MEDIA SKETCH: Bullet found in Polish man’s head. (BBC website)

The Silly Season is in full swing.

There are a certain number of headlines every day that are irresistible, and for me, the one above was one of them. There are so many incorrect (and in my experience, inaccurate) Polish jokes that the headline looked like the first half of a particularly unpleasant one: ‘Bullet found in Polish man’s head, dies of loneliness’ and so on.

The line also promises to reveal much more: why were the investigators in the guy’s head? How did the bullet get there? How did they get there? Did the guy try to shoot himself years before, get concussion, and then forget he’d tried?

Equally, however, it’s a good example of how, during the annual Silly Season, you can concoct a nothing story from something. Thus:


Polish bank customer Lech Kawolski was found to be DOA at Hicksville General Hospital this afternoon. Bank security guards shot him dead after he brandished a knife and yelled, “Everybody down, this is a deposit”. A bullet was later found in his head. Also in his pancreas, knee and right buttock.

We truly are in the full bloom of silly season at the moment, but this year it seems to be as much about silly people as just silly stories. The Huffington Post revealed to a breathless although not entirely surprised world this morning that 1 in 5 Americans can’t identify the US on a map, don’t know who the US won its independence from, think the sun revolves round Earth, and judge playing the National Lottery to be a sound investment.

The interesting thing about these knowledge gaps is that you could find pretty damn serious employment and not be asked any of the questions. You might be in charge of Fort Knox and not know the shape of your home landmass; you could become Secretary for Defence and think the Alamo was the final defeat of the British. Nobody interviews a weatherman and asks “So, tell me more about the Sun/Earth relationship”. You might even make it to the White House and know nothing about the investment markets. Let’s change the subject.

Even the august recorders in the Office for National Statistics (ONS) have been infected with the desire to write something when there’s nothing to say.This from today’s headlined output:

‘The number of dwellings demolished by local authorities in Wales has generally declined since peaking in 2001-02. On average, since 2004-05, there have been around 100 demolitions a year; however in 2009-10, 216 dwellings were demolished’.

Demolition found in Welsh person’s house. Again, it’s full of the potential for madness: conspiracy theorists could have a field-day with the mystery of why demolitions rose 108% in one year. Is it a UNITE job-creation ruse? Is there a Welsh Sir Humphrey with some scores to settle? Imagine what the Dacre Mail would do with it:


And not forgetting the Sun’s sensitive line in humour:


In some countries it’s always the silly season, the best example being Italy, where the PM is a sort of lovable, tit-groping crook who bumbles with an insouciant crocodile-grin from one disaster to another. This time it seems Silvio censured a critic in his rainbow coalition – one Gianfranco Fini – and Signor Fini decided it was finito Benito, taking his 34 deputies with him.

The dissent stems from Mr. Fini’s disagreement with Mr. Berlusconi’s insistence on judicial reforms, but there was a bit more to it than truculence: Fini alleges with some justification that Silvio’s reforms are heavily focused on ensuring that the 73-year-old PM would be exempt from any charges for any crimes any more anywhere at any time.

Mr. Berlusconi, who is being tried in connection with a corruption case involving bribes allegedly paid to U.K. lawyer David Mills, brushed aside Fini’s exit, but he must be a worried man tonight. Time for someone to hit him with something, and thus bring home the sympathy vote.

And finally – as the Ronnies used to say – that sincere and discerning organ of Harry Evans’ missus The Daily Beast went this morning with ’50 breakfasts that can kill you’. It’s an interesting approach to public health, and conjures up an image for me of going into a theme diner – called maybe Russian Omelette – and picking a number as some kind of dare. Being equivocal on the subject of public health, I’d be inclined to ask for a Number 51 with extra maple syrup.