Were you caught out on Monday? I was. I completely believed the headline in the Guardian that read, “BRITAIN TO APPOINT HEALING TSAR TO HELP REUNITE THE COUNTRY AFTER BREXIt”. I failed to spot the spoof news about Wales building a Hollywood-style sign. I was nearly caught out by the announcement that the World’s only knitting dog would be appearing at the ‘Spring into Wool” show on 13th and 14th April until I looked at the photo of a dog with knitting needles balanced on its paws. Of course a dog could never manipulate knitting needles! However, what about the feature run in the Independent newspaper about the fashion giant Bestseller building a tower higher than the Shard at the teeny hamlet of Brande in Denmark. It will stand out like the Tower of Sauron, visible from 60 km away. That has to be a spoof, surely?
According to Wikipedia, “April Fools’ Day or All Fools’ Day is an annual celebration commemorated on April 1 by playing practical jokes and spreading hoaxes. The jokes and their victims are called April fools. People playing April Fool jokes often expose their prank by shouting “April fool(s)” at the unfortunate victim(s). Some newspapers, magazines and other published media report fake stories, which are usually explained the next day or below the news section in smaller letters. Although popular since the 19th century, little is known about the origins of this tradition.”
The snag with any prank is that it may be more hurtful than funny. I do not enjoy laughing at someone else’s expense and as a child I hated the slapstick, custard pie throwing antics of clowns. It amazes me that people stand and film other people’s mishaps and then put them on You tube. It most definitely is not funny to trick and deceive children. I still can recall many, many moons ago at witnessing my little sister being ‘April fooled’ by her friends. They told her that the postman was at the front door with a parcel for her. She flew down the stairs and raced to the door. “April Fool” they chorused, creasing up with laughter. She was SO disappointed and I was very upset at her distress.
The most effective April Fool jokes are the simplest. As a child I would join in the “fooling” of people with statements such as “your shoelace is undone” or “watch out, snow is going to fall on you from the roof.” Harmless and moderately amusing. When I first started teaching, I decided to liven things up a bit: I took a sheet of headed notepaper and typed out a letter to ‘All Staff ‘ stating that from the start of the new school year all teachers would be required to wear a uniform. I carefully cut out squares of the most unsuitable fabric, including silver lame, and stapled the samples to the letter, requesting that the teachers selected their choice of fabric. Then I placed the letter on the Noticeboard in the Staff Room. It was so hard to keep a straight face as they milled around muttering as they read the letter. One of the best jokes played on me at school was the request from a colleague for ‘a pair of left handed knitting needles”.
We do need humour to keep us going, but I’ll pass on the practical jokes thank you!