Ian Haysom, a veteran journalist and writer, is a news consultant for CHEK. His coronavirus diary will appear here regularly.

April Fools’ Day has been cancelled around the world. Google has announced it won’t be making us laugh this year because the coronavirus continues to impact the entire world. So no silly pranks, hoax stories or stunts.

In previous years, Google introduced some fun April Fools jokes, including the introduction of the Google Tulip App that enabled users to communicate with flowers. I’m still trying to get my daffodils to have a  conversation with me. They’re being very standoffish. Then again I do like to flatter the Betty Boop rose at Butchart Gardens for looking so striking and having a cool name. I’m sure she blushes.

It’s a shame if we stop laughing, or having fun, at this time when we need to laugh most. But I do see the point. An April Fools joke about the virus, say, being eliminated in tall men or carrying a fake story that eating Moose Tracks ice cream will make you immune (though you never know, I plan to experiment) could be dangerous and somewhat inappropriate.

I’ve been a sucker for April Fools ever since my father put salt on my cornflakes. Every year, working in newspapers, I’d try to come up with a funny story that had the whiff of truth. I wrote a piece once about the planned introduction of the decimal clock, which had some readers harrumphing. Some people still haven’t gotten over the demise of Fahrenheit and gallons.

Humour is valuable, crucial, even when authorities are giving us daily lists of infections and deaths.

One of my favourite comedians ever, the pianist Victor Borge, once said that “laughter is the closest distance between two people.” Very apt today.

And Mel Brooks once wrote, “If you’re alive you’ve got to flap your arms and legs, you’ve got to jump around a lot, for life is the very opposite of death, and therefore you must at very least think noisy and colourfully, or you’re not alive.”

I’m also a sucker for birthdays and anniversaries. Did you know, for instance, that the 45 rpm record was introduced on today’s date in 1949? And they said it wouldn’t last.

A Facebook friend today posted this: “Whatever the number one song was on your 12th birthday is the name of your quarantine.” Hers is Hold On by Wilson Phillips.

Mine, according to Billboard, is Big Girls Don’t Cry by The Four Seasons.

One month earlier and it would have been He’s a Rebel by the Crystals. Figures.

I’m a sucker for those list of famous people’s birthdays in the newspaper (you can see I don’t have a lot to do these days of relentless self-isolation, so checking out inconsequential information is my new role in life. Others are doing jigsaws or quilting, so don’t judge me).

Today is Richard Chamberlain’s 86th birthday, for instance, so I hope he’s self-isolating.

Chamberlain used to be the biggest heartthrob on the planet when he played Dr. Kildare on television. I once spent about 30 seconds in an elevator with him in Los Angeles. I stepped in and he was already there. He didn’t want to be recognized, so he turned his face to the other wall and kept staring at it until we hit the hotel lobby. I have this weird effect on people.

It’s Herb Alpert’s 85th birthday. He is a legendary bandleader with the Tijuana Brass, and I hope he’s self-isolating with his trumpet.

Angus Young of AC/DC who co-wrote Highway to Hell is 65. Still young enough to go out and buy his own groceries. And actor Ewan McGregor is 49.

I also saw that yesterday was Red Robinson’s birthday. The celebrated disc jockey who introduced The Beatles and Elvis Presley at their shows in Vancouver was born March 30, 1937, in Fanny Bay. And he still has the energy and ambition of a 20-year-old.

I’ve known Red for many years and love that he’s a walking encyclopedia of music in the 1950s and 1960s, but he never mentioned to me that he’s from Vancouver Island. They should build a statue, or a shrine or something. Red holding a 45 rpm record. Maybe flapping his arms a little. Now that’s history. And a little funny.

Read the previous diaries here:

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 18, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 19, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 20, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 22, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 23, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 24, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 25, 2020

Commentary: The Coronavirus Diaries March 26, 2020

Commentary: Living in a bubble world

Commentary: Living in a virus virtual world

Ian Haysom