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Sounds of a silly season


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The silly season, explains the Concise Oxford English Dictionary, is the period of high summer when newspapers often publish trivial material because of a lack of important news. This is, of course, on the British side.
Brewer’s Dictionary Of Phrase And Fable expands: the part of the year when Parliament and the law courts are not sitting (about August and September).
In Barbados the silly season has come to refer to the campaign period before the general election: when politicians and their supporters to a great extent subsume themselves in the trivial and trite – and the unattainable!
Now there is another silly season, as put forward by entertainer and calypsonian John King on Festival Stage just this week: the period of Crop-Over leading up to Pic-O-De-Crop and Grand Kadooment.
This is when we are made to endure airtime boo-boos, howlers and malapropisms.This is when all manner of ludicrous views are expressed by the “calypso critics” who crawl out of the woodwork come July; when festival gurus get all fired up into self-absorption; and when sides take hardened positions in folly.
Admiral Nelson, in his spiel about good calypso as opposed to the monotonous party music, introduces us on the people’s TV to social “commentarians”; and he thinks Captain Sawyer to be a character of the festival – bird and all!
Then a radio caller laments over the clicks that have been formed by competition in calypso over the years – cliques, she means, of course.
And the fraycas never goes away. That should be fracas. Which point the gentlemanly caller didn’t want to delabour.
Belabour the examples of boo-boos and howlers we won’t; but this malapropism we needed to highlight: dancing the flamingo instead of the flamenco.
Then there is the “calypso critic” who goes to a tent and gets the name of the song wrong – and to boot the performer’s too.
Or who writes brashly that a performer forgot his banjo, when in fact the poor artiste was too fatigued to play it – and had begged the audience’s indulgence.
Such a critic needs to get back into the woodwork before the festival is over.
What would this silly season be without the Crop-Over gurus who either like your song or detest it; play it to death or throw it in the bin first time; whose criteria for double entendre change as often as there are options for interpretation of the controversial calypso.
Imagine Wuk Up Pon It was even declared a classic!
Finally, folly royal – otherwise known as Soca Royale. Sweet, slow soca being pitted against the racing, racy, mostly erratic, turbo-rhythmic party popper.
And the National Cultural Foundation has its feet planted and hardened in this cement of nonsense.• Off The Chest is written by a WE Magazine insider.

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