David Lloyd: Bingo In My Life

A personal story by David Lloyd

About This Site And What Inspired It

I was going to write an ‘about this site’ sort of page to tell people why this site exists. The more I thought about it, the more it occurred to me that bingo had played such a big part in my life, work and memories, so rather than do that I thought I’d expand on it here.

I’ll give you the outline quickly so the less interested can skip to other content. Basically, I searched for guides on bingo when arranging an outing for a group of new players and found only bad spam sites or instructions which were too basic for my liking. As a result I wrote my own guide. Then it occurred to me I had lots of content related to bingo so I decided to make the site.

Yes there are some adverts around the site, but my aim was to make them fairly innocuous. Some of the sites I’ve seen while searching for bingo are a lot, lot more ad-orientated. I hope with this site I’ve managed to strike a nice balance between useful content and adverts. The relevance of the content is important to me – and hopefully useful to you.

The long version starts way back in my younger days, with early memories of sitting in a pram in a smoky hall (probably the Gaiety on City Road, Cardiff.) I think it was a Saturday afternoon and I must have been quite young at the time. I don’t know what I was doing there, if my mum was visiting someone, playing (were people allowed to bring children to bingo in the 70s?) or passing through. The tyrannies of early memories mean I can’t be sure.

As time went on, bingo made its presence felt in many subtle ways. Parent’s and grandparent’s disappearance for a few hours, excited tales and a surplus of bingo markers for childhood art projects all spring to mind.

Skip forward a decade and I found myself in secondary school. My path home went past the long side of the Splott Bridge bingo hall. Often we could hear bingo numbers being called through the fire doors, and being mischievous youngsters, we’d shout house to bring the games to a stop and to get a chase from the floor staff.

On the odd occasions the doors would be left open and we’d sneak into the hall, overwhelmed by the cavernous size of the place. The aim was to get to one of the stands with the floor staff’s microphones to once again interrupt the play and get another chase. No doubt it annoyed the hell out of the players, but it was big fun for us!

That was the early years – through the teen years it was still there and then I ended up getting a job in The Top Rank Gaiety on City Road, Cardiff, and suddenly everything was bingo. It was just a menial job: floor walker and change giver. But it was good fun. The hall was great to look at and I was able to have a good laugh with the members.

As time went on I began calling the Party Bingo, and then moved up to the main stage and game. I don’t think I was a particularly good caller, but I got on with it and ended up doing quite a lot of cover for the main caller on nights off and holidays, which was great as I got a nice little pay rise for the sessions I did as caller.

During the three years I was there I was studying art – A Level and then Foundation in college. I’d occasionally use the place as grist for my creative activities with some photos and stuff. Nothing particularly impressive, but I do have fond memories of spending one Christmas Eve up in the dark in the closed off balcony, sketching the building.

As a source of inspiration and setting in my creative output, the bingo hall reappeared several times. It mainly reared its head in my writing, with a couple of short stories featured there and occasionally in paintings. Now it’s back with this site.

I had 3 and a half fun years working there, lots of great memories of people and events, the back room fun, architecture and the whole atmosphere. Some bad stuff as well, but hey hum.

I don’t think I’d ever go back to that world to work these days, but I still return now as a player, albeit a very infrequent player. Over the years I’ve been roped into arranging a few bingo nights for non-players, which is essentially why I’m here now writing this and compiling this site.

My family are still avid players and regularly disappear of an evening to go for a game. I occasionally join them as well, and still see lots of old faces from those days working in the game. But to go back and do it again, I don’t think I’d enjoy the modern clubs as much – the atmosphere’s never the same for me.

There’s a lot of great stuff surrounding the game that’s disappearing. The old small but personal halls, the happy architecture and decor, the old school technology and terms. It would be nice to grab some of that here for prosperity, as well as good clear guides for the beginner and other relevant information.

The site will be an ongoing entity for me: I will be adding my own content and guides as and when I get the time to add and update them, as well as regular headlines from the business here in the UK. Hopefully you can join me in my quest to make a great resource for bingo players past, present and future. If you can help out with pictures, memories and reviews – contact us.

Enjoy the site!

Playing Bingo

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