I Spy

Le Carre bargain book

Hello again, fellow Bookworms!

I spy, with my little eye, something beginning with B…

B for bargain, obviously! Regular blog readers might know that I have tried to get my dad to get his arse back on Facebook, but that pulling his finger out and doing something about anything is not really his strong point, lol! He had been on FB, briefly, but his place of work weren’t happy about their staff being on it. However, he has been retired since April 2010, so I really don’t see why he can’t get his arse back online, and there are plenty of things I could share with him if he did.

Then again, there is ONE advantage to him NOT being on Farcebook… It does mean that if I get anything which is supposed to be a surprise for him, I can share it with others on FB knowing he won’t see it! Hence the book in the photo, John Le Carre: The Biography, by Adam Sisman. Not a charity shop book, but an epic bargain nevertheless. Mum and I had gone to Blackpool for the afternoon, and happened to pop into a branch of The Works.. and there it was. Full price would have been £25, but it cost me all of £3! Dad has always been a fan of spy thrillers, I grew up seeing him read books by John Le Carre and Len Deighton, as I may well have mentioned in my previous blogs about my family’s tastes in books, so I thought this would be the ideal birthday pressie for him for his 70th birthday in September!

I doubt very much he reads blogs, and he’s not on Facebook, as I said, so I’m hoping I am safe in letting you lot know that I’ve got him this for his birthday. If you DO know Kevin Dixon-Jackson, not a word to him about this, please! It’s a surprise!

Right, what else is there on the book front? Apparently, according to a new study, bookworms are nicer, kinder, and more empathetic people. Yay! However, I would argue there is a proviso to this… We are nice people except when you interrupt our reading! Just don’t even think about doing that to us, and we’ll be nice, lol!

Still reading Nul Points, by Tim Moore, as one of my OCs, and the Eurovision Song Contest is coming up this Saturday! Woo! I actually braved listening to a couple of entries which Tim had mentioned in his book. And I mean “braved” listening to them. Having exposed my eyes and ears to YouTube clips from the 1983 Eurovision Song Contest of the Turkish and Spanish entries for that year, I have to say that I can understand perfectly well why those entrants went home from Germany without a single point to their names! Particularly the Spanish entry. I’m very sorry, my Iberian chums, but that is 3 minutes I will never get back! It’s not just the wailing attempt at a “song”, in which she asked umpteen times as to who was steering her boat, but it was what she was wearing! A blue, white and grey stripy shower curtain would have been an approximation to her “dress” that night! Oh dear, oh dear, oh dear…

Makes me wary of trying to look up some of the other nul point entries, but I guess I’ll end up doing so, even if it’s purely out of morbid curiosity, to see if they are any worse than the two I’ve already endured, lmao!

While we are on the subject of Eurovision, it seems that my family were ahead of their time! Many people these days hold Eurovision parties and make a big event of watching the contest. Nothing new for us – I can recall Eurovision nights in the late 70s and early to mid 80s where Mum, Dad, me and Ellie would be round at Grandma and Grandad’s and the six of us would be watching the Eurovision Song Contest in their living room, with my dad “translating” the non-English songs! For some reason, known only to Dad, most of these foreign warblings seemed to be about nuns with bicycles stuck up their arses! Especially the French entries! Those were ALWAYS about nuns with bikes stuck up their bums, according to my dad! Google Translate?! Pah! Who needed that in the early 80s when you could have my dad telling you what the songs were about?!

We used to go round to Grandma and Grandad’s on a frequent basis, anyway, when my sister and I were little, particularly for tea on a Saturday evening, so it wasn’t that surprising that we would be watching Eurovision round there. One point that I’ve not mentioned about those Turkish and Spanish entries who ended up with nul points in 1983, was that the contest that year took place on 23rd April, thus these poor pointless creatures were going away from Eurovision with the proverbial wooden spoon on my 10th birthday! So maybe, that year, I might have been watching Eurovision at home while stuffing my face with birthday cake!

Maybe the Turkish guy could have got a point or two, but… sorry, Spain, but that woman did you no favours in 1983! I’ve seen it on YouTube, as I said earlier, and it is bad. I mean BAD! We’re talking bad singing AND a terrible outfit! Just asking for nul points, quite frankly! Oh well, with singing that bad, just as well she was over in Germany, and not at our house singing happy birthday to me on the day I reached double figures, lol! Thankfully, I don’t recall much if anything about that year’s Eurovision, so clearly her bad singing didn’t spoil the day I completed an entire decade on the planet!

Without Tim Moore’s book, about the only thing I probably would have been able to figure out was that it would have been in Germany as Nicole had won in 1982, so the ESC is in the country of the previous year’s winning entry. I remember 1981 ’cause that’s when Bucks Fizz won with Making Your Mind Up, and I remember 1982 as the UK hosted it and Nicole won for Germany (West Germany as it was then) with Ein Bisschen Frieden, but I have a bit of a blank for a year or two until 1985 which I remember because there was a massive shock when Norway, who’d previously become infamous for getting nul points, actually won the Eurovision Song Contest that year!

Norway, however, were relatively lucky, compared to other multiple nul-point countries such as Finland and Turkey! Norway won the Eurovision Song Contest as early as 1985, and have since won it twice more, in 1995, and in 2009. Their ignominious failures of the early days have actually been outweighed by their ESC successes in more recent times. Turkey and Finland both had to wait much longer to be making headlines for the right reasons, with Turkey finally winning in 2003, and Finland three years later in 2006. To date, those have been the sole successes for the countries in question.

This is probably going to be one of those blogs where few books are mentioned. It happens from time to time. I am sure, though, that I’ll return to the usual long list of reading matter in coming blogs, so it’s nothing to worry about if I have only mentioned a couple of books in this one!

Update on the nul point recipients I have watched. I have now seen Jahn Teigen’s performance from 1978 which earned Norway one of its big fat zeroes. I can see why. What the hell was he wearing, and what the hell did he think he was doing with those on-stage antics? The pulling of his braces! That jump! WTF?! I am thinking the song itself wasn’t too bad, I’ve heard much worse, but if anyone was thinking of awarding him any points, his cringeworthy antics on stage probably cost him a few votes!

Video unavailable for Finn Kalvik, another nul-pointer from Norway, from 1981, sparing his blushes at least for now, but maybe I will find that somewhere else on the internet?

Onto Finland’s Kojo in 1982 and Nuku Pommiin. Oh dear! Not the greatest of songs, and what was with that red leather suit? It’s admirable enough to sing a song protesting about nuclear missiles, but there are probably better ways of going about it, chuck! Look at Nicole. That same year, she sat on a stool with her big guitar and sung about wanting a little peace. She won!

I’ve already dwelt upon Turkey and Spain and their pointless performances in 1983. We move on to 1987, then. and, sorry, Turkey, but it’s you guys again! The 1987 contest gave us an Israeli entry whose title translated as Lazy Bums, but their own country were a bit more upset about that than the others as it did receive at least some votes! Cetin Alp would no longer be the only Turk to have come away from Eurovision pointless after this contest… Not actually a bad song in 1987, although maybe too much hyperactive jigging about on stage was considered offputting? Maybe it got zilch because other songs were just much better, or it got forgotten about as more memorable acts caught the imagination and won the votes?

Clearly the late 80s were a rich source of nul-pointers. Consecutive ESCs in 1987, 1988 and 1989 each saw an act go home without a single vote. As mentioned above, Turkey got the wooden spoon in 1987, with Austria receiving it in 1988 and Iceland in 1989. Wilfried Scheutz for Austria… Lisa, Mona Lisa…  Nein. Nicht gut! Keine Punkte, mein Herr! You need something a bit more cheerful for Eurovision, matey! Something a bit upbeat and boppy! Or at least not so bloody gloomy-sounding! Daniel made a pretty similar mistake the following year as Iceland got the cold shoulder from the other countries’ juries.

Well, I’d better call it a day. Otherwise I’ll end up getting nul points for this blog! Or nul likes, more to the point! More utter waffle will probably follow in my next blog, but for the time being, take care and Happy Reading!

Joanne x x x

Books mentioned in this blog entry…

  • John Le Carre: The Biography – Adam Sisman
  • Nul Points – Tim Moore
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Filed under Autobiography/Biography, Books, Humour, Music, My Bookworm History, Non-Fiction, Ongoing Concerns

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