I have now been in the UK for over four years, FOUR YEARS. That is long enough for me to figure out how to change at Bank Station but not quite long enough for me to remember to take an umbrella with me on sunny days. My visa is only for five years so it’s about time I started thinking about what to do next, and since I intend to stay in London that can only mean one thing, citizenship test. So last weekend, with a little bit of fear and a bottle of gin, I embarked on part 1 of the UK Citizenship test: Understanding the Eurovision Song Contest*.
The song contest was apparently*** created to promote peace in Europe after all those pesky World Wars. It is pretty much the equivalent of terrorism ending as soon as we get ISIS to agree to enter Bake Off. Oh and for some reason Australia is in it. Because reasons.
The rules for Eurovision are remarkably similar to the UN Security Council. All counties in Europe (and don’t forget Australia) go through a qualification round and semi-finals in order to win a place in the final televised spectacle… except for the five countries that give the most money (to keep this nightmare happening every year) who automatically get in the final. The UK having a permanent seat on the UN Security Council AND automatically getting into the final of Eurovision; Coincidence? I think not.
I know you are sitting there wondering where the citizen test comes in, it’s just people singing on TV right? WRONG. This is an endurance event, there are 26 acts performing throughout the night and you have to pay attention to every single one, your ability to intellectually critique each act is stopping World War Three. If you fall asleep, if you take a bathroom break, if you fail to take this seriously; politics will happen. Or even worse, Australia might win and dingo’s will steal all our babies.
If you haven’t read the full rules about attending a Eurovision party I will give you a quick rundown. You will be allocated a country(s) to support (which I think has to give you a visa if you fail the UK test?) and a special effect which if it occurs in any act you must drink. I ended up with Spain, and my special effect was ‘costume change’ – it was time to get serious. Because I didn’t want to risk not getting my UK visa I was drinking a combination of gin and tea – you can’t get more British.
One thing that I didn’t catch onto, and something I hope I am not penalised for, is tactical voting. After each act I was genuinely awarding points based on how good they were. I should have known this was not the way to do it when my friend who was allocated Poland gave the act 10 points – the act which looked like a moustache wearing Lorde who was moonlighting as a lion tamer. Turns out you should give your own country 10 points, and the best acts that might be a real contender for Miss Eurovision 2016 no points. Seriously if Eurovision is this complicated I don’t have a hope in hell of understanding the Brexit.
Then it came to the actual voting (i.e. the one on TV, not me drunkenly awarding points to countries based on if I would go for a drink at the pub with the singer) we sat through an hour of live TV links to representatives of each country who had the ability to shatter dreams by awarding 12 points to their favourite. I was getting rather panicky because for some unknown reason everyone was voting for Australia to win… THEY DON’T EVEN GO HERE. By the time Australia had a convincing lead and was sitting cockily at the top of the table I was a nervous wreck mainlining Party Rings in the corner.
But I should have known that Eurovision voting was never going to be straight forward. After the pain staking live votes, we all of a sudden had another magic pot of votes that were applied – maybe these ones had come direct from the UN. Within five minutes Australia’s Eurovision dreams came crashing down as Ukraine rose from the ashes to become the victor. Ukraine who sang a cheery song about the 1944 deportation of the Crimean Tatars in the Soviet Union under the rule of Joseph Stalin aka a big ‘fuck you’ to Russia. Wait, how was this meant to promote peace in Europe?
*Ok this is not actually part of the test and won’t get you a visa. I just said this for laughs. Apologies for your confusion**.
** to be fair of you read this and thought that the Eurovision Song Contest was part of becoming a UK citizen then you are a total muppet and have bigger problems to deal with.
*** I say apparently a lot in this, because although that is what I was told and Google agrees, it all sounds like total bullshit.