April the first has rolled round once again and with it comes the job of trying to differentiate fact from fiction as we attempt not to fall for the pranksters’ tricks.
The exact history of April Fools’ Day, or All Fools’ Day, is unknown, but there are many theories. It has been suggested that precursors to April Fools’ Day include the Roman festival of Hilaria which was held on 25 March and the Medieval Feast of Fools, held on 28 December. Pranks are still played in Spanish-speaking countries on this date.
In Scotland, April Fools’ Day was called Hunt the Gowk Day – gowk being Scots for a foolish person.
No doubt in offices around the world many pranks have been played this morning already. The April Fools’ jokes haven’t been restricted to places of work. Over the years we’ve had to tread carefully while reading the newspaper or watching TV. Here are just a few:
- In 1957, BBC got in on the act and broadcast a Swiss farmer harvesting freshly-grown spaghetti. The corporation was later inundated with requests from viewers looking to purchase a spaghetti plant, forcing it to declare it all a hoax in its news bulletins the following day.
- Blackpool Zoo announced that it was launching a recruitment drive to find giraffe keepers in 2010. The prospective keepers had to be over 6ft 2in tall to even be considered for the role. The Zoo teamed up with GMTV for the stunt and the broadcaster encouraged viewers to visit its website for more information on the job, or sign a petition on heightism.
- GMTV was involved in another April Fool in 2008. This time it was Yorkshire Water that provided the idea, which actually formed the first stage of its quality water campaign. The firm was to ‘launch’ diet tap water that could be plumbed into consumers’ homes. It provided a freephone number for people to find out more and in the 12 hours following the TV broadcast more than 10,000 had called.
- Last year, The Guardian unveiled a new way to read the paper. Lois P Farlo reported on a groundbreaking pair of web-connected augmented reality glasses that would beam its journalism directly into the wearer’s field of vision. It all sounds farfetched, but aren’t Google already planning something similar? Read the full Guardian article here.
- Advertisers get in on the act too. In 2013, BMW cashed in on the royal baby craze that was sweeping the nation by announcing the arrival of its P.R.A.M or Postnatal Royal Auto Mobile. If you were interested in purchasing one you were asked to e-mail Joe King.
What has made the news today? Well, The Sun has reported that Her Majesty is going to drill for oil at Buckingham Palace, while Vegemite is to launch a new energy drink called Vegemite iDRINK 2.1.
If you had a boiled egg for breakfast this morning while watching ITV’s Daybreak don’t rush out to purchase new egg cups. The story of a farmer managing to rear hens that lay square eggs may have been cracking, but in reality it’s half-baked.
The newspapers weren’t afraid to wade into the debate on the Scottish independence referendum today either. The Guardian had an exclusive story that in the event of Scotland gaining independence from the rest of the UK it would switch to driving on the right. It even posted a video on its website to explain the changes and how they would work at the border. While The Daily Telegraph’s Flora Poli revealed the Scottish Government’s plan for the Scottish pound or Salmond Sterling. In place of The Queen each coin would be adorned by Alex Salmond. Perhaps we need more humorous stories like this before 18 September.
Read with care out there today. If you spot articles from Lois P Farlo, Flora Poli or even Paolo Frils, don’t believe everything you read. And remember, if you’re planning an April Fools’ joke make sure you do it by midday or the joke is on you.