This newspaper apologises to readers for the late arrival of the silly season, postponed by war and plague.
The summer news cycle – mid-July to the end of August – is often not so joyously inconsequential as we claim. But 2014, in particular, could do with a little light relief.
Bring us a Jesus in toast; an image of Victor Meldrew spotted in space; a great white shark off Cornwall that turns out to have been photographed by Cape Town; an EU ban on busty barmaids; a Daily Express campaign against having to turn back the clocks.
With Parliament in recess, schools shut and the courts quieter, a few editors lower the bar. Spurious science triumphs. Farce has its day: a personal favourite is the crystal ball that started a fire by refracting sunlight onto curtains, an incident which presumably had serious professional repercussions for the surprised psychic.
Pity, meanwhile, the MP or member of the public caught displaying an undesirable human trait. (Remember cat bin lady?)
The silly season acme, of course, is the animal saga. Amorous boar, para-sailing donkeys... SQUIRRELS ON CRACK – a terrible situation monitored by the South London Press, where industrious rodents were reported to be digging up drug dealers’ buried stash.
Heroism or disability elevate a creature to global renown. Who among us can forget The Times’s moving front page photo tribute to “Benson, Britain’s best-loved carp, 1984-2009”? Or Yvonne the fugitive cow in Bavaria, who evaded capture by helicopter and armed search parties for weeks, prompting a gleefully hysterical global media pursuit and €10,000 reward offered by the German tabloid Bild.
The silly season article concludes with a sentence reassuring the reader that the above prose can be discounted without loss of sleep.
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