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Jedward sum up our national fight against the baleful gods

TELEVISION Llewelyn-Bowen has probably written us off but the twins give hope, says Declan Lynch

Eurosong 2011 (RTE1)

Aviva Stadium (RTE2)

House of the Year (BBC1)

THE baleful gods really seem to have it in for poor Paddy. A year ago, Jedward would almost certainly have won the Eurovision, our traditional route to national salvation. With the jury system abolished in favour of the votes of the multitudes, our boys would not have had to face the verdict of judges, the sort of music-industry hacks who tend to favour contestants who can sing, or play an instrument, or otherwise display what we used to describe as musical talent.

Jedward have many other talents, and they will probably be there or thereabouts at the final in Dusseldorf, but the fact that the jury system has been re-instated this year, at least for some of the voting, may go against them in a tight finish. And Ireland will mourn.

After all, we suffered horribly when the vote was thrown open to the peoples of Eastern Europe, who screwed it all up in various ways -- mainly with their bad taste, but also with their innate sense of the corrupt nature of this world, the way that they always tried to rig the game because every game they had ever known had been rigged... so why should Eurovision be any different?

Now we finally send out an act with a serious chance of making an impression on the Macedonians and the Azerbaijanis, and the baleful gods mock us for our timing. Not that Jedward will be lacking supporters in Old Europe either.

While every old fart in Ireland thinks it is clever to run them down, it is clear to some of us that they are actually not bad. And that they may indeed be good.

This may be the black secret of Jedward -- they are not bad, they are good, with their freakish energy and this demented charisma.

Whatever it is they've got -- let us call it the X factor -- might even be enough on the night to get them past the guardians of Eurovision taste and morality on the juries. And then they'll just have to somehow overcome the heavy, heavy burden of being Paddy.

IT weighs on us, even as we are watching a match being played in our new stadium at Lansdowne Road.

We are proud that we got it finished eventually, but television has allowed us to watch matches being played in stadia all around the world, none of which have this strange emptiness at both ends -- why is it that Paddy, alone of all the peoples on Earth, found himself in this predicament due to the planning laws? Do they not bother with these issues in any other country? Is Ireland the only place in the world which has such regard for these issues of planning?

Certainly it must impress our visitors from the BBC who are here to cover the Six Nations rugby but who find themselves discussing the rigours of planning in Dublin 4, apparently unaware that they are within yards of Jury's and what is left of the plans for a little bit of Knightsbridge in the heart of Ballsbridge.

They must think we're like Switzerland, or something, with all our laws and our bylaws

So the unfinished look of the Aviva does send out this message that Paddy is getting his act together, that he has found a new enthusiasm for regulation and for doing things right. Even if it means that he ends up doing things wrong.

But hope arrives, from the North. Did we ever think we'd be looking at that sentence?

And not only does it arrive from the North, it arrives in the person of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen, presenter of House of the Year.

For many a year, there was not much call up North for the skill-set of a Laurence Llewellyn-Bowen or any other flamboyant interior designer.

They were tearing it all down, not building these fabulous houses, and entering them in a competition on BBC Norn Iron.

The final was held last week, with the bould Larry Bowen himself hired to present the prestigious prize to the owners of the most brilliant house in the province. It was grand, not just to admire all that superb architecture, but to think that the North is now in a position to provide an "earner" for a man of the calibre of Laurence Llewelyn-Bowen.

The way it's looking now, we'll probably never be able to afford him down here. But we can dream.

Sunday Indo Living