An Icelandic party with lots of good music, great performances and fantastic food – and Vladimir Putin inspecting the press centre which is getting more and more crowded and directly dangerous when Patricia Kaas is around, those are the keywords for the past two days.
After a week the press centre has now reached its capacity. More than 2000 journalists are here – and more will still come in the next couple of days. With the big four countries plus host country Russia to start their rehearsals Saturday a dramatic increase in the number of journalists has happened quite sudden and it is now getting too crowded. It has become impossible to find a quiet place to sit and work and people are using elbows to get pictures of the artists. I don’t know which capacity they had counted on the press centre to have, but I will say that they have reached that capacity with some hundreds now. I have experienced crowded press centres before, but this appears worse as there is one only working area – and in there you’ll only find a few laptop places. Most places are PC’s lined up very close to each other and with no space for having your own computer. With the many people around and the rehearsals shown on large TV screens all over the room this working area is not good for working anymore. In the beginning I was quite comfortable in beanbags and sofa’s located near the entrance of the room, but as these are always occupied now and if you manage to find a spare seat in a sofa various people will be joining and having conversations in various languages. I cannot work under such circumstances and most of my work at the computer will have to be done either late evening (Read after midnight!) or very early morning. No, this is no longer good working conditions for me. And to make it even worse then such a high number of people here plus a non working air-condition and a good weather make most of the press centre extremely warm. In particular in the working area where the many PC’s always are turned on. It is not just us smokers who goes outside quite frequently.
Those who have read the other chapters in this diary will know that I have been complaining a bit about the food here. Well, Friday evening was a nice exception. We were invited to a reception at the Icelandic embassy. Aside from the music and various performances from Yohanna, as well as her well known and experienced backing singers, they offered a fantastic buffet of Icelandic seafood mixed with some other dishes. It simply was delicious. The drinks were all mixed with either Icelandic or Russian vodka! The number of Icelandic journalists here in Moscow is very limited and the number of Danes being there was quite high. If it hadn’t been for the Icelandic singers (although Yohanna is born in Denmark and Hera Björk lives there and took part in this year’s Danish final) some might have thought we were at a Danish party.
The biggest headline for Saturday was Russian Prime minister Vladimir Putin inspecting the press centre in the afternoon. Nothing was announced in advance although they had changed the schedule a bit in order to make sure that most people wouldn’t be in the way of his visit. They made up excuses to get people away. It mainly was about accidently being at the right place at the right time if you wanted to catch a glimpse of him in the middle of his large crew of security men. I had no idea that this would happen even though I did notice two dogs sniffing around for bombs in the press centre this morning when I arrived, but as they change security level constantly during this Contest I honestly thought that this was the latest of new things they introduced in order to appear tough and macho man kind- a- like. I was actually sitting in the press conference hall waiting for the Hungarian press conference to start. Minutes before it would start I changed my mind about attending that and decided to walk back to the working area. In the hall I however was met with people gathering around a line of security people creating a walking path. Something was clearly about to happen and though I had no idea who was coming I decided to find a position and shoot a video anyway just in case it was some big name. Wise choice I must say and good that I decided not to stay for the Hungarian press conference.
I did go to the French press conference although afterwards I wished I hadn’t. It turned out to be a simple nightmare where photographers would use all tricks in order to get the best positions for taking pictures – and this, to my chock, included knocking someone else out to get his spot! I remember how it was with tAtU in 2003, but this went beyond anything I have seen before. Afterwards I was totally in chock and needed to sit down a quiet place and relax with a glass of water to come to my senses. I don’t think I will be going to the next French press conference and will need to seriously consider what I do when Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber arrives. One thing is photographers, another thing is when these get mixed with autograph hunting fans. They do mention that first media photographers, then regular fans.
For years I have been screaming for these bigger well known established artists to take in the Eurovision Song Contest, but if it means that press conferences will turn into boxing matches then I can do without those names! I am hoping that this was a onetime only accident that won’t happen again as this is not the way we want the Eurovision Song Contest to develop. In relation to onetime only incidents then I can add that the problem I reported the other day with the Swedish press conference only being 5 minutes long ended up with a solution the Swedish delegation were satisfied with. After reading my diary here EBU’s Manager Communications and Public Relations Sietse Bakker told me that the Swedish delegation was offered a new press conference in the lunch break. This didn’t suit them due to other obligations and they were therefore as compensation offered to be mentioned in the daily news letter to accreditated press that these could contact the Swedish delegation to arrange personal interviews. The Swedes accepted this and the unfortunately incident have now been solved with a satisfying result.