Thom Gibbs & Harriet Barber
1 APRIL 2020 • 11:30 AM
The list of beloved cultural institutions this virus has seen off is appalling. Glastonbury, all West End productions, Fast and Furious 9, it’s enough to make you pick up a worthy book for the first time in a decade.
But there’s one hardy entity which is here to save us from pretending we understand Joyce. Give it up for the Eurovision Song Contest.
Eurovision should be a relic. It’s highly kitsch, frequently gauche and an example of the continent working together in a post-borders spirit of friendship. All things to have fallen severely out of fashion in recent years.
But the show must go on, albeit in an online audience-free format. After postponing the traditional competition two weeks ago its organisers have now announced that there will be a new show airing on the original date for the final, Saturday 16 May.
Europe Shine A Light, bringing to mind one of our nation’s finest moments in the competition…
…will bring together all 41 (forty one! I challenge you to name more than 35 European countries) songs that were entered.
They’ll be performed in remote locations, with no competitive element, and the whole thing is optimistically expected to last around two hours.
Let’s hope the traditional spirit of Eurovision remains. We want curious performance choices, mostly dreadful music but the odd legitimately excellent banger, like this year’s entry from Iceland:
Perhaps something we can do without this time is laggy video communication over long distances. There’s quite enough of that currently in our lives.
Elsewhere, people are heeding the sounds of creaking from their larders and beginning to realise there’s only so much you can stockpile, so rationing is coming to an end in several supermarkets
An app will tell you if you come into contact with someone who has tested positive for the virus. If that sounds like a dystopian future where government tracking of the populance is not only wielded, but actively welcomed by the people, well, welcome to April 2020.
Perhaps best of all, the current climate has dimmed the powers of one of the year’s most tedious days. It’s gone midday and I’m yet to see a laboured April Fools gag from a corporation.
Here’s Harriet with the rest of today’s good news.
• NHS Nightingale has officially opened at the Excel centre in East London. The 4,000-bed hospital, which was built with the assistance of the Army, will help reduce pressure on existing services amid the coronavirus pandemic.
• Social distancing is working. New research by the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine has estimated that before the lockdown was introduced in the UK one positive person would infect 2.6 other people – now they infect 0.62.
• The public and businesses have donated over £100,000 in just a few hours to a Donate-A-Ride scheme, which offers free trips to and from hospital to London’s frontline NHS workers.
• Japan’s Fujifilm has started clinical trials to test the effectiveness of its anti-flu drug Avigan in treating patients with coronavirus, after reports of promising results in China. Trials in China have suggested Avigan could play a role in shortening the recovery time for patients infected with coronavirus.
• A man with a 3D-printing hobby has created a production line for protective masks. Sid Lovatt from North Yorkshire has been creating masks and visors after receiving requests from care homes, GP surgeries and his local hospital ward.
• Thailand is giving its public free mobile data for those in isolation to help people work from home and families stay connected.
• Boots UK is going to donate over 200,000 toiletries to vulnerable people and NHS workers to use between busy shifts. The donations will include hand cream, shower gel and toothpaste.
• By Harriet Barber
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