Magazine article The Spectator

Do They Hate Us?

Magazine article The Spectator

Do They Hate Us?

Article excerpt

The disaster of our no points in the Eurovision Song Contest (BBC1) was, of course, hilarious, though there seemed to me a darker edge in the coverage too. Do they hate us that much? Is it 'cos I is British, as Ali G might say? Was it to do with Iraq, or do they resent the way that British rock - though now in steep decline - used to be second only to American, and far, far ahead of the popular music of any other European country? Imagine if your childhood memories were not of the Beatles or the Stones, but of Frantoise Hardy singing 'Tous les Garcons et les Filles', a song of which several hours seem to consist of a repeated single note.

But these ridiculous events do have a slight resonance beyond themselves. You might conceivably recall that, on 3 May 1997, the British group Katrina and the Waves entered the contest with 'Love Shine A Light' and didn't just win, but destroyed the opposition. Like the comedy in a Shakespeare play, the victory worked as an absurdist parallel of Tony Blair's landslide election two nights before. New Labour's win seemed to offer some people, at the time, fresh hope for our country, and, if Katrina's success merely offered the hope that the song would soon drop out of the charts, it still seemed an echo, a glimmer of returning pride and optimism.

So, in the same way, last Saturday's debacle might be thought to have mirrored the disappointment and chagrin which has grown over the past six years. Then again, it could be that the song, 'Cry Baby', was awful and either sung out of key or a sophisticated example of atonal dissonance. Either would go down badly on Eurovision.

There was bags of national pride on view in The Race For Everest (BBC2). Because most of the library film of Sir John Hunt's expedition was in colour, it seemed much more immediate than other events, such as the war, which had happened only a few years before. It was poignantly nostalgic. When the successful team returned to base camp, where the other climbers had been told that they had failed, Mike Westmacott contented himself with shaking Hillary's hand, because that's all that a gentleman needed to do. Now that Everest is like Helvellyn, only busier, people who get to the top - having reached there in 11 hours, or without oxygen, or at the age of 17, or dressed in a chicken suit - presumably pull their shirts over their heads and perform a dance like David Brent in The Office, or a Maori haka. In 1953, a manly handshake was always enough.

One thing surprised me; the perennial gloom of the British press goes back further than I imagined. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.