Marry Watchdog and The Magician’s Code and the resulting televisual offspring is The Real Hustle. Five fake con artists inflict scams on unsuspecting members of the British public, only to give back any loot afterwards and get the victim’s consent to broadcast their gullibility on BBC3. Then, they explain how it was done and tell a reprimanding moral tale about being on your guard for hustlers. Entertainment and justice. Bingo.
It’s ideal for amateur con artists wanting to learn a new trick. In fact, it even convinced me that I could pull off a similar scam. A small flaw in my hustling career is that the closest I’ve come to organised crime is accidentally taking an extra ketchup sachet for my chips or leaving the library without having checked my book out. I’m more likely to be the mark than being the hustler. Strike one.
I have no qualms about extravagant disguises as last week I donned a neon pink wig as Nicki Minaj for a fancy dress party. I’d been very attentive to the details of the Superbass video (I was devastated as I couldn’t find a pastel pink wig but I blame this on York’s limited fancy dress outlets) and I was ready to crack out my rendition of Nicki’s verse of Monster. This would, naturally, spark my rise to fame beyond that of Sophia Grace Brownlee.
To my dismay, no less than three people failed to recognise who I was dressed as. I gestured wildly to my hair, my bare midriff and leopard print tights – wasn’t it obvious? Their excuse: “you’re just not ‘G’ enough”. Apparently I don’t have enough ‘swag’. A diva might be a female version of a hustler, but I’m no diva to begin with. Strike two.
The Real Hustle’s presenter-actors are actually an ex-Playboy model, a stage magician and a former IT consultant who has undertaken life-long studies in sleight of hand. Plus, in each episode they’re joined by select celebrities to add an extra dose of BBC3 style exhilaration. Big names including Caprice, Gareth Gates and Brendan Cole (that limber fellow from Strictly Come Dancing) have all previously taken part in hustles, all more G-list than ‘G’. Surely there might still be hope for me yet.
Although elaborate plans and costumes give me a great joy, creating a foot and mouth quarantine tent in order to run off with ten television sets is too convoluted an effort to take seriously. The hustlers didn’t even snigger. I don’t know if I inwardly possess that sort of stoicism. I cracked up at the advert for Cadbury’s with the crazy eyebrowed kids every time. Strike three – I’m out.
Perhaps the other side of the law would suit me better since I’ve been told more than once that I would be an ideal candidate for MI5. People justify this conclusion because I’m small. I am admittedly a first class Sardines player, able to fit into covert hiding places. But even if I did miraculously get employed by MI5, the quick getaway concept would not suit me well.
Despite my passion for driving through roundabouts at 30mph, I’m not well rehearsed in racing starts. Some might say a bicycle would be the ideal alternative to auto-mobiles. But no, it turns out that you can forget how to ride one in the space of four years. Colliding into the wall of Costcutter helped prove this revelation.
On the bright side, I can walk at 5.4 miles per hour according to my friend’s speedometer. Perhaps I should put that on my CV and apply for the MI5 grad scheme after all. If they want me to take up professional speedwalking, I’ll definitely have to consider rescinding my application. Unfortunately I hear that you’re not meant to tell anyone if you’re applying, so as a graduate option…I’ve probably blown my chances already.