Well, I suppose we had to do something drastic,
especially in this year of the London Olympics and the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee,
with the eyes of the world upon Britain.
The problem is the Eurovision Song Contest.
Kingdom hasn’t won it since 1997 (with Love Shine a Light performed by Katrina
and The Waves, in case you’re wondering).
We haven’t come remotely close since then, and it’s no consolation that
our next-door neighbour, Ireland,
has managed to win it seven times, more than any other country.
The proposed solution, it was announced this week, is
to play the age card.
The card comes in the fantastical figure – considerably
and understandably rounder than I remember – of one Arnold George Dorsey, better
known in the world of popular music as Engelbert Humperdinck.
Hump, as he is fondly known – an endearment based purely
on abbreviation, and not for the impressive collection of paternity suits with
which, according to his wife, “he could paper his bedroom” – may just turn out
to be our trump card.
Let’s hope he turns out to be Hump the Trump and not Joker
By the time Hump appears in the competition he’ll have
reached the age of seventy-six, the oldest contestant ever, twenty years older
than the competition itself. Age-wise,
the Hump has out-Cliffed Sir Cliff, hitherto widely recognised as our leading
pop septuagenarian (and himself a Eurovision runner-up back in 1968, with a
banality called Congratulations).
Impressively, the Hump is still appearing in concert
at diverse venues around the world, to the tune of one hundred appearances last
year – as his press agent proudly revealed – and still selling albums in
industrial quantities. They love him in Belgium and Israel, we’re told.
Now I can’t say that the tidings of Hump’s triumphal seconding
to the national musical cause brought me great joy, but neither was I filled
with dread. Frankly, my first unkind
reaction was, “Blimey, is he still alive?”
My second response, equally uncharitable, was: “How on
earth does that manically fatuous competition keep going? Who watches it? The answer is countless millions, from
Iceland to Israel”.
Regional bloc voting these days ensures, or so I’m
reliably informed, that Eurovision is hijacked by countries such as Turkey (the Balkan bloc) and Estonia (the
Baltic bloc). Britain can count on no such
sentimental geopolitical support.
Clearly, something radical had to be done.
I’ll be happy to offer the Hump as rousing a cheer as
I’ll be giving our Olympians – so long as it doesn’t mean I actually have to
watch the show.