Simon Kelner: Breaking media taboo about our summer holidays

Kelner's view

Share

What would we have done without the Olympics? When I say "we", I don't mean we as a nation, who have discovered national pride, a sense of communal purpose and a public self-confidence through the outstanding achievements of our athletes and the successful staging of the Games.

In this case, the "we" applies to we journalists who, in the dog days of August, have had an endless supply of uplifting news stories and human interest tales and countless topics to analyse and comment upon. Day after day, events at the Games filled acres of newsprint at a time of year when, traditionally, the news agenda is less packed with goodies. But now the circus has left town and what are we left with? The dreaded silly season, that's what.

It's the time of year when news coverage is almost ritualised and when you can pretty well predict the stories that will occupy column inches.

Not much surprise, therefore, that – post-Olympics – the papers have been full of a hardy annual topic: politicians and their holidays. This begins with a discussion about whether our elected representatives should be taking a break at all.

After all, there's always a crisis of one sort or another that might need their attention, but David Cameron was refreshingly uncompromising when this idea was put to him just before he headed off to Majorca this week. "I don't call it annual leave," he said. "I call it a holiday. And I'm looking forward to having a holiday." (At least he waited until after the Olympics: he wouldn't have wanted Boris to take all the glory. On second thoughts, it may be too late for that.) "I'm a great believer that politicians are human beings and they need to take holidays," added Mr Cameron.

A more relevant question to ask and one to which many people could relate, is: does anyone properly switch off these days? Time was when you'd come back from abroad and have to spend hours catching up with what's been going on. Now, you're never more than a ringtone away from home. Look around the pool or on the beach: books are now outnumbered by smartphones. If Mr Cameron truly wants to get away from it all, he should ditch the Blackberry.

Jean Seaton, professor of media history at the University of Westminster, has been a vocal supporter of the PM's philosophy. "Politicians need to read books," she said. "And I think they need to manage their children in the back as they fight." Presumably, should the Camerons find themselves in this position, a simple threat to leave the offending child in the pub will be enough to restore the peace.

The next point on the political holiday news arc is when the staged photographs are released. Cue the fashion debate. Socks or no socks? Sandals or smart shoes? The Prime Minister just can't win.

Last year, we had "Mankle-gate", and this year Mr Cameron has been taken to task for wearing leather slip-ons. In all earnestness, one fashion editor said yesterday that this was all right for a morning coffee in the Cotswolds, but very wrong for the Balearics. Give me a break! And I mean that literally.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executive- City of London, Old Street

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Senior Marketing Executiv...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager

£40000 - £43000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: An international organisa...

Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwickshire

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Internal Recruiter -Rugby, Warwicksh...

Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketing Controller (Financial Services)

£70000 - £75000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: Marketing Manager/Marketi...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Beware of the jovial buffoon who picks fights overseas

Boyd Tonkin
 

My shameful failure to live up to the spirit of Christmas

Howard Jacobson
A Christmas without hope: Fears grow in Gaza that the conflict with Israel will soon reignite

Christmas without hope

Gaza fears grow that conflict with Israel will soon reignite
After 150 years, you can finally visit the grisliest museum in the country

The 'Black Museum'

After 150 years, you can finally visit Britain's grisliest museum
No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

No ho-ho-hos with Nick Frost's badass Santa

Doctor Who Christmas Special TV review
Chilly Christmas: Swimmers take festive dip for charity

Chilly Christmas

Swimmers dive into freezing British waters for charity
Veterans' hostel 'overwhelmed by kindness' for festive dinner

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Isis in Iraq: Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment by militants

'Jilan killed herself in the bathroom. She cut her wrists and hanged herself'

Yazidi girls killing themselves to escape rape and imprisonment
Ed Balls interview: 'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'

Ed Balls interview

'If I think about the deficit when I'm playing the piano, it all goes wrong'
He's behind you, dude!

US stars in UK panto

From David Hasselhoff to Jerry Hall
Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz: What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?

Grace Dent's Christmas Quiz

What are you – a festive curmudgeon or top of the tree?
Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Nasa planning to build cloud cities in airships above Venus

Planet’s surface is inhospitable to humans but 30 miles above it is almost perfect
Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history - clocks, rifles, frogmen’s uniforms and colonial helmets

Clocks, rifles, swords, frogmen’s uniforms

Surrounded by high-rise flats is a little house filled with Lebanon’s history
Return to Gaza: Four months on, the wounds left by Israel's bombardment have not yet healed

Four months after the bombardment, Gaza’s wounds are yet to heal

Kim Sengupta is reunited with a man whose plight mirrors the suffering of the Palestinian people
Gastric surgery: Is it really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Is gastric surgery really the answer to the UK's obesity epidemic?

Critics argue that it’s crazy to operate on healthy people just to stop them eating
Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction Part 2 - now LIVE

Homeless Veterans appeal: Christmas charity auction

Bid on original art, or trips of a lifetime to Africa or the 'Corrie' set, and help Homeless Veterans
Pantomime rings the changes to welcome autistic theatre-goers

Autism-friendly theatre

Pantomime leads the pack in quest to welcome all