Scams at 6: Entry Level Criminal Activity

I was 6 years old when I learnt how to make my own pocket money.

My mother just had her second child and we had recently moved to Laurence Street (just off Byres road) along with my mother’s new boyfriend, now step-father.
It was the second home I could remember, before that it was just me and my mother living in a council flat in Drumchappel.
Before that, I’m told we moved from Rome to Maryhill with my father., But I have no memory of that so who’s to say my baby self wasn’t lost in the jungle as the result of a expedition gone horribly wrong, my human parents dead at the hands of ferocious Baboons and only I was spared and adopted by a family of Giant Pandas before my surrogate Panda mother decided the harsh jungle wasn’t the life she wanted for me and decided it was best to hand me over to the nearest Scottish woman and Italian fella.

Who’s to say?
You can call birth certificates and photographs “proof,” mum. But I think we both know what really happened.

Anyway, Byres Road. The West End. My life would forever rotate around this nicer slice of Glasgow. Peppered with pricks, students, beautiful women and home to my friends and family.

Summer 1990 – The Power by Snap!

Me and my cousin David were playing in and around the bins in my back garden. David is not really my cousin but that’s what you would call your mother’s best friend’s kid, especially if you spent a lot of time together growing up, like we did.

So, we’re raiding a bin… Sounds strange to say, but that’s exactly what we were doing., We find a tin shaped object covered in a gooey mess. I wipe away the banana skins and used sausage balloons filled with salty cream. “This tin is shaped like a, sick dog? Is it!? It is!”A charity box! A collection tin! For money! Realising what this meant I looked at David as if I was Indiana Jones and he was Short Round and WE had just discovered the Lost Gold of Durango!

Cut to; me and David standing outside my local corner shop asking passers-by if they would like to ‘give to charity.’ The charity box had no bottom to it, and I remember literally catching money that strangers would donate right into my hand and heading straight into the shop for another packet of Spicy Bikers and a penny mixture.

This was my first entry level criminal activity, and I have no idea if people genuinely believed we were working for a charitable organisation that employed children. Or if they just felt sorry or even applauded these resourceful wee Jakes, covered in bin juice.

Mmm, I can still feel that sugar high that comes only with free sweets at the expense of sick animals.

Around the same time, I also figured out what a ‘scramble’ was. Right across from the corner shop was the church my step-grandmother would take me to every Sunday during my childhood.

Sunday school, free biscuits, diluting orange and all the pictures of Jesus on a donkey you could colour-in until your little Christian heart was content.
During my time in and around this church, I quickly learnt that wedding bells equal the groom tossing a ton of ‘smash’ out of the car for all the eager kids to ‘scramble’ and pick up.
I don’t think they do this anymore.

But I was a aspiring professional thief, a Ninja Turtle, a Ghostbuster!
I would hang in the background all nonchalant and unsuspecting to others., At the moment that money was tossed in the air? Well, at times the coins wouldn’t even hit the ground. I was that shameless I would catch all the coins directly into a Safeway polly bag and cheese it down the street.

Cut to; me being chased by a gang of angry wedding goers, bag full of swag and a smile on my face.

Mid air freeze jump. Intro credits.


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