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Camping out

The Eurovision preliminaries are tonight, held to decide who gets to move through to the main contest, which is on Saturday. Icelanders lo-ove Eurovision. [Even if they pooh-pooh it and proclaim to be way above it all.] I reckon that nowhere-but-nowhere are our small-nation insecurities so glaringly apparent. After all, this is our once-a-year chance to prove that we’re THE BEST. Even if it is in a hopelessly camp and vacuous song contest, where nepotism is the order of the day when it comes to handing out points.

Never mind. The Icelandic nation throws itself into the fray with gusto. This year we’re sending our One Great Hope, Selma Björnsdóttir, who almost won a few years ago – she came in second, just a few points behind the winners [was it Sweden? – how soon one forgets.] This year there was no contest allowing the nation to choose the contestant – this has sometimes been done, almost inevitably with disastrous results. Nope – Selma was ‘hand picked’ – and sent off with instructions to bring home the trophy.

Now the funny thing is, we don’t actually want to win. Well we do… but we don’t. It’s the cost, you see. The already-struggling Icelandic National Broadcasting Service [which oversees the contest on Iceland’s behalf] would go bust if we had to hold it here [remember that we’re a nation of just under 300,000 people who have to support the requisite infrastructure, public administration, cultural sector, diplomatic service, educational system, health care system – in short, uphold a democratic nation with a high standard of living]. So second place is generally thought to be the best place in which to land. [Which by extension means that back in 1999, or whenever it was, we actually did win.]

In any case, every year the excitement generated by the Eurovision song contest is palpable. There are Eurovision-parties everywhere: friends and families gather together in eager anticipation and during the actual broadcast the streets are absolutely deserted. And when ‘our’ contestant(s) come on, you can hear a pin drop. And when ‘our’ contestants are given ‘douze points’ from someone, a collective roar of glee reverberates throughout the whole country.

Meanwhile, the retail sector has seized the opportunity and goes hog-wild with Eurovision specials: ‘The Eurovision leg of lamb!’ ‘Fabulous Eurovision fish specials!’ ‘Eurovision price explosion on gas barbecues!’ And the now-indispensable yearly tradition that kicked off the last time Selma performed: A certain retailer in town promises everyone who purchases a new TV a full refund if Iceland wins. [This offer has since caught on elsewhere and now different retailers offer refunds for various things if Iceland manages to take home the trophy].

We’ve had play-by-play reports of what Selma is doing out in Kiev and today came a shocker: The Clothes Were Revealed. Tabloid DV has a front-page photo of the Icelandic team decked out in their designer costumes, with the headline: ‘Will Selma make it through [to the finals] in this?’ To be sure, the costume is rather, ahem, unconventional… and in no time has caused an uproar. Fréttablaðið reports that ‘Eurovision journalists have doubts as to whether the costume will help her tonight’ and ‘some go so far as to say that it may prevent her from getting through to the finals’ [oh horrors!].

Anyway. YT will be in front of the screen at 7 pm this evening, cheering for our girl Selma – ugly clothes or no ugly clothes [actually I think the clothes are kind of fun]. I’m pretty sure she’ll make it tonight. Which can only mean one thing: big Eurovision party on Saturday!

THE WEATHER
Bright and beautiful, brilliant sunshine, and would be fantabulous if it weren’t for a nasty northerly wind. Current temps are 9°C but with windchill that figure is brought down substantially. And – today we had daybreak at 01.46 but, like I said yesterday, no nightfall. Because it just don’t get dark no more, yo.

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