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

----------------------------------------------------------

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.


--------------------------------------------------------------

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. 

---------------------------------------------------------------

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.



-------------------------------------------------------------



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.

---------------------------------------------------------------

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.




---------------------------------------------------------------




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.

---------------------------------------------------------------

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.


-----------------------------------------------------------
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.


---------------------------------------------------------------


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!