Sunday, 23 May 2021

Eurovision 2021 - U.K. upholds tradition of finishing LAST!

 

And not only did we finish in last place - for the third consecutive time - but now for two years on the trot, with the dreaded 'nul points'

This was the first contest since 2019, last year's event being cancelled due to Covid. Even though in the huge Dutch stadium the socially-distanced audience was limited to just 3,500, their loud vocal enthusiasm more than made up for their depleted numbers

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Winner was the bookies' favourite of Italy, the group 'Manneskin' with 524 points for what was described as a 'hard rock' number, though I wouldn't have called it so myself. It not only left me cold, but if I'd put all 26 finalists' songs in order of preference this would have been near or even at the bottom.  Defeats me to see any merit in it at all, though that's also been the case for all but a couple of the winners of at least the past 30 years.


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Second was France, then Switzerland - both being solo ballads, with pared-down arrangements and staging, female singer for former, then male. I thought both were no better than middling. 

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Our own entry was by the infectiously jovial, portly James Newman, sporting one of the disappointingly very few beards on display this year. His self-penned song, 'Embers', never appealed to me since I first heard it, though some had predicted it would be a 'sleeper' which would come out strongly in the voting. Even commentator Graham Norton said he had a 'good feeling' about it. Fat chance, as it turned out! But Newman was a good sport in taking his resounding defeat in good part, giving a thumbs-up sign despite his crashing failure - and at least his smile was a winning one.



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My own phone vote went to Malta for its toe-tapping, up-beat pulse, sung by chubby teenager, one 'Destiny', who looked seriously miffed during voting on realising that she wasn't gong win, though eventually coming in at a near-respectable 7th out of the 26.

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I'd have given second place to Iceland, the only act who couldn't perform live as they had to isolate, one of the group having tested positive for Covid, so a film of their rehearsal was used, which was still pretty good. Full marks for the song's originality, even if the act itself, with semi-circular keyboards being carried and danced around with was a bit distractingly bizarre.




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Third I'd have placed Lithuania [coming in a not-too-bad 8th place], and fourth, Germany [finishing second from last with an unfairly dismal mere 3 points]. These were by far the two campest entries this year, both quite jolly songs, Germany having its plain daft but engaging dancing 'victory' hand.

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And in fifth place I'd have put the super-suave Portugal, finishing halfway down the field in 12th place. Good staging of a rather haunting song.


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Both Australia and Ireland [the latter still holding the record of having had the most wins] had failed to make it through the semi-finals.

The four presenters, maddening as usual with all the usual needless filling-in of blustering, delays and teasings we've come to expect - "Are you ready?" - Cripes!  Just get on with the darned thing!  - included this year a trans, Nikkie de Jager, who uses the name 'Nikkie Tutorials' - don't ask me why. I won't reveal as to which of them was trans though all I will say is that as far as performing her designated function was concerned, she stood head and shoulders above her other three co-presenters.


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So that's it for another year. Not one of the best Eurovisions I've seen, though still a disturbingly compulsive watch, and I do think the quality of songs presented was, by and large, better than some years past. The big question for 2022 in Italy is - will the U.K. ever manage to break out of its sequence of humiliating defeats in the lowest circle of Hell, and if so how - and with whom? Last time we won was 1997. More than high time we recovered some good ol' British 'oomph'!


Friday, 12 March 2021

Women being safe from men.

 

This is the current hot topic in our news programmes, following the discovery of a body in Kentish woodland, now identified to be that of a 33-year old woman who'd been missing for several days after failing to return to her home from visiting a friend in South London. She'd been last seen on her homebound 50-minute walk after 9 p.m. some days ago. Two people have been arrested under suspicion, one an acting London police officer (off-duty at the time of the woman's disappearance), the other, his wife, suspected of helping to conceal his involvement, if any, in the crime. The occupation of the person being questioned - already named by most of the tabloids, plus some others - makes the story even more sensational than it otherwise might have been. In addition, there's now the revelation that a very few days before the woman's disappearance this suspect, then in civilian clothes, had been reported by several members of the public for having flashed himself in some fast-food establishment, an investigation of the incident not yet having been followed through. 

Of course the event of a woman going missing, then found having been murdered is, sadly, very far from unusual in any country, but this time it's brought the issue to national consciousness to an extent that we haven't seen for many a year - namely, that we are still living in times when a woman's safety in public, no matter whereabouts in this country, still cannot yet be taken for granted. Far from it.

It brings to my mind an incident in 1991 shortly after I'd started to live in Hounslow, West London, which for me turned into a 2-year stint there. I wasn't as yet familiar with the area, and on one occasion in full daylight, I found myself lost on a moderately busy road. Looking around for someone nearby to put me right, I saw that there was a lone, young, black lady, probably in her early 20s, following a few yards behind me. I began "Excuse me, can you help m......." Her reaction was alarming and unexpected. She'd stopped and she was staring at me - then started shrieking "Aieeeeeeeee......." at the top of her voice and began to run away back in the direction she'd just come from, looking behind her nervously - presumably checking if I was coming after her. Of course I was just standing there in shock. At least she hadn't been calling out "Help!" She stopped maybe fifty yards away and turned, watching me. Meanwhile, having just got over my initial surprise there was an oldish couple coming towards me, with whom I was able to enquire as to my whereabouts. They must have seen what had happened but were quite relaxed about my asking them for help, which they quite pleasantly gave me. While I'd been talking to them, the young woman had walked forward and passed us, giving me a wide berth, but she must have heard my genuine enquiry and may well (I'm guessing) have felt rather abashed at her behaviour. When I was alone again I can't recall now if I'd been directed to the same direction she was now going in but I'm sure that if I had been I'd have given her plenty of time to get well ahead of me. 

I don't blame her in the slightest for anything at all, my being more perplexed than offended. After my initial surprise I must have assumed that she'd mistaken me for someone else with whom she'd had a bad experience - an assault, or even more than that, only worse. Or perhaps it was more general. Maybe she'd been subject to some traumatic event which made her suspect any and every man who approached her, so badly that it had affected the rest of her life. Whatever the cause of her behaviour it's profoundly and sadly disturbing - especially so if she'd understandably been reliving her part as a victim of some horrific act. 

There must be an untold number of women around like this, women who are daily living out their deeply unpleasant experiences, or just the threat of such happenings, but in such a way as to affect their regular conduct with the world, including the thought that potentially every man has evil designs on her. Sometimes, indeed, their fears may be quite justified, as proven too late to the unfortunate recently murdered woman. 

What a truly sad state we're in - all of us! 


Monday, 8 February 2021

One jab done, one to go.

 

I'd known that nausea was one of the possible after-effects of getting the Covid jab but hadn't expected it to be as marked as it was. All the following day, yesterday, could eat hardly anything at all and spent about 20 hours in bed (with several cats) just waiting for it to be over with, as well as feeling all-over creaky and somewhat painful to move. Now this morning, although that has definitely subsided, though the sore arm is more evident, there's still the feeling that any moment a rush to crouch over the toilet may envelop me. 

But still, at least it's done. Meanwhile in the news now there's the scarcely encouraging daily info about how the Oxford astrazenaca vac (if that's the one they gave me, as is likely) offers only "minimal protection" against at least one of the latest newer strains. Oh well. What else can one do? Heigh-ho!

Wednesday, 30 December 2020

Channel 4's Alternative Christmas Message from Deepfake Queen.

Got to be the just about the funniest thing I've seen in quite a loooooooooooong while! 😄
Bless you, ma'am. 

And a very Happy New Year to you all, with heartfelt wishes for a healthy, safe and prosperous 2021. In fact, simply wishing for a better year than 2020 was for you is not too much to hope for, is it? 

Friday, 18 December 2020

"Now don't be frightened. It's only a little prick."

 

"Ooh, matron - take it away!"

Smirks and 'Carry On......' innuendo aside, has anyone else noticed that this year on TV, virtually any mention of Covid on the news has got to be accompanied by long, lingering shots of someone on the receiving end of a jab. Of course, up to now we've always seen brief shots of patients given a pre-injection swab on the upper arm but, as far as I can recall, hardly ever of the needle going in - though now in close-up too - and being held there for several seconds before being withdrawn. It makes me wince seeing it so much now, just about daily, that I have to either look away or change channels. In fact only the other day I changed channels for that very reason from BBC national news to ITV local news and - as you might guess - both sides were simultaneously showing the same procedure. Even Channels 4 and 5 as well as Sky News are doing it now. so that I just want to screeeeeeam!  

I have to get a regular such poke for giving a sample of blood to be checked twice a year for my diabetes [type 2] condition, as well as getting the annual Winter flu jab, plus maybe once or twice more for other reasons, but I just get it done and over with as speedily as I can as there's no alternative. I just start looking away and gritting teeth long before the needle goes in. But it's really no big deal. What I do not need is for my nose to be rubbed in it by constant visual reminders of what it's like. Jeepers creepers, we all know


Every time I go for the annual diabetes check with a nurse at the doctor's surgery it's suggested (every flaming time!) that I really ought to do daily self-monitoring of my own blood to check glucose level, which involves pricking the head of the thumb to obtain a small smear of blood which you can measure on a little thingummyjig they provide you with. About 5 years ago I was given all what's needed to do that very thing myself. When it came to it I just could not give myself the required thumb-jab. Surely I can't be alone in this. It's not cowardice - well, okay, maybe it is - but I've always been a haemophobe (as regards other people's blood as well as my own) which was a major reason why I could stay no longer with St John Ambulance after a two-year stint. My phobia was hindering any effectiveness I might have otherwise had.

As for my diabetes, it hasn't caused me any major problems. Maybe just once a month or so I might get a dizzy spell through having low glucose, but that's put right quite easily by chewing on a few glucose tablets. As to how I'm to know if that level is higher than it should be, well I suppose self-monitoring would have revealed it, but not being able to do so I don't know how to tell. However, so far it's not caused any discernible problems.

Anyway, when it comes to Covid, at my present age and with the underlying condition I have, I'm not expecting to have a long wait before being called for my turn to take the jab - and go I shall, with no hesitation, albeit with just a little trepidation and gritted teeth. What I certainly do not need is to be shown on TV what the experience looks like. If their idea is to show how trivial the whole matter is, I can't be unique in it having precisely the opposite effect on me. (D'you hear that, all you TV companies?)



Tuesday, 1 December 2020

Brrrrrrrrrr! Winter, begone with you!


 Oh, how I do intensely dislike cold weather - and temps haven't even touched zero C yet, though it has been grazed on a couple of nights. No one here in this country has seen any new snow except, perhaps, high on the Scottish mountains. 

My antipathy for Winter is exacerbated by having two large rooms to keep warm, living room and bedroom (plus kitchen, of course) not just for me but for my four co-residents who feel the cold as acutely as, or even more than, I do, despite their being permanently enshrouded in their fur coats. The expense of keeping us all from freezing is a challenge every year - and now, as reliable as ever, come the warnings that this Winter will be the coldest, if not since ever, then for many years past. But we hear this doom-laden prediction year after year around this time though it never turns out to be as bad as that - so far. 

Perfectly aware that I ought to be grateful that I've got a roof over my head - being homeless for just a short while would see the end of me I'm sure. Any thoughts about the depth of suffering of those unfortunate people cuts deep, as it should.  So let's stifle my grumbling - after all, it's just three weeks to go before nights start, even if hardly perceptibly, back to getting shorter. In the meantime, my current mood is - ROLL ON SPRING!!!

Monday, 16 November 2020

Using the word 'liberal' as an insult.

 

In my daily watching of the current American political shenanigans [mostly via YouTube] I find myself partly bemused, partly confused, by the frequent hurling of certain words from one side to the other [I won't say which side to which 'cos there's no need], not just in terms of deprecation, but in the expectation that the person to whom such address is made is going to feel utterly crushed by such an imprecation, something which we Brits - [at least the vast majority of us] would not feel in any way cowed by - and, to give credit to our American 'cousins' who are the targets of such, for the most part neither are they. 

There's a number of such terms being bandied about as though they were 'terms of abuse' and deemed by the attacking side as being sufficiently cutting enough to close down conversation, including, apart from the word 'liberal' itself, 'socialist', 'anti-capitalist', 'politically correct', 'tolerant', 'non-discriminatory' - and, hopelessly off the mark to genuinely apply to 99% of both British and American politicians, 'communist' [of all the terms!]. I, for one, and I'm sure all those of or close to, my persuasions would feel not only unfazed by but actually quite proud to be referred to in these terms - well, perhaps not 'communist' but only because anyone informed enough can see that it's manifestly wide of the mark. 



I bring the subject up because recently in our TV networks' reporting on the recent decisive election result [at least the 'President' part of it] and its needlessly drawn-out aftermath, a number of American politicians from both sides are being invited to give interviews here - and exclusively for the Republicans, their interviews almost invariably descend to 'accusing' the BBC or Channel Four [our most middle-of-the-road channel, some would claim slightly left-of-centre] of being - shock, horror! - a typically 'liberal' or even 'left wing' [!] medium, as though that alone invalidates all questions being asked, the interviewer being expected to deny such an egregious 'slur', which they never do, often while trying to hide the smile on their faces. This happens time and time again. 

To give the British Conservative Party its due, its members do not spit out these and similar words with the name-calling venom that some American Republicans do in accusatory tone. If they are used at all it's in the sense of being non-judgmentally factual. And I've also noticed, by the way, that when an American right-wing politician is suggested as being 'reactionary' or even a 'fascist-sympathiser' they rarely, if ever, wish to disassociate themselves from such words. Interesting.

 But those I'm talking about here, rather than answer a searching question they'll draw out the argument, usually because the answer is too difficult or they don't have one, by throwing in a time-wasting hostile deflection. Can't they just see that such faux-vituperations have zero effect? Exasperating! 

So, to all those to whom I'm referring, pray let me have just one more word..........