Who among us can say they’ve never told a little white lie, or been economical with the truth? Not I. And not you either. But you wouldn’t want to make it a regular thing would you? Because honesty is the best policy, right? Not according to one 37-year-old woman living in London who has made embellishing and omitting facts a way of life. She is unashamedly a serial blagger, blagging her way through work, the world and life. Here’s how (and why) she does it…
Have you always been a blagger?
It's fair to say that I come from a long line of chancers. My family weren’t doing anything extraordinary, just the usual side hustles that people living hand-to-mouth do to get by. We lived that particular way of life that middle-class people judge the less fancy classes for, like hiding my mother's live-in lover so that we'd qualify for a council house. [My family] would work insurance jobs, knockoff jobs, backhand jobs, back-of-a-lorry-jobs – any job really, just as long as it wasn't a proper job. You'd probably call them crooks, but I have better manners than that. Anyway, the short answer is that I was born into it.
If a job that I want requires a specific qualification, then I have that qualification. If the flat I want needs a guarantor then voilà!
What kind of things do you blag?
There is no specific thing, I just got sick of spoilt rich kids with expensive educations getting ahead while I worked my arse off and stayed completely still, so I played them at their own game. If a job that I want requires a specific qualification, then I have that qualification. If the flat I want needs a guarantor then voilà. I’m telling untruths to compensate for the things in life that are out of my control. Think of it more as creating a level playing field but succeeding or failing on the basis of your own talent.
Okay, give us an example...
It's not about VIP tickets or shoes or Gucci belts, but every so often the challenge is too good to resist. On a recent solo trip to Thailand, I knew I was going to have to stay in hellholes in order to see as much of the country as I'd like. It turns out Lady Luck was on my side; I sat next to a very attractive guy around my age on the connection ferry, and by the time the 45-minute journey was complete, we had convinced everyone that we were there on our honeymoon. It ended up being the trip of a lifetime – honeymoon suites, travel upgrades and champagne on tap everywhere we went. I won't pretend that having to share a room wasn't an added bonus, but I'm not sure who blagged who there.
What’s your proudest blag?
I'm not sure I've ever felt pride in the blag itself, more in the getting away with it – the art of the blag, if you will. I've moved countries and changed my name by deed poll four times to avoid anything catching up with me, my family don't know my current name or where I live, and the friends I have now know very little about my past. I guess I'm just proud I can remember my name in the morning.
What about the funniest blagging story?
My family would proudly consider themselves pioneers of the "No Win, No Fee" road traffic accident/compensation culture scene in the late '90s. And it was a scene, just rarely the scene of a bonafide accident. There were plenty of times the whole family had to turn up to a hospital appointment with fake slings and neck braces, and that was always a bit of a laugh.
My CV is a never-ending work of fiction. The truth is that I left school at 15, was a topless barmaid by 16 and a table dancer by 17.
Do you ever lie about work stuff?
My CV is a never-ending work of fiction. The truth is that I left school at 15, was a topless barmaid by 16 and a table dancer by 17. My LinkedIn will tell you that I have an Oxbridge master's degree, extensive industry experience and all the references that go with it and, heaven forbid, that I enjoy practising yoga in my spare time.
What do your friends and family think of your blagging? Do they know about it?
To an extent. If there’s a funny story or it’s something they can enjoy too then I’ll let them know. I don't trust anyone with the good stuff though.
Have you ever been caught out?
Not that I can remember *crosses everything*.
Do you worry about getting found out?
Probably less than I should do (though I did get a pang of anxiety as I wrote that).
Being a blagger, does it make it easier to spot other blaggers?
We are living in the age of the blagger. From politicians and lawyers to advertisers and landlords; everyone is making a fast buck from telling a fib.
For me to get a foot in the door, I chose to lie about my education on my CV; the 2019 equivalent is convincing Instagram followers that you are someone exciting and using that social currency to make cold, hard cash in return. We just didn’t have the same sort of filters 22 years ago.
What, according to you, is the difference between blagging and out-and-out lying?
There is no difference. I've spun a yarn or omitted the truth to afford me opportunities that may or may not have otherwise come my way. Rather than accept my education (or lack thereof), I just read some books from a reading list on Google and said I had a first from the relevant university.
I was very close to saying "the motivation was always to do better" then, but I'm not sure it was. There was some desperation, some envy and, undoubtedly, something in me that wanted to see if I could.
Does it take guts to blag? Do you ever chicken out?
Once upon a time, I was fearless and very much of the opinion that as long as the rewards outweigh the consequences, then you should give it a bash. These days I’m far more apprehensive – perhaps it’s because I have more to lose. I love my life, and it’s been as much blag as it has been hard work to get here; it would be awful to have to start all over again.
Can you give some pro advice to first-time blaggers?
There are no first-time blaggers anymore. Living a pretend life is exhausting, but it's 2019, and anyone with an Instagram account knows that.
Anything else you'd like to add...
Responding to these questions made me realise that what I thought of as a funny story was actually quite a sad story of a girl who was willing to do anything to get ahead. I almost felt sorry for younger me.