By William Thomas

When it was conceived in the 1880’s by jockeys in England, “water derby” involved playfully passing a ball around in shallow ponds at the race track while mounted on their steeplechase horses.  Today, water polo is a tough, demanding sport played in deep pools by both men and women from 40 countries, athletes driven solely by the lure of Olympic gold.

At a recent press conference, London’s International Animal Rights group said enough is enough. They will protest the upcoming Olympics in Brazil, if necessary.

“Two hundred and two horses drowned in polo pools last year alone and the world, especially the Canadian public should be ashamed of themselves,” said Samuel Steed, spokesman for the group.

Steed went on to say that horses drowning in the sport of water polo used to be a rarity, but now that it’s an Olympic event, gold medals and large endorsement contracts are pushing the players to raise their game to another level, which means keeping the horses under the water longer.  Of the 202 equine fatalities, most were at the hands of female Canadian polo players.

“How many polo ponies must die in pools at the hands of desperate Canadian females before we can ban this sport entirely?” asked Steed, who was near tears at this point in his address.

Steed was furious that the rights of animals are being ignored by Olympic officials in Rio de Janeiro where a new 15,000-seat Aquatic Centre is being built for the 2016 games.

Okay, okay, okay. Stop reading. Take a breath. Not a word of that is true. They do not use horses in the sport of water polo. I wrote that counterfeit column 20 years ago, timed so it was published on April 1. This April Fool’s printed prank went on to show Ted Turner and Jane Fonda in their poolside skybox sipping Champagne; that those readers who wanted to help ban the sport of water polo contact London’s International Animal Rights or L.I.A.R.

When readers finally realized it was a hoax, I received more hate mail than the time I claimed my mother shouldn’t share her doggie bag with my dog. My point is, a good April Fool’s joke could work in the past, but not today. Today, real events have overtaken the time-honored hoax in the realm of the ridiculous.

For example, six nations, their air forces, navies, satellites and the international space station can find no trace of a huge airliner that disappeared from the face of the earth 24 days ago and counting?

Who would believe such an absurd story in the year 2014, when everyone is secretly photographed a dozen times while shopping downtown and by 10 in the morning, President Obama knows what Chancellor Merkel had for breakfast.

If I wrote about a 656,000 lb. Boeing 777-200ER evaporating into the air or disappearing into deep water without a trace in today’s hi-tech world, nobody would read past the second paragraph.  The disappearance of the Kuala Lumpur jet has already spun off about a dozen wacky conspiracy theories, the best being that it climbed so high and so fast that it’s now in orbit.  In fact, the only thing we know for sure is that Charlie Sheen is not involved in the disappearance of this plane.

For instance,  Russia invades the nation of Ukraine, severs off and annexes Crimea and the vanquished citizens of that Black Sea peninsula vote 97% to join the conquering country!? Really!? If the Crimeans hate the hammer, wait til they get the sickle.

A free state that willingly joins the all-new, old Soviet Union is like a young and talented hockey player actually wanting to join the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Case in point, the mayor of Canada’s largest city admits to consorting with felons and gang members, driving drunk, binge drinking, smoking crack cocaine and in the first poll taken for the upcoming election, he’s leading all the other candidates. Ludicrous?  Yes, and true.

What does it tell us when this kind of mind boggling scandal happened once before when Marion Barry, the mayor of Washington, D.C. was caught on camera soliciting a prostitute and smoking crack and … he got re-elected once he got out of jail?  Yes, it tells us that history, even scandalous history, repeats itself. But more importantly, it tells us that when the stupid get organized, democracy is in serious trouble.

Bottom line: satire is dead. When actual events become more preposterous than anything a fanciful mind can imagine, it’s a ship called Parody that is sending up debris from the bottom of the ocean.

For comments, ideas and copies of The True Story of Wainfleet, go to www.williamthomas.ca