Sunday, 1 April 2012
We originally celebrated April Fools in Scotland by sending people on a fools errand, "hunting the gowk". An unfortunate would be given a letter, and told to deliver it to member of the community immediately as a matter of urgency. When the fool turned up at the door and passed over the letter, the person at the door would open it and read what was written.
"Dinna lauch, dinna smile. Hunt the gowk anither mile"
Pledging to help, they would announce that the message also needed to be delivered to someone else, setting the poor fool off to another door. Hilarious fun. See if you can do it today, and if you do it in the afternoon and someone suggests that "you are the fool" for trying a trick after noon, just tell them that you are playing US, German, Irish or South Korean rules, where the tricks can last all day. And if they don't buy that, stick a fish on their back like they do in France on "poisson d'avril" (one of the few key facts that remains with me from French at school).
People celebrate in different ways. Grumpy sceptic James Randi chooses April 1st to announce the winners of his Pigasus Awards, awarding excellence in the fields of parapsychology. Here's this years winners. The flying pig awards are sent to recipients via telekinesis.
These days of course, hoaxes are generally media driven, my favourite last year was the announcement of the discovery of an unfinished Narnia book in the notes of CS Lewis. This year, I love this Googlemaps for SNES, but that Virgin Volcanic announcement is only marginally less mental than Virgin Galactic, and to be honest Shaun Ryder probably should start advising the coalition government.
Here's a round up of this years best. Down our way, Inverclyde Now excelled itself this year as well.
Many people find the generally very obvious hoaxes a tedious press indulgence, personally, I think thats just how the tradition is maintained now, I enjoy finding them throughout the day - though it becomes increasingly difficult in an ever more ridiculous social media driven world, the truth is almost always stranger than fiction. It was only a few years ago that a local housing association ill advisedly chose April Fools Day to announce a campaign to cheer up some hiflats by covering them in massive pictures of local people. Except it wasn't a joke. Nothing so far in Inverclyde has matched the dizzying heights of these top 100 April Fools Day Hoaxes of all time. Have a good one.