How well I remember our first April Fools Day together! It was 1993; we’d agreed to get married (which I suppose constitutes ‘getting engaged’ though we didn’t call it that) a few months back. On April 1st 1993 we were having a drink when I turned and said very seriously: ‘I don’t want to get married any more.’ I’d thought about this for all of ten seconds and the reaction I expected was a moment of reflection before the penny dropped, and then we’d laugh about it. Oh dear. No sooner had the words left my tongue than OH looked utterly stricken. He moistened his lips and whispered ‘Why?’ Oh, how awful I felt then and how utterly inadequate were the triumphant words ‘April Fool!’
I never did that again.
My April Fools have never been that successful, to tell the truth: either I misjudge my audience or I’m not a very good bullshitter. But I do enjoy a well-constructed spoof in the press or on the radio and OH is off to buy a Guardian to see whether there’s one on offer or whether like everyone else they’ve decided that Brexit is such an omnishambles that no practical joke comes close. Oh! Would that Dave and Nige would just jump out of a hat and say ‘April Fool! We never had a referendum after all!’ But of course like everything else what gives joy to one half of the country will enrage the other half. No-one can win.
One of my favourite novels begins with an April Fool. ‘A Suitable Boy‘ by Vikram Seth opens with one of Lata’s brothers telling the family that she is engaged to a very unsuitable boy indeed: when everyone gets in an uproar he calmly tell them all to check the date. This April Fool prefigures a genuine near-tragedy in which Lata, a Hindu, falls in love with a Muslim boy. His family don’t care but hers would disown her, and in the end she sadly breaks it off. (Actually now that I look it up A Suitable Boy begins with a wedding, so the April Fool scene must come after that.) Why has no-one made a film or box set of this yet? It’s a brilliant book – and they’ve just issued a left-handed version too, which is great.
That’s enough April Fools for today. And I haven’t even tried to slip one in to this post.
Or have I?