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This is a question Conned

swiftyisNOTevil writes, "I have recently become obsessed with the BBC Three show 'The Real Hustle' - personally, I think of it as a 'How To' show for aspiring con artists."

Have you carried out a successful con? Perhaps you hustled a few quid off a stranger, or defrauded a multi-national company. Or have you been taken for the wide-eyed, naive rube that you are?

(, Thu 18 Oct 2007, 13:02)
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It's been sixteen years that are gone forever and I'll never have again
I arrived in Manchester to study at a pretend University in mid-1990. On (I think) my second day in town I was strolling down the main road (Oxford Road) when I was approached by a well-dressed man of early middle years.
"'scuse me, son?" He asked politely, so I 'scused him. "I wonder if you can help me. God forgive me, I'm trying to get to the men's hostel in Wythenshawe and I've not got my fare for the bus and, God forgive me, I was wondering if..."
Well, undoubtedly you can see where this was going. The upshot was that I was pretty callow and naive at the time so he got some cash out of me. I wised up pretty sharply when two days later, I was walking down Oxford Road again when he came up to me: "'Scuse me son, God forgive me, I'm trying..."

As time went by I realised that this man and a compatriot would walk down opposite sides of Oxford Road, accosting everyone who passed with the tale that, God forgive them, they'd lost their fare to the men's hostel in Wythenshawe and could they be spared some change? This went on for the entire five years I lived in Manchester. A couple of times a week, "'scuse me son..."
You know how it goes. Sometimes they got some money out of me if I was feeling flush, sometimes not. I learned the location of a Mens Hostel which was literally a hundred yards from Oxford Road and went through a period of directing them to it with all appearence of helpful cheer and goodwill, saving them the trouble of getting to Wythenshawe. They didn't like that much, because apparently the central Manchester hostel didn't have the right facilities. Perhaps the pool wasn't of the right quality, or the central Manchester hostel didn't give complimentary chocolates in the rooms and Wythenshawe did. I don't know.
The most striking thing about this bloke was that he didn't give any appearence of being your average homeless man. Whilst not smart, he certainly wasn't a bum, either. He plainly took care of himself; shirt and tie, personal hygeine, he made an effort, which was enough to at least predispose me to listen and sympathise and occasionally cough up.
I did wish he'd occasionally use a different story, though.

Eventually I left Manchester. A couple of weeks before I left, I had been walking through town in a pretty poor mood for lady-related reasons when: "'scuse me, son, God forgive me, but...". I turned to him and replied:
"Look, you've been trying to get to the mens hostel in Wythenshawe for five years. I really think you could have walked it by now."
And then I left town. I thought that was that.

A couple of weeks ago I was staying in a central Manchester hotel whilst up there to see chums and on Saturday morning I took a walk down Oxford Road to the Manchester Museum, one of my favourite places. As I was walking, a familiar figure approached me.
"'scuse me, mate? God forgive me, but I'm trying to get to the mens hostel in Wythenshawe..."
I was so shocked I put my hand in my pocket gave him a quid.
Subsequent to this, though, I've been thinking. I'm now fascinated by this man, and what his story must be. He's spent the last sixteen years walking up and down Oxford Road in Manchester, asking people for money to get to Wythenshawe. What could make someone think that this is a good way to spend all that time? I stop and think about the thimgs I've done since 1990. I've got a degree. I've started my own company. I've seen the view from the top of the Pyramid of the Sun, the Temple of the Jaguar and the Space needle. I've seen attack ships in flames off the shoulder of Orion and T-beams glitter at the Tannhauser gate...
In the same period this guy, come all weathers, has been hanging around outside Whitworth Park pretending he wants to go to Wythenshawe. Is there a good living to be made on Oxford Road panhandling from students? Or is he on day-release from a local Sanitorium and knows nothing else? Or is he a tragic figure like King Pellinore or Sisyphus, doomed by the gods ever to quest for the mens hostel in Wythenshawe but never to find it?
I think the next time he collars me, probably in 2022 the way things are going, I'm going to offer to buy him a drink and ask him his story.
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:05, 17 replies)
please do!
I want to know it now!
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:08, closed)
I've never seen this guy...
... but mu building is on Oxford Road, just opposite the Manchester Museum. The sun's shining. Suddenly I have an urge to have a bit of a walk to see what smart-causal hobos I can find...
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:11, closed)
if Enzyme goes and finds out i will click i like this until my finger falls off
go on go on!
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:15, closed)
Will you promise to post them to me to prove that your fingers fall off? I don't want to have to wait to bump into you in the pub at Christmas.
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:16, closed)
would do...
... but am confused as to how exactly i would post them with no fingers to post them with

so yes, theoretically speaking.
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:17, closed)
@ Enzyme
pub at christmas


(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:18, closed)
You'll be having people curious about what "OBJ" means - especially when I reply that it's more likely to be the Dick.
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:20, closed)
All right... but we could start in the

then go for the Dick!
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:22, closed)
Fantastic lit and film references -
You are indeed cultured.

those are my eyes
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:22, closed)
as a northerner
i fail to see why the fuck anyone should want money to get TO wythenshawe. sure, to run as far away from it as fast as possible, but towards it?

must be a weirdo!
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:29, closed)
I assumed that part of the story was to generate real sympathy - "God, the poor fellow is going to Wythenshawe, he must be desperate."
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:33, closed)
ha ha ha
good point, well made...
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 12:41, closed)
leeds vampire kid
Your story reminds me of the vampire kid in leeds. He got that name because hed always come up you "scuse me mate, its alright, im not going to bite im not a vampire. But im homeless and was wondering if you could spare change for a coffee." etc.

For about a year hed do that, until a program was aired on TV about scroungers in leeds and he was on there openly boasting about how he makes about 100 quid a day and can easilly afford as much heroin and hash as he wants.. then he goes home to his parents house.

After that he was never seen again.
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 13:04, closed)
did you
..just quote guns'n'roses in your subject line?
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 15:14, closed)
Guns 'n' Roses?
Of course I did! I was at uni in the early 90's, so I'm such a child of the 80's.
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 16:12, closed)
I've had a fair few run-ins with the vampire; Ihave seen him about in Leeds still, but never as much as 5 years ago, which is probably when you're talking about.

I really don't know how some of these people have the never-ending gall so as to ask constantly for money.

At the moment, the most frequent one I see in Leeds is by the train station (those stairs on the corner that lead down to the cockpit).. he's constantly there with a (probably 2-year old) copy of the big issue.

oh, since you're in Leeds, you can't spare some change for me to get to Bradford, could you?
(, Tue 23 Oct 2007, 17:12, closed)
Great story. Please do ask him his story and post it. Almost makes me want to go back to the parking lot I parked at frequently for 10 years, ending some years ago, and ask the attendant why he wore a plaster on his left cheek...every...single...time I saw him. I'm sure it's just some imperfection that he feels self-conscious about...I could tell him that it doesn't affect who he is as a person...on the other hand he could reply that it's none of my business and beat me into a bloody pulp. Hmm. Maybe on second thought I'll save myself the requisite 5-hour drive.
(, Wed 24 Oct 2007, 18:20, closed)

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