I’ve been ‘out out’ four times this week. Campaigning event and then dinner with some friends on Wednesday. A colleague’s leaving drinks on Friday. A walk around Richmond Park yesterday. I forgot how exhausting social interaction was and I genuinely don’t know how I used to do this on the regular (and also go to the office every day) before March 2020. (Maybe I wasn’t very good at it.)
The Eurovision Song Contest was yesterday. Ukraine won with an absolutely massive 631 points, and the United Kingdom came second(!) Far too many chin-stroking News Understander types have quoted this as a prime example of the massive shift in geopolitics caused by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but I’m not a fan of this angle. For a start, what many people refer to as ‘political voting’ in Eurovision is actually voting along cultural affinity. Of course Greece are going to vote for Cyprus and vice versa, since they’re culturally very closely linked with similar tastes. Of course the massive Polish diaspora is going to vote for Poland. I’d argue this is a feature of Eurovision, not a bug.
The “political voting” thinkpieces also minimise (or outright ignore) the fact that the Ukrainian entry this year was actually good and had a very broad appeal. Is it out of the question that those who voted for Ukraine actually enjoyed the song, maybe finding Kalush Orchestra’s moody folk-rap banger about motherhood particularly poignant against the backdrop of the appalling war? I have similar problems with divining a huge change in my own country’s international standing from our second-place finish. I struggle to believe huge numbers of people looked up the number of anti-tank weapons pledged by Boris Johnson before picking up their phones or jury papers to vote for the UK. Again, this minimises the huge amount of effort that Sam Ryder, co-songwriters Amy Wadge and Max Wolfgang, and the entire BBC delegation put into producing, staging, and promoting SPACE MAN. Oddly, when we send a good song which is performed well, do a good job staging the song, and promote the song, the song does well. It is a song contest after all.
Bulb Watch: The Allium Siculums I have in a pot with the alpine strawberries are on their way to flowering—they’ve been easily the most successful ones I’ve planted. Hopefully we’ll have flowers this time next week.