RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: We are taken for April Fools every day!

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: We are taken for April Fools every day!

RICHARD LITTLEJOHN: Surely in our sophisticated information age, no one could be tricked by obvious stunts… yet we are taken for April Fools every day

We’ve come a long way since the Spaghetti Harvest spoof. On April 1, 1957, the BBC’s Panorama programme broadcast a report which claimed pasta grew on trees.

It is widely considered to be the best April Fool’s stunt of all time. Complete with an authoritative voiceover from the respected journalist Richard Dimbleby, this elaborate hoax managed to fool millions of viewers.

The three-minute film, which cost £100 to make, featured Italian farmers picking spaghetti and laying it out in the sun to dry. 

Young people may be bombarded with ‘facts’ on social media, but that doesn’t mean they’re any better informed than their grandparents. Why wouldn’t they believe the orchards of Umbria are groaning with fusilli and linguine?

The following day the BBC’s switchboard was inundated with calls from people wanting to know where they could buy spaghetti trees to plant in their gardens.

To be fair to all those who fell for it, 64 years ago pasta was still a rare and exotic food in post-war Britain. They could be forgiven their credulity.

Surely in our sophisticated information age, no one could be taken in by a similar stunt. Don’t bank on it. 

We live in a world of fake news, in which everyone is now allowed to have their own ‘truth’.

If Meghan ‘Thee Stallion’ Markle announced on the Oprah Winfrey show that spaghetti grows on trees, who would dare contradict her? They’d be denounced as ‘racists’, cancelled and cast into the outer darkness.

Young people may be bombarded with ‘facts’ on social media, but that doesn’t mean they’re any better informed than their grandparents.

Why wouldn’t they believe the orchards of Umbria are groaning with fusilli and linguine? After all, survey after survey shows that a terrifying number of schoolchildren have absolutely no idea about the origin of their food.

We’ve come a long way since the Spaghetti Harvest spoof. On April 1, 1957, the BBC’s Panorama programme broadcast a report which claimed pasta grew on trees. It is widely considered to be the best April Fool’s stunt of all time

They don’t realise bacon comes from pigs, milk comes from cows, or eggs come from chickens.

It’s not their fault. Schools are too busy filling their heads with racism, sexism, slavery, ‘transphobia’, climate change and colonialism to bother teaching them the basics.

That’s how you end up this week with the crazy scenes at a school in Pimlico, London, where the headmaster has caved in to pupils’ demands to take down the Union flag and review a curriculum based on ‘white kings and queens’.

You couldn’t make it up.

Then again, you couldn’t make up most of the proselytising and propaganda which passes for ‘news’ these days, especially on TV. In post-truth Britain, it’s virtually impossible to tell fact from fiction.

The plain fact is we’re living with April Fool’s madness every day of the week, from multi-millionaire professional footballers ‘taking the knee’ in empty stadiums to coppers skateboarding with Extinction Rebellion protesters.

So why shouldn’t we take everything we read as gospel? One newspaper claimed yesterday that a statue of the Prime Minister’s former adviser Dominic Cummings is to be erected in Barnard Castle, his Covid Waterloo.

Far-fetched? But then again, the University of Winchester has just spent £24,000 on a statute of Greta Thunberg. Yes, really.

As David Brent from The Office would say: FACT!

The Mail reported that Birkenhead Council, to encourage walking and cycling, has painted a mesmerising kaleidoscope pattern on a road junction — described by motorists as an accident waiting to happen.

Could be a spoof. But perhaps not, when you remember that councils across Britain have turned half the roads in the country into crazy golf courses, to the dismay of everyone from local residents and bus drivers to the emergency services.

In North Wales, horny billy goats have invaded the streets of Llandudno in search of mates.

The plain fact is we’re living with April Fool’s madness every day of the week, from multi-millionaire professional footballers ‘taking the knee’ in empty stadiums to coppers skateboarding with Extinction Rebellion protesters

Apparently, there’s been a surge in goat numbers because Covid restrictions have meant vets are unable to give the animals their annual contraceptive injections. Your guess is as good as mine. Another report claimed that the Loch Ness Monster has been sighted in Yorkshire. And why not?

After all, a giant walrus has been swanning round the Welsh coast for the past few days and has just taken up residence on a lifeboat station slipway at Tenby.

For the sake of the walrus, we can only hope the woman lawyer who let her dog savage a seal on the banks of the Thames recently isn’t planning a walking holiday in Pembrokeshire any time soon.

We may not be able to fly anywhere right now, but it’s good to know that airport security is thinking ahead. Scientists at Porton Down are working on plans to launch Spider-Man-style nets to bring down terrorist drones aimed at passenger aircraft.

True or false? Not a clue.

Does it matter? Expect Richard Branson to turn up at Heathrow in a Spider-Man suit any day now.

Elsewhere on April Fool’s Day, in keeping with the spirit of the age, it was reported that Bowls England, the governing body of crown green bowling, is to revise its rules to allow a trans woman to compete in female events.

The change of heart comes after Stella Moore, 67, who has lived as a woman for three years, was turned away by the Portsmouth and District Women’s Bowling Association.

That one’s 100 per cent kosher.

So is the story about a soldier who joined the Royal Artillery in 1980 and is now suing the Ministry of Defence for £50,000 compensation claiming his hearing has been damaged irreparably.

Presumably, he didn’t realise artillery makes a hell of a racket. But no doubt in future, in the interests of elf’n’safety, the Army will have to order squaddies to shout ‘Bang, Two, Three’ instead.

April Fool’s Day passed its sell-by date when giant corporations started trying to get in on the act. I can’t be bothered to list all the pathetic PR stunts this year posing as ‘fun’. But it is fun when they backfire. 

Volkswagen, which suffered serious reputational damage when it was found fiddling diesel emissions figures, tried to make up lost ground by putting out a press release claiming it is rebranding as ‘Voltswagen’ to promote its new range of electric cars.

Some gullible business reporters fell for the hoax, and reported it as fact.

VW has since been forced to apologise and the firm’s share price slumped on the U.S. stock market. Is it too much to hope that one day we’ll get an apology from our own Government for wrecking the economy and unleashing a daily tidal wave of Covid-inspired madness?

If I’d have told you last April that the entire country would be put under house arrest for the best part of a year because of a Chinese virus which kills only 0.5 per cent of those it infects — average age 82 — you wouldn’t have believed me.

If I had predicted it would become a crime to travel abroad, hug your granny or drink a cup of coffee in the open air — or that police would be measuring pizza slices to see if they constituted a ‘substantial meal’ — you’d have thought I’d taken leave of my senses.

Yet sixty-odd years after the Spaghetti Harvest, millions of us were panicked by our Government into buying pasta in bulk.

Some people obviously still think it does grow on trees.

Glastonbury will be a virtual festival online this year, which sort of defeats the object. 

If you want to recreate the genuine Glasto experience at home, set up your iPad, fill your bath with mud, turn the shower head to cold, climb in and stay there for five days — only getting out to use an overflowing organic portable toilet in your garden, and fetch another carton of mung beans from the compost heap. Rock and, indeed, roll!

Loved the picture of 5ft 3in Wee Burney perched on a box before the cameras as she launched the SNP’s election campaign.

Loved the picture of 5ft 3in Wee Burney perched on a box before the cameras as she launched the SNP’s election campaign

Is there such as thing as Small Woman Syndrome? 

The midget film star Alan Ladd used to stand on a box so his female co-stars didn’t tower above him.   

In some scenes, much taller male actors were made to stand in specially dug trenches. 

How long before Sturgeon insists on her opponents having to stand in trenches at all times?

If the defining characteristic of a megalomaniac is a complete lack of self-awareness, Wee Burney certainly fits the bill. 

Headline of the week: ‘Sturgeon accuses Alex Salmond of being an attention-seeker who loves the limelight.’

Dear Kettle…

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