As April Fool stunts go, dying and then being discovered alive again is quite a biggie.
It certainly got people talking when John Darwin did it in 2002. He was the man who paddled out to sea from a beach near Hartlepool, sparking a large-scale search which eventually ended when they found his empty canoe. He reappeared five years later and received a six-year prison sentence for his trouble. Interestingly, his wife, who colluded but didn’t actually disappear, received a jail term which was three months longer than her husband’s.
This year, on 1st April, Christians will celebrate Easter Sunday – the festival that commemorates the rising of Jesus Christ from the dead. It must have been quite a shock for those who witnessed his crucifixion on Good Friday, one that some of his disciples found difficult to believe during the immediate aftermath. More than two-thousand years later, it is therefore easy to understand modern-day scepticism about the Gospel stories: believing that the resurrection is not merely an April Fools Day prank has always been a matter of faith.
And the problem with faith is that it can fluctuate; some people have it, some acquire it, others lose it. Faith is rarely constant – think of it in the context of this blog’s weekly selections. Sometimes it is difficult to believe in them, but once in a while, those that keep the faith are rewarded with a winner.
Sometimes keeping the faith requires imagination – such as when the toy-maker Mattel launched the Hot-Wheels branded model of Wonder Woman’s ‘invisible jet’. An advertisement showing the empty packaging was released on 1st April, 2010, but the invisible toy proved so popular that it was eventually released for sale with a recommended retail price of $5. Demand remained high, so a second batch was released last year.
While selling invisible toys to imaginative children is quite a good joke, it’s not quite as funny as launching a new television service without actually broadcasting anything… That’s what we’re doing in the racing industry this year to celebrate April Fools Day.
On Saturday 31st March, Turf TV will broadcast its final programme to high-street betting shops. On Sunday 1st April, Satellite Information Services will pick up where Turf TV left off – only none of the racecourses currently broadcast by Turf TVs are scheduled to race, so you’ll just have to believe me.
The financial deal that heralded the change will result in improved finances for more than half of Britain’s racecourses, money that will be invested in more valuable races for racehorse owners and better facilities for racegoers.
While improvements in facilities take time to implement, the new betting shop broadcast service will become evident on Easter Monday, 24 hours after it has been launched, when you’ll be able to watch Jack Devine – our selection this week – streaking past the post in the 5.05pm at Market Rasen.