A medieval giant, dancing astronauts, Greek men in kilts singing about free alcohol, a Finnish woman in a wedding dress begging her long-term boyfriend to marry her on the grounds that she will give him “cuter babies than other ladies”…yes, it can only be that very special time of year when bloggers and tweeters up and down Scotland stop doing whatever they were doing, and worship at the altar of Eurovision instead. (And rest assured that those who don’t will be first up against the wall come the revolution.) The brilliant Sophia Pangloss got the ball rolling with this characteristically shoot-from-the-hip preview of the contest –
“Moldova – musical run-o-the-mill, but a lovely frock an great hair, awfy arrestin…
Finland – Trash. Next…
Russia – Big happy song wi a peace thing gaun oan, should dae awright…
Greece – Ach ye’ve got tae let the Greeks hae a wee laugh this year, it’s only fair…
Ukraine – Cannae understand this bein a favourite, an the giant cairryin her oan, er, whit?”
So what did Scotland’s tweeters make of the spectacle on the night itself? Claire O’Gallagher was a fan of Norway and the Netherlands, although something gave me the slight impression that Greece was her outright favourite. Maybe it was her use of screaming block capitals when she tweeted “THIS HAS TO WIN. YAMAS!!!” All the same, she suspected the “naked bodhrán drummers” from Ireland had snatched victory at the death.
Will Patterson started off liking “the woman with the flaming dress” (think that was Moldova), before apologising profusely to the people of Malta for enjoying their entry too much. His favourites never win, you see. He took sharp exception to the idea that the German entry was a rip-off of last year’s winner Loreen – after all, “Loreen was in tune”. He also rated Norway highly, feeling it had “plenty of oomph”. You’re a man of taste and discernment, Will. Speaking of which, Lynn Corrigan also gets top marks from me for somehow referencing the Norwegian entry and the Blake’s 7 character Servalan in the same tweet.
Controversial Labour activist Duncan Hothersall reported that his partner reflexively started singing Flower of Scotland as soon as Spain struck up the bagpipes. For pity’s sake, Duncan, take that man of yours to one side and have a stern word with him – we’re better together, God Save the Queen can easily be played on the bagpipes, and there’s no good reason why a separatist dirge should pop into anyone’s head at a moment like that. Duncan also took an instant liking to Finland, for the very best of reasons –
“Lyrics awful. Staging embarrassing. Sounds a bit like she’s singing “f*** you”. Finland is definitely my favourite so far.”
In the end, of course, it was Denmark’s Emmelie de Forest who emerged as the comfortable winner – as I ingeniously managed to predict in advance by copying everyone else’s predictions. Gail Ross reckoned that the ending had echoes of The Hunger Games (I’m not entirely sure what she means by that and frankly I hope I never find out), while Paul Leinster was just one of many who were eagerly awaiting Birgitte Nyborg’s statement on her country’s triumph. Spectator editor Fraser Nelson proudly pointed out that de Forrest has a Scottish connection, as she has spent the last five years working in collaboration with Fraser Neill.
Even the sinister Cybernat hordes, who normally spend their recreational time driving national treasures away from Twitter with despicable abuse such as “hello” and “I like your cardigan”, took the night off to revel in the success of a small northern European nation of five million people. Pete Wishart (famously the first MP to have appeared on Top of the Pops) declared that he had found the experience of tweeting during Eurovision for the first time “cathartic”, adding – “Go Denmark, and all those other independent self-governing nations”. Alex MacLeod turned his attention to who might represent Scotland at the contest if we ever get the chance to follow in Denmark’s footsteps, suggesting that Wishart’s old band Runrig should get the nod. But Wishart’s own colleague Angus MacNeil MP dropped a bombshell by approvingly retweeting someone who would much prefer Dotaman.
One or two Nats did express some misgivings about the prospect of Scottish representation at Eurovision. Better Independent fretted over whether Scotland would have to apply to take part, pointing out that there is just “so much uncertainty”. And Wishart himself wondered aloud if “oil is too volatile a resource for an independent Scotland to do well in Eurovision”. Keep the faith, Pete – if all else fails, let’s not forget we’re the Saudi Arabia of marine renewables potential as well.
There was also a certain amount of non-Eurovision blogging this week which I am apparently contractually obliged to cover in this roundup. On Thursday evening, Nicola Sturgeon and Michael Moore locked horns in the first of what may be a great many head-to-head debates over the course of the long independence referendum campaign. Moore’s main attack line concerned the SNP’s supposed lack of a “Plan B” on their currency proposals, but Rev. Stuart Campbell was distinctly unimpressed -
“There’s a very good reason why nobody in the UK government will actually come out and say a Sterling zone wouldn’t be allowed, despite being repeatedly pressed on the subject by interviewers. It’s because it IS an empty threat aimed only at sowing fear, uncertainty and doubt. The longer the referendum debate goes on, the harder it will be to sustain the illusion.”
And now I have some grave news to impart, ladies and gentlemen. Fascism is once again stalking the streets of a European capital – and this time it’s serious. The March on Rome, the Night of the Long Knives, the Anschluss…all of these things pale into insignificance now that Nigel Farage has been called a bawbag on a trip to the Royal Mile. He was of course there to launch UKIP’s campaign for the Aberdeen Donside by-election. Tris from Munguin’s Republic and Mike Small from Bella Caledonia are just two of the many bloggers who bizarrely appear to be drawing some kind of amusement from this perfectly logical choice of location. Could I just say, though, that I’d be really grateful if a Shetland councillor could resign his or her seat sometime soon, because I’d quite like there to be a local by-election, just so I can attend the UKIP campaign launch. I’ve always fancied a visit to the North Pole.
The lifeblood of fascism is of course the demonisation of minority groups, and it looks like the chosen victims this time are former stockbrokers, and men from the Home Counties who don’t like Romanian immigrants. How on Earth did that happen? Lord Monty may have a clue – he’s discovered that one member of the “Scottish nationalist fascist” menace that Mr Farage has so bravely brought to our attention is a Labour-supporting former public schoolboy who attended Harrow. Jeez, it’s always those guys, isn’t it?
On Tuesday, Highland Council gave the go-ahead for a lap-dancing club to open in Inverness. Taking issue with claims from the Women’s Support Project that what goes on in such an establishment constitutes ‘violence against women’, sex worker and prolific blogger Laura Lee tells the story of how, in her view, taking up lap-dancing saved her life –
“In that club, I found solidarity and I found camaraderie with the other women. I also found independence and a freedom from fear. I was safe, at last.”
Today is the day of the ‘Pedal on Parliament’ event in Edinburgh, which is seeking action on improving safety for cyclists. Sara Dorman has been wondering how to safely get families from Harrison Park to the Meadows during the event, and points out that the logistical difficulties are testament to the very need for holding the protest in the first place.
Michael of Carers Speaking Out is also involved in campaigning. He explains how the isolation of life as a carer, and the need to fight for himself and the person he cares for, has given him the strength to also fight for the interests of other people in the same position, both locally and nationally.
For Gin or Gym, though, the true strength has been found in knocking down a wall she built a long time ago to protect herself –
“If you think about it when we cut ourselves we put a sticking plaster on to stop the bleeding or to help the wound heal but when we hurt ourselves psychologically, we stick a dirty great big wall up so that we will never be wounded again. It takes guts to demolish that wall, to let people see that you are human, that you do cry, you do hurt when unkind things are said even in a joke and yes, you do get emotional when you succeed. For those of us who suffer from any kind of panic or anxiety disorder taking that wall down is flippin scary because you worry that it could have other consequences. Not me, no more, I am demolishing that wall.”
And on that inspirational note, that’s your lot for this week. Don’t forget to help out next week’s editor by nominating any interesting blogposts you come across on your travels. Oh, and could I just offer my heartfelt thanks to the people I follow on Twitter for actually talking about Eurovision last night. If they hadn’t, I’d have been in far more urgent need of a Plan B than Nicola Sturgeon.