Long before the Eurovision Song Contest overtook Scouting Jamborees as the campest worldwide events, the small island nation of Malta has been rabidly devoted to the contest, with the Virgin Mary being overtaken in the devotion stakes on final night.
And yet, despite the best efforts of Chiara and Ira Losco (2nd, 3rd, and 2nd), Malta has never won the dubious honour of hosting the contest, making it the musical equivalent of a lovelorn teenager (let’s call her Melita) being walked in on while about to lose her virginity to the the one that she loves. Three times.
In retrospect, these might have been blessings in disguise (much like the teenager, whose teenage relationships were all blighted by two-timing boyfriends and whose friends were all knocked up by the time they sat their A-levels), and with finances and space not being at a premium, one might be led to the conclusion that perhaps it wasn’t such a bad thing, after all.
Bollocks to that, I say.
For one thing, the contest’s 120 million viewers will actually get to know what a beautiful country Malta is, unless all the “postcards” are produced by Where’s Everybody and feature “flash mobs” in Republic Street instead.
For another, the intensified media scrutiny on the island might highlight some of the issues the country faces – such as the plight of irregular migrants – and get the European community to do something about it.
Perhaps the biggest obstacle to Malta hosting the contest is that it would be a real headache to find a venue to host it in. With a population of 410,000 people, Malta has no real use for a venue hosting up to 23,000 people, but the headache (and the finances) entailed to create a suitable venue for the contest might actually save the country millions.
How? The government is currently mulling the thought of building a tunnel between Malta and Gozo, a smaller island with 31,000 inhabitants, which may cost anything between €156 million and €1 billion. Given these kind of project’s tendency to go over-budget, we might be looking at a €1 billion bill. Which is an awful lot of money.
With the prospect of having to organise the contest looming close, the government would have another populist hobby horse to saunter around on – remember – the entire nation is Eurovision-obsessed, as opposed to the 31,000 souls (and goats) living on the sister island, and instead focus on making the Maltese Eurovision the best in living memory by spending less of the money it doesn’t have.
And much like our teenage girl, the country could be spared its misery and move on with its life.
In short, vote for Malta. Please?
UK residents can vote for the Maltese entry by calling 090 15 22 22 21. Calls cost 15p from a landline, considerably more from a mobile. (It’s 51p on Vodafone).