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.


…tried Reflexology

Day 29Day Twenty-nine

After my previous day’s unpleasant experience with an unnecessarily hot curry, I felt my body deserved some love.  A friend had suggested I tried Reflexology. I knew little about this type of ‘ology’ except that it involves having your feet poked a bit.

I, once again, turned to the Chinese community to help me.  Incidentally, I’m still taking the free and easy wandering pills the Chinese medicine man sold me on day sixteen and have noticed little change; if anything I’ve recently felt trapped and a bit uneasy.  I wasn’t sure where I could go for reflexology, but was sure the Chinese would have the answer.
I browsed around London’s Chinatown for a while to find the best price for my foot calming treatment, until eventually I entered a shop that offered Oriental medicine and massage.  It wasn’t until I was led downstairs to a little room, complete with a bed, that I suddenly feared it may not have been the type of massage service I was expecting – the words ‘happy ending’ played around in my mind.  The masseuse told me in broken English to take off my things and then she left the room.  I’d definitely asked for reflexology and was sure that meant foot massage, I took off my shoes and socks and lay on the bed hoping I was right.  The masseuse returned, dropped to her knees and started working on my feet – I was honesty relieved it wasn’t a ‘special massage’ as I certainly don’t have the money for that right now.

As the Chinese woman oiled up my feet for a good old poking, I wanted to find out more about reflexology so I asked her to explain it to me, unfortunately it seemed the only word she knew in English was “pain” which she kept repeating, I found this a little disconcerting so thought it best just to keep quiet.

When the session came to an end I left the shop with a limp, I felt a bit wonky, my feet were covered in slop and I was down £22.

To sum up: if you have a trained therapist I imagine Reflexology to be a very beneficial treatment, unfortunately I may possibly have visited a brothel by mistake; where they are a little less qualified.

food, Uncategorized

…eaten a Phall Curry (apparently Britain’s hottest Indian dish)

Day 28Day twenty-eight

As a child I was brought up by my grandparents and my father, who’s an electrician, with my time being shared equally between them.  My grandmother, who’d do all the cooking, fed me a staple diet of meat and two veg – as my grandfather would refuse to eat anything else, and still does.  Doreen (grandmother) always said “I give you proper English food and your father feeds you what I call ’foreign stuff’”.  Andy (father) fed me kebabs, takeaway and whatever food was in the reduced to clear bin at Tesco, I guess the staple diet of any electrician.

I remember my dad first taking me for a curry (foreign stuff) at one of my hometown’s many Indian restaurants. Outside the restaurant is a water fountain, which I think is meant to add a sense of sophistication to the dining experience. My first taste of curry, probably at about the age of ten, ended with me throwing up into the restaurant’s water feature and us never going there again – very sophisticated.

I always remember my dad telling me that the hottest curry you can get in Britain was the Phall, infamously hotter than the Vindaloo.  He said he’d never tried it but had heard a man had died from sampling just one bite (I may have added the last bit).

On day twenty-eight I felt the time in my life had come to sample Britain’s culinary scorcher.  Firstly, I discovered it’s quite hard to find an Indian restaurant that actually offers the Phall. Secondly, sampling it with a massive hangover may not have been a great idea.

Day 28bThe curry was a lethal looking colour, the kind of colour that in the natural world would mean; ‘instant death don’t touch’.  The Chicken Phall was hot and tears ran down my face, but it wasn’t as hot as I’d expected. When I finished it I thought it wasn’t that bad, how foolishly smug I was.

One hour after sampling the ‘bum burner’, I suddenly felt I had little desire to do anything. In fact I just wanted to go to bed, because I felt a little wrong inside. During the night I never properly slept, visited the toilet several times and was sick twice, but luckily this time in the privacy of my own home and not in a local water feature.

It took me two days to recover from the Phall.



Day Twenty-seven

When I first moved to London ten years ago and became a regular user of the Capital’s underground transport system, I always felt extremely awkward, in a truly British way, when anyone would beg or preach aloud on the Tube. My response would always be to put my head down and pretend they didn’t exist – a very noble thing to do.

I wondered what it would be like to make a speech on a busy commuter train and, indeed, if I’d also just be ignored. I’d never done it before so I had to do it.

To be honest I was shitting myself. I had no idea what I was going to say, but as soon as I opened my mouth everyone looked at me, for a second, and then each passenger responded differently. Some looked at the floor avoiding eye contact, presumably fearing I was some crazy nutcase (which I might well be). A couple pretended to look at a map, which they weren’t looking at before I started speaking. One girl whispered something into her boyfriend’s ear and then giggled. A few people listened without showing any emotion, but one very attractive woman seemed to have a genuine smile – perhaps this could be a weird way to find myself a girlfriend?

I got my friend Dean to film me from a distance so it didn’t look like we were together. In keeping with all my videos on this blog the quality is appalling, however it’s very short as I unintentionally choose one of the shortest distances between two stations on the underground. The sound quality is bad too so you can’t hear it very well, but I say nothing particularly profound or thought provoking so it doesn’t matter really.

So to sum up what I learnt from this experience, it’s not easy for a desperate person to plead to group of uncaring strangers. When someone makes a speech on the tube it’s easier and probably less awkward to just listen to them rather than pretend they are not there. If you pretend to read your book you’ll only have to restart the chapter once they’ve gone.

Dating, strangers, Uncategorized

…been on a blind date

Day 22Day Twenty-two

Very shortly into my quest to do something new each day my friend Mark asked if I’d ever had a blind date.  I’d never been on a date with a complete stranger, so I asked him to arrange one for me and immediately got the fear he was going to set me up with a man or some kind of farmyard animal.

Some of my friends are serial daters (they go on lots of dates, they don’t date serial killers) but I haven’t been on many, mainly because it tends to cost a fortune. People these days, particularly in London, seem to be into the internet dating scene yet I’m still not convinced that everyone on the internet isn’t a complete nut-bag.  Luckily I didn’t have to deal with the Worldwide Web (a computing term that seems to be less used these days) as my friend arranged it for me.

A week before the date Mark forwarded me a message with three questions from the mystery women, and at that point I was still hoping that it was a woman.  The questions were written in the style of the 1985-2003 British TV Classic Cilla Black’s Blind Date, and with a sense of nostalgia I answered in a similar spirit.  I was hoping to come across witty but may just have sounded like a knobhead, as most of the contestants used to on the TV programme.  Here are her questions and my answers:

Q. If you’re an ABBA fan, what song of theirs would best describe you?

A. The Winner Takes It All, because when I meet you I’ll feel like I’ve hit the jackpot

Q. If you could be a superhero, which would you be and why?

A. Tufty the Road Safety Squirrel (more 80’s nostalgia).  Technically not a superhero but you can’t underestimate the importance of road safety

Q. Which pizza topping is most like you?

A. Four Season’s pizza topping because I’d be there for you whatever the weather

Looking back at my answers now I must have just sounded like a knob.

I arranged to meet under the clock in Waterloo station and I was to wear a rose so she could identify me; an old-school dating cliché if ever there was one.  It turns out it’s quite hard to find a rose on Waterloo station when you’re running late, so I had to improvise and quickly bought a box of Cadbury’s Roses.

As I waited on the station concourse clutching the box of chocolates feeling relieved I’d just made it on time, I couldn’t really get away with being late as we were meeting under a giant timepiece, I suddenly thought what if she doesn’t turn up.  Luckily my blind date did turn up, and best of all it wasn’t a man, farmyard animal or indeed a blind person (not that there’s anything wrong with being blind but I may have waited a long time).

We strolled along the Christmas Market on the Southbank by the River Thames, a date idea Cilla Black would be very pleased with.  It was nice to spend an evening with a complete stranger, something I don’t normally do, and I could certainly see why people are into this whole dating thing.



My friend Jon was holding a Thanksgiving party at his flat in London. I’ve never actually celebrated the American festive occasion before, I’m still not exactly sure what it’s a celebration of, but I felt it was an ideal opportunity to tick off another box on the long list of things I’ve never done.

Unfortunately when I arrived at the party it seemed no Americans had actually turned up. Jon was serving up some very tasty ‘chilli dogs’ but that seemed the closest we were going to get to a proper Thanksgiving.

I wasn’t totally satisfied I’d achieved something new, but luckily someone had brought a bar of chocolate that had pieces of salt and vinegar crisps in (or potato chips if we’re going to stick with the American theme) which I’d certainly never tried before.

Here is a very short video of me sampling the bizarrely flavoured confectionary. After I eat the chocolate you can see bits of the crisps in between my teeth, this makes me feel a bit ill so much so I nearly didn’t upload the video…oh well!


…been to the Coleman’s Mustard Shop and Museum (after practically no sleep and a massive hangover/still smashed)

ImageDay Fifteen

On the fiftieth day of my mission – after waking up on a floor at a house party in Norwich, trying to figure out why I’m at a house party in Norwich, and working out how to get back to London and out of Norwich – I visited the Coleman’s Mustard Shop & Museum.

The least said about this day the better.