At last! Rejoice! It's that time of year when some of us proudly tell our friends "No, I'm not going out with you tonight, I'm staying in to watch television instead".
The night of the Eurovision Song Contest is a special one for so many people who love the camp, excessive stage performances and conveyor belt of Eurocrap that the competition has become. It's bizarre that we most enjoy watching the no-f*cks-given performances of countries like Bulgaria whilst sending earnest, po-faced performers to represent ourselves - as if we're too scared to mock ourselves (though self deprecation is surely a thoroughly British trait).
Such is our love for the annual procession of weirdness that the 'Eurovision party' is actually a thing now. As a lover of Eurovision, here are the three golden rules that I follow when watching Eurovision. You should follow them too if you want to have the correct kind of fun.
1. Watch the semi-finals
It might sound excessive to watch the semi-finals, and it probably is. All I can see when I hear Scott Mills speak is the unblinking face of a provincial town nightclub DJ. Nobody needs that on a Tuesday evening. But could you truly live with yourself if you miss two guys in space suits rapping in Montenegrin before some Fergie lookalike appears through a trap door covered in smoke singing weirdly over dubstep? Because that's what you would have missed if you only saw last year's Saturday night final.
Last year, Estonia's incredible Winny Puhh's mind-crushingly mental performance only got them third place in their own country's national vote. Some boring singer/songwriter went on to represent Estonia instead of these freaks. You're going to see a load of crap, but watching the semi-finals will be rewarding when you see the weirdos who don't get through.
2. Spirits only
When Graham Norton took over commentary duty from fellow Irishman Terry Wogan in 2009, the be-wigged God of Eurovision for the previous 38 years advised his replacement not to start drinking until the fifth song. Since we're only in our own living rooms and not being paid by the BBC, we're thankfully not expected to remain unsloppy. By the time the 20th person singing in a foreign language with a few English phrases thrown in hits the stage, you want to be dancing around your living room with an empty bottle of gin on your head and your cat too scared to come near you. To that end, disregard the large-eared one's advice and drink as soon as you can.
Make your own drinking games up before you start. Every time you laugh - drink. Every time there are fireworks - drink. Every time somebody has poor English pronunciation - drink. Every time you see a traditional instrument - drink. Every time a singer plays the drums - drink. Every time there's unnecessary dubstep - drink (last year's contest set a dangerous precedent here). Just have fun at the idea of 120million people sat around the world watching this bag of shite thinking that it's important.
However, don't bother with anything that isn't a spirit with a mixer. It's a Saturday night and you're enjoying the campest televisual treat of the year, beer won't cut it. Neither will wine - this is not a Sunday evening, and this is not Call the Midwife. Treat the event with the glamour and respect that it deserves.
3. No more than four people
"But how can it be a party if I don't invite everybody around?" I hear you collectively scream. It's very simple, the more people that are present, the less likely you are to enjoy Eurovision. It must have been 2009 when I was sat on the sofa with my girlfriend and a bottle of gin, enjoying the first hour of Eurovision when my housemates, both stand-up comedians, returned home with other stand-ups. Can you imagine the dick-swinging pissing contest that ensued as everybody attempted to one-up each other in the sarcastic quip stakes?
Another Eurovision party I attended was just a party with Eurovision on in the background. Nobody could give a shit about somebody's outfit turning into fireworks by the time everybody was watching the two remaining participants in our Centurion Challenge. Of course, we had a great night that night in Warrington, but it wasn't because of Eurovision. It was because we were all booze-hungry idiots. It was just a party, not a Eurovision party.
If you're having a Eurovision party, the only way to do it and still keep it about Eurovision is to keep the capacity to four.
The rest of the evening is up to you.