Last week an advert appeared in Metro and London Evening Standard newspapers. "MISSING," it read, "23FT ORANGE DINOSAUR. My café is suffering and my dog's depressed. If you stole my dinosaur please put him back."
The world's press (well, a couple of news websites including The Huffington Post) were intrigued enough to investigate further and found no evidence of the Epping café the dinosaur was said to have stood outside. The world's press (and so on) came to the conclusion the advert was a hoax or, worse, amarketing ploy. But one reporter decided to delve deeper (OK, I emailed the girl behind the Facebook page). And lo, someone called Roxy Cooper, 18, replied: "Roy hasn't actually stood outside the restaurant for a while as it got pulled down some years ago. We only said we were losing business to make people think it was more serious. My dad just wants the dinosaur back to put in the front garden."
Which all sounds terribly sweet, except photocopied A4 missing posters sprang up outside this paper's office, suggesting something more coordinated than "Roxy" would have me believe. Readers, I will get to the bottom of this and, if it is all a scam, my claws will be out.
Eat your heart out
If you enjoy watching the rain as it falls on someone else's parade there is no finer place to do so than in the Daily Mail comments section.
Last week, below a story headlined "Mum who's a packed lunch Picasso" – about the work of Grace Hall, whose Eats Amazing blog has been running for a couple of years – readers were in fine form. "Too much time on her hands", "She's setting him up to be a fussy eater for life" and "Competitive motherhood at its best" were among kinder remarks.
"I've been struck," says Hall, "by the amount of negativity the piece seems to have inspired. The angle the article took concentrated on the idea that my son is a fussy eater and that I pander to his whims. This is not how I see what I do. My son makes no demands of me. As a full-time mother I get very little time to myself, so being able to turn a chore into something fun and creative helps keep me happy as well as my son."
Money (that's what I want)
Even (especially?) venerable institutions must mutate to survive. And so it is with Abbey Road Studios, which, with the music business in turmoil, is opening its doors over the next few weeks for another batch of events which allow music lovers a glimpse into its sacred studios.
The ticket gets you a peep around Studio 2 and then a talk by Brian Kehew and Kevin Ryan, authors of Recording the Beatles. All good. But click on the website to buy tickets and what you will mostly see is people who want to go but can't afford to. Because the price of a ticket for the tour is, get this, £88.40. About 200 people take part in each of these tours and the studio runs them twice a day. That's about £35,000, thank you very much. Just a thought: if you want to record in Studio 2 the rate is roughly £2,000 a day with an engineer to assist. So you might prefer to get some musical mates together and go down that route. (Or just get a free photo on the zebra crossing outside, like everyone else.)
Penne for our thoughts
The ASK Italian restaurant group is attempting to make us Brits rethink our attitude to a dietary staple with a nationwide campaign called Respect the Pasta. Is this necessary? Yes, if the results of the chain's poll of 1,500 people are to be believed.
Among the survey's findings are the astonishing facts that 7 per cent of people admit to boiling pasta in the kettle, 8 per cent still think pasta grows on trees and 24 per cent use ketchup as pasta sauce (with 3 per cent admitting to using peanut butter). There's more. One in four of us think the word carbonara derives from the fact that pasta is high in carbs and 7 per cent think that the stuff was invented by Mr Pasta. The only hope for the human race is that respondents were just being fusilli.
Homeless is where the art is
You might remember the artist Andres Serrano, or at least recall the controversy around his 1987 work Piss Christ. The work Serrano has been doing recently is more low-key; he's been collecting the scraps of cardboard homeless people hold up. Seeing as the plight of the homeless gets less attention than bodily fluids, here are four teasers to point you in the direction of the video: 1. "If it was you...?" 2. "Giving is easy asking is hard." 3. "Need fuel for private jet." 4. "Homeless blah blah blah."
No rhyme or reason
Another in an increasingly regular series of limericks based on recent events:
Though undoubtedly beautifully shot
All Jamaica Inn's viewers said, "What?
The cast are all mumbling
And why we're all grumbling
Is cos we have all lost the plot."