Schemes active/complete: 36
Money made: £58.77
Another dense wedge of silence between this blog post and the last, but Rowe and I have now successfully acquired the keys to our new flat so the principal reason for calling a rain check on this project is hopefully now behind me. To prove I still have a glimmer of attention wavering about the money making schemes please draw your attention to my new financial total!
Gratifyingly my overall earnings can no longer be encapsulated by a single note of British currency, and the extra tenner I’ve popped on since last checking in didn’t involve a harrowing amount of hours being a slave for a music review site (Scheme #23) or amassing months of receipts (Scheme #71), but was earned swiftly and leisurely over a couple of pints last night.
The 203rd scheme to grace my list is bingo, and not the virtual Gala-Sun-Foxy-bingo which is constantly advertised as played by mothers in the bath whooping aloud with glee (for that is Scheme #174: Free bingo sites & other tacky online games), but rather the original, old-school variant involving a trundling cage of numbered balls and a superabundance of senior citizens. Thankfully I live in Bournemouth which has an average age of about a hundred, so a 5 minute walk past the charity shops, opticians and funeral homes sits my local bingo hall, and they offer free games on a Friday. Consequently yesterday evening saw me dragging Rowena out for an exciting night of marking off spoken numbers from a grid of paper.
Registering upon arrival was a simple process but I could already feel wary eyes upon us as we strode in; not only were Rowe and I not regulars but we were easily the youngest there by two entire generations. I was the only male not wearing something beige. It was a similar feeling to the police lot auction we attended for Scheme #112, which likewise hosted a much older demographic sitting in silence before a person with a microphone.
We awkwardly took our seats, ordered some beers and a £2 burger, and waited for our game to start. If you’re thinking of channelling your inner pensioner and losing your own bingo virginity then a warning to you – you are not explained the rules at all. I sat gripping my Carling (as they only sold Carling) and staring at my pad of colour-coded spreadsheets in a bewildered panic as a man at the forefront of the audience called out numbers with the microphone far too close to his mouth and everyone around me confidently scribbled away. It was the closest I’ve felt to sitting an exam I hadn’t revised for since I sat my last exam.
Besides the muffled numbers pouring rapidly from the speaker’s mouth (I was disheartened to hear ’88’ was just “all the eights, eighty-eight” and not “two fat ladies” which is probably considered too offensive nowadays), the rest of the room was in total silence, save the soft fluttering of the ceiling fans which did nothing to disperse the miasma of stale smoke. The only time anyone made a noise was to yell “Bingo!” or “House!” or just a generic excited yelp to indicate they’d ticked off a complete line or box of numbers, at which adjudicators would literally run to the source of commotion to validate the win. Again, like the auction house, I was constantly paranoid I would cough or sneeze or spasmodically waggle my arms which would be misinterpreted and bring the whole room’s attention to me.
It was quickly evident that our fellow players were here not to have fun but simply to win cash. There was no jovial atmosphere during or in between games, and it’s no exaggeration to say I didn’t see anyone except Rowena smile all evening. Us two were the only patrons I could see drinking alcohol as well, everyone else was glugging back Pepsi to keep their reaction times sharp. I genuinely saw women clutching their heads with rage when they were just one number shy of a cash prize only to have Dawn from the neighbourhood watch swoop in with a sneaky full house at the last second.
The lady sat alongside me was unmistakably a pro, spread out over two tables and utterly motionless besides the flurry of the pen in her hand and the odd crafty vape. When Rowe asked her for help as to which of the games we were eligible to participate in she sat resolutely in silence, not even registering us. “Excuse me… sorry, excuse me…” Rowe proffered. But nothing – the woman was in the bingo zone, it was impossible to shake her out.
Eventually one of the workers was kind enough to vaguely explain the structure of the games to us, how we were only to cross off numbers for the 8 red games which started on lilac, not the middle two national games or the special game, but we could do our special game which came after the last red red game (preceded by the red blue game), which was the final of the 8 games out of the total 8, before our 9th game. I smiled blankly back at her and ordered another Carling.
Gradually I figured out what we were doing and became one of the silent masses intently poring over a number sheet. It was strangely, unexpectedly absorbing, and I could see why the regulars were so hushed during games. I have never before experienced a buzz from a chart of recited numbers but I kid you not when I say bingo actually had me adrenalized.
At around the half-way stage I was marking off numbers on the brown grid, having played through lilac, yellow and grey, and I was doing very well for myself – all I needed was a 32 to complete my box and win me £20. The caller rattled through 56 and 87 which naturally each elicited a wee whispered fucking swear from myself before clearly and casually he announced “three and two, thirty-two.”
It’s very rare that I win anything – take coming a close second in The Write Contest’s short horror fiction competition worth $100 for Scheme #173 as an example – so I forced myself to quadruple check that I really did have a complete box before I spluttered “rehp! Yep! Me!” and chucked both arms into the air.
I heard the urgent patter of a bingo worker’s feet heading over and smugly turned in that direction, only to see them congregating around someone else! A woman a few tables up from me had also been waiting for a 32 and had obviously screeched longer and harsher than I so as to drown me out! Her ticket was verified and the booming voice of the bingo God was about to continue listlessly hollering numbers, so I had to cry “woah woah are you having a fucking laugh??” which was sufficient to capture the attention of the nearest bingo hall droid.
My ticket was ratified, the caller commented “OK, joint winner there, joint winner” before continuing, and the woman whose cash prize I’d just halved treated me to her most withering glare. But I couldn’t have cared less; the free entry meant that the £10 prize from this scheme was all profit. Yes I’d bought beer and a burger and the bingo pens themselves which had discharged red ink over my hands all night but that’s simply me being portly, boozy, disorganized Matt Rose. If I was a tee-total vegetarian who carried a pencil case everywhere then this scheme would have bagged me money at absolutely no expense to myself!
Following my brown victory I had no further luck, and Rowe won nothing at all, until finally all the games were complete. I still had half a pint left and expected the congregation to stay for a while chatting and finishing their drinks, but as soon as the last number had been called the entire room stood up as one and marched out sternly like they couldn’t wait to leave. Not a murmur of convivial chatter was to be heard, nothing but the tramp of feet and the clop of walking canes.
So I would recommend Scheme #203: Bingo – it’s surprisingly exciting, you can win, and if Bournemouth’s anything to go by then their burgers are cheap. Just don’t expect to be accompanied by anything other than an angry geriatric cult who would sell their granddaughter for a lilac 29 in the second to last box.
Schemes active/complete: 29
Money made: £15.77
Awoke yesterday to a dour dawn. Namely a lady called Dawn who emailed me to take a grand verbal dump all over my plans. Dawn was from Taymount Clinic in regards to my one-plop shot at Scheme #108 (Sell your shit. Your literal human shit), messaging me bright and breezy to say “due to the extensive screening and tests our donors undergo, it would not be cost effective for a person to donate just once.” This is a bit of a bummer as I don’t intend to move permanently to Luton simply to void my bowels for money, so I’ll have to look into other UK clinics who might potentially pay for a turd else the only way I can currently see this scheme being rewarding is by selling my arse-tar as art or something similarly unlikely and messy.
My morning passed with the regular distractions of a fervent get-rich-quick scheme experimenter. I proffered some names for a new bicycle shop via Squadhelp (Scheme #120). I flicked through the proposals of three friends who had offered, well, threatened, to buy my soul since Scheme #49 was announced, one declaring he would wipe his anus with it should it fall into his clutches and another offering literal peanuts in return for my eternal essence. I had a brief tool around on Slicethepie which I halted when the fashion app tasked me with reviewing this piece of festive tat:
There were a couple surprises from schemes I hadn’t expected to hear back from so quickly, or at all – People for Research had shot back with the easiest trial imaginable to kick off Scheme #13, a 5-minute survey on what one looks for in a job which although unpaid put me in contention to win an Apple watch to obviously sell immediately:
and more surprising still was that London-based Taskrabbit had actually been in touch (Scheme #77) to initiate me on an orientation course! Taskrabbit if you’ll recall is a bit like Gumtree except rather than posting to sell a knackered old trampoline or a dog you hate, you pop an ad up requesting help to paint your bathroom or do your taxes or pleasure your wife if you’re into that sort of thing. I applied to be a Taskrabbitter last week but the concept is so London-centric I thought my odds of being accepted were nil, and although over the past few days they’ve requested scans of my I.D and even sent a letter to my flat with a secret code so as to authorize my address I simply thought they were going through the motions and just humouring this Bournemouth pleb who’s a £48 train journey from even the most Southernmost London parameters. And yet an email from Holly seemed encouraging:
That said as I tried to find an orienteering day near me I feel Holly may have been a little optimistic.
Still, better than a flat no, and I’ll keep a beady eye on where these sessions are occurring so as to hopefully one day get the chance to muck out some snooty Londoner’s gutters.
With my morning scheme chores complete I headed out to get my hair hacked at which I endure three times a year. As mentioned in my last post Scheme #18: Sell some hair is at the forefront of my plans as there are a good selection of sites which will buy hair from you to be used in making wigs, up to a couple hundred quid for a hearty thicket of follicles. The impediment I’m facing is that the minimum length any hair purchaser accepts is 6 inches, and I can’t let my bonce grow that long because I’m not some hippie, dammit! Even with 4 months since my last trim and my hair resembling the nest of some nihilistic bird I had less than an inch lopped off at my local barbers, so it was clear I couldn’t rely on my own body to create the goods for this scheme. I had to find hair elsewhere.
As I was being pruned into the shape of some stupid fashionable haircut I casually enquired whereabouts the shorn hair ends up after each day. My hairdresser told me it just goes in the bin, “or the rest finds its way into my shoes and then onto my carpet when I get home!” which I laughed very hard at in the hope they’d like me and give me lots of hair. Unfortunately I was brushed down and thus left with even less headfur, AKA money, than when I’d entered, and as the till was broken I couldn’t even snuffle a receipt for my Receipthog (Scheme #71).
I left and headed in the direction of home but then like a spy or something wheeled back around, snuck past the plate glass window of the barbers and loitered around the back of the place to monitor what bin the hairdressers used to dispose of their hair. The temperature was low and I had other errands to run so I wasn’t prepared to stay for very long but I shit you not within 1 minute I watched the very person who had just lopped chunks off my hair take a bin bag out and heave it into a grundon which I took a photo of so as to remember for later.
(arrow added by myself via MS Paint – life is not a video game, and thus waypoints do not come so easily.)
I don’t tend to embark on a lot of stealthy espionage because I’m clumsy and my ankle routinely clicks loudly from where I broke it at a house party when I was 17 and let it set improperly, so my glimmer of spywork got my adrenaline pumping sufficiently for me to need a liquid lunch. A couple pints at Wetherspoons meant a couple precious receipts, and my urgency to get them after a transaction had the barman ask what exactly my deal was with getting receipts. I clued him in on Receipthog and he was downloading it with enthusiasm as I left.
My next port of call was the bureau de change. Rowena surprised me with a day-trip to France so as to inflate myself with red wine and cheese in preparation for my morphing into a 27-year-old on Saturday hence I needed euros, providing me with a good opportunity to start Scheme #164: Trade currencies. The Great British Pound is bouncing around capriciously at the moment seeing as some days it looks like Brexit’s being cancelled and others like it’s ominously ploughing ahead, thus it seems a good time to benefit from this uncertainty. What little research I’ve done into this scheme labels Bill Lipschutz as king of the foreign exchange market, almost a soothsayer of what currencies are rising and falling and whether a wad of Mongolian tögrög would actually be worth more as Croatian kuna, so this scheme does have successful paradigms. Sadly I know approximately the value of the Ukranian hryvnia, which is a not a lot, about currencies and exchange rates, mainly as I spent my Economics lessons along with the rest of my class poised over a bingo-style sheet of our teacher’s most oft-used phrases, ready to cross off “at the end of the day, boys” or “boys, you really have to pick up the ball and run with it on this one” rather than listening to anything relating to supply-and-demand or bulls vs bears.
Some flustered and slightly pissed research led me to a site where the GBP/JPY index was a positive number, and taking this as a good indicator I extemporaneously took a flutter on Japanese yen.
I put in an order for ¥3,000, which works out at just over £20. The austere woman behind the counter asked me my intentions with just 20 quid’s worth of Japanese currency and I rather magnificently lied that it was a Birthday gift for a friend from Kyoto. She nodded, there was a few moment’s silence as she sluggishly pecked at the keyboard, and then she asked “so, where are you a hairdresser?”
Obviously I frowned, subconsciously ran a hand over my new haircut, and asked “what?” She repeated her question slowly as if I were thick. “Where, are, you, a, hair, dresser?” she trundled out, exasperated.
“I-I’m not a hairdresser” I managed, even having to convince myself this was true, as was the certainty of this cashier. “Oh!” she said, taken aback, “I’m pretty sure you said you were, but… OK, fine!” I tsk’ed and chuckled and shrugged, wondering where the fuck my yen was and why this day had a fetish for putting me in unusual scenarios to do with hair. Finally, my notes arrived:
Since this exchange I’ve conducted a bit more research and discovered that whilst “The British Pound vs. the Japanese Yen (are) a highly volatile pair”, when things are good they’re great and “as a result, GBPJPY is able to develop strong trends that exceed thousands of pips.” I don’t know what pips are but, it’s going to exceed thousands of them! If the GBPJPY reaches the peaks it did in October last year I could cash my 3,000 yen in for some clear Queen of England profit, even taking into consideration the charges bureau de change’s sting; that said if the rates were as they stood in March last year I’d be badly out of pocket. It’s now just a case of sitting on my yen and hoping that it bounds from strength to strength, although obviously with my hilarious bad luck in the last 24 hours the exact opposite has occurred:
There’s not a lot that one man residing on the South coast of England can do to galvanize the currency of Japan, but I thought a tweet couldn’t hurt:
To round off my silly day I waited until evening and under the cover of darkness skulked to the bins I had watched my hair deposited in earlier. I felt awkward rummaging through a barber’s bins like a pervert, plus it was icy cold, everything was spattered with bird shit and there was a late-shift Big Issue seller watching me the whole time, but I’d be the one laughing if I could drag a bag of blonde gold home in the hairiest heist of the century!
The surface layer of bags all had paper in them, I didn’t even have to tear open the lining to tell that. I kept sifting through until I found a sack full of soft mushiness – I earnestly thought I’d come across a load of hair I could sell online as a mishmash ponytail, but ripping my way through the bag I found it hairless, instead brimming with soiled rags, and worse still the other bins were all industrially locked. I trudged home sans hair to sullenly rate some more terrible bands on Slicethepie, thinking the whole time where can I lift some hair from? I feel like I’m missing something, there must be an emporium of hair which would otherwise be headed for some incredibly bad smelling conflagration that I could nab to sell to the balding. Any help appreciated – answers in the comments please.