Imagine if you will a hot sunny day, with Judy Garland being blasted out from enormous phallic speakers. Now imagine a succession of skinny young men gyrating about in hotpants of many colours. Sweating gamely on top of all this, picture a kitsch Christmas parade of cheerful tall elves (in hotpants), with necklaces of baubles bouncing off their six-packs. And now summon up in your minds eyes a gaggle of drag queens tarted up to the nines and making cutting yet witty barbs at fat men with colossal beards of Edwardian proportions that tickle the rim of their tight leather waistcoats.
Got that? Now ponder fragrent lavender skies with rainbow clouds that rain cum.
Well you're still nowhere near The Eurovision Song Contest, an event gayer than Liberace sewing thick pink veins onto an enormous cotton cock. And what I wrote above.
Eurovision was conceived in 1955 by Frenchman Marcel Bezençon, a member of that proud nation who also gave the world the extra-marital affair, the indifferent shrug, and ducking as an official army manoeuvre.
Oh, and the word 'manoeuvre'.
Back in the postwar 50s, Bezençon suggested to his employer, the European Broadcasting Union, that they establish an international song contest to be transmitted live to all participating countries. And ever since, it has grown in scope to enliven our drab lives. It is currently camping it up right now on my television - because this particular Saturday night can be filed under 'Non-Eventful'.
For the non-Europeans here, or just the plain bored, some 20 or so countries perform a song at the final (a song which each country has selected during semi-finals beforehand). The final takes place in the country that won it the year before. This year's final is being held in Helsinki after Finland's Lordi won the 2006 competition. Despite being a heavy rock band dressed in ridiculous demonic outfits, they looked stupid enough to have enormous camp appeal. And presumably a good tune, although that's never stopped the previous winners.
After all the entries screech their songs, we go live to some 30 countries where their beaming representatives congratulate the host country for a great show in charming stalled English, and cast their votes.
'Congratulations, you set Europe alight!' said one just now.
A bit like Germany in 1941, then.
But it's not all bad. For one thing, the annual televisual Gay Pride parade that is Eurovision guarantees me several certainties, namely:
- Listening to the disembodied voice of our commentator and national treasure, Terry Wogan, as he gets progressively more drunk and sarcastic, like watching the programme with a genial and slightly racist uncle.
- The United Kingdom's song being crap. At the time of writing, most votes are in and we still have 'Null points'. In fact, we're the only ones yet to score. Typical.
- Awkward pauses thanks to time delays.
- Cyprus always giving Greece 12 points and vice versa, even if their entries consisted of goatherds playing the spoons for three minutes.
- Countries voting for each other solely on historical or geographical reasons. So it's all perfectly unbiased and above board, then.
- Always wondering why Israel are in a European contest. But not really minding that much, for perfectly unbiased reasons.
- The French representative casting their votes and relaying their best wishes and congratulations to the host country in French, regardless of who they're speaking to and whether they can be understood or not.
- Wondering why all the women are technically attractive yet disturbingly bland, like the cold-eyed sucking automatons in European Private porn movies.
So people tell me.
As for the music, the songs are generally terrible - Romania's was a petrifying infusion of folk, techno, and yelling - and Eurovision is also responsible for introducing the world to Céline Bastard Dion when she sung for Switzerland in '88, so that should tell you all you need to know. However, it also launched Abba, who could write genuinely catchy pop music, grow hefty beards, and look blonde.
To be honest, and all usual bitterness and cynicism aside, it can be quite uplifting. It's really quite a spectacle, giving you a very real sense of a world outside of your living room, a seething mass of celebration and fun and homosexuality, as every entry seems to attract hoardes of gay men and fag hags to the theatrics of the night. In fact, I demand we give these people their own homeland, a place free from persecution and hatred, where they can sing and laugh and perform bad songs. A land with a rainbow flag, and the Weather Girl's 'It's Raining Men' as its national anthem. I'm thinking of a hot and roomy country in need of a regime change.
Saudi Arabia, perhaps.
But in the meantime, look! Some Serbian lesbians have won.