Well we have made it to the press centre and I’ve bagged a laptop as I’ve left mine at home today. We’ve just had lunch in a lovely café and it was the best veggie food I’ve had since arriving. Aubergine rolls filled with walnut in a creamy and spicy filling - yum! Last night was a melee of social activities, starting off with the Serbian reception at the Baku Hilton . It was a Zeljko love-in with his entry being piped in all its various versions constantly before he took to the stage himself for an extended set of his past entriesas a singer and a songwriter. Also in attendance was Gaetana from Ukraine, Loreen from Sweden, Kalliopi from Macedonia and a late appearance from Eva Bottom from Slovenia. We almost missed Max Jason Mai from Slovakia too but collared in a corner only to be told he doesn’t really like Eurovision and only about 53 people will be watching in Slovakia. I think that’s optimistic as his entry is dull enough to have half of his own national viewers rushing to put the kettle on. The free champagne was a most welcome touch!
After that it was on to one of the more unexpected events of the year, a four-course dinner hosted by Ralph Siegel to celebrate 40 years of sending songs in, 30 of them being selected, and 20 since his A Little Peace sung by Nicole brought Germany their first victory. We were treated to a whole evening of eclectic entertainment including a group of young children singing three songs, all of which sounded like Siegel compositions, and a traditional Azeri ensemble. Dinner for everybody was very lovely, I am led to believe, as sadly my vegetarian option was somewhat on the plain side consisting of plain, sauce-free spaghetti, cauliflower, chips and boiled potatoes. Still they made an effort. We had a montage of Uncle Ralph’s past glories which served to emphasise just how big an impact he has had on this Contest’s oeuvre and inadvertently to emphasise how alike many of them have sounded. His vehicle this year, Valentina from San Marino, was on hand but had the night off singing duties, though we were treated to the winner of their video competition that has been running on You Tube so we did hear the song. I haven’t really been that supportive of Ralph over the years if I’m honest but last night I saw a very warm-hearted and generous man genuinely moved by how many people had bothered to come to his anniversary free dinner and wine shindig, and I think those present were perhaps surprised by how much affection they actually hold for his legacy.
After that it was the worst taxi ride yet to the EuroClub, getting horrendously lost and ending up so south of the city I thought I might have to get my passport out at the Iranian border. We missed most of the Israeli party but caught Romania and Safura from Azerbaijan 2010 on stage.We didn’t make the Russian party as it was so far out of the city as to render it impractical, and I’ve not yet had a chance to catch up from anyone who did go. I’m disappointed as I have a feeling we’re going to miss an opportunity to meet the Babushki. The invitation was amusing as it boldly proclaimed Party For Everybody! Invitation required.
Today has been a lazy day, taking in lunch before heading here, but it really does feel as though everything is taking a long time so what should be an hour is often two or more. I have to apologise for the impact that is inevitable having on the ability to blog promptly, but the rehearsals are all over now with the dress runs-though and the live shows to go so it’s now mainly about the Baku atmosphere, which remains very friendly, apart from some raised eye-brows on the dance floor when gentlemen attempt to strengthen their international relations. No names, naturally.
There’s no wifi in the hall so a live blog from in there isn’t possible during the dress from there, though we will see it and I’ll post my predictions tomorrow, as as soon as it’s over we’re popping to Roman Lube’s soiree, where we’re promised Anggun, Nina Zilli and Gaitana so we want to get a seat on the bus and a suitable
perving viewing spot.