Television can really broaden the mind. For example, TV was how -- on Tina Fey's sublime '30 Rock' -- I learnt the meaning of "snart"; it is to sneeze and fart simultaneously. Anyway, this is certainly the season for discussing television, being the last week of May. So no matter if the Wehrmacht's Army Group South has taken Teheran, Japanese troops have occupied Bombay and suicide bombers from the Tunbridge & District Ladies' Knitting Circle have blown up the local SS gauleiter, Obergruppenfuehrer Sean McBride; regardless, the Eurovision Song Contest still grinds on.
Forty-five nations competed this year, including such well-known European countries as Israel and Azerbaijan. I searched in vain for Brazil, Namibia and Pakistan, but no matter: merely a matter of time. At least India was there, in the person of the representative of the UK, Indian-born Engelbert Humperdinck, who says his real name is Gerry Dorsey. But no one is ever actually given a B-movie actor's name like Gerry Dorsey. His real name is probably something like Mohandas Patel. Either way, he was already famous when Jedward's grandparents were at it like knives. Apparently, he's had sex with some 2,000 women, which is quite modest: one new ride a year isn't exactly promiscuous, not even back when God was a lad. Takes some pluck, mind, having a bit of leg-over during the Black Death, or when the Mongol Hordes came to town.
Anyway, Engelbert Humparug was first to sing in the Eurovision final, which was sensible, because there was no reason to believe he was going to make it to the end of the show: I know I nearly didn't. Frankly, his song sounded just like the one he sang at Moses's bar-mitvah, and everything he's sung since. He was followed by his latest groupies, the Russian entry, a gaggle of ancient wheezing she-serfs who had clearly followed Mother Teresa's sterling example on the vexed question of daily moisturising. Their leader looked like Tutankhamun's nan. Their song was all about what it is to raise 25 children beside the Volga on two kopeks a year, a single turnip, and floggings thrice daily. Loosely translated, that is.
And that pretty much was it. All the other acts slid seamlessly into one another like a deck of cards being stacked by a Las Vegas croupier. Jedward finished their number by having a shower in their clothes, which I imagine is what young people these days consider hygiene. It didn't get them any votes, of course. But then nor did Anglegrind Humpacorpse's colossal age get him any votes either. For the most part, people voted for the neighbours, including the Balkans, which just goes to show. Twenty years ago, Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia were tearing lumps out of one another; today they still officially hate like crazy, but they nonetheless voted for one another. Families: a complete mystery.
The big exception was of course Greece. Their singer, an ancient, withered Oracle in a shawl, wrapped her tonsils around her number while stepping furiously on the treadmill that powered the single Greek camera. Her woebegone dirge was a revisionist-view of Greek history: "Aristotle hit the bottle, and Archimedes drowned", while the latest Greek prime minister passed through the audience, rattling a bucket. It was easily the worst Eurovision song ever, and not surprisingly: had Greece won, it would have had to stage the competition next year, which is perhaps why Turkey gave it maximum points. Greek TV studios are now located in a bus shelter beside where the Acropolis used to be (before Somalia bought it) and are lit by rubbing two Lesbians together. This is why everyone -- apart from the Turks, who yearn for an Athenian humiliation -- took pity and voted instead for more prosperous European countries, such as North Korea and Zimbabwe.
The winning Swedish song was sung in American, as were all the songs that were delivered in what is still called English, but not, surely, for very much longer. The local hosts -- yes, 45 of them, gadzooks -- also spoke American. As too does Jedward. As does Mohandas Patel, aka Gerry Dorsey, aka Engelmarx Zimmershag.
For Eurovision's real cultural significance is to measure annually how thoroughly the world is being Americanised, in almost every regard save one: the ability to write and sing songs, or make good television. No matter who the TV presenters are, Jews from Jerusalem or emirs from Baku, they look like actors auditioning for parts in 'Desperate Housewives', their botoxed faces lifted so much that their anus is on the back of the head, equidistant between their ears, which really makes a snart an event to be reckoned with; though not quite as much as a snit.
Eurovision (save when in Greece) is like an Oscars ceremony, as staged by Borat. (A Greek Eurovision would probably resemble Chad's five-step programme to put a giraffe in Earth-orbit: "Find two twigs ... "). There is a slavish desire to emulate, but, lacking the basic ingredients, rather like trying to make lamb rogan josh from straw, wallpaper paste and boiled moth. Why do we bother? To win is shameful; to lose, abysmal. Who would notice if we simply and silently stole away?