I remember 18 months or so ago we were talking here about this guy who comes up to you waving his keys and cell phone telling you some story about his car broken down, out of petrol or something along those lines. Well, I'm pleased to see that the good weather has brought him back out in force, I've seen him working on the Millennium Bridge, Tate bankside and in front of the Globe. I was watching from my window tonight and can report that his success rate is pretty darn good.
Maybe I should change jobs.
But in the meantime if I'm walking past and notice him I always let his potential victims know it's a scam and then he disappears quick smart......
For your info, he's short to medium height, usually wearing a blue jersey, carries a nokia 5100 series mobile and a bunch of keys. Short grey hair, well presented and I think the accent is cockney but I'm not sure as I'm not so good with English language dialects (being from NZ)
Watch out for him, he'll likely catch you out on night with a very believable story, it got me the first time, but now having been approached 4 or 5 times it's wearing a bit thin.....
There's a guy who does the same round here - Queen Elizabeth Street - I've seen him any number of times asking for cash because he's parked his coach. Often after parking restrictions are lifted. Sounds like the same guy, 'army' type looking blue jumper, panicky, waving a mobile phone. I've even seen him stop cars with his story.
Speaking of scam artists, what about all those "all my own work" artists that ply their trade around the South Bank. You know the ones? they pretend to be adding the final touches to some well known piece of work (Last Supper, etc).
I've been amazed at all the tourists who pass in amazement, saying "ooh" and "ah" as if the artist did it all himself that morning.
A year ago I was enjoying a coffee at the NFT's cafe watching one of these chaps at work. As tourists passed, tossing whatever coins they could in his direction he pretended to be 'Le-Artist' but really just going over the same spot over and over.
Then it started to rain heavily. The 'artist' took shelter, leaving his 'artwork' in the rain. Well, what do you know? the painting was waterproof! despite him touching up the painting in pastels. When the rain stopped, he came back, wiped the painting with a towel, and continued.
Yes he tried it with me the other day on the corner of Roupell street, but having got stung once before while living in Amsterdam said I couldn't help.... then felt a bit guilty in case he was genuine! Glad to find out that gut feeling was right..... just a shame these guys make us so synical that we probably won't trust someone who is genuinely in need of help...... sad isn't it?
There's also a blond haired bloke who works Tooley St with an electric key saying he has run out of electricity (which is only part of the sob story), seen him a couple of times within 3 days so either he uses enough electric to light up Tower Bridge or it's a scam.
Well well. Funny thing happened to me on Saturday night.
I was sitting in my car - parked considerately - at the back of the National Theatre waiting for the Mrs at 6.30pm when who should trot into view - none other than Captain Panic. Undercover, not sporting his trademark epaulets, but unmistakeable nevertheless. He jogged past the car and I watched him skulk around the back for a while - strangely for man of his trade seemingly unaware of the function affored by the bits of silver glass on each side of a motor vehicle - then, prepared, he trotted back towards me.
Unusually not being in a hurry, and aware of the appropriateness of his choice of venue, I thought I would give him the opportunity to perform.
He indicated he wanted to talk to me so I opened the door and oh dear, all was not well. Not at all. With arms waving, his bunch of keys in one hand and what looked like a new mobile with a blue LCD screen in the other and the usual breathless Irish brogue and anxiety-ridden delivery he warmed quickly to his theme.
He's clearly suffered from tourist timewasters, got wise to that, and now asks if you can speak English. Readers might want to prepare a "Nyet" option if they encounter him this summer. He doesn't strike me as the type that will cross-examine and ask how you understood the question.
Anyway, his wife had gone into labour four weeks early and had been transferred from St Thomas' to a second hospital (sounded suspiciously like St Paul's) and had then been transferred to St Benedict's. But he wasn't asking me to take him there. No. Definitely not asking that. (Which was just as well as I have no idea where St Benedict's is, and personally I would have tried the maternity unit at Guy's but then what do I know). So on it went.
So although he didn't need a lift he did need my help. And with a quick evaluating glance at the car he informed me needed four quid to get to St Benedict's. Of course he would give me his keys, his jacket, or anything - quite why wasn't established but I wondered if the phone might be an upgrade for me - and in summary what was required was Four Quid. St Benedict's.
Ouch and sharp intake of breath, prices have gone up, and he waited for my response.
Ignoring the obvious question of why he didn't drive there when he was clearly holding a car key in his right hand, I observed affably, "you usually ask me for money to park your coach".
Well the coach had obviously been the source of some frustration because he immediately span on his heels, exclaiming f****** coach, and off he trotted in the general direction of St Thomas' - just as the Mrs swung into view - leaving me to ponder the issues raised.
Did he perhaps need the four quid for diesel for his coach? And where can you buy diesel for coaches in SE1 anyway? How far can a coach go on four quid's worth? Where is St Benedict's - sounds more like a cider the SE1'ers might drink? Can he draw? Has he got £375,000 in his bank account as well?
- you can always get diesel in the garage that all the cabbies use (although wonder whether a coach would get under the entry barriers). It's on the road I never know the name of, but if you go from Borough high st and turn off to go to Olleys, then straight over the lights by the funeral directors', and the garage is just on your right after the place where they repair motorbikes.
- you can't go far on £4 of diesel
- proper SE1ers would drink proper cheap scrumpy, with a name nothing like St Anything's, and they would be able to travel untold miles on 4 quid's worth
[wish i'd seen you winding the bloke up] [must have been hilarious]