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» Conned

Ah, the cheeky Dublin dope-dealer scam...
... ten years ago, almost to the day, I was made redundant from a firm and having completely wrecked my head and my relationship by hoovering up as much of the Bolivian marching powder as I could get my hands on for two years, I decided to escape the madness and head to Ireland with my redundancy money, instead of blowing it all on snow.

So after a month or so of drifting around on a diet of Guinness I'd pretty much cleared my head of all traces of illicit substances and replaced it with alcohol.
An achievement, I thought.

To celebrate, I set about looking for some hashish.

A walk through Temple Bar, laden down with a 30 kilo backpack, ended up with an encounter with the unlikeliest drug dealer in Dublin - a kid no older than 12 offering me a 1/4 of an ounce of pollem. Get in, thinks I.

So after some token haggling, he offered to let me have a sniff of it, pulled out a sizeable lump of blow from his jeans and burned a bit. To my satisfaction it was just the ticket.

He said he could get more, and I was after at least an ounce, so he took my 30 Irish pounds (this was pre-Euro), pressed the lump in my hands and went off to fetch a pen and paper with which to write down his number should I require more.

He seemed to be in a bit of a hurry, but any street hustler will work with haste, especially one so young.

After a couple of minutes I realised he wasn't coming back, and my heavy backpack meant chasing him around the myriad of alleyways was going to be a futile prospect.

So I headed into the nearest pub toilet armed with fresh Rizla and excitedly unwrapped the contraband.

To my astonishment, through some sleight of hand that I have never managed to work out, he had replaced the tasty lump of numb-numb I had sniffed earlier with an exquisitely carved, sanded down and even brown felt-tip coloured lump of plywood.

I was crestfallen, and solemnly chucked it out of the window.

But I had to hand it to the kid. He earned that money, not just for his clever trick of substitution but also the effort he put in to turning a redundant scrap of plywood into a most convincingly crafted fake lump of dope, especially when dressed in the obligatory clingfilm.

I even managed a smile.
(Thu 18th Oct 2007, 14:02, More)

» Conned

National Express to Liverpool
Got to love those scousers. Not sure if this was actually a con or not, but it was funny...

In the heady days of early teenhood, a female acquaintance and I headed up to Liverpool from London on the National Express to go and see her brother, who was living in dope-filled student digs near the hospital.

We bought an open return, intending to spend a few days up there getting slaughtered then coming home again.

The bus was packed with chirpy Scouse types, and it was quite a fun journey all in all.

Anyway, about 5 miles before the Mersey Tunnel, the conductor came round collecting tickets, and proceeded to tear both the outward and the return ticket from our booklet.

I thought it odd at the time, but being 18 and stoned said nothing.

He carried on and near the front of the bus he did the same to an old bearded man, who at first just looked confused.

Then once the conductor had stopped, this old fella yells out "he's on the fiddle!".

Everyone ignores him, he looks as though he's been sleeping in a puddle of piss, and with the thick scouse accent combined with the amplitude of voice, he had mental health issues written all over him.

So the conductor walks up to him asking what his problem is, and he just repeats his accusation, then starts peppering his sentences with various profanities.

It doesn't take long before the professional National Express employee takes umbrage to this, and tells the old man to shut up and stop being a twat.

Suddenly the old chap gets up and punches the conductor straight in the mouth, really hard, and a scene from a wild west movie began.

The driver was doing about 80mph and looking out for his mate who was not doing too badly, but the fight was fairly even, as the old man was pretty big and clearly knew how to box.

The bus was swerving, these to pugilists were rolling around from one end of the bus to the other, old ladies were screaming, I and my lady friend were trying not to laugh.

In the end another passenger gets involved and they eventually manage to pin this old dude to the ground, all the while he's yelling about having his return ticket stolen.

I look at my empty booklet and it dawns on me that he's actually right.

The cops arrive as the bus is literally in the mouth of the Mersey Tunnel, drag the old guy off the bus and chuck him in a meatwagon.

The conductor is in a bit of a state, couple of teeth missing and certainly a fresh selection of facial bruises which would undoubtedly be turning purple before the weekend was through, he climbs back on the bus to a round of applause from the hitherto screaming old ladies.

"Welcome to Liverpool" he says with a gappy smile.

Everyone laughs, and we carry on our merry way.

Had a great weekend, clubbing and pubbing, (this was the early days of the indie-rave scene, Stone Roses and Happy Mondays, so everyone was out getting wrecked and having a good time) and when it came for us to head home, we went to the National Express portacabin to explain our ticket situation.

They issued a replacement return wiithout any question whatsoever, which leads me to believe this was a common scam, re-selling return tickets to London and re-issuing replacements.

I often wonder what became of the old guy, becauuse essentially he was right, the conductor was on the fiddle...
(Fri 19th Oct 2007, 10:10, More)

» Bad Management

I have no boss
I'm a freelancer, working in film and TV, and reading through some of these stories, in spite of financial insecurities and tax nightmares, don't regret it for a second!!

My story is an incredible example of bad management that I'll try to keep brief.

Basically I was contracted to make films for a one man company, worked well for three years, made some good stuff and was well paid.

That all changed when he had the not-so-bright idea of shooting a feature film in Mexico.

He had a fairly good story and secured a million quid to go out and do it.

We put a UK team of 15 people together, the rest of the crew would be Mexican.

So we all fly out to Cancun, meet our new team of 80 people who we would be spending the next 4 months with, and after a few weeks we start shooting.

Not one of the actors spoke English. The producer who I'd worked for developed a taste for tequila meaning he wouldn't show up for shoots. The director he had picked from the UK was so crap he'd put us back by 2 weeks within the first month, so he was fired and drunken producer announced he would direct it, despite knowing nothing about directing.

He then got into a nasty habit of paying young girls to suck him off - bear in mind he was 50, fat and ugly.

This was never on set, but common knowledge that when he called a wrap, some poor kid would be wrapping her lips around him for a few dollars, which didn't endear him to the local crew ( who were an ace bunch of lads).

He'd yell at the young runners for the most trivial of stuff, ignored his UK tech crew even though they were advising him with the benefit of experience shooting films for years, and before long all the money was gone, so he fled back to the UK without paying people and went back to his wife and kids, sacked everyone, and pretended he had enough material to make his movie. He didn't.

Fast forward 5 years, he's changed his company name 4 times, been evicted from his house, blacklisted in the industry, and still owes £30,000 to the crew.

I did alright, he overpaid me by £10k and I got to keep £2k worth of equipment from the shoot, but if there were ever a case of worse management I have yet to see it.

Length? About 60 minutes short of a 90 minute movie.
(Fri 11th Jun 2010, 9:41, More)