The earliest recordance of April Fool’s Day is in ‘The Nun’s Priest’s Tale’ chapter of The Canterbury Tales:
Sin March bigan, thirty days and two,
Bifell that Chauntecleer in all his pride.
It is a tale, set on April 1st, in which both Chauntecleer, a cock, and Reynard, a fox, trick one another, each using the other’s pride against them.
Aesop warned against it, as did Thomas Hardy. Marty McFly suffered from it, but not as much as Icarus. In fact, it is something that we all suffer from to some extent, because we are all human. Except for Chauntecleer and Reynard, of course, who were fictional animals. Today is not merely about tomfoolery and japes, it is about the fall of the prideful.
Arrogance, often disguised as the more socially acceptable personality trait of pride, is common in politics. Fortunately, the general public is usually on hand to offer some help in melting those waxen wings.
And so it was this week. After threatening to buy the Queen a yacht and introducing more privatisation into our health system, the Tories finally plummeted face first into the sea in a plume of waxy feathers last week after paying for the cutting of the 50p tax rate by making grannies pay no more. After doing pretty much whatever the hell they felt like for the past two years, safe in the knowledge they’d still be within five points of Labour, they finally found that they could fly no nearer to the sun, nor offload more family members whilst drunk. That didn’t stop them trying, of course. Last Sunday, it emerged they’d been trying to sell the Prime Minister, maybe whilst drunk (Peter Cruddas, at least read the first chapter of The Mayor of Casterbridge*). At the point people realised that hot pasties had started to cost more, “the shit has hit the fan” won’t really have covered the emotions in CCHQ. Imagine Leeds Festival’s ‘PooGirl’ running through the engine of a jumbo jet. This is all before Francis Maude’s attempts to distract focus from the santorum the Government had splattered themselves in. Since the announcement that there will be no tanker strike over Easter, his recommendations that people stock up on petrol now look a little arrogantly premature.
Having started a week and a half ago by impressing pretty much everyone (even Dan Hodges) and having a ten point lead by the middle of this week, it looked like Ed Miliband was heading for an easy sailing Easter break. The icing on the cake, of course, would be the strengthened majority in the Bradford West by-election.
The red Reynard Labour fox ran, victorious, through the streets of Bradford, away from the farm, with the crowd of public opinion giving chase. But then the eloquent cock Galloway piped up, from within our clasped jaws, and we lost sight of the prize. As Galloway happily flew up to the branch of electoral success, Labour sat, gormlessly letting the crowd of public opinion catch up. The fox was left watching 56% of voters celebrating as the cock, from the heady heights of the by-election branch, paraded about, claiming his escape was “the most significant success of any cock, ever”.
Perhaps Galloway suffered his hubris yesterday, when he celebrated his “Blackburn triumph”, a mistake he later claimed was the result of a twitter hacking. My guess? It was typo, and Gorgeous George has much further yet to fall. Just ask Ed Miliband.
Happy April Fool’s Week.
*I wouldn’t bother reading any more than that.