Eurovision: It's the only bright light in a week of cost of living gloom, says Michael Booker

Eurovision song contest stage

Liverpool is hosting the Eurovision song contest

Michael Booker

By Michael Booker

Published: 11/05/2023

- 13:48

Europe’s Coronation of Camp may be the only hope

It’s the moment I dread in life the most. Putting the numbers from the electricity and gas meter readings into the little boxes on the British Gas website.

Then comes the automated message of impending doom that’s as unwelcome as a placard at a Coronation.

“That looks a little high…”

I double-checked the numbers and sadly my eyes weren’t deceiving me, and the reading was right.

I pressed submit and awaited the results.

It’s a bit like that Russian roulette scene in The Deer Hunter, only not expecting a bullet from our captors, instead it’s the arrival of potentially life altering bill – in my case £919 and 53 British pence.

Our captors in this case are the energy companies – constantly gaslighting us (and probably over charging us for the extra gas use) about how they are feeling the pinch just as much as millions of British people are.

Indeed, this week we were told the supposedly ‘good news’ that average energy prices are to drop £440-a-year to a still too eye-wateringly high £2,062.91 a year from JULY.

So, this summer, just as a good old British hosepipe ban begins, and our boiling hot homes become magnets for bluebottles because we’ve got the back door open and they can smell the cat’s food, we can ‘just’ about afford to put the heating on…

And yet – apart from in my house where I got a bit hot under the collar but luckily didn’t have to pay for self-generated heat – I can’t see more widespread anger.

It’s like we’ve all been (air) conditioned to believe that the energy companies are our friends, and we are all in it together – a weird kind of Stockholm Syndrome that makes you reluctantly accept being either being very poor or very cold.

(That’s opposed to the Bibby Stockholm Syndrome, something that the government hopes will occur to asylum seekers to make them think they are living on a flat-pack IKEA-built floating Scandinavian Island rather than a gloomy barge in Dorset being divebombed by equally baffled seagulls looking to pick up some sour herring.)

Anyway, back to my rant.

My anger was piqued and indeed peaked, in a week where we are all hoping for a post-Coronation bounce and a new beginning where we can leave the cost-of-living crisis behind.

After years of strife and strikes we want a King Charles-commanded Britain walking into a new era of fairness and equality where everything starts to work, and we all work together.

But the cosy ermine-trimmed golden glow of last weekend will soon wear off if the good news doesn’t start coming soon.

Unfortunately, the ‘good news’ about the energy cap was quickly followed by news that the interest rate had gone up. AGAIN.

That’s at a time everyone’s already mortgaged to the hilt and the average asking price for a first-time buyer-type property sitting at a record of £224,963.

The only news that could underwhelm me more is if the Lib Dem’s claimed they were ready to share power…Uh-oh.

That’s not to say there hasn’t been an effort from the current government to give the nation a shot-in-the-arm – particularly where it comes to our creaking healthcare system.

That said, their announcement in the form of the Primary Care Recovery Plan, meant that any real life shot-in-the-arm may now have to be administered by your local pharmacist rather than a stressed and overloaded GP.

I don’t know about you, but I struggle enough walking up to the counter in Boots with an armful of brightly coloured shampoos and shower gels to cover up the fact I’m trying to buy Dulcolax and Anusol, so God knows how I’ll cope asking them for something if it was really serious.

They followed that up by attempting to solve the NHS staffing crisis by announcing that school leavers can become doctors without earning a degree.

Now, I’m all for on-the-job training, but when it’s been done on me by someone whose surgical knowledge extends to tinkering with a dead rat in a year 10 biology class then I’ll happily take my chances of dying of old age while on the waiting list thanks very much.

With those announcements falling flat it’s hard to see where the big kickstart we all need is going to come from.

If you believe most showbiz reporters gurning away on TV and radio this week, the only hope is this weekend’s Eurovision, Europe’s Coronation of Camp.

This year it’s been held in Liverpool due to it being understandably too risky for last year’s winner, war-torn Ukraine, to host in Kiev.

Let’s hope we do it justice, there’s no security issues and it’s like the Coronation where the sneaky police deployed Minority Report-style skills to predictively arrest anyone who could be trouble before they actually were.

In fact, when I saw the news that the Old Bill had nicked the ‘Somerset Gimp’ – the rubber suited nuisance terrifying people across the West Country – part of me thought they’d pre-emptively struck again.

Let’s face it, judging by some of the outfits on show during the semi-finals, a similar costume wouldn’t have looked too out of place on stage on Saturday night.

And, at least with a half-inch thick rubber mask on we’d be spared hearing them sing.

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