When I lost my job, I suddenly couldn't afford to buy whatever I wanted. I then went to New Zealand and, while the New Zealand music scene is very strong and vibrant, I was not able to physically carry very many CDs with me, so I just got out of the habit of buying new stuff. Now, I don't regret this at all. I have thousands of CDs to choose from and I come across interesting things occasionally, but there just isn't the fervour any more. When I travel to new countries I still look for new things that I have never heard before. Recently I have found some great Swiss and German music, old and new, and I love what is going on in Europe at the moment. It seems to me that the best rock and pop music these days comes from Europe.
Given that I have a passion for music, it may be a bit of a surprise that I also enjoy the Eurovision Song contest. It is the ultimate kitsch gathering and always throws up some interesting surprises. When it comes to the voting I find the regional nature of the vote giving very tiresome (where nations insist on voting for their neighbours and former allys) but it is also very natural and understandable.
Last night I watched this ritual with an unusual fascination. One song, the entry from Finland, stood out as being so different and untypical that it transcended all those regional and nationalistic barriers and just won through handsomely. I was delighted and this was a worthy winner. Well done Finland, you had the guts to put something different forward to represent you and it was seen as a great step forward by the rest of Europe.