World of Chig   

Chig's Eurovision night - Part one

Saturday night then. Blimey, it seems like a long time ago.

So, I taxi to the Nightingale for 18:00, complete with camera, scoresheets, salty nuts and lollipops. Miss Maxi’s there already, slumped against the outside wall, waiting for them to open up. It’s only the second time I’ve seen him in man drag. It’s a lovely evening. I'm excited.

We go upstairs and switch on the mixing desk and plasma screen. Test the mics, put more chairs out and wipe down the furniture as there’s still dust caused by the refurb which is still being finished downstairs. Have a word with the technical people. Put up the easel and flipchart that we’re going to use later to display the Nightingale’s Eurovision vote.

All fine so far, but after about twenty minutes, the picture on the screen starts scrolling and flickering horribly. This is the main one above the little stage. There’s a plasma screen working perfectly in a smaller corner, but that is coming from a different feed and apparently has no sound.

I know that, a week before, they hadn’t sorted out the TV, but I’d been in on Friday and been told it was all sorted, and indeed it was, until the picture started going funny. A group of techies and staff all appear and fiddle around with the Freeview box and the aerial, but no joy. From 19:00, people start coming in. Instead of greeting them, as planned, I ignore them and try not to give away that I am panicking inside. I think the words ‘No Signal’ which keep appearing on screen may be giving the game away though. Miss M misses most of this, as obviously she has a transformation to do backstage.

The manager, a friend of mine for fifteen years or more, had said to ring him in Gran Canaria if there were any problems, so I do. He suggests trying to view the TV through a VCR instead of the Freeview box. Good idea, but I ask the staff and there’s no VCR in the building. Why would there be? Can we just move the whole evening downstairs to the main dancefloor? No, because the electrics haven’t all been finished after the refurb. We can’t get any TV signal on the screens down there. Only one thing for it, so I check with the techies that a VCR would definitely work and run downstairs to call a taxi. I ignore the growing number of punters and phone Miss M backstage saying ‘Can you look after everybody?’ It’s 19:40 when I hop in the cab, heart pounding, to drive back to my house and grab my VCR. I’m fuming that we’re probably going to miss the beginning of Eurovision and the whole opening act. The Te Deum on CD, the funny routine I had worked out, the explanation of the scoresheets, everything we had planned has gone down the pan. Apart from that, we may have a riot on our hands if there’s no picture by 20:00. So, one very understanding taxi driver. One sprint into my house as the taxi driver turns the car around. One mad Chig, pulling all the leads out the back of the telly and plug sockets at home, while thinking, 'I just set this two hours ago to record the bloody show – what am I going to do now? Sprinting out of the house past neighbours in the avenue, with a VCR, trailing electrical leads behind me. Back in the taxi, apologising for looking like a burglar. Miraculously, back to the club at 19:56. I bound up the stairs, two at a time. Miss M looks serene behind the mixing desk. Only half a dozen punters, looking astonishingly calm. No sign of frazzled technicians. They’ve managed to move it downstairs after all. Some customers have followed. Others have no idea what’s going on. The techies are just checking it works. I run downstairs. BBC One is on the screens. Joseph has ended. We’re seconds away. Can we bring people down? Yes. Run back upstairs and Miss Maxi announces on the mic that we’re moving downstairs. Oh, and there’s nowhere to sit. People move. I grab the scoresheets and hide my VCR, which is now completely redundant and not even recording the show for me. Eurovision starts as I run down the stairs onto the dancefloor again. The punters are amazingly calm and nice. I try to be calm while explaining what’s happened to the ones who ask. They’re all very understanding but my heart is pounding and I’m sweating rather too much to appear cool.

Some people gather round one of the screens which doesn’t have any sound coming from it directly. The others lean on the bar and watch the big new video wall, where you can see a big picture, three times in fact, but broken up across six and nine screens. It’ll have to do. The bar staff perform miracles, setting up a bar which wasn’t supposed to be open, in the space of a few minutes. Eurovision has started, but thank god for long Eurovision intros and I’m also thinking ‘it’s only Bosnia’ if I miss the first song. I give out the scoresheets. Only a few people don’t want them. They’re generally well received (and I know my sheets are also being used at parties in Bristol, Buckinghamshire and Israel at the same time, which feels good). People tend to take one for each group, which makes my life much easier later on. One man says he can fill it in now if I like. I’m relieved. There are fans here! Then I shudder at the thought of how much worse it could have been with no picture on the TV.

After all that, it takes about an hour for my heart rate to return to normal and for me to feel relatively calm, aided by some champagne that someone has brought in. I’ve been almost off alcohol since September due to a liver problem, which may or may not have cleared up, but by this point I’m past caring. Because the TV sound is coming through a club’s PA system, we can hear the music okay, but hardly a word of what Wogan is saying. Result! I can’t think of a better way to watch Eurovision.

Part two tomorrow!

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