Breaking Bad

If you could get away with it, would you turn bad?


Would you break the law? Would you lose your morals? If you knew nobody would find out, would you be tempted?


Based on the speed of motorists on the Coast Road once the speed cameras were taken away, I would say, “Yes”. If you knew no-one was looking, you’d push the rules.


Plato went further.


He reckoned that even the most just amongst us would go rogue if we knew we couldn’t be detected. Even worse, a little law breaking wouldn’t cut it. Once we’d “Broken the Seal” of immorality, we wouldn’t be satisfied until we’d killed the king, bedded the queen and become emperor of the world. 


Don’t believe me? Look up his work, “The Ring of Gyges”, it’s all in there. Plato (who incidentally is in my top three Greeks*), suggests that we only act in a just and moral fashion because we crave the respect of others. If we know we can get away with it, then stuff respect. We’re off to rule the world.


“Why are you banging on about this?”, I hear you ask. “You listen to one philosophy podcast Jack, and you think you’re Chidi Freaking Anagonye.” 


(To be honest, it’s not the first time I’ve dabbled in such thoughts. It wasn’t too long ago that I talked about “Breaking the Seal”. And back in the early days of this sub-viral blog, I concluded that the ultimate goal of every magician is to pull off a casino heist)


“But surely”, you’re thinking, “You haven’t turned bad Jack. You haven’t set foot on the slippery slope of rogue and dipped a toe in the waters of criminality”


Brace yourselves readers. It’s going to get very dark, very quickly.


(If this blog were a film, it would go a little hazy now. Maybe shimmer and wobble. You know – flashback to the past kind of thing…)


It was a Saturday afternoon. I was in town, dressed like a magician, ready to astonish some guests at a 40th lunch. I tapped my pockets to check everything was in place. Check. Made sure I hadn’t got that half collar in, half collar out thing going on that sometimes happens with my tweediest waistcoat. Check. Rubbed my fingertips together to check they were suitably sticky to perform the trickiest of sleights. Oh bollocks. 


In my rush to get to the booking, I’d neglected to put on my obligatory squirt of Norwegian Formula. I’m not kidding here. If I don’t get Neutragenad up before I do a gig, then some sleights are just not going to happen. (The one handed top palm is especially fiendish if your right little finger tip is just the tiniest bit dry)

In other words, If I don’t have this…

There’s no way I’m doing this…


Fortunately for me, Superdrug was smiling at me from across Northumberland Street. I dived in, found my product then stared with dismay at the humongous queue. There were at least 10 minutes of customers in front of me. The booking was due to start in 5 minutes time.




This was the moment. The pivotal moment. Sliding doors. Breaking the seal of criminality. Checking around for CCTV and security guards, I sneaked the lid off the hand cream. Squeezed a gram and a half onto each palm. Replaced the lid and popped it back on the shelf.  Walked out looking innocent, whilst secretly rubbing the stuff in. I seem to recall whistling. Can’t look guilty whistling. 


And there you have it. Seal broken. 


If Plato was right, then I’ve set sail on a dangerous path…


Anyway, moral of the story – I owe a couple of apologies. If you bought some Norwegian Formula from Superdrug in Newcastle recently and only got 47 grams instead of 50, then I’m terribly sorry. Get in touch, and I’ll give you a couple of squeezes of my tube. 


I also should apologise to the casinos of the North East. 


Because, lets face it, it’s only a matter of time now. 




(*In case anyone is interested, my top three Greeks are: Pythagoras, Plato, and Andreas from Kebab King on Station Road)