EUROVISION 1997 – DUBLIN – IRELAND

 

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Going back to Ireland so soon was not that special. Ireland had won so many times in a relatively short span of time, so it was sort of boring. One good thing was that the venue was the same and I booked again at the same guest house where I stayed in 1995. This time I did not take chances with my flight and no Sudan airways. I flew British airways to London and then to Dublin. I however had a bad flight. There are many things I do not eat, so I always book a special meal. They slipped up and did not book it and the air hostess dare to tell me “This is not a restaurant, you have to eat what we have”. I was of course furious but not much I could do.

The Eurovision itself made up for this. 1997 was the year I got all the individual CD singles the fastest ever. By now the various delegations became aware of me, the only accredited journalist from Africa. I also were doing radio shows for the Greek/Cyprus radio station in South Africa (Radio Hellenic) and the Portuguese radio station in South Africa (Radio Cidade). Although I liked it a lot to do shows about Eurovision to these stations, the problem was that both were mainly interested in their entries and did not care about the entries of say Norway or Finland.

Very special to me was the fact that I met up with Ralph Siegel again – the last time I saw him was in Munich in 1983. He was there as composer for the German entry “Zeit” sung by Bianca Shimburg who sounded like a Celine Dion to me.

1997 also produced a huge winner – LOVE SHINE A LIGHT by Katrina and the waves and with Myrian Stockley from South Africa as one of the backing singers. I did not speak a lot to her – going to Eurovision surely was not to meet up with other South Africans when I could meet so many other people from all over Europe. I anyway hated the hit she had in South Africa with her sister a few years earlier as the Stockley sisters. Finnish singer Heidi Kyro covered Love shine a light in Finnish as “Paivanvaloon” which I regard as one of the best Finnish covers ever.

At that stage very few people knew it would be Italy’s last participation before their return in 2011. Luckily the Portuguese radio station was interested in an interview with Jalisse so I did interview them – but of course today I won’t recognize them and they also won’t recognize me.

Iceland caused some controversy with their entry by Pal Oscar. He was such a nice person to chat to and he gave me two of his CD’s. I was the first South African he has met.

I nearly lost a toe in the stampede to get the Hungarian CD single when someone quite heavy stepped on my right foot and I lost several toenails.

I admired one guy from the UK who was unable to get accreditation and he bought several copies of Love shine a light and stood most of the time at the artist entry to the venue and was able to get almost every entry in a CD swap – he giving them the UK entry in exchange for their entry.

I was looking forward to meet the Dutch composer Ed Hooijmans who had written several Dutch songs I like (for non Eurovision artists). But as he has a fear of flying, he was unable to come to Dublin. The Dutch press conference was quite interesting with the 5 females from Mrs Einstein who did not understand that although the press conference room was 90% packed with male journalists, very few asked questions. One of them joked and said “Do you want to know the size of our bra’s”. A journalist sitting in front of me then whispered to his friend “We’re more interested in the size of the jock straps of the guys from Blond” (the group from Sweden). It was already quite clear in those years that the majority of journalists at Eurovision are gay.

The bookmakers had Denmark’s entry by Cool Kai as their candidate for zero points, but the singer even made fun of it and had a party with that fact as its theme. It did not end up last and with zero points but I do not like rap and so it was my bottom song for 1997.

A disaster hit me on my return to Johannesburg. I had taken tons of photo’s and handed it in at my local CNA for development. There were 10 films of 36 photo’s each. When I went to collect them, they informed me that not a single photo came out, the films were destroyed and they blamed it on the airport security. That was the end of me taking photo’s at Eurovision.

Musically 1997 brought the following great songs
United Kingdom – Love shine a light – Katrina & the waves
Cyprus – Mana moy – Hara & Andreas Konstantinou
Ireland – Mysterious woman – Marc Roberts
Poland – Ale jestem – Anna Maria Jopek
Bosnia – Goodbye – Alma Cardzic
Malta – Let me fly – Debbie Scerri

I only hated two songs from 1997
Austria – One step – Bettina Soriat
Denmark – Stemmem I mit liv – Cool Kai

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