World of Chig   

Chig’s Eurovision night - Part three

From the stage at the Nightingale, I announce the top ten in reverse order after the club's voting:

10th Russia, 40 points
9th Serbia, 43 points
8th Germany, 44 points
(No 7th)
= 6th Belarus and Slovenia, 47 points each
(No 5th)
= 4th Latvia and Spain, 57 points each
3rd Sweden, 61 points
2nd Greece, 91 points
1st United Kingdom, 120 points

There is a sense of inevitability about the winner, as I haven’t barred people from voting for the UK, specifically to see how popular Scooch would be if we give people the chance to vote for them. In fact, fourteen of the fifteen voters have given them points, more than any other country. The UK have received seven 12s and two 10s, but there are 1s, 2s, 3s and 5s as well. I say, “So the real winner is Greece. Enjoy the rest of the evening!” and scuttle off the stage.

People are watching the voting fairly attentively on several different screens around the room. I spend the rest of the voting moving around the room, watching it and seeing how people are reacting. It’s not that lively, simply because we aren’t getting any points and both the UK and Ireland have slipped to the bottom of the scoreboard from very early on. I go back on the mic to tell everyone that the UK will be the fortieth of the forty-two countries to give their points, so we’ll have to wait quite a while for the lovely Fearne Cotton.

I strike up a few conversations with people along the way and find myself explaining the Big 4 issue a couple of times; why people in other countries don’t have any reason to vote for those four countries as they’re already in next year’s final. I bump into a couple of friends and end up watching with them. As Ireland are about to give their votes, I say that if we don’t get any here, we might as well give up. There is a massive cheer as the seven points appear on the screen, but there is more excitement to come! As soon as the 12 points from Malta are revealed, there is just one thought on my mind; this is down to the Schlagerboys. Oh. My. God. Oh. My. God. Unfortunately, both of their numbers have dissappeared from my new phone (because they were in the phone memory of the old one, not the SIM card) or I would be phoning them in Helsinki right now! They must have realised. I wonder what they’re thinking? Oh my god, two friends of mine are national saviours! So I do the next best thing and text our mutual friend, Bryan, saying that the Schlagerboys “are responsible for the twelve from Malta – seriously!”

He replies, “Just said the same thing to [them]. They’re definitely on for another medal.”

So, what’s the reason for this jubilation? Well, the Schlagerboys had been relentlessly supporting Olivia Lewis’s Maltese entry on their website for weeks. This hadn’t gone unnoticed in Malta. They had also interviewed the songwriter and Olivia herself and addressed important issues such as what dress she should wear in the qualifier. Of course, they had also now met her in person in Helsinki. Earlier in the week, as I reported, I had popped round to see Schlagerboy A as he spent a couple of days back here and I had seen the box of promotional DVDs which Olivia’s people had sent them from Malta. He told me that they had been invited to appear on a Maltese TV programme called Xarabank on Friday, the day after the qualifier, as Olivia’s English fans. We contemplated how awful this would be if she failed to get through on Thursday night, and of course that’s what happened. She didn’t make it to the final. But the programme happened, and there are comments on the Schlagerboys' blog from Maltese people saying that they are national heroes, how Malta loves them and how Malta will surely give points to the UK on Saturday to thank them for their support. Lo and behold, we get the twelve! I am incredulous.

Now, in case you think this is just a fluke or coincidence, let’s remember that there are only 402,000 people in Malta, equivalent to 40% of Birmingham’s population. It’s not difficult to get a message out to the people in 24 hours. Malta takes Eurovision very seriously and Xarabank is apparently a very popular programme. On Friday, Malta was angry that the televote hadn’t delivered a place in the final for Olivia, and there was talk of boycotting the phone vote on Saturday night as a protest – a futile protest if you ask me, but it was being discussed. If the net result of that was that many people decided not to vote, and those who did decided to give a thank you vote to the Schlagerboys, then our twelve points were down to them. To be honest, I can’t think of any other explanation. Malta’s votes were so out of step with everyone else’s that it must be down to the boys. The BBC should be giving the Schlagerboys an official reception, for saving the nation from humiliation again. Boys, I am proud to call you my friends.

So, back in the club, much whooping and cheering. I can’t explain any of this to anyone as it would take too long, but for a while this becomes far more significant than who’s winning. After being really surprised that the UK 12 went to Turkey (for the first time ever), it’s all over and I look gleefully at the top three countries, Serbia, Ukraine and Russia, which were all amongst the five each way bets that I placed. I text Bryan again; “I’m in the money! Top three! Who cares about Latvia and Sweden?”

We don’t get to see the reprise, so I still have that joy to come. The club is pretty full by this point so the DJ starts the music – with a new mix of Scooch which the remixer has just delivered, of course. Then I suddenly have an idea. It hasn’t occurred to me beforehand, but I have the English dance mix of the Serbian winner on my PC at home. Damn! Why didn’t I bring it in? Then, remembering my taxi dash home and back earlier in the space of twenty minutes, I realise I have 45 minutes before I need to meet Katrina at the front door, so I tell the DJ how good the dance mix is and ask if I should go home and get it. He agrees, so I catch my fifth taxi of the evening, go home and burn three versions of the Serbian song onto a CD while I phone Mike and burble excitedly about the Schlagerboys. By amazing good fortune, the taxi driver who picks me up outside the club lives around the corner from me, so he pops home, and ten minutes later we’re on our way back to the club, where I deliver the CD to the DJ. I can’t wait to hear the reaction when it’s played and people realise they’re dancing to the Eurovision winner already, but despite all my efforts and me asking a couple of times later, he didn’t play it at all. What an opportunity missed. It really is a brilliant dance track, and it sounds ‘right’ in its English version too, not like a bad translation (although it’s nowhere near as depressing as the Serbian lyric).

Miss M and I then have to work out a strategy to get Katrina in through a fire exit when the taxi drops her off, which all works out fine. I (re)introduce myself and lead her and her partner to the dressing room. (We’ve chatted before, once in the dressing rooms at G-A-Y and once at the Retro bar, but these meetings were nine and two years ago respectively, so I hardly expect her to remember.)

Four of us chat until 1am and partake of her champagne. (No demands for Smarties with the red ones taken out. Champagne is her only rider request.) I take the backing track CD down to the DJ and explain which ones Katrina is doing. When I leave the room for Katrina to change, I cheekily ask if she’s putting the green shirt on and she tells me that it (the ‘winning shirt’ from Dublin 1997) is in the Belgian Eurovision museum. So now you know.

We all troop downstairs, Miss M introduces Katrina onto the stage to a rapturous reception and she sings four songs brilliantly, singing live and chatting about Eurovision in the middle. She ends with Love Shine A Light and Walking On Sunshine, of course. I take photos from the side of the stage and go a bit misty-eyed when I think ‘that thing we were watching tonight – she WON it! She’ll probably be our reigning champion for ever!’ The crowd love it, especially when Katrina dedicates a song to Scooch and says something unrepeatable about the voters of Europe(!)

Afterwards, we go back to the dressing room, where Miss M and I then engage in drinking and conversation with the other two and various visitors for what turns into nearly three hours, until 4.20am. The time just flies by. We’re having a real laugh. When they get up to go, Katrina says that would normally have disappeared earlier, but they were having a good time talking to us two, which is very kind of her. I shall treasure that. My new career: artist liaison. I can get drunk with the best of them!

And that, my dear reader, if you’ve lasted this far, is the story of Chig’s unusual Eurovision night this year. I got home about 5.15am, in my sixth taxi of the night, clutching my VCR and my newly autographed copy of the ten year old Love Shine A Light single. It had been a thoroughly enjoyable night, once my blood pressure had returned to normal about an hour in. I would do it again, but next year Belgrade beckons. I’m not missing being at Eurovision again! I hope your Eurovision night was a little more relaxed and just as much fun. Here’s to next year!

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