Thursday 22 July 2021

The history of Bingo: A Personal Experience

Who doesn't love a day at the seaside? 

Ice cream, arcades, stick of rock, pint of whelks and even a game of bingo, if you please.

I can't say I'm a regular bingo player. 

Isn't a dabber a small fish found in the North sea, a stone's throw from the Golden Mile at Great Yarmouth? The amusements are a hive of activity. Walking past the Mint arcade I hear random numbers being called. 

''Legs eleven.''

The time it takes to register a winner I hear the shout:  

''Full House!'' 

Who doesn't love to win at a game of luck? I often say about gambling: ''Sometimes you just need a little bit of luck.''

It made some lucky punters millionaires.

A few of my favourite bingo calls include: 

Man Alive (5)

Doctor's Orders (9)

Duck And Dive (25) 

Dirty Girtie (30) 

Get Up And Run (31) 

To test your bingo calling knowledge, I wonder if you know the following number from these calls?

Queen Bee? 

Top Of The Shop?

Staying Alive?

To be fair, I'm such a beginner that I had no idea the highest number is 90. 

I'm pretty sure I could write a coded message from a random set of bingo numbers. I'd put Alan Turing OBE to shame. Except the code I want to break isn't called Enigma it's winning that cuddly toy with a bundle of tokens I've collected at the Golden Nugget arcade along the seafront in Nelson country. 

I remember playing bingo while on holiday, and although a simple game it's understandable why it's so popular. I can't help think about my late Nana, Ivy, who ''never gambled'', drank bitter lemon, an anti-smoking-prim-and-proper lady who loved a night at the local Hippodrome. 

How I wish I could go back to those times for her as much as me. 

An evening to catch up with her friends, ladies of a certain age, enjoying a bit of fun and, perhaps, going home with a few extra quid in her purse.    

But where did bingo begin? 

With over 100 million online players it's not just your old gran whose got bingo running through her veins. 

Historians have concluded that bingo originated in Italy in the 1500s. Over the centuries the name of the game and the rules have changed to the game played today. 

In the UK, bingo became popular in the 1960 and has continued to this day. It has moved from the high streets to online but whether brick-and-mortar or online chatroom you are sure of some excitement. 

If I said to an avid bingo player: ''Two fat ladies jump and jive at heavens gate.'' 

Instead of being concerned at their exertions, I'm pretty sure you would hear a cheer and a beaming smile which utters the words: ''House!''

You winner, you.   

Photo: Copyright Jason Coote