Introduction – A Duck And A Crutch – Twenty Seven!
In my past experience, one of the first things most people mention when going to play bingo for the first time is the numbers.
They’ll say something like ‘Ha ha, will it be two fat ladies and all that stuff?’
The answer often disappoints, because most people new to the game don’t realise that the modern large club has done away with the funny names for the numbers. Many smaller venues (normally not part of the national chains) or social clubs where bingo is played use the number names still, but the places you’ll still hear them these days are becoming less and less.
Them Old Numbers Just Don’t Cut It These Days…
There are a couple of rough reasons why the old names were phased out. In my opinion, one of the biggest reasons is commercial: losing the names means the games are called faster which means more games, which in turn means more profits for the clubs.
The second reason is technology. There was initially a time the names were used in the big clubs – which can be traced back to before the advent of the computerised number generating systems. When the games were called using blowers there was enough of a delay to allow the call back of the names.
Having spoken to many regular players who’d played both styles of numbers, a larger proportion seemed happier with the new swifter version. However, they missed the variety of games that they used to play – marking off shapes and corners on tickets etc. In fact in my experience, many of the regulars would shout for you to speed up if the calling speed dropped to a slower level. Whether this bears out around the country is to be discovered.
The Origins Of The Numbers
It appears a lot of the numbers were derived from a number of places – a lot seem to have come from Cockney rhyming slang ’33 – dirty knees!’ or similar rhyming schemes. Also, famous numbers make a showing so 50 is ‘Bullseye’ and 65 ‘Old age pension’. There are also some numbers with origins in the unlikeliest of places – 39 Those famous steps, from the book ‘The 39 Steps’ and 23 – The Lord is my Shepherd from Psalm 23 in ‘The Bible’.
A number have also come from the shapes of the numbers and what they look similar to. As well as that, there are often combinations. So whilst a 2 is a duck and 7 a crutch, then 27 is a duck on a crutch. And just to further confuse matters, there are many regional variations on numbers as well.
Collected in the next section are a selection of them for you. It is, I stress, far from complete and thanks to variations and fashions, not necessarily fully accurate. If you can flesh out the numbers, or have info we can add – don’t hesitate to contact us with details.
Bingo Numbers And Their Names – The Modern Calling Style
The modern game has some fairly specific calling patterns, to aid recognition of the numbers and ease of delivery. In the big clubs and the chains, the old names are sadly missing.
The numbers will come at you quickly in a modern club – the patterns are like this. All double digit numbers (bar some exceptions), let’s say 45, would be pronounced thus: Four and five, forty five. If it’s a single digit number, such as 2, then it’s: Two, on its own, number 2.
The exception the double digit pronunciation rule are when is when it’s a double digit number with both digits the same. So 88 would be pronounced: All the eights, eighty eight.
Most modern callers pretty much stick to that pattern, but there are variations on it – and occasionally you hear the odd echo of the old names. I’ve heard some callers do a nine oh, blind ninety, but they are few and far between in my experience.
Bingo Numbers And Their Names – The Old Style
Collected here is a selection of the old names. It is, I stress, far from complete and thanks to variations and fashions, not necessarily fully accurate. If you can flesh out the numbers, or have info we can add – don’t hesitate to contact us with details.
1 Kelly’s eye
2 One little duck | Me and you
3 You and me
4 Knock at the door
5 Man alive
6 Tom’s tricks
7 Lucky seven | God’s in heaven
8 One Fat Lady
9 Doctor’s orders
10 Tony’s Den
11 Legs eleven
12 One dozen, One and two – a dozen, Monkey’s cousin (rhymes with ‘a dozen’)
13 Unlucky for some, Devil’s number, Baker’s dozen
14 Valentines day
15 Rugby team, Young and keen
16 Sweet sixteen | Never been kissed
17 Often been kissed | Dancing Queen
18 Key of the door | Coming of age
19 Goodbye teens
20 Getting plenty | Blind 20
21 Key of the door
22 Two little ducks | All the twos
23 Thee and me | The Lord is my Shepherd
24 Two dozen
25 Duck and dive
26 Bed and breakfast | Half a crown | Pick and mix
27 Little duck with a crutch | Gateway to heaven
28 In a state | Overweight
29 You’re doing fine
30 Burlington Bertie | Dirty Gertie | Speed limit | Flirty thirty | Blind 30
31 Get up and run
32 Buckle my Shoe
33 Dirty knees | All the threes | All the feathers | Two little fleas | Sherwood Forest
34 Ask for more
35 Jump and jive
36 Three dozen
37 A flea in heaven
38 Christmas cake
39 Those famous steps
40 Naughty Forty
41 Time for fun
42 That famous street in Manhattan | Winnie the Pooh
43 Down on your knees
44 Droopy drawers | All the fours
45 Halfway house | Halfway there
46 Up to tricks
47 Four and seven
48 Four dozen
49 PC (Police Constable) | Copper | Nick nick
50 Bulls eye | Blind 50 | Half a century
51 Tweak of the thumb
52 Weeks in a year | Danny La Rue
53 Stuck in the tree
54 Clean the floor
55 Snakes alive | All the fives
56 Was she worth it?
57 Heinz varieties
58 Make them wait | Choo choo Thomas
59 Brighton line
60 Three score | Blind 60 | Five dozen
61 Bakers bun
62 Tickety boo | Turn on the screw
63 Tickle me | Des Eerie
64 Red raw | The Beatles number
65 Old age pension
66 Clickety click | All the sixes
67 Made in heaven | Argumentative number
68 Saving grace
69 The same both ways | your place or mine | Either way up | Meal for two
70 Three score and ten | Blind 70
71 Bang on the drum
72 A crutch and a duck | Par for the course
73 Crutch and a flea | Queen B
74 Candy store
75 Strive and strive
77 Sunset strip | All the sevens | Two little crutches
78 Heavens gate
79 One more time
80 Gandhi’s breakfast | Blind 80 | Eight and blank
81 Fat lady and a little wee | Stop and run
82 Fat lady with a duck | Straight on through
83 Fat lady with a flea | Time for tea
84 Seven dozen
85 Staying alive
86 Between the sticks
87 Fat lady with a crutch
88 Two fat ladies | All the eights | Wobbly wobbly
89 Nearly there | All but one
90 Top of the shop | Top of the house | Blind ninety | End of the line
And there we have it! If you want to try a game with those old style numbers, then it’s worth contacting the local social clubs and holiday camps to see if they do them still – many do.