april\'s fools day classics

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found this in the times of london. he is considered the greatest prankster of all time.

Cole, (William) Horace De Vere (1881–1936), practical joker, was born on 5 May 1881, reputedly at Blarney, co. Cork, elder son of William Utting Cole (1851–1892), army officer, and his wife, Mary De Vere (1859–1930), niece and heiress of the scholars Aubrey and Sir Stephen De Vere. His only sister married Neville Chamberlain; one of his two younger half-sisters married Sir Michael Palairet. He was educated at Eton College (1894–1900). While serving as lieutenant in the Duke of Cambridge's imperial yeomanry in South Africa (1900–02) he was severely wounded. As an undergraduate at Trinity College, Cambridge, he disguised himself as uncle of the sultan of Zanzibar and was elaborately received by the mayor of Cambridge. An elderly lady missionary who wished to address him in his native language was deterred by his mock interpreter explaining that his master could not meet her unless she contemplated entering his harem. After Cambridge he worked as a gondolier in Venice.

Cole's most famous hoax (10 February 1910) was perpetrated in concert with Duncan Grant, Adrian Stephen and his sister Virginia Woolf, and others. Together they impersonated the emperor of Abyssinia and his suite on a stately visit to HMS Dreadnought commanded by Admiral Sir William May at Weymouth. Afterwards he leaked this hilarity to journalists. Henceforth, for over fifteen years, he enjoyed high notoriety as a practical joker.

Perhaps his greatest triumphs were simplicities like donning corduroy, providing a few poles for red lamps, and pulling up a stretch of Piccadilly, while policemen diverted traffic; or challenging conceited athletes to midnight races in the streets, and shouting ‘stop thief’ when they were well ahead …

Lord Vansittart reflected: ‘our Chief Jester achieved a standard higher than the increasing imbecility of students' rags’ (Vansittart, 122). Some of his pranks were gloriously absurd. Once he was driving in a taxi with Shane Leslie and a dummy of a nude woman; as the taxi passed a policeman at Piccadilly he opened its door, banged the dummy's head on the road shouting ‘ungrateful hussy!’ and drove off at high speed. He would walk with a cow's udder protruding from his flies and then cut it off with scissors before aghast bystanders. Police officers were often his targets. While strolling with Lord Aberdeen outside the viceregal lodge in Dublin, he transfixed the viceroy's coat-tails with a rapier to show the deficiencies of Irish detectives. Mistaken for Ramsay MacDonald he harangued a gang of navvies on the evils of socialism. Though he claimed to be puncturing pomposity (he had the tory MP Oliver Locker-Lampson arrested in St James's as a pickpocket) his most ambitious stunts humiliated his victims. He gave theatre tickets to a large number of bald men whose pates seen from the dress circle spelt out an expletive: characteristically he even remembered to dot the ‘i’. He held a party for a group of men who introducing themselves in the absence of their host discovered that they all bore such surnames as Ramsbottom, Winterbottom, and Boddam-Whetham.

Horace De Vere Cole was a striking man with piercing blue eyes, bristling white hair, and stiff moustaches. His advanced deafness prevented him from realizing that his carefully timed coughing was inadequate to cover his explosive breaking of wind. Potentially a generous friend (when visiting someone ill he brought neither flowers nor books but the loan of a picture by Augustus John), in low moods he was pugnacious, abusive, or malicious. Always he was both conceited and lustful: Who's Who excluded him after he filled in his recreation as ‘f—g’. In 1911 when involved in a ‘sordid, gas-lit Piccadilly circus affair’ with a disreputable woman he was described by Virginia Woolf as ‘upon the downward path, sampling human nature and spitting it out’ (Letters of Virginia Woolf, 1.453–4). His preference was for young girls. On 30 September (or possibly 30 October) 1918 Cole married a farouche heiress, Denise Ann Marie José Lynch (b. 1900), posthumous only surviving child of Denis Andrew Malachy Daly (1865–1899), Galway landowner. They had one daughter. This marriage was dissolved (1928) after Cole had lost his money in Canadian land speculations, and in 1948 she married Anthony Radley Drew. Cole became a remittance man in France, where his pranks were much resented. Rashly he married Mabel Winifred Mary (Mavis; 1908–1970) , formerly a scullery maid and Soho waitress, daughter of Samuel Charter Wright, grocer's assistant, on 31 January 1931. Her son (b. 1935) was fathered by Augustus John. Cuckoldry and poverty together broke Cole. He died after a heart attack on 26 February 1936 in Honfleur, France, and was buried (4 March) at West Woodhay churchyard, Newbury, Berkshire. His widow married Mortimer Wheeler (1939) and shot Lord Vivian (1954).

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rated tenth is mary toft. i only include her as my mother's maiden name was toft. i've often wondered...

Toft [née Denyer], Mary (bap. 1703, d. 1763), the rabbit-breeder, daughter of John and Jane Denyer, was baptized at Godalming, Surrey, on 21 February 1703. She married Joshua Toft, a journeyman clothier, about 1720. They had three children, Mary, Anne, and James. Joshua, who followed a trade in which many, including himself, were chronically underemployed, provided little income for his family. Mary, an illiterate, was of small stature, with a healthy, strong constitution, and a sullen temper.

In August of 1726 Mary miscarried. On 27 September 1726 Mary, her husband, and her mother-in-law cut up a cat, removed its innards, inserted the backbone of an eel into the cat's intestines, and placed the creation in Mary's reproductive tract. Mary sent for a neighbour, Mary Gill, and after her arrival complained of great pains, feigned a brief labour, and was delivered of a ‘monster’. The ‘monster’ was taken to John Howard, a surgeon practising midwifery in nearby Guildford. Howard claimed he would be convinced that ‘the monster’ was an actual birth product only if the ‘monstrous head’ was delivered. Mary obliged, and after a few days, was delivered of the head of a rabbit. Mary recalled that earlier, when five weeks pregnant, she was startled by a rabbit while working in the hop fields. Immediately she desired the rabbit for a meal, but was unable to catch the animal. Her cravings were further increased by a dream about rabbits, yet her longings remained unfulfilled. Four months later, she claimed to have been delivered of a strange misshapen piece of flesh. She made a similar delivery some three weeks later, at which time Howard was called.

As soon as Mary Toft was delivered of her first whole rabbit-headed monster, she fell into labour once again. By early November, with Howard in attendance, she was producing almost a rabbit a day. Toft was moved to Guildford so that Howard could more closely monitor the situation, and she soon gave birth to her ninth rabbit. Howard preserved the delivered products, all still births, in spirits, kept notes on the deliveries, and recorded the progress of events. Toft's case soon gained more than casual notice. Nathanael St Andre, surgeon and anatomist to the royal household, and Samuel Molyneux, private secretary to the prince of Wales, took particular interest in this case. On 15 November they visited Howard, examined Toft, and witnessed her delivery of the fifteenth rabbit. After carefully comparing the pieces obtained from a series of deliveries, St Andre was convinced of their authenticity, and he prepared an account of the matter which was subsequently published on 3 December as A Short Narrative of an Extraordinary Delivery of Rabbets, Perform'd by Mr John Howard Surgeon at Guilford.

The Toft incident soon appeared in the periodical press, and Mary became the general talk of the town in London. George I dispatched Cyriacus Ahlers, surgeon to his majesty's German household, to investigate the matter. Ahlers arrived in Guildford on 20 November, and delivered part of a rabbit from Toft. Ever suspicious, Ahlers returned to London on 21 November and reported to the king that the births were a hoax. His published account, Some Observations Concerning the Woman of Godlyman, appeared on 8 December 1726. In an effort to resolve the controversial reports, George I dispatched the eminent London physician and man-midwife, Sir Richard Manningham, together with St Andre and Phillupus van Limborch, a surgeon and man-midwife, to Guildford to review the situation and return with Toft who had, by this time, been delivered of a total of seventeen rabbits.

Toft reached London on 29 November, and was lodged in Lacy's Bagnio in Leicester Fields, where assorted members of the medical profession gathered to watch her next production. Although Toft underwent a series of violent contractions, no more rabbits were delivered. Besieged by a succession of men, including Manningham, the surgeon and anatomist James Douglas, justice of the peace Sir Thomas Clarges, the duke of Montagu, and Lord Baltimore, and threatened with ‘a very painful experiment’ to uncover any secret, Toft confessed her imposture on 7 December. Charged as a ‘notorious and vile cheat’, she was sent to Bridewell in Tothill Fields on 9 December.

At least fifteen pamphlets and songs appeared following Toft's disclosure, satirizing what was portrayed as a mass delusion. Among these were: by a ‘Gentleman at Guilford’, The wonder of wonders, or, A true and perfect narrative of a woman near Guilford in Surrey, who was delivered lately of seventeen rabbets and three legs of a tabby cat (1726); Doctors in labour: a philosophical enquiry into the wonderful coney-warren, lately discovered at Godalmin near Guilford in Surrey (1726); The Sooterkin Dissected (1726); T. Brathwaite, Remarks on a short narrative of an extraordinary delivery of rabbets, perform'd by Mr. John Howard, surgeon at Guilford (1726); The Doctor's in Labour, or, A New Whim Wham from Guildford (1726); R. Manningham, An exact diary of what was observ'd during a close attendance upon Mary Toft, the pretended rabbet-breeder of Godalming in Surrey (1726); J. Douglas, An Advertisement Occasion'd by some Passages in Sir R. Manningham's Diary (1727); St. A–D–E's Miscarriage: a Full and True Account of the Rabbit Woman (1727); Lemuel Gulliver, The Anatomist Dissected, or, The Man-Midwife Finely Brought to Bed (1727); Much ado about nothing, or, A plain refutation of all that has been written or said concerning the rabbit-woman of Godalming (1727); The Discovery, or, The Squire Turned Ferret (1727); and St Andre's Miscarriage (1727). Many of these works depicted Toft's surgical and medical attendants as gullible and credulous.

Toft was also parodied in several engravings, including William Hogarth's The cunicularii, or, The wise men of Godliman in consultation and, later, the second version of his engraving Credulity, superstition, and fanaticism (1762), as well as in a Drury Lane play. Toft's account continued to spark interest, most notably in Alexander Pope's poem, the Dunciad (1728), which revolves around a woman who proliferated monsters, and in the Daniel Turner–James Blondel controversy over the power of the maternal imagination. The case against Toft was dropped, and she returned to Godalming. Charles, second duke of Richmond, occasionally showed Mary as a spectacle or curiosity at his residence in Godalming. She was reportedly charged with receiving stolen ‘fowles’ in 1740. Toft died in Godalming, and was buried there on 13 January 1763.

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» If I thought you'd typed all this, I'd actually read it. This is a major

» holiday for you,

» isn't it?

popped up on the screen. thought i'd pass it on. even at my speed, i'm not sure i could type slow enough for you to read it.

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» popped up on the screen. thought i'd pass it on. even at my speed, i'm not

» sure i could type slow enough for you to read it.

I'm not a fast reader, I'm not a slow reader - I'm a half fast reader.

And don't be so modest - you're surely slow enough.....

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Crap. Turns out I'm an amatuer.

I got this by email yesterday and was rather impressed though:

** ZapCam - YouTube Tazer - Don't Taze AND Film Me, Bro **

A wise man (Mel Brooks) once said, "Tragedy is when I cut my finger.

Comedy is when you walk into an open sewer and die." Updating that for

the new millennium, you get, "Tragedy is when I make a typo. Comedy is

when you get 60,000V of electricity pumped through you and I catch it

all on camera." And then we at ThinkGeek take it to the next level: the

ZapCam not only films who you taze, but it will upload the video (via a

Bluetooth 2.0 connection to your cell phone) straight onto YouTube.

Now, not only do you have evidence proving you acted in self defense,

but you also have one hilarious video - ready to become viral and earn

you your fifteen minutes of fame. Hey, don't say we've never given you

anything - because those 15 minutes are priceless.


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