Friday, 18 May 2012

I'm not dead (yet)

Hello dear OnEurope reader.

I understand people have been enquiring about my whereabouts. Terribly sorry for my lack of correspondance, but a mixture of work, ticketing issues, logistics and a little too much baklava has left me bereft of time and energy for all the good things in life, like telling you, the On-U mob, what's been going on around the town.

But rest easy, happy punter, because I'm back on the planet and ready to spill (I don't think that's a euphemism, is it?).

As your social secretary I've been out and about, availing myself of free cake and lurking the the shadows to see who's been up to any bad behaviour. But alas, I'm disappointed ot have to report that this is possibly the nicest Eurovision ever. There's not a single singing soul we've met yet that's come across as a wrong 'un. I guess the nastier kind of pop star are all hanging back in their hotels, plotting ways to snub and smite our happy band of hanger on.

EuroClub has been the best destination for fun so far. A massive gurt sports hall with disco flavouring dusted liberally around its creases, it's been quietly building up a head of steam, and we've slapped skin (again, is that OK?) with many of this year's runners and riders.

Kurt from Malta (or Chinny Malteaser, as Mrs Roy so unkindly calls him) seems to be just about the nicest man on the planet, and is frequently seen checking with the less experienced artists if everyting was OK with their rehearsals and if there's anything he could do to help. SinPlus are great kids, and are so tiny you could fit them both inside on of the Russian nan's shoes. Belgium's Iris is far taller than you'd imagine, and has the endless boundless energy of a home counties schoolgirl on and exchange trip - which in a way she is I suppose - and Ivi from Cyprus is the life and soul of any party she walks through the doors of.

The only potentially grumpy types are the Israeli mob. On night saw all bar the curmudgeonly-looking singer propping up the bar in the corner, not mixing too much. But if that's the worst we can say about anyone, then it must be a vintage year for good people and kind acts. But you just watch - somebody will come along and mess things up...

I somehow managed to be just about the only member of the massed press to get into the Hungarian party - although that was more because it was on horrifically early rather than any kind of exclusivity. I mean, they let ME in for heaven's sakes. (PS As I type a nice lady is swabbing the desk around me. They like to clean things always and often around these parts. Hmmm, lovely Vim...)

Anyway, Hungary. It was less a party, more a small show to the dinky ranks of Hungarian embassy workers and any passing Azeri who fancied a gander. Rather worryingly they started off with a bunch of covers (Adamski, INXS and, weirdly, Cameo), but soon built up a head of steam with their own stuff. It was all very nice but a bit dull, to be brutally honest. But the evening was brightened enormously when a chubby kid of about nine years old stepped up to the dance floor and started giving it the robotic breakdancing moves. Even the band cracked up at his antics. If they take him on stage with him next week they've got this thing cracked!

Last night saw the now-legendary annual Georgian. The story went that they brought in an entire train filled with their full-bodied violence in a bottle (I believe you drinkers call it wine). But I wasn't there to see it, as I was at Azerbaijan's FA Cup Final. Yes, you read right, I blagged my way into the AZERI FA CUP FINAL! Heck!

The match was held in the distant suburb of Mardakan (pronounced locally, somewhat worryingly as 'murder-can'), in a shiny new stadium, recently opened by Sepp Blatter. It was a cracking, flowing match that saw plucky outsiders FK Baku beat off their city rivals and national champions Neftchi 2-0... but of more interest to you lot would have been the magnificent opening show, that involved massed ranks of dancers, all of AZ's most famous pop stars, and a raffle for a car. You'd have also have enjoyed the rather splendid buffet at half time. Much better than the usual meat pie and cuppa you get in English press boxes.

Anyway youngsters of the world, I'd better dash. I've got an appointment at the Swiss party. And there's surely got to be cheese at that. I'll promise not to leave it so long next time...

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