Our intrepid reporter Bertie bingo, tracked down Kelly Aye, one of the last Bingo Hall bouncers of the "Golden Age of Bingo" in the 1960's and 1970's. He now lives in the Ayse Down Residential Home for Ex-Bingo Employees, on the outskirts of Housey-Housey, a town in Lottoville City. Once the outward-facing pillar of "customer control" at the Hippodrome Bingo and Fruit-Machine Factory Hall, Kelly is now a shadow of his former self. His once stocky frame has been through a number of diets, and he's traded in his black bouncer suit for mauve luxury velour tracksuit top and bottoms.
I asked Kelly what it was like in the old days-
"Nightmare!" He replied, "I'd had previous jobs in crowd management at some of the toughest Discotheques and Night Clubs in Britain, including the notorious ‘Abandon Hope' Sailors venue in Swansea, and the ‘Dance on Broken Glass Gaumont' in Strathclyde. But they all paled in comparison to the Hippodrome in Lottoville."
"The worst nights were those where it was a mega linked event and that certainly brought the dyed-in-the-wool Bingo Delinquents out for the night. There was only me and Lenny Larrap, sadly now deceased following a tragic accident with a faulty dauber.
It was the older females who were the worst - don't believe the sweet little old lady syndrome, these were Hell's Grannies. They would push and shove past me, not showing me their pensioner ID, kicking me in the shins and tying my shoe-laces together. Once or twice, as I collected the one shilling (5p) entrance fee, they put a coin that they had heated up previously with a box of matches in my palm, and cackled as I cussed and shook my hand. And that was just the start of the evening... I was often called to go inside to prise three or four players off the caller, who was being attacked and hit with hand-bags because he was calling too quickly!"
I asked Kelly why he stuck it for so long? "Well there were one or two who were nice to me, and that made it all worthwhile. Doris once had a huge £500 win, worth a fortune in those days, and she bought me half-paint of Toby Jug bitter, and then Beryl, who once was kind enough not to go in with the boot when I was down on the ground and surrounded by a screaming middle-aged gang trying to stab me with their stiletto-heeled shoes. But eventually, I thought the pay (£6 and one free Bingo card a week) wasn't enough, and I became a salesman at an MFI Furniture Retail outlet. Much more peaceful!"
I left Kelly just about to eat his pureed evening meal, and wondered how much more safe and content he might have been if they had had online Bingo in the 60s and 70s, and he was a Chat Room Host!