The British love a good April Fool's joke, the press especially. You'd think the news media would be reluctant to take part in pranks, given the low trust many readers put in the stories that aren't meant to be made-up--and the frequency with which stories over here are assembled out of half-truths and lies. But no harm's done, I guess, and I'm in favor of anything that brightens our otherwise doomed, pathetic lives.
While flipping through the Guardian while on the bus to London yesterday I saw an ad for new technology from BMW: The Canine Repellent Alloy Protection system prevents dogs from peeing on your wheels by administering a 200-volt shock. The ad, as well as "news" stories about the advanced feature, were in other British papers, including Metro. It was a joke, of course, though PETA didn't find it very amusing. "The car company's choice of April Fools prank is not exactly in good taste," grumbled one PETAphile.
The BBC pulled a prank showing a group of penguins that have developed a unique way of migrating. The fact that the video clip was introduced by Monty Python's Terry Jones should have been a tip-off. The best BBC April 1st prank must be the 1957 "Panorama" report on the Swiss spaghetti harvest, told with the detail and specificity that makes good jokes work, and delivered in a straightforward Beeb style that makes you question how you could ever question it.
Here's a roundup of other April Fool's stories, from the Daily Telegraph. The Guardian's article on Britain turning to France's first lady for advice on stylishly dealing with problems such as binge-drinking and the collapse of Northern Rock fooled My Lovely Wife. That's the problem with April Fool's jokes over here: The papers are filled with such bizarre stuff, it's hard to decide where fact ends and fiction takes over.
We packed in a lot during our daytrip, including visits to the Royal Academy and the Tate Modern. It was from that last venue, in a converted power station on the south bank of the Thames, that I snapped this shot:
The museumgoers taking a break on the Tate's balcony look as if they're watching the world's largest high-definition television--which I guess is what reality is.