I've been following the contest ever since the U.K. first entered it in 1958, missing only two or three in the late 1970s because I went along with the notion that the whole thing was a bit naff. Can't think how I ever could have bought into that idea!
The number of times when my voting choice turned out to be the actual winner I can count on the fingers of one hand, but last night it happened, with Portugal achieving its first ever win after a wait of 54 years! - a stand-out, simple and modest ballad without any gimmicks, performed by the distinctly unglamorous Salvador Sobral and composed by his sister - and one of the very few not sung in English.
I didn't know until the voting was over that the singer was suffering from a serious heart condition, causing him to miss some of the rehearsals. I can't say if this was widely known before the contest and might have added to a 'sympathy' vote, though even if I'd been aware in advance I still think this was the best song by quite some margin - and totally different from any other of the 26 finalists - a gently appealing non-belter.
Second was Bulgaria, a song which I didn't rate much, sung by the youngest of the participants, a 17-year old, who might have got the 'cutie' vote:-
Third came Moldova (which I'd have placed 5th), one of those barking mad entries which we love but don't like to admit we found infectious. (Nice dance moves.):-
Coming fourth, Belgium was a worthy contender, which I'd have put in around 8th position, though not remarkable enough to be much higher:-
And in fifth place, the ever highly-placed Sweden which, like Belgium I'd rate definitely above average but not spectacularly so:-
My own Top Five included three that didn't register in the final tally:-
2) Romania - a happy, yodelling song which deserved to finish higher than the seventh place it did. Full marks for the sheer nerve of it! :-
3) Croatia - possibly the most remarkable listening event of the night, but finishing in a vastly unfair 13th place. A male performer with evident Pavarotti-like 'embonpoint' who sings in two vastly different registers. Possibly the most attention-grabbing performer of last night:-
4) Italy - An arresting image, and for a long time prior to the night the favourite to win, actually coming sixth. Song performed alongside man in a cheap-looking gorilla suit. Fun though, and not at all bad song:-
5) Moldova, which came 3rd.
And the U.K.?:-
Lucie Jones yelling out one of those so-called power ballads which bore me beyond tears. I've heard it several times and I still ask myself "Why?". Anyway, she managed our best position in years, coming 15th, so suppose one ought to be thankful that at least we weren't entirely humiliated as we often are.
I'm also very pleased that after a long time the title has been wrested out of the hands of eastern Europe and Scandinavia, which was getting all a bit depressingly predictable. So grateful for that.
Btw: I switched over during the several interval acts while votes were being cast and missed a stage-crasher coming on and baring his bottom. A bit sorry not to have seen that though must say that on the whole I got my evening's worth of entertainment - I've seen several worse than last night.
And finally, have to mention that out of the three presenters (Diversity? Hah!) I just couldn't take my eyes off one of them. Guess which!:-
So, till Lisbon(?) in 2018 - and in the hope that the U.K. can at last end what will then be our 21-year drought.