Friday, April 4, 2008

Tricky Characters

Marissa and I have told you a few stories since this blog started last fall. Things like

--A Queen who nearly wasn’t born
--A lord whose nose rotted off after he spirited away ancient statues
--Sleeves that defy gravity (and logic)
--Mangel-wurzels that grow to humungous sizes, like those in the picture.

But Marissa’s post on April 1 beat them all. Rotting badger pelts stinking up the royal court? A queen who chews and spits (apparently farther than I do!) betel-nuts? What amazing stories!

What a load of rot! April Fools!

I hope you were amused. The celebration of fools and pranks has been around since at least the time of the Romans and was well established in England by the nineteenth century.

It wasn’t uncommon for boys in particular to excel at playing pranks. Certainly there are horror stories (or fond remembrances, depending on your point of view) of things that occurred at boys’ schools like Eton and Harrow. But even the adults got involved.

Take Colonel Dan Mackinnon, for example. He was famous for playing jokes on people. He fought against Napoleon under Wellington. Once he impersonated Victoria’s uncle, the Duke of York, at a great banquet given in Spain. The only reason he was discovered is that, when a bowl of punch was served, he dunked his head in it and kicked both feet into the air. I imagine that didn’t do a lot for international relations, even then.

People bet on him to do outrageous stunts, even at balls and dinner parties. He’d go around the room without touching the floor, leaping from furniture to table and back again. He’d scramble up and over rooftops. Once he went around Covent Garden theatre by running along the decorative lips of the boxes where people sat! And did our nineteenth century darlings decry him? No indeed! They ate him up! He was extremely popular and welcomed nearly everywhere.

I do hope the same can be said of Marissa and me.

So, did you encounter any other pranks or whimsy on April Fools?


Marissa Doyle said...

My goodness, are those mangel-wurzels? I always wondered what they look like. Rather alarming, aren't they?

I was starting to worry that everyone took my sporran and betel-nut stories seriously.

Regina Scott said...

Yes, those are mangel-wurzels! A thousand thanks to Michele Barker (A Difficult Boy, out this month!) for sending along the photo.

Mary Witzl said...

Mangel-wurzels are nasty-looking things. I saw a huge pile of these once and was relieved to realize that they were, in fact, vegetables.

My husband managed to fool our eldest into thinking that some penguins could fly by showing her an excellent BBC April Fool's broadcast. (The youngest and I have a better grasp of biology; we didn't buy it.) And I got my kids on the same April Fool's joke I always trot out. I'm a simple minded person; I never tire of the same joke as long as people fall for it.

Regina Scott said...


Clever folks! My youngest adores penguins, but I doubt I could pull anything over on him anymore, him being a bright 14-year-old and all.

Thanks for sharing!