Eurovision - promoter of unity, promoter of discord
It's no secret that Eurovision voting patterns say as much about international relations as they do about the quality of the songs.
Although occasionally - as with the UK's dire 2004 entry's failure to pick up any points at all - politics is blamed when it's actually the fault of the music, there are certain definite patterns: former Soviet states have a tendency to vote for Russia; former Yugoslav states vote for their neighbours, as do the Scandinavians.
When these voting patterns are not followed, based as they are upon the votes of the people of those nations, they can often reveal much about the shifting attitudes of European to their neighbours. Although sometimes - as when Portugal unusually failed to vote for its neighbour Spain on Saturday - they can just indicate that the music's utter rubbish.
This year, however, some have pointed fingers at the song contest itself for inspiring a real-world political crisis, rather than acting as the focus for the European public's political attitudes.
Serbia & Montenegro was the only former Yugoslav republic not to make it through to the finals, and the free national publicity they can provide. The reason? The inability of the Serbs and Montenegrins to agree on a representative.
After a Montenegrin boy band won the vote, the Serbs threw a strop - hurling bottles at the poor saps and forcing them to flee for their lives from the stage (a tactic we should have used on this year's God-awful British entry) - and demanded a new contest. The Montenegrins refused - and after a heated spat the country was forced to withdraw from the competition in an ongoing argumentative stalemate.
Yesterday, the day after the song contest itself, there was a referendum on Montenegrin secession - and on a record turnout of over 86%, it seems that Europe will now have a new country on its hands.
Yet another new country from the wreckage of the former Yugoslavia after its bloody and vicious civil war.
Yet another new country from the former Yugoslavia which has been born with some fairly serious issues with its next-door neighbours and erstwhile fellow countrymen.
Now who was that idiot who blathered on about how "if music be the food of love, play on"? Then again, if we're unlucky and this seccession provokes a fresh outbreak of the kind of violence we saw in Yugoslavia during the 1990s, the full quote could prove prescient:
If music be the food of love, play on;The appetite for unity beween Serbia and Montenegro, it would seem, has already died - and music appears to have been one of the crucial catalysts in its sickening.
Give me excess of it, that, surfeiting,
The appetite may sicken, and so die.