Ms Tips is sad to tell readers that, as of this year, watching Eurovision for the geopolitics got a bit harder. The contest made the decision of splitting the voting presentation into two parts. The first, and more extensive, presentation was the votes of the national juries — judging panels comprised of professional musicians and media personalities in each country, who give out half of its votes. The more popular people’s votes were still counted, but not split out in the presentation. Instead, once the national jury presentations were done, the hosts tallied up all the popular votes and awarded them in blocs to particular countries.

It made for highly suspenseful television — Australia’s act (Dami Im) was in front by a mile in the jury votes but was trumped by both Russia and Ukraine for the people’s votes, pushing us to second place. The highest scorers on the public votes were a heart-wrenching song by the Ukrainian winning act by Jamala about Russian imperialism (specifically, Joseph Stalin’s deportation of 240,000 Crimean Tatars in 1944) and Russia’s technically impressive act by pop star Sergey Lazarev, a critic of Putin who was the bookie’s favourite in the lead-up to the grand final.

The presenters of the jury votes, one from each country, were, as always, amusingly over-the-top. But our favourite presentation came from Sweden’s otherwise demure Gina Dirawi, who said:

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“As you can see, we couldn’t fit all these crazy Eurovision fans into one area, we had to build two, ’cause as we say in Sweden: if there’s room in the heart, there’s room in the butt.”

That sounds rather dirty, so Ms Tips turned to the office’s Swedish speakers (we, oddly, have two of those in the bunker) to ask what on Earth could have been meant.

In Swedish, the saying is: Finns det hjarterum, sa finns det stjerterum, which translates to: “There is heart-room, then there is butt-room.” Or, there’s always room for one more. It’s a hospitable idiom said to guests to assure them everyone present will squeeze up and make room at the table.

Last year, only a fraction of the votes cast in Australia were actually counted, after the system buckled under the pressure. It appears to have gone more smoothly this year, but it’s hard to tell: to cope with the load, the Eurovision production team, which manages the voting, decided not to send people back text messages confirming their votes had gone through.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
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