Well, this is a novel sensation.

While still basking in the warm afterglow of a wonderful holiday which ended just five days ago, I’m now feeling the giddy demob-happy anticipation of a second holiday, which starts tomorrow morning…

…when I fly to Athens, to spend eight days in the very epicentre of the mad media circus that is…


This will be my fifth Eurovision, but the first one where I’ll be enjoying the benefits of press accreditation. This comes courtesy of www.slate.com, for whom I’ll be penning four daily dispatches, starting next Thursday.

The purpose of these dispatches will be to introduce and explain the Eurovision phenomenon to a mostly American audience, who know nothing of its manifold delights. This is particularly well-timed, since the NBC network have recently secured the rights to produce a US version of the contest, in which all 50 states will compete against each other. Let’s just hope they manage to preserve something of Eurovision’s essential charm and character.

My mentor for the week will be Chig, who has been representing Gay Times at the contest nearly every year since 1998. I couldn’t ask for a better guide – or indeed flatmate, as we’ll be bunking up together in an apartment for the duration. (I might also press him into certain fact-checking duties; he’s a notorious stickler for detail, and quite right too.)

The big worries right now are:

1. Will my level of accreditation grant me access to the press centre, which I could do with in order to file my copy? They don’t tell you until you get there. It could get ugly!

2. Will my dodgy laptop hold out for the duration? It’s perfectly well-behaved until I switch on the wi-fi, after which it has a nasty habit of blue-screening at random. My latest wheeze has been to disable the Norton Anti-Virus. Miraculously, it appears to be working a treat… so far.

If the wi-fi inside the Arena permits, then I intend to fire off some rough-and-ready hit-and-run blog posts from the rehearsals and press conferences – along with breathless reports of the parties, of course. (“OH MY GOD I stood RIGHT NEXT to the second Croatian backing dancer from the left! My life is SO GLAMOROUS!”) Well, one must be allowed an outlet for one’s untreated fanboy gush, as Slate are really rather highbrow (SHUT THAT DOOR, BELGIUM’S KATE RYAN!), and I shall be obliged to deploy at least some measure of objective detachment. (GO ICELAND! WE LOVE YOU, SILVIA!)

Yesterday, at the Retro Bar’s monthly “Douze Points” shindig, we watched the preview videos of this year’s entries, and cast votes in the traditional Eurovision jury-based manner. (Luca has the full results.) The winners on the night were Germany, who have fielded a sweet and mega-catchy country-and-western hoedown – but easily my favourite video came from Greece’s remarkably well-preserved veteran Anna Vissi, who served up a gripping mini-drama that had me clutching my sides. YOU SHOW ‘EM GRANDMA!

Despite the aforementioned post-holiday glow, it’s been a stressful rollercoaster of a week in many ways. I only had two days in Nottingham to unpack, turn round and re-pack, before spending two days back in Canary Wharf in advance of Athens. The morning after I arrive back at Gatwick, I’ll then be back in Canary Wharf for yet another full working week. I’ve therefore had to pack work clothes, play clothes and party clothes for a full sixteen days away. Why, I can barely lift my suitcase.

This was also the week that I learnt that I’ll be required to spend most of June working in London as well. I’m afraid that, in the heat of the moment, I might have used some unprofessional language. Yes, let’s leave it right there.

Today was a classic Canary Wharf day: lurching from Dear-GOD-this-is-the-toughest-gig-ever, WHY-did-they-hire-me, I’ll-NEVER-get-up-to-speed, my-brain-can’t-absorb-ONE-MORE-SCRAP-of-information, to oh-NOW-I-get-it, wow-I’ve-actually-got-something-WORKING, you-know-this-job-can-be-quite-FUN-in-a-twisted-sort-of-way. And thankfully, in that order.

Bloody Slate Dot Bloody Com, if you please! I am VERY excited. DJ DAZ TO BRING IT BACK HOME FOR BLIGHTY!

What a year, ladies and gentlemen. What a year.

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