It’s a great dane

In the 1960s and 70s I became a little interested in politics. I thought Edward Heath and George Brown were the old fuddy duddy type of politician, but liked Harold Wilson (he gave the Beatles MBEs after all). I also liked Jeremy Thorpe, of the Liberals. He seemed young and trendy. Looking at newsreel clips of him now, I have no idea why I thought that.

There’s a complicated story surrounding Thorpe. Here is a brief summary:

It appears that Thorpe had a homosexual affair with a man named Norman Scott in the early 1960s at a time when homosexuality was illegal. Scott continued to pester Thorpe for money over a period of time. He wouldn’t go away, and then one day someone tried to ill him. Scott’s dog was shot and killed, but the gun failed and Scott was not killed.

He was tried for conspiracy, and acquitted, but it ended Thorpe’s career.

A new tv series (only 3 episodes) with, for once, a rather excellent Hugh Grant has stirred interest in the whole thing again. I suppose it was rather brushed under the carpet at the time.

This is from the BBC only a few days ago: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-44336859 

 

Monaco

I rarely watch any sport, and have no interest in it, but found myself watching the F1 race in Monaco yesterday. This is always hyped up as being the best race of the year, as they drive through the streets rather than on a track.

Now, I’m not a driver of anything. I don’t much understand cars. I have no interest in tyre strategy. And it seems to be that a course where it is almost impossible to overtake does not make a good race.

For various reasons I did not understand, restrictions and rules about what was allowed I think, this was as uncompetitive a race as you could see. It was basically a procession around a course. I think they finished in the same order they qualified (sorry if I am wrong, but it was something like that). I fell asleep for a good while, woke up and nothing had happened.

I was not the only person who thought that. Even Lewis Hamilton thought it was pretty boring: https://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/formula1/44274950

There’s another kind of car racing where they use cars with electric engines. The batteries don’t last half the race, so I think they swap cars half way through.

I knew someone who went to the British grand prix every year. Years ago she was paying upwards of £100 ticket. Current prices seem to go into the thousands. Sitting in a stand, she said, you could watch the cars zoom by once every couple of minutes, but it was hard to tell who was who. They have big tv screens, she said, so we watch it on that.

Boring stuff.

 

Eurovision – the result

It was a very exciting contest. The songs were generally better than usual, the lack of silly performers a refreshing change, a majority of female performers, I think, with deep cut cleavage being the order of the day. I missed the lack of enormous video screen at the back – it has been responsible for many great shows.

Congratulations to Israel for winning. On the night, she really gave it all.

We voted for Lithuania, which was a rather quiet and rather sad little song.

And the voting, which is the best part of the show, gets shortened every year, but even so the show ran nearly four hours. Perhaps they could remove the interval acts? And since it’s presented in English, why do we need a UK commentator talking in English over people explaining things perfectly clearly anyway. And he was talking over the songs!

As you may have seen, the much hyped UK entry did not do well. We were third from bottom. Had we been made to compete in a semi-final, we may not even have got through to the final.

During the song, some man ran onto the stage, grabbed the microphone and shouted a message. You have to wonder what the security people were doing. The singer, SuRie, was given another microphone and finished the song, and was offered an opportunity to sing it again, but declined. I don’t know why. It wasn’t a bad song, and she sang it OK. Another exposur does help people get used to the song, and she may have done better than she actually did. Perhaps she declined because she already knew it was a lost cause.

Eurovision

It’s that time of year again, the Eurovision Song Contest.

I enjoy the ESC, and have done as far back as I can remember. It started proper in 1956, and I would have been too tiny to remember watching that, but I do have early memories of watching the black and white early 60s ones, Matt Monro and the like.

Most of us remember Sandie Shaw, who was the UK’s first big winner, Lulu and even Cliff, and there have been many great highlights since then, in the 60+ years. Abba, Riverdance, Johnny Logan, Alex Rybak, Bucks Fizz, even the wonderful Nicole:

My friends make fun of me, especially when I say I would love to go, if it was in the UK. Not much chance of that, I hear you say. We need to produce a good song by a decent singer first. They say that the voting system has been changed slightly this year to make it easier for us to win fairer.

It always looks like one great European party. People in the audience seem to be having a great time. Sure some of the songs are duff, and some are wonderful, but that doesn’t matter – everyone gets a cheer. You have ten or twenty or thirty thousand people from all over Europe showing that we are all the same, all nice people.

And not just from Eurore of course. It is Eurovision, so any country that takes the Eurovision programmes can enter, hence Australia, who have appeared for the past few years, produced really great songs and done very well. Wish they could win. It’s a truly bonding experience, and it’s good that the UK will still be in it after Brexit.

And, before you scoff, the presentation and the technology are astounding, and don’t forget it is the second most watched tv programme in the whole world, after the Superbowl…