Places you go as a charity bingo caller

John Ward
John Ward
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WARD’S WORLD: By John Ward

I was reading through the “forthcoming events” section of this newspaper recently and of all things happening, I was drawn to the assorted bingo events as, lo and behold, I had recently received an inquiry, nay, a sort of invite in its vaguest form, to take part in a possible charity bingo evening early next year.

I have been known to do a bit of calling, and also shouting the numbers out as well, from time to time – with usually 7.30 being the accepted time things start to get going.

Years ago I worked in the cinema and I think my regular reader may have noted a few words I wrote on the subject a while back, but as well as films we had bingo, which was an unnecessary evil but it helped pay our wages, so I can’t really complain, as if the likes of “The Magnificent Seven” didn’t bring the crowds flocking though our doors, “Legs Eleven” did.

Move forward a few years and I was blessed/delighted/lumbered to be given, on permanent loan, an up-to-date (for its time) digital marvel that did away with ping-pong balls bouncing around as in the past, as it’s now done electronically at the press of a button.

However, I was silly enough to mention it to somebody, who immediately had a word with him at the so-and-so, then he mentioned to his wife and then another and so on.

Result: we ended up doing bingo sessions for assorted worthy causes every fortnight at a local hall we used, although we did travel to other venues if asked nicely.

Of all the events covered, one does stand out rather more than the others as initially I received a phone call: Would I like to pop along to see assorted members of a committee who wanted a bingo night putting on for their cause?

I put in a few pertinent questions, as in what the cause was, as you can’t be too careful.

I knew of some poor soul who was asked to put on a show, not bingo, at one event and imagine his amazement when it turned out the audience comprised of naturists who sat there completely naked, wearing only smiles.

He never felt so embarrassed in his life – he said. When he was asked, or invited, if he would like to join in, he made the excuse he had only just got over a bad cold. He didn’t mention much about the evening at the Sub Aqua Club ... I could see him using the excuse about his bath night being wheeled out.

Back to my situation.

This was pre sat-nav era, so you relied upon a street map or stopped and asked somebody taking their dog for a walk for directions, although it’s best to know at least where the town or village is for starters, which could be marked down as “forward planning”.

I wrote the address down and we agreed a time to pop round one evening to discuss the matter –so far, so good, then.

I eventually found the address and possibly in estate agent-speak it might have been described thus: “Early neo-Gothic, with delightful, freshly smashed windows, overlooking adjacent gardens, with a choice of elderly, rusting washing machines, two of, one with cable and plug still attached, plus, a burnt-out sofa in the front 

I rang the doorbell, or pressed something that passed for one in the fading evening light, waited for a minute or two, and then pressed again.

At this point a dog or possibly a Hound of the Baskervilles clone barked something wicked, the door opened and a voice said: “The door bell don’t work – the cord is broken” (?!) . I wondered what else would/could happen.

I was invited in and the dog, unseen, was moved or herded into another room out of sight but judging by the sound of its scratching at the door, it was keen to be part of the session about to unfold – if only I was as well.

As they say, you can’t tell a book by its cover and, before you wonder, the actual event went well with quite a bit of money being raised and everybody seemed to enjoy themselves.