‘An attempt at humour, thought to originate in 1582’, could lead you to believe this week’s topic is the latest tory party policy. Alas, however, it’s April fools: that time of year when jovial irritants come out the woodwork for a few hours to impart their tomfoolery upon the unsuspecting.

I stopped taking it seriously some years ago after sending a kid at breaktime to another teacher for a long weight, tartan paint and a skirting board ladder. Arriving back some 20 minutes later, he had asked three of my colleagues for the items, none of whom got the joke. One even went into the stationary cupboard before returning empty-handed. By the time the second email enquiry pinged my inbox for clarity as to the items I sought, the realisation dawned that my ‘humour’ had an audience of one as I retreated back into my comedy vacuum.

This Is Local London:

April fools were originally April fishes

In the Gregorian ‘Julian calendar,’ whatever that may be, the new year was moved from January 1st to April 1st. Many Gregorians were slow on the uptake and still believed the new year began on the former, and were hence, branded as ‘fools'. Those crazy Gregorians were certainly a collective of wits as they placed paper fish on the idiots' backs and mocked them with the putdown of ‘you’re an April fish.’

Nowadays the tradition is on life support. We have lost our sense of humour and are scared of doing anything ‘personal’ to anyone bar our closest family members. Besides the odd news story in print and online, once midday strikes, you would never have known anything was different despite the newfound belief that Elvis is indeed still alive and currently working at a theme park in Prestatyn, aha!

As kids we would occasionally strike April fools gold: mother's cling film would inevitably make an appearance as we placed it across the toilet bowl and scarpered once the old man commenced his morning clear out.

As a gasman, he had an assortment of smoke pellets in the garage so, after butchering mothers cling film roll, we would raid said garage and gleefully put lit pellets through the neighbours’ letterboxes. After a visit from a fire engine and the local constabulary, along with a grounding and a wrap over the knuckles, we were forced to apologise to Cheryl at number 42 as she sat in shock, wrapped in a blanket, in the back of a police car.

It’s about knowing the limits, and there comes a point when a joke becomes sinister. The April fool can start a detrimental, life changing chain reaction. A few years back, after I was wound up by a colleague, I plotted revenge. Fully aware he had a cash-in-hand lodger, which he had not declared, I called up and pretended to be from the council demanding an inspection the next day. After putting the phone down and getting sidetracked, I forgot to inform him it was a wind up. Unbeknown to me, he left work early, went home and packed all his lodgers’ possessions up, and kicked him out that day. Of my actions I am not proud, and he was fuming once I came clean, giving me a nipple twister that drew blood, and still smarts to this day.

April fools pranks should be an all year around event, but sadly the tradition is dying out. We are no longer permitted to mock anyone or anything, as each action is dissected as to it’s true ‘intent’ as our backbones become more brittle with every passing day. We take umbrage at being the butt of another’s mockery and our sense of self-importance is now too far gone to ever come back. The truth is we are little more than humourless cretins who watch every word we speak, and action we take, as we become woke victims of groupthink.

I’m still game however for one last hurrah, although I won’t be around to pull any pranks this year. I have a 212-mile drive ahead of me to a theme park in North Wales, where the King of rock and roll is purportedly on rollercoaster duty and leaving the punters all shook up.

  • Brett Ellis is a teacher