Tuesday, 1 April 2014

Scotland is butt of the April Fool frenzy

It's after midday so all of the April Fool gags should now be taken down and we can get on with the serious business of the day. I offered my view of the jokes this time last year. Basically, when I was an editor I never understood why we would spend the whole year persuading people of our integrity and credibility and then one day just tell blatant lies - and take the mick out of the readers. And apart from anything else most of them weren't at all funny. 

If you came up with a Panorama spaghetti farm idea or if The Guardian discovered the islands of San Serriffe, including the small islet Ova Mata, then it would definitely be worthwhile. But crude photoshopped images of giant bunnies invading football pitches? I think not. This year everyone seems to have been at it. So, taking my po face off for a while, here is my pick.

Scottish independence seemed to be the main butt of the jokes with five national papers taking a bit of a poke. 

The Daily Telegraph used Page 10 to unveil the new Scottish pound coin with Alex Salmond replacing the Queen. The Guardian gave Page 5 prominence to its story that if Scotland wins independence it will change driving to the right. I liked the proposal to change the traffic lights to red, amber and blue which was rejected after fears the Southern Tories would adopt it as their own. Scottish Independence was the theme in the Mail too - with an idea to get rid of the Scottish Saltire from the Union Flag so that it will look like this:

Avril Mactickle was the campaigner in this one. 

The Times had a story about a German duke who would have claims to rule Scotland and The Independent said the UN will be drafted in to monitor 'cross border tensions'. The peacekeepers will be changing their helmets from blue to purple so that they aren't seen to be Scottish supporters. 

The Sun opted for Page 9 to run its headline Frackingham Palace above a story on the Queen drilling for gas at Buck House. I quite liked ER Ewing. Predictably, campaigner Avril Fuel also makes an appearance. The Sun also had a story on the sports pages about Plymouth Argyle changing their pitch colour to orange so that it doesn't clash with their green strip. 

The Express also carried a spoof football story - that Arsenal and Spurs were to share a ground.

The Express ran two more April Fool stories - one online and one in the paper. Online was a story about a mummified teddy bear being discovered and on Page 3 there was a tale about a farmer hatching a plan to sell square eggs. It will end the need for eggcups. The farm was, predictably, in Flair Loop in Suffolk and campaigner Flora Pilo was the campaigner.

 Coincidentally, ITV's Daybreak also ran a story about square eggs.

The Mirror went with an economical farming story too - the farmer breeding six-legged lambs. 

In the regions the Brentwood Gazette reported that Brentwood is planning to pay tribute to TOWIE star Joey Essex with a huge bronze statue. Meanwhile both the Nottingham Post and Hartlepool Mail went for the discovery of historic bones. In Nottingham it was Robin Hood's remains that were found and in Hartlepool, inevitably, it was those of the famous hanged monkey.

Sinkholes were a bit of a theme too - there was one in Somerset and one in Coronation Street. The Western Daily Press's report - with a far more authentic looking picture than the Corrie one - had me wondering for a second but Freshford resident April O'Lof was a bit of a clue. 

The PR companies were at it too. Andrew Bloch listed scores of them on twitter this morning including the aquatic taxi by Addison Lee that can get you across the Thames quicker. If you want to indulge yourself, follow Andrew here

The readers were also being inventive, as this bicycle prank covered on Kent Online shows.

Perhaps my favourite though was Penguin Books announcing it was to replace full stops with exclamation marks. "For the first time, iconic books such as Albert Camus's The Stranger, Thomas Hardy's Jude the Obscure, and Fyodor Dostoevsky's Crime and Punishment will remove all the instances of full stops in the original text, and replace them with exclamation marks." 
Brilliant ... although I fear I have worked in some places where they have already done that!!!!!!

If you are not rigidly bored with all of this by now you can follow Felicity Morse who has been prolific in collecting today's jokes. There are also good compilations by The Independent, the Mirror, The Guardian and The Telegraph.   

The only one that got me going, though, was from my 17-year-old son. He is taking his photography AS level today and set off early for college in his car. At 9.30am I got a text that read: "Traffic was really bad. Was late for my exam and the examiner wouldn't let me in. My teachers flipped out for no reason. Think I've been kicked off the course." Ten minutes later I managed to get down from the ceiling. Gotcha!

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