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From simple pranks such as pasting a “Kick Me” sign
1 is a day where
someone’s back to more elaborate hoaxes, April
ly, neighbours,
it’s acceptable to play a practical joke on your fami
ing for?
colleagues, friends and enemies. What are you wait
Fishy story Chimes of time
Although not all April Fool’s In 1980 the BBC announced
experts agree (yes, they exist), that Big Ben, London’s
some argue the day originated historic clock tower, was
in 16th century France, when going to be replaced
Pope Gregory XIII mandated with a digital face to
that the new year began
keep up with the
on January 1, instead
of the end of March. times. Enraged callers
Those who failed to flooded the station
follow the new with complaints.
calendar were
dubbed “April “I have great
fish”. Others claim faith in fools –
it originated from
ancient Spring self-confidence,
festivals that my friends
included call it.”
mischief-making. Edgar A l l en Poe 04 /11
1508 Poet Eloy d’Amerval refers to poisson
d’Avril (April fish), the French term for
April fools.
1539 Flemish writer Eduard de Dene
publishes a comic poem about a nobleman
who sends his servants on “foolish”
errands on April 1.
1686 First British mention of “Fooles holy 1992 US National Public
day”, which is observed on April 1. Radio announces that disgraced
1698 One of the earliest of April Fool former president Richard Nixon
stunts: people were invited to go to the is to run again with the slogan,
Tower of London to see the “annual “I didn’t do anything wrong, and
ceremony of washing the lions”. I won’t do it again.”
1789 An English newspaper claims that
April Fool’s day had its origins when Noah advertises genetically modified “whistling
dispatched a raven from the Ark too early. carrots”. Tapered air holes in their sides
1919 Residents of horse-free Venice wake cause them to whistle when cooked.
on April 1 to find their famed Piazza San 2009 A British newspaper, the Guardian,
announces it will only publish stories
photos: get t y images

Marco dotted with piles of horse manure.

1993 A German radio station reports less than 140 characters long, via
Cologne officials have outlawed joggers Twitter. Here’s how it said it would have
running faster than 9.6km/h so as not to covered the invasion of Poland in 1939:
disturb mating squirrels. “OMG Hitler invades Poland, allies declare
2002 UK supermarket chain Tesco war see for more”.

Spaghetti harvest causes a stir

a world leader.
When it comes to fooling around, Great Britain is
e a BBC TV hoax, broad cast over half a
Indeed, many believ
joke. In 1957
century ago still ranks as the best-ever April Fool’s
a mild winter,
the news show Panorama reported that, thanks to
farme rs enjoye d a bump er spagh etti crop. To prove this, it
Swiss farme rs carefu lly
broadcast a three-minute report of
sting” , strand s of spagh etti from trees.
plucking, or “harve
Legions of viewers were duped and many called the
could grow their very own spaghetti
wanting to know how they
BBC advise d each caller: “Place a sprig of spagh etti in a
tree. The
tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.”
Corporate capers
Reasoning that a well-executed prank can result in valuable
publicity, firms such as Google, Microsoft, BMW, Guinness, Virgin
and others regularly try to get in on the fun. In 1996 fast-food
chain Taco Bell announced it had purchased the famed US Liberty
Bell, which it claimed it was renaming the “Taco Liberty Bell” and
relocating it from Philadelphia to its headquarters in California.
The company claimed publicity from the hoax led to increased
sales of over US$1 million on April 1-2.
When Google, a chronic hoaxer, launched its Gmail service on
April 1, 2004, people assumed it was another hoax. However,
when it turned out to be real, the company got the last laugh by
receiving yet another round of free publicity.

YOUTUBE FLIPS OUT On April 1, 2009,

YouTube turned some of its videos upside
down. A page on “tips for viewing the new
layout” suggested users hang their monitors
upside down from the ceiling, although the
layout did not reverse mouse-control.

“Here cometh April again, PRANKS TO PULL

and as far as I can see the Want to get in on the fun?
world hath more fools in it >> Bored at work? Make a dozen
photocopies of a paper clip on a plain white
than ever.” background, and put these in the machines
Char les Lam b
paper tray so everyone’s copy will include a
paper clip. Watch your colleagues go crazy
“April 1. This is the trying to find the clip stuck in the copier.

day upon which >> Phone a friend at work during lunch

hour and leave the message to call back any
we are reminded of the following names, and leave a number
of what we are for the local zoo: Mr C. Lyon; Ms Anna Conda;
Mr Don Key, and – an
on the other all-time favourite – Mr
three hundred Behr.
and sixty- Joker beware: In
one survey, 68% of
four.” the executives
Mar k questioned thought
Twa in April Fool’s pranks
were unsuitable for
the office.
Around the world
In 1965 a Copenhagen Norway
newspaper reported After reading that the
parliament had passed a law that all government was planning
dogs be painted white to improve to distribute more than
road safety, because they could be 10,000 litres of wine
seen clearly at night. confiscated from smugglers,
France hundreds of citizens turned
According to Le up carrying empty bottles
Parisien in 1986, the Eiffel and buckets.
Tower was going to be dismantled and Germany
rebuilt in the new Euro Disney park. In 2009
Taiwan BMW’s
The Taipei Times claimed that German headquarters ran
“Taiwan-China relations were an ad in UK newspapers
dealt a severe setback yesterday when it was promoting their new
found that the Taipei Zoo’s pandas are not “magnetic tow
what they seem.” The paper reported that technology”. The
the pandas, a gift from the Chinese invention enabled drivers
government, were brown forest bears to turn off their engine and
dyed to resemble pandas. The paper get a “free ride” by locking on to the car
received many complaints, ahead of them via a magnetic beam.
including one from the enraged Canada
zoo director. In 2008 WestJet Airlines
China advertised its overhead cabin
Claiming that it bins were “among the most spacious
would reduce the of any airline”, and it would cost
need for foreign experts, the China passengers an extra fee of $12 to
Youth Daily joked in 1993 that the sleep in these “sleeper cabins”.
government had decided to Jordan
exempt PhDs from the Residents fled after a
nation’s one-child-per-family Jordanian newspaper
policy. After foreign press picked published a story in 2010
up the hoaxed story, the claiming that flying saucers
government condemned April piloted by 3m high creatures
p h o t o s : GETTY IMAGES

Fool’s Day as a Western tradition. had landed in the desert town of Jafr.

Mr Priol and a host of oddly named friends make appearances

Meet throughout the media on April 1. (His name is, of course, an
Olaf anagram for “April Fool”.) Beware anything attributed to Pia
Priol Laroof, Loof Lirpa, Mr Jo King, Jurgen Fallforit or the comely
April Holiday. Oh, and as for Mr Alfi Lorpos, who wrote this
article – the rest of the year he’s known as Robert Kiener.

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