Just before making a morning cup of coffee I remember a book I saw yesterday but for some reason did not buy, even though it was both affordable and desirable. I walk around the corner to the shop to see if it's still there: they've tidied the shelves but yes, it is, at the end of the row on the top. I buy it and bring it home: Hoaxes, by Curtis D. MacDougall, a 1958 Dover reprint of a book originally published by Macmillan in 1940. The Cardiff Giant ... the curse of King Tut ... the invasion from Mars ... the letter of Pontius Pilate ... Keely's perpetual motion ... the Loch Ness Monster ... the Jersey Devil ... and scores of other hoaxes ... written on the cover. It's only later, when I'm reading in the Sydney Morning Herald about a property dispute that's been before a court in Kolkata, India since 1833, that I look up and see today's date at the head of the page. And wonder, not for the first time, who is fooling whom?

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