1992. Holland House TV room (the one up the spiral staircase), Pollock halls of residence, Edinburgh University. One Saturday in May.
There were 3 of us. Myself, my wife-to-be, and a random physicist. We’d all met up there many times before, sharing our love of Thunderbirds, Star Trek and similar TV shows so it wasn’t unusual for us all to be there on a Saturday night. We weren’t the partying/clubbing/pubbing types. Our wine was cheap Bulgarian red, screw-topped bottles. Unusual at the time, but it saved us having the expense of a corkscrew. Hey, poor students, right? The unusual thing about that night was just how dreadful the choices were for TV. Only 4 channels but nothing to watch.
“There’s a movie on later, should be good.”
“Yeah, but that’s later. What do we watch until then?”
Y’see, if we’d left the TV lounge the chances were high someone else would come in and put something else on. So we were determined to stay. All 4 channels were discarded as options.
“We’ve got to watch something. Even if it’s BBC1 so we can say we’re waiting for the film.”
“BBC1 it is, then.”
Turned out to be the Eurovision Song Contest. Hosted by Sir Terry Wogan, who sounded like he’d consumed far more alcohol than we had. And we laughed. We laughed like drains, drank, had fun, became outraged at the blatantly political scoring, and promptly forgot about everything the next day.
Until the following year. During a lull in a movie/home brewed beer marathon the Eurovision popped up on screen. Subsequent movies were discarded and we began all over again! Wogan, still drunk, presided once more. The beer and snacks flowed. Much fun.
This set the tone for every year since. We’ve watched it with friends, with family. Last year my wife and I watched it in the Maternity department of the Aberdeen Royal Infirmary (our son was born the next day). This year will be no exception.
Yes, it’s cheesy. Yes, there’s some absolute rubbish put forward to represent the countries. Yes, the voting is unashamedly biased and not at all motivated by who wants Russia to keep supplying them with gas. Block voting, neighbours giving each other 12 points, the UK losing no matter how much money we pump into the competition.
The last couple of years, watching with the assistance of Twitter, has been a blast. You get comments from all around Europe. In fact, during last night’s semi final someone tweeted that it was like having the whole of Europe round to watch it with you, only without the mess to clean up afterwards. I’d credit them but there were so many Eurovision tweets last night it’s got lost.
So eat, drink and be merry. Enjoy Graham Norton’s commentary. He’s no Wogan, but he’s getting there. And where did you watch your first?