In 1980 my maternal grandparents came to stay this weekend. They didn’t live too far away so their staying over was an unusual treat. To me, a growing child, they were respected adults, distant but loving, who bought Lardy Cake and Lemon Bonbons with them when they visited.
On the evening in question my grandmother announced, much to everyone’s surprise, that she would like to watch Eurovision, so she was sent up to my parent’s bedroom to the tiny black and white television while downstairs had something (probably) much more high brow on. I was sent with her to keep her company.
My Grandmother sat up straight on the edge of the bed (no lolling about in her world) and the programme started. Now Eurovision in black and white wasn’t the most exciting programme on TV, and it was a very much more formal affair in those days, but I watched politely making childish conversation no doubt and asking questions.
Then Norway came on. The conductor bowed, the solitary singer in the middle of the stage started singing a ballad. All good so far. However, you might remember that this was their famous ‘traditional dress, own language’ year and half way through, another man walked on. At this point, as soon as he started to sing, my grandmother’s decorum and concentration on being the ‘adult’ dissolved. I’ve never seen anyone so out of control, before or since. She collapsed with laughter, tears streamed down her face and as she was physically unable to explain what was so funny to her, I giggled along at the spectacle of this, usually so upright, lady curled up in a heap on the bed making no effort to control herself or her laughter.
Throughout the song, she laughed, giggled, cried, bounced on the bed and hugged me, and the experienced changed me. I realised then that my grandmother had, at one time, been a girl just like me. I felt privileged to have witnessed the regression back her childhood as she abandoned all adult niceties and let herself laugh. Our shared experience drew us closer together and I have loved Eurovision ever since.
Of course, I tried to explain to my mother what had happened, and she laughed as if she understood, but I think you had to have been there to see the sheer joy of a girl on my grandmother’s face.
This year, I will share Eurovision with my family again, my parents have finally succumbed, although I think ‘enjoyment’ might be stretching it for them! I will raise a glass to my long gone Granny and remember that; how ever old we become, there is always still a child inside.