Every so often, out of the blue, a friend, associate, work colleague or relative hits me with an urban legend. Now I've not made a special study of urban legends but I always know one when I hear one. Quite often it's one I've never heard before...the notable exception being..."Eddie Murphy paid my relative's hotel bill" - Y'know the one "Down, lady! Down!" Eddie shouts this in the lift but he's really talking to his dog but the relative; your elderly aunt thinks she's is being robbed and to make it up to her Eddie pays her hotel bill. NOW LISTEN HERE! HEAR YE! HEAR YE! This may come as a shock, but Eddie Murphy did not pay your aunt's hotel bill. Neither did Will Smith in the Will Smith version of the legend. Not even if this was just post 9/11 and will had extra security with him in case of a terrorist attack. In the version of this ancient urban legend that was desperately trying to sound current in October 2001. I first heard this one in 1993 and it was old then.
Next! No, a gentlemen of middle eastern appearance did not drop a wallet near a friend of yours in a shopping mall; have it be returned by said friend only to be warned: "You've done me a favour now I'll do you one - stay out of this mall on X date." This one I've heard the most, probably, different people, hundreds of miles and years apart - yet almost word for word the same.
Next! No, your relative did not give a ride to a mysterious old lady, suddenly feel uncomfortable...trick her out of the car...only discover later that she had left a handbag in the car and it had a hatchet in it. This I've heard since the eighties when it was also an episode of Roald Dahl's Tal es of the Unexpected. Yes the story is creepy the first time you hear it but you are still a sap for believing it.
Next! No, (and here is my most recent acquisition) no-one you know has ever eaten in a chinese restaurant and got a piece of metal lodged in their tooth then had to go to the dentist only to have the dentist tell them that it is the id chip from a dog. I mean, really.
Next! The police have traced my IP address and it turns out that I am making this post from inside the spare bedroom upstairs in your house right now. Don't go upstairs! Run! I'm a psychotic blogger with an axe. No come back! I was joking.