JOHN GRIFF: Now that's what I call a really entertaining show
The nation's annual humiliation took place last weekend. No, nothing to do with sport. Instead it was the kitsch-fest of the Eurovision Song Contest.
And how that humiliation returned!
Originally conceived to be a showcase for cross border harmony – not to mention melody and rhythm too, the United Kingdom was one of the first participant countries, which is why to this day we retain our fast-track ticket to the finals, thereby removing us from the potential of being voted – or NOT voted – out of the competition.
Precisely this happened to Ireland’s Nicky Byrne this year. A former member of global phenomenon Westlife, he must have wondered what on earth was going on as the votes for clearly inferior songs propelled them past his own offering and into the finals, while he and his colleagues headed for Stockholm’s airport and the first flight home.
For us, Joe and Jake gamely delivered our entry “You’re Not Alone”.
Not, as it turned out, a rallying cry for either the Leave or Stay factions of the European Referendum next month, their song was a well crafted piece of pop, eminently singable and enduringly catchy.
The pair gave a great account of themselves and, for me, were genuine contenders alongside the Russian and Netherland entries.
As it turned out, Australia (a great supporter and invited guest competitor to Eurovision) led the way for much of the evening post-performance, until the jury votes from each of the 26 participating countries were augmented by their respective audiences.
This put a very different slant on things and without warning Ukraine’s Jamala and her musical history lesson “1944” swept all before.
The Kremlin was outraged that the song had won and cast mother Russia in such a negative light. It has since issued dark mutterings about boycotting next year’s event in Kiev – we’ll see.
As it was, plucky Joe and Jake’s performance was left so bereft of support they must have wondered if it might not have been a better bet to seek a seat on the same plane home alongside Ireland’s Nicky B.
As it was, there WAS an outright winner. America’s Justin Timberlake debuted his latest single in front of a colossal television audience, which must have had his record company salivating in volume. For me, the very essence of Eurovision was summed up by the Swedish hosts Petra Mede and Måns Zelmerlöw who delivered the greatest entertainment of all with their tongue in cheek “Love Love Peace Peace”.
Seriously, if you missed it, go online and have a look via YouTube – it’s hilarious.
For all the schlock of Eurovision, there was a masterclass in how to entertain over the four nights of Thursday to Sunday last week. The 90th birthday celebrations of The Queen incorporated nightly audiences of 5,000 seated around a display arena in the grounds of Windsor Castle.
Fifteen hundred human performers and 900 horses came together to show off not only their incredible skills, but also to demonstrate a genuine affection for the woman who has reigned longer than any other monarch over the United Kingdom and the Commonwealth.
Her delight at the event on Sunday was clear for all to see and as one who is both an expert in equine breeding and horsemanship too, she seemed truly appreciative of the acrobatics being performed before her in tribute to her years.
I was lucky enough to be there myself on Thursday night, and believe me we know how to put on a show.
Under a cloudless sky the crowd roared its approval. It certainly got their votes.
All of them.