Once again, Blair's bellicose buffoonery leaves Britain upended in the dust like a sad old tortoise. At the weekend Europe mercilessly thrust home its anti-war message for yet another year, via the ever-telling medium of the Eurovision song contest, cruelly voting Daz Sampson's superlative UK entry 'Teenage Life' into a humble 19th place. The sausage-sucking, onion-humping, spaghetti-sex-game-playing swine. Actually it's entirely possible that the votes simply went to the jolly tunes people found most pleasing, but then only the most naïve of Pollyannas could listen to the metallic mooings of the winning Finnish entry and not suspect some kind of sinister global conspiracy centring around Helsinki. Those Finns have always been so *quiet*. We should have known.
In fact, the winners Lordi (imagine ZZ Top pretending to be Slipknot in their 14-year-old sisters' platform Goth shoes) represent the very best of Eurovision, and something like genuine controversy. So gloriously ludicrous are they, so manifestly upsetting to anyone who was cheering on any of the more traditionally poppier songs, that all you can do is remove hat and genuflect. But of course this was to the detriment of our own Daz Sampson and co-writer John Matthews, aka Ricardo Autobahn, who were left languishing in the green room as the points trickled in. TFT caught up with Ricardo again as he teetered on the ledge of his Athens hotel room window. (Thankfully his room was in the basement.)
TFT: May we be the first to say 'oh, bugger, you woz robbed'.
RA: Me and Daz knew within the first three rounds of voting that it was all over, and there's no spin you can put on it, it's a bad, bad result. But the whole event is just so brilliant, such a sensational experience (if I can use the phrase 'sensational experience' in this day and age), that it didn't seem to matter that much. The only possible downside was that we never got on camera in the green room, and [Spain's woeful] Las Ketchup (who were sat next to us) did, despite coming lower than us. So the £££ that I spent on a new jacket, new shoes *and* the comb for my hair was all wasted.
TFT: Has your view of Eurovision as an institution now flowered gloriously or shrunken bitterly?
RA: Put it this way, we started writing next year's song this morning. We're going to do everything in our power to go back. It's a tremendous event and it's only when you get there you fully experience the camaraderie and shared love. 'Shared love'?? That doesn't sound like the sort of phrase I'd use. It's Eurovision. It changes you. It's like a little utopian society with no cynicism.
TFT: What did you think of the other entries? What made everyone vote for Lordi? Should someone else have won? [Ahem, we *did* mean to say 'Should someone else have won, like, if *you'd* been disqualified after drug tests in which the ibuprofen you took to alleviate your tense nervous headache bizarrely and controversially registered as barbiturates?']
RA: Yeah *we* should. [Sorry about that.] I won't mention the overly complicated 'Scando-Baltic' and Balkan Nations cyclical voting patterns 'cause it'll just sound like sour grapes. I have, you'll notice, actually managed to mention them though, so good for me. But at least I haven't said 'nobody voted us because of the War' (which is a nonsense) [Well of course]. I do think that Daz and the Girls' performance was an absolute highlight. I watched it on DVD when I got home and I was almost in tears, it was a show-winning performance. Whatever anybody thinks of the song, there was more enthusiasm, enjoyment, vibrancy and glee in those three minutes than in any other UK Eurovision entrant since Bucks Fizz. If not longer.
Lordi are superb and deserved the win. Even with the benefits of neighbourly voting you can't win Eurovision unless you capture the imaginations of the public, and Lordi went above and beyond the call of duty. They put the effort in, from the fireworks onstage to turning up at the hotel pool in full regalia, for example. I also happen to think it's a magnificent song.
They were worthy adversaries. With some cockiness I said on a TV spot just beforehand that we'd be proud to be beaten by Lordi. I didn't quite count on the other 17 idiots who came above us, but what can you do? You know that episode of 'The Simpsons' where Homer thinks he's going to die, and he goes through the five stages of grief in about a minute? It was kinda like that for us all after the voting - anger, depression, resignation, 'let's get wrecked! wooooo!' all in the space of about thirty seconds.
I seriously love Lordi though. Their album is brilliant. All the songs sound exactly like Hard Rock Hallelujah (i.e. big 80s power chords with enormo-synths). There's no variation whatsoever. We also liked 'We Are The Winners' by Lithuanians LT United. I realised this was going to do well when we left the rehearsal on Friday night and every single human being in Athens was going '...we are the winnerz... of Eurovizion...' under their breath without realising.
TFT: What else happened on the night?
RA: Carola from Sweden whacked me in the face with some flowers (accidentally) whilst she was trying to do some sort of shameless publicity grabbing meet with all the other competitors. I got sat on by a fat Lithuanian whilst he was trying to do some sort of shameless publicity grabbing meet with all the other competitors. But that's about it. Oh, I did have to nab some batteries off some German technicians when my camera conked out, and about two hours later the presenter's radio mic packed up. Coincidence? I think so.
TFT: Do you now qualify as heroic British underdogs and thus like totally worthy of the nation's love?
RA: No. I can't speak for Daz, but I personally would not want the nation's love until we come home with the Eurovision crown next year.
So there it is. Tony, it's in your hands. Troops out. Velcro skirts in.
RICARDO'S EUROVISION SCRAPBOOK