Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Dream Home

The Boycott Pavilions at Stowe - named after the vanished hamlet of Boycott (hopefully it wasn't disappeared to make the Pavilions, but one has to assume this is likely) and designed and constructed by James Gibbs in 1728-9 - flank the Oxford drive to the house. The original stone pyramidal roofs were altered in 1758 by Giovanni Battista Borra to the lead domes visible today. The Eastern Pavilion was converted into a three-storey house in the 1950s. How wonderful!

Stowe was praised in Alexander Pope's poem Epistle to Lord Burlington:

"...Still follow Sense, of ev'ry Art the Soul,
Parts answ'ring parts shall slide into a whole,
Spontaneous beauties all around advance,
Start ev'n from Difficulty, strike from Chance;
Nature shall join you, Time shall make it grow
A Work to wonder at--perhaps a STOWE.''

Friday, November 11, 2011

And we have a winner!

Every year around this time the big stores compete for the best seasonal ad in the run-up to Christmas - M&S pioneered the genre a few years ago but this year they seem to have gone off track a bit with their Xfactor tribute. Most big stores' ads are annoyingly hard sell efforts draped vestigially in Christmas tinsel but John Lewis has scored a real triumph with its 2011 contender - soo sweet it makes me want to cry!

Sunday, November 06, 2011

Brockwell Park Fireworks


the financial crisis hits the fireworks displays - fireworks on Clapham Common were cancelled this year, and instead Lambeth Council plans to rotate the displays annually through the borough's parks. Fireworks will return to the Common in 2013 (if there is any money left then). This year they were held in Brockwell Park.

Brockwell has the enchanting Art Deco Lido, with its wonderful cafe, and superb views to the city - a southern version of Hampstead and Primrose Hill. Unfortunately, it does not enjoy easy access to public transport - I wonder if the Council thought of this in its planning?

I left my house at 7:10 and waited 20 minutes for the 37 bus - which arrived full to overflowing. The driver did not open his doors. My bus stop on Long Rd was crowded with people clearly waiting for the 37 only. I decided to bail out on the bus and took the tube to Brixton. No need to follow directions on a map - a vast throng of people were walking from Brixton tube to Brockwell Park.

I finally made it to the Park just as the first fireworks were let off at 8pm. They were impressive as always; quite a lift to the spirit in these chilly November evenings.

Tuesday, November 01, 2011


Halloween has really taken off as an annual event and Claphamites celebrate it with gusto - here is my random selection of creepy ghouls and beasties prowling the clubs and bars of South London.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Quote London

“Once, she had thought she could conquer London. She had imagined a whirl of literary salons, political engagement, larky parties, bittersweet romances conducted on Thames embankments. She had intended to form a band, make short films, write novels, but two years on the slim volume of verse was no fatter, and nothing really good had happened to her since she’d been baton-charged at the Poll Tax Riots. The City had defeated her, just like they said it would. Like some overcrowded party, no-one had noticed her arrival, and no-one would notice if she left.”
David Nicholls, One Day

The Guardian mocked the trailer mercilessly, but I loved it! It inspired me to get the novel, which I am currently enjoying very much. The reviews of the film have been disappointing - The Guardian crucified it - and already there have been features on “the most disappointing novel adaptations” (possibly in The Guardian as well - I’m sensing a pattern forming here ) so I may vey well miss the movie.

Anne Hathaway’s charmless claim in a red-carpet interview the most difficult thing about her role was getting the bad British posture right put me off as well. What, Ms Hathaway, even more difficult than the accent?

Saturday, August 20, 2011

More Clapham animal history

From British Pathé's wonderful site. A bulldog, a monkey and a duck go shopping on Clapham Park Road in 1951 . . .


If that's not exciting enough, here is footage of an escaped lion on the loose at Clapham Junction in 1943 . . .

LION (issue title is ON THE SPOT)

Friday, August 19, 2011

Becket, or The Honour of God

BecketBecket by Jean Anouilh

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I must confess my ignorance - although I do admire Anouilh I didn't know he had written a play about Becket, let alone quite a famous one. I'm currently fascinated my medieval culture and saints, so as soon as this play came to my attention I ordered it in and read it at one sitting. Like all Anouilh it is incredibly elegant, poetic, witty and worldly-wise. He doesn't interrogate his characters too much - he just exposes their actions and words: Becket retains a charismatic mystery to the end. I will definitely track the film down now too, and will keep watch for any theatrical productions.

View all my reviews

Saturday, August 13, 2011

Some thoughts on the recent disturbances

Nick Clegg predicted these riots would happen under a minority Tory Government during last year’s election campaign, of course. But going back to 2006 even David Cameron appeared to suggest there was a social context to youth crime, in his “hug a hoodie” phase. But now the riots for him are criminality, “pure and simple”, and he resists calls for public enquiries even as he outlines a programme of hysterical populist authoritarianism going forward. So far so depressing.

A pinko liberal like me will point to the fact that the riots overwhelmingly happened in poorer areas and the rioters tended to be unemployed, and argue this must mean social deprivation and blighted prospects must be relevant to understanding the causes of these disturbances. However, it will be pointed out (correctly) that the vast majority of poor people do not riot and steal, whatever the provocation.

It is true criminality exists at all levels of society. Criminals selfishly take to enrich themselves at others’ expense, if they calculate they will get away with it. Most violent crime happens at lower levels, but as one rises in the social pecking order there are greater opportunities for non-violent crime, and for immoral acts which just tidily skirt the edges of the law. For instance, I feel there is an exact moral equivalence between MP’s looting public funds for plasma TVs on their expenses and Tottenham rioters looting Curry’s.

Peter Oborne brilliantly expands on this point:

“The culture of greed and impunity we are witnessing on our TV screens stretches right up into corporate boardrooms and the Cabinet. It embraces the police and large parts of our media. It is not just its damaged youth, but Britain itself that needs a moral reformation.”

For thirty years and more we have been told that “greed is good” (personal greed being the driver of neo-liberal economics) and we have witnessed decades of consumerist excess. We are what we consume. So now we have “shopping with violence” by those excluded from the system and a “grab what you can while you can” attitude in our politicians, businessmen and bankers.

Rupert Murdoch’s media empire, in plain sight, debauched the integrity of our political classes from Thatcher in the 80’s (who broke the rules and allowed News International to take control of The Times and Sunday Times) to just this year, when until the scandal broke the Cameron government gave every indication of breaking every sinew in order to give Murdoch the full ownership of BSkyB without legal examination.

While this trail of political corruption was there for everyone to see - most lefties have been yammering on about it for years - what shocked me was they way in which the Metropolitan Police were corrupted by News International too.

So now Britain has a superstructure of morally bankrupt politicians, police, media and bankers presiding over a rioting underclass. We truly are in dire straits.

But it seems to me the police have been corrupted from another direction too. Before she launched into her vast social engineering programme, Thatcher gave the police massive pay increases, and given the amount of social unrest during the 80s this was clearly an astute Machiavellian ploy. However, Cameron’s crew were more naively neo-liberal than the blessed Margaret and decided the police were a social expense they wanted to cut (by 20%). The strangely tentative police reaction to the start of the rioting (rioters in Clapham were left alone for hours, for example, despite prior knowledge of the intended attacks) suggests a possible intention on their part to put some pressure on the Government over the cuts; certainly the PR war between police and government in the last few days appears to support this interpretation too.

Which is another cause for alarm. Under Blair we saw an huge increase in the political import of the police - and indeed political policing. Now it could be argued the police are holding the government to ransom. I’m not a fan of Cameron at all but it is completely outrageous that the (unelected) police [service] should feel empowered to publicly argue with the elected representatives of State. I’m reading a book about the downfall of the Roman empire at the moment and it struck me we are not a million miles away from the Praetorian Guard deposing the Emperor because their pay rise wasn’t big enough.

Riots have a long history in Britain, and our beloved tv period dramas have occluded the extent of rioting in the vastly unequal Victorian and Edwardian eras. The 1886 Riot (Damages) Act allows for victims to claim compensation from the police if they were insufficiently protected. It is interesting that lawmakers of the time came up with this idea. They were clearly responding to a perceived need.

Back in those days, police and rioters were probably evenly matched in terms of technology. The 20th Century saw the police attain total dominance in technology, organization, tactics and training over potential rioters, culminating in the controversial kettling tactics of the last couple of decades.

However, we should remember the Black bloc anarchists who infiltrated the Anti-Cuts March back in March this year successfully trumped the police kettling tactics. The black bloc people ran amock in small groups throughout the city, popping up all over to cause havoc, then melting away only to reappear elsewhere. No black blocs were arrested, despite them being the major perpetrators of political violence that day. Instead, the police chose to arrest around 300 entirely peaceful UK Uncut protestors staging a sit-in in Fortnum & Masons (highlighting Fortnum’s non-payment of UK tax). These arrests were massive headline news at the time. Subsequently, all charges against everyone arrested there were dropped.

Clearly, those arrests formed a PR mask for police failure, and the current riots demonstrate anarchist black bloc tactics have by osmosis been absorbed by criminal elements intent on looting, with similar expectations of success. The only successful police response to this was an eventual massive increase in manpower on the streets - 16,000 on the streets of London this week, more than ever in history and three times more than usual. This is not sustainable long-term and police will be thinking of new tactics to contain rioters.

But until new, successful and cost-effective tactics are developed, and underlying social injustices are addressed, I expect to see more events of this kind. The initial riots were copied very quickly and very widely. Until then we will have to suffer populism of the “ban twitter and facebook” kind, even though it could be argued tv news coverage poured more petrol on the flames than social media ever did.

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Clapham History: Murder and Fashion

Feels a bit odd discovering a sensational murder took place virtually on my doorstep almost 60 years ago, one which propelled a youth phenomenon into the national consciousness to boot.

In the early 50s Londoners were still overcoming the legacy of World War II, with austerity still casting a baleful pall. Gangs of youths in South London started to adopt a flamboyant style of dress in rebellion against the depressing drabness. Apparently, they were inspired by upscale west end gay fashionistas. The look was flash and expensive.

On the evening of the 2nd July 1953 a fracas started near Clapham Common bandstand and spilled over to North Side, where two lads were dragged off the 137 bus and one of them, John Beckley, was fatally stabbed. The gang wore the cutting-edge fashionable teenage costume which referenced Edwardian style - newspapers found the word too long for headlines so shortened it to "Teddy" and the Teddy Boys were born.

Read Another Nickel in the Machine's great post on this incident.

Friday, July 22, 2011

R.I.P. Lucien Freud

One of the greats passed away sadly on Wednesday evening. From his obit in the Guardian:

"Freud described the move to England as "linked to my luck. Hitler's attitude to the Jews persuaded my father to bring us to London, the place I prefer in every way to anywhere I've been.""

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Ask Murdoch!

There have been loads of exciting investigations and enquiries happening here in the good ol' 'UK the last few months, and of course The Guardian has been plugging away at the News International hacking and corruption saga for years.

After Rupert and James Murdoch's extraordinary appearance before a parliamentary committee yesterday, a useful website has been set up - Ask Murdoch - in which you too can query Rupes on pressing issues and get answers in his own inimitable style. I've just tried it out:

Now someone will have to develop a cyber Wendi to leap Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon style into the fray! That would complete the parliamentary experience. Oh yes - and a custard pie.

Sunday, July 03, 2011

Stuck on repeat

. . . literally!

. . . is how Owen Jones, author of Chavs: The Demonization of the Working Class wittily described Ed Miliband’s doleful and dispiriting response to the public sector strikes last week in the Labour leader’s television interview with ITV’s Damon Green, above. Owen was speaking at an event at the Southbank Centre’s London Literature Festival.

Miliband is in a difficult position as the Tories and their propaganda cheerleaders in the press are still desperate to pin the “Red Ed” tag on him. Ed’s winning the election by a whisker, largely thanks to Union votes, leaves him vulnerable to being painted as the Unions’ puppet. Ridiculous as it is, 40 years on from the 70s and with Britain having the tightest restrictions on Union activity in the Western world, both major parties and the media still regard this as a touchstone issue in contemporary British politics.

And yet, as general secretary of the Public and Commercial Services Union (PCS) Mark Serwotka’s annihilation of Francis Maude, Cabinet Office minister on the Today programme on Radio 4 demonstrated, the government’s position on the pensions issue and the strikes themselves is almost nakedly hypocritical - a cynical, ideological attack on civil service pensions.

But instead of capitalizing on this line of engagement Miliband chose misjudged, clumsily executed and unconvincing triangulation. It makes him look weak.

Tony Blair did triangulation so much better back in the 1990s. But it is not the 1990s any more, and the financial crisis has exposed the fundamental flaws in the Thatcherite neo-liberal project. We need to get rid of it, not compromise with it.

There has never been a better moment for a Labour leader to expose the Tory subterfuge on the cuts, to drive home to the electorate just how ideologically motivated they are, on an issue that every voter can understand - pensions.

Margaret Thatcher overthrew the post-war social democratic consensus by being bloody minded, brave, and unapologetically clear in her pronouncements. Miliband is not going to overturn the Thatcherite consensus by weaseling about with soundbites.

Thursday, June 30, 2011


"It was at Balmoral that I learned my first lesson in the male anatomy. My mentor was the King’s younger brother, the Duke of Gloucester, who unfortunately never quite mastered the correct technique of adjusting the kilt when seated."

- The Honourable Margaret Rhodes, from her memoir "The Last Curtsey"

Friday, June 17, 2011

New in Clapham


The new Library Building on Clapham High Street is shooting up and is due for completion in September this year. Very exciting, as we'll have a brand new library and swimming pool here in SW4. The developers get 136 new apartments to flog, to help pay for the public amenities.

You won't find any information on the website about the new civic facilities, just a rather crass commercial hard sell. However, the relentless, hysterical grip on its target demographic is rather amusing:

[Edit: video now removed as too annoying!}

No grannies need apply!

I suppose the target punters will be shocked to find such an archaic insitution as a library in the basement. They may enjoy the swimming pool, however. It will be interesting to see how public and private interact as the building comes to life.

'The New" is actually so old - such a watered-down, pale pastiche of Frank Gehry's oeurvre, an architect whose style, so amazing in the 90s, is already slipping into the past. Do we deserve better public buildings? I suppose the rather magnificent Battersea Library extension was also architecturally retrogressive when it was built in the 1920s. It was however proud to be a library.

Tuesday, May 17, 2011


Earlier this year, at the Wedgwood Museum in Barlaston, Staffordshire, I came face-to-face with 18th-century jelly moulds: all in that classic creamy Wedgwood Queensware glaze. Immediate lust.

I love the idea of the history of these things - the amazing history of the industrial revolution's earliest manufacturers, as well as the domestic history of the individual objects - who owned them? what did they make? who ate the jellies? How did the moulds survive unbroken?

Research showed 18th-century moulds were financially out of reach, but Victorian moulds are surprisingly affordable still, especially for wealthy relatives. I put antique Wedgwood jelly moulds on my birthday list.

And it came to pass I got one! Yay! I chose a Victorian contra-swirl patterned one. The markings indicate it was made by Wedgwood c1880, twenty years before my grandfather was born.

Rather utilitarian and in today's terms under-designed, these stamps have their own modest beauty: the hand that stamped them as mysterious and distant to us as the hands that carved ancient Roman inscriptions - and yet culturally they are just as readable and informative. The man or woman who stamped the marks in the wet clay back in 1880 is long dead, but the object itself could last for thousands of years - pottery can break, but doesn't degrade. Shards date civilisations.

So, have jelly mould, will make jelly! Can't say I am actually much of a jelly fan, but there does appear to be a culinary revival going on - check out hip London jellymongers Bompass and Parr's website. Jellies also have a fascinating and distinguished culinary history.

For my first attempt I decided to jellify an Innocent mango smoothy. My mould takes exactly a pint of liquid (Victorian planning!) - and according to the gelatin packet instructions I needed 4 sheets.

The gelatin sheets are like clear acetate lasagne sheets. You have to soak them in cold water for five minutes, when they become a bit floppy, like plastic with a faint jelly-ish texture. You take them out of the water and squeeze the excess liquid off (I was expecting the sheets to be sticky at this point but they weren't at all).

Meanwhile, I heated up the smoothy in a pan (instructions say not to boil). I then added the soaked gelatin sheets and gently stirred until they were fully melted - about another two minutes. I then decanted the hot jelly into the mould.

I was warned to wet the mould first, and leave some extra space at the top to allow for gravity to pull the jelly out. Apparently a Victorian cook's trick was to oil the mould with almond oil, and then freeze it quickly before adding the jelly (an option available to only the wealthiest cooks with access to ice, obviously.)

I then let the jelly cool down completely before placing in the fridge to set overnight.

Et voilà! The final result. I dipped my mould in hot water to loosen the jelly, and left it in slightly too long, resulting in melting and mould pattern erosion. Something to remember for next time!

I must say, the jelly was vastly superior to packet jellies - the freshness of the fruit smoothy makes a huge difference. Also, there was just enough gelatin to gently set the jelly - it wasn't rubbery at all.

Monday, May 16, 2011

tweeting eurovision 2011

Definitely noticed a change in the twittosphere this year - partly I think inspired by the higher calibre of the entries: there were just no pratfalls. Remarkably, two new twitter communities moved big-time into tweeting Eurovision - the politicos (Ed Balls MP!! Ian Dale! etc) and the fashionistas (Bryanboy, Hilary Alexander). The comedians and writers were out in force too, and all the usual Eurovision fans and obsessives. Terry Wogan is still much missed; Graham Norton was noticeably restrained in his BBC commentary - in fact, playing it quite straight.

RealMattLucas: I can’t decide whether to watch Eurovision or hack off my foot.

wesstreeting: Seeing who is tweeting about #eurovision. And judging them.

OwenJones84@wesstreeting #gaysagainsteurovision

OwenJones84: Tough on Eurovision. Tough on the causes of Eurovision

HarryLangford: Eurovision is the first convincing argument that I have heard for leaving the EU. #Eurovision

diamondgeezer: The scariest outcome of Scottish independence would be three minutes of Susan Boyle

FreeSouthLondon: Entering #Eurovision is just one of many perks an independent South London would enjoy, but I’m more interested in our own nuclear deterrent

What About My Dreams / Kati Wolf


lowellkm: What about dancing? #bbceurovision

MatthewWells: Oooh. That’s an impressive ring. #hungary #eurovision

travelling_wolf: Skinniest girl in Hungary. #eurovision

Lipstick / Jedward

maggiephilbin: Oh No still in pub - Jedward on screen but no sound WHAT AM I MISSING #eurovison

jackwallington: I never thought I’d say it, but Jedward just totally aced #Eurovision

benlocker: Eurovision. Wouldn’t work on radio.

Popular / Eric Saade


ajscroxton: I’ll take all four. Thanks. #eurovision

MatthewWells: I'm calling it for Sweden #eurovision #winner

Watch My Dance / Loucas Yiorkas feat. Stereo Mike

MacPsych: Can we give Greece a musical bailout? #ESC2011

Get You / Alexej Vorobjov

Scaraboo: A jaunty song about stalking #Eurovision

jonathancobb: dubious sexual predator pop from Russia #eurovision

nok32uk: It was going to be called ‘Ooh Get You’ but that was considered too camp #bbceurovision #esc2011

Sognu / Amaury Vassili

technicalfault: “Comb” is now trending on Twitter in Europe #Eurovision

rjakesuk: Mr France has far far far too much hair #Eurovision

Markgatiss: Half-way through turning into a werewolf?

EvilGayTwin: France: boring but kinda hot. Are hot Men a requirement for Eurovision? #Eurovision

Madness of Love / Raffaele Gualazzi

EvilGayTwin: Italy was different. I take back my comment about hot men. #Eurovision

jamesmoran RT @jamesjammcmahon: Wogan, if you’re reading this, now is the time to buy a bottle of gin and set up a twitter account #eurovision

United Kingdom
I Can / Blue

jamesup: I can! I will!

idiaz: I can.. I will ... mute this song. #esc

JWhatX: I hope they don’t piss this song against the wall #eurovision

ajmy: What is with the Grindr pics in the background? #esc

MatthewWells: Glad to see Blue playing to their strengths #pecs

Soeno: Europe has vote for Blue solely on Simon Webb’s muscles alone. Hot hot hot. #eurovision

DavidAllenGreen: Bless, they’ve even got little blue suits on so we can remember their name. #eurovision

HilaryAlexander: Loving Blue’s tough tux look at Eurovision

DrSamuelJohnson: Oikish Mummers BLUE do perform dress’d for NAPOLEONS’s Retreat from Moscow #eurovision

travelling_wolf: Blue can’t. #eurovision

So Lucky / Zdob și Zdub

pauljchambers: Speechless #eurovision #Moldova


robin_intheuk: OMG!! Beastie boys with bizarre pointy hats #eurovision *sniffs wine for possible sabotage*

SplashMan: Madonnas Bra #Eurovision

thisisdavid: There are NOT enough unicycles in #Eurovision #Moldova

interactivemark: HOW THE FUCK DO YOU NOT VOTE FOR MOLDOVIA?!?! Fetch me my phone boy... #eurovision

Taken By A Stranger / Lena

travelling_wolf: The feeds to Portugal, Ireland, Greece and Spain replace this song with a video of Angela Merkel talking about bail outs... #eurovision

Charles_HRH Calm down Harry. That isn’t Pippa. #eurovision

Ewan RT @willhowells: Seriously, Lena, don’t do a song about it, REPORT IT TO THE POLICE. #eurovision

stebax: Tainted Love without the good bits.

DavidAllenGreen: Damn, she has trousers on this year. #Germany #eurovision

thisisdavid: The dancing sperms are fun. #Germany #Eurovision

JGONeill: Oh, that Teutonic humour! *slaps lederhosen*

Change / Hotel FM

DavidAllenGreen: This country used to produce vampires. Now crooners. Progress? Hmmm. #Romania #eurovision

NickiePhilbin: #tgesc #eurovision Is this the right time to announce I once slept with a Eurovision entry that came last - in every respect :(

The Secret Is Love / Nadine Beiler

PaulBurston: She makes Leonna look edgy

timlusher: My boyfriend’s verdict on Austria: “witness protection hair”

travelling_wolf: After the original Austrian act was in a tragic sausage accent it is lucky that the hotel receptionist was up for it. #eurovision

acediscovery: I live in an austrian household. We’re block voting for austria #tgesc

Running Scared / Ell/Nikki

edballsmp: The set for Azerbaijan has echoes of ELO ‘Out of the Blue’ live show ...

PaulBurston: I’m reminded of Lulu and Jason Orange

travelling_wolf: We should remember when watching this that there is nowhere in Azerbaijan to record music then hear it back. #eurovision

MatthewWells: The Azerbajani boy needs to ditch the tranny in the wedding dress

thisisdavid: google maps has gone down due to people finding #Azerbaijan #Eurovision

mrchrisaddison: This is like an ad for the First Class Lounge on Virgin Atlantic. #Eurovision

orbyn: The lady from Azerbaijan could be a relatively successful Shakira lookalike #eurovision

No One /         Maja Keuc

PRDH: Fuck me! It’s Xena, Warrior Princess!!

JWhatX: I’m running out of adjectives ; is Slovenia good? #eurovision

BevaniteEllie Destabilising... ! RT @IainDale: @edballsmp OMG. You’re scoring it too? I thought I was alone #moreincommonwithedballsthanithought

Queen_UK Edward is beside himself. He has that very outfit. #eurovision

Leanne_Cee #Eurovision Sorry Slovenia, but I just don’t think leather thigh boots are practical in this heat

thoroughlygood: I wouldn’t mind trying on SLOVENIA’s singer’s bodice for myself. You know. For research purposes. #eurovision

TheBuddhaSmiled: Steel reinforcements needed to hold up those Slovenian tits. #Eurovision

LeeBinding: The Aguilera cloning program is a SUCESS! #Eurovision

Ewan: Slovenia. Let’s just say only 17 women on the planet can wear boots like this. Brassy Shirly Bassy esque Maja Keuc is 1 of them, #eurovision

Coming Home / Sjonni's Friends

CllrTim: To think they used to arrive in longboats wielding axes, raping, pillaging.. Not sure if this may be worse.. #Eurovision #Iceland

ajscroxton: Too much comedy brass in Iceland #eurovision

JGONeill: hot gay action from the mumford and sons of reykjavik

Angel / Mika Newton

knitboy: My shoulders feel so bare after watching Ukraine - needs me some feathers #bbceurovision

jamesmoran: RT @jodiekearns: Sand painting is no unicycle. #eurovision

scottm: Get out of the way, dear, and let us see the artwork #Eurovision

maggiephilbin: RT @nickjbarlow If aliens landed in the middle of #Eurovision, would we notice? << only if they sang in tune

adventuresofboz: She is basically warbling in front of a screensaver, isn't she. #eurovision

Čaroban / Nina

maleo: 60s-FABULOUS! They’ve been holding onto those dresses since we sent them over in ‘78 though...

edballsmp: Well well @iaindale - Serbia in a late dash for the line - good #Eurovision song

BevaniteEllie: Just laughed out loud! RT @tom_watson: I’ve temporarily unfollowed @edballsmp #Eurovision

MmeGuillotine: Did they even have the 60s in Serbia? #eurovision


photo by hedgiecc

DavidAllenGreen: At the very doors of Hell, Beelzebub will undoubtedly say “let’s remind ourselves of the #Eurovision entries again”.

LeeBinding I’m horrified to look at my scoresheet and see #Jedward is my favourite. My world is falling off its axis.

owenblacker: Hey, finance guy at RTÉ. You hear that cheer for #Jedward in the auditorium there? Hahahahahahahahaha #esc2011

tomroyal: Hurrah! Am reliably informed that the one-wheeled drug gnomes were the best. Whoever the hell they were.

indiaknight: Lordy. #Moldova

orbyn: I’m going to vote. I’m going to fucking vote. I can vote, I’m an adult, I’ve had vodka. It’s fine #eurovision

jonwillchambers: Not a clue who’s going to win. Amazing voting coming up #eurovision

MacPsych: Denmark on top. Ph’narr... #ESC2011

LeeBinding: Come on Blue! Well, Duncan definitely. #Eurovision

Queen_UK: 2 points from Iceland. One is not knocking that off your bill. Get fishing. #eurovision

scottm: So Blue are currently 5th, which is where Jade Ewen finished. Expect Duncan to join the Sugababes any day now #eurovision

JGONeill@stevyncolgan yes olympics + diamond jubilee + eurovision = George Osborne found hanged in No 11

Syniq: THEY’RE BANKRUPT! THEY CAN’T AFFORD IT!!!! #eurovision #Jedward

AngryBritain: I can’t, I won’t, you know, we’ll lose #bbceurovision

travelling_wolf: Let’s hope four points from Greece is enough for Ms Merkel. #eurovision

Simmsey: The French. 1 point. Close the tunnel

ajscroxton: Don’t look so happy, Bosnia. Serbia’s only giving you 12 points because they want you back. #eurovision

bbceurovision: Ireland only gave Denmark 12 points because they have the same hair as Jedward...

Queen_UK: Your interest rate has just gone up by 200% Ireland. And one’s coming over next week to collect. #eurovision

travelling_wolf: At the end of this Jedward won’t be allowed to leave Germany for ‘financial reasons’ #eurovision

ajscroxton: I want Italy to get this so bad. Berlusconi to do the halftime show next year! #eurovision

The Winner - Azerbaijan
Running Scared / Ell/Nikki

Running scared to Azerbaijanphoto by CharlesFred

squawkbox: I’m very pleased for Azerbaijan. They have tried so hard since entering a few years ago. #eurovision

manx_maid So next year Europe will extend to a mere 1000 miles or so from the Chinese border !! #eurovision

acediscovery: The only thing I liked about the azerbaijan song was that the video had cable cars in it #tgesc

owenblacker: Sweet Jesus, put the big glass trophy down, pretty Azeri boy! #esc2011

jackyrabbit: Ok actually seeing them fight for that trophy while singing made it all better #eurovision

ajscroxton Time to continue my annual tradition of listening to Katrina and the Waves at this point #eurovision

FAULTYCAPSLOCK: The Reptiles fixed Eurovision.

All photos © Pieter Van den Berghe (EBU) except where otherwise stated.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

Eurovision: The 2011 Final

So, most of Europe reached for their atlases last night - where exactly is Azerbaijan again? That’s right, next year Europe will extend to within 1000 miles of China, and only a hop away from Iran!

Sundip: More people from within the Europe Union voted for the winning Azerbaijan group than for the President of the EU! #Awkward

Apart from worries over the state of hotels and gay rights in Azerbaijan, the European television companies will no doubt sigh with relief - Azerbaijan is one of the few countries rich enough to stage the competition in the current economic climate, and they are absolutely desperate to do so. Should be mega - expect something to rival Moscow in 2008.

Seriously, Azerbaijan deserves big congratulations for their winning song “Running Scared”, sung beautifully by Ell & Nikki, who had such great performance chemistry. It was also highly amusing watching them fight over who got to hold the trophy in close-up while singing their reprise.

I really should have placed a bet, shouldn’t I? - A first or top three for both Azerbaijan and Sweden would have been the ticket. The joker in the pack was Italy - coming up from absolutely nowhere (and against everyone’s expectations for a sophisticated jazz number) to finish second.

Poor Blue finished 11th, and behind Jedward too - so a pretty miserable finish for the UK, albeit vastly better than the ‘nul points’ we are used to from previous years.

My head is still buzzing, but here are a few initial conclusions:

1) The bookies can get it so wrong! - France was a massive favourite for months during the build-up, only to disappear in the voting. Poor Amaury Vassili must have been devastated.

2) Opera and show tunes do not work. Not for Amaury Vassili, nor for Norway last year, or the disco-fied opera Sweden did the year before that. The UK did best in this genre in recent years with Jade Ewan’s Andrew Lloyd Webber number, which finished 5th.

3) Despite Eurovision having a huge gay signature, Gay Anthems paradoxically don’t work either. Sweden never had success with their past entries in this genre; Iceland got nowhere last year; Malta didn’t even qualify this year; and Hungary - a really storming anthem and another bookies’ favourite to boot - finished well down the header board this year.

4) What does work? - Good-looking cute boys have won very frequently in recent years, but the song has to appeal too. Josh Dubovie was cute, but his song was awful. And Jedward’s talents were flattered by an excellent pop tune and hugely sophisticated production.

5) Is Eurovision getting boring? A twitter friend expressed regret this year twitter lacked the bright banter of previous years. He suggested it was because there were so many more people tweeting now that the wittiest gems get lost in the electronic blizzard. There may be something in this; I think however it is also the case that the competition is evolving and the Eastern European countries are all now capable of producing respectable attempts - there was a total lack of unintentionally funny acts this year (cf Armenia & Ukraine a few years back). The ‘funny’ acts were all knowingly, calculatedly funny - Moldova just as much as Ireland (both the UK’s highest scoring countries).

Tweets, yes, I have to say there were fewer that caught my eye, so I don’t know if I will continue my tradition of tweet digests next year.

6) Where to now for the UK? The poor BBC must be at its wits end. Maybe do an Italy and take a break for decade or two?