Is it just me or is there something insidiously disturbing about April Fool’s Day? I end up scanning the paper for something jokey, but suddenly everything looks bizarre and I can’t tell anymore. Yesterday I found something in the Observer about Blair taking up acting, which I assume was a joke. But it could well be true. And there might be others I missed. It’s like when I read Time’s Arrow , a book in which everything runs backwards, and after extended periods in its pages I was confused about what I was meant to be doing next, or before, or… It devalues the news for me. I can no longer take a war hero’s funeral seriously or a childkiller being sentenced to life, for fear of being caught out by some fake piece. And for the rest of the year I frequently have to remind myself that it’s not April 1st, or on April 1st that it’s after 12pm. Or am I missing the joke?
Anyway, the contractors turned up to fix the road over the weekend. It was a very impressive endeavour, which I watched with a knot of shopkeepers and passers-by. We all looked on intently with folded arms as huge bleeping lorries unloaded molten asphalt, which was then artfully laid in smooth black blankets by big men with complex mechanical machinery. Then came the rollers. Huge contraptions that rattled and ground and shook the street with an otherworldly bass roar. It was, I imagine, a foretaste of how the end of the world will start. After this climax, all that was audible was the sound of alarms chirruping the length of the neighbouring street. Now it is back to the comparative quiet of the thundering buses.
My daughter starts her spring holidays today. Was it my imagination, or did her teacher hand her over on Friday with visible relief? Other children have already been on holiday for a week. When I visited the park with her last week we were approached by a large group of women and children of varying ages. As they passed by, I overheard one of the mums say “Well, that’s the first week over – another two to go, though.” [Sigh.] “Absolutely”, they all agreed. It wasn’t surprising in itself, I suppose, it was just the contrast with what was, at a distance, a happy scene; and the way she said it: so resigned to the lack of pleasure. My wife is taking time off work to spend the holidays with our daughter and me. So we will be a normal family group for a while. That might take a bit of getting used to.