Happy Birthday…please pay


If I were to start typing “Happy Birthday too you….” I’d be besieged by lawyers before I even finished the post. This song, first published by a pair of sisters in 1893, has been copyrighted by the Warner corporation who have been charging anyone who dares use it.

Now, okay you can understand them charging other movie studio’s to include it in films. Should you ever wonder why Americans in movies only sing “for he’s a jolly good fellow” at birthday’s this is why. But charging care homes and children’s Birthday party’s? I mean can you imagine explaining that to a five year old, no the clown can’t sing you that song, it would cost him $1,500.

Quite clearly this demonstrates the absurdity of copyright laws and illogical extremes they’ll be taken too by companies.

Weekly news roundup

London’s Parliament is falling down
One has to comment on the announcement from the speaker of the house of Commons, John Bercow, that Westminster would need extensive refurbishment. Decades of under investment in the Houses of Parliament, with much patch repairs, has left the building in an dilapidated state. The only solution he claims is either some major work done on the building (perhaps costing as much as £3 billion), possibly necessitating it being closed and parliament moved for sometime. Or perhaps moving Parliament altogether to some sort of new green field site.

There is a certain irony to the vision his comment conjure, of a bunch of out of touch Etonians trying to run the country, while sitting in a crumbling building. Its a bit like the bunker scene, in Downfall where Hitler and his generals move fictitious military units across a map, while every now and then a Russian shell sends a chuck of plaster raining down onto the table.

This inability of parliament to even, quite literally, put its own house in order, highlights the very issues crippling politics. That politicians are too chickshit scared of bad press to make long term decisions for fear that this might make them look bad in the short term.

I would note that the £3 billion option was merely the gourmet expensive option, the speaker mention several less radical ideas. Although these might carry a certain level of risk (the risk being, the problems won’t be fixed and further more expensive work would be needed later). While it would be tempting to move parliament to some other part of the country, such as the North or Midlands, we need to consider past experience with the Scottish or Welsh parliament buildings, both of which saw significant cost overruns.

In Ireland, we’ve faced similar issues with Leinster House. Again, like the UK its an old ageing building. Its gone through various stages of modifications and expansion. And yes, you guessed it, there’s a call for more changes to stop parts of the building falling down. However, anytime the idea of moving parliament to somewhere else in Dublin, or building a new building outside the capital, the cost benefits have always suggested that staying put and paying for the more cost effective option.

Either way, the UK government, whoever wins the next election, is going to have to make some major decisions, even if the result isn’t very popular with others.

The UK’s new entry to the Eurovision song contest, by Electric Velvet (nope, I never heard of them either), has received mixed views. Some seemed to hate it, notably the Guardian, which in a wonderfully nasty column described it as “Nigel Farage’s new ringtone”. The argument goes, that the UK never wins at Eurovision, because the rest of Europe hates us, so why bother.

Well all I can say is that’s bolix. The UK is in joint second place with Sweden, France and (oddly Luxembourg). Ireland, in the lead with seven wins. Britain also has the most second places at 15.

Admittedly the UK’s been through a bit of a dry patch, it being 1997 since the country last won. This is something which I would in part put down to a certain jealousy among European musicians, at the ease at which some tone deaf moron in Britain can get a record contract, just by letting Simon Cowell shout at them on telly. But either way, the old Terry Wogan chestnut that the UK “always looses” isn’t borne out by the statistics.

Indeed I would point out that the objective of Eurovision isn’t to win. Do well and avoid ending up with an embarrassing null pointe at the end of the night yes, but don’t win. As winning means you have to host it the next year, which means for the BBC spending £100 million in license fee money they don’t have on something they don’t want. In some respects those 15 second place finishes should count as the best Eurovision record.

Its a bit like playing golf with some businessmen from Asia who you’re trying to impress. Going out and trying to win, then run around calling everyone loser afterwards will just get you dismissed as an arrogant westerner…who must now, as tradition dictates, buy everyone a round of drinks in the bar afterwards. A better strategy would therefore be to do well, make whoever wins fight pretty hard for it, but lose and lose graciously…then make sure to order a double of that 20 year old Talisker in the bar afterwards! ;D

Take us Irish, with seven wins, including a four in a row. From RTE (Ireland’s state broadcaster) prospective this means we’ve got the worst Eurovision record. Since then, the Irish have been so “committed” to winning we’ve send Dustin the Turkey and Jedward…..twice! We’d probably have someone sing “My lovely horse” every year if we thought we could get away with it. I mean why do you think the Austrian’s submitted that bearded lady last year? Or why Finland sent that rock group dressed as monsters? Obviously in both cases the plan was to send someone who could perform, but they assumed had no chance of actually winning.

In short Eurovision is like a game of beggar thy neighbour, where the goal is to literally beggar you’re European neighbours by making sure they win rather than you! I mean why do you think they are inviting Australia? We need to bring in new suckers punters to keep things going.

So all in all, I’m actually half hoping this band does win, as that would force many critics in the papers to eat humble pie for their earlier criticism. The tabloids would be faced by the conundrum of how can we say everyone in Europe hates us when we’ve got the second best record at eurovision and the BBC would find their plan (if the plan is too make sure they loose) will have backfired…..maybe they could get Clarkson to do it next year.

Gold bugs
Start talking to libertarians and inevitably they’ll start ranting and raving about gold…then silver. They’ll claim that the money in you’re pocket is worth diddly squat and you need to hold you’re wealth in something more tangible instead (what, you mean like a house?).

I’m certainly forced to agree that recent economic policy does lead you to question the long term viability of fiat currencies. But the gold standard was equally fraught with its own problems, hence why it was dropped. Most leading economists, and I’m talking about the sensible ones here, will generally argue that the downsides of the gold standard far outweighs the benefits, particularly when you consider the existing links between the dollar and the price of oil. This was in part what drove the Nixon administration into abandoning the gold standard in the first place.

Anyway, the libertarians have something to cheer about, one country appears ready to reintroduce the gold standard – ISIL! Yes clearly ISIS have listened to all that sound economic advise from Ron Paul and decided to take the logic step….or maybe its because they think bank notes are too modern and given that they have images of people on them, they might count as idolatry.

Either way, now the libertarians know where to move too, they’d like ISIL, lots of nutty religious people running around with guns, they don’t like writing or ancient monuments or any form of science for that matter, everyone drives around in SUV’s, they don’t like Obama there, no socialised health care….actually no healthcare at all in fact. And they like Christians so much, they even hold crucifixions every night ;D

Squeaky boots
You may have heard about the police officer who stopped a 4 year old from riding on the pavement, suggested she should ride on the road (seriously? I saw a four year old riding a bike on a the road I’d probably call the cops before she got herself killed!) and threatened to confiscate the bike leaving the poor kid bawling.

All I can say is, does this cop not have something better to be doing? I mean isn’t there some drug dealer or thieving tax dodging banker he could be arresting instead? My assumption is that this cop probably was having a bad day, dropped his doughnut or something and decided to take it out on a little girl. How very brave, I hope you’re parents are proud.

Then again one cop once complained too me that too many in uniform are all too willing to cruise. Rather than try to chase down dangerous criminals, they instead prefer to harass law abiding citizens instead. Him and his mates (he was a drug cop) would be planning a big bust of “Madman” Mick and his West side gang, they’d ask uniform for backup and they’d suddenly remember they needed to issue some parking tickets on the other side of town. I mean those drug dealer types are dangerous you know, someone should lock them up…oh, wait! Isn’t that our job? :no:

So my view is, find this moron and transfer him to the roughest scummiest ghetto in the whole country (I’m presuming that would be somewhere near Liverpool or Glasgow? :D). Let’s see him go up to a bunch of pipe hitting crack heads and tell them to quit riding on the pavement, see where that gets him.

Last call for Clarkson?
Then there’s Jeremy Clarkson’s suspension. Without issuing judgement before the facts are in (the media seem to be judging him guilty, his fans see him innocent before hearing the evidence), but he is a controversial figure and in these PC times his days working for a state broadcaster, with the government and Mary Whitehouse types to answer too, has always been numbered.

Its worth noting that when the Top Gear team went to set up Fifth Gear on channel 5 he was one of the few not to go, perhaps because exec’s at Five were reluctant to put him on air (a decision they’re probably regretting given all the money the Beeb has made out of Top Gear).

So even if he doesn’t go now, it will happen sooner or later. He’s wealthy enough that he can buy the BBC out and I’m sure he can convince C4, Sky or various internet broadcasters to pick up the show.

More dog whistle politics
Finally we have the latest dog whistling from Farage. He stated in a C4 interview that he would get rid of all discrimination laws, preposterously then claiming his party as being colour blind…well except those members who’ve been caught saying horribly racist things or who are ex-national front!

We can easily refute this one by considering the consequences. Let’s suppose we get rid of all discrimination laws, Farage walks into a pub in Edinburgh or Cardiff and the barman refuses to serve “his kind” pointing to a sign on the wall indicating “no dogs or Englishmen” are welcome. Would he be okay with that? Discrimination doesn’t sound so bad until you’re the victim of it, that’s why we have laws banning it.

Farage later tried to backtrack, claiming his comments were misrepresented (actually the video clearly shows this isn’t the case) that he was merely talking about allowing employers to hire British workers instead of foreign workers.

Well the law does not force employers to hire foreigners, it merely stops an employer refusing to hire someone because they are Black/Asian/Irish/English. If an employer feels that the one British person who applied is the best person for the job (perhaps because he needs someone with local knowledge) he’s entitled to do that. But equally, if he needs someone who appropriate skills and experience and perhaps some foreign language skills (a common requirement in our globalised world), then it would not be unusual for a foreign national to get the job, but keep in mind that many Brits get jobs in other EU countries for this very reason.

As for any suggestion of positive discrimination, do you really want to be an employer and facing a situation where you’ve got some government bureaucrat looking over you’re shoulder every time you advertise for a job, questioning you’re every decision? As I discussed before this is a national socialist policy, not a right wing or free market idea.

Who put down music’s Top Dog?

This week say the inevitable with several more high street firms winding up zipped into the growing pile of body bags of the Great Recession (a review of High Street casualties and their status on the Beeb). One notable casualty was HMV, the last remaining high street music store chain.

While one can certainly blame the recession and poor trading conditions for bringing down many firms (let’s face it, those Tory cuts are hardly helping matters), and it certainly would have hit HMV where it hurt. But there are many other factors in play for HMV.

Ultimately the demise of HMV, Virgin Megastore’s (I would blame this failure on changing the name to something nobody can pronounce nor spell!), Game (which seems to have emerged from its earlier woes, tho for how long we’ll have to see), Blockbuster and many other firms can, ironically be traced back to their greatest success – The sale of CD’s and later DVD’s.

Both of these products proved to be enormously profitable. In part because of their mass market appeal, but also because of the fact that in the early days of CD/DVD sales they were sold at something of a price premium (i.e. a bit more for a CD version of something than a cassette or vinyl copy). This made sense at the time, as it represented more of a “premium” product and the production costs of the disks back then where much higher than those for tapes and Vinyl’s. However rapid improvements in manufacturing technology along with something of a price war between the firms manufacturing CD’s led to glut and the cost of the disks plummeting in the late 1990’s…but the media industry was very slow to reduce the sales price of disks to match this drop in production costs.

This, led to stellar profits margins for the music industry, as Philip Beeching (an advertising exec at the time who worked with HMV) notes in his blog. Consequently the media firms, notably the retail arm, were raking it in.

And like any cartel in the position of commanding a defacto monopoly, the media industry became increasingly greedy, bloated and corrupt. Executives awarded themselves massive bonuses, the stars of the industry (hardly poorly paid even before!) saw their income skyrocket, the industry forked out massive amounts on advertising/celebrity endorsements, comp trips for hanger’s on with 5-star hotels, champagne on ice and all the coke you can snort included! And of course the media industry also established a chain of massive and hugely expensive high street stores.

They also built up something of a monopoly in terms of shutting out foreign competition. One of the reasons the UK tends to do badly in the Eurovision, isn’t so much “anti-British” feeling in Europe, but more anti-Brit record industry. Many struggling artists in Europe, and their fans (who make up a large portion of the Eurovision audience), are peeved at their inability too make an international breakthrough, something they blame on the UK records industry.

All this spending however, built up the media industries fixed operating costs (i.e. the costs of staying in business and operating) and of course it comes on top of the existing “below the line” costs of running a media company. That being the cost of hiring the army of (generally low paid) workers to perform a host of important roles within the media (secretaries, editors, song writers, key grips, roadies, store staff, the guy who makes the tea, etc.). What the media industry, notably HMV, failed to realise is that they were basically making the rope that would be used to hang them.

“Downloads are just a fad”
Many in the media industry have been quick to point the finger (as they do when any media company gets into trouble) and blame file-sharing for the demise of HMV. While certainly, it hardly helped their financial situation, I would argue it was more a symptom of the fatal illness, rather than the root cause, as I will explain in a minute.

Again, Philip Beeching recalls, as part of his advise to HMV, pointing out the retailer’s vulnerability to both discount sellers such as Tesco’s (who were going for a “stack’em high & sell cheap” approach) and of course file sharing. The response from management was to angrily dismiss his (entirely accurate) analysis and state that “downloadable music is just a fad”. This has got to go down in history as one of those “famous last words” quotes.

Initially the reaction of the media industry to mp3’s and Peer-to-Peer was to firstly ignore it and deny that it was a threat, then completely misinterpret the problem and then over-react to it. As the many in the RIAA will frequently lament “how can we compete with free?”….obviously they’ve not visited I-Tunes recently! However the question they should have been asking is “how can ridiculously overpriced compete with anything?”.

The attitude of the industry was to assume that anyone using the internet or mp3’s was some sort of thief with the words SWAG written across his hard drive…ignoring the fact that the mp3 format had been developed, not by socialist hackers, but by a bunch of German academics of the Fraunhofer institute. Who, in the early 1990’s, where looking for a way of compacting down large media files. Allegedly, the first ever mp3 file was “Tom’s diner” by Susanne Vega…perhaps a telling peek into the music tastes of Germans!

While I accept that P2P has had some impact on music sales, I would dispute that its been as bad as they claim. Take my example, I was never a huge purchaser of media or disks (and most of my CD’s are classical music!) to begin with. But of the stuff I’ve downloaded P2P it has mostly fallen into one of the following categories:

1) Stuff I never had any intention of buying to begin with (heard half of a track on the radio, wanted to hear the other half (nothing better to do!), probably decided it was crap and deleted soon there after, you-tube has of course rendered such downloads largely obsolete)
2) Replacement for content I’d already purchased (after the supposedly “indestructible” CD died after just a few plays!)
3) Rare stuff that I couldn’t get in any store (out of print books, 1950’s films or 80’s TV series, specialist online retailers or pay-per-view sites now cover this area pretty well…indeed speaking of which Santa forgot to bring me some Judge Dredd so I’d best order some tomorrow!)
4) TV shows I’d missed (catch up TV sites such as BBC iplayer have again largely made such downloads obsolete)
5) “Pre-viewing” stuff I planned to buy anyway, for example a few years ago I bought the entire 4th and 3rd series of Star Trek Enterprise, largely because I’d downloaded a few episodes and decided that it didn’t look as bad as many fan sites had claimed, ditto for many of my classical CD’s….I have yet to receive a letter from Mozart’s lawyers! :)) ).

So adding all of the above up, about the only revenue my use of P2P, seems to have denied HMV is the fact that without P2P I MAY have bought something in one of their stores which turned out to be sh*te and never listened to it again….of course that ignores the fact that I know I’d have gotten the stuff much cheaper online anyway and there is this thing called “e-bay” where one can sell stuff you don’t want any more. And indeed if you’re a technophobe, there’s this place called “Cash Converters”.

The RIAA backlash
Either way, the reaction of the media industry was, rather than go with the flow and try and find a way to make money out of the internet, was instead to start suing anything that moved. They went after the manufacturers of mp3 players (that’s sort of like suing BMW because at least one or two of their drivers are complete pri&k’s!). They began suing those who ran sites or who downloaded they’re content, often relying on a trail of evidence that would be considered illegal in any other context (i.e. hacking into someone network to trace/disrupt a download is still “unauthorised access”, a violation of civil liberties and about a dozen other laws) and highly dubious (my favourite, they tried suing a dead person and then a granny for distributing Gangsta rap!)

In another example, lawyers for the media industry would sent people letters saying that their IP address had been used to download copyrighted content…ignoring the fact that IP addresses can be easily faked and wireless internet networks can be hacked into (even if you enable password encryption! This is why I would recommend switching you’re router off when not in use!).

This is the equivalent of you being arrested by the cops for a robbery, even though the only evidence they have of the crime is that they broke into you’re house (without a warrant!) and found you had a pair of shoes (and they knew that the guy who committed the robbery was also wearing a pair of shoes).

Inevitably while the industry has succeeded in frightening some into paying massive fines, unfortunately, more often than not, once such dubious evidence has reached a court of law, its been thrown out. The downfall of ACS:Law or MediaDefender are good examples of these sort of sordid practice.

The media industry also got their minions within government’s to pass increasingly draconian and unconstitutional laws to claim down on peer to peer. Indeed theses days you could get a harsher sentence for a few clicks with the mouse, than beating up an old lady for her pension money.

Naturally this draconian approach provoked a backlash from fans. I know some serious music fans who on point of principle had avoided the temptation of P2P, but who now began using it purely to punish the media industry for supporting such brutal and undemocratic policies. This link gives a taste for such unrest within the ranks.

If there is a quicker way to destroy an industry than suing you’re own customers I am unfamiliar with it. This is exactly the same approach taken by the hobbyist war-gaming firm TSR in the 1990’s and the consequence of it was, they alienated their fan base, who stopped buying their products and the company went bust.

How the internet killed the video store star
Of course, these serious music fans didn’t have long to wait for a “legit” alternative to P2P to emerge. Apple very wisely did what the retail arm of the music industry (that would be HMV’s department!) failed to do years earlier – find a way to exploit this new market and make money out of it. Many contemporaries soon followed. Indeed, even Napster, once the bane of the RIAA, has since been reincarnated as a legal and profit making site.

And as far as physical content goes, i.e. you want the actual disk (possibly to give to someone as a present) there are, as noted above, a host of online retailers now available who will sell it too you, often boasting a much better selection than any high street store and offering substantially lower prices.

Now while it seems that HMV did eventually (in 2006!) work out that this much fangled “internet” thinky was sort of a big deal and began to look at putting up their own retail site. But, as Philip Beeching article points out this was a dismal failure.

I would in fact describe it as not so much a case of shutting the stable door after the horse had bolted (they should have been in there before I-tunes came along!), more a case of them denying the horse had bolted (even when presented with an empty barn), burning down the barn to prove that the horse was still inside and when the horse came back, shooting it to stop it running away again! :no:

Ultimately HMV, Zav…whatever the hell! and other recently bankrupt firms were unable to do the one thing they needed to do. That would be lower their prices! Largely because, as noted earlier, they had built up massive fixed costs during the CD/DVD sales explosion in the 1990’s and 2000’s. While companies like Amazon and Tesco‘s drove a hard bargain when negotiating with suppliers, the likes of HMV, were too close to the industry, and seemed to have just rolled over at every turn. The final death throes of these stores has indeed largely thus been inevitable.

Lessons learned?
The collapse of HMV has sent rather more than a few shudders through the media industry. And not least because increasingly artists are using the internet to by-pass the media mogul monopolies altogether and go direct to their fans. The UK band Arctic Monkeys were one of the early pioneers of this. Many others have followed the same route. More recently that tacky South Korean song that was doing the rounds before Christmas.

So what lesson can one take away from all this? Well certainly, ignoring you’re customer’s changing tastes, then suing them (when they show reluctance too being overcharged) is hardly up there with how to win friends and influence people. And in a free market, its always the customer who should be setting the price, not the supplier fixing an artificially high price. Such suppliers need to realise they are merely digging their own grave in the long term by doing this. Sooner or later someone will come along and offer a way (legal or otherwise) by which people can by-pass you’re monopoly.

Also, trying to defend a monopoly using lawsuits is a losing strategy, as inevitably, like the dinosaurs in “Jurassic Park” life will find a way around such barriers (every time the industry made one means of downloading illegal, another method would emerge, indeed there’s nothing to stop people burning stuff onto a CD and giving it too their friends). Also failing to appreciate technological advances and the effects they will have on you’re business is up there with King Canute.

But what worries me about the media industry, as they prepare for the glitz of the Oscars, is that they don’t seem to be getting the message. Consequently I suspect the business failures of the retail wing of the media industry will now carry over to the media companies themselves. Obviously the smaller firms (many of whom are likely to loose a lot of business through the collapse of HMV anyway) will be the first to go, but inevitably, unless the industry urgently changes tactics, this process will work its way up stream until the media giants themselves begin to tumble.

Euro championships

Well Ireland’s out and we’ve won something for a change!….the wooden spoon! It is funny being in England for the last few weeks during a major footballing championships. Typically up in Scotland you’ll walk into a pub where, see England’s playing Germany and find its full of Germans (or at the very least lots of people cheering on Germany). The following week, again when England’s playing, it suddenly seems to be full of French, or Algerians. Now as a neutral, you’d almost swear the Scots don’t want England to win or something…..

But that said, and I mean no offense here, but that national anthem they play before the England game “god save the queen” sort of does my head in, can’t ye change it to something else? After all its actually the British national anthem not the English one. Its this sort of blurring the lines between Britain and England that really winds up the Welsh and Scots, not to mention confusing our geographically challenged neighbours across the Atlantic.

Of course purists would say, then it needs to be “Jerusalem”, based on a William Blake poem. While I’d agree, let’s be practical, you can’t sing that drunk! and the thought of ten thousand English football fans murdering this song before each game fills me with dread. Furthermore, there’s a lot of religious references in there which will inevitably peeve somebody. Plus some of the lyrics will confuse the hell out of the Germans (Ze Englisher’s Vant to bring Jerusalem 2 ze English country zide? Vas is tis? Didn’t ve try zat in 1940? :no:) who may get the wrong idea. So maybe not.

Rule Britannia? Would probably wind people up the wrong way also (ruling waves? Belgrano? Argentina? on the cultural insensitivity meter that pretty much goes one notch below painting cartoons of Mohammed on the side of that black square thing in Mecca :no:) and I suspect FIFA will say no (unless ye bribe Blatter anyway), and of course its also a British song, so definitely out.

That really boils it down to the Vindaloo Song. It represents core British values (I had a cuppa a few minutes ago, thinking of having some cheddar cheese and reckon I’ll have a curry tomorrow night). While again it will confuse johnny foreigner, it will do so in a nice way (the German team will be still scratching their heads tens minutes later trying to figure out what all that was about, giving ye the chance to snatch an early goal). Tho again I suspect those blokes at FIFA and the FA will say its too silly a song for a national anthem (then again have you ever heard the lyrics to some of the other national anthems? they ain’t much better! indeed some should count as outright xenophobia).

I’m reminded on this point of Mark Thomas who once suggested using the Imperial March theme from Star Wars as it will “scare the shit out of people”. I’d tend to agree, but again this would offend certain religions (Jedi?) and again the suits would never agree to it. Anyone got any other suggestions?….other than the othergod save the queen” song :>>

Dive of the Sugar Plum Fairy

Now having witnessed Ireland playing both Spain and Italy (well the highlights of the Spain match, as I didn’t watch it live…thank feck!), we must address the issue of diving in football. Many fans will argue it ruins the game. And I agree, but that said it does take a fair bit of skill, both in agility, grace and acting to pull off an effective “swan lake” dive.

I therefore propose a solution, alongside the golden boot (top scorer), golden ball (best player) and glove (goalie) awards for tournaments we introduce the “sugar plum fairy award” for best diver. The unlucky player in question will get a pink ballerina dress, shoes and a fairy wand, which he will have be forced too the honour of wearing for every match in the proceeding football season.

My suspicion is that this would solve the problem, in a slightly more humane way than the bloke in the pub the other night suggested (that divers be sent off at once, kicked by all the other players, and then just after he’s disappeared out of sight down the tunnel a single shot rings out).

Battle of Gdansk

Couldn’t help but notice Greece and Germany were drawn together….how many yellow and red cards is that one going to generate? We maybe about to witness a rerun of “the battle of Berne”.

The fifth wheel

Also, what exactly are those guys behind the goal (dressed in Yellow, I assume ref’s of some kind) supposed to be doing? Given that goal that wasn’t for Ukraine v’s England I assume their job doesn’t involved telling if the ball actually crossed the line or not, I mean what was the guy doing? Checking his text messages? On a tea break? And while Brit’s might be smug about dodging a bullet this time, remember what goes around comes around. Sooner or later he’ll miss a goal ye score, of course it already happened as I recall last world cup.


Some brits may be confused as too why Ireland has made Jedward as our Eurovision song contest entrant. I mean you’d swear we didn’t want to win or something….ya! exactly! Given that the country is currently broke and we’ve won it three times in a row before, we’re trying to make sure we don’t end up hosting it again. Any Irlande douze pointe will be considered a personal insult to the country. The Spanish have made clear that they don’t want to win either. So whoever wins, don’t be sour winners!

But will Humperdinck ensure that the UK finally wins or will the UK get “the hump” again? Now while he is a good singer, let’s face it, his chances of winning are slim. The UK could put together a super-group of musicians, drawing on Oasis, Coldplay, Beatles, etc. and still struggle to make a mid table placing. The British with its highly successfully and profitable international music industry is sort of looked at as the class swot by the rest of Europe’s musicians. For most bands on the continent the Eurovision is their best shot at the big time. So inevitably Britain’s chances of winning will always be low…thought with everyone broke right now, ye might pull it off.

So in future rather than trying to actually win the thing, the Brit’s should actually do what the rest of Europe does, find you’re worst group of tone deaf weirdoes (Britain’s Got No Talent?) and put them on show, giving the rest of us all a good laugh.

Of course its no laughing matter that its being held in a Azerbaijan, the Beeb did a piece on corruption and suppression of human rights in the country. Also one would question whether Azerbaijan (or Israel for that matter, I mean if they’re in why not Lebanon or Jordan), should really be in a European competition. Clearly we need to throw a few countries out. One idea would be to perform a “human rights check” on all countries. We send someone with a megaphone to the capital of every nation in the eurovision (I nominate Jedward ;D) who stands in the centre of the city square and hurls insults at the premier, president, big boss, emperor. If isn’t shot by snipers within a few minutes, they’ve passed the test and can stay in…if not…well no more Jedward! We’ll have to rely on “My lovely Horse” next time.