Petula ClarkUnlike many of the stately old homos of my generation, I never quite developed a taste for the torch-song trilogy of Garland, Minnelli or Bassey. And I can take or leave the new old girls on the block – the fallen Madonna, nip and tuck Cher or crazy Diana (Ross not Spencer). But, my spot is very soft for a classy dame from Surrey, a woman who first hit the streets in the year war broke out. Then, she was performing with an orchestra in the entrance hall of a Kingston-upon-Thames department store for a tin of toffee and a gold wristwatch. She was seven. Seventy four years on, she is still going strong and is currently on national tour. I am, of course, referring to the iridescent and timeless Petula Clark – child protégé, forces favourite, Hollywood starlet, Sixties pop princess, chanteuse Française and West End superstar.

Autumn was fashionably late this year but made quite an entrance when it did eventually arrive. We were battered by brolly-snapping weather as we wandered the windy streets of Ipswich in search of the Regent Theatre, East Anglia’s largest.  We had a stiff double at the bar while we dried off. The drench did nothing to dampen our spirits and as we took our third row seats in the auditorium, the crowd buzzed with anticipation. Miss Clark has been treading the boards for a very long time and this was no better illustrated than by the giddy silver-haired fans who surrounded us. Every care home in Suffolk must have been drained that night. I swear I spotted a St John’s Ambulance crew on standby just in case the excitement got too much; mercifully, we were spared a medical emergency. Still, our Pet raised the blood pressure with a superb performance, giving those X Factor wannabees, a fraction of her age and a fraction of her talent a marathon for their money. From Gershwin to Lennon via Elvis and Gharls Barkley, Miss Clark stepped through her set with style, humour and remarkable agility. Naturally, ‘Downtown’ got the biggest cheer but, for me, it was ‘I Couldn’t Live Without Your Love’ that got me all dewy-eyed. You see, I’d chosen it as the soundtrack to the champagne reception at our Civil Partnership (“Ah,” I hear to cry in unison).

Come the finale of the two-hour gig, the wrinkly congregation got to their feet for the much-deserved standing ovation (though, in truth, it was more of a slow stagger than a youthful leap). Even a wheelchair-bound man in a turban found his legs, Twas a miracle from the lady who famously played Maria Von Trapp’s favourite singing nun. Hallelujah, sister.

Get your hankies ready…

Eurovision, The Verdict

The greatest music show on Earth

As class act Pet Clark famously warbled:

The Show is over now

My song is dying

This is the end, my friend

There isn’t anymore

The greatest music show on earth has drawn to a close. The super trouper has been dimmed, the glitter ball has been packed away and the legions of obscure half-baked camp crooners have boarded the buses bound for their Carpathian villages. Their five minutes of fame is up. The Eurovision Song Contest rebuilt war-torn Europe sequin by sequin and our continent is a more colourful place because of it.

Blue are blue but they shouldn’t be. We Brits are used to vengeful Eurovision voting by our neighbours. We’re destined never to win but to always pick up the tab. It’s the cross that we bear. We could offer up a singing goat for all the difference it would make. We should be consoled by the utter dominance of our once obscure and marginal Germanic tongue. It’s a shame though, that the ethnic tint has been squeezed out of the competition by insipid Euro-pop sung in la la la Ingelish.

Predictably the Balkan conspirators, Baltic cartel and ex-Soviet mafia played their aces. So there we have have it. The travelling circus is off to Baku in Azerbaijan in 2012. At least with all their oil money they can afford to pay for it.

Watch the winning entry on You Tube. It’s a sweet song and a little bit Glee.