Tonight is the night of one of the greatest wastes of British TV taxpayer’s money in the entire year. The Eurovision Song Contest.
It is saved, mostly by the fact that watching the often frankly amazing performances appeals to the sneaking desire to watch a curiosity, combined by Terry Wogan’s gentle micky taking on behalf of us all.
Humourless European officials decry his efforts, whilst failing to grasp he is probably the only thing that keeps the opinion of the UK public in a mood of benign amusement - as opposed to outright contempt.
The 'contest' is intrinsically silly and unfair, it always has been. He does not need to make it look that way, he just uses the fact that it is to entertain us...
We all know we have very little chance of even doing well in it. We know we are not particularly popular with Europe as a whole, given our relationship with the US. But mostly it is the voting system and the blocks that doom all the old large western European nations.
Namely the Baltic and Balkan voting blocks.
Firstly each group tends, by accident, or design, to vote the high points largely exclusively for other members of ‘their’ block.
This, combined with the fact that a microscopic country that consists of several small towns, has the same voting power as a huge country with a population of multiple millions. Tends to give them a lock on the contest, no matter how good or more likely bad the particular entries happen to be.
It’s as if you were to give each county in the UK an individual vote and they all voted for the UK, and Irish entries.
How different would the results be it it were down to a simple total of all the votes cast for each entry, with no country being able to vote for it's own entry?
One suspects it won’t be much different for Andy Abraham tonight. One fears how good the song, or the performance, is will only have a peripheral impact on how well it actually does. The fact that I don’t come right out and predict it is more a triumph of optimism over experience than anything else. We shall see on the morrow…