Monday, 7 May 2018

Heading to the Portuguese Front...

Happy Bank Holiday Monday, everyone! By the time this 'drops' I'll be sitting on a jammed A-road attempting to leave Wales, along with vast swathes of roof-racked, luggage-laden families. It's a legal requirement after the shenanigans of a UK mini-break. Hey ho, I'll hopefully get home soon.

2009's themed Eurovision buffet.
I particularly like the bowl
of sauerkraut gamely
representing Germany.
Indeed, I need a prompt return from my hols. In two days time, I'm gallivanting again. I know, who the frig do I think I am? What kind of international event could be taking place that means I up sticks so soon after a weekend of family fun? What on earth is going on? I think everyone of good conscience knows the score. The date's been in our diaries for months. I don't even need to say it, do I? After three, let's shout it together. One, two, three... IT'S EUROVISION!!!!!!!!!!!!

 2011. The BBC's party
pack was utilised
that year. Big time
It's been four years since I attended the Eurovision Song Contest. Copenhagen 2014. I can say (and without a hint of sarcasm) that it was the best night of my life. I'm not joking. It was utterly epic. After decades of watching the contest at home, I was actually there. Surrounded by like-minded, lovely strangers, all happy to dance, wave their flags and cheer the night away. Despite being six hundred miles from home and sitting in a revamped Danish shipyard, everything felt reassuringly recognisable. Charpentier's Te Deum opened proceedings as usual. It gives me giddy goosebumps when I'm on my sofa with my score pad, so hearing it at the actual contest was beyond words. Then Kasper Juul from Borgen rocked up as one of the hosts. Seeing his face was like spotting someone you vaguely remember from school. It was strangely familiar but took a moment to place. And then there was Graham Norton.* In his commentary booth, looking down on us all, like a lovely uncle overseeing proceedings. Everything would be OK as long as Graham was in the house. The winner that year was Conchita Wurst with Rise Like a Phoenix**. It would have been my all time favourite Eurovision winner had I been in my lounge at home - it was a cracking song regardless - but watching her win in the flesh, was spectacular. 

The message I sent to the family
WhatsApp group on 5th May 2014.
Reminiscent in style (but not so much tone)
of telegrams from the Western Front.
I have the best memories of the whole event. It was an amazing night in the middle of a great holiday, but one I've never tried to replicate. I know that as experiences go, it can't be beaten. It was unique. From the host city, to the eventual winner, to my disposable income, to the fact I'd been bingeing The Bridge and Borgen in the months leading up to it - the happy set of circumstances all aligned for Copenhagen 2014. I've positively reminisced ever since, whilst staying firmly at home. My Eurovision routine is set. I have themed-snacks, a variety of European spirits and a night of live tweeting to attend to. I've no time to leave the country this days.

I feel like Charlie Bucket
with a golden ticket.
(Mine's on Tesco economy
printer paper, though.)
Until now. Yeah, you heard. Until now! One of my 40th birthday presents was a ticket to the second semi-final! Having thought I'd only ever cheer along in front of my TV, I'm going to be in Lisbon to soak up the Eurovision week atmosphere. I cannot wait. If it's anything like Copenhagen, it'll be reminiscent of when the Olympics hit town. A lively mix of people from everywhere, all converging on one place to have the ultimate party. And I get to be there! What is particularly lovely is that I'll see the Thursday evening semi-final, and be back in my gaff for the Saturday night main event. My live-tweeting action will not be compromised. My Polish vodka will not be undrunk. My well-established routine for my favourite night of the year, remains in place. I'll just have some cracking first hand knowledge of the Portuguese vibe while I watch.

I drink a shot
whenever Poland
performs. Stocks
are low.
But for now, I'm still trying to get back from Wales. Will I ever make it from behind this camper van with the bikes attached? Will I ever see the Runcorn bridge again? Check back next week where I hope I'm awash with Eurovision afterglow.

Have a lovely week, folks.

*I've added a link for Graham just incase his show isn't broadcast in some of the far flung locations whose bots click my blog. But it feels daft. Without giving it much thought before, I listen to him significantly more than I do members of my own family. Between Friday night TV, Saturday morning radio, and the fact he commentates on my favourite night of the year, his presence, like breathing, needs no explanation.

**I was sitting on the left of the stage for that performance. Electrifying doesn't come near to describing the atmosphere in the arena when Conchita sang that. 

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