Sunday, 30 May 2010

Lena Meyer-Landrut

Okay. Yesterday ended up being quite an extreme day. NOT unusually, I woke up late, took a long time to get out of bed, knew I had to go out and do some shopping, ended up not quite following the previously worked out plan. Instead of my previous idea of going to my regular supermarket and doing some grocery shopping as well as buying some beer to drink while watching this year's Eurovision Song Contest, I went to a different, smaller supermarket and bought much fewer groceries and some beer. Then I took a cab home, because what I had bought was heavier than I had planned. In the cab, I told the driver that the contest was going to be crap (well, crapper than usual) because I had watched the second semi-final two nights before and all the songs which were classic, traditional Eurovision fare had been knocked out, and the bloody contest had lost its sense of humour. I wasn't expecting much.

Later, I spoke to Susan on the phone, just as the broadcast was starting, and I told her no, I couldn't turn the volume down because the Eurovision Song Contest was starting. I said I would call her when it was over and we hung up. Well, there were still a couple of fairly eurovisiony songs in there (from Rumania and Denmark (you can always rely on the Scandinavians)), and a couple of surprisingly good, astonishingly credible ones, from Ukraine and Germany. I had never heard songs of that ilk nor calibre in the contest before, and I voted for Germany. Beforehand, there had been some talk about the German song being a bit like Björk, and I dismissed the possibility as ludicrous, because after all it was Eurovision. And it wasn't really LIKE Björk, but it wasn't as UNbjörkish as I had expected, and I really liked it, and voted for it, as I said.

Then the voting started. I was pleasantly surprised that the first two maximum scores went to Denmark, and that Germany also got a few points from each of those votes (the songs I vote for generally crash and burn from the beginning). And then, what do you know, after a few more rounds of voting, Germany was in the lead. Well, it wasn't going to last, but I enjoyed the rare thrill. Then it went a bit further ahead. And before I knew what was happening it was 34 points ahead and I was cheering every score it got. Not too long after that it became clear that the song I had voted for was actually going to win. And it did; just the second German winner ever (after Nicole in 1982), and the first ever really quite credible sounding Eurovision winner in the history of the Universe ever. Here it is on Youtube, the winning performance taken from German TV. For reference, HERE is Nicole's reprise after winning in 1982, and here is Guildo Horn's (still amazing) 1998 performance in Birmingham, England, the previously most talked about and loved German entry.

Yeah, Lena...

Saturday, 15 May 2010

Ode to Mount Unpronounceable.

Okay, so Susan had a direct flight from JFK to Glasgow. Naturally, it was delayed by two hours. Which meant she only got in THREE hours ahead of her originally scheduled time rather than five. Boo bloody hoo. We had a wonderful time together for a week and a half, including a stunning meal at Raeburn's which, remarkably, was entirely Scottish, including the wondrous cheeseboard. And I got a cheese shop recommendation from the owner's daughter, Melli's in the west end of Glasgow, which of course I shall have to try out. That cheeseboard had the most insanely fabulous cheddar I have ever tasted, as closely related to the average supermarket version as I am to a shrub growing on the side of an Icelandic volcano.

We got most of the marriage documents filled in (or out if you prefer), Susan got a look at the venue for our reception and approves mightily of it, but best of all we got to spend some time together. At the end of her stay, we went down to Glasgow Airport in time for her flight, couldn't check in immediately because no desk number was listed, so we went and had breakfast (which itself was a recurring theme of the visit). Once we had devoured that, there was still no gate showing so Susan went off to try and find out what was going on. It turned out the flight had been cancelled, along with all the other flights that day, due to a return of the sainted ash cloud. She rebooked and got a flight for two days later, on the Friday. So we got an extra two days out of it. We LOVE Icelandic volcanoes! That meant she got to be here for the general election to the UK parliament, and she was very game about it on the basis that in a few months she'll be living here. However, compared to a US election, it was all much too complicated for her: all those parties all over the place, some only standing in Scotland, some in Wales, some mainly in England, and then Northern Ireland has a completely different set of parties, at which point she gave up trying to understand it all, sensibly I think. She was confused also because of the two biggest parties, the most right wing one is blue and the slightly further left one is red, exactly the opposite of the US. And when all the votes had been counted, the winner was no one at all, only there were no court cases and no corrupt practices leading to that outcome. The Daily Show, which is available here on More 4 (but WHY no Colbert Report, hmm?), has been having enormous fun with it all, and Susan has been hugely appreciating their stuff about it. As have I.

Anyway, we are now separated again, communicating much more often than daily by phone, text message and internet. The difference this time, though, is that when she next comes here, we think in September, it will be forever; so I can now say to her "when you get back home" rather than "when you visit next", and we get to try to feel that she is just on an extended holiday in New York. Since her visit, my divorce from my first wife has been finalised, so there are no obstacles in the way now, well other than UK Immigration of course. Mind you, when she got here this time, an eager beaver decided she walked like an actress (I'm not making this up), interrog... sorry, interviewed her on the basis that he suspected her of being here to work and eventually phoned me on my mobile as I sat at international arrivals waiting for her. Oddly enough, our stories matched, mainly because his suspicions were bollocks. So he was kind enough to let her in. But Susan was rather excitimicated by the time she reached me, and it took her several days to calm down completely. In the circumstances, she is doing amazingly well with the visa process, although she is terrified at every turn that she will be turned down, even though she knows there is no reason for that to be the case.

So, in October we get married. We are both looking forward to that rather a lot, in fact we are being completely pathetic about it all. Watch this space.

Oh, yeah, I've written a poem, inspired by this most recent visit. Here it is.

And cups of tea and breakfasts and free baby food
and salads and scones and fruit loaf and bin bags and
toilet roll and buses. And drunks on the bus and tramps
in the street and junkies at the chemist's and news in the

paper and Jon Stewart on the telly and standing in the
rain and looking at trees and sitting on benches and
shopping for sandwiches and Indian takeaways and
Chinese prawn crackers and deep fried pizza and pints
in the pub and nothing is dull or everyday if you're there.