My Life of Crime Through Five Film Analogies
I have been enjoying the anonymity that blogging brings with it, if you choose, because nobody reading this knows who I really and none of you will have guessed that I’m actually a major international criminal. The only reason that I’m not on the FBI’s top ten most wanted list is that I set out to pull off the perfect crime and got away with it.
I never got caught, because nobody ever started looking, and with my immorally accrued wealth it’s finally time to be honest to the people that read this.
This is my confession, the tale of my life of crime, about how I disproved the adage that crime doesn’t pay, and all through five film analogies! SPOILERS: This post contains explicit plot spoilers for the film Fight Club which is a very good film and if you haven’t seen it then you should probably turn away now. As a result, from that preamble, you’re likely to end up thinking better of me than those who make it to the end and discover the complete shower of an individual I’ll probably turn out to be.
There’s only ever been one time I’ve had the nerve to talk to girls I don’t know at a bar. Once. I remember it fondly. The only difference between then and now is that I was stinking rich then…
Not literally, obviously, but metaphorically.
Money had lost it’s meaning, like it was going out of fashion, and me and my partner (in crime) were propping up the bar: gin-soaked, twirling canes, sporting crystal monocles and velvet top hats, and lighting cigars with flaming money…
Not literally, catch up with the metaphors.
And I found that once you’re in that state of mind then asking random girls if you could buy them drinks as you waved your wad about (literally, this time, but not indecently) becomes so much easier.
The Welsh pub in question was student-friendly and had a very good pub quiz. To quantify: the best pub quiz in town was every Sunday at the Belle Vue where it passed into legend how a newly-assembled University Challenge team meekly turned up one week and got such a drubbing that they never dared come back again. Once. They literally tried that hard and it’s no surprise that they got nowhere when they eventually met Mr Paxman on BBC 2.
The pub quiz I’m talking about was notable because it was winnable. That and the prizes were really worth winning with a top prize of seventy-five pounds! But not in common Welsh pound notes, but in paper pub pound notes, which were stamped with an expiry date of seven days hence.
In the period under discussion our quiz team had dwindled to just the two of us. How did we win, you ask? We were good. We were damn good. That and we cheated better than anyone else.
If I were back home I knew which specific encyclopaedia, or atlas, or dictionary that I could look up the specific quiz answers we didn’t know. But I wasn’t back home, I was in Wales, however my parents were. And so, by prearranged appointment to make sure they weren’t out shopping, the quiz interval would see me stepping out from the pub and combining the power of my parents with the UK’s only known working telephone box.
It became a weekly routine: that not-at-all suspicious walk as I exited the pub at half-time, and ensconced in my phone box near the main road I used to see them scuttling out of the pub, running past me and all the way to the library where there was full access to the internet. If there’s one thing I can’t abide it’s a cheat. And if there’s one thing that they learnt from me: it’s that cheats don’t prosper. I feel in many ways that the mobile phone has removed the integrity of the pub quiz these days.
At the start there was the odd bug in the plan and one week, due to circumstances revolving around being mistakenly given an extra quiz sheet and an argument over the definition of the word hirsute (hairy, it is hairy) we actually came first AND second, beating ourselves by one point. That took some talking out of.
And so it began: With money to burn through regularly winning the top prize we were having lunch in there every day, and when I say lunch I mean with all the available extra trimmings on the menu, and by night we were back with our top hats, rushing to meet the deadline, offering to buy strange drinks for strange girls. And it became quite a struggle to eat and drink our way through our weekly ill-gotten gains, and it started becoming like some cautionary tale for children… But that’s when some friendly member of staff happened to point out: “You do know that you can get take-out, don’t you?” And by “take-out” he wasn’t referring to burnt onion rings.
Soon we were waddling home down Britain’s longest high street with boxes of beers under our arms. It was all coming together: we could now easily cash-in our winnings and not die of cholesterol poisoning in the process. The girls went along with curly fries, but they were just collateral damage. We stocked up so fast that my partner (in crime) fulfilled one of his fantasies by cleaning up the old refrigerator abandoned in our garage and installing it in our living room as his very own beer fridge. Homer Simpson eat your heart out.
However, I’m no big drinker and soon winning three crates of booze a week again starting sounding like a cautionary tale for children about the repercussions of greed and how your actions come back to bite you, but I’m too smart to become a modern-day fairytale victim because it was then that I had the idea…
I just lay there in my bed and laughed myself silly, not quite believing what I was now about to do, because to deal with the overflow of booze I was going to fence it to someone, a local Mr Big, who was so security conscious that I was never seen in the same room as him. In short the big plan was that I was going to liquidise our pub quiz winnings by selling them to… Myself!
That might not sound like a great profit-making plan to you, seeing that I already owned most of the it, but trust me it was brilliant.
At the time I was stressfully organising the departmental Christmas party. The previous year had offered a DVD player as the prize for the raffle, but I wanted something more… tangible. I wanted to make my raffle the most audacious anyone in Wales had ever seen… And I knew just the person to turn to: Me.
I knew every pub quiz in town. I knew how winnable they all were and the different prizes that they offered. And I put together a wish-list of items I knew I could successfully fence… I mean raffle, as I set out to create the ultimate prize stash. And then, come Christmas, we could convert them into cash when we sold enough raffle tickets to pay ourselves back. And so, like in Ocean’s Eleven, we set out to simultaneously knock over every pub in Bangor.
Crates of beer and sugary bubblegum alcopops from this pub, champagne from that one, and the thirty-pound bottle of absinth required returning to one pub three weeks in succession, but by Christmas I had a mammoth haul with so many prizes that it was more than likely that the hundred party-goers in Llanberis would win something than not. And the plan worked and soon we were cashing up at Christmas like those two crooks from Home Alone 2.
And then, at the end of the night, we escaped over the Welsh mountains, actually in an actual bus, partying with our loot just like the ending to The Italian Job.
Through those three or four months of planning and hard work, and liquidating our “assets” at the lowest possible supermarket prices, it brought in a mighty personal haul of eighty pounds. Real pounds. Real money. No more paper vouchers for me.
To be honest, as I sit here living off the proceeds of my life of crime, always looking over my shoulder for fear that the law will eventually catch up with me to feel my collar, and I recall now how much effort went in to all that… I’m kind-of left thinking that maybe I would have been better off sticking with the girls in the pub.