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Fools’ errands

According to traditional fooling etiquette, one can only tell April Fools’ jokes until midday on 1st April, otherwise the fooler becomes the fool. If that’s the case, we’ve been fools for nearly 12 years, because in almost every April-June issue of Delayed Gratification we’ve added a ludicrous made-up news event to the first day in the almanac.

We’re not in the business of fake news, and so we try to ensure that our delayed April Fools’ jokes are so ridiculous that nobody would mistake them for real events (although this year we have had quite a few enquiries about Paraguayan politics and we did once receive an email from a reader asking whether the head of Nasa really did declare that Mars was overrated). Here are all of our frivolous falsehoods to date.

A cartoon giant anteater wins the presidential election and governs for almost half an hour. José the Anticorruption Anteater, the wisecracking creation of Asunción-based protest-prank collective Ants on Fire, had put himself forward as a write-in candidate through a series of viral social media posts and became wildly popular. After José is declared the new president, he issues an immediate decree to replace the constitution with The Anteater Who Wouldn’t Eat Ants, a 1977 children’s book by Linda McCartney about the benefits of a plant-based diet. The electoral commission declares the result void only 25 minutes later, alleging “voting irregularities”. Due to gridlock in the election courts, at time of press The Anteater Who Wouldn’t Eat Ants was still the Paraguayan constitution.

TV explorer and head scout Bear Grylls attracts criticism after opening a nudist barbecue in East Sussex specialising in exotic meat and small crustaceans. Bear Grylls’ Bare Thrillz Bear and Krill Bar ‘n’ Grill (Bexhill) is forced to shut two days later by an alliance of militant Catholic, vegan, animal rights and anti-gentrification protesters.

To curb disruption to pupils’ education caused by self-isolation, the government announces a hi-tech revamping of the school bubble system. Multicoloured plastic orbs, which each hold up to three children of secondary school age or five of primary school age, will be fitted with fans as well as speakers to allow pupils to hear teachers, who will be expected to handle essential bubble maintenance such as oxygen refills at the start of each lesson. Education secretary Gavin Williamson rejects fears that the BritBubbles will cause discomfort, saying “Standing in an inflatable orb for up to seven hours is nothing pupils haven’t done a million times before in PE classes.”

In a speech about healthcare to the UN general assembly in New York, World Health Organisation Secretary General Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus announces that he has created a book of quiche recipes dedicated to “the all time stars of British TV”. Ghebreyesus tells delegates from 180 nations that part of the royalties from the book, which includes recipes for Quiche Lorraine Kelly, Penelope Quiche and Quiche Chegwin, will be channelled into global health projects. “If every nation assembled here today buys just 25 million copies of It Started with a Quiche we’ll be able to secure a healthier, happier planet for all of us,” says Ghebreyesus.

Nasa chief Jim Bridenstine is forced to apologise after a series of leaked emails show him disparaging space. In the late-night missives obtained by the Cape Canaveral Chronicle, the 44-year-old describes the moon as “humdrum”, Mars as “overrated” and black holes as “balls-achingly awful”. At a tearful Houston press conference Bridenstine says he wrote the emails after accidentally inhaling some asteroid dust and that they do not reflect his actual views.

Legendary British designer Vivienne Westwood announces the launch of a new line of leisurewear created in partnership with Jacob Rees-Mogg. The pair’s ‘Jacobienne’ range takes its inspiration in equal part from Drill music culture and 18th-century shooting parties. Each item is individually signed by the MP for North East Somerset with a glittery felt tip.

“Jerry loves clouds”
Media owner Rupert Murdoch announces at a press conference in London that he is to pay £19.4 billion to purchase the rights to Britain’s airspace as a gift for his wife, Jerry Hall. “I’ve always wanted to own the sky, and now I do,” he told the assembled journalists, before calling the BBC’s financial correspondent a “flaming galah” and telling a reporter from the Economist not to “come the raw prawn” with him.

“She’s the Buzz Lightyear of Westminster”
Pixar explains why its latest project is an animated biopic of Theresa May. Tory Story will chronicle the UK politician’s successful deportation of Abu Qatada, and the “memorable” occasion of meeting future husband Philip at a student disco.

UK chancellor George Osborne announces plans to tax actors based on the critical reception of their films. Osborne claims the move will have the dual outcome of raising income for the exchequer and “reducing the amount of dribbling eye-waffle” on the big screen.

German chancellor Angela Merkel publishes an erotic novel she wrote when she was 25. The audio version of Die Nymphomanin aus Schleswig-Holstein (The Nymphomaniac of Schleswig-Holstein), which was written under the alias of ‘Madame Mannschaft’ and banned in 1979 for the “promotion of capitalist decadence”, is read by the author and can be downloaded for free from the CDU party website.

Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmedinejad announces plans to record an album of Eric Clapton covers after his term in office ends in August. When he banned western music from state TV and radio in December 2005 he included what became known as the ‘Clapton clause’ – music by Cream and the Yardbirds was still permitted, as well as some of the English guitarist’s less provocative solo material.

Former prime minister Gordon Brown announces his intention to become a professional ballet dancer. “Dance is in my blood,” he tells reporters.

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