M Challenge: Who Makes the Best Blagger?; Forget the Battle of the Sexes, Who'll Win the War of the Charm Offensive? According to Recent Research by Barclaycard, Men Are More Successful Than Women at Sweet-Talking Their Way into Getting an Airline Upgrade. So We Put the Male versus Female Theory to the Test, Sending JENNY COCKLE and ALISTAIR CLAY Head-to-Head on Four Missions
Byline: Jenny Cockle and Alistair Clay
BLAG NUMBER ONE: TO COLLECT AS MANY FREEBIES AS POSSIBLE FROM
THE BEAUTY COUNTERS OF TOP LONDON DEPARTMENT STORE SELFRIDGES
Jenny I decide to become a wealthy but allergic woman, looking for a complete new range of skincare products.
As soon as I approach the Clarins counter, a girl pounces on me. I look into her orange face and explain that I suffer from very sensitive skin. "I have to be careful or I end up with a nasty rash," I lie.
She points out a few (expensive) products that would be ideal. "Do you have any samples I could try first?" I ask in a very matter-of-fact way.
"I'm sorry," she replies. "We're having a promotion this week so we're not giving out samples. If you were to buy these two products, though, you'll get a third one free."
I don't fancy spending pounds 60 just to get a free lip balm so I make my excuses and move on.
I use my "highly sensitive skin" routine again at the Lancome counter - this time with a little more success. The friendly sales assistant offers me two teeny-tiny tubes of a de-stressing moisturiser.
"Do you have the cleanser and toner, too?" I enquire. "I'm afraid not, madam," she says, a tad frostily.
At Elizabeth Arden, a woman with startlingly made-up eyes whips out her pad. She's a little over-the-top but maybe I'll get armfuls of freebies? Wrong. After feigning interest, she asks: "Are you interested in anti- wrinkle products?" What am I, 60? I leave empty-handed - and feeling very old.
Alistair I follow in Jenny's footsteps and head for the Clarins counter. Decide to do my bumbling boyfriend act, it's guaranteed to succeed.
"Can I help you, sir?" asks the perma-grinned blonde assistant.
"It's my girlfriend's birthday tomorrow," I explain. "I haven't got her a present, so I thought I'd grab some make-up. But I haven't got a clue what type, colour or make - I'm a bit hopeless," I say, dopey-eyed.
"Oh, my son's the same," she beams. "What's your girlfriend's colouring?"
I wasn't prepared for this. I hadn't given my imaginary girlfriend a colour.
"She's er... red, she's a redhead," I splutter.
"Well, you could give her any of these shades."
Time for the kill.
"Could I take some testers to show my sister? She knows what my girlfriend likes."
"No, we don't give them out."
Whoa, I thought we had a rapport going here.
Not the quitting type, I try my luck at Elizabeth Arden and Lancome. Same story, same response.
These cosmetics girls might act like your long-lost auntie but under their thick foundation beats the hard heart of ruthless saleswomen. I head home, fed up to have failed.
1-0 TO JENNY
BLAG NUMBER TWO: TO BOOK A TABLE AT THE IVY, LONDON'S FAMOUS CELEBRITY
RESTAURANT (WHERE THE WAITING-LIST IS A YEAR LONG)
Alistair I'd rung to book a table and been told there was no chance. So I turn up in person and collar the maitre d'.
This time, I decide to play the cocky young high-flyer. "Hi, I need a table for Friday at eight. My partner's flying back from overseas and I want a date at the best place in town."
The maitre d' peers down his nose and sniffs: "We're booked up till the end of the year, sir."
"Er, but I promised I'd bring her here. Can't you just squeeze us in in the corner?"
"Only if there's a cancel-lation. Take this card and call me on Friday at 4pm."
So, a semi-result at The Ivy - not bad, considering it's one of the most exclusive restaurants in Britain.
Fast forward: I call at 4 o'clock and am told - very nicely - that they are booked all evening.
Jenny Like Alistair, I phoned the restaurant to be told they were full. Unlike Alistair, I'd cooked up a plan to make sure I got my bum on one of their seats. …