So, there I am, walking up Chelsea Bridge Road towards Sloane Square. “Look at this!” says a man who has just passed me, “Look what I’ve just found!”
I turn round to see him picking something shiny off the pavement. My first thought was that it was a button off a Chelsea Pensioner’s tunic (we’re just by the Hospital) but then I see it’s a ring.
“Not mine” I say. “Not mine” says the man, “but look at it, it’s gold, look” and he presses it into my hand. “Look, gold” he says again, pointing to a hallmark (although it isn’t a proper hallmark, just two little stamps), “you have it. Your lucky day.”
I don’t want a gold ring that isn’t mine. It means I’m going to have to find a police station and hand the damn thing in, so I try to give it back.
“No, no. You have it. Your lucky day. Your lucky day.”
So I turn to go. Two steps later..
“Your lucky day…so can you give me some money for cigarettes? For food?”
And the penny drops, it’s a scam of some sort. “No, no,” I say, “Your lucky day.” and I put the ring into his hand.
I don’t know what would have happened next; if I’d given him a quid, would I have been hassled for more (“A pound? You’ve got a gold ring!”)?; would someone have come and claimed the ring (although it was almost certainly worthless)?
This is apparently a well-known and long-standing scam in Paris, but it’s the first I’ve heard of it in London. Let’s see if it’s a one-off, or whether we all get familiar with it over the next few years…