It’s that time of year…

Yep. There’s something in the air. You can see it all over Europe, as people across the continent look up with a sense of anticipation and optimism for the future. Exercising their democratic right, they vote in their millions and select…

Their entry for the Eurovision Song Contest.

Now, I won’t hear a word against the Eurovision. I’ve been a fan for many years, possibly since one of Ireland earlier wins. (There’s nothing like a certain amount of national pride to pique my interest).

Yes, it’s camp. Yes, some of the music is bizarre. Most of the costumes, too. The presenters have been both inspired and painfully wooden. And the interval acts… Let’s save that for another time.

Returning to Ireland’s earlier win.

I distinctly remember my grandmother letting me stay up late to watch the votes coming in as a (fairly) fresh-faced Johnny Logan won in Brussels with “Hold Me Now”. I was just 11 and my Nana was “baby-sitting” my sister and I as my parents were out at a business dinner. It wasn’t the song that excited me (still doesn’t) but the fact that Ireland actually won something.

I write this the morning after Ireland won the Six Nations in stunning style in Paris. But to my 11 year old self, Ireland wasn’t really famous for anything. TV was full of UK and US imports and the only Irish musicians I could think of were U2.

I led a sheltered life, that’s true.

But that Eurovision win – and the fantastic spectacle of voting announcements at the end of the evening – sparked something in me. Ever since, I’ve been addicted and won’t miss a single show. Recently, YouTube, Twitter and blogs have made it easier than ever to see and hear the acts before they’re performed. But the same old Eurovision faux-glamour is still there.

Things have definitely changed over the years.

Terry Wogan has sadly passed on the BBC baton of wry commentary, but into the very capable hands of the equally Irish Graham Norton.

Expectations for the show have increased and the staging has become more and more elaborate. The number of countries entering has grown steadily, really stretching to incredulity the definition of the word “European”.


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