it's 'a much preferable way to learn geography than a World War', but, well, so are atlases, travel books, and holidays.

(I enjoy the scoring, I must admit, but that's the part of the show that concentrates on international dynamics rather than bad songs. Many have been the years when that's been the only part of the contest I've watched. indeed, one of my favourite Mancunian days during my domicile there featured just that, having been preceded by my Fairy Blogmother and I exploring the secret stairway, watching a play in the Royal Exchange Theatre, dining in the marvellous Gurkha Grill, and having a drink in Fuel, and followed by our eventually settling in to enjoy Run Lola Run. Good times.)

Following last year's humiliation, the Brother remarked that this year 'Ireland will have to qualify for the final because they finished outside the top 10 [...], but short of a strategic population plantation of Irish people to smaller countries where their vote would make a difference like FYR Macedonia, Slovenia, and the Most Serene Republic of San Marino, it’s hard to see Ireland ever winning again.'

I happen to think that might not be a bad thing, but one way or another it seems that the powers that be at our national broadcaster think that the entire formula needs a vigorous shake. It seems that RTÉ received 150 or so submissions this year of would-be entries, and they've winnowed down this mass to just six. The six will be broadcast as 'Eurosong' on 23 February, with voting lines opening after the six performances to allow people to vote for our 2008 Eurovision Song.

So far so ordinary, until you realise that among the six entrants is a song called 'Irelande Douze Pointe', to be performed by Dustin the Turkey, one-time comrade in arms of Zig and Zag, from when they were funny. Dustin's had quite a musical career over the years, with highlights including 'Born Greasy', 'Funky Ford Cortina', and his observations of Bob Geldof's shaving practices when duetting with him on 'Rat Trap', while surely his finest moment was running for the Irish Presidency back in 1990, apparently getting more votes than the Fine Gael candidate in my constituency. Assuming that's not just a bit of suburban folklore, it's pretty good going, seeing as Dustin Hoffman -- for so he was originally billed -- is a puppet.

So anyway, it seems that 'Irlande Douze Pointe' is a send-up of all things Eurovision, complete with references to Terry Wogan and an apology for Riverdance.
RTÉ's Liveline earlier today featured a song featuring all the promised ingredients, but even if you listen to the show you should make a point of disregarding the alternative 'Irland Douze Pointe'. The show was a heated affair anyway, with Shay Healy and Frank McNamara ranting about RTÉ's decision being a disgrace and a 'two fingers' to the contest, claiming this was an insult to Irish songwriters and asking how could a turkey represent the Irish people.

There are far too many answers to that last point, so I'll say nothing except to point out that the song might not get picked -- it won't be RTÉ's decision, after all, as it'll be a national phone-ballot with five alternatives on offer on 23 February. And we all know that he'll definitely be picked then. Whether this is an example of the wisdom of crowds or the madness of crowds is a different matter altogether...

Whether Dustin will make it through the semi-final on 20 May is a different matter altogether, though. Me, I'm hoping that next year we can get Ardal O'Hanlon and Neil Hannon to perform 'My Lovely Horse'.

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