Today is April 1, meaning we’re all in for an overload of ‘hilarious’ April Fools’ Day pranks.
Whether you’re reading a newspaper, watching TV or browsing around on the web, you won’t be able to escape all the pretend stories that news outlets and companies are trying to pass off as real for your amusement.
Of course, News Shopper would never join in this frivolity – not that we’re averse to silly behaviour now and again (ahem!) but because people might have difficulty telling our fake tale apart from our genuine articles.
Over the years we’ve built up a huge catalogue of memorable stories that have been almost too bizarre to believe.
For your delight, we’ve rounded up 12 of our classics – all real stories that could have been mistaken for hoaxes had they been run on April 1.
These are the April Fools’ Day jokes that weren’t.
Orgasms from aliens
Back in 2003 former policewoman Stephany Cohen from Bromley said she had been contacted by an alien race called Grays who she got “raptures like strong orgasms” from.
It was reported how Grays had been coming to Earth for thousands of years and their Earthling children had included William Shakespeare, Charles Dickens and Jesus Christ.
Since then we’ve had several more remarkable claims from Ms Cohen, such as how Grays regularly pass on advice for Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger.
It's raining crabs
In what was described as “a first” by the Met Office, Dartford gardener Kate Walker got the shock of her life in 2004 when a freak storm rained 20 crabs down on her.
While 19 of the creatures were put into a neighbour’s pond, one which died was kept by Miss Walker to show her friends.
She said: "They think I'm mad, I thought it was something out of the X Files.
"Where have they come from? I've heard of fish falling from the sky but this is ridiculous.''
Belvedere gardener Martin Gregory got a shock in 2006 when he dug up an asparagus plant and saw the face of Jesus when the sun shone down on the roots.
He said: "The roots are fantastic. You can actually make out a thorn crown around his head, his eyes and nose.
"I've heard about Mother Theresa's face being seen in a bagel but I thought this was much better."
For fox sake
Who could forget the 2013 story about poor old Anthony Schofield from Catford?
Mr Schofield was attacked by one of a bushy-tailed beast as he sat on the toilet.
The startled 49-year-old leapt up from the bog with his trousers around his ankles before pursuing the fox around the living room in a farcical chase during which it mauled him, his partner and his pet cat.
As quotes go, "I didn’t even have time to wipe myself” is up there with the best.
There's a rat in my bathroom, what am I gonna do?
Long before the epic fox toilet attack in Catford, something equally beastly happened to a Deptford woman who was on the loo.
In 2008 Maxine Killingback was bitten by a rat which came up through her toilet while she was sitting on it.
Ms Killingback had to resort to drowning the rat using a plunger and barricading the toilet to stop other rats which were trying to get out.
She said: “It was a big, black one, seven or eight inches long.”
In the summer of 2010 we carried the frightening tale of how blonde joggers in at Eltham Park South were coming under attack from a vicious crow.
Two weeks later we told how an elderly dancer fell victim to an attack by a bloodthirsty crow in her Catford back garden.
Edna Lunt described the scene being “like a horror movie” as the ferocious feathered foe started “dive-bombing me and making screeching noises”.
Stop your sex spending
Randy pensioner Albert Skipper made the news in 2003 when social services took charge of his finances to stop him squandering £85,000 from the sale of his Eltham maisonette on prostitutes.
The action was taken after the 81-year-old, who was lonely after the death of his wife, spent the entire £6,500 deposit on a 35-year-old call girl in just nine weeks.
Mr Skipper (pictured above with News Shopper editor Andy Parkes) was not happy about having his spending curtailed and said: “They are stopping my money because they don’t want me to spend it on call girls. What do I want to save money for? I’m 81.”
In scenes resembling cult hit Kick-Ass, a Greenwich man became superhero Darkslay in 2010.
Pre-Bromley Batman, the real-life hero dedicated himself to tackling any issue in Greenwich - from petty crime to chatting with people about their concerns.
He also campaigned for people to join his band of superheroes - the Mystery Men.
Darkslay said: "It’s about giving a message of hope, selflessness and civic duty to people."
This one from 2014 was a real head-scratcher.
It concerns Orpington man James O'Kane who got so drunk after a funeral that he woke up in Amsterdam, with no idea how he'd got there.
The 22-year-old had been at a friend’s funeral in Eltham before heading to a pub in his hometown. He later went to Croydon, but from there things get a little hazy.
Mr O’Kane told News Shopper: "Next thing I knew, I woke up when someone started tapping me on the shoulder. It was an air hostess.
"Then there came the announcement: 'We have now arrived at Amsterdam'.
"I thought: 'what the hell have I done'."
PCSO gets himself locked up
This 2004 story was probably funny to everyone except the poor PCSO who needed rescuing by firefighters after managing to accidentally handcuff himself.
Abu Bakar Bah was walking the beat in Biggin Hill when the unfortunate incident occurred.
Police blamed a faulty set of cuffs for the embarrassing episode.
Fox with garlic breath
In 2012 we ran a story about an unusual mugging of a man who was chased through an alleyway in Orpington by a hungry fox which then ran off with a stick of garlic bread from his shopping.
Seb Baker told us: "Looking back it's quite a funny story - getting mugged for garlic bread.
"Luckily I had some gourmet garlic bread as well, but was worried I might have to give that up when I saw another fox a few minutes later. But thankfully this one ran off the moment it saw me."
This wasn’t a one-off incident as later in 2012 we reported on a fearless fox grabbing a bag of shopping out of a Sidcup woman’s hand and running off with her fruit and veg.
Fruit of the loin
The crab-shower lady above isn’t the only Dartford gardener to have given us something unusual.
In 2013, Carole Collen discovered an unusual strawberry growing in her garden in East Hill.
The 52-year-old told News Shopper: “I thought oh my word!
“I showed the family and they thought it was very funny.
“Who would have thought it would grow like that? It is just puzzling.”
Happy April Fools' Day everyone from the home of the crazy but true stories!