Sunday 18 February 2018

Eurovision: Time to stop hero-worship of Johnny Logan's winning suit

Jedward perform 'Waterline'
Jedward perform 'Waterline'
Johnny Logan in 1987
Linda Martin winning in 1992
Dove's real beauty bottles
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

Yes, yes I know Johnny Logan's glowing white suits embody the best of Ireland and the Eurovision.

'Hold Me Now' and 'What's Another Year' are two pieces that are often cited as our most iconic Eurovision ensembles.

Both brought Johnny glory and stardom.

The 1987 one (now on display in the ABBA Museum in Sweden) was snappier and snazzier than its 1980's Osmond-esque rival. It had a cropped jacket and tapered pants.

Legend has it that if you touch the sleeve, you will be filled with an encyclopaedic knowledge of ABBA's back catalogue and possess the ability to telecommunicate with Linda Martin and John Grimes (but, strangely, not with Edward).

Last week on the Late Late Show, Ryan Tubridy literally begged Logan to put it on once again. "Please, PLEASE do it," Tubs said leaning forward in his chair. "For me, for Ireland."

At this stage, the matador-style jacket has practically been listed under the Code of Canon Law, sitting alongside St Anthony's Relics, and Bill O'Herlihy's clapping Italia 90s cap.

But our obsession with Johnny's two-piece suit often means that we overlook Ireland's other stand-out style moments at the Song Contest.

Given that tonight is the Big Final, it seems fitting that we pause and reflect on our stylish selves before the contest kicks off this evening.

1) Let's go back to 1970 and Dana with her 'Cailín Deas' smock, schoolgirl hair, gap-toothed smile, and 'I'm hopelessly naive' hair clip.

It was the ideal outfit for her syrupy song 'All Kinds of Everything'. In fact, her rig-out was so on point it distracted from the song's shaky lyrics in which Dana told her boyfriend she thinks of him whenever she sees 'seagulls', 'wells', 'postcards', 'dew' and 'things of the sea'.

2) Linda Martin's second Eurovision ensemble in 1992 was more chic than her first (the white-and-blue belted number for 1984's 'Terminal 3' was very Sue Ellen Ewing).

The decision to wear the eau de nil velvet gown while singing 'Why Me?' came at the 11th hour. It had a decent sprinkling of Linda Martin diva sparkle - with dripping strings of diamonds and silver rope cables covering one shoulder. Iconic.

3) The Swarbriggs and their bright blue 1975 suits with sparkling silver lapels inspired that Father Ted 'Lovely Horse' sketch. For that alone, they deserve pride of place in the Eurovision sartorial hall of fame. The two gents made a second appearance in 1977 with The Swarbriggs Plus Two (two gals sang with them) but while the insipidly titled track 'It's Nice to Be in Love Again' ranked third, their monochrome suits failed to impress.

4) Colm CT Wilkinson's 1978 stage costume for 'Born to Sing' isn't an obvious style contender, but he did wear the tightest trouser known to man. We're talking tighter than Russell Brand - and he danced about like a maniac while wearing them. Great voice, too.

5) Jedward. What a gift. Their costumes typified everything the Grimes brothers are - cartoonish, manic, nonsensical and fun.

The costumes for 'Lipstick' were glittering, military inspired shoulder-padded creations. It was Jedward meets Sergeant Pepper via the Fifth Element.

The silver-spangled spacesuits they wore for 'Waterline' cost €3,500 each. Crucially and sadly, they smothered their trademark quiffs down which may have been the reason they didn't pick up many votes.

6) Eimear Quinn's white Celtic dress harked back to Dana's look. As DJ Dermot Whelan noted this week, this is a look that could only be pulled off pre-Celtic Tiger. That image of breathy innocence and purity was another casualty of the Boom.

All of the above can be just as magical as Johnny's suits - with a little TLC.

Gaybo remembers chattiest guest Maeve Binchy


All literature is gossip - just dressed up and dusted down.

Something author Maeve Binchy knew well - she was a big fan of gabbing and gassing.

"Maeve? She never stopped talking," Gay Byrne said in the bar of the Gaiety Theatre.

"She was the best company and story teller. When we had her on the Late Late Show, the audience would light up."

For the first time, one of Binchy's books has been adapted for the stage.

Minding Frankie will open in June and to mark the occasion, her widower Gordon Snell invited a heap of people for afternoon tea.

"She would have been in her element here," Snell said looking about.

"Talking to everyone, having tea and catching up."

Snell himself is working on his next book The Dancing Dinosaurs which is about a group of T-Rexes who prefer salsa dancing to stalking prey. "They are not the macho sort of dinosaurs," he explained. "These ones are different." More erudite dinosaurs, if you will.

Meanwhile, Gaybo talked about all the brouhaha surrounding Stephen Fry and those blasphemous remarks on the Meaning of Life.

"It is a perfect example of some eejit in Ennis getting an idea into his head and complaining and wasting police time," Gay said. "I thought it was very silly. Completely ridiculous. It's an obsolete law and should be done away with if you ask me."

Gay, pictured at the Gaiety with wife Kathleen, insists he is not missing work as he recovers from illness.

Asked if he was being a good patient, Kathleen said: "He's wonderful. The best."


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