Friday 27 April 2018

Who's fooling you today?

HAPPILY, this column appears on April Fools' Day. In the past, April 1st often resulted in low pranks being played on the vulnerable and the gullible.

So a slow-witted person might be given a note to deliver with a message for the recipient to send the unfortunate messenger on to the next person to keep up the 'running joke'.

In a variation of the same joke at school you might get sent to the science room to ask for "a long-stand" and be left standing there until it dawned on you that was the joke!

Or trainee nurses got sent to the infirmary to ask for a pair of fallopian tubes.

Where the tradition of April fool began nobody is quite sure, though it may be a relic of a Roman festival in honour of the Goddess Proserpina who was gathering up daffodils in her apron when she was carried off to the Lower World by Pluto after the ground opened up and swallowed her.

Her mother Ceres heard the echo of her screams and went on a 'fool's errand' chasing after the echo.

Given how far back the April Fools tradition goes maybe we should look at ways to modernise it.

We could be honest with ourselves and hold our political elections on April Fools' Day?

And just as the ancient Oracle at Delphi had the motto "Know Thy Self" carved over the door so all of our polling stations could sport a banner saying: "Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice shame on me".

April 1st could also be the day for appointing Banking Regulators, and for countrywide Government promoted Freedom of Information seminars.

Likewise a strong case could be made to set April 1st as a firm target for tens of millions of tax-payers' euro to be paid to fully resourced consultants and advisers as a necessary step in the process of conducting extensive analysis whereby an expert panel could be engaged to agree the terms of reference for a preliminary outline of an action-plan for an initial assessment of a draft proposal for a discussion paper to be put before a broadly representative politically appointed in-house committee to examine the issues in regard to preparing a proposal to be sent to the Attorney General's office in respect to all-party agreement on the constitutional position of April Fools' Day.

And while all of this is going on we could always use April Fools' Day to conduct our famously rigorous Irish tax audits on the likes of Google and Apple.

Or maybe April 1st should be the day for breathalysing TDs and awarding penalty points to sporting celebrities, judges, serving members of the force, the wealthy and the well connected and then say – "Only joking, of course you're not getting penalty points".

Then again we could set aside April Fools Day for the promotion of the long term economic and public health benefits of gigantic pylons and shale gas extraction on our drinking wells and holy wells, rivers, lakes reservoirs, farming and tourism once the fracking and energy companies are finished with Sligo, Mayo, Leitrim and Fermanagh.

Or do we use April Fools to finally explain why we had to bail out the banks and repay the bond holders, and how austerity is for everyone.

Or should we just start by asking ourselves this April Fools' Day, "Who's fooling who?"

Or even more to the point, "Who's fooling you?"

Sligo Champion