At about 8pm each Sunday night, having digested my fill of weekend sport, I sit down and pen a Monday sports column for The Punch.
This weekend was different. This weekend I was on the NSW south coast with the wife and kids and another family. We were much too busy playing beach cricket and spotting bandicoots to catch any TV sport. We did, however, watch an exciting TV contest which had hype, tight scores and girls in even tighter dresses. There were even commentators.
Eurovision was great fun for the whole family, and if the Twitter trends were any guide, Australia watched in huge numbers. Partly we tuned in to laugh at the once great continent of Europe, whose musicians are tragically stuck in a 1980s time warp of synth pop and big hair. Seriously, when you see these guys lagging years behind in culture, it’s no wonder they can’t get their finances together.
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Last year, thousands of Azerbaijanis spontaneously took to the streets of Baku shouting and chanting. None of the demonstrators were arrested. They were celebrating Azerbaijan’s triumph in the 2011 Eurovision Song Contest.
Only a few weeks earlier, you would have witnessed an entirely different spectacle – partly fascinating, mostly disturbing, entirely incomprehensible. The Azerbaijani government’s response to demonstrations they don’t agree with.
Teenage girls shouting “freedom!” chased and knocked to the ground by police, manhandled onto buses and driven to the outskirts of town. Elderly men shouting “resign” muffled and gagged. Younger ones punched, kicked and dragged into the back of police vans; facing the prospect of days, months or even years in an Azerbaijani prison cell.
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With the excellence that is Eurovision upon us again, here’s a flashback piece from shortly after our Punch launch last year…
What is there not to love about Eurovision? This year we had breakdancing Albanian midgets cavorting with a man in a sequinned aquamarine bodysuit and the winner was a fiddle-wielding Norwegian boy-singer. Plus, the Warsaw Pact still seems to be in force but nobody cares.
What is there not to love about it? Oh yeah, the music.
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