It wasn’t my first time, but it might be my last.
As we drove to Mecca bingo in north west London my friend and I speculated about what the evening would hold.
After deciding that we could park in a bus lane, we made our way into a small entrance room. To play bingo you have to become a member and so we started filling out cards. Easy enough – name, age, address, phone number – probably so that they can bombard you with bingo spam.
The queue to give in our cards wasn’t very long, but it all appeared too much for the thunder cloud standing behind the desk.
Even the card reader was down that day. That’s right once you are a member you get your very own swipe card and can bypass the man behind the desk and head straight for the woman behind the next desk who asks you things that require a bingo handbook to understand before you can pay let alone play.
As we left the crotchety man we asked if we would all get in on time for the start of bingo and he said, “I don’t think so.”
We were off to a great start. Who knew it would be such a mission to go and play a game of bingo. As we finally made our way into the bingo hall, it was like stepping into a parallel universe where communication is through circling numbers. The hall was huge and injected a tad of dread into my veins. The majority of people seemed to be playing on their own even if they were in couples or parties. One man and woman sat opposite each other for an hour and a half and barely glanced up from their numbers let alone uttered a word to each other. In the same way that no one wants to be like those people in restaurants who don’t talk to one another, I couldn’t help thinking I don’t want to be like that.
With friends it was fun, but not that sociable – mainly because keeping up with the numbers that had been called required all my concentration. There was also the fear that if I did get a full line or house I would have to shout out bingo – although no one actually says bingo they make more of a yelp, and I wasn’t quite sure how to imitate if I did win. The fact that one of the bingo callers couldn’t pronounce, ‘six’ and every word that came out of another’s mouth sounded like she wanted to kill you, also made me slightly nervous.
I’ll let you hazard a guess as to whether I’ll be going back.