Monday 24 November 2014

Declan Lynch: Eurosong drama had us hooked even if the winning entry didn't

Linda Martin's 'gobshite' outburst and embarrassing scoreboard debacle stole the show, writes Declan Lynch

Published 02/03/2014 | 02:30

Louis Walsh and Linda Martin react to Billy McGuinness comments on the Late Late Eurosong special.
Louis Walsh and Linda Martin react to Billy McGuinness comments on the Late Late Eurosong special.
Mentor Billy McGuinness and Linda Martin argue in front of a surprised Ryan Tubridy last night
Can-linn feat Kasey Smith performing their song “Heartbeat” during the Late Late Eurosong special.
Eoghan Quigg perforning his song The Movie Song during the Late Late Eurosong special.

Tubridy swallowed hard. You could see the gulping motion of the Adam's apple, reflecting his inner turmoil as he gazed at the old scoreboard, which was telling him that two songs had finished on 99 points.

In that part of his brain which is rational, he knew that something was not right. Some ancestral voice was telling him that 52 plus 50 probably does not make 99, and that 54 plus 60 does not make 99 either. And yet that other part of his brain which had been perhaps permanently darkened if not entirely incinerated by the disturbing events of the night, told him to keep going.

The old scoreboard – and it must have been a very old scoreboard indeed – had never been wrong before.

So he swallowed hard.

He started to talk about the rules in the event of a draw. At which point the man from PricewaterhouseCoopers made his crucial intervention. Drawing on all his years of training in the esoteric arts of accountancy, all the decision-making capabilities that have made him a top man at PwC, he worked out there and then, that when you add 50 to 52, you'll get more than 99. And when you add 60 to 54, you'll get even more than that.

He called it.

It is now believed that this is the first time that a person from the Irish financial services sector has called it right on any matter of major national significance.

Oh how we used to scoff at those accountant fellows we'd see supervising the Lotto draw, figuring that they were probably getting anything up to a €1,000 just to confirm that the balls had come out of the drum and that Ronan Collins had read the numbers right.

Now we felt ashamed that we have ever doubted the need for these men. Now, at last, they had come good.

And not only is Ireland getting the numbers right, eventually, it seems that important people are being challenged.

When Billy McGuinness of Aslan made his tormented plea that everyone – even those who don't know Louis Walsh – should be on a "level playing field", he was like the poet Ginsberg declaiming that he had seen the best minds of his generation destroyed by madness, starving, hysterical, naked. Just because they don't know anyone.

Leaving aside McGuinness's howling critique of the ruling elite of Irish light entertainment, it had gone almost unremarked that one of the 'mentors', Valerie Roe, had selected a song written and sung by her sister Patricia. That another, Cormac Battle, had selected a song written by himself. And that a third, Hazel Kaneswaran, had a quarter share in the writing of the eventual winner.

Now, undoubtedly, most of us in that situation would do likewise. We are Irish, after all. I have no doubt that if I was lucky enough to be made a 'mentor', I would find that I could work most creatively with people who are related to me. Or I might even have a good look in the mirror and find the answer right there.

It is the way that public life has been conducted in Ireland for almost a hundred years, so when Louis suggested that Billy might be "on something", he may have meant that he was "on to something".

Billy, in turn, in the spirit of openness, would doubtless defend the right of Linda Martin to call him an "odious little man", and "a gobshite" and to march down from the platform to confront him. We would all defend that, on principle, to the death.

And it is our duty now, to defend the winning song, Heartbeat by Can-Linn, a kind of a classic Euro disco stomp interspersed with elements of pure eejitry.

Some viewers were angry that the credits rolled as Heartbeat was being triumphantly performed, that the show actually finished before the song did.

Yet on such a night for Ireland, really, who could ask for anything more?

Sunday Independent

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