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Envisioning Europe

Last night marked the big night for Europe's greatest show-offs and over-dressed hams with Eurovision live from Belgrade. I was in Scotland when Lordi won in 2006, but Helsinki was on the verge of a riot when the hometown boys got the continental gong and brought the award back to the cheering crowds in the city square. Perhaps that explains why they went with Teräsbetoni this year.

The lads came out early with their signature lack of shirts and the volume was turned up in the bar to drown out Finns happily singing along. At the end the performance the Finnish commentators murmured that they'd see us down in the square. But the plucky Russian lad had other ideas. The bar crowd were impressed by the way he spent most of the performance squirming on the floor, only really getting up for the Owen Wilson impersonator who ice-skated around him. It was moving stuff.

Azerbaijan, who made their first appearance this year, came in at a healthy 8th. Even Latvia with the hilarious Pirates of the Sea performing Wolves of the Sea finished at 12th, undoing everything Johnny Depp has been doing to make pirates hip. But Finland was way back at 22nd. To their credit, the Finns took it in their stride: getting drunk, talking about how they were robbed and that Sweden's entrant was clearly an alien transvestite. It was heartwarming to see an event that truly brings the continent together in mutual dislike.