Lionel Bart wrote some memorable songs for Oliver! And by writing, “You Gotta Pick and Pocket or two” he immortalised the dark world of the pickpocket and made it fun. Right now, there is a very good chance you are humming or singing that very well-known song, but the world of pickpocketing is not all fun, there is a serious side to it and the way to understand this is to see it in action.
Professional pickpockets exist today, yes, there is such a thing and in some cases, they would fit into a modern day Oliver! With ease and some may even equal the charm and expertise of the master Fagin himself. Some though, are even more shrewd, cunning and clever than Fagin or any of his team of pickpockets and they use pickpocketing for entertainment, teaching and consumer awareness.
To understand how a pickpocket works one needs to pick a pocket or two or at least see (or not) a pocket or two picked. We are all walking targets for pickpockets because we think pickpockets don’t exist, we like to believe they only exist on TV, in Movies and in the musical Oliver! Lee Thompson is living proof that this is a huge myth and proof that Pickpocketing is alive and kicking and far more lucrative than it ever has been before and you could be the next victim.
When someone is told that Lee is a professional pickpocket eyebrows are raised, they smile and before they know it the phrase “I’m a professional pickpocket” has distracted them and in an instant their mobile phone has gone, along with this wallet, tie and watch. Thankfully, Lee, unlike Fagin, is honest; he is a stage pickpocket who prefers to give back what he has taken.
It is strange, that once a person has been pickpocketed either in the street or by someone like Lee Thompson on stage that our habits and behaviours never really change. For a short period of time, after being picked, we become aware and very conscious of the fact we are vulnerable to pickpockets and make changes. However, these habits don’t seem to last and the pickpockets just keep upping their game and we become slack. Changing human behaviour requires a pocket or two being picked and loss being felt more than once.
Lee Thompson performs a number of acts on stage that demonstrate the art of picking a pocket. Yes, it is an art and one that needs plenty of practice. On stage the whole joy of Fagin’s London comes back to life, not so much the singing and the dancing but the laughter at how people are so easily robbed of things that seem impossible to take. It is tremendously entertaining but underneath a valuable and important lesson is being taught, whether we want to be told or not.
The stage act from Lee Thompson has won a great deal of praise all over the world, his skill and natural charm makes it an act that works anywhere. Everyone knows Pickpockets are real, sadly, and I repeat, they think it is not happening in their neighbourhood but only on TV and in the movies. However, the fine line between outstanding, comic entertainment and leaving the theatre where Lee has performed only to have your phone, wallet and car keys stolen without you knowing is hardly a line at all today.
Lee’s expertise has made him a popular entertainer and now edu-tainer. Street magic is huge, it always has been and always will be, it is ironic that it used to be a way to draw a crowd so they could have their pockets picked in the first place. Lee Thompson is one of the most unusual and enjoyable edu-tainers one may encounter. Insurance companies, software security companies all know the pain of theft, they know how things are stolen without us noticing and the skill of a professional pickpocket, such as Lee, demonstrates this clearly. Unfortunately, with street pickpocketing for entertainment the entertainment value is seen less so much the lesson and sadly, and despite the efforts of master pickpockets like Lee Thompson, people struggle to learn.
Dickensian London as portrayed in Oliver Twist is not far different from any town or city today. There are many less desirable people who wake up saying I “gotta pick a pocket or two”. Lee Thompson does just that, but thankfully, he is one of the good guys and not only will he make you smile when he does what he does he may just wake you up and keep you safe in the future.