I think it’s fair to say that Eurovision is my football. The highs and lows; the theatre and spectacle; the vaguely embarrassing state of caring so deeply about a performance by people you’ve never met and have no relationship with, but whose glory you will definitely claim as yours if they win. When I watch a pub full of people leaping out of their seats with joy at a deciding goal in a cup final, I make sense of it all by remembering how I felt 21 years ago, the night Katrina and the Waves powered their way to velvet-coated victory with "Love Shine A Light". And the way I felt rewatching the whole three hours on VHS, every day for a week.
But while football gets a weekly go on our heartstrings for months at a time, all my feelings about Eurovision find an outlet just one night a year, bursting out over the cross-continental buffet in a mess of glitter and Lidl prosecco. Every meagre scrap of national pride left in my post-Brexit body is used up on Eurovision night; by the time the results from Moldova roll in, it’s inevitably whittled away to nothing. Because, of course, we’re very bad.
It wasn’t always the case – the UK actually has one of the best track records, having won five times with acts as credible as Sandie Shaw and Lulu. But these days, being bad is Britain’s Eurovision brand, just as Sweden’s is radiant ABBA rehashes and France’s is mournful ballads sung by a woman in a Debenhams prom dress. And not gleefully, kitschily bad – when we try to join in the contest’s tradition of joyous camp, it tends to come off like your Tory uncle shoving balloons down his top at a company away day – but painfully bad. Bum-squeakingly bad. Apologetically, apathetically, please-remember-we-invented-The-Beatles-tho bad.