Me, Sweden and spontaneous decisions

Tomorrow is Junior Eurovision.  Junior Eurovision is a very daft concept to start up, but is a successful formula for many.  Sadly, this is almost exclusively Eastern Europe (barring bizarrely Belgium and the Netherlands who do give it a commercial chance and the songs do chart there), and without the financial backing of the big countries Eurovision fans have predicted it would die of death.

Since its inception it is a format that is constantly changing.  Originally the age range was 8 to 15, but 8 was deemed too young so this changed to 10. I am delighted to see role model Eurovision fan Sieste Bakker taking the helm in running the contest and I would love to meet him someday.  It should be said that although many people still question kids entering the contest and how they cope emotionally, they seem to cope just fine.  The documentary ‘Sounds Like Teen Spirit’ is all about a Junior Eurovision and it reminded me that they are already performing kids, and the Eurovision stage is big and exciting but still overall nothing different to their life anyway.  The difference does come from the pride these children have in representing their countries.  For many in Eastern Europe they are the first generation to have the chance to do so and this is important in ways our ancient civilisations seem to forget sometimes.

We have Armenian children in my class at school.  They know they are hosting Junior Eurovision tomorrow, and are very proud of this, they have heard the songs and this is their biggest day in the TV calendar since they lost to the Irish at football.  The poor Armenian girl will feel the pressure of a nation, but will be proud of that, it’s all positive.  No media will take these kids and make them into scapegoats.

Musically it’s not great this year, but there is some talent that emerges (and no, I’m not just talking about Molly Sanden and that type of talent) – lifting the songwriting age limit from 16 has arguably made the kids puppets of an adult’s imagination, however it also gets the kids to the goals they need to get to in having a great track to perform.  Even the best songwriters need help in making a track applicable to that big stage and TV audience environment.  Some of the songs we’ve seen not only make stars of the kids that carry them for many years, but are credible pieces of pop music.

I’m looking forward to watching it, and Belarus deserves to win it once more I feel.

However, I write this blog for a cultural reason.  I have attempted to organise a Junior Eurovision party for tomorrow, but I only had the idea on Tuesday and I will be lucky to get 5 (arguably lucky to get 1!)of the many more people I invited.  In Sweden, as I already knew, people plan their lives well in advance.

I was very aware of this when I came up with the idea, but it does provide further evidence of the structures Swedes need to have set in place rigidly for their social lives.  Very little of this impromptu trip to the pub, which is a bit disappointing.  I would like for the future to have Melodifestivalklubben hosting a party for this event – a children’s party – and actually use it to get children along as well – and once more I find it frustrating how insular looking membership organisations can be – rather than embracing the world around them too much focus is on keeping their own members together at the expense of others.

I never thought of myself as sponteanous, and I am sure I never will be.  But I am getting better at it I think, I do make more decisions now for myself than I did before.  However, I’m still not active all the time, and things pass me by and I choose not to make awkward decisions sometimes.  Like how I choose now not to bother getting my hair cut here in Sweden (although cost may be one barrier to that too!).  Swedish culture has a reputation for everybody knowing their place, and certainly the highly-structured way one must organise social activity shows that.  However, I wouldn’t say they were anywhere near as good as organisation as we were in the UK.  Indeed, my first SFI Swedish lesson was Thursday, and it was a farce in terms of its structure and I would be so embarrassed and apologetic if I was teaching with that sense of disbelief.  At least she did recognise that.

So anyway, a plea from me.  If you are in the Stockholm area tomorrow night, please watch some little kids with me and then vote for your favourite.

Yes, that was intentionally written to sound wrong.  Junior Eurovision is an intentionally right thing, but after the starvation of the summer, I need youthful excitement to kick-start the season.

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