Tuesday, 10 June 2008

Bingo with Vera, Hilda and Rose

I've always wanted to go to Dudley. It's unfortunate that it had to rain so hard but then I wasn't going for the weather. No, Dudley doesn't conjure great images of magisterial beauty for me, but that's rarely the reason I choose to go to the places I do. "Why the hell d'you want to visit that dump?" people will cry when I mention some town high on my hit list. Most people assume that the only reason you'd ever want to go anywhere is because it's gorgeous/foodie/middle class/twee and, whilst that's all great, it doesn't paint a very varied picture in one's mind.

So there I was, chugging through Lenny Henry's home town, not quite sure what I might do in Dudley when the Gala Bingo hall appeared to my left. Outside stood a banana backed, ravaged old girl with a huge cigarette jammed between her lips. She gaped at me, the lights went red and I reached across the passenger seat to unwind the window -
"What time's bingo on til?" I yelled.
"Three O' clock bab" she croaked back.

Right, only 30 mins to get involved. I pulled into a particularly grotty hotel carpark, cut through the hotel (far out - howlingly empty, electricity appeared to have come and gone) and hot-footed it over the causeway. There was a pearly haired lady with apricot nails and smokers' lips, trying to prevent me from going in. In the end I became a member. Imagine that. I fairly glid into the huge theatre, down past all the old girls and their fat pens, onto the main stage where I was furnished with booklets and then...what the heck happens next?! I didn't have a clue what to do - I approached a group of women and whispered for help: Vera, Hilda and Rose took me under their wing and showed me the ropes and I became one of scores of silently punching players.

Oh, how we laughed...but when it came to the end I couldn't get anyone to invite me for dinner. They all fled into the rain for their buses with looks of steely determination while I was left in the yellow glare of the bingo hall, counting my losses.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

OH, Come on Petra, Bingo with Vera, Janice & Betty was ages ago! I think you need to freshen things up a bit, for example your readers might like to hear about how you got 'Articulate rage' with your little brother even after he'd been so sympathetic with you during the tennis even when you kept on planting the ball in the rose bushes and then you pinched his special imported sweets!