In Formula 1 'the silly season' has always been that point in the year when rumours gather strength of who will be driving what the following season, and so on, but in the newspaper world the phrase refers to this time of the year - August - when not much is going on.
The House of Commons is mercifully closed for the holidays, TV dishes up repeats of repeats, and there is an impression that everything is on stand-by, awaiting the return of normality on September 1.
It's a fact that, since the Hungarian Grand Prix, everything has been outwardly still in the world of F1. This is the only three-week break in the schedule from May to October, and testing is banned, so for many the opportunity arises, as Fernando Alonso observed last week, to "recharge the batteries".
Ron Dennis, for one, has taken a holiday since the Budapest weekend, and that's good, for if ever a man looked at the far end of exhaustion, it was Dennis as he spoke to the press before leaving the circuit that Sunday afternoon. In normal circumstances Ron is a man plainly exhilarated by victory, but on that occasion he was so drained that not even Lewis Hamilton's third grand prix win could provoke a smile.
In RD's absence, Martin Whitmarsh will have called him as little as possible, but, with so much whirring round in his mind, it will not have been easy to switch off. Thanks to Ferrari's appeal, the 'Stepneygate' affair remains unresolved, and in Hungary McLaren's drivers, first and second in the world championship, stupidly and immaturely put themselves before their team at the worst possible moment.
In the last couple of weeks, it may be taken as read that Whitmarsh will have had 'discussions' with Alonso and Hamilton, and I imagine that the great majority of the words he used will have been of one syllable.
While it's likely that the pair of them will be disputing the world championship right through to the Brazilian Grand Prix, on October 21, so it's not impossible, with six races to go, that one could get most of the luck, and find himself battling for it not with his team-mate, but with Raikkonen or Massa.
In that event, a degree of togetherness could serve Alonso or Hamilton well. In the normal course of events McLaren, as we know, does not operate 'team orders' - and anyway the concept is supposedly banned these days. But still there are ways of being... useful, of putting the team's interests first.
Over the years Ferrari has employed the tactic innumerable times, and often without much subtlety, but one remembers, too, that Eddie Irvine, disputing the world championship with Mika Hakkinen at Suzuka in 1999, at one stage lost a great deal of time behind David Coulthard's McLaren.
In the event, it made no difference to the result - Irvine never had a prayer against Hakkinen that day - but it might have done. And, come Interlagos in the autumn, if only one McLaren man should be disputing the title with one or more Ferrari drivers, he might prefer to feel he wasn't going out there alone.
At that point, a team-mate's goodwill would be a handy card to hold, and I can't believe the thought hasn't occurred to either Alonso or Hamilton. This being 'the silly season', the Hungarian spat between them has of course been the focal point of F1 gossip even more than would ordinarily have been the case.
Advice to the team, and its drivers, has come in from far and wide, and predictably the most down to earth and entertaining was from Alan Jones, sounding much as he did in the Williams days when discussing the shortcomings of his team-mate, Carlos Reutemann.
In the 1981 Brazilian Grand Prix, which was wet, the Williams duo dominated from the start, but if Reutemann narrowly led from Jones, Alan wasn't worried because he anticipated that Carlos would let him through, as his contract required. This he failed to do, and there followed much trouble.
I spoke to both drivers about it, and each, in his way, was disarmingly honest. "Alan had a reason to be upset," said Reutemann. "I can't disagree with that. When I saw the pit signal, telling me to give way, I thought, 'If I do that, I stop right now, in the middle of the track, and I leave immediately for my farm. Not a racing driver any more. Finish.'"
Alan, I said, now claims he doesn't trust you any more. "He's absolutely right," said Carlos immediately. "He shouldn't! I don't think the same situation will happen again - but if it did, I think I would take the same decision as in Brazil..."
Over to Jones. "Well, we're not going to have a repeat of Brazil, that's for sure! If ever we're in that position again, I shan't sit back and wait for Carlos to move over - and, believe me, I wouldn't want to be Frank Williams in that situation. No way I'm going to sit behind again - I'm going to try and pass him, and just hope I don't lock a brake or something and lose Frank a bunch of constructors' points in one fell swoop.
"I've got my contract, and Carlos has his - and the contracts say that if we're less than seven seconds apart, and comfortably in front of the third car, then I, as number one driver, will win the grand prix. I understand why Carlos doesn't like it - I wouldn't like it - but that's the way it is, and if he didn't like the terms of the contract, he shouldn't have signed it."
At the end of that season I interviewed FW, and of course this question came up. "Every year," he sighed, "I take a slightly tougher attitude towards drivers, and I'm probably unusually jaundiced about them just at the moment. To be honest, all I care about is Williams Grand Prix Engineering, and the points we earn. I couldn't care less who scores them..."
Very forthright in those days, F1 people, were they not? And 26 years on Jones hasn't changed. Addressing the McLaren situation last week, Alan said it was vital that the team had to come up with a game plan, that Dennis had to make it very clear to both drivers what was acceptable and what was not.
He understood, he went on, that Alonso, being a two-time world champion, arrived in the team in the expectation of being de facto number one, and that no one had anticipated that Hamilton, from the off, would be quite the force he has been.
"Alonso doesn't like it," Jones said. "Fair enough - neither would I! But the first guy you've got to beat is your team-mate, and if I were in that situation, I'd be trying all sorts of tricks, psychological or otherwise.
"By doing what he did in the pitlane, Alonso might have taught Hamilton a bit of a lesson. Hamilton needs to remember that he might need Alonso's help later on. If I were Alonso, I'd say to Hamilton, 'If you don't want to play the game, this is what we can do. You're leading the championship - if you'd like me to bugger that up for you a bit more, you keep going...'"
As the 1986 world championship approached its conclusion, there were four drivers - Nigel Mansell, Nelson Piquet, Alain Prost, Ayrton Senna - in contention for the title. Prost's McLaren-TAG had nothing like the power of either the Williams-Hondas or Senna's Lotus-Renault, but still he liked his chances, and not only because he was the best driver in the world. Why, then? I asked. Alain smiled. "Because," he said, "the other three all hate each other..."