Sunday, May 22, 2005

Nobody loves us

Being back home with my parents is just about starting to grate now. The Flatmates are well trained to know that if I’m sat in my room with my door closed, I probably want to be sat in my room with my door closed and it is only necessary to knock with offers of cups of one-and-a-half-sugared tea or trips to the pub. Not so with my parents.

And so tonight, I was just heading out for some curry and booze when, halfway out the door, mum announced she’d cooked me up some food and seemed pretty put-out that I was going out. In these situations it’s very tempting to throw a teenage strop, but I’ve got just about enough control to see that that sort of ingratitude wouldn’t really help anything. But having not lived at home for 5 years now, I’m used to not expecting someone to cook me food unbidden or for someone to expect to be told where and when I’m going out so it’s not really a case of me being ungrateful towards her; just that I forget she doesn’t necessarily take my independence as a given. So I seethed a bit, but the Phantom Menace was on TV so I just focused on Jar Jar Binks for 15 minutes, and then called the guys up to cancel.

So, the offshoot of all this is I stayed in and watched the Eurovision Song Contest. Now, I never properly watch the whole thing, I can only manage about 4 or 5 songs before I become numb: the only bit I really like is the scoring. This means I can get whipped up into a state of ill-informed indignation, because if I’m going to get indignant it may as well be in quite a pompous and nescient fashion. And besides, they’ve changed the format slightly in that on the final night only 24 or so countries are involved (otherwise, with the rate of Europe’s expansion, in a decade or so it may have to be staged over a whole weekend) which means a lot of the truly awful (and therefore most entertaining) acts have been culled. In fact, from what I did see, it all seemed a lot slicker than I remember it being. Although there did seem to be a prevalence of big drums for some reason.

The UK came off pretty badly again (but better than last year). It looks like that (non-existent) second UN Resolution will haunt us for a while yet (and probably rightly so). It got me wondering about the UK’s reputation abroad. Do our fellow Europeans dislike us for our ‘US Lapdog’ status - do they feel betrayed over Iraq, the way the UK has seemingly failed to side with and ignored our neighbours? If so, do they realise there was and is a significant anti-Bush stance here, that a huge proportion of the population didn’t support the war and were deeply ashamed by it, and that there is perhaps as much disillusionment with the government as we’ve seen for 10 years? Certainly, I remember being in Vienna during the last Iraqi conflict and being surprised to have some bespectacled Austrian accost me at a party upon discovering my nationality and start lecturing me as though I was the Labour Party general secretary about the ills of Blair, to the point that he was jabbing a finger in my chest. I was sorely tempted to punch him on the nose. Not through any sense of patriotism or in order to defend Tony’s credentials as a social democrat (aaahem) you understand, it was just he seemed like the sort of chap who it might have done some good to. But anyway, I’d really like to know about people’s perspectives of the UK (slightly drunk Austrian politics students aside) so any Europeans or otherwise reading (yeah right), fill me in.

But all this said, in fact, Eurovision was a bad night score-wise for the whole of Old Europe give or take. Does this have any political significance? Or does it just perhaps reflect that Europe is expanding, and with it tastes and preferences are broadening. Perhaps Balkan States say, or the Scandinavians, have more similar tastes to each other than Western European countries, and therefore are guaranteed points as a Macedonian will dig what gets an Albanian tapping his foot, whilst a Frenchman might cry “c’est merde!” to the latest Belgian ditty.

So, a fair night’s entertainment – scantily clad women, flag waving, political intrigue, off-key singing and fantastic hair styles. And Viktor Yushchenko put in an appearance too, still looking as though he’s been pebble-dashed.


Claire said...

It certainly was a great evening with lots of food, sweets and drink consumed by those of us watching here in Bristol! I share your concern over how we're viewed within Europe as a nation though thanks to the acts of our Government...we really are disliked aren't we?! Mind you it could just be that Javine's performance was AWFUL!!

deanne said...

Poor Yushie! He used to be a real looker pre-pebble dashing!

deanne said...

Poor Yushie! He used to be a real looker pre-pebble dashing!

Meredith said...

Can you believe that on the first night of my Holiday to England I found myself watching Eurovision?! As an American I had no idea such a thing existed!

After my trip there are three things I will never complain about in America again-Gas Prices, Roads, and Nothing on TV!

Still I loved your country. Absolutely beautiful.