Belfast Telegraph

Why there's not a ghost of a chance any of these silly stories are true ... although hold on a minute that does look like Casper

By Lindy McDowell

Proof that we are now officially into the Silly Season - a major news outlet reports that someone has spotted the face of Casper the Friendly Ghost on the kneecap of the Duchess of Cambridge.

In case you are unaware, the Silly Season is traditionally that period from around the end of June until the beginning of September when the usually fulsome fountain of what we in the industry call 'hard news' tends to run a bit dry.

Our hardworking, hard done by, political representatives take themselves off on their minuscule two-month break (or in the case of our MLAs, indefinite break), so generally there's less grandstanding to report there.

The schools are out, hence no breaking education stories. People are mostly off on their hols or looking forward to getting away from it all.

And the country generally has about it the feel of Belfast city centre on a Sunday morning. Not a whole lot happening. Not a whole lot to command our attention.

I say this with a certain degree of caution since 'hard news' as we know all too well in this place has a habit of coming at us - often very hard - when we least expect it.

But at the time of writing, there are the unmistakeable signs of the flowering of the annual Silly Season crop in news media everywhere.

So back to Casper...

My first reaction when I saw the headline was utter contempt. People who see the face of Jesus on bits of toast? Honestly, have they nothing better to do with their time.

And then I saw the picture. I tell you, it's him. Casper to a tee.

Okay, maybe there was a bit of photo enhancing on the part of whoever first noticed the resemblance. But in further bad news for Kate I think I can also see a second face on her other kneecap. Possibly Winston Churchill.

Meanwhile down at the supermarket there's 'news' of other ghostly manifestation.

A shopper in Skegness reports that he believes a photograph he took of a shopping trolley at Tesco is proof that his dearly-loved late granny is trying to get in touch with him from beyond the grave. With an important message.

Which appears to be... buy bread.

The picture shows his empty trolley on one side of the Tesco front window and then in the glass reflection what appears to be the same trolley with some groceries in it.

This raises all sorts of questions. Such as why would anyone want to take a picture of a shopping trolley in the first place?

And why would anyone's late granny take time out from a doubtless packed schedule in heaven to nip back down here to remind them to buy a Veda?

The gentleman concerned surmises: "It just might have been her watching over me telling me to get a loaf of bread - as from what I could see it looked like there was bread in the trolley."

He adds: "I was absolutely gobsmacked and just freaked out."

Freaking out tends to be very much the response of the sort of person who discerns ghostly presence in innocuous objects.

Maybe if they steadied themselves a bit they might rationalise that most likely it's just a trick of light.

Not necessarily granny coming through via the medium of sliced pan.

Still. Sneer as we might, at least this Silly Season stuff is a bit of light relief from Brexit and Trump and Kim Jong Un and all the many other even darker reports - the mad, the bad, the sad and the deeply troubling - that dominate the headlines.

No wonder then, that people seek a bit of harmless, seasonal summer escapism from the awfulness of the headlines.

Sometimes a bit of silliness is not really so silly.

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