Monday, 13 May 2013

Eurovision bingo

For many people who don’t love sport, it’s often difficult to identify with the hardcore fans. It’s puzzling, the way they manage to feel such very strong feelings about something they’ve not been directly involved in themselves, and probably can’t even do. As Jerry Seinfeld had it, the appropriate retort to ‘We won! We won!’ is “No, they won. You watched.”

But not so for me. Because when I see sporty people getting themselves in a happy tizz over people they’ve never met doing something successfully several hundred miles away, I just think to myself: 1997. Dublin.  Katrina and the Waves, Love Shine a Light. I understand.

I taped the whole of Eurovision 1997 off the telly on a VHS, which I then watched daily for a fortnight afterwards, savouring every moment of the glorious victory. I memorised the dance moves, I chuckled at what I understood of Terry Wogan’s pithy commentary, I marvelled at the Riverdance interval entertainment. I can still, if really pushed, sing you three bars of the Maltese entry. That is how big I went on Eurovision ’97.

I went slightly smaller on Eurovision ’98, but only slightly (Imaani, ‘Where Are You?’ and what do you MEAN you don’t remember the red pleather coat?) then kept up more or less the same pace for the subsequent 14 years except with the eventual introduction of alcohol and more elaborate snacks.

Because the beautiful thing about being a Eurovision fan is pretty much the same as the beautiful thing about being a sports fan, or a Joe McElderry fan – it’s the hope. The lovely hope that can’t be diminished by a million nil points, or all the neighbourly Balkan voting in the world, that one day we will win again. That day might, MIGHT just be Saturday.

And so to help you all enjoy the event as much as I do, here is your official* Eurovision bingo card:

1 point: White suits; plastic suits; tin foil suits; a lady in a dress that opens up into a small marquee upon a strategic key change; a song ostensibly sung in English but consisting entirely of phrases never uttered on British soil; a tambourine.

2 points: Teeth so white they are almost blue; a man with a face that looks shiny like moist Tupperware; lyrics that include “balloons”, “the moon”, “wolves”, or “biscuits”; anybody repeating the Bonnie Tyler sat nav joke (unless it is you).

3 points: Anybody giving the UK more than 3 points.


Monday, 6 May 2013

In which I whistle while I smirk

I discovered a horrifying thing the other day. I was watching 10 Years Younger on Really, which the quippier among you will probably point out is a horrifying thing in itself, and the eerily smooth plastic surgeon was talking about wrinkles.

Now, normally these segments are relatively low-anxiety viewing for me. I don’t smoke; I don’t use sunbeds; I slather factor 50 on my face all summer like butter on a freckle-prone crumpet. I’ll admit it, I even felt a little ripple of smugness as the surgeon told the makeover victim that years of dragging on cigarettes had given her deep-set lines around her lips that even terrifying lasers couldn’t fix.

But then, THEN, the awful bit came. “Smoking or frequent whistling can create these lines,” said the voiceover. Sorry, what the what? Frequent whistling? WHISTLING? The clean-living cheery person’s indulgence of choice? WHISTLING will make me wrinkly? WHISTLING?

I am nothing if not a frequent whistler. Being devoid of all genuine musical talent, whistling is my only outlet – so it’s just as well that I am terrific at it. Not to show off or anything, but I can whistle whilst inhaling and exhaling, meaning that (with an IV drip to keep me going) I could technically whistle forever. I have a whole whistling playlist on Spotify. I’ve considered starting a whistling band.

So now I have a choice – either I keep on doing something I love and accept that in 20 years I will have a mouth that looks permanently like an origami cat’s bum, or I wean myself off whistling and live a quieter, less jolly, less creased life. Apart from the hope that repeating the word often enough in a column might somehow win me a free skiing trip to Whistler, there’s not much consolation either way in this scenario.

Having arrived on the steeper side of 25, I’ve been amazed by how quickly anti-aging has become something I’m supposed to care about. No sooner had I blown out my birthday candles (which was probably pretty aging, now I come to think about it) than I started noticing the fine lines under my eyes, and the aisles full of goo promising to get rid of them.

Then it’s a continual inner battle between my moral compass, which says “age gracefully! Pay no heed to our youth-obsessed society and its shallow conceptions of beauty. Besides, you’re 25 – don’t be annoying and ridiculous”, and the part of me with eyes and a mirror, who wants to throw £20 at Boots every month in the hope it’ll keep me peachy-skinned forever.

Besides, if I wait until I’m 40 to use wrinkle cream, like a normal person, will I wish I’d started at 25? The whole business is depressing. I’d put on a sad song like Mr Bojangles to help ease me through the pain, except it has ruddy whistling in it.

Saturday, 4 May 2013

In which Kel never really died

With no.1 brother, 1994

A slightly worrying thing happened the other day. Fully of my own accord, and without being involved in any kind of dare, I pulled half of my hair up into a ponytail right on the top of my head, swung it about a bit, and decided it didn’t look terrible. It looked a bit like Clarissa, she who Explained it All.

Then Mark Morrison’s Return of the Mack started playing out of nowhere, and I threw some rad breakdancing shapes before settling down in my inflatable armchair with a copy of Live and Kicking magazine and a Push Pop.

Ok everything after the ponytail is a lie, but it could just as easily not be. Because the 90s are back, my friends. And they’re taking no prisoners.

They’ve been threatening to come back for practically as long as they’ve been away, to be honest, but we’ve eventually reached a point where their return into our lives and wardrobes is so natural that we barely even notice it’s happening.

We think we’re living in the moment; we’re all ‘Skype’ this and ‘sheep’s yoghurt’ that, then one day we suddenly get a real hunger on for a packet of Space Raiders and before we know it we’re doing the Saturday Night dance wearing one of those snap bracelets you buy from school trip gift shops. It’s almost as if it’s revenge for us finally closing down Ceefax.

The golden decade of distance has more than passed now, and we’re all high on Buzzfeed nostalgia lists like they’re cherryade Panda Pop. But it’s especially exciting/depressing, I’m finding, because this is the first decade revival where I’m old enough to remember the first time round.

Back at the millennium, when there was that big Abba renaissance and the 70s were massive, it was all shiny and new to me. Likewise for the 80s thing that reigned supreme through the second half of the noughties, my main reference point was old Jackie annuals I found at car boot sales, and photos of my parents with a baby me.

But while I’ve definitely got firsthand memories of the 90s, I’m not entirely sure how one does them as an adult. I’ll probably go out and buy a tamagotchi and a Polly Pocket lipgloss ring, only to discover I’m meant to be kicking back with a Magic Eye picture in some minimalist tailoring. Will Anneka Rice’s jumpsuit come out of mothballs? Will we all start saying “dead good” again? Will CBBC ever re-run The Biz?

According to the golden rule of decade distance (a clean two decades is needed), we’re currently only to up to 1993 – so I suppose we’ll just have to wait and see. Get your votes in now, everybody.