World of Chig   

Eurovision in a nutshell

If, like me, you're feeling rather swamped by the sheer volume of interwebby stuff coming from rehearsals in Helsinki, may I recommend something, before I pop off into town to buy the Scooch singles and a new outfit for Saturday?

Phil and Nick from OnEurope have posted an audio blog today with their Mark & Lard style ramblings and rantings about the second half of the songs in the qualifier. It's very, very good. Informative, funny and bitchy, all at once, which is exactly what you would expect if you read the OnEurope blog itself.

Scooch have just been on Loose Women, doing the song and with Natalie and Russ being interviewed. They told me on Friday that they had done the show, but I thought it had been shown already. While they were at the studios, they met Tony Blair and had their photos taken with him, yet Tony Blair wasn't on the programme. I can only assume that Mr Blair will be combining his resignation announcement later this week with his Prime Ministerial 'Good luck to Scooch' message and that it will be shown first on Loose Women, as befits a double announcement of this importance to the nation.

The vibes I'm getting from Helsinki are that Andorra and Ireland are both going to do better than many expected, in the qualifier and the final respectively. Later in the week (probably Wednesday), I will list the ten songs which I think are going through to the final. (Or, to be precise, the eight songs which are going through with Serbia and Latvia.) It'll be fun if you join in too, so feel free to start doing that now. I'll take any predictions from the comments box and publish them here on the blog itself on Thursday. Despite the fact that I won't be there in Helsinki, I will still be taking part in the 'fourth annual journos and fans' meal and prediction competition' with my assorted British and Irish chums, by the wonders of technology. In other words, I'll eat my tea and send one of them a text message.

Scooch flew out to Helsinki yesterday. They rehearse today and tomorrow, as do all fourteen of the countries already in the final. Today's rehearsal starts at 17:10 BST (19:10 in Finland), so the blogs should be buzzing with reports straight away. I was relieved to read Natalie Scooch saying in Midlands' Zone magazine (in an excellent interview by my friend Dean) that they won't be having the Union flag on the trolleys at the end of the song. Most sensible people hoped this would be the case. It was okay for a domestic audience on Making Your Mind Up, but it would seem far too imperialist and antagonistic for the rest of Europe. A definite nul pointer. Despite our best efforts on Friday, two of us could not drag out of the Scoochers what they will be doing instead. All will be revealed this evening!

I'll also tell you later in the week which countries I have bet on already for the final. I've placed three of my each way bets (for the top four), but I'm dithering over the fourth one.

Shopping beckons!

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