It’s customary to have an annual Eurovision party at my place, usually involving the same group of cultured friends who appreciate this annual music festival (and home to the greatest new music). My good friend James, my comedy partner from my old job at Camden Council, is a regular and this is the story of his first visit to my flat for the party of the year.
As usual I had given vague directions on how to get to my place, my own fundamental lack of geography skills (probably spurred on by my fear of maps) means I usually just give the address and the nearest Tube station and let the attendee handle their own navigation while I ready the flat. Preparation includes investigating the maximum sound volume the neighbours will let us away with, preparing some kind of party food, decorating the flat with as many flags as I can find, wrapping myself in the Bosnian flag whether I like the song or not, and of course, plugging the telephone in.
Eurovision night is the only night our landline gets plugged in, for the televoting. It is literally the only use I have for a landline phone. Everything else is cheaper and more convenient from my mobile, except Eurovision voting, and all guests get to vote a few times for their top 3. Or 5 depending on the state of my finances.
James is a street wise guy and had no trouble finding the party. It was fairly obvious. As he walked along the road, counting up the numbers and got to the right one, there was a door wide open, music pumping out, and some revellers in the front garden with beers. He’d never been to one of my Eurovision parties, but he knew I wasn’t one to do things by halves. He said some hellos and walked in, found his way to the kitchen, deposited the courtesy bottle of wine he brought in the fridge, and made himself at home.
I was busy making last minute preparations, it was nearly time.
James struck up some conversation with some of the other guests while he waited for me to appear.
It was getting close to 8pm and I was missing a guest so I was panicking a little. The whole thing doesn’t count if you miss Marc-Antoine Charpentier’s EBU theme music at the beginning – and at that part, of course, everyone has to stand. In silence. All the flags were in place, my gay friends were sat ready for the biggest event of the year (they were veterans of this party, and one of them was the only person like me who had already downloaded and listened to all the songs obsessively; there would be no surprises tonight until we got to the voting…)
As the party buzzed, one of the other guests turned to James and asked “so who do you know here then?”
James said “Oh just Alan.”
“Yeah, we used to work together.”
“You mean the guy who lives next door?”
As I frantically waited for James, the theme music playing on repeat on my sound system, and the actual event about to begin, James got up, went to the kitchen, opened the fridge door, pulled out his bottle of wine, said goodbye to his new friends, and left. No doubt thinking as he passed the beer-swilling revellers outside that these lads really never seemed like the Eurovision type, he walked round the garden wall and buzzed at my door.
“Quick quick,” I said, “it’s nearly time. Pop your wine in the fridge. What happened to you?”
“Interesting story actually…”