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…

Quiz shows

I do watch quiz shows on tv sometimes. Not game shows, and definitely not all shows. University Challenge is a no-no, as is Mastermind. My only interest is to answer the questions posed, and the topics for those are specialised and, really, of no interest. Who on earth cares about the History of Dutch Cheese 1842 to 1988?

General knowledge quiz shows are better. You stand a chance. But there are some things that annoy me about them.

First of all, questions are not easy or hard. If you know the answer, it’s easy, otherwise it’s impossible. A Mathematical calculation may be hard, but not impossible given enough time or a piece of paper. Knowing who wrote the play King Charles III is not – you know or you don’t (Mike Bartlett). Maybe you can make a guess, or pick the mostly likely answer of three in multiple choice, but there’s no such thing in the universe as an ‘educated guess’. A guess is a guess because you don’t know something. Educated means you have knowledge ie you know. You may be able to look at three choices and reject one, but if you don’t know between the remainder, a guess is still a guess.

It’s always worth saying something rather than nothing. A ‘pass’ will never win, but there is a miniscule chance a random guess may be correct.

Quizzers know certain rules about guessing: oceans are often Pacific, simply because it is so huge and contains lots of stuff. Dairy products is probably cheese. ‘Bird’ or ‘fish’ is often a good answer for animals. British royalty is either Henry VIII, Victoria or Queen Elizabeth II. Prime Ministers from olden times can often be Churchill, from recent times Thatcher and modern times Blair. If for no other reason, because they were around for a long time. “What star” questions are usually The Sun.

It has always seemed to me that, faced with a question about something you’ve never heard of and three choices, one of which you’ve never heard of, then these would be the best guesses. If you had heard of one, you might be more likely to have heard of the other.

I record the programmes and cut out the waffle. I don’t want to know how old you are, what you did for a living, the names of your ten children, what you will do with the money etc… I don’t want you to sing, especially if you are a female Egghead. I don’t want the sponsors of the adverts. Mind, if I ever appeared on The Chase and Bradley Walsh asked me “if you was to win some money, what would you do with it?” then I have the perfect answer: “buy you a book about English grammar, Brad.”

The Chase can be good, but there are bits that are more than annoying. The player asking the others what choice they should make contributes nothing to anything, nor Walsh insulting the chasers. And when he says “you got one, but you’re a better player than that” is palpable nonsense. If you get one, that’s how good a player you are. If you answered ten correctly, then ditto. You are as good as you are, no better and no worse. To a large extent, there’s luck to the questions too.

The worst aspect of quizzes is this: “Which famous king had six wives?” The contestant answers, “ooh, that’s before my time”. Yes, most of the history of the universe is, but it doesn’t prevent you from knowing things! And comperes who make stupid comments, like Q: Who wrote To Kill A Mockingbird? A: Charles Dickens Compere: Close, you are on the right lines.

Tipping Point is the best for totally stupid people. A classic question was “What country do Scotsmen come from?”. The answer given was “Paris”.

Perhaps even worse is the presenter saying “Of course”. For example:

  • “Who wrote Forever and Sunsmell”
  • “Don’t know”
  • “John Cage, of course”

Right…