Shropshire Star

Political column - April 1

I am just back from a pleasant break in San Serriffe, a small archipelago in the Indian Ocean, during which I was able to see the progress on this year's spaghetti harvest.


After landing at the capital, Bodoni, it was but a short journey onward to the most southerly of the two main islands, Caissa Inferiore, otherwise known as Lower Caisse, where I stayed in a hotel overlooking the world-famous environmental gem, the Woj of Tipe.

There is not much in the way of heritage in this tropical republic, and nothing to compare to, say, our own Iron Bridge, although since the original ironwork of Abraham Darby's 1779 masterpiece over the River Severn was controversially replaced with more durable red plastic, authenticity has been sacrificed for the sake of preservation.

Yes, it is the day for such stories to raise eyebrows, prompt headscratching, and test gullibility.

San Serriffe was introduced to the public by the Guardian way back in 1977. Spaghetti trees were introduced to British television viewers as long ago as 1957, by the Panorama current affairs programme, the item being given additional gravitas and credibility thanks to a voiceover by the legendary Richard Dimbleby.

When some viewers rang in asking how they could grow their own spaghetti trees, they were advised to place a sprig of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce and hope for the best.

Many moons ago the Star used to have a regular leisure supplement running to several pages called Outlook. For one day only it was renamed Lookout. My favourite feature in it told of the launch of an anti-litter campaign by the dropping of thousands of leaflets from a hot air balloon overflying the region.

My own efforts to mark this special day pale in comparison – a picture of an Edwardian football team in which if readers looked closely they would spot among the line-up the likes of Pele, Charlton, and Rooney. And some did.

Whether newspapers and news organisations are doing something to mark April 1 this year, obviously I don't know at the time of writing, but the trend in recent times has been not to.

It is as if such frivolity is considered to be bad taste when many people are going through tough times, although you could argue that that is all the more reason to try to cheer them up.

Another potential explanation is that in the 21st century Britain is losing its sense of humour, and being offended is much more empowering than seeing the funny side of life. Is this the most miserable and unhappy young generation in history? Record numbers of children and young people are being treated for mental health problems (source: The Guardian).

Or it could be something to do with the rise of the internet, a forum for conspiracy theories, misinformation, hoaxes, and downright lies.

April 1 used to be a once-a-year bit of tomfoolery. But now somebody is trying to fool you every day.


The campaign to get Grace the sack starts here, following his disgraceful threats to a reporter from the Argus in Brighton who was only doing his job.

Grace should be dragged through the streets naked while having excrement thrown at him, which I will happily join in if I am permitted to wear gloves.

He is one of the worst TV detectives in history, based on the last episode. Don't read the next bit if you're going to watch it on catch-up, but the outcome of the latest murder inquiry that he led was lots of people being killed in Brighton while the killer escaped from under the very noses of the police and is currently living it up in Paris.

The Argus journalist was depicted as wearing a long macintosh, which presumably the writer considers standard reporter uniform, and maybe it is with the staff of the Argus. However in my experience, while I can recall one or two who used to wear long coats, I struggle to think of any reporter who wears or wore a long mac of the stereotypical journalist type.

Once Grace is rightly sacked it will open up an opportunity for a follow-up series without that incompetent bullying plod. They could call it, er... Graceless.

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