Dom Joly: Eurovision's host likes things puny or phoney. Perfect

Share
Related Topics

I didn't watch The Eurovision Song Contest. Actually, I'm not sure I've ever seen it, but I'm certain that it's not for me. For once, I agree with the government of Iran when it berated its little neighbour, Azerbaijan, for hosting this most peculiar of musical institutions. I did catch an airing of the Engelbert Humperdinck video, and that was enough to put me right off my breakfast. If the Iranians hear it, then I'm pretty sure they will invade immediately. In the subsequent interview, The Hump was being harassed by the loathsome Jedward, but he put up with them in a remarkably patient manner. As if the lobotomy twins weren't enough, The Hump was then asked to comment on the human rights situation in Azerbaijan. He played the "I'm only a lowly singer" card: he had been asked to come and sing a song and that's what he was going to do. The interviewer didn't even bother to question Jedward on their political views. As terrible as the regime's behaviour might be, I for one would turn a blind eye if Jedward were to be detained without trial for a prolonged period of time after their performance was over.

I went to Azerbaijan for a weekend a couple of years ago. I can't remember what took me there, but it is a most peculiar place. The area around the airport in Baku is one of the ugliest places I have ever seen in my life. It's like some post-apocalyptic vision of hell with hundreds of oil derricks surrounded by pools of polluted water and clammy steam. I nearly turned round and left, but I persevered and made it to the newly revamped, rather glamorous, seafront, which had a touch of the French Riviera about it. At the turn of the 19th century, Baku had been quite the place, with people flooding in from all round the world to make their fortune in oil. The cobbled streets of the old town were now curiously empty.

My favourite place was the Museum of Miniature Books. I spent a lost hour being shown round by the enthusiastic curator, longing to ask: "Why?" Eventually I asked what exactly the point was of all these tiny little tomes that you could only read with a special magnifying glass. The curator looked at me as if I was crazy, but could not come up with an answer. I didn't press the matter any further.

I went to a huge, glitzy nightclub that was having an opening bash that weekend. As I walked in, I was rather surprised to see about four or five paparazzi outside flashing away at everyone who went in, but it was only up close that I realised they were holding antique cameras that didn't seem to have any film in them. I wondered if they were art students or lunatics, or if Azerbaijan hadn't heard about the digital revolution. Inside, the owners had paid for a version of the Sugababes to come and lip-sync to some songs that even Jedward would turn their noses up at. I quietly wept as they gyrated in Primark outfits that made them look like rather promising Eurovision contestants

Next day, very hung over, I was taken to a local market that seemed exclusively to sell pots of artificial turf. For quite some time I followed my guide as he showed me stall after stall of the stuff. This time I didn't even bother to ask why.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Chemistry Teacher

£90 - £162 per day: Randstad Education Hull: Randstad Education are looking fo...

SEN Teaching Assistant Runcorn

£50 per day: Randstad Education Cheshire: SEN Teaching Assistant EBD , Septemb...

Teaching Assistant

Negotiable: Randstad Education Group: Outstanding Teaching Assistants needed f...

Primary Teacher EYFS, KS1 and KS2

£85 - £130 per day: Randstad Education Preston: Randstad Education are urgentl...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Letter from the Assistant Editor: Domestic violence is no petty matter

Siobhan Norton
 

There’s nothing wrong with GM

Steve Connor
A new Russian revolution: Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc

A new Russian revolution

Cracks start to appear in Putin’s Kremlin power bloc
Eugene de Kock: Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

Apartheid’s sadistic killer that his country cannot forgive

The debate rages in South Africa over whether Eugene de Kock should ever be released from jail
Standing my ground: If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?

Standing my ground

If sitting is bad for your health, what happens when you stay on your feet for a whole month?
Commonwealth Games 2014: Dai Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Greene prays for chance to rebuild after injury agony

Welsh hurdler was World, European and Commonwealth champion, but then the injuries crept in
Israel-Gaza conflict: Secret report helps Israelis to hide facts

Patrick Cockburn: Secret report helps Israel to hide facts

The slickness of Israel's spokesmen is rooted in directions set down by pollster Frank Luntz
The man who dared to go on holiday

The man who dared to go on holiday

New York's mayor has taken a vacation - in a nation that has still to enforce paid leave, it caused quite a stir, reports Rupert Cornwell
Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business, from Sarah Millican to Marcus Brigstocke

Best comedians: How the professionals go about their funny business

For all those wanting to know how stand-ups keep standing, here are some of the best moments
The Guest List 2014: Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks

The Guest List 2014

Forget the Man Booker longlist, Literary Editor Katy Guest offers her alternative picks
Jokes on Hollywood: 'With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on'

Jokes on Hollywood

With comedy film audiences shrinking, it’s time to move on
It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

It's the best of British art... but not all is on display

Voted for by the British public, the artworks on Art Everywhere posters may be the only place where they can be seen
Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Critic claims 'I was the inspiration for Blanche DuBois'

Blanche Marvin reveals how Tennessee Williams used her name and an off-the-cuff remark to create an iconic character
Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Sometimes it's hard to be a literary novelist

Websites offering your ebooks for nothing is only the latest disrespect the modern writer is subjected to, says DJ Taylor
Edinburgh Fringe 2014: The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee

Edinburgh Fringe 2014

The comedy highlights, from Bridget Christie to Jack Dee
Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

Dame Jenny Abramsky: 'We have to rethink. If not, museums and parks will close'

The woman stepping down as chair of the Heritage Lottery Fund is worried