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British Culture and Traditions On April Fool's Day

The Best April Fool Jokes

by Lynne Hand aka Your Teacher

Every year in the UK jokes and pranks are played in order to celebrate April Fool's day, with newspapers and television programmes all joining in on the fun.

In 1957 the most famous April Fool's day joke ever was played when the BBC told viewers about bumper spaghetti harvest in southern Switzerland. Huge numbers of viewers were taken in by footage of Swiss peasants pulling strands of spaghetti down from trees.

April foolery became popular within the British newspaper industry following a 1977 hoax perpertrated by The Guardian newspaper. They ran a special seven-page supplement in honour of the tenth anniversary of San Serriffe, a small republic located in the Indian Ocean consisting of several semi-colon-shaped islands. A series of articles affectionately described the geography and culture of this obscure nation. Its two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse. Its capital was Bodoni, and its leader was General Pica. The Guardian's phones rang all day as readers sought more information about the idyllic holiday spot. Few noticed that everything about the island was named after printer's terminology.

My personal favourite was in 1981 when the Daily Mail ran a story about an unfortunate Japanese long-distance runner, Kimo Nakajimi, who had entered the London Marathon but, on account of a translation error, thought that he had to run for 26 days, not 26 miles. The Daily Mail reported that Nakajimi was now somewhere out on the roads of England, still running, determined to finish the race. Supposedly various people had spotted him, though they were unable to flag him down. The translation error was attributed to Timothy Bryant, an import director, who said, "I translated the rules and sent them off to him. But I have only been learning Japanese for two years, and I must have made a mistake. He seems to be taking this marathon to be something like the very long races they have over there."

The Channel Tunnel has been the butt of many a joke. In 1988 the Daily Mail revealed the discovery of a tunnel linking England and France that had been constructed during the Napoleonic wars. Supposedly the tunnel was wide enough to allow an ass carrying two barrels of brandy to pass through it. The tunnel had supposedly been discovered beneath Dover Castle. The article explained that, "It would have been used to rescue aristocrats from Napoleonic France, to transfer spies and to trade British goods with Europe."

Later, in 1990, the News of the World reported that the two halves of the Channel Tunnel, being built simultaneously from the coasts of France and England, would miss each other by 14 feet. The reason—French engineers had insisted on using metric specifications in their blueprints. The error would cost $14 billion to fix.

Some of our European cousins like a good joke too:-

Even in Germany (who says they don't have a sense of humour) Westdeutsche Rundfunk, a Cologne radio station, reported in 1993 that city officials in Cologne, had imposed a new regulation on people jogging through the city park. Runners were required to pace themselves to go no faster than six mph. Any faster, the city officials cautioned, could disturb the squirrels who were in the middle of their mating season.

The Russian Itar-Tass News Agency reported in 1994 that a new product designed to appeal more specifically to Russian tastes had been developed: chewy Vodka bars. The company supposedly hoped that the bars would compete successfully against popular western imports such as Mars and Snickers. The Vodka bars were to be made available in lemon, coconut, and salted cucumber flavours.

Companies don't like to feel left out either:-

In April 2004 Google ran a spoof job advertisment for vacancies at its new "Copernicus" moon base . I would love to know how many people applied!

And Tesco, a British supermarket chain, took out a half-page advertisement in The Sun in 2002. In it they announced that British scientists had developed a genetically modified 'whistling carrot.' Tapered airholes inside the carrot caused it to whistle when properly cooked.

A full-page BMW car advertisement was run on 1 April 1986, about their new car for driving between Great Britain and the Continent. It was both left and right hand drive, had pedals on both driver's and passenger's side, had a detachable steering wheel which could go either side and a full set of instruments on each side, the unused one being covered by a lovely walnut panel.

Basically don't believe anything you hear or read on April 1st!

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