World of Chig   

Eurovision final - pointless predictions

Before I came out to Düsseldorf, I was jokingly saying to anyone who asked that I had narrowed down the possible winners to nine countries. It was just a figure plucked out of the air, nothing scientific. I hadn't actually counted. On a positive note, none of the songs I thought could win were amongst the eighteen who have been sent home from the two semi-finals. The rubbish has been cleared out very well this year.

So, yesterday, I did actually count the contenders amongst the 25 finalists, and it would seem I have now narrowed down the possible winners... to eleven! Oh dear.

Really, this year is very difficult to predict those countries at the top, unless the bookies have been right all along and it really is France. I won't complain if we're in Paris next year. In fact, I would love it, but we'll probably never hear the song again after tonight's reprise and it won't be a pan-European hit single.

And there's the rub. According to several people (but I haven't seen it in print - shoddy journalism, I know), the EBU's instructions to the juries say that they should be thinking about the potential to produce a hit song from the contest. I am confident that Ireland's Jedward are going to do well in televotes all over the place, but if this is what the juries have to do, I think it will swing enough jury votes in their favour as well. They also have to look out for presentation and choreography; more points in Jedward's favour. So, I think Ireland are going to win. And who would have thought that, even two months ago? Louis Walsh is here to see it, bless him, as he was on Thursday. He's been the manager of Irish Eurovision winners before, with Linda Martin and Johnny Logan, so if he does it again as Jedward's manager, there really must be something magical about the man.

So, my rough guess for the top of the leaderboard is something like this, but really, you may as well throw the country names up in the air and see how they land. I have no idea.

1. Ireland
2. Germany
3. France
4. Azerbaijan
5. Ukraine
6. Finland
7. Austria
8. Russia
9. Iceland
10. Bosnia-Herzegovina
11. Denmark
12. UK

Unfortunately, the presentation of Blue's song, with their unsuitable suits and the green lighting, makes me think we might not be top ten, but we won't be bottom either. It's 14 years since a UK win, it's the 14th today and Blue sing in position 14. Make of that what you will.

There's one major new innovation this year, which should add some drama to the voting. The order in which countries give their votes has only been determined TODAY by the EBU. It has been published, with Moldova, Belgium and Latvia ending the voting. (The UK votes 13th. Shame it's not 14th, eh?) They have manipulated the vote announcements in order to maximise tension, which is a great idea. It's based on an algorithm worked out by an academic. (No time now for proper research on this!) It takes into account the jury votes, which the EBU already knows, as they voted on last night's rehearsal, mixed in with predictions of the televote, based on each country's televoting history. The order would seem to imply that Russia or the UK will be up there near the end, which is intriguing and obviously runs contrary to my predictions. We shall see.

I'll be watching on the screens in the media sports hall, along with lots of friends. You may think it's strange to come all this way and not go into the arena, but it's too expensive. We have touted around for tickets, and there are some going, but they're up in the gods and it's just not worth it. I saw the show in the arena yesterday in the first rehearsal, so that's good enough for me. I won't see the interval act live though, and we were cleared out of the hall yesterday so that we couldn't see some other surprise that's planned, so I don't know what it is and I look forward to it.

What I was planning to do, as I did very enjoyably in Kyiv and Beograd, was to watch the final outside, or in a bar in the city centre. There are many options available in the Altstadt and City Zentrum, but it's too far away. In 2005, we could easily run back from Independence Square in Kyiv, and I made it to Helena Paparizou's winner's conference before she did, but here, with the distance involved to the city centre and the parking jobsworths here at the arena, who would make me park a zillion miles away on my return, it's physically impossible, which is a real shame. In addition, the closing party seems so limited in size that no one has even mentioned us getting tickets, never mind being given one. So, as we were excluded from the opening party as well, my tenth Eurovision will be the first where I've missed the opening and closing parties. I'll be celebrating with a soft drink in the car as I drive back to the campsite at 2am. Don't feel sorry for me; it really is great to be here and I realise how privileged we are. It's been a lot of fun, but very tiring and very stressful at times.

Enjoy the show, and I wish Jedward and Blue the very best of luck.

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