Monday, February 03, 2014
12 Months, 12 Books: "Nul Points" - Tim Moore
Now I'm not one for new year resolutions - they don't work, admit it - but at the beginning of this year I set myself a goal of reading a book every month and then reviewing it at the end of the month on this blog. The first book of the year is actually an old favourite, which I received as one of my Christmas presents in 2006, if I remember correctly. As we're heading into national finals season, there's no better time than to revisit "Nul Points" by Tim Moore.
Moore is the author of several highly entertaining travel books - the most familiar of these for me was "French Revolutions", a very funny book about the Tour de France, which was published back in 2001.
Nul Points is a grammatically incorrect but instantly recognisable phrase which describes all those Eurovision entries over the years which never received a single point. In these days of the mega-contest it's virtually impossible for a song to receive no points, but back in the pre-semi final days of a smaller contest, it was a regular occurrence. Regular enough for Tim Moore to get a book out of it.
The book begins with the ultimate nul-pointer, the legend himself, Jahn Teigen who secured his place in Eurovision history in 1978 and stars on the book's cover in cartoon form. As Tim makes his way round the world to track down numerous nul-pointers, it's a fascinating contrast between the glorious failures such as the triumphant Jahn whose career was boosted by glorious defeat, and the bitterness and regret of subsequent Norwegian nul-pointer Finn Kalvik; or the dark feelings of Portugal's finger-clickingly unfortunate Celia Lawson who claimed: "so many bad things happen to me - and yes, they all began with Eurovision". But for every Finn or Celia there's a Tor Endresen or a Kojo who enjoyed the ride and laugh off the experience.
And we couldn't go without mentioning the UK's very own nul-pointers Jemini who by the time of Tim Moore's interview existed somewhere between pride, denial, embarrassment and defiance :)
It's a fascinating read, and you don't need to be a Eurovision expert to appreciate the book. The best thing about it is that Tim Moore skips the default-setting derision of most British journalists for something a lot more respectful; don't expect a superfan-book either, but just an enjoyable read with lots of genuine empathy and affection for all those guys and girls who've propped up the scoreboard over the years.