August used to be “silly season”, says Michael Deacon in The Daily Telegraph. With no actual news to report, the papers were filled with stories of comically little consequence. In 2003, we learned that the most people you could fit inside a phone box was 14; three years later, the big news was that “cows moo with regional accents”. These non-stories were often ridiculed. “But how we miss them now.” This summer, everything is deadly serious: strikes, inflation, NHS chaos, “seas full of sewage”. It’s miserable. How I long to read about “a parrot that can sing The Archers theme tune”.
Still, our age of “permacrisis” does have one upside. “It’ll finally teach us to appreciate how lucky we are. Or at least, how lucky we used to be.” I reckon the years between 1998 and 2001 – “after Diana, but before 9/11” – were “the single happiest period in British history”. Not because anything particularly good happened, but because “relatively little bad happened”. The economy was ticking along. Our politics was stable, other than Peter Mandelson “resigning every two weeks”. There was so little going on that Tony Blair, “the actual prime minister”, publicly urged the writers of Coronation Street to change an unpopular storyline. Truly, these were “halcyon days”. Here’s hoping that sometime soon, life in Britain will be as “blissfully boring once again”.