In a previous article we saw how, back in 1974, 2 blones and 2 coves from Stornoway went off and won the Eurovision Song Contest for Sweden. (http://stornowayhistory.wordpress.com/tag/abba/)
But with all the fuss over in Malmo next weekend, it’s easy to forget that it’s not just continental Europe that can stage ridiculous overblown tackfests characterised by abysmal music, constant cultural and linguistic misunderstandings, and a voting system that serves to highlight rather than conceal the old enmities that have driven most of the participants to war against each other for centuries.
Oh no – indeed, many years before Johnny Foreigner came along and pinched the idea, the warring villages of Ness had set up a similar event in an effort to distract their citizens from knocking lumps out of each other in disputes about sheep’s earmarks, bothans, fences and the finer points of the Doctrine of Predestination. This was, of course, the Eoropievision Song Contest.
The village of Eoropie has long been known as “The Switzerland of Ness” due to its tendency to remain neutral during disputes between other townships in the area (and kindly offer to look after their money while they fight each other). It doesn’t have a chocolate industry to speak of, but it is well known for the manufacture of Guga Clocks.
Marcel Beistealachd, head of the Eoropie Broadcasting Union, conceived the idea of the Eoropievision Song contest in 1948. Beistealachd decided that –since one of the causes of intervillage warfare was the unending argument about whose Gaelic was ‘right’, the whole contest would be organised and run in French. Unfortunately none of the original judging panel knew any French numbers, and so in the first contest in 1949, everybody was awarded ‘Nul Point’ and came last.
Beistealachd was not deterred by this, nor by the complete absence in these days of electricity or televisions in the district. Over the next few years, several villages from outside Ness began to compete, and by the mid 60s, Eoropievision was a large scale affair involving most of the villages from the Butt to Barra. The exception was Point, whose hardline communist rulers refused to have anything to do with such decadent capitalist frivolity until the fall of the Braigh Wall in 1989. From 1989 onwards the Contest saw an increase in entries, as previously unheard of former ‘Rubhach Pact’ villages (such as Broker and Portvoller) submitted entries. As most of the Point villages had been cut off from modern culture for so long, these entries tended to be at least 40 years behind the rest of Lewis and Harris in terms of songwriting, and most entries tended to be all about the dream of catching a really big fish.
The Contest also had it fair share of controversy. In 1974 the Port Nis entry was a signal to the village’s populace to rise up in the ‘Damnation Revolution’ that overthrew their insufficiently hard-line minister, the Rev Marcelo Mackayetano. Uig cove Clibhe Richards still claims to this day that his song ‘Congregations’ was kept off the winning position by the revolutionaries.
In the late 1990’s the Inaclete entry from Dana Interdenominational caused consternation when it was discovered that she was not all she appeared to be, and was not really a Free Churcher but a Seceder!
Voting patterns are often dominated by politics. Castlebay, Arnol, Lochboisdale and Bragar always vote tactically against each other. Grimshader and Tolsta always give each other maximum points and nobody else gives ever them any. And despite the breakup of the old communist regime in Point, Garrabost sends its tanks out on “exercises” each year a week or so before the contest and then routinely receives “Douze Points” from all its former Rubhach Pact client villages in the area.
But the most common occurrence is the maws all ganging up and giving ‘Nul Point’ to the Stornoway entries. This was certainly the case when Engebret Fillingstation got fleek all votes last year (2012).
Winners and Notable Entries
- ·Few Europievision winners went on to achieve lasting success, but H*bba, who won the 1974 contest, was a notable exception, topping the charts for years afterwards with hits such as “Psalma Mia”, “Gimme Gimme Gimme (A Plank And a Hammer”) and “Knowing Me, I Know Who It Was, Was it You?”.
- ·In 1967, Sandie Shaw – a supergroup composed of hard-gigging Plasterfield rawk chick Sandie Mackinnon and quiet acoustic Newton thrash metal axeman Iain Shaw – won with “(Collie) Puppy on a String”
- ·Bugsy Fizz – a supergroup composed of Bugsy and Cally Fizzags – nearly won the 1981 contest with “Making Your Mind Up” (song about deciding on which Free Church splinter group to join). But the bit where they pulled off their skirts caused so much outrage that they were disqualified and exiled. This is how it went:
Making Your Mind Up (which breakaway church to join)
You gotta Secede it up
And then you gotta schism it down
Cos if you believe that a church can hit the top
You gotta pray around
And soon you will find at Communion Time
You’re making your mind up.
You gotta stand for prayers
And for psalms sit down
You gotta be sure that it’s something
Every elders gonna talk about
On Sunday Night
Before you decide the tithe is right
For making your mind up.
Don’t let your inner schism
Take you from behind
Trust your sinner vision
Don’t let FPs change your mind
- ·Second rate Hearach H*bba wannabees the Brotherhood of Manish won in 1976 with “Save All Your Fishes For Me”
- ·In 1980 Johnny ‘Local’ – A white settler pretending to be a maw – sang the Lemreway entry and won. ‘Local’ was to become a fixture of the contest as a performer, writer and arranger for many years to come. But he’s still fleekeen ruppish.
- ·Ciorstaidh-Anna and the Wakes won in 1997 with “Mamma Weer Al-Crae-zee Now”. Oh no it wasn’t – it was “A Hearse With No Name”. Or maybe “Going Down To Ullapool”. Or something.
- ·And of course who can forget Finsbay’s unexpected 2006 winner : Grotesque cuireamach metal merchants Lord-i with “Hard Rock Thighearnabheannaichte”?
This year’s final takes place on Saturday night in Marvig.
Fleek knows who’s going to win Probably not Bonnie Tyler – She was going to come and sing the Marybank entry “Total Eclipse of the Ceard” – but it turns out she’s got an other job on that night.
Our money’s on a Rubhach – probably thon Murdina Garrabostova. If you know what’s good for you, you’ll vote for her as well.