So we've finally been evicted from the Grimsby Cineworld to take our rightful places in this year's Press Centre. It's vast with lots of quirky touches that are meant to capture the spirit of the Eurovision Song Contest. To that end we have lots of tables that don't wobble, lights fashioned into a small copse, drinking water on tap from an MDF construction, and hanging squid that we hope are fire retardant.
It took an absolute age to get in here. For the thousands of journalists they are expecting, there is ONE X-ray machine. Slightly bad planning there. Then we had to queue to get our pigeon hole, only to be told we were in the wrong queue when we got to the desk. And if you're Dutch, your country comes under 'T' for 'The Netherlands' and not the far more logical 'N'. I'm jusht glad I'm not Dutch, for many many reashonsh.
Anyhoo, we're here now and we can actually get to the arena. It's tiny. Really tiny compared to some of the places we've found ourselves in over the years. Half of the arena is taken up by stage, so it's going to be a hot one when we're herded into there to watch the shoe next week.
All of the semi-finalists have rehearsed/are rehearsing today, so it's very intense with little time for slip-ups. And the Swedes have moved things along in their efficient (yet sometimes slightly dull) manner.
You've already heard about the various rehearsals taking place, and due to my day job I wasn't able to pay attention to all of them. But there were some highlights.
Slovenia swapped with Austria (not that that's a highlight) to confuse everyone. Hannah wasn't really able to salvage anything though. Estonia (Mu isumaa...) was flawless as ever. Croatia sell their thing really well. Denmark's Emmelie had a bad rehearsal missing most of the big notes. Russia had lots of lit up balls. Ukraine's giant was now dressed how Hollywood would imagine Atilla the Hun dressed, only with more feathers in his hair. His ward Zlata is now in a multi-coloured metal dress. It is the oddest thing you've ever seen anyone wear. Anouk sang her 'different' song again. It still leaves me stone cold and I still don't think it'll qualify.
Montenegro on the other hand, is simply genius. (Can you have a simple genius?). It's absolutely barking and Nina has a great pair of lungs on her. It should go through if there's any justice in this world. But since when has the best song ever won Eurovision? Andrius of Lithuania still has the most animated eyebrows this side of Nörköping but this isn't a Eurovision Eyebrow Contest. Belarus still has its big golden ball. Moldova still has its big trippy dress. Ireland still has its big drums. Cyprus obviously hope the possibility of seeing a wardrobe malfunction will win them votes, cos the 'pleasant' song isn't going to. Plucky little Belgium could spring a surprise and sneak into the bloodbath with the big boys next Saturday. And Serbia finish the day of barminess with outfits made up from the offcuts bin at Dunelm Mill. Other similar soft furnishings shops, of course, are available.
I'll possibly be going to lie down in a darkened room to reflect on giants, astronauts, penny whistles and hearts. Or I'll be going all subversive and infiltrating some of the best nightspots in Malmö to see what all the fuss is about.
PS - In other news, those friendly Maltese are handing out comics telling the story in the song. It makes me want to go 'Awwwww'.