April Fool Roundup

Christopher Fowler
AN18567410FILE---In-this-Se Is the practice of hiding a false story on the front page of a national newspaper on April Fool's Day purely a British thing or does everyone do it? The august New York Times doesn't appear to do it. Over here it seems to go back to the 'Panorama' programme's infamous 'spaghetti tree' report. This was a short hoax broadcast on April Fools' Day 1957 by Richard Dimbleby, a man not previously known for his sense of humour. It told of a family in Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from trees, and was broadcast at a time when pasta was not widely eaten in the UK. Today's media has an array of silly stories tucked in among the very real events occurring around the world. The Independent reports that an entire troupe of 300 performing fleas had fallen victim to the freezing weather gripping Germany. Naturally the poor old BBC picked up the story. The Guardian said they had developed Augmented Reality Goggles to beam new articles into their readers' vision. The Daily Mail kicks off its page with footage of a woman using a mobile phone - in 1938. The Telegraph's front page proved impossible as everything on it felt like a hoax. Some stories merely sounded like April Fool's Day jokes; The Tottenham to Monte Carlo car rally is going ahead (I checked - it has a real website), and Nasa has apparently announced it was planning a $2.6 billion robotic mission to catch an asteroid in a giant bag and tow it to the Moon as part of a long-term programme that could one day lead to the permanent settlement of humans in space, but this was reported in other papers as true too. So, was there a Daily Telegraph hoax?    


Tom Ruffles (not verified) Mon, 01/04/2013 - 11:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I found a story about Meatloaf wanting Robbie Williams to help him look for Charlie Chaplin's ghost:


I put this story on the Facebook page of the Society for Psychical Research, and received a reasonable response asking how could I be sure that it wasn't serious, as it can be hard to tell these days.

The funniest bit in the Guardian one is Michael Gove trying to show us what a nice guy he is, though the kicking it gives to the Mail runs it a close second. That hoax is OK because it is so obvious and doesn't pretend to be serious.

However, the Mail's mobile phone story is unoriginal because we already have the mystery of someone who looks like they are talking on a mobile phone which can be seen in a bonus feature on the DVD of Chaplin's The Circus, so this is piggy-backing on that.

It is also annoying because people will keep sending it in to Fortean Times, not realising it was a hoax. That is the problem with these things: life is so mad, how can you tell what's real and what isn't. It muddies the record, one reason I find AFJs tiresome.

pheeny (not verified) Mon, 01/04/2013 - 14:40

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

I am sure they will run an April Fool hoax in the San Serif Times ...

pheeny (not verified) Mon, 01/04/2013 - 14:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Oops - the website seems to be making an April Fool of me

Dan Terrell (not verified) Mon, 01/04/2013 - 15:14

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Used to know a San Serif Khan. He was an Afghan, rather plain, but as an interpreter he communicated your thoughts clearly.

pheeny (not verified) Mon, 01/04/2013 - 16:47

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Not a jokerman type then

Helen Martin (not verified) Mon, 01/04/2013 - 16:52

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Not always as clear as he was alleged to be, though, Dan. No jokes in our paper, apparently, but the CBC local morning broadcast had an extended discussion on a proposed toilet paper tax. We use more TP than Europeans do, allegedly because our paper is so absorbent that we have to use more. This makes the tax unfair as we can't do anything about it. Right. I expect to hear one this evening when the CBC will make contact with the BBC to exchange stories. It is the one exception to the "everything over by noon" rule.

Gareth Reeve (not verified) Tue, 02/04/2013 - 04:06

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Helen, where are you from?

Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 02/04/2013 - 05:26

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

@Gareth Reeve - I am from Burnaby, British Columbia, Canada. That's right next to Vancouver where the winter Olympics were held in 2010.

Brian (not verified) Tue, 02/04/2013 - 05:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

If the footage of the woman using a mobile phone many years ago is the same footage I'm thinking of then it is a case of misinterpretation rather than being a hoax.

It did the rounds of the internet a couple of years ago. Turns out that in those times hearing aids were not as portable as they are now so people had to hold an amplifying device to their ear to hear what was going on around them. This quickly evolved to the device having earpieces on wires so that if you see later footage from the early 1940s they appear to be using iPods.

An example of the Sonotone device is at this link:

Helen Martin (not verified) Tue, 02/04/2013 - 17:32

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My grandfather had one - earpiece "almost unnoticeable" with wires to his shirt pocket where the battery, etc. was in a case "the size of a cigarette package". My grandmother suspected that there were times when he turned it off for peace and quiet.

glasgow1975 (not verified) Wed, 03/04/2013 - 23:02

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

My Granpa turned his off for peace and quiet, I think everybody must :)

Helen Martin (not verified) Thu, 04/04/2013 - 14:03

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Some of the not peace and quiet was in the hearing aid itself and the device magnifies all sounds not just the ones you want to hear.

Anne Fernie (not verified) Tue, 09/04/2013 - 14:41

In reply to by anonymous_stub (not verified)

Awwww - I BELIEVED the dead flea story!!!!!