You cannot be serious

PUBLISHED : Monday, 05 September, 2005, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 05 September, 2005, 12:00am

Newspapers have had more 'hard' news than usual this summer to fill their pages, what with the bombings and shootings in London, an early kick-off for the football season and the mass hysteria surrounding the Ashes matches vs Australia.

That is, until many leaders finally took their holidays in the last half of August, and the quirky and nonsensical news of the 'silly season' appeared. Here are some of the lightweight items the papers chose to print.

High-street electrical stores woke up to the fact that no one was buying VCRs or non-digital cameras any more, and announced plans to discontinue them. The banks, too, caught on to the trends, warning that the venerable chequebook would be obsolete in 20 years.

EasyHotel opened its bright orange doors, offering 'small, very small and tiny rooms' for up to GBP40 ($570) - a bargain for central London, but a tad stifling given that only three rooms boast windows.

Houses sizes and their prices seem to be moving in opposite directions: one 304-sq-ft garage in sought-after Notting Hill sold for GBP240,000. Small flats overlooking the Oval, scene of the final Test with Australia, rented for GBP23,500 per week for a glimpse of the game. But that was nothing compared to London's narrowest house, a 1.6-metre-wide, three-storey former milliners in Shepherd's Bush put on the market at GBP525,000.

A new study pointed out that men spent much more on dating and wooing than the fairer sex, forking out on average GBP1,426 - some GBP970 of that on drink alone - in the first six months of a relationship. Women spent GBP740.

Feminism may have been wounded by the study, but that other modern phenomenon, globalisation, is alive and kicking, making inroads into the colloquial world of British advertising. So many television adverts are being made abroad and dubbed into English that a new couch-potato sport has been born: 'ad-spotting'.

Contestants (OK, students) guess which country the ad was made in. One cold-remedy advert has become a cult item: a lithe, Latin, bronzed brunette traffic warden cannot direct traffic properly until she gets a sip of the tonic. No one can name the product, but who cares?: it hails from Brazil.

Some 50,000 dogs were kidnapped last year, many later ransomed back to their owners. That made it the UK's fastest-growing crime, and sales of pet insurance boomed. But overall crime in the capital is down significantly, as the high-profile police presence after the bombings deters the opportunistic petty criminal. Why, soon it could be safe enough to walk the dog at night.