Given that it is one of his most famous novels, you would be forgiven for assuming that Jeffrey Archer would be able to remember just how many editions of Kane and Abel were published.
Apparently not. Yesterday, the ebullient author posted a cryptic message on his website, soliciting donations from anyone in possession of "a Coronet UK edition dated 1989, 1991, 1992 or 1993, or a HarperCollins UK edition, dated 1994 or 1995".
In return, he promised, he would send out a complimentary copy of his latest work, Paths of Glory.
Apparently, it's all part of a rather convoluted attempt to gather statistics on the success of the 1979 novel.
"The thing is that he has lost track of every edition that has ever been published over the years," explains a spokesman.
"He thinks it is around 83, but he isn't absolutely sure. So far we have about 70. It's not for any other reason but that he simply can't remember. I'm sure he will be more than happy to return the books once he has done with them. I don't see why he would want to keep them."
Stone's 'noisy' school closes
Unfathomable as it may be to the rest of us, it would appear that not everyone wants to live next door to a fleet of mini Joss-Stones-in-training. I hear that Mamma Stone's, the Somerset music academy owned by Joss's mother, has been forced to close just weeks after the bare-footed songstress herself performed there. Apparently the decision came after several neighbours lodged a noise complaint. Didn't they realise they were in the company of prodigious talent?
No Pretty Green catwalk for Liam
As one might expect, news of Liam Gallagher's cross-over to become the fashion world's next "not-Jean Paul Gaultier-or nothin'" has left Pandora in a state of considerable excitement. So it is with some regret that we report the burly Oasis frontman's refusal to take to the catwalk in order to promote his forthcoming clothing line, Pretty Green. "No fucking chance," the ever-eloquent Gallagher commented yesterday in response to speculation by the New Musical Express that he might model the clothes himself.
Lembit angered by his lack of 'Sport'
And so to the latest in a string of noble causes championed by Lembit Opik: Freedom of the Press.
The eccentric Member of Parliament has been alerted to the unsettling fact that those surfing the internet from within the House of Commons are unable to access the website of the red-top newspaper the Daily Sport.
Opik, of course, writes a weekly column for the Sport, and is concerned at the thought of his fellow members being unable to follow it. "This is clearly over the top censorship at its worst," he fumes. "MPs should be able to read what I have to say. Perhaps my views are too liberal for the House of Commons?"
The odd squad head out to dinner
One can't help but wonder what exactly Bollywood siren Shilpa Shetty, American civil rights activist Jesse Jackson and Labour Party MP Keith Vaz were talking about over dinner at London's Bombay Brasserie on Tuesday night. A new initiative of some sort, perhaps? Or simply the changeable weather? Vaz's staff seem unsure. "He was having dinner with whom?" comes the puzzled response when I call. "I think we'll have to look into that for you..."