11 October 2018
Pantomime Bingo
By Rosheen FitzGerald

We’re crammed in to Common Room tonight, strangers budging up for new friends as we double and triple up tables. Nellie Colon, an angel in gold T-bar shoes, passes out bingo cards and dabbers with flourish. Ralph Hymen-Salad, the town crier, ostentatiously warms up his vocal chords, face to the wall. Randy Taffeta, the rakish prince charming, sips on a glass of white, feet up on the table. Pepper, the ‘straight man’ to all this madness, doffs a visor and (wo)man’s the ball cage. Resplendent in a rainbow kaftan, Bruce, the dame herself, swans through carrying the bulk of the lines along with her ample prosthetic bosom.

We’re instructed intricately in the rules of the drinking game (the safe word is ‘Duckie’), though not those of the actual game at hand, resulting in a number of shameful premature bingos (including your red faced and red handed author, it must be admitted). But we’re all here to have a laugh and laugh we do.

Innuendo flies around the room unfettered. Colloquial insults are dropped with the kind of confidence born from knowing that we all know how wonderful Hastings has become. Pantomime staples (“It’s behind you!”, “Oh no they didn’t”) are trotted out with self-referential glee. More costume changes than the Oscars occur behind an on-stage screen. Legs eleven (clothed in neon fishnet) is milked a little too much for the comfort of some, prompting a heckler to question, “Isn’t that two extra balls?”

Actual bingo does happen also, with prizes ranging from a round of tequila shots (partaken of enthusiastically by the players) to some custom made ‘meatpacks’ – suggestively arranged sausages and meatballs which release a whiff of raw meat into the room when liberated from their chilly bin. There’s more than enough to go around which leads to several confused-looking punters carting around shrink-wrapped small goods under their arms long into the night.

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