Today is the day when traditionally schoolchildren, as well as others, used to play ‘April Fool’s‘ tricks upon each other. I get the feeling that this is done far less than used to be the case in the past but I am reminded of one of the greatest hoaxes of all time. The authoritative BBC current affairs was Panorama and they always chose a subject for the program of great topical interest. The presenter was the eminent broadcaster, Richard Dimbleby, who added a great air of authority to whatever he did. The 1st April, 1957 fell on a Monday and this was a Panorama broadcast day. From somewhere came the idea that Richard Dimbleby would do a report on gathering in the spaghetti harvest from a field full of spaghetti trees. The spaghetti-tree hoax was a three-minute hoax report broadcast on April Fools’ Day 1957 by the BBC current-affairs programme Panorama, purportedly showing a family in southern Switzerland harvesting spaghetti from the family ‘spaghetti tree’. At the time spaghetti was relatively unknown in the UK, so many British people were unaware that it is made from wheat flour and water; a number of viewers afterwards contacted the BBC for advice on growing their own spaghetti trees. Decades later, CNN called this broadcast ‘the biggest hoax that any reputable news establishment ever pulled’. No doubt, this can be viewed on YouTube to see a clip of the full story but many, many people were convinced for years afterwards that spaghetti grew on trees.
Today the weather was as variable as yesterday although just a tad warmer, as the wind was a little less cutting. In view of the very changeable weather conditions, I collected the newspaper by car and then Meg and I went down to the park by car rather than our usual walk. This was just as well because having had our coffee on the usual bench, it was no weather to be sitting about and the park was practically deserted in any case. So we got home to cook a traditional Friday midday meal. This week I had bought some smoked hake from Aldi last Thursday and preparation and cooking was minimal as all that was required was to wrap the fish in tinfoil and then bake in the oven for 15-18 minutes. This turned out to be absolutely delicious – I served the fish with a knob of butter and some horseradish sauce – I think I first ate horseradish sauce with smoked meat/fish at a holiday in Austria and it is rather a good combination. So I am hoping that this will be a regular ‘line’ at Aldi and not just a one-off.
Straight after lunch, it was lawn cutting time. Although the weather seemed OK when I started, some flurries of either sleet or snow threatened but unfortunately these clouds were quite soon swept aside. The lawn mowing was unproblematic for the second week in a row but the grass is now down to its ‘regular’ height so all I have to do I to keep up a good weekly routine from now until 5th November – my traditional end of the mowing season. After I had finished the routine mowing, I turned my attention to the lightweight handmower I occasionally use instead of the main mower for cutting edges and tricky areas around trees and shrubs. This particular model had an adjustable little back roller which is adjustable by the means of spring loaded spigots. All was fine at one end but the other was more free floating so I was not sure if a securing bolt had dropped off without my knowledge. I set myself the task of fixing the errant end in a fixed position (as I don’t intend to keep on adjusting it) so this involved hunting threw a tin of old screws to find a screw that would double as a spigot. I managed to find one that was marginally too small in the thread so I improvised by wrapping some back tape round it to make the thread ‘bite’ At this stage, I must say that one man’s ‘bodge up’ is another person’s ‘innovative solution adapting whatever materials one has to hand’.
Tonight there are a variety of report concerning the situation in the Ukraine. One the one hand, it does appear that the Russians are withdrawing troops from around Kyiv and it may well be that they have determined that they cannot, and will not, attempt to take the Ukrainian capital. On the other hand, they are probably concentrating and redeploying their forces in the east of the country in the Donbas region (principally but not excusively Russian speaking). Meanwhile, the International Committee of the Red Cross are desperately trying to deliver aid to the southern port city of Mariupol where 5,000 have been killed and 170,000 are still trapped and struggling without food, water, or electricity, according to the mayor. It has failed today but is hoping to organise a convoy of coaches tomorrow (Saturday)