After Olympics, Britain’s “silly season” takes over

PTI London | Updated on August 13, 2012

Having declared the London Olympics a success after last night’s glittering ceremony, Britain’s political elite today promptly took off for their annual holiday, marking the beginning of the ‘silly season’ that extends from August until early September.

Considered a minor British institution, the ‘silly season’ is the time when most of Britain seemingly comes to a halt.

Most top newsmakers, politicians, bureaucrats and journalists, are on holiday, a period when not much happens and when inconsequential, funny and quirky stories are passed off as news in the British media.

But as they packed bags and took off, many must hope that unlike last year, this year their holiday is not rudely interrupted again.

In August 2011, the ‘silly season’ had proved too short-lived as riots broke out across England, forcing the elite to rush back to London.

During the ‘silly season’, hard-pressed journalists scour for funny stories to fill pages with, egg fried on hot pavement, cow falling from cliff-top into caravan, no one appearing to be running the country, among others.

According to the Brewer’s Dictionary of Phrase and Fable, the ‘silly season’ is defined as “the part of the year when Parliament and the Law Courts are not sitting (about August and September)”.

As news about Olympics began to taper off, the first of such ‘silly season’ stories appeared today, readers were told that Harry and Amelia were the most popular first names given to babies born in England and Wales in 2011.

Even if you were not interested, you will now know that the two names replaced the previous year’s most popular names of Oliver and Olivia.

Both Prime Minister David Cameron and his deputy Nick Clegg reportedly left for Spain this morning, leaving Foreign Secretary William Hague in charge in London.

Labour Leader Ed Miliband’s holiday destination is reported to be Greece.

Holidays are important for politicians, David Cameron told newspersons yesterday, “I am a great believer that politicians are human beings and they need to have holidays. I don’t call it annual leave, I call it a holiday and I am looking forward to having a holiday. If you don’t think politicians ought to have holidays I think you need to have a serious think”.

Last August, holidays of top politicians were rudely disrupted as they watched horrified the images of rioting and looting across London. Young rioters stepped into the vacuum in which no one seemed to be in charge.

As newspaper circulation dips during the ‘silly season’, British tabloids that usually depend on the ‘blood and breasts’ framework to sell copies, will soon take to innovative stories to fill pages.

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Published on August 13, 2012
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