Monday, 19 June 2017

I've Seen Wonder Woman Three Times in Ten Days Because...

Blending into the background.
Incognito. Anonymous.
Despite the impression I sometimes give, I don’t like standing out in a crowd. I am full of loud-mouth opinions (all of them correct!) once you get me started, and I hope I will always have the courage to challenge fundamentally wrong statements when I hear them, but I don’t seek the limelight. I’ve never wanted to be a performer, do anything on a stage, or have a milestone birthday bash with lots of people looking at me. It's just not me. I like wearing glasses because they're a prop to keep myself partially private, (as well as enabling me to see, obvs) I walk through life keeping myself to myself, hoping no one at a bus stop starts polite conversation, always happier to blend into the background and be anonymous rather than making a scene.

So it was quite a surprise to me how much I wanted to run out of the cinema cheering aloud and shrieking with glee after watching Wonder Woman, last week. Not only that, but I felt about seven foot tall as I strode back to my car. I understood what it was like to have supreme confidence in myself, rather than keep my eyes down and avoid people in case they were going to make me uncomfortable by talking at me. I was full of the joys of seeing female power, strength and purpose depicted so blatantly and so beautifully onscreen. I was empowered!

I have been deflecting metaphorical
bullets with this ease, all week.
The movie itself was fun but this is not going to be a review. I am not your usual superhero movie fan, ostensibly because I don’t like superhero movies. Other than Captain America - watched in a South Australian drive-in in the early hours of the morning in 2011 (clearly, the only way films should be watched) - this is my only other experience of the genre. Get your Wonder Woman reviews here, or maybe here, if you prefer, but not from me. This is not a review. This is instead, an appreciation of how important and rare it is to watch a film that depicts female power from a female perspective.  

My own life is lived from a female perspective. I know, mad isn’t it. I see everything in the world that same way. And whilst I can empathise with others’ situations, my default perspective will always be that of female. (For example, I can’t get through an episode of The Good Wife without wondering how Alicia is able to run from court to court in the heels she wears - the wardrobe person has got to be a guy, right?) But here’s the thing. Many of the books I read, the TV programmes I watch and the films I see, are created from a male perspective. This is not necessarily a bad thing. Men’s perspectives can be just as interesting and valid too. The novel I am currently reading is by Andrew Cartmel with a male first-person narrative by the hero. I love the TV series Sherlock – written by clever men about a clever man. I also read Lee Child's books about Jack Reacher – a egalitarian badass who sorts out the bad guys in the midst of getting regularly laid. All these things are great escapist fun but none of them are from a female perspective. And that is fine. It just needs to be recognised as such. It also needs to be recognised that the male perspective isn’t just another person’s view. It’s the predominant view.

The mens can be entertaining too! 
And when something comes along showing the non-predominant view once in a while – in this case, a big budget, female superhero movie with a female director – it is the most wonderful feeling ever. It’s a confidence boost. It’s a view of the world that comes from the same place as my own, but has taken me beyond my own experience. It eggs me on. It makes me want to try harder because I’ve been shown someone (in this case a fictional comic book character, granted) who is on some level a version of myself, but then is timesed by a million to be souped-up and exceptional. 

This bad boy cost £15. A bargain!
When I go and watch a Liverpool Ladies FC match I feel a similar sense of satisfaction. Watching twenty-two women be stronger, faster and fitter than me is inspiring. I have no desire to join them on the pitch, but I’m often motivated to get on the treadmill after getting home from a game. That has literally never happened after any male football match I’ve watched. Seeing the essence of yourself reflected in excellence, is transformative. And should not be so unusual as to be worthy of a blog post.

And of course, my perspective isn’t the only one out there. It isn’t as simple as dividing everything into a Male or Female viewpoint. The valuable stories that belong to people of colour, gay men and women, the trans community, the poor or the disabled, all do two jobs. They represent and depict the lives of people that are out there, needing role models as much as everyone else. And then they inform. They educate and spread the word to people with differing experiences. There are lots of perspectives of which we could all benefit to see more, alongside the predominant perspectives already out there. Stories told by the people involved, not about the people involved. That distinction is important.

Just working out what
my super power should be.
For now though, I’m happy about Wonder Woman. I’m happy that along with the introduction of characters like Rey in Star Wars, little kids see gender equality more than used to be visible. I'm happy that the BBC has started to show women's football. I’m happy that amongst the Disney Princesses for those that want them, there are choices for the kids who aren’t into the overt prettification of their toys. Because if watching Wonder Woman at 39 gives me a massive confidence shot in the arm, imagine what it would have been like if I’d have had that when all my views of the world were forming. I'd be super human now!

Monday, 12 June 2017

I Vote For Sleep...

Blimey, I'm tired. As you read this, cast your mind back three days and picture what you were doing on Friday morning at 11am. For it is Friday morning at 11am that I type this and what I have been doing is watching the UK election results - as Lionel Ritchie so memorably sang - all night long. 

Jinkx Monsoon, yawning for both of us.
I need to go to sleep. Badly. But you see, Friday is officially Blog Writing Day. I have to write something, anything, and yet my mind is blank. Not properly blank, obvs, but all I can think of is this election. It's all I've thought about for the past twenty-four hours and I'm too knackered to switch it off and come up with something witty about the weather. (See last week's incisive and impassioned post as an example of my usual fare.) And I do try to be non-political online. Except when I have to be. Except when I can't not be. I keep it light. Frothy banality is how I described my style, last week on Twitter. In real life, however, I am politically engaged, hence the no-sleep-on-election-night scenario in which I currently find myself.

Evidence of my keen
Even if I wanted to, there is no point commenting on the current political situation on this forum. Fast forward three days to Monday Blog Day and the speculations and guesswork the pundits are currently making on my TV will feel like the oldest of news. It's happening fast and changing constantly. Case in point: I've just been to answer the door to Keith who is going to replace my broken fence. I've come back to the TV and one of the party leaders has resigned. Not a main party. A completely pointless, irrelevant party to be honest, but still. I imagine that won't be the last breaking news alert that pings across my phone today.

Ain't that the truth.
So as I sit here, struggling to keep my eyes open, working out what to write, I'm reminded how much I have missed this feeling of cautious optimism after an election. Actually, optimism is too strong a word - there are potential deals currently being discussed that make me shudder. Maybe I should say I have missed feeling anything other than crushing anxiety. The landslide win that was predicted for a party I cannot bear, did not happen. Everything is up in the air. No one knows what the immediate political future will be - something that may not be fully clear for a while, especially if it results in another General Election. Unlike the results of the EU referendum, Clinton/Trump and the 2015 GE, this feels a lot less stomach-churning and dispiriting. It's a feeling I remember from 2010, when the potential of a coalition seemed something to pin hopes on. Infinitely preferable than the feelings I assumed I'd be experiencing, based on the majority of polls over the past weeks. Or maybe, this feeling will be short lived. Maybe within the next hours all hopes will be dashed. Either way, I will relish this rare moment while I can.

Reading Jess Phillips' book was 
like taking an empowerment pill. 
Oh, but now then, you pesky rascals. Look what you made me do. I went and got political after all. I just can't help myself! It must be because I'm so tired. But whilst I've gone all biased and partisan, I'll also add how chuffed I am to see Jess Phillips, Stella Creasy, Alison McGovern and Luciana Berger have been re-elected as MPs. Plus, there's been a massive boost for the number of women in parliament. In fact, the election results have been marvellous for diversity, in general. That feels like progress, if nothing else. Perhaps I'm clinging on to a silver lining if my original optimism becomes unfounded. Or maybe this is the most positive election result for years. Who knows? Not me, and I'd bet not the experts to whom I'm currently listening. No one knows anything. I wonder if we will have more of a clue come Monday morning when this gets uploaded. Somehow I'm not holding my breath.

This is what I look like when I try
to keep it all in. Except I'm not blonde.
OK, I think that's all. I think I've vented a few of my political views in a safe and controlled manner. I'll stop now. Unless you see me in person where I'll bang on at length without pausing for breath. You've been warned.

So now, in these uncertain yet interesting times, I need to get on with my day. First of all I'll be having a sleep. Then a bath. Then a cup of tea. After that, the world is my oyster. 

Have a lovely week, folks. 


Monday, 5 June 2017

Tether This Goat in the Shade...

Folks, brace yourselves for my first rant since Black Friday.

I am an easy going sort most of the time. I am polite to strangers, I make sure I buy my round, and I work hard at not bad-mouthing anyone (much) online. And yet, AND YET, my dial is currently stuck at Exasperated and Irritable right now. 'Why is this?' you ask. 'What could have happened to make mild-mannered Nicky's goat get so got?' Well pull up a chair and I will tell you.

I cannot STAND this weather.

According to this it's
not even sunny. But it is!
As I type it is 11am in the morning and my weather app tells me it is 19℃ for yet another day. This is set to continue for the next week, although the beautiful shimmery mirage of a rain cloud icon is promised too. Oh that it proves to be so. I cannot handle this heat. In a country that has little need for air conditioners for the majority of the year, when it comes to the few weeks of sunshine we are allocated, it seems it's expected of us to not only melt sweatily in silence, but also enjoy the experience. It's as if we should be grateful for the weather regardless of how uncomfortable we feel. I am getting more than irritated with well-meaning types telling me to go outside because it is 'so nice'. It is not 'so nice'. It is 'shit'. 

For the sun-worshippers amongst you that can't understand my stance, I'll break it down for you. Here are the Bad Things about the Summer.

'Cooling sun mist' my arse.
The Outside
Going outside in sunny weather takes more planning and preparation than taking a new-born baby for a day trip on public transport. Instead of a nappy bag, multiple changes of clothes and a bottle of Milton's sterilising fluid, you swap them with sunscreen, sunglasses, hay fever medication, shaved legs and a hat. Venturing outside is not as simple or instantaneous as sun-worshippers have you believe. The shaved legs thing definitely needs forethought. At least a day in advance - I can't be the only one reliving the excruciating sting of slapping factor 50 on rash-covered milky pins right now? We've all been there. As for everything else, lubing up the rest of me in gunky lotion just so I can sit on a hard whicker seat, squinting as the sweat runs into my eyes and my itchy allergic throat tightens, is not a fun way to pass the time. Ever. Give me a chilly day, a warm coat and if possible, the need for scarf and gloves. Anything less than that is hell.

Too. Much. Hassle.
Hay Fever
I have alluded to this already. Hay fever is perhaps the most cruel of all the fevers. How unfair to have a seasonal affliction during school exam time? Considering how stingy eyes can get, extra time for eye drop application is only fair. Hay fever sufferers are treated as if they should get over it. And not only get over it, go outside for all the outside fun as well. Sorry but no. Hay fever means staying away from the outside. It means keeping windows shut and it means sending your class back outdoors to remove all the grass from their uniforms when they return after lunch having had a grass fight on the field. That last point may be a little niche but it is still relevant. 

A surprisingly colourful ensemble
for me, but not a pastel in sight.
God, I hate Summer clothes. I hate floaty fabrics, flowery patterns, pastel colours and bare skin. I cannot bear them. Since ditching the work clothes, my daily uniform is pretty uniform. It's PJ bottoms and a T-shirt til mid-morning. Then jeans, black T-shirt and a cardy for the rest of the day. Sometimes I throw a vest top under there too. I like layers. I like dark colours. I like black. I like wearing clothes to keep warm and I utterly despair of anyone that embraces the changeover from Autumn/Winter fashions to Spring/Summer. Utterly despair. 

At the end of the day, mash potato rules. It just does. Mash potato, casseroles, curries, roasts and huge pans of chilli. What does not rule is salad. There is nothing appetising about hot weather food. 

Sunday roast in 
a pub.Yum!
Take-away roast at 
home. Double yum!
Lettuce. Not yum 
in any way.

Now I've ranted I feel a lot better. It's good to share. And the upside is, there are plenty of world climates that suit my needs. I spent three weeks in a wintery Australia once. The daytime temperatures were similar to today but there was widespread air con. Plus, having no central heating to turn on when the sun went down, meant chilly nights with an electric blanket! It was the ideal balance. Likewise, the holidays I've had in Copenhagen, Oslo, Krakow and a snowy New York were all spot on. Perfectly relaxing, lots of fun, but no stifling weather.

All myself and fellow heat-haters can do is grin and bear it till September comes. It feels a million years away now as I sweat in my kitchen but if I believe hard enough it will come. 

Have a lovely week, folks.

Sunday, 28 May 2017

Keep On Keeping On

Last week Twitter informed me that David Baddiel's current London show is to tour the UK next year. This makes me very happy. Back in October, compelled by the outpouring of celebrity tweets about its excellence, I booked a ticket for the matinee of it's last day of the run. I knew I just HAD to see it before it ended. I did the four-hour round trip to watch the penultimate performance of My Family: Not the Sitcom, at the Vaudeville Theatre, London. It felt like I'd be letting Nigella down if I didn't. The peer pressure from the celebrity endorsements was too much to stand.

So on the one hand, I feel quite the fool that the end of that run was followed up with another one in a different theatre, then following that, a nationwide tour. But on the other, I'm so chuffed it's continuing. I really want someone I know in real life to have watched it. I want to talk about how brilliant it is. I want to remember the hand-over-mouth, shockingly honest, utterly hilarious and beautifully respectful homage to his parents that it is.

Baddiel sets out a series of implied ground rules at the start. Far more cleverly than I am paraphrasing here, he explains that he feels he can talk about his recently-deceased Mum's life on stage because he is her son. In her absence, he is the caretaker of her memories. He then outlines the life of his Mum in such vivid colour, he gives us all permission to share those memories and laugh with him. It's what she would have wanted. She was larger than life. She is not to be remembered in hushed tones. She would have hated that. Again, I am paraphrasing - I saw this show over six months ago. These are the ideas I am left with. These are the insights I took away with me. To truly honour those that die, it's essential to remember them as real and not sanitised. It's OK to laugh. 

Last Monday, a city down the road was bereaved by a bomb at a crowded concert. Stewart Lee began his four-night run at the Lowry Theatre the following night, 3.4 miles away from the MEN arena. I had a ticket for the fourth night. I wasn't sure what to expect. Was it going to be cancelled? Would Stewart Lee need to change his act? Would the theatre be empty? Was it going to be OK?

The Lowry Theatre in the sun. 25.5.17
The show wasn't cancelled. The sold out auditorium was full. A few minutes before it began, Lee came on stage. Being Stewart Lee instead of 'Stewart Lee' he explained that the Lowry had talked to the police, upped security and agreed that the show must go on. This elicited a big cheer. The audience were onside. He then, rather sweetly and quite genuinely, thanked everyone for coming out in the face of adversity. Then he thanked the volunteer staff for enabling it all to happen. I guess he could have been worried people would feel scared to congregate in large leisure spaces. Or maybe he thought people would think it was disrespectful to be laughing and enjoying themselves so soon after neighbours and friends experienced terrible loss. I suppose he too must have wondered if he'd be playing to an empty house. (Clearly no one in the audience had felt that terrorism was going to stop them having a top night of comedy when they'd had the date in their diary for a year.) He thanked everyone again and then went off stage. When he returned, the show began and he was 'Stewart Lee'. Being brilliant, being angry, being ridiculously clever, and most importantly causing me to laugh hysterically for two hours without stopping. Oh how needed that was.

Salford Quays by night.
From the carpark.
When I got home I tweeted my thanks to the Lowry for staying open. I also read this that added a bit more insight. It must have been a tough decision both practically and emotionally but it felt right. When routines stop, when people hide in fear, when lives are not lived to the full, it disrespects those no longer here. And that would be wrong. 

Have a lovely week, folks. 

Monday, 22 May 2017

Gym or Gin?

It's that time again, folks. Not Chico, not Hammer, not 'Of the Month' but far more excitingly, Blog Time!

Hard at work. Or am I?
Now that I am knee deep in all the messy creative juices once more, I am working full whack at the laptop every day. This looks very industrious. The reality is that it can be quite patchy. Some days I am tippy-tappy-typing all the day is long, and others I am forcing out a word or two between the Guardian crossword and a continual scroll of Twitter. (I also find The Pool a very informative way to distract me.)

In order to stay on track and manage all those pesky creative juices (let me know when that metaphor gets too icky) I have a weekly writing target. The new book takes the form of a dairy, so I aim to write at least ten days worth of entries each week. If I stick to that, draft one is done by Christmas. It's not an onerous amount of writing but rather it's the thinking and self-doubt that take up the time. Regardless, whether I write continually and create a constant stream of literary magic or whether I stumble around and force out crap more laboriously, the fact remains - I am mostly sitting down, mostly staring at a screen, from getting up in the morning to cooking my tea at night.

Aches and a hunched back require daily and immediate attention. What I should be doing once I'm done for the day, is going for a run or hitting the gym. That would be an ideal answer to straightening out my spine and blowing away the proverbial cobwebs. But as anyone who has met me will know, that would be ridiculous. It would be ludicrous. It would be as if.

Mmm. Taste the relaxation.
Taste the pint of gin!
So instead I have other means at my disposal to unwind quickly come evening. First off, gin! Yes, a large gin and slimline tonic is ideal. It is kind of healthy (as in not so very fattening) and it's refreshing and lovely. And one (very large) drink is enough to ease the transition from work to leisure. No, don't thank me. That tip's yours to keep.

The other way to unwind that happens most week nights is of course, the telly. Yep, the relatively recent phenomenon of binge-watching a new release is the perfect antidote to tense typing for the preceding hours. And so to my new favourite programme. Schitt's Creek.

It's a comedy - a laugh out loud one - written by Dan Levy. The set up is simple - a monied socialite family lose their cash and have to relocate to a tiny rural town with fish-out-of-water/culture-clash situations that result. Think the Kardashians landing in Cabot Cove. Admit it, that would be a hell of a show.  

But back to Schitt's Creek - it is marvellous. All three seasons are on Netflix UK, and at thirteen episodes a season with each one lasting 21 minutes, it is surprisingly easy to finish in a few days. Which is what I did. Then I went back to the beginning and watched again.

But here's the thing. I don't know anybody else that watches it. I only heard of it because Dan Levy was interviewed on What's the Tee - RuPaul and Michelle Visage's podcast. It's the funniest thing I've seen in ages and I have no one to talk to about it. A travesty! 

So now I've spread the word, watch it. You won't be sorry. And in addition, I am happy to pass on that the second season of Master of None (also Netflix UK) is as clever and endearing as the first, and at the time of typing, season three of The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt is being 'dropped' today! Woo - say it with me - hooooo.

In the meantime, I'll crack on with the writing and work my way through all the excellent unwindy TV on offer. And the gin. I'll work my way through the gin. Natch.

Have a lovely week, folks.

Monday, 15 May 2017

That Tricky Second Album...

It’s update time!
Two weeks ago, I started writing my next book.

That’s kind of misleading. Two weeks ago, I returned to the book I started two years ago. A book I started before I spent a year of my life writing bad pitches to agents and then another year learning how to turn my first book's Word Doc into a paper-backed beauty.

A paper-backed beauty, but not mine. 
It's The Vinyl Detective Written in Dead Wax 
by Andrew Cartmel. My current read.
It’s been such a long time since I sat down to write fictional sentences, it’s taken a while to get back into the swing. I think I’m on track now.

What has been especially useful is that two years ago I did all the groundwork. I worked out the genre, (a pre-teen novel) the format it would take, (a diary) and the plot and characters, (a ten year old girl dealing with family stresses, school frustrations and the angst of growing up). Basically I’m trying to be the love child of Judy Blume and Sue Townsend. (And what a life that would be. Can you even imagine!)

Yep, I am currently imagining Diana Rigg,
Robin Williams and the lad from Stand by Me.
Amongst others.
I made a planning notebook, just as I did with Carry the Beautiful, where I stuck pictures of real people that look like the characters I was imagining. I had a plot spread out from beginning to middle to end, and I’d written the first quarter.

Picking up where I left off has been tricky. So far, I’ve written the next 2000 words and reacquainted myself with the previous 15000. If I stick to my schedule, I’ll have the first draft finished for Christmas. Hopefully sooner.

This will be a pretty big diversion from my usual writing. If I was trying to pitch it to people, I’d probably not bother. But now I know how easy the indie-publishing process ultimately is - my inner voice is shouting WTF? at me and then laughing hysterically - I want to crack on and get it out there. Then I can get back to grown up novels once again.

My attention to detail has even stretched
to sketching out a map of where the main
character lives.
In all seriousness, Book Number Two - a snappy working title, don't cha think - will be so much easier when it comes to it. I have ISBN numbers ready and waiting, I have accounts set up with a Print on Demand company (Ingram Spark) as well as an ebook company (Kindle Direct Publishing). I know the process, I have learnt from previous mistakes (you can NEVER proof read enough) and I am excited about having a new title to my name. It's just a case of getting on with it now.

So this update is short and sweet because I have to get back to it. I am back in a writing frenzy and it's intense. Except it's not really. It's all highly enjoyable and is the best part of the whole process. But enough ramblings for now. I have keys to tap!

Have a lovely week, folks.

Monday, 8 May 2017

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year...

Brace yourselves folks. The time has come. Can you sense my uncontrollable giddiness from your screen? Is it palpable? Let's all take a few deep breaths and gather ourselves. Ready? Let's do this.

We are now in the run up to my favourite night of the year. Can you guess what it is yet? (I'm not sure that phrase is even acceptable anymore.) Christmas Eve comes a close second. My birthday holds a respectable third place. But the moveable feast that will be on 13th May this year, is nearly upon us. 
Obviously, I am talking about Eurovision. 🎶🎉

It's an actual hamster wheel. 
What more do you want?
There's something eternally joyous about the Eurovision Song Contest. It's feel-good! It's silly! It's a massive global event! But it's also not without controversy and has an impressively progressive underlying ethos. Its origins were in healing rifts in post-war Europe and today it continues to be as rooted in politics as ever. Yet what was once an evening of cultural representation from diverse nations has developed into a spectacular event. A powerhouse of special effects, jaw dropping staging and often excellent music. Of course there are still some entries that aim for comedic or novelty value rather than delivering a downloadable tune, but not as often as used to be the case. Every year my Eurovision playlist swells, as truly decent songs get added after I’ve seen them perform on the night.

The winner of 2015 - Måns Zelmerlöw and graphic friends.
Not only has the ESC changed over time, but my experience of watching it has too. Child-Me would use an empty notebook to score each country’s entry. Teen-Me would be uber-organised and record the names of the countries along with their writer, performer and conductor, before scoring them. (Back then, each country brought their own conductor - my favourite was Rolf Løvland from Norway, who in addition to waving a baton in 1992, composed songs that won in 1985 and 1995. No, don't thank me, you're welcome.) In Adult-Me times, the BBC helpfully provided printable score cards, saving me days of hassle in the build up. And it had started to become hassle. Making score cards, quizzes, sweeps (and one year, personalised badges) had become a right old ball ache. ESC night was always a family get together, but as my siblings got older, most of them sloped off with indifference - it appeared their love of the evening had only ever extended to the themed buffet. I stopped putting in the effort and concentrated on my own enjoyment. (Wise words for a multitude of situations.) 

These days I find the optimum thrill of the evening can be found on Twitter. Twitter is a hotbed of ESC action on the night. I live tweet through the whole thing and find genuine pleasure in connecting with like-minded individuals from all over the place. It is hilarious, subversive and truly a global event.

May 10th 2014. I was there!
And so to this year. This year is going to be a bit of a challenge. My sister has chosen Eurovision night to have her family birthday gathering. It’s going to be tricky. On the one hand, it’s the nearest Saturday to her birthday and she is entitled to commandeer the weekend. On the other, I am going to be glued to the TV from 8pm onwards and feeling a deep frustration that I will have to partake in conversation with the people around me, rather than set myself up behind the Mission Control of my laptop (for Facebook/iMessages from people I know saying ‘Happy Eurovision’) and my phone (for Twitter with people I don’t know but am sharing the evening with.) It will be a finely balanced line I tread, trying not to be the most anti-social person there, whilst still soaking up all the atmosphere of the best night on the calendar.
Loreen, who won in 2012. I got my second wind 
at my youngest sister's hen do when I put 
Euphoria on the silent disco.

Finally, a word about the UK’s entry. I get annoyed when people slag off Eurovision because ‘no one votes for us’ or because ‘we’re never going to win anyway’ or ‘it’s all political so there’s no point’. It’s always been political, it’s just that the UK used to benefit from that, and now it doesn’t. So stop being a bad loser and get over it. That being said, there is no doubt in my mind about the link between the 2003 invasion of Iraq by UK forces, and our plummeting down the leader board to last place and nul points that same year. (Yes, I know the song was dodge, but it really was an epic fall from our previous grace.) This year we have Brexit to deal with. I imagine Europe as a rule won’t care two jots about giving us votes, regardless of our efforts.

Our entry, Never Give Up on You, however, is not half bad. Sure, it has no key change - I despair of this every year - but having heard it a few times now, I have really grown to like it. It will get added to the playlist, put it that way. Lucie Jones (who was an amazing Maureen in Rent this year) will no doubt give it her all. I can’t see it will make a difference to the voting, but we can hold our heads high knowing it's not a bad job, regardless of the politics.

I've dusted off my merch in readiness.
In the meantime, Tuesday 9th and Thursday 11th of May are the semi-finals nights. I will treat them like the real thing, just in case people chat too much on Saturday. I don’t want to have to shush anyone at a birthday party.

Happy Eurovision week, everyone. Let’s have a belter.