Week 8: Bingo!

Week 8 of my comfort zone challenge,  saw me visit my local bingo hall. I don’t like to have preconceptions of things, but in my head I pictured bingo being a relaxed, jovial evening out with plenty of the ‘older generation’. It didn’t really appeal to me, how fun can circling numbers be?

In doing my research before the event, I was absolutely amazed to find out this bingo hall was open 11am-11pm, EVERYDAY! I mean, surely there isn’t the demand for bingo, all day, everyday?!

In tack with three of my good friends, we took on, what I assumed to be prime time, the Saturday evening session. Before they would let us loose in the bingo hall, we needed to sign up and become a member. They then asked if we wanted to play on a screen or in a book. Being the traditionalist that I am, and against the advice of the Deluxe Bingo staff, I went for the books with the dabber. It’s not bingo if you’re just touching an Ipad right?

We got a very quick run through on how to play bingo by both the reception staff and the number announcer. For those that have never been, you are given a ticket with 6 boxes, that have the numbers 1-90 randomly positioned within the boxes. The announcer will then proceed to announce randomly generated numbers with the aim being to fill either one horizontal line, followed by two horizontal lines and then one full box, a full house.

We went to the main hall, and to my shock the place was packed. Finding a table for four of us was difficult, and when we finally did find a table, we must of clearly look liked first timers. Instantly as we sat down, the women to the right of me (pictured below), who became my friend over the course of the night, asked “Is it your first time?… Just give me a shout if you need any help”. How hard can it be just highlighting numbers?

Bingo with the boys
Bingo with the boys

It quickly became apparent after the first round, that bingo requires concentration. It wasn’t the relaxed jovial atmosphere I expected, when play started complete silence took over the room, so you could hear the announcer. The numbers are reeled off so quickly, you don’t get a chance to look anywhere but your book. To my dismay, there weren’t any jokes as they announced the numbers. There was no “You and me, Number 3” or “Tickety-boo, 62.” The closest we got was “Two fat ladies, 88”. This did disappoint me.

Once I started getting the knack of filling numbers in time, whilst evaluating how many I needed to complete a line/box, I began to become more and more gutted each time I didn’t win. As we became close to getting a full house, we would whisper to each other, “I’ve got a busy box”. Not sure how we came to calling it that, but every game one of the four of us, would claim their box is getting busy. Each time, we were just one or two away from the prize.

In full concentration...
In full concentration…

As the evening went on, the prizes went up. The jackpot started on £50 and ended up £250. As the prizes became higher, the gasps of disappointment around the room became louder as someone in the room stole the jackpot.

The women next to me would knit in-between games to keep herself entertained. She looked very content, and would occasionally engage in conversation to see how we were getting on. It felt quite mothering, if I’m honest!

The room was boiling and with no windows around, I quickly lost track of time. By the penultimate game, I had no idea what time it was, only that I was three quarters of the way through my pint (I barely had time to drink, the concentration levels were so high). I was one off hitting the first line, which would have given me a £20 prize and in profit for the evening. My top box started to become busy, I told the boys, and they all ignored me. All of a sudden, I was one away from the full house. All I need was the number 67. My friend Mike, opposite me, had noticed I was just one away, and when the number 57 not 67 was called out, he said “you’ve won mate!”.. I hadn’t. When you need one number, that is all your mind is waiting for, you certainly don’t mistake it for another number. Three numbers later… “67!”… “YES!” I cried. I had only gone and hit the full house. I won the £200 cash prize, I couldn’t believe my luck. My women friend, was delighted for me. I think she shouted well done louder than I had shouted to claim the prize.


In hindsight, I was gutted I didn’t shout BINGO. I definitely had pictured myself shouting it out. I guess in the moment I was too excited to have won.

Ending the night with a lovely little cash prize put me in the mood for celebration, which meant I didn’t wake up the next morning with £200 in my wallet. I woke up with a lighter wallet and a banging headache. I blame the bingo.

I was told by the announcer afterwards, to tell people that not everyone wins first time when they go. What do they say about beginners luck?

Having won some money here, I think it’s time to start giving a bit back and using my luck for some more charitable tasks. If you guys have any good ideas for me, swing them my way!


Week 7: A Valentine’s Special – FREE HUGS

This week I wanted to incorporate the romantic theme of Valentine’s day, but having already done a blind date, I wanted to stay away from the dating scene.

Inspired by Juan Mann’s Free Hug Movement, I wanted to create a Free Hug Movement of my own around Brighton. The idea is that you give a hug to strangers, as a random act of kindness to make somebody’s day better.

Rather than a sign, saying Free Hugs, I created a cheap t-shirt online. The t-shirt was terrible fitting, it came out like a tent on me. Not the best start. Then to complete the look, I was convinced to buy a helium love heart balloon. Luckily, it didn’t rain, as I didn’t for a second consider a plan B for if it did rain.

All ready to go...
All ready to go…

I wasn’t particularly nervous before this task, maybe I just under estimated it, but I went in with a ‘what’s the worst that can happen’ type attitude. It was only once I had taken off my hoodie, shouted ‘FREE HUGS’ and received ZERO hugs, that I began to regret doing it and felt like a weirdo. I have to say this is probably the weirdest thing I’ve ever done.

There was a huge sense of relief when I received that first hug, I think I may have even thanked them. What was amazing, once I had received the first hug, like a domino effect, people just kept coming. The key to the whole task was finding areas of high footfall. In areas of low footfall, the recipient found themselves in an awkward social situation and people were hesitant to do it. Funny how people follow the lead of others, right?

There were a few funny reactions to my cries of FREE HUGS. A couple of people thought I was shouting FREE DRUGS and replied “yes please”. One gentlemen, gratefully received my free hug, but told me his hugs weren’t free and that I owed him £2. He let me off eventually. One women asked me before hugging “you’re not a weirdo are you?”… I couldn’t honestly reply saying no, I mean I’m giving out free hugs for pete’s sake.

I think it’s fair to say this challenge is something way outside of my comfort zone. I can’t say that I’ve ever gone around hugging strangers. I can think of countless times I barely even look at other people on tubes or hardly said hello as I walked past someone I know. I’m not a particularly loving person at the best of times, so this was definitely a good challenge. What I can say, is each hug that I gave did make me smile. Watching people’s reaction was very funny, and from what I could tell, I seemed to make a few other people smile… Whether it was from the hug, or just laughing at the strange man giving out free hugs. A smile is a smile, I’ll claim them all.

Hopefully my random act of kindness made a few people’s day, theirs certainly made mine.

BELOW IS A HIGHLIGHT REEL OF THE DAY (The little chap at the end was a legend)

Week 3: A genuine blind date

In a world where your next relationship/date seems to come from Tinder or some form of social media, this week’s task was extremely refreshing. A genuine blind date. No pictures, no swiping, no ‘liking’ pictures, no small talk prior to the date, just an open mind and trust in a friend.

Off the back of last week’s post, my colleague at work, Poppy, contacted me to bring up the idea. Traditionally, this is something I’d never even consider, my only experiences of a blind date is Cilla Black’s ITV programme or David Brent’s blind date in The Office. So it was an perfect idea for this challenge.

How it all started...
How it all started…

After accepting the offer, all I was told was I’d be meeting a Daisy, aged 20, who’s brunette. I did have mild panic attacks the day before, where I drew on the varied advice from people I knew. One person said “As soon as she sees you, she will love you and then she will talk to you and will love you more”, though this is something my mum would say, I promise it wasn’t her! Then I went to the boys for advice, to which I was advised “Just don’t faint this week”. Brilliant.

Before I go any further, I’d like to make clear that this blog post isn’t about rating how the date went. It would be unfair on Daisy and besides it’s none of your business. This is all about the experience.

Meeting at Brighton Pier at 6pm, I made sure I was fashionably late by arriving 15 minutes early. Thinking I’d be greeted by a Daisy, I was greeted by Rachel, the storm that happened to be taking place in Brighton at the time. Rachel was angry and was doing her best to brush me off my feet before my date even started. Hopefully Daisy would be a bit kinder.

Only when it got to the date, it occurred that she may turn up, see me and leave. You can see by the group ‘WhatsApp’ conversation, I was cool as a cucumber.

Calm and collected
Calm and collected

The good news is she turned up, recognised me from the pictures she had seen and didn’t feel the need to turn around. We got out of the storm, had a meal and went on to drink a few cocktails.

It’s hard to describe the energy I felt before and throughout the evening. Having no idea who was going to turn up and not knowing a thing about their background, was brilliant. There were no expectations and it turned out to be a fun evening. Yeah, it was a risk, but it goes to show you should trust your friends. I knew Poppy was unlikely to stitch me up; she knew both of us and thought we’d get on…. which we did. There were thousands of things to talk about and no pressure at all. The most pressure I had all evening was choosing which cocktails to choose. The ‘Songbird’, chosen purely as it’s an Oasis song, was a success. The Martini, if it’s good enough for James Bond, it’s good enough for me, wasn’t quite so successful.

I’d honestly encourage people to give something like this a go. Trust your friends, take the whole ‘looks’ element out of it and chuck yourselves in the deep end. As I said to myself before the whole thing, what’s the worst that could happen?….. (I didn’t faint this week!)

As always, ideas are encouraged. The list is growing!

52 weeks, 52 tasks.

New Year’s Resolution – Stepping outside my comfort zone.

According to Forbes’ Magazine, just 8% of people achieve their New Years Resolution. Fortunately, for the last two years I’ve been fortunate enough to be part of that 8%. In 2013, I gave up hangovers with success; and in 2014 I stopped trying to act like I was Dan Blizerian, thinking I’m some sort of millionaire, after getting a full time job. So I’m good at this New Year Resolution stuff. So here’s the deal, 2015 I want to challenge myself!

“Life begins at the end of your comfort zone.” – Neale Donald Walsch.

I love this quote, mainly because it enforces the message if you’re willing to change, your life will change also. For years, I’ve been brandishing the quote to friends and colleagues suggesting they need to step out of their comfort zone, like I am some kind of motivational guru that can tell. It was only after a disastrous ‘date’ at the end of November, I realised, I’m living in my comfort zone… and well within it.

The Plan of Action

– 52 tasks outside my usual day to day activities
– 1 per week
– Documented each week

Ground Rules

Thought I’d set some ground rules originally to stop this getting out of hand:

– Nothing involved with this should effect my professional work life
– Spending all my money, doesn’t constitute stepping out of my comfort zone.
– Nothing that effects my personal appearance (linked to the first rule)
– Any thing too risky, particularly with my life, will be binned.


Ideas are very welcome… Would you believe, I haven’t filled up all 52 weeks yet!

Week 1 and 2

So I’m covering week one by starting up this blog to document all the progress… Yes it counts, I’ve never done this before.

Week 2, I’ll be giving blood…