…nearly missed Christmas

Day 52Day fifty-two

In Britain, a country obsessed with the weather, it surprisingly doesn’t take much overzealous precipitation to generate a shared national sense of apocalyptic peril; none more so than on Christmas Eve.

To travel from London to my hometown Horsham, West Sussex, it should have taken just an hour’s train journey, however due to ‘adverse weather’ (a term the transport people tend to use a lot when things aren’t moving) the South of England had come to a halt.

When I told the Jamaican lady working at the train station where I was trying to get to in time for Christmas, I knew I was in particular trouble after she replied “Oh me Lord would me no want to be you, Sweet Jesus”.

I had something planned for my day’s new experience, unfortunately I was forced to abandon it, however I can now no longer state that in my life I have never taken five and half hours to make a forty mile journey – I’m very proud of my achievement.


…been on a sunbed

Day 51Day Fifty-one

I studied in Liverpool, in the North of England, where there are a lot of Tanning Salons and many people with dubious tones of skin (sorry to conform to a stereotype, but it’s honestly based on what I observed).  I remember a female friend at university visiting one of the salons and returning to class pretty much bright orange.  She’d fallen asleep on a tanning bed and the automated stop timer failed to kick in.  I’ve been wary of these human toasting machines ever since.

Despite being fully aware of the many health risks associated with using a sunbed, I thought to myself that surely one ultraviolent radiation blast can’t be that bad, so I headed to The Tanning Shop in London Bridge and kept my fingers crossed I wouldn’t get cancer for Christmas.

On The Tanning Shop window there was a huge image of some beautifully tanned women frolicking together on a beach.  As I sheepishly opened the shop door it dawned on me that perhaps men don’t use Tanning Salons, I had no idea, and I suddenly felt a bit stupid.  Luckily, I was greeted by a very friendly, if slightly over tanned, member of staff who answered all my questions.  She informed me that lots of men use fake tanning facilities, in fact, at that branch there were more male than female customers, although it is very close to the City of London so I imagine all the bankers need to constantly boast their natural glow.

After being assured I wouldn’t turn orange, it was only two days till Christmas and I didn’t want my family thinking I’d been ‘Tangoed’ by Santa, I was left on my own with the Sun Angel S52 – the world’s most advanced lay down tanning technology (apparently).  I took all my clothes off and got on the huge sci-fi looking bed and pressed the start button as instructed.  When the machine burst into life I pretty much shit myself, it was terrifying, but once I closed the lid and acclimatised to being in the brightly lit cocoon I actually found it quite relaxing. Day 51b

As I laid naked in the bed listening to loud House music being pumped through the integrated speakers (I did say it was the most advanced technology) I suddenly got the fear that I wasn’t meant to get completely naked and perhaps you’re supposed to leave your underwear on.  I felt quite vulnerable as a feared someone could open the lid and recreate the scene from Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels.  I also kept getting flashback to my friend’s orange face and I started doubting how advanced the advanced technology was – the last ten minutes were quite unnerving.

When I got off the bed and looked at myself in the mirror, my face was covered in red blotches and I looked a bit ill – shit.  However, about an hour after the experience I discovered I had quite a nice tan and I was surprisingly impressed with the results.  As I dashed around the shops doing some last minute emergency Christmas gift purchasing I was expecting strangers to shout “Hey Mr, you been somewhere nice?”, but of course they didn’t

In conclusion: I think I’ll want for my holidays to get another tan; I don’t want to push my luck.


…shopped at Trago Mills

Day 50bDay Fifty

I hate shopping, I always have and probably always will, unless I somehow find myself being enlightened by a shopaholic during this yearlong adventure.  I do love a gimmick, anything that’s a novelty or a bit quirky – stick a sparkler or a flashy light on something and I’m happy.  So a shopping centre disguised as a castle was just enough of a gimmick to entice me into my personal hell.

I was working in Devon with my friend Carolyn who told me about Trago Mills, the South West’s premier discount shopping outlet (their words, not mine).  We both had some Christmas shopping to do, which I love, and as I’d never been to the novelty shopping centre before we had to visit.

It was a bit like the mecca of shopping, all be it a very tacky mecca.  The shopping centre is so gimmicky it even has its own amusement park outside, complete with miniature train (not working).  I hate shopping so much I’d rather have stayed in the ‘fun’ park, designed mainly for young children, than attempt my Christmas shop.

The vast castle shaped shopping centre was certainly no Disney Princess’ Palace as it was old and falling apart.  Rather disappointingly the castle was just a façade, like a rundown Wild West film set, as inside it looked just like a huge warehouse.

I soon got bored aimless meandering around the aisles and after two hours of sheer boredom I managed to purchase zero Christmas gifts, however I did take a photo of this classy Nativity scene at front entrance.  I feel this really sums up the whole experience:

Day 50

In conclusion: This new experience certainly didn’t help me to develop as a person in anyway, but it did allow to reaffirm that I HATE SHOPPING.


art, school

…drawn a self-portrait

Day 49bDay Forty-nine

It was strongly recommended by my school teacher that I do not sit GCSE Art as I was pretty much guaranteed to fail.  I remember in Art class, which we had less than once a week as my school felt it the easiest subject to cancel or move around, we were asked to bring in an object to draw.  I brought in a piece of broccoli.  At the end of class we were told to store our masterpieces and objects in the cupboard to continue in the next lesson. By the time we finally had Art period again my perishable vegetable was complete rotten and there were flies everywhere, I had to scrap the whole project off and start again – annoying!

I looked online for tips on how to make a self-portrait, but found nothing overly useful so just got on with it.  I set up a mirror so I could see my image and sat down with a piece of paper and the only pencil available in the house (I had so much stationary as a child, but as an adult I can’t find any).  As I stared at myself in the mirror for some time I freaked myself out a bit thinking ‘who is that, is that what I really look like?’ so I just began drawing.

As usual I got bored and lost my patience, so just settled on the picture below.  I’m actually quite scared of the man in the picture, I really hope it’s not me.

Day 49


P.S. If you do see the man above please call the police as I think he’s wanted for some gang related crimes in Eastern Europe.


…Eaten a Reindeer Burger (and probably upset lots of vegetarians)

Day 48Day Forty-eight

Feeling festive, as the 25th December was fast approaching, I thought I should do something Christmassy, so I ate Reindeer.

The problem with meat, as delicious as it is, it pretty much all tastes the same and I felt a little guilty tucking into Rudolf as any old regular cow burger would have sufficed.  Oh well.


internet, money

…gambled online

Day 47Day Forty-seven

When I was young my dad took me to a greyhound dog racing evening, or as it’s more affectionately known amongst cockneys and mockneys, The Dogs.  I remember betting a pound ‘to win’ on what I thought would be a guaranteed spindly canine speeding champ – well actually my dad placed the bet as I was too young to gamble (it was probably his pound), but I certainly felt the sense of risk.  Greyhound racing, as a sport, is arguably fairly basic, the dog only has to complete a single lap.  My chosen dog and perhaps the only one in greyhound sporting history managed just half a lap.  He was not the speeding champ I hoped for, more a distracted dope, as halfway around the course he decided to wander off into the paddocks, or whatever they call the backstage area for sporting hounds.  Bizarrely, in the same race, the dog my dad had bet on managed the extreme opposite of mine and refused to stop running, the stewards had to chase it around the course several times after the race had long finished.  We both lost our pounds and from that point on I realised my family was not gifted with gamblers’ luck.

I’d never tried an online casino before and being a horrendous gambler, I was a little nervous.  I choose because as far as I knew it was the most reliable and successful, based purely on how many of their posters I’ve seen around London.  First of all I was instructed to download some software on to my computer, which made me more nervous, then I had to register to play.  They asked for a username, however I kept receiving an error message informing me that my username was already taken, so after trying every combination of my name and date of birth I just hit some random keys and settled for ‘Neilfsfsf1981’.

I deposited £20 into my new casin0 account.  Now, I appreciate that £20 is literarily a speck of dust in the world of gambling, but I really am quite broke and also had no idea what I was doing.  As a welcome bonus from the casino my deposit was instantly doubled, so I had £40 to whack on the digital tables – great.

I clicked on the Roulette tab and was greeted by a video feed to a live croupier, which I was a little surprised by I was expecting the entire experience to be computerized.  A game was already in progress. The croupier, whilst spinning the wheel, was talking into the webcam about the design of a suit he was getting fitted for his daughter’s christening, which I thought a little odd.  If my hard earned £20 is on the line then I want some kind of focus from the staff.

The croupier announced the names of the winners each time the spinning ball landed on their corresponding number or colour.  I felt a little guilty whenever he tried to pronounce Neilfsfsf1981 and wished I’d tried harder to find a suitable username, at the same time the childish part of me wanted me to back and change my name to bigschlong1.

After placing bets on random numbers, which seems the only way to approach Roulette as there really can’t be any skill to it, I got up to £80 in the bank.  I decided this was a suitable win to walk away with and clicked for a withdrawal, of course it wasn’t that simple.  The computer told me I was only allowed to withdraw £20 (the original amount I transferred) because I’d been playing with the bonus money they’d given me.  It seemed, and I maybe wrong, in order to withdrawal my winnings of £60 I had to add thirty times the amount of their bonus into my account, which is £600.  I decided to lose my winners and just get my £20 back.  I walked away neither a winner nor loser, just happy I’d probably never experience online gambling again.

In conclusion, as my Nan always said to me about gambling, it’s a mug’s game.

celebrities, strangers, Uncategorized

…sent fan mail to a celebrity

Day Forty-six

Day 46

Janet Street-Porter

C/O United Agents Ltd

12-26 Lexington Street



18th December 2013


Dear Janet Street-Porter,

Since the 3rd November 2013 I’ve been attempting to try something I’ve never done before every day for one year.  I wanted to undertake this personal challenge in order to appreciate what life has to offer if you take constant risks, although if I’m completely honest I mainly started this because I was bored whilst trying to look for a job.

It was suggested, by a friend, that perhaps I’d never written a fan letter to a celebrity before and that I should give it a go – so this is me doing just that.  I never had a famous idol when I was growing up and have never really followed celebrity culture, but for some reason I knew immediately I wanted to write to you.

To be truthful, as a fan, I know less about your work as a journalist and editor than I probably should, my opinions are based solely from your television appearances.  I’m aware it’s probably hard to judge a person’s character from what is portrayed through the media, and perhaps a little unfair, but to me you seem like someone who’s consistently truthful to who they really are; a refreshing quality in the world of celebrity.  I feel you’re prepared to take a chance by airing your thoughts honestly, without allowing the consequences to be a major obstacle, whilst maintaining your natural wit and your unique outlook on life.

I think you’re a truly great British celebrity, even if you never set out to be one, so I wanted to take this opportunity to say I’m your fan.


Yours sincerely,


Neil Foster.