Saturday, 1 April 2006

Cherie Blair arrested on assault charge

During the night, I drafted in my mind what I thought was a fairly convincing extract from a White House Press Office release announcing the shock resignation of George W Bush, with a view to posting it here. In the light of day I realised (a) that it was really rather silly and (b) that no-one would be fooled by it, even for a moment, because readers of Other Men's Flowers do not take any of its content seriously, with good reason.

The best (or at any rate the most convincing) April Fool hoaxes are perpetrated by institutions of the utmost probity: preposterous stories can be convincing if you read them in the dry pages of The Lancet or the Proceedings of the Philological Society. So in 1977 The Guardian’s seven-page Special Report on a group of Indian Ocean islands called San Seriffe (largest ones: Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse, capital: Bodoni, President: Marie-Jesu Pica), enthusiastically supported by advertisers, was an enormous success, with travel agents and airlines making official complaints to the editor about the disruption as customers simply refused to believe that the islands did not exist.

But surely the classic 1st April hoax was the one put out by the BBC in a 1957 Panorama. In those days most of us knew little about pasta so many were intrigued by a short film about the spaghetti harvest in Switzerland. What really made it utterly convincing was that the commentary was by Richard Dimbleby, for disbelieving anything he said would have been like questioning the Word of God. (Sadly, he was not available in 1981 to provide the commentary on the wedding of Diana and Charles, because he had died sixteen years earlier: some people believe that if he had been able to grace the ceremony with his magisterial tones their marriage might have stood a better chance of success.)

The spaghetti film is on the BBC website here, and today David McKie writes in The Guardian with some other stories about All Fools Day.

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