Saturday, 1st Apil, 2023

[Day 1111]

Today is evidently the 1st April upon which, traditionally, people used to play practical jokes upn each other, this being the one day of the year when such japes were allowed. The practice was known as an ‘April Fools Day’ joke and there have been one or two famous examples. The best known of these was performed by Sir Richard Dimbleby, the revered broadcster on 1st April, 1957 in the BBC Panorama programme. The ‘item’ started with reports from Switzerland, where the combination of a mild winter and the virtual disappearance of pests like the spaghetti weevil, has resulted in a bumper spaghetti crop. It showed a family carefuly cultivating the ‘spaghetti harvest’ which through the aid of a selective breeding programme had produced lengths of spaghetti of a uniform length. The film showed a family carefully cutting the strands of spaghetti and then carefully preparing the crop for resale. The spoof was carried forward because the programm assistants had laid strands of ‘spaghetti’ carefully over the branches of some convenient bushes and of course, in 1957, the whole sequence was shot in black and white. Thereafter, large sections of the population and perhps even a majority went round discussing what they had seen on television chatting with each other that they never knew that spaghetti actually grew on trees. There are some cultural factors to be borne in mind at this point. First of all, Richard Dimbleby was the most serious and respected of broadcasters and nobody imagined that he would have ever had fronted up a spoof such as this. Indeed, some complained to the BBC that a serious programme such as Panorama should only be engaged in serious television and not this sort of practical joke. In 1957, of course, the era of mass flights and cheap continental holidays had not yet got underway and so most of the population was not exposed to spaghetti apart from the squiggly little red bits in a tomato sauce sold by Heinz. So it was quite easy to pull this particular stunt which has been talked about for years.

Last night, we received a telephone call from our University of Birmingham friend setting up another rendez-vous for the three of us in the Waitrose café and so we met there this morning, together with one of our pre-pandemic friends who is often there on a Saturday. After a chat of over an hour, we all then disappeared into the shop to buy some bits and pieces. In our own case, we wanted to buy some mint sauce from which we could make a mint yogurt to accomany some onion bhajis that I had bought the other day to make for a more interesting Saturday midday meal. This actually did turn out to be quite a different meal because it comprised mainly salad elements that I had assembled but the onion bhajis were heated in the oven for 20 minutes. We finished up, though, with a much fuller meal than we had intended. For most of the afternoon until it was time for us to attend our normal church service, we had a quiet afternoon listening in the main to ClassicFM but also processing the diminishing pile of newspapers, the past copies of which we gut for relevant articles.

Just when you think that COVID had gone away, we will all receive a reminder of it next Wednesday as that is the date upon which the next round of vaccine is to be rolled out. Initially, this will be ofered to all in care homes, the immuno-compromised and anyone aged 75 and over. As Meg and I fall into this latter category, we might expect a reminder on our NHS app some time from Wednesday onwards inviting us to make our appointmemt. Just to show how the seasons are rolling along, today we are experiencing the most horrendous traffic jams through the port of Dover as would-be holiday makers are desperately trying to flee this sceptered isle seeking a little continental solace. One word that has been used to describe the situation in Dover is ‘carnage’ and a critical incident has been declared, with some coaches delayed for about 12 hours. The delays seem to be caused by the total volume of traffic (and I wonder whether are sufficient staff to cope with the holiday rush in any case) and much longer time checks, following Brexit, to check on British passport holders. Some travellers may not fully appreciate that a certain of unexpired time is needed on your passport before you can pass easily through the system. The rules seem complicated and vary from one country to another but unless you have six months remaining on your passport, you may run into difficulties. Of course, the population voted for this when they voted for ‘Brexit’ but I wonder whether the delays and difficulties were ever fully appreciated. Having said that, some of those who voted for Brexit may well have died by now leaving the possibility that Brexit is now regretted by the majority. Even though we have had a mild-ish winter, I am sure that mnay people may be relishing an Easter break but if the journey has got off to a really harrowing start, you probably need a day or so to recover once you reach your destination.