The London Times' April Fool's Day Hoaxes
Around the World for 210 Guineas.
The London Times ran a small article noting that in honor of the 100-year anniversary of Thomas Cook's first round-the-world tour, the travel agent Thomas Cook was offering 1000 lucky people the chance to buy a similar package deal — at 1872 prices. The offer would be given to the first 1000 people to apply. Applications should be addressed to "Miss Avril Foley."
The public response to this bargain-basement offer was swift and enthusiastic. Huge lines formed outside the Thomas Cook offices, and the travel agent was swamped with calls. Belatedly the Times identified the offer as an April Fool's joke and apologized for the inconvenience it had caused. The reporter who wrote the article,
The Island of Murango.
The London Times reported on a small, Pacific island state named Murango whose inhabitants (most of whom seemed to be of British descent) were busy preparing to send a delegation to the Moscow Olympics, despite the western boycott of the games. The Murango islanders were said to enjoy two things most in life: their local drink, ourakino, and sports. In 1972 the small island state had supposedly achieved a brief moment of glory on the international stage by winning a bronze medal in boxing during the 1972 Munich Olympics. The winner of the medal had been named Dick T. Murango. However, Dick T. Murango and the island of Murango were entirely fictitious, though in 1972 a man named Dick T.
The Real Sherlock Holmes.
The London Times published an article revealing shocking revelations about the private life of the famous detective Sherlock Holmes. The revelations had been unearthed in a collection of papers found at the home of Sherlock Holmes’s former physician, Dr. Moore Agar. According to the Agar papers, Holmes’s faithful sidekick, Dr. Watson, had engaged in a systematic cover-up of the true character of Holmes “in order that so great a man as Sherlock Holmes should not be pilloried in the public prints.“ The most shocking revelation was that Holmes’s arch-enemy, Professor Moriarty, was merely “a figment of the detective’s imagination, distorted by stress and
Driverless London Buses.
The Sunday Times revealed that London Transport soon planned to start using driverless buses within the city. The buses would follow a magnetic track while cameras scanned the road, relaying images back to a controller at headquarters who could switch the vehicle to manual drive and steer it out of trouble, should that be required.
LT hoped the plan would prove a "dynamic money-winner." Although a public opinion poll conducted for the Sunday Times noted 100% public opposition to the plan.
The One-Way Highway.
The London Times announced that the Department of Transport had finalized a plan to ease congestion on the M25, the circular highway surrounding London. The capacity of the road would be doubled by making the traffic on both carriageways travel in the same direction. On Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays the traffic would travel clockwise; while on Tuesdays and Thursdays it would travel anti-clockwise. The plan wouldn't operate on weekends. It was said that the scheme was almost certain to meet with the cabinet's approval, despite voices of protest coming from some quarters.
The London Times reported that a gardener had succeeded in developing a variety of grass that grew only one inch a year, no matter how wet or dry the year was. The inventor of the seed was Clement Marchdone, a 73-year-old retired Essex seedsman living in Cutter's Green, near Chelmsford. Marchdone had also solved the problem of keeping stripes in a lawn because "when the grass starts to show, you go up and down with a roller; the grass will continue to grow in that direction forever."
The London Times reported that formal negotiations were underway for the purpose of dividing Belgium in half. The Dutch-speaking north would join the Netherlands and the French-speaking south would join France. An editorial in the paper lamented, "The fun will go from that favorite parlor game: Name five famous Belgians."
The report fooled the British foreign office minister Tristan Garel-Jones who almost went on a TV interview prepared to discuss this "important" story. The Belgian embassy also received numerous calls from journalists and expatriate Belgians seeking to confirm the news. A rival paper later criticized the prank, declaring, "The Times's effort could only be defined as funny
Chip and Sing Cards.
The London Times reported that "Britain's banks are developing a system of credit card security that uses the voice's tonal range. Rather than needing to recall a PIN, you will need to remember a line of a song... Optical scans are too fallible, and standard voice recognition too easy to mimic electronically. But no two people sing the same way. Tills and cash dispensers are to have microphones."
The London Times ran a photo of "tartan sheep" said to have been bred by Grant Bell of West Barns, East Lothian. However, the Times warned, "Before you complain of being fleeced, check out the baa-code for today's date."
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All text Copyright © 2014 by Alex Boese, except where otherwise indicated. All rights reserved.