By Benson Hewitt
If today, Wednesday, had been April Fools’ Day, instead of Sunday past, I have contemplated several large headings I might have had for this particular piece.
One I gave some thought to was this: “Massive oil deposits discovered on Fogo Island”, and, because I’d like the mischief, I thought that I would have a smaller sub-heading declaring that former ex-patriot Fogo Islanders forbidden to return. I would further go on to say that any land still owned by those former residents would be expropriated.
Then, I thought perhaps I might have this bold heading instead: “The Queen, Prince Philip, Prince Charles, the Duchess of Cornwall and Fergie to attend official opening of the new Fogo Island Inn.” Then a sub-heading which would say that because the price of a room there was a tad too expensive, they would all be sharing one room. Do you think that the editor would let me get away with it? I’d say at the end of the piece, of course, that it was all an April Fool.
Well, ‘April Fool’ for this year is behind us, and I wonder if anything has changed. We are always fooling ourselves in one way or another, don’t you think? I can remember as a child, perhaps, my mother on April Fools’ Day saying something like, “Oh my, look at that big bird in the garden”, and it was quite possible that we’d look, and then she would say, “April Fool!”, and that would be the beginning of a fun-filled day — a morning rather — of trying to fool friends, or even the teacher.
Generally speaking, the pranks were harmless but I do know of one person who rushed into her neighbour’s house announcing to the woman there that her husband had just had a heart attack. When the woman recovered from the shock, this person said, “A good April Fool, wasn’t it?”
The one trick most common played on the teacher was stuffing the school bell with paper, and shouting “April Fool” when he tried to ring it, and the surprised look that came on his face. For the most part, I remember they took it in good part.
In our part of the world, and April Fool, or some variant of it, is universal, April Fool ended at noon. After that, if someone tried to fool you, you’d have this retort, “April Fool has gone to past, you’re a bigger fool at last.” Getting the opportunity to say that bit of doggerel was satisfying.