Sunday, 30 August 2009

It's silly season

EVER heard the phrase “silly season”? Journalists use it, but never really explain what it means. Well, in yet another world exclusive for the Daily Sport, here’s the silly season laid bare. Basically, for most of the year, reporters depend on politicians to make enough news to fill the pages of their newspapers. They may slag MPs off much of the time, but the poor dears are lost when Parliament isn’t sitting. That’s why, over the summer, you’ll find so many prominent stories which wouldn’t even make the news the rest of the year. Some of them are simply trivial, others are plain silly. Hey presto! Welcome to the silly season. A good example is the coverage which the small Spanish town of Bunol got on Wednesday. They had a festival called La Tomatina, where they all throw tomatoes at each other! Nearly 140 tons were thrown during the “veg out”. There were no winners—but a lot of red faces and rivers of juice. Now, I ask you, would this be news at other times of the year? Of course not! But, when the politicians are away from Parliament, the media gets desperate and reports stories like this. Am I guilty of the same desperation? Not a bit of it! The reason I’m telling you about it is because I have an idea. We could do this in London’s Parliament Square. All the politicians could throw tomatoes at journalists on the first day of the new Parliamentary session. That would be very good indeed for Commons morale. And, to give it a political dimension, Nicole Ford could oversee proceedings, dressed only in fruit and veg. This could cause the usual outrage among conservative elements, but it would massively big-up healthy eating. Department of Health take note.
I NOTICE the British Empire has just seen a bit of a comeback. Although the days of running around in funny hats, imposing oppressive laws and beating up “the natives” have passed, the UK still has a few colonies scattered about. But it’s not cool to call them colonies any more. So instead they’re known as “overseas territories” which obviously fools everyone. Most are little islands in the Atlantic and the Caribbean. They mainly rule themselves on a day-to-day basis. Occasionally the UK government checks up on them, plays the national anthem, hoists up the Union Flag and then wanders off again. But the other week the government spotted a bit of foul play on the Turks and Caicos Islands, a UK colony –– I mean overseas territory –– in the Caribbean. They realised that sneaky local politicians had been flogging off crown lands to line their own pockets. So they shut down the local assembly and will be exercising “direct rule” there until 2012. It’s a risky business. Kicking out elected politicians and ruling a country from 4,000 miles away isn’t terribly easy. Then again, things could be much more serious –– if the government decides to impose direct rule on Britain’s former colonies as well they’ll be invading America next!
PIRATES could soon be in power in the UK! But they’re not the swashbuckling Johnny Depp-type –– or even our uzi-wielding chums from the Somali coast. I’m talking about the Pirate Party –– the Swedish outfit who campaign for free file-sharing online. They’re fed up of big fees being charged for music downloads, copyright being slapped on YouTube videos and internet usage being tracked. They won a couple of seats in Brussels and are now planning on standing in the UK general election next year. These buccaneers shouldn’t be underestimated. They’ve got a big supporter base of mostly young people. I can see problems with making everything free as composers and writers would lose out. But the pirates have a point. Until we take a more reasonable approach to tracking internet usage and copyright questions there may well be a case to say: “Yo-ho, me hearties!”
LOOKING forward to the weekend? I guess you’re gearing up for a night of clubbing with the lads, a few pints down the boozer or a takeaway with the missus. But Friday night isn’t the start of the weekend for everyone. Take Algerians –– they work Saturday and Sunday but have Thursday and Friday off. Recently, however, Algeria’s government has decided to move the weekend because it’s cocking up their economy. You see, most of the country’s North African neighbours have their weekend on Friday and Saturday. So when people frantically call the Algerians on a Thursday, there’s nobody in the office because they’re off chilling out on the beach. A recent study showed their choice of weekend is costing Algeria a whopping £420 million in lost business every year! That’s why the government is shifting the weekend to one day later. I’m pretty sure the UK won’t be changing our weekend anytime soon, though. After all, just think of the effort it would take for TGI Friday to change all their signs!

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