Where do you stand on singing in public? I ask, because this week has been somewhat blighted by the builders doing up the house at the back of our garden. They’ve been on the roof bellowing along to “this is Heart” on the radio. I guess it wouldn’t have got my goat if a. they could sing in tune, or b. I wasn’t at a crucial bit of my book and trying to write serious action to the strains of off-key JLS.
I can’t bring myself to say anything because I’m too British and I don’t want to draw attention to myself at the snooty lady novelist at number 44. I’ve heard how they take the piss out of each other in the morning. I couldn’t cope if they applied that to me. Also, they’ll be working there for months, by the looks of things – certainly as long as it’s going to take to finish TORN. But it is a bit annoying that in this glorious weather, I can’t open my study door.
Besides, I think singing in public should be encouraged – in the right context. We don’t do half as much singing these days as we used to as kids. Emlyn (who has a great voice himself) hates singing in public in any form. Come Christmas when I insist on a family get together round the piano for carols, he immediately turns into a public school boy and skulks around mumbling ‘this is so embarrassing’. For who? There’s only us in the house. (Just between you and me, I was secretly quite relieved when he wasn’t here for the royal wedding and I got the chance to belt out Jerusalem to my heart’s content.)
Maybe it’s a boy/girl thing. Boys will sing at the football or rugby, but only with other men as back-up. I know for a fact that all the husbands have dropped out of the Karaoke party my mate Sarz has planned in the swanky Little Voice in Brighton. What can be so unbearable about listening to ‘I will survive’? Personally, I can’t wait.
Fortunately, however, my husband does join me in my devotion to Eurovision. I’ve watched it nearly every year since my childhood. And apart from the loss of old Tel doing the commentary, it hasn’t really changed that much. Despite their attempts to Glee-it-up and to give us slick tourist board images of the countries involved, it still somehow manages to give us a direct insight into the tastes and aspirations of normal people in far flung corners of Europe. Oh, and…er…Israel.
Like a giant-sized popcorn that you can’t stop yourself eating until its finished, the hugely long format is addictive. It’s the crazy costumes, the jaw-dropping staging and props, the sheer amount of times I’m dumbfounded that they could have conceived of such a song, or selected the singer, or even that the singer failed to go on a diet for their big moment. But even at its worst it still has its own mercurial charm and a secret code that even Lord Webber couldn’t crack.
Last night’s second semi-final was Eurovision gold, although it was annoying that we couldn’t vote, as they thought we’d all be too biased towards Jedwood, who continue to model themselves as Thing One and Thing Two from the Cat In The Hat, as far as I can see. I hate to say it, but in comparison to the rest, they came across as quite slick.
In all of this, it does occur to me that we might be missing a trick. Perhaps there should be a work placement scheme for failed TV show singers to get into the building profession. All those nearly-rans from Pop Idol and X factor and Eurovision would be perfect. And what about Limahl and Nick Heyward and all those other ex-heart throbs who haven’t had a hit since the 80’s? Get them up there. Shirts off. Managing. I think that builders that could sing in tune from our rooftops might inspire the nation to start singing in public again. Just a thought.