Much as I like online bingo, I love the vibe and sparkle of a lively live land-based Bingo venue. There was a period of course when live Bingo fell into a decline, particularly around the time of the smoking ban. But before that period my local Bingo Hall was a great place for meeting friends, acquaintances, and sometimes new people, to chew the cud, complain, ruminate about the decline of Western Civilisation, and have a laugh, a pie and a beer, or glass of wine.
It really was a meeting up of like-minded people. And yet we were all different. Some people were retired. Some worked in offices, some in shops, there was a postal worker, some builders and plumbers, and some who never seemed to work, or talk about work, but always seemed to have enough money to stand their round and buy in cards for every Bingo game. One person said that one of these was a well-known DHSS (as it was called in those days- Department of Health & Social Security) fraudster. I don't know if it was true or not, but I avoided this bloke like the plague!
My local Hall in those days was Catford (Mecca), and later Crystal Palace (Gala). It attracted the usual posse of South London "characters" most days of the week, most of whom had their own inner circle of friends, and their favourite spots.
I remember one time that a very well-dressed lady came in to the club, with a couple of blokes in tuxedos- quite unusual for Catford. The barmaid (this was still early 80s, so I think I can still use that term?) said it was the wife of one of the Richardsons' sons. I knew enough about local history to make sure I didn't get in her way, or take her seat. She was the wife of one of Charlie Richardson's sons, Charlie being the Camberwell gangster (for want of a better word) who was arch-rival of the Kray twins in East London.
A special table, with a tablecloth was set up near the front of the stage, and a bottle of bubbly produced. The poor caller looked as though he'd seen a ghost and was very insecure and stuttering in his delivery of the numbers. I wondered whether because this person was "someone" in the local community, it would be fixed so that she won. However after just three games, she got up and left with her flunkies, leaving the people at the table next to her to seize and guzzle the remains of the champagne!
She never returned anytime when I was there, but the atmosphere was certainly rather tense during her visit!