The perilous world of the bingo hall

Have you been to the Bingo recently?

You may harbour memories of a Victorian seaside town playing a game on the pier, or a charity game at the church hall.   If so, then erase those cotton wool wrapped memories from your mind as it couldn’t be further from reality.  Some of my friends make fun of me for going to the Bingo, but when I persuade them to come they leave a quivering wreck and then de-friend me from Facebook.  

Most of the clientele have survived world wars (and possibly the Irish potato famine) years of struggle etched into the lines on their faces with steely eyes which scan the room just waiting for you to break the silence, or worse beat them to a House.

Firstly let me tell those of you who think they still come up with nicknames for the numbers, like 22, Two Little Ducks, 88, Two Fat Ladies, 69, Trombones.. then you are wrong.  You think the game will run at a sedate pace, wrong again.   They’ve no time for these traditions, the game is at breakneck speed.  Watch them smirk as they see you have missed a number as they run two books at once, seemingly with octopus arms, before the smoking ban they used to be able to juggle two dabbers, a fag and a pint of sherry.

Guardian of the empty seat, you'll receive a knitting needle to the neck if you attempt to sit down

One of the most important aspects to remember is to never sit in their seat, I foolishly made this mistake and they won’t think twice about bringing you up on it, even demanding you move.  The bingo term ‘eyes down’ is not sound advice, you need your wits about you should you unwittingly faux pas, retribution may come from tripping over a walking stick accidentally placed in your path.

They don’t just work alone, there are rival gangs within the bingo community, people who sit by the bar area don’t mix with the people on the main floor – and no one speaks to the people at the back by the slot machines.  

It takes time to understand the hierarchy of the bingo hall, get on their good side by complimenting them on their range of dabbers.  Think of it like you are fresh meat in prison, you quickly need to find out who is top dog, who is pulling the strings and to get onside with them.  You’ll be guaranteed protection as one of their bingo bitches as you walk behind them carrying their handbag.

The game has recently moved into the 21st century, instead of the books you are now given an electronic touch screen console, an Ipad for the older generation.  You can never miss a number though as the machine plays for you, oddly enough the old ladies have no problems getting to grips with the technology, they can’t work their DVD players and they are still suspicious of ATM’s but they are a whizz at the bingo machines.


Photo credits:  Bingo Hall: Bingosuite

Leave a comment


  1. I will NEVER understand Bingo, nor attempt to. It’s a crazy world of gambling grannies who would make Jason Statham look ladylike..

    • Exactly, next time they moan they can’t afford their heating bills they should look tot he £50 a night they chuck away in the bingo. They never let you leave either, I saw a news article about Mecca Bingo sending letters to a lady threatening to ban her because they found out she had gone to a Gala bingo. Once I was behind a lady who swore blind this was her last time and would never come again, a week later she was in her usual seat, they’d probably threatened to break her other hip unless she went back.

  2. As a parent, have horrible memories of helping out with Bingo because part of the proceeds went to the schools, if they had volunteers from said schools. Oh what a tough crowd they were. I think I would have felt safer volunteering in maximum security prison.

    How funny that you don’t have to find the numbers anymore. Which just makes it that much weirder!

    • The machines take the edge away, before you stood a chance of winning when newbies would lag behind and miss numbers, now it’s an even playing field and I never win (this probably prevents me being taken down by a mob in the smoking yard though)

  3. crazybingogirly

     /  October 27, 2011

    I’ve never been to a Bingo hall but after reading this I think I’d avoid it and just stick to online bingo!

    • I’m sure there’s bullying online, but you can ignore that easier than an old lady gang cornering you and beating you with walking sticks. Thanks for subscribing!


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