April Fools: How local newsrooms tried to tickle your funny bone this week

The UK’s relationship with Europe may still be up in the air, but April Fools Day proved the Entente Cordiale was alive and kicking, when it comes to having a laugh at least.

The Kent Messenger teamed up with French publication Norde Littoral to run a spoof story claiming the Calais had been confirmed as an English city, based on the discovery of an ancient document unearthed during an excavation.

“This will mean that when the UK finally leaves the European Union, Calais will be coming to,” Kent Online told readers, adding that Calais would soon get a CT postcode, and border checks would move from the French coast to the south of Calais.

Picking up on the Brexit theme, the Northern Echo revealed’ plans by a Cleveland firm to build a super bridge spanning from Ramsgate to Ostend in Belgium, complete with mock up.

More likely than Chris Grayling’s ferries from Ramsgate surely?

Running at 52 miles, it even had a plausibly government-sounding name: The Project Rapid Access North-sea crossing’ or PRANC for short.

The Great Yarmouth Mercury also went with an international flavour with a claim that the seaside town was to enjoy a tourism boost because Burma was celebrating ‘year of the gull,’ an event which only comes around once every 28 years.

“As well as taking in Yarmouth tourism favourites such as the Pleasure Beach, they will be encouraged to tuck in to a portion of Yarmouth’s famous market chips, in the hopes of attracting the notoriously greedy gulls,” the Mercury told readers on Monday.

“There is also hope the initiative will give a regeneration boost, as a number of abandoned buildings that have in recent years been colonised by the birds could become tourist spots for the visitors.”

April pranks brought a tidy web boost for the newsrooms of the Edinburgh Evening News and The Scotsman, assistant editor Alan Young told Behind Local News.

The Scotsman effort — about Scotland becoming a cash free society — was expertly crafted by Paul Wilson and brought in 46,000 page views, said Alan: “Like all the best fools, its success came in being almost believable.”

The Evening News meanwhile had Bute House, the residence of the Scottish First Minister, being rented out on Airbnb, which scored 10,000 page views.

The idea, by Kayt Turner, claim complete with mocked up Airbnb profile page for Bute House.

Is Nicola Sturgeon renting out Bute House?

In Wigan, stereotypically known for its pies, the Wigan Evening Post reported: “A 16th century recipe which suggests a local village may have been one of the first places in England to receive a shipment of potatoes has been discovered during refurbishment of an historic building.”

Has Wigan had its chips?

Citing ‘experts’, the Post added: “The manuscript, which we found in a bone-dry underground space, quite possibly the refrigerator of its day, refers to ‘pye’, ‘chiffed of plant’ and ‘gravie’ and it would appear that it’s a recipe for a medieval pie, chips and gravy, although not as we’d know it today.

Fillings included squirrel or rat.

Down the road, newly-launch LancsLive tapped into the pie theme with claims a new tax on butter pies — a local delicacy — came into force on April 1 (handily, actually the day many new taxes do kick in).

All aboard!

CornwallLive reported that a Russian ship which had run aground off the coast last year had been bought by developers to turn into student accommodation.

A spokeswoman for the company behind the purchase is said to have said: “We are delighted to announce that the purchase of the Kuzma Minin has now been completed. We feel the ship provides an excellent opportunity to expand the portfolio of accommodation on offer to students attending both Falmouth University and the Penryn campus of University of Exeter.

“All cargo-space living compartments will either have access to en-suite or shared non-binary toilet and washing facilities. Other facilities include a small gym, chill-out lookout and on-deck hot tub.”

Not cow-y enough

In Reading, the Get Reading team claimed Cow Lane in the town was to be closed for six months so artists could make it more ‘cow-y.’

The website reported that The Fellowship of Oxen Lovers — a group promoting the beauty and wonder of cows, yaks, bison and oxes were behind the plan. Chairman Apollo Rif was quoted as saying: “You may have seen the work we did on Ox Lane in Bicester, the marvellous ‘Field of Cows’ mural in Bull Avenue in Morecambe and, of course, the spectacular statue of a charging bull we made out of pipe cleaners in Norwich’s Sirloin Drive.”

A zip wire to Wales?

WalesOnline claimed a zip wire was being created over the Severn Bridge to give people an alternative way to cross the Bristol Channel.

The clues were in the names, it turned out. Founder of Faril-Polo, Kafe Linzipe, said the company hope to open the zipline by April 1 next year.

“We’re all very excited about this new development at the Severn Bridge,” Mr Linzipe said.

Tourism also played a part in the Eastern Daily Press’s April Fool, which said the county council was going to change village signs so they were spelt as they are sounded out.

Say what you see

The paper wrote: “From Wymondham to Happisburgh, Norfolk residents have long been frustrated with holidaymakers pronouncing unnecessary syllables.

“Thankfully help is at hand as Norfolk County Council is taking a break from rescuing snails from the A47 and responding to complaints about the NDR to deal with the county’s most pressing issue.

“The council will be changing town and village signs in Norfolk to show the correct pronunciation so tourists say them properly.

“The most offending locations will be tackled first with ‘Wind’m’, ‘Haze-bruh’, ‘Cossey’, ‘Aycle’ and ‘Pozzick’ replacing the normal spelling.”

And finally, in Birmingham, nudity came to the fore for BirminghamLive’s annual hoax, claiming their were plans for a nudist beach in the land-locked city.

The site told readers: “A nudist beach at Bartley Reservoir is set to get the green light to help people to make the most of future spells of sunny weather.

“A businessman is applying for planning permission to turn the south-facing Scotland Lane waterside area into a money-spinning ‘Balmy Army’ sun spot called Frankley Beaches.

Streetfood traders will supply the first 100 customers with free t-shirts illustrated with nuts or cherries and the quirky phrase: ‘I’ve just tandem with the Balmy Army’.”

The quote at the end, from Brook Water, perhaps gave the game away: “I really don’t care if some prudes object.

“As Clark Gable’s Rhett Butler almost said in Gone With the Wind: ‘Frankley Beeches, I don’t give a reservoir dam’.”

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