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Entry from July 07, 2019
“Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off” (UK newspaper headline joke)

"Fog in Channel; Continent Isolated” (or “Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off” is a classic British newspaper headline that is probably apocryphal. The European continent is isolated (cut off) from England, the newspaper states, rather than England being isolated (cut off) from the European continent.

“A good antidote to the attitude which our chief national daily recently expressed so well in a time of Channel fog with its bold English headline, ‘The Continent Isolated’” was printed in The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer (Yorkshire, UK) on December 31, 1930. ”The Times headline ran ‘Continent Isolated’” was printed in The Political Quarterly (London, UK), January-March 1931.  “Last winter, in a bad spell of weather, she had seen a Times poster saying, ‘The Continent Isolated for Three Days’” was printed in the book Storms and Tea-cups (1931) by Mrs. Alfred (Cecily—ed.) Sidgwick. “One of the best illustrations of that was one day when the London Daily Mail, from its small little island across the channel from the rest of Europe, appeared with this headline, ‘Storm Sweeps Channel—Continent Isolated’” was printed in the Knoxville (TN) News-Sentinel on July 2, 1931.

“The classic foggy day headline, ‘Continent Cut Off by Fog,’ would not appear in this new England” was an Associated Press story printed in the Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, on August 16, 1940. “In a London speech yesterday he recalled pre-war newspaper headline: Great Storm: Continent Cut Off” was printed in the Daily Herald (London, UK) on June 5, 1942. “We have felt about it as a famous English newspaper felt when, following a disruption of telephonic communications across the Channel, it announced on its posters, with insular complacence: ‘Continent Cut Off’” was printed in The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA) on February 27, 1947.

[This entry includes prior research from Bonnie Taylor-Blake and Stephen Goranson.]


Wikipedia: Continental Europe
Continental or mainland Europe is the continuous continent of Europe, excluding its surrounding islands. It can also be referred to ambiguously as the European continent – which can conversely mean the whole of Europe – and by Europeans, simply the Continent.
(...)
Great Britain and Ireland
In both Great Britain and Ireland, the Continent is widely and generally used to refer to the mainland of Europe. An apocryphal British newspaper headline supposedly once read, “Fog in Channel; Continent Cut Off”. It has also been claimed that this was a regular weather forecast in Britain in the 1930s. In addition, the word Europe itself is also regularly used to mean Europe excluding the islands of Great Britain, Iceland, and Ireland (although the term is often used to refer to the European Union). The term mainland Europe is also sometimes used. Usage may reflect political or cultural allegiances. Pro-European UK citizens are much less likely to use “Europe” in ways that exclude the UK and Ireland.

British Newspaper Archive
31 December 1930, The Yorkshire Post and Leeds Intelligencer (Yorkshire, UK), “The Criterion” by G. E. G., pg. 4, col. 6:
What gives “The Criterion” unusual value is the inclusion of foreign “chronicles” and reviews of foreign periodicals, represented in the present number by an Italian chronicle and review of periodicals from Russia and Germany.  “The Criterion” thus becomes a good antidote to the attitude which our chief national daily recently expressed so well in a time of Channel fog with its bold English headline, “The Continent Isolated.”

Google Books
Storms and Tea-cups
By Mrs. Alfred (Cecily—ed.) Sidgwick
London, UK: W. Collins Sons
1931
Pg. 22:
All English people were selfish and cold. They exasperated Gerda. Last winter, in a bad spell of weather, she had seen a Times poster saying, “The Continent Isolated for Three Days.” Idiots! She was telling that story everywhere. When she told it in England they did not see what she meant.

January-March 1931, The Political Quarterly (London, UK), “The British Press and Foreign Affairs” by Kingsley Martin, pg. 115:
A comparison with the Press of most continental countries would show that we remain a singularly insular people.  When, not long ago, a great storm at sea damaged the cables and communication with Europe became for the moment difficult, The Times headline ran “Continent Isolated,” and the significant fact about that superb example of sub-editorial genius is that it passed almost without comment from English readers.

Google Books
22 April 1931, The Nation (New York, NY), “In the Driftway,” pp. 450-451:
For the present, however, he will cut himself short with the story of a headline from the London Times.  It was told to him only recently by a Scotchman—if, by the way, you are in search of entertainment, persuade a Scotchman to speak his mind and heart about Englishmen.  The headline in question appeared after a severe storm in the Channel which had paralyzed shipping. “Heavy Channel Storms,” stated the Times with dignity and without disguise, “Continent Isolated.”
THE DRIFTER

2 July 1931, Knoxville (TN) News-Sentinel, pg. 22, col. 3:
Still ‘Chosen People’
“In fact, the Englishman seemed to me to be extremely conceited. One of the best illustrations of that was one day when the London Daily Mail, from its small little island across the channel from the rest of Europe, appeared with this headline, ‘Storm Sweeps Channel—Continent Isolated.’”

Google Books
August 1931, Bulletin of the Taylor Society, “International Planning: A Scotch Educator’s View” by James Alexander Bowie, pg. 150:
If we are to plan internationally the first essential is that we be conscious of our problems and of the necessity for solutions.... We have not developed the student mind.....I think the charge that we are insular is well founded. It is said that there once appeared in an English newspaper the headline, “Fog in English Channel. Continent Isolated.” This perhaps illustrates an attitude of mind not entirely confined to our islands. Most of us have not nearly reached this first stage of recognizing our problems and seeing their demands in international action. 

September 1931, The World Tomorrow (New York, NY), pg. 288, col. 1:
The “Tight Little Isle”
During a recent storm the London Times carried the following headline: “Great Storm—Continent isolated!”

Archive.org
England Muddles Through
By Harold E. Scarbrough
New York, NY: The Macmillan Company
1932
Pg. 92:
Presumably the London Times saw nothing amusing in its headline, “Continent Isolated,” when for three days a storm held up shipping in the Channel. It was an American woman resident in England who called my attention to this headline, and when I showed it to an English journalist he inquired, in honest bewilderment:

“Well, what’s wrong with it?”

I suggested gently that, having regard only to the population and superficial areas of the two geographical entities, foreigners might have been inclined to say “England Isolated” rather than ‘Continent Isolated”; but he didn’t see the point, and hasn’t seen it yet.

22 March 1932, New York (NY) Herald Tribune, “Books and Things: The English Still English” by Lewis Gannett, pg. 15, col. 1:
When a storm held up shipping in the Channel “The London Times” ran a headline, “Continent Isolated,” and when (Harold—ed.) Scarborough, smiling, showed the caption to an English colleague the Englishman, inquired, in honest bewilderment, “Well, what’s wrong with that?”

22 July 1932, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, “Continent Isolated” by B. Z Goldberg, pg. 13, col. 1:
There was a storm on the channel one night. The next morning the Times ran the story under the headline: Storm on Channel—Continent Isolated.”

26 November 1933, Brooklyn (NY) Daily Eagle, “On a Still Persistent Condescension in Foreigners” by Irwin Edman, The Sunday Review, pg. 8, col. 1:
Perhaps there never did appear in the London Times the now famous headline, “Storm Over Channel; Continent Isolated.” It might very well have appeared none the less.

October 1935, Forum and Century (New York, NY), “The Key to Peace” by Vyvyan Adams, pg. 246:
Some years ago, severe weather froze the English Channel. For some days no ships could pass. A great London newspaper unconscious perpetrated the headline:

CHANNEL FROZEN; CONTINENT ISOLATED.

29 August 1936, New York (NY) Times, “Wet British Summer” (editorial), pg. 12, col. 4:
It is the lonely-furrow weather policy summed up in the famous London Times weather report: “Heavy fog over Channel. Continent isolated.”

26 December 1936, Tacoma (WA) News Tribune, pg. 8, col. 1:
Don’t worry about England. The British empire will stand as long as London, when there’s a fog in the channel, informs the world that “the continent is isolated.”

11 August 1937, Chicago (IL) Daily Tribune, “A Line O’ Type or Two,” pg. 10, col. 3:
WILL THE CURRENT COMET produce any headlines comparable to the one which appeared in a New York paper some twenty-three years ago? “Haley’s Comet Rushing on New York,” it read. That may stand as the most sublime expression which local pride has ever achieved, for the authenticity of a certain English scare-head is open to question. “Fog Blankets Channel; Continent Isolated,” it reputedly ran. Can any reader confirm the story?

18 May 1940, Macon (GA) Telegraph, “Quips From Other Papers,” pg. 4, col. 1:
“NAZI MAP PLANS to cut England off from Europe,” says a dispatch, moving the Toronto Star to recall the most famous of London headline, “Fog in Channel; Continent Isolated.”—Detroit News.

21 May 1940, Manchester (UK) Evening News, pg. 1:
CONTINENT CUT OFF BY CABLE FAULT
PUBLIC telephone services between England and the Continent have been cut off since 7 p.m. yesterday. There is no telephone link between London and France, Italy, Hungary, and Switzerland.

16 August 1940, Kingston (NY) Daily Freeman, “Fighting Mad, British No Longer Apologize For Bomb Shelters or Women in Uniform” by William McGaffin (AP Feature Service) pg. 11, col. 5:
The classic foggy day headline, “Continent Cut Off by Fog,” would not appear in this new England.

20 September 1940, Asbury Park Evening Press (The Evening News) (Asbury Park, NJ), “Fighting Made, British No Longer Apologize For Their Bomb Shelters, Women in Uniform” by William McGaffin (AP), pg. 22, col. 3:
The classic foggy day headline, “Continent Cut Off By Fog,” would not appear in this new England.

The British Newspaper Archive
5 June 1942, Daily Herald (London, UK), pg. 2:
Sir John Anderson (...) In a London speech yesterday he recalled pre-war newspaper headline: Great Storm: Continent Cut Off.

27 February 1947, The Christian Science Monitor (Boston, MA), “Ivory Universe” by Richard Church, pg. 10, col. 1:
We have felt about it as a famous English newspaper felt when, following a disruption of telephonic communications across the Channel, it announced on its posters, with insular complacence: “Continent Cut Off.” This is how we feel today, after seven such days of superb isolation. he world at large has been deprived of us, and we are sorry for it.

Google Books
Wireless World
Volume 56
1950
Pg. 273:
During a season of heavy winter gales, so the story ran, a leading London newspaper came out with the headline “GREAT STORM RAGING IN CHANNEL: CONTINENT CUT OFF.”

July-August 1951, UNESCO Courier (Paris, France), “The Paradox of British Humour” by Ronald Matthews, pg. 15, col. 1:
At most, the British regard with pity or wonder the unhappy foreigners who fail to appreciate the spirit of the famous London newspaper headline” “Channel gale: Continent cut off.”

26 February 1958, Manchester (UK) Guardian, “Thanks from Mr Brooke: Fleet Street, Tuesday Night,” pg. 6, col. 7:
The foreigner in his entrenched ignorance used to laugh when he saw on newspaper bills the words “England in Danger,” which he put in the same class as “Channel fog: Continent cut off.”

13 November 1958, San Francisco (CA) Chronicle, “A Bookman’s Notebook” by William Hogan, pg. 39, col. 1:
The psychology if islanders was once summed up in a headline in the London Daily Mail about a storm in the Channel: “Continent Cut Off.”

24 October 1959, The Age (Melbourne, Victoria), “Hungary’s Long History In Search Of Freedom” by W. A. P. Phillips, Literary Supplement, pg. 17, col. 5:
Indeed, it is perhaps not overharsh to sum it up in the probably apocryphal but classic headline: “Fog in the Channel—Continent Cut Off.”

22 November 1961, The Tatler and Bystander; (London, UK), “Transatlantic traffic” by David Morton, pp. 571+:
THINK THAT, AT THE MOMENT, THE INFLUENCE OF THE UNITED STATES and Europe on men’s clothing in Britain is in direct proportion to their respective distances from us. Or our distance from them, if you don’t support the “Fog in Channel—continent cut off” school of thought.

18 December 1961, Los Angeles (CA) Times, “Britain, the Reluctant Bridegroom” by James Reston, pt. 3, pg. 5, col. 1:
It is all a little reminiscent of the famous headline in the London Daily Mail: “Fog Over Channel: Continent Cut Off.” Yet it is precisely this lively and justifiable pride in British independence and British history that makes London more exhilarating today than at any time since the blitz.

Google Books
The Londoners:
Life in a Civilized City

By Walter Henry Nelson
London, UK: Hutchinson
1975
Pg. 72:
Just how alien the nearby Continent seems to the English may be gleaned from the legendary BBC weather announcement, ‘Heavy fog; Continent isolated’.

Google Books
The Oxford Companion to the English Language
By Thomas Burns McArthur and Feri McArthur
New York, NY: Oxford University Press
1992
Pg. 260:
The term the Continent has long been used for the mainland of Europe as distinct from the British Isles, as in the apocryphal newspaper headline Fog in Channel, Continent Isolated.

OCLC WorldCat record
Continent isolated : a study of the European dimension in the national curriculum in England
Author: Frances Morrell
Publisher: London : Federal Trust for education and research, 1994.
Series: Federal Trust Report
Edition/Format: Print book : English
Summary:
The European Union continues to develop wide powers in important policy areas, but there remains widespread public ignorance about the policies, structure and significance of the EU. The author of this text considers the National Curriculum in an attempt to reform current educational practice.

Google Books
Mark My Words:
Great quotations and the stories behind them

By Nigel Rees
New York, NY: Barnes & Noble, Inc.
2002
Pg. 25:
Channel storms. Continent isolated.
The original of this English newspaper headline remains untraced (if, indeed, it ever existed).

OCLC WorldCat record
Fog in the Channel, continent isolated’: Britain as a model for EU social and economic policy?
Author: C Barnard; S Deakin; R Hobbs
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: INDUSTRIAL RELATIONS JOURNAL -LONDON- 34, no. 5, (2003): 461-476

OCLC WorldCat record
Continent cut off by fog: just how insular is Britain?
Author: Sir Barry Cunliffe
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Scottish Archaeological Journal, v27 n2 (200510)

Google Books
Fog in Channel...?: Exploring Britain’s Relationship with Europe
Simon Sykes, Tom Sykes
Shoehorn Publishing, 2009 - Europe - 232 pages
“Fog in channel - continent cut off” was a regular weather forecast in Britain in the 1930s. Is there fog between Britain and mainland Europe now? Metaphorically yes. This book seeks to clear it away through a series of fascinating views and essays. Is the continent cut off from Britain? Read the lively debates contained in this unique anthology to decide for yourself. Contributors come from a diverse range of backgrounds, including politicians from Charles Kennedy to John Redwood, Tony Benn to Michael Howard, as well as noted people from the worlds of education, business, journalism, science and the arts, including Simon Woodroffe, Judge Jules, Bill Deedes,Gerry Robinson, Zoe Readhead, Chas Hodges and many more. They investigate the issues of history, culture and changing value systems rather than offering any detailed analysis of political mechanisms. It is a balanced and accessible book exploring issues of human interaction and experience which will encourage readers to engage more fully and think more constructively about how the people of the UK address the future of Europe.

OCLC WorldCat record
‘Heavy Fog in the Channel. Continent Cut Off’? British Diplomatic Relations in Brussels after 2010
Author: Maja Kluger Rasmussen
Edition/Format: Article Article
Publication: Journal of Common Market Studies, v54 n3 (20160501): 709-724

Sic Semper Tyrannis
07 AUGUST 2014
“Heavy Fog In Channel. Continent Cut Off.” - Walrus
“Heavy Fog In The Channel. Continent Cut Off” was The Times of London headline on Oct 22 1957.

“In other words, today, Russia is once again isolating itself from the international community” -President Obama in a statement on Jul 29 2014, announcing increased trade sanctions against Russia.

OCLC WorldCat record
Fog in the Channel – Continent cut off: the implications of Brexit for career guidance in the UK
Author: Tristram Hooley
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Journal of the National Institute for Career Education and Counselling, v38 n1 (20170428): 21-27

OCLC WorldCat record
BREXIT — Nevermind The Whys And Wherefores? Fog in the Channel, Continent Cut Off!
Author: Laurence W Gormley
Edition/Format: Article Article : English
Publication: Fordham international law journal, 40, no. 4, (2017): 1175-1210

Medium
Continent cut off: the British delusion
Philip Coggan
Sep 21, 2018
THERE is an old, though sadly apocryphal, story of a Times headline that declared “Fog in channel. Continent cut off.” But the headline resonates because it is symbolic of the general British attitude towards our European neighbours. That attitude has been all too apparent in the Brexit negotiations, which hit a disastrous speed bump in Salzburg this week.

Posted by Barry Popik
New York CityMedia/Newspapers/Magazines/Internet • Sunday, July 07, 2019 • Permalink