Back in 1847, William Makepeace Thackeray was writing about the art of the blag. The book was Vanity Fair, the characters were Becky Sharp and Rawdon Crawley and the storyline was all about living it large, for free. You can follow their scrapes in chapter 36, entitled 'How To Live Well On Nothing A Year'.
Back in 1985 something similar appeared on the television. It was called Ligmalion, and it portrayed a layer of London life that was negotiated by the blag, the pose, the front and the guestlist. Plus one, mate. Tim Curry was in the drama, so was Sting. I also recall Alexi Sayle singing some kind of Brechtian street ballad. It probably wasn't the greatest show in the world but I was impressed by the idea that you could somehow reinvent yourself in the teeming metropolis, loving it, digging it and ligging it. The theme song from Ligmalion, possibly sung by Alix Sharkey from i-D magazine, proclaimed, "we don't need the cash to get in White Trash, we walk right in the door".
Within weeks I was in London, and I'd talked myself onto the guest list of The Marquee club on Wardour Street. I can't remember the name of the band, but the sense of elation was immense. Soon I was getting by as an apprentice blagger, swanning into Ronnie Scott's on Frith Street, and even getting my buckshee admission to the Wag Club. I had no money, but drinks were often complimentary and the canapés were ongoing. In time, I could schedule my social life through album launch parties, showcase gigs, product launches and PR schmoozes. On a good night you could finish your social whirl by seeing a clatter of great bands in some squalid bar, fortified by the music industry cash that was still hurtling around Soho.
Motorbike couriers would despatch piles of records to your door, there were branded T-shirts, Filofaxes and even record company pyjamas. It was oddly immoral, but somehow you could still get away with writing snotty reviews and ill-informed diatribes. On one memorable occasion, I commissioned a guy called Steven Wells to review a Little Richard box set for the NME. His opening line was "Yowsa, what a blag!" And y'know, he was just about right.