Grab your dabber, wear your lucky pants and show me your game face. I’m about to show you a good time. Sunshine in London style.
It’s something of an institution in the UK, it can change people’s lives, and it’s not necessarily the domain of the elderly. Well, not completely. We’ve done it once since we’ve been here, although it’s not something we would generally do. And we’ve made – it seems – some new friends for life.
I know you’re going through the whole gamut of cool things that you think I would do in London. Concerts? Wining and dining? Walking the London bridges? Joining a secret supper club? Theatre?
Well, you clever folks – you didn’t realise we were trendiness in motion. It’s BINGO! Soon after we arrived in London last year, my husband and I went “daan the bingo” with our elder son and his girlfriend. We signed up, and all got our very own bingo books and dabbers – yes, we hadn’t heard of them before either. It’s a pen-type item for dabbing a coloured dot over the number that’s called out. And we entered the bingo hall … start the Jaws music, please.
I think we all had big red Ls on our foreheads … you can choose for yourself if you think that was for Learner or Loser! I know which one I think! Anyway, we chose our table carefully – seems everyone has their favourite table. And chair. And we had NO clue what was going on! Everything seemed to whizz by over our heads – numbers flying this way and that, people yelling different sounds that yielded responses from the suited people, and we still sat there, like stunned mullets, longing to use our dabbers.
Mr Cool – the local Bingo hero , wearing a lycra equivalent of a hankie tied on his head and walking with a smoothness that oozed Al Green hipness (and I think both hips were still his own) – came over to rescue us ignorant ones. A dear friend of ours loves to tell people that we’re “from abroad” so he would have had a field day that evening!
So Mr Cool showed us the moves, told us exactly when we could start listening out for our numbers – and he reminded us publicly when he got to that page – and although the numbers continued to whizz by at breakneck speed, we managed to dab our numbers just in time, but the all-important opportunity to yell “bingo!” eluded us all. Just like finding a job …
It was actually quite a fun evening, and the bingo hall continues to remind us of their special evenings and “winner takes all” options. We went out for a very posh afternoon tea at a central London hotel about two months ago, courtesy of a leaving gift from my lovely colleagues at the charity I worked at earlier this year. While I said to my husband, “Do you think people here will think we’re posh, or will they know we have a voucher?”, he reached into his pocket to yank out his cellphone as it vibrated the text of an incoming message. Guess who it was from? … the local bingo hall, reminding him that they hadn’t seen him down there for some time and inviting him to take advantage of a forthcoming special offer. Our new friends for life.
We laughed, continued to munch on the spoils of our voucher, and reflected on our lives in the Big Smoke. We sure know how to have a good time.
Sunshine signing off for today!