DAILY      DRONE

LORD DRONE’S MIGHTY FLEET STREET ORGAN,

 THE WORLD’S GREATEST ONLINE NEWSPAPER

CONTACT EDAILYDRONE@GMAIL.COM



TUESDAY 27  FEBRUARY 2024

*

Blackpool mock auction that became a wild goods chase

Cartoon by Thomas Rowlandson ( 1757–1827 ) depicting Napoleon conducting a mock auction of stolen goods


By GEORGE DEARSLEY

Apart from the illuminations going to Blackpool is invariably a miserable experience.


And so it was (back in the 1980s) when I and Daily Star photographer Jim Dakin were sent to expose one of life’s oldest scams: the mock auction.


For the unworldly, this involves luring people of low IQ into a long rectangular beach-front space and selling them cheap rubbish, aided by some carefully placed assistants in the audience.


The patter from the man up front on the mike goes like this. “Ok ladies and gents I’m putting this beautiful watch, this radio alarm clock, and this set of stainless steel paring knives into a bag. Who’ll give me £5?”


An eager plant raises a hand and the people in the crowd are angry that they weren’t quick enough. They should not have been. Because all the items could be bought in nearby shops for about £4 ... and the bag is about to get much more expensive.


I was inside with a tape recorder, Jim was over the road with a long lens. After the show we accosted some of the punters.


“How much did you pay? £12? Do you know you could have bought all those items for less than a fiver,” I told one group of ladies.


Suddenly, I realised the presence of five men, let’s say of the Traveller type, one holding a knife. And I saw Jim wrapping the strap of his Nikon tightly around his fist to make a weapon.


To say I felt incontinent, was an understatement.


I whispered to Jim: “Let’s just walk along the promenade. Surely they won’t stab us in broad daylight.”


We walked, the quintet followed. For 20 minutes. Up and down Blackpool prom.


Finally, the thugs gave up and disappeared. We found Jim’s car and drove back to the office.


I saw deputy news editor Hamish McGregor. “What page are you using the mock auction on?”


“Oh, that” he replied. “We’ve binned it. Sorry.”



26 November 2023