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The view from Tel Aviv: A letter to Daniel

by | May 4, 2019

The view from Tel Aviv: A letter to Daniel

by | May 4, 2019 | escgo at Eurovision, Eurovision | 4 comments

Hey, Daniel, it’s Shi. Where are you? I’ve been looking for you all day. Seriously, it’s not funny anymore. It’s bad enough that you just disappeared a few days before FiK and never texted me throughout the national final season, even though I thought about you every time a song was chosen, super curious to know what you think. I suppose everyone needs a break, even you. But enough is enough. Today is the first day of Eurovision 2019 in Tel Aviv and you’re supposed to be here with me, like we said we’d be!

We were Team Netta last year ever since the moment I finally watched her audition and then sent it to you. We stayed Team Netta even when everyone started second-guessing things and thought Cyprus could do it instead, and we were Team Netta on the day when you had to make that final call and you went with what we’d believed in all the way through. And as soon as she won, we started planning for this – and how, after so many years, we’d finally get to attend ESC together.

When you were here in San Francisco for a few days in October and we missed one another, we weren’t too worried about it even though it’s been forever since we last met, because we were going to spend two weeks together in Tel Aviv in May. But then the national final season started, and instead of discussing everything even more excitedly than we normally do – because it’s that ESC, the one where we’ll finally do it all together and bore everyone else with our data and stats – and you were gone. Not a peep. Every day I thought of something I needed to tell you because you, of all people, you’d get it, and then I remembered that you’re not there to answer me. Yet I kept putting that aside. It didn’t matter. I’d get to Tel Aviv and you’d be there. You just had to be, because it really wouldn’t make sense otherwise.

But I arrived here today, and I kept running into people I haven’t met in 15 years or have never even met before, and only you were missing. I swear I could hear your voice in my head when I was checking out the Cyprus rehearsal, and watching Hungary made me reflect on so many conversations we’ve had before, not just about Joci as a performer, but also about expression and storytelling through staging and performance. In any other year you would have been the one at the venue, texting me right after Montenegro to describe to me in hilarious detail the unfortunate entertainment that it was – but this year it was me at the press center, and I couldn’t tell you about any of it.

Panos and I spent the season not only discussing the songs, but trying to guess what you would have thought. And even though you were the one who essentially introduced us, you weren’t there to see us finally meet in real life. At lunchtime we joined Gavin and Rob, who I’d not only never met, but never even spoken to (bar the odd tweet here and there). But you made sure they knew a lot about me and I knew a lot about them, and it was so natural for all of us to sit together, like we were always supposed to do at this Eurovision. Just without you. And when we had a round of beer outside the press center in the Tel Aviv air, we couldn’t help but think about how much you would have loved being here, under the Mediterranean sun.

I’ve wanted to text you almost every day since December, and every time I’ve had to remember – again – that you’re gone. And still it didn’t feel real. I thought that today I’d finally feel it, I’d finally get that you’re really not here anymore. But instead, I’m still expecting you to show up and tell us that your flight was delayed, but you made it in the end, of course you did. You wouldn’t miss it for the world.

And in some ways, you were here today with us, just a little bit. We may never have got to share a desk at the press center like we planned, but you were such a big part of the Eurovision corner of my brain that for me it feels like you’re still here. Just a little bit.

I miss you.

Daniel Gould was a friend, a kindred geek spirit and the founder of Sofabet. He was 43 when he passed away last December.

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4 Comments

  1. Chris Bellis

    Daniel’s intelligent and witty assessments are very much missed.

    It’s strange that this year’s entries are the most lacklustre for a long time — I find myself wondering what Daniel would have said about them. Nothing very complimentary I would imagine.

    Respect to Daniel.

  2. Keley Ann

    I also never met Daniel but Sofabet (together with this site) always stood out as a cut above the other sites for their sheer intelligence and good writing. He is sorely missed (and no doubt always will be).

  3. Michaela Sowden

    What a very beautifully written, touching tribute. Gone way too young, but touched amalot of lives.

  4. Martin Palmer

    That is a beautiful tribute – I never met Daniel and only read his columns on Sofabet but he obviously touched the lives of so many people within Eurovision circles. I love what is written here and I hope that he would have loved it too – I suspect that there are a lot of others in that press centre feeling the same way.

    I will be in Tel Aviv for my first Eurovision as press this year – it seems as though I have missed the opportunity to meet a guy that was admired so much by everyone else.

4 Comments

  1. Chris Bellis

    Daniel’s intelligent and witty assessments are very much missed.

    It’s strange that this year’s entries are the most lacklustre for a long time — I find myself wondering what Daniel would have said about them. Nothing very complimentary I would imagine.

    Respect to Daniel.

  2. Keley Ann

    I also never met Daniel but Sofabet (together with this site) always stood out as a cut above the other sites for their sheer intelligence and good writing. He is sorely missed (and no doubt always will be).

  3. Michaela Sowden

    What a very beautifully written, touching tribute. Gone way too young, but touched amalot of lives.

  4. Martin Palmer

    That is a beautiful tribute – I never met Daniel and only read his columns on Sofabet but he obviously touched the lives of so many people within Eurovision circles. I love what is written here and I hope that he would have loved it too – I suspect that there are a lot of others in that press centre feeling the same way.

    I will be in Tel Aviv for my first Eurovision as press this year – it seems as though I have missed the opportunity to meet a guy that was admired so much by everyone else.

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