I love April Fools’ Day, I love playing silly tricks and I love being caught out, being the most unsporty of characters, it appeals to me.
I was played like a cheap fiddle on my first 1 April at work. It was a Thursday which was the busiest day of the week in the Flower Market and when you were asked to do something on a Thursday you just did it. Hence I was sent to another company for a ‘long weight’ (I stood waiting for fifteen minutes), to the cafe for a ‘gravy sandwich’, two slices, with pepper in between, asked to ring and ask for ‘Dawun Umber’, and asked to ring a Mr Hutchinson whom I was told “is very deaf, you’ll have to shout loud”, I did, he shouted back.
I was also sent to the office next door in what was a rehearsed trick. I was told I had to give an envelope to ‘Mr Tellegs’, “don’t give it to anyone else, make sure you hand it to him personally” I was told. As I left the office I was called back and a little act was done between two of my colleagues to make sure I gave it to the right Mr Tellegs “as there’s two brothers working there, don’t give it to Charles Dean Tellegs, give it to the other brother, George Lee Tellegs”
So in I went and asked for George Lee Tellegs. The receptionist on that firm was in on it (I’ll never forgive you Julie Edwards) and called out “there’s the kid from Pages here asking for George Little Legs”. Out came George, all five foot two of him, with a face like a shotgun, I handed him the envelope, he opened it, stuffed it back in my hand and told me to clear off.
Realising it was all a setup, which I believed him to be in on as well, I said “OOH! George little legs, does your brother really work here too?” I was sent packing and he was on the phone complaining to my boss when I got to the office.
The following year there was an edict from above, ‘no April Fools tricks’. We were however, allowed to try and make each other laugh, with just one rule, keep it clean. Subsequently we would sneak in fancy dress outfits, rehearse whole Monty Python sketches, we’d shout things like, “Peter, have you finished putting your make up on, there’s a call” and it turned into admin staff versus sales staff. I have to say my team, admin, were usually rather good.
I broke the rules once, inadvertently. As one of my colleagues was going to the bank I asked him, to give him a laugh, “Philip, can you ask for a verbal agreement form while you are there please?” I had no idea how it would unfold. I expected him to just laugh, but no. In the bank he asked for the verbal agreement form. Hazel who was serving him asked Janet to get one for him. Janet could not find them so asked Ray, Ray rang their central stationary office in Acton, Acton said they’d look into it and that’s what Philip told me on his return. I chuckled and said ‘good one’.
Well, Acton phoned back the New Covent Garden branch of Nat West and said they assumed it was an April Fool’s trick. Janet then rang me and coated me. My most successful April Fools to date.
I have two friends who when we were in our early twenties used to plan outrageous tricks but not execute them. However, there were two we did that were rather naughty. One of my friends had two very snooty neighbours, snooty to the point of unkindness. They would do things such as knock on the door and say “your car is parked crookedly on your drive, could you straighten it, the road looks unkempt” (yes, really). The daughter of one older neighbour was asked “can we have your number so we can telephone when your mother’s grass needs cutting/nets need washing/gate needs painting”. We decided it was time to have some fun.
1 April was a Sunday, they woke up that morning to find their car decorated “just married” style, including cans tied to the bumper, and all the neighbours had invitations to come and enjoy sherry and cake at 11am “to celebrate the eventual tying of the knot after 30 years”. They called the police, we were never found.
The mum of my other friend was very excited when she had a letter published in the TV Times. The week before someone had complained, via letter, that The Sound of Music was going to be shown on ITV on Easter Sunday, my friend’s mum wrote the following week saying she was delighted it would be on.
1 April was Good Friday I recall and from my house, just after the Solemn Liturgy she was rung. She was told that ITV had made a dreadful contractual error and in fact they were not allowed to show The Sound of Music, but instead they’d be showing the Norwegian version De Clappen af de Musikalala (well I think that’s how it would have been spelt). Bless her heart she had it hook line and sinker. She was very touched she should be phoned “and on a bank holiday too”. When she said this we thought she’d fallen in, but no, she told everyone. And she was never told the truth. She was also delighted that ITV had unravelled the contractual error and were able to show the real thing.
Last year early in the morning of 1 April, I put on Facebook “on Radio 4 at 8am, nervous”. I did feel a little guilty when someone rang me saying he’d sat outside his office for 20 minutes listening to “Radio poxy four”, but it did not stop me again this year.
About 11pm on 31 March this year I posted “On This Morning at 11.15, tape it”. One of my colleagues, Damien, realised what I was up to and messaged me saying ‘good set up’. The following morning I thought it had died when someone posted ‘Happy April Fools Day’, as a comment. But later Damien posted this picture on my Facebook timeline
We were astounded at how many had taped it, or were sorry they’d missed it, or asked if it was on Catch-up, or did I record it and was I going to post it to Youtube.
Well I can’t, but I can go into hiding.