Eurovision – For The Love of Song

It’s the eve of Europe’s biggest song contest and the most watched programme on the planet -Eurovision. It’s also under a veil of controversy this year as Azerbajdzjan’s reputation re civil rights isn’t a good one.

The contest has become more and more dominated by Eastern countries (or so it seems according to the BBC presenters) whilst northern and western ones churn out equally admirable (or not) songs.

So what of the sounds of Eurovision. There is that unmistakable euro-disco-dance beat in there, buzzed up in the 21st century  and reflected in the song Euphoria. Ireland has lost it completely with Jedward and what on earth the UK were thinking when they chose a slow waltz sung by a veteran singer from the late 60’s  – well that is a resounding “PLANG”.

Russia’s Babushkas are a real killer and reflect on the times when turning up in traditional garb on Eurovision was sometimes seen as quite acceptable. The bizarre and over-literal is still in there too, coupled with bad coreography (aka Pans People).

Serbia has picked one of its big stars  and Joksimovic provides his usual blend of drama, his orchestra and cut-to-the-heart songlines. I like him, but is it right to have your superstars enter and I can’t help but think I know that intro from somewhere (a Visit Scotland telly ad perhaps).

The former YUs will no doubt vote for each other big time, adding Greece and Turkey in to the pot too. There is no sign of the Celtic sound -where did it go to.

BUT, there is a fear that resides amongst the contesting countries. Some of them don’t really want to win. It would cost them dearly to do so during our austere times.

Should the contest keep going and how? I think there’s room for some creative thinking. I don’t think the contest works that well – it’s too odd somehow -something we Brits find amusing and watch for that factor alone. There’s a strange mix of styles (not based on nations’ differences) but on genres.

If a song contest is to carry on, is there a way of splitting it over a period of time and basing it on genres – not on the sounds of nations, but genres. Would that work? Could there be folk, jazz, club, ballad, rock – or is that too western an idea. It seems to me that if so much money is going to be spent on this thing that a shift should be made from ‘nation bragging’ to the art of song appreciation.

Music, after all, comes from the soul. We should take our musicians and song-makers seriously. They take us through the bad times and the good. I’ll still watch it tonight and I am also protesting against it too.

My mother’s favourite entry, she loved Irish singers:


French Apple Cake

A recipe that never fails, the apple cake mixture is more like batter, a little like muffin mixture and so very very sweet.

You will need:

A medium sized cake tin with a false bottom – the kind you push up to release the cake.

Grease-proof paper

Margarine spread of some type – sunflower/olive. Low fat works fine.

Grease the tin

Cut the paper to fit inside

Then grease the paper


4 large tart dessert apples, cored and chopped

1 cup SR Flour

1 tsp baking pwoder

2/3 cup caster sugar

6 tbsp milk

4 tbs butter melted

2 eggs

1 tsp fresh nutmeg grated

Place the chopped apple in the base of the tin

Put  the other ingredients in one large bowl – mix the sugar, eggs and butter first the add everything else. Mix til it’s a batter then pour it over the apples in the tin.

Oh, preheat the oven to 160C! Pop the mixture in for 40-45 mins and take out when the cake is golden brown. Then move on to the topping.

For the topping:

1 egg

6 tbsp butter melted

1/2 cup sugar

1 tsp vanilla icing

Cream the topping ingredients with the egg and spoon over the cake. Pop it back in the oven for 20-25 mins.

What comes out is a sweet sticky, spongy apple cake. Delicious with a blob of creme fraiche and some raspberries on the side.

Dust if you like with icing sugar. I like to add some star anise around the edge for decoration and extra spice.

Want a photo? You’ll have to wait an hour or so…