Freelance writer and poet from London; if you would like to read my poetry, please check out my book, 'Poems on the Page', available from goo.gl/Ta4oAX.
Published February 14th 2014
The Blokes From Down Under Get Their Balls Out
'Get ready for a night of mediocre entertainment!'
There was once a time when Bingo was considered mainly as a pass time for the elderly. My grandparents would play on Wednesday afternoons, and maybe win a small food hamper. When they took me to the sea side once, I played Bingo with them on the pier, and won tokens to buy a soft toy.
As the internet started to embed itself into homes, Bingo sought a new target audience. I see constant television adverts for online Bingo, where young to middle-aged mums are winning fortunes at their computer.
Fun with dabby ink.
Bingo has now taken on even wider appeal. No longer is it just down for seniors at the community centre or housewives sitting at a desk. A whole new range of venues such as pubs and nightclubs has seen Bingo become popular for all ages and genders.
If you win, hold your crotch and make the Devil's Horn.
Take Bogan Bingo for example. Hosted by two blokes from down under, they are are what Aussies call 'Bogans'. I must admit that when I went to their Bingo do, I was a bit overwhelmed by everything, but on returning home, I looked up the term Bogan. It is self-deprecating slang for someone whose 'speech, clothing, attitude, and behaviour exemplifies a lack of manners and education.' Yep, that about sums up Bogan Bingo.
The Slug @ Fulham, Fulham Road
The Bogan Buddies run a Bingo night every Thursday at The Slug @ Fulham. I have previously been to The Slug @ Wimbledon. It is a friendly environment that gives you a taste of South African sport, Australian beer, and British food.
Everything getting prepped.
The Slug in Fulham is but a five minute walk from Fulham Broadway tube station, and took no time at all for my dad and I to get there (thank goodness the strike was cancelled), despite not knowing the area. It was recommended that if we wanted to eat beforehand, then we should arrive before 7pm, so at half six we entered the pub, where all the staff were setting out the tables. It costs £8 to book a ticket, but you don't need to bring any proof of purchase, as your name is put on a list, and written on the tables to save hassle over trying to find a seat.
Although The Slug does have a cloakroom, I had no idea where it was, and no one offered to take our coats for us. This meant that we had to drape them over the low stools (appropriate for playing Bingo but less than ideal for going out for a meal) so that they trailed along the floor.
The group next to us feasted on a mountain of fiery chicken wings.
The menu is less extensive on Bingo night, which is probably a good idea, because they wouldn't have time to make loads of different meals. There is still a goodly selection, however, and all at very reasonable prices. For example, you can get a chicken goujon wrap or Mexican burrito for £4.95, a low calorie pasta pomodoro, classic lasagne, beef burgers, nachos, or if you are coming as a group, you can order up to fifty fiery chicken wings.
Pasta Pomodoro has 325 calories.
For £6.25, my pasta pomodoro was a small portion of peen with sun-dried tomatoes and basil in tomato sauce. For me, it tasted too tomatoy. That may sound like a silly thing to say, but the dish needed something extra to contrast what was a largely mono-flavour dish. I think a simple sprinkle of chilli would have done the trick.
Trev's Towering Inferno Burger
I was in no surprise that Dad opted for Trev's Towering Inferno Burger. The £8.25 six ounce beef burger turned into a mighty tower with the addition of southern fried chicken bacon, onion rings, and red hot cayenne pepper sauce, served with a portion of chips and dip.
He pondered for a moment or two how to tackle the beast. If it were me, I would have deconstructed it and used a knife and fork, but Dad went straight for it. He also almost poked my eye out with the skewer, which he failed to remove.
A burger this big required a helping hand; I tried a bite, and can safely say that the beef and chicken were superb, but the taste of the bacon was completely lost.
Chocolate Cake with Ice Cream
A waiter came to take our plates, and asked if there was anything else we'd like. The menu did not mention desserts, but I thought I'd ask, and he said that they did Chocolate cake with ice cream for £4.25. He then added 'It's very chocolatey'. And it was. Not so much in terms of richness, but rather in the fact that there was a lot of it: three layers of warm chocolate fudge, chocolate sauce, and caramel sauce. Oh, and of course the vanilla ice cream. The top layer of the cake had been over baked, but the rest was beautifully moist and delicious.
When we arrived, we were the first ones there, and everything was pretty quiet, but as more people started to turn up, the music was turned on. There was an excellent selections of singers from the seventies and eighties, such as Lionel Richie, James Brown, ABBA, Polly Parton, and all the songs from Grease. With eight television screens, it was impossible not to see and get swept up in the fun of watching all the accompanying music videos. I would have really enjoyed it if it was not for the volume. The music was so loud it was impossible to hear anyone speak, and as the evening went on, the music got louder and began to hurt my ears.
I thought that once the Bingo started, the music would stop, but it didn't. Fortunately the Bogan Buddies had microphones, so we could hear them call out the numbers.
Everyone was handed out two cards and a hippy dab-on-ink pen, the the Bogan Buddies explained the rules. These rules can either be considered fun or vile depending on how you feel about vulgar language. For example, if Dave called out a number that ended in one you have to chant 'number one, slap your bum', or if it was number six, 'show us your tits' (it happened). Winners were greeted on stage, first with 'hello', and then with 'F off'. My inability to type out the full word shows my stance on the matter, but it was clear that everyone else in the room was having fun with the Bogan lingo.
Take your pick from the Bogan Board.
One aspect of the game I really did enjoy was the Bogan Board (possibly because it featured a rather handsome looking Richard Dean Anderson as MacGyver). People who won a house (a full line), would pick a picture off the board to reveal their prize. Could be super, could be sh...
A draw can mean only one thing: Rock, Paper Scissors
The first 'lucky' winner received a dust pan and brush. Other prizes included a bottle of wine, and a pregnancy test (at least that one went to a woman). The best prize off the board was a ticket to OktoberFest in Germany.
The first round of Bingo ended when someone called out an obligatory 'Bloody Bingo!' Or should I say two persons. That's right, two people got a Bingo. But there can only be one winner, so how to determine who gets the prize? A fight to the death.
Okay, they weren't quite up for that, so instead the stakes were lowered to a less lethal, but equally thrilling game of Rock, Paper, Scissors. Would you believe they drew again? Three times in a row. Eventually paper beat rock, and a happy young woman walked away with a £25 bar tab.
During a brief interval, the Bogan Buddies announced a poetry competition for Valentine's. After putting in a lot of thought (or as much thought as one can in ten minutes), I wrote a poem comparing someone to a sunset. I then felt a bit daft when all the other entries were rude cannibalisations of 'Roses are red, violets are blue.' I should have known better really.
Cheer for your favourite rockster.
Before the next game started, another competition was held. Air guitar (or rather inflatable guitar). Three challengers rocked their socks off, with the winner determined by applaud-o-meter.
For the final game, the next Bingo grand prize was the most coveted of all. A prize worthy of Olympians, a prize to be hung on the all, a prize to be treasured beyond all else. A framed photograph of a weight lifting guinea pig. For those of you who have never seen a Guinea Pig Olympics Calendar, you cannot even begin to conceive of the cuteness involved here.
I was motivated. I was determined. I lost. Never mind, hey?
After the Bingo was over, the tables were cleared for an after party, where there was disco and drinking (there were a lot of people with a lot of bar tabs to spend). The after party lasts until 2am, but since my ear drums were already aching, It was time to call it a night.
Despite the loud music and bad language, I had an enjoyable time. It isn't really my kind of thing, but everyone who was there had a blast. Even the guy who won the dust pan and brush.