So with the end of August comes the end of summer. September dispenses quickly with the legions of lobster red chests that populate British beaches during June, July and August; the sticky ice cream handprints that cover car windows during those warmer months; and the long lazy evenings in pub beer gardens start to feel like a distant dream.
And traditionally, as far as the newspapers are concerned, the end of summer also marks the end of “Silly Season”.
Silly Season is that time when Parliament is in recess, the schools are off, and many public bodies are reduced to skeleton staffs by a mass exodus of people on annual leave. This all gives rise to an unusually high level of weird and wacky stories being given much greater prominence than at any other time of the year as journalists keep trying to fill those column inches.
But as the internet has transformed the face of news and made it a far more instant and globally connected industry, it feels like we’ve seen less of the Silly Season stories than we used to. With Tweets, images, and videos pouring out from all four corners of the earth 24 hours a day, and huge shifts in the global political landscape this summer in particular – Syria and Egypt the driving forces behind this – there’s been less of the sublime and ridiculous.
But, that doesn’t mean Silly Season is dead altogether. And I would hope not, because summer would be a poorer place each year without it.
So here, in celebration and to cheer you up on this Autumnal Tuesday, are my top five picks of SS13…
1. SS13 got off to a flying start this year, with the discovery of a vortex to another dimension in Brighton. Oh, and it has a large snake coming out of it. Sure. Astonishingly, Brighton and Hove City Council chose not to investigate the report.
2. A personal favourite from my former stomping ground in Wales – New-pot in Bloom. That’s right, some cheeky blighters planted up some of the lovely flower pots in Newport City Centre with a load of marijuana plants. Even better was the follow-up with the prankster responsible – who said he’d got so much grief off his other half for the stunt it hadn’t been worth it.
3. Now to pandas. The prospect of the first giant panda cub to be born in the UK is pretty cool, and will be the culmination of years of work for the dedicated staff at Edinburgh Zoo. But the media reaction to the news that female panda Tian Tian might* (*or might not) be pregnant, is more than worthy of a spot in the best of this year’s Silly Season. Cries of “News Team, assemble!” could be heard across the nation’s newsrooms, with tens of news anchors deployed to stand outside the panda enclosure to witness… precisely nothing. We’re still waiting. Comparisons to Anchorman flooded in, and were spot on. Expect the hysteria to return when Tian Tian finally shows signs of going into labour. Or even when she doesn’t.
4. A hat tip to the Silly Season watchers at the Media Blog for pointing out this beauty – “Are big cat tracker’s socks the oldest in Britain?”. The number of things that are ridiculous about this article are too many to name. That it warranted a story at all is amazing. The fact that you’re actually none-the-wiser about whether Frank Tunbridge’s 25-year-old socks are the oldest in Gloucestershire is also a little frustrating. And that’s before we get to the come-on at the end: “Do you have an older item of clothing?”. So odd. And so brilliant.
5. And last but by no means least, a late entry from the BBC over the weekend – double yellow lines have appeared between a parking bay and taxi rank in Westminster, that are just 9 inches long. Glorious.
What have been your favourite Silly Season stories this summer?
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