World of Chig   

Pining for the fjords

We are sailing, we are sailing...

Not at the moment - I'm just sitting in my undies in our bijou Oslo apartment, but you didn't need (or want) to know that. No, this afternoon. Chig is off on a boat trip for something like four hours, cruising the fjords with the lovely people of the BBC, including our Josh, 'our' dancers and 'our' backing singers. The sun is shining again here in Oslo, where it has been hot for the last few days, with the occasional cloudburst to spoil the fun, most notably during the UK's only media conference so far. The rain was so heavy on the temporary structure of the media centre that it was practically impossible to hear any journalists' questions or the answers that Josh was giving.

Last night saw the official Eurovision opening party at the Oslo city hall, where uncle Svante declared Eurovision 'open'. (The previous 7 days, 78 rehearsals and 73 media conferences were a mere preliminary to the main events, which start on your telly tomorrow. Yikes, it's tomorrow!)

The foyer of Oslo city hall is a glory to behold, as was the 'pink' (it may have been cerise) carpet, on which we had to tread to get inside. The old-fashioned grandiosity and almost-Soviet murals adorning the massive internal walls were an interesting contrast to the minimalist, post-modern spaciousness of the Georgian party the night before, which was held inside the enormous opera house (with lots of time spent just outside it, admiring its in-yer-face slopingness).

On some measures, the Georgian party has won hands down as the liggers' choice of the week. Most notably, for the two of us here who are vegetarian, it won the food battle. Not only was there more than enough for us assembled gannets and impoverished foreigners, but I now know that it IS possible to survive a day without buying a main meal on a new mortgage, because you can survive on mini-mushroom tartlets and olives, when served by Georgians. The tartlets were gorgeous. If only Georgian Independence Day - the excuse for the party - were every day.

However, the official party last night won out on the music front. (Georgian jazz-funbk is so not my thing, I have discovered.) The Norvegians didn't overdo it, but focussed on quality, not quantity, so we had Bobbysocks, Eurovision's winners for Norway in 1985, still alive and able to bang out the schlagertastic tune, doing it this time with a group who looked exactly like the Brighton Gay Men's Chorus and were presumably the Oslo equivalent. Then we had Alexander Rybak chatting to the host and performing two songs with three female fellow fiddlers (alliteration overload!), including Fairytale, which he had conspicuously NOT performed when I saw him at the Euroclub on Thursday night, a few hours after my arrival.

After the official launch party ended last night, we wound our way just down the road to the Euroclub again, for the now daily 'six quid and not even a pint' of lager, making it last as long as possible. I had a good chat with one of the UK's backing singers. This is her in the middle, on set at yesterday's rehearsal. She was lovely, and will be on the boat trip later.

There was also one of those magic moments, where the DJ plays an artist's song while they're in the room and the cameras converge. The UK song was played while Josh, his singers and his dancers were all together, so we got a 'playback' performance with a 'let's do the whole show right here' kinda vibe. A TV camera was shoved in Josh's face, with the backing singers behind him. If you see this on TV or on the internet at any point, you may see that *I* seem to have joined the backing singers, with my own enthusiastic bellowing of the song in the presence of trained singers. I'd quite like to see it though. If the footage turns up anywhere, please do let me know.

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