Traditionally, the ‘silly season’ in the newspaper world occurs during August, when the House of Commons benches breathe a creaking sigh of relief from not having to support the weight of 650 bums.
You can interpret the use of the word ‘bums’ any way you prefer.
During this period, the ‘papers print lightweight stories that would never appear any other time of the year.
Like the one that regularly turns up concerning a tourist who’s definitely, positively seen the Loch Ness Monster.
Despite the availability of state-of-the-art cameras and lenses, the accompanying ‘photo always resembles an oil slick filmed through a mosquito net . . . in the dark!
Last week, as I started reading a newspaper article, it seemed the silly season had been extended to October.
As I continued reading, it became apparent that, bizarrely, the article was 100% genuine.
The University of Exeter has spent a considerable amount of time and resources (i.e. money) studying the fish that live in our coastal waters and have come up with the theory that – please don’t raise a hot drink to your lips as you read this next line or you could have a nasty accident – cod talk to each other in regional accents!
No, it’s not you. The world does go a little crazier every week.
Presumably some highly-paid academic with very little to occupy his time and incredible intellect, one day pondered “Hmm . . . I wonder if the fish swimming around the British Isles can talk to each other? And could they have local accents?”
If you or I had thought that, we’d have sensibly kept it to ourselves and even more sensibly, immediately dismissed it.
But, academics need to keep themselves busy to justify their annual funding, so they proceeded – I have no idea how they went about it – to study ‘fish speak’ and discovered that cod swimming off the coast of Cornwall communicate with each other in an accent that differs from the cod swimming off the coast of Liverpool. Yes, really.
Academics are worried that if the Southern cod meet the Northern cod they won’t be able to understand each other- which could threaten their chances of mating.
That’s the difference between humans and cod. We aren’t put off from enjoying a little ‘romantic encounter’ by the sound of a regional accent.
Frankly, I can’t decide whether this study was eel-advised or just a load of old codswallop.