VIRUS: NO APRIL FOOL JOKES PLEASE

From Boris Johnson to Donald Trump we’ve already had our fill of fools for one year

And we’re sick to death of the biggest covidiot of them all, the fool on Capitol Hill. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

And we’re sick to death of the biggest covidiot of them all, the fool on Capitol Hill. (Al Drago/The New York Times)

Today is April Fool’s Day, and no doubt many of us woke up this morning hoping it would all turn out to be a bad joke.

Maybe someone would arrive at our door and, instead of wearing PPE, they’d be wearing an “I’m with Stupid” T-Shirt and a big grin, and informing us that Donald Trump was right all along: the whole coronavirus thing was a big, fat Democrat hoax, and we all got suckered in.

That the whole pandemic story was lifted from some obscure Dean Koontz novel (1981’s The Eyes of Darkness, to be precise), and, as happened with that Orson Welles War of the Worlds radio broadcast, we all mistook fiction for reality and got ourselves into a Covid-19 lather.

“We had you going there for a while,” our smirking visitor might say. “You should have seen the look on your face.”

At first, we’ll be a bit angry at having been taken in, but then we’ll see the funny side. “You- you swine! You had me proper fooled. I’ve been taking my temperature 10 times a day, and dosing up on multivitamins. I even filled up my garage with rolls of toilet paper and paid €100 for a face mask.”

Then we’ll wag our finger in mock disapproval. “You ever trick me like that again and I’ll… I’ll…”

We’ll offer praise to the pranksters for their elaborate planning and execution. “How did you even get all those world leaders to play along? And how did they manage to keep a straight face?”

In the end, we’ll shrug our shoulders and go back to our pre-coronavirus daily routines as if nothing had happened – dropping the kids to school, getting on a packed Dart and heading into our big offices to resume normal working life. Later that evening we’ll all meet up in a crowded pub and have a good, sheepish laugh at how we were so easily taken in.

As we watch the coronavirus death toll rise geometrically, it’s harder to see a lighter side to this grim tale. So it’s not surprising if nobody’s in the mood for April Fool jokes.

But on this April 1st, we have woken up in a reality that’s not the least bit amusing – although in my house, we’re making the most of it and trying to keep it as close to a fun family adventure as possible.

But while the kids are distracted by Disney + (excellent timing from the Mouse House, arriving not a moment too soon) and we sneakily check our newsfeeds and see the number of global cases rising inexorably closer to the million mark, and watch the death toll rise geometrically, it’s harder to see a lighter side to this grim tale.

So it’s not surprising if nobody’s in the mood for April Fool jokes.

This is a day when news organisations recruit their funniest writers to make up spoof stories which they slip in amongst the real stories to see if their eagle-eyed readers can spot the wind-up.

There’ll be some tongue-in-cheek piece about a new Brexit theme park in Birmingham, or a tall tale about the Green Party trying to form a coalition government with the Order of Witches and Druids.

Somehow, though, I can’t imagine many of us having an appetite for April Fool stories today – it would just leave a bit of a sour taste.

Besides, from the “covidiots” who merrily sang along to Sweet Caroline in a pub in Temple Bar while the rest of the country was practising social distancing, to the gobshite who ran up to Minister for Health Simon Harris and coughed theatrically in his face, then went back laughing to his equally stupid female friend, whereafter, most likely, the two boasted of their prank to their other thick-as-shite mates.

It’s probably better for our overall health – not to mention our sense of humour – if we just cancel April Fool’s Day for this year.

We’ve had it up to here with the horses’ asses who galloped off to Cheltenham for one last hooray henry, cocking a snook at advice to cancel mass gatherings, and are sick to the back teeth of the upper-class twits in Downing Street who seriously believed that a herd immunity would magically materialise if enough people were infected, and that Dunkirk spirit and jolly hockey sticks were the only weapons needed in the fight against this unseen enemy.

When Boris Johnson tested positive for Covid-19 and his top medical advisers – along with his Machiavellian master strategist Dominic Cummings – displayed symptoms of the disease, it was tempting to think the joke was on them, but really, none of us even felt like guffawing.

And we’re sick to death of the biggest covidiot of them all, the fool on Capitol Hill who has taken coronavirus personally, convinced it exists solely to thwart his bid for another four years in the White House.

His narcissism and arrogance will cost many Americans their lives, as his cack-handed response has now seen the US with the world’s largest number of infections, and on a breakneck course to having the world’s biggest death toll.

So, like St Patrick’s Day, it’s probably better for our overall health – not to mention our sense of humour – if we just cancel April Fool’s Day for this year. I like a good joke as much as the next person, but at the moment, in lieu of a laugh, I’d be happy with lots of good reasons to smile. That’ll do for now.

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