"But when you were young, Grandma/Grandad (delete whichever is not appropriate), what did you really want to do?
"Ah" you smile wisely, tousling the hair of the little ruffian "What did I really want? I'll tell you. I wanted to pick someone's pocket"
There is a short pause. These children are moral and well brought up. They turn puzzled faces to you.
"But isn't that stealing?"
"Normally, yes" you reply "But not if it's something you really, really want to do. If it is one of your bucket-list items to be done before you die, then it's perfectly all right. Ask any lawyer"
It must be obvious from the forgoing that today's candidate for the refuse heap of crap objectives, 101 Things I Refuse To Do Before I Die is a recommendation to
Learn to pickpocket
and it was found on the Life Listed website. I don't know if the author of that page was writing from his prison cell or maybe he was out on day release and found an internet cafe. Perhaps he has been charged but the case has yet to come to trial. Or maybe he was so skilful that he got away with it and is sitting down in his lair (pickpockets do have lairs, don't they?), thumbing through someone else's wallet, counting out the banknotes and filing away the calling cards from "massage" parlours for future reference.
Now why should this skill be something that is so important to learn that it constitutes a bucket-list objective? It cannot be enough merely to slide a hand inside the pocket of some unsuspecting bystander. That is no more than a friendly gesture, as I understand it, in certain establishments [Those charges were false, I tell you, it never went to court: Ed]. To count as a true act of pickpocketing then, booty must be removed and a clean getaway accomplished. In short, what the gang at Life Listed wish you to do is to steal.
I covered the inadvisability of becoming dragged into the criminal justice system in a recent post; take it from me that there is nothing glorious about watching a policeman using two fingers to laboriously type your name into a database of local villains. It could be that the idea behind learning to pickpocket is to do it without risk of detection but that is jumping ahead. Learning to pickpocket must mean a training period in which our lack of skill could be our undoing. Perhaps we are supposed to practice on a volunteer. They can walk casually up and down the room whilst we fall in alongside, strike up a casual conversation and then, distracting them cunningly by pointing and saying "Oh my God, what's that?", we insert a couple of twiddling fingers and withdraw their keys.
The trouble is, until we do it for real, outside, how can we know that we are able to succeed? Let us now assume that we have trained diligently and have located a suitable subject, let us say a rich American gazing bemusedly at the pigeons in Trafalgar Square. A thick bill-fold is half in, half out of his back pocket. We glide into position and extract it. Now what? Yes, we have learned to pickpocket, and yes, we are now in line for a few years at Her Majesty's pleasure. Do we hand it back or merely slope off and enjoy a more expensive coffee than the one we had lined up? Of course we hand it back.
"Gotcha" says a suddenly very hard and focussed tourist, who snaps cuffs on our outstretched wrists whilst showing us credentials that establish him as sheriff of one of those little towns we failed to enrol at ourselves on yet another futile bucket-list washout. "I'm here to clean up this town and you know what, buddy, I'm starting with you!"
It's too dangerous, that's what I'm saying, and furthermore it is pointless. Why learn a skill unless you intend to practice it for real? Fellow citizens, your pockets are safe from my hands.