THIS time last week I was hoping for the best and preparing for the worst as I counted down the hours to Eurovision.
I knew we had no chance of winning thanks to a combination of Brexit, a desire to cut us Brits down to size — and because we fail to treat the whole shebang as a “serious” song contest, but instead revel in its deliciously bonkers campness.
I ask you, how can anyone fail to chortle at a contest that’s supposed to be European but is being held in Israel and features a woman from Australia warbling on a pogo stick?
It’s completely daft and that’s why I have loved it so much for so very long.
Back in 2004 I even had the chance to give out the scores on behalf of the British jury.
I wore an OTT sequined gown, clutched a glass of lukewarm prosecco and was projected in front of an image of Old Compton Street in the very heart of gay London Town.
It was an honour and a joy.
But this year, I finally fell out with Eurovision and reluctantly have faced up to the fact we have to quit this event to avoid being ritually humiliated every year.
There’s no way our entrant, 21- year-old Michael Rice, deserved to come last.
Are we seriously being asked to believe that he was worse than those pound-shop heavy metal clowns from Iceland with a band member in a gimp mask and childish, “rebellious” shouty lyrics.
Or that creepy couple from Slovenia who looked like serial killers?
Our boy wasn’t helped by lacklustre staging and a fairly average song but he did not deserve such soul-sucking and, frankly, rather vindictive scoring.
The winning song, Arcade by Duncan Laurence from the Netherlands, wouldn’t have made the cut in a rip-off album by a Coldplay tribute band.
‘LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER’
I reckon on the night the hugely talented and thoroughly likeable John Lundvik from Sweden was robbed.
British-born John, who co-wrote the UK entry, gave a cracking performance of a solid song.
He was in the lead going into the public vote — and that’s when Europe showed its ugly side.
We had the usual farce of Cyprus and Greece giving each other 12 points — which at least had them booing in the hall — but I’m convinced the reason Sweden didn’t win is because John happens to be black.
It’s a bloody disgrace but, until it’s proven otherwise, this was down to parts of Europe exhibiting worrying signs of racism.
John had charisma, talent and the best backing singers of the night. He should have romped home to victory.
The second-biggest disappointment was Madonna.
She looked and sounded uncomfortable but also had the misfortune to follow Israeli artist Idan Raichel, who didn’t rely on cheap stunts to promote inclusivity but led by example with band members of all colours and religions.
Poor Madonna could not follow the mesmeric musical number, and her performance — like her singing — fell totally flat.
I never thought the day would come when I’d want us to walk away from Eurovision.
The harsh truth is we are only in the finals because our place — along with the rest of the “Big Five”, France, Germany, Italy and Spain — is bought and paid for.
We could have Robbie Williams and Adele singing a montage of their most successful hits and still end up bottom of the scoreboard.
If the BBC won’t go all out for an established artist singing a song that’s already a proven hit to give us a chance of not being humiliated, then let’s hang on to a bit of dignity and step away.
We could continue to enjoy the spectacle and cheer our favourite acts without the embarrassment of the poor “plucky Brit” being led like a lamb to the slaughter.
We would still have Graham Norton and all of the fun and frolics but without the stress.
I’m fed up getting all dressed up to be the party guest that no one wants to talk to or dance with — so let’s just spare ourselves the misery.
ISLAND’S GETTING HOUSE IN ORDER
I’M heartened by the news that the latest lot of Love Island hopefuls will be given proper counselling and aftercare during all stages of their appearance in the ratings-winning show following the deaths of former stars Sophie Gradon and Mike Thalassitis.
I would, however, advise all of the wannabes who suffer in any way from a lack of self-esteem, anxiety, depression or any other mental health issues not to put themselves forward in the first place.
The celebrity world is not all straw hats and trumpets. It can be brutal and dangerous, and often chews people up and spits them out.
To survive, they will need to have thick hides and self-belief – and be aware there are nasty, spiteful bullies out there just waiting to rip them to shreds on social media.
As well as being given lots more support, I think all the Love Islanders need to sit down with our very own Dan Wootton, The Sun’s Executive Editor – a wise man who knows the celeb world inside out.
He would offer sound advice on coping with instant fame and notoriety without it being life and soul-destroying.
He could help steer them through the many hazards.
Most of the young men and women taking part in Love Island desperately want to be “famous” and think they know what they are in for.
They reckon fame is all about guzzling champagne at glamorous showbiz parties, taking part in lucrative photo- shoots, being showered with freebies and lurching from treat to treat.
It’s not – and for the Love Islanders it’s more like a maximum of six months in the public eye, during which they are far more likely to be booed and heckled in nightclubs and abused on Twitter than be photographed on a red carpet.
At least now, thanks to the new ITV care package, they should have the tools to survive and hopefully even thrive.
YOU'RE NOT ALONE
EVERY 90 minutes in the UK a life is lost to suicide.
It doesn’t discriminate, touching the lives of people in every corner of society – from the homeless and unemployed to builders and doctors, reality stars and footballers.
It’s the biggest killer of people under the age of 35, more deadly than cancer and car crashes.
And men are three times more likely to take their own life than women.
Yet it’s rarely spoken of, a taboo that threatens to continue its deadly rampage unless we all stop and take notice, now.
That is why The Sun launched the You’re Not Alone campaign.
The aim is that by sharing practical advice, raising awareness and breaking down the barriers people face when talking about their mental health, we can all do our bit to help save lives.
Let’s all vow to ask for help when we need it, and listen out for others… You’re Not Alone.
If you, or anyone you know, needs help dealing with mental health problems, the following organisations provide support:
Loo losses are plain potty
SOME might dismiss the latest excuse for the rise in obesity in this country as a lot of pish – but it does hold water.
According to the Royal Society for Public Health (RSPH) charity, one in five people are not going for long walks or runs because of a dearth of public loos – and this makes people fatter.
They have a point.
Unless you are near a train or bus station where it can cost a pound to spend a penny, finding a public toilet is all but impossible these days.
You have to go into a pub or coffee shop and either beg the staff to let you use their facilities or buy a big drink from them – which means you need to go to the loo again less than half an hour later.
It’s also a problem for people with certain disabilities who need to go to the toilet more often.
Cutbacks have forced councils to shut more than 700 public toilets since 2010 and the RSPH wants to make it compulsory for local authorities to provide public loos as a matter of urgency.
I agree. It’s misery to need a wee – or have a child or elderly relative desperate for one – when there is nowhere to go.
I’m not sure if it will make us fitter to have more public loos but it will certainly make us happier.
BRAD’S THE S-PITT OF ROBERT
THERE’S been much ink spilt by critics who are divided by the new offering from director Quentin Tarantino, Once Upon A Time In Hollywood.
What has struck me isn’t the bad language or violence – a given with a Tarantino film – but that his star, Brad Pitt, is the spitting image of a young Robert Redford.
If a film is ever made about the life and times of this all-time screen giant, no one but Brad should play the part.
MOST READ IN OPINION
My dream soap is reality
I HAVE ticked a bloody big box with having the chance to appear on Coronation Street in a cameo being shown this Bank Holiday Monday.
Without giving too much away, I am stalked at a holiday camp by Gail Platt (Helen Worth), who is an avid fan of my TV show and it all goes horribly wrong.
Cast and crew could not have been more welcoming and I had such a great day filming.
It’s a very special week for Corrie as episodes will be airing every single weeknight at 9pm, and we will finally find out who was responsible for the collapse of the factory roof.
I’m honoured to now be a tiny part of such a legendary show.