Thursday, 1 April 2021

On being fooled,

It’s April Fools’ Day. Well, actually, as I write, it’s just too late. Midday has struck and we can no longer play tricks without being deemed the April Fool ourselves. 

Here’s a link to a quiz about famous April Fools’ Day Tricks.

The only one I really remembered was the “documentary” about the spaghetti harvest, given extra credibility by having a Dimbleby doing the voice-over. We wouldn’t be fooled by it nowadays, in our era of international eating, but back in the day, spaghetti for most British people came drowned in tomato sauce in tins and the idea that it might grow on trees was not all that farfetched. Most of the other items in the quiz I had never heard of but it was fairly easy to guess the right answers, or at least a fair number of them.,

My own prowess at playing April Fools’ Day tricks was always very limited. I did, however, once persuade an A-Level French class that they were having a snap exam one April 1st morning. I must have had them very well trained, for after a minimum amount of grumbling they settled down to work individually on the task I had set for them. After several minutes of silence, I distributed paper fish, one on each task sheet. Gradually the light dawned: this was the “Poisson d’avril”, the French symbol pinned on the back of a person being fooled. Happy days!

It didn’t always have to be April 1st for teachers to play tricks on students. When I was a teacher in a comprehensive school, my first teaching post, it was an accepted thing that if a teacher was absent for some reason a colleague with a “free period”  - i.e. some marking and preparation time - could be asked to step in and babysit that class. One of my colleagues had a stack of “test” papers for just such an eventuality. He would distribute these at the start of the lesson and instruct the class to get on with it. Usually within minutes at least one would take the test paper back to teacher’s desk, select a book and get on with some quiet reading. A slow and steady trickle would follow. Some poor benighted souls struggled away all lesson, solving problems, writing answers to questions and wondering why they were so much slower than their classmates. Their faster classmates had read the first instruction: Read all the questions and instructions before you start working. They had then discovered the final instruction: Take this paper to the front and choose a book to read. A useful life lesson! But one that only really worked for teachers who were held in such awe by the kids that nobody dared to speak and give away the secret. 

The weather has made fools of us, lulling us into a false sense of security ... and warmth. Not only did I cycle in the sunshine yesterday but I also did some work in the garden wearing shorts and t-shirt! We strolled out in the late afternoon without jackets for the first time this year. However, our taste of summer was short lived. It’s chilly and windy again today and further falls in the temperature are on the cards.

There have been items in the news which might have been considered to be April Fools’ Day pranks if they hadn’t appeared before April 1st. One of these was the report that French police are closing in on an international gang of Lego thieves! My first thought was of a gang of little tiny yellow men with black hair that can be removed, indeed needs to be removed if you want to add a lego-man hat. But it seems that an organised and specialised  gang from Poland has been stealing Lego, almost certainly to order, particular sets sought by collectors. They steak from toyshops in or around Paris and go back to Poland to sell their loot on the Internet,

“The Lego community isn’t just made up of children,” one investigator told Le Parisien newspaper. “There are numerous adults who play with it; there are swaps and sales on the internet. We’ve also had people complaining their homes have been broken into and Lego stolen.” And with people spending more time at home, the number of adult Lego users and collectors has grown during the pandemic. Gerben van IJken, a Lego specialist who advises the online auction platform for buying and selling collectibles, says sales on the French site doubled last year.

“Investing in these pieces isn’t new but this niche market has reached new heights with the pandemic. People have more time at home because of the health restrictions and the game market has exploded. We often have more than 1,000 Lego sales a week,” he said.

“There’s always been dealing in Lego because it’s a premium toy range and attracts many adults, but also because the company withdraw its collections around two years after they come out, so a secondhand market is inevitable.” Apparently a Cafe Corner Lego set that cost €150 when it was released to shops in 2007 selling in its original box for €2,500 last year.

And it’s not a new fad: “The phenomenon has exploded over the last eight years because people have realised they can make money reselling Lego on the internet.”

It would seem that our vast collection of assorted Lego, which we passed on for free to a friend with a younger family once our two grew too big for such pursuits, could have been a source of riches ... if we had only kept everything in its original packaging and hadn’t lost bits down the back of the sofa!

More seriously, the various inquiries that have “cleared” Mr Johnson’s government or come up with odd results are definitely not April Fools’ Day jokes. Actor, comedian, general commentator on current events, David Schneider, posted this:

“This week in Downing Street:

Inquiry into racism - Everything’s fine.

Inquiry into policing at vigil - Everything’s fine.

Jennifer Arcuri getting  public money - PM behaved with integrity and honesty.  

David Cameron’s lobbying - Everything’s fine.

And the week isn’t even over yet. “

Hmm! Our country, indeed the whole world, appears to be getting worse and worse!

So here’s Michael Rosen’s take on things:-

“Dear Dominic

Sometimes I hug myself for the sheer nerve of me! What do the you-know-whos call it? Chutzpah? I've just joined an international demand for us all to 'learn the lessons' of the pandemic. I'm the one stopping an enquiry here! Boris the eel!

Mucus in elipsis 


Life goes on. Stay safe and well, everyone!

No comments:

Post a Comment