(Or, the 2012 Eurovision story written by Fifi and gifted to me on my birthday this year)
Not sure what this is? You should probably view the first story in the series, Eurovision 1: So Lucky.
Min’s non-birthday present 2012
Inspired by Russia – Buranovskiye Babushki – Party For Everybody
Bura: she of the imposing height and winsome smile.
Nov: she of the diminutive stature and blue headscarf.
Ski: she of the faraway gaze and glittering coin-sash.
Ye: she of the stern brows and warbling alto.
Babu: she of the unmoving mouth and expression that said ‘What am I doing on this stage? Who are these people?’
Shki: she of the wizened features and mad dancing skillz.
Together, they were Buranovskiye Babushki. And they were on a mission.
Their orders had been clear: take down Eurovision.
The Organisation was a subtle machine; it worked away beneath the surface of everyday life, pulling strings to an extent not even its most senior members fully comprehended. It had agents installed in every corner of the world, changing that world through nudges and murmurs and the occasional shove.
Who controlled the British crown? Who kept the metric system down? It did. Who kept Atlantis off the maps? Who kept the martians under wraps? It did. Who held back the electric car? Who made Steve Gutenberg a star? It did. Who robbed cavefish of their sight? Who rigged every Oscar night? It did. It did. The Organisation was a powerful beast.
…Oh, er, and a subtle machine. Yes. So mighty that it mixed metaphors, recklessly and unrepentantly.
Buranovskiye Babushki was one of The Organisation’s deadlier weapons and better-kept secrets, a sleeper cell kept in reserve for the direst of missions. Wars, plagues, and famines were kept for The Organisation’s small fry—rookies who needed a little practice under their belts before they could be trusted with Truly Evil Matters (rigging queues at conventions, manufacturing Go Cards, compiling Fox’s annual list of shows to cancel, fostering relations with The Evil League of Ibis, and so forth).
Bura was the leader of Buranovskiye Babushki. She lived in the high altitudes of Tzictzactzoe Mountains, a quiet existence: she spent her days with one eye on grandchildren frolicking among the goats and the other eye on the foreign stockmarkets she absentmindedly manipulated through the Stocks app on her phone. The Organisation was generally content to let her pursue evil deeds at her leisure, so she always knew great changes were afoot when they called on her.
In olden times, The Organisation had invoked her assistance through a complicated system of encrypted messages borne on the talons of trained eagles—eagles with the sad gold of wisdom gleaming in their ancient eyes. These days, it sent texts. So it was that a telltale chime rang out one day as Bura perched on a peak, undermining Facebook shares. She peered at the text, and knew that destiny had come calling once again.
Hey Bura, hows it goin? Eurovision 2 influential, need u 2 take it down. Lol kthx.
Bura pondered this awhile, peering across the mighty mountains of Tzictzactzoe. Then she texted back.
Lol whut? More info plz.
Bura had barely returned to the world of financial crime before her mission brief came through; clearly this was of high priority.
Eurovisen inspirin lots of ppl, got foreign influence, u no, the usual. Possible world dom? Ibii gettin twitchy. H8ers gonna h8, i no, but has 2 go. BB can infiltrate as singin group, bring it down from inside. U on it?
Bura stared at this, appalled.
Wtf, Org. U no none of us can sing, rite?
The reply spoke volumes.
Duh, Bura, it’s Eurovision. No1 will notice.
Even for an evil organisation controlling civilisation from the shadows, this seemed a rather heartless assessment. Bura, for one, had been very fond of Moldova’s deep and nuanced performance the previous year. But that was the downside of evil, she supposed: it made you too cool to appreciate kitsch. She sighed.
Yeah, ok. Explosions fine?
Thanks, Bura!! <3 Yeah, go nuts. No fatalities, tho. Ibii r talking bout bloodless takeover these days. (Rofl as if!) Will totes treat u 2 frogurt at next ECoE.1
Her duty was clear. It was time to assemble Buranovskiye Babushki.
Bura had planned many a mission in her time. She had cased joints and acquired targets; she had surveyed and spied; she had broken and entered. But never had she encountered any task so frustrating, so flummoxing, so inclined to self-destruct, as choreographing the three-minute performance of a six-person group.
‘For the last time, Babu, the words are “Ashizucklxjsfkzj fkzsfdjnzfjk fzjaskszu szzytzaoouoooo”! How hard is that? And Ski, if I have to tell you one more time to shuffle behind Nov once the chorus starts—!’
A chime interrupted Bura’s hair-clutching tirade. Distractedly she pulled out her phone. Was it already time to instigate the fall of toilet paper? She could have sworn that wasn’t until Tuesday.
Hey Bura, act comin along ok? Heard the choreo’s tricky lol!
She scowled at the screen.
F u, Org. That better b damn good frogurt.
The applause swelled, a pattering crescendo on which rose the first notes of their siren song. Bura gathered her comrades to her, clutching at their red-garbed arms with a commanding force that belied the apparent sweetness of the gesture. ‘Remember your cues,’ she hissed at them, and they began to sing.
Oh, how the people loved them. ‘Look at the dancing Russian grannies!’ they cried, squealing into their hands as the Eurovision frenzy lifted their spirits into a fervour. ‘How sweet! They must have dreamed their whole lives of making it to this moment. Oh, who cares if they aren’t the most brilliant singers? Just look at them: they’re so happy to be up there.’
People, Bura reflected, were sentimental fools.
She hadn’t expected such warmth from the crowd; none of them had. Ye threw her a bewildered look as they shuffled past one another, and broke off warbling to hiss, ‘The hell, Bura? Are they cheering us?’
‘There are like two hundred people out there waving their lighters and phones,’ muttered Shki, hopping by. ‘What. The. Fuck.’
‘I think a girl just fainted, weeping for joy,’ Nov said out of the corner of her mouth, waving her frail arms with disarming2 enthusiasm.
Bura shared their bemusement, but had little attention to spare for the fact that she was apparently a musical sensation. The signal was coming up, and too much depended on the next section of their song.
‘BOOM BOOM!’ sang Buranovskiye Babushki, and waited.
They bobbed in places, absently singing ‘PARTY FOR EVERYBODY’ as they exchanged anxious glances. That had been the signal, hadn’t it? The third ‘BOOM BOOM’? The flares planted at key access points throughout the building should have gone off, startling the crowd into a stampede that would trample the fancy décor of the Eurovision stadium and therefore ruin Eurovision, which was nothing without its sparkliness. But…no boom boom appeared to be forthcoming.
Buranovskiye Babushki finished their song amid a cacophony of cheers, and clutched each other in a group hug that made at least two more audience members swoon from inspired joy.
‘What the hell?’ hissed Ski. ‘What went wrong? Did—’ she broke off with a gasp. ‘Who is that?’
The six women gazed at the ceiling high above, apparently training grateful gazes on the heavens—but in fact watching a lone figure abseil away among the rafters, clutching flares under his arm.
‘It’s some Guy from the Crowd!’ groaned Nov. ‘Wtf!’
‘I will not let your misguided actions sully the pure and shining spirit of this uniting occasion!’ came a faint yet somehow penetrating voice, floating over the oblivious crowd. ‘Use your gift to help, not to hinder!’ And he was gone.
‘What. The. Fuck,’ observed Shki.
Bura was lost in contemplation, wondering whether she was still entitled to that free frogurt, when the judges began to announce the results. Distracted by thoughts of vanilla versus hazelnut, she paid no heed to the tallies until she noticed that her comrades’ jaws were perilously close to the ground.
‘What? What is it?’
‘We…we came second,’ Nov told her with undisguised awe.
‘The judges just announced the winners. We won second place in the final round of Eurovision 2012.’ Shki uttered a bark of hysterical laughter.
Bura gawped, but her razor-sharp mind was already in action. First, it established that hazelnut was definitely the better option. Secondly, it saw an opportunity…
Perhaps there was more than one way to take down Eurovision from the inside. Why ruin a perfectly good influential institution, when you could control it instead?
And, failing that…
‘Ladies,’ drawled Bura, ‘what do you say to a career in the music industry? Apparently we’re not half bad.’