“Ooh, ooh, ooh,” exclaimed my friend Paul at Cucamara, pointing his finger madly at me as he does when he gets excited, “Drag Queen Bingo, Tuesday.”
“Yes, yes, no, bugger, Tuesday? I’m meant to be in London.”
I’ve been very excited about the prospect of Drag Queen Bingo since Paul first mentioned it. I mean, what’s not to like? It’s drag queens calling bingo. Ok, to be honest I can take or leave the bingo bit. I’d only played once in a beachfront arcade in Skegness, really don’t see the big deal about it. But drag queens, well they just add a completely different dimension and I wanted to go.
But I did have a meeting in London. A little bit of research over the weekend (and a begging text to my boss) determined I could catch the 6.30am train to St Pancras, get to my meeting near Tower Bridge and, as long as I could be on the 4.35pm train home, I could get to Rough Trade in Hockley on time.
Look at me making plans to go out on a school night. For years Monday to Thursday has been eat, sleep, work, repeat. But this was drag queen bingo for goodness sake.
So 5.40am bus, 6.30am train, in to St Pancras by 8.20am and at the office by 9am. Meetings, meetings, schmeetings, tube at 3.45pm, train from St Pancras at 4.35pm, back in Nottingham by 6.20pm up to Hockley to meet Phill, quick drink at The Broadway Cinema where me met Paul and friends and then, still clutching my work laptop, we headed to Rough Trade.
I have no idea what The Friend Zone is but it was packed with lovely friendly people. People of all ages (I was by no means the youngest or the oldest). There were men, women, gay, straight, trans, people who were unsure whether they were any or all of the above and people who didn’t care what they were anyway. A fine crowd.
It was already very busy so we bagged ourselves a table (a wallpaper pasting table in fact that sort of collapsed half way through the evening) and plonked ourselves down on beer barrels with cushions on top. The bar was reasonably priced and everyone was obviously looking forward to having a good time.
Bingo cost £5 for three games – bargain – and they even provided the pens.
Our hosts were Marilyn Sane and Nana Arthole and they were hilarious. As usually happens, they singled Phill out pretty quickly and picked on him for most of the evening. This happens often, I think he appears on some invisible radar giving out vibes that say ‘pick on me, I don’t care, I can take it’.
That and the fact he loves the attention 🙂
Marilyn and Nana are fantastic hostesses. They bounce off each other (no, not literally) and the verbal sparring was hilarious and risque. They dubbed our side of the room Refugee Corner because it was just off the main area. “The lifeboats are coming but Theresa says you can’t stay,” quipped Marilyn. “They say Brexit means Brexit but it doesn’t does it? Brexit doesn’t mean anything because it’s just a made up f***ing word.”
As well as taking the mickey out of Phill, which Marilyn in particular seemed to enjoy, they were quite happy to indulge in a bit of self-ridicule too. “When I was born,” said Nana, “my dad screamed at my mum ‘You promised me a boy. What’s that?’.”
“I got the award for trendiest boy at school,” said Marilyn. “Basically that just means faggot.”
And I might be a bingo novice but I swear these aren’t the traditional bingo calls:
Your make-up is NOT fine, 89
Daddy told me it was glue, 52
It burns when I pee, number 3
Marilyn you uncultured swine, 39
Nana smells like wee, 53
“Oooh there were some cheers for number 79 then, who’s into granny porn?”
We didn’t win, it didn’t matter. What mattered was we had a riot and it was well worth hauling myself to and from London in time to get back for this. Would I go again? Oh god yes, haven’t had such fun for ages.
I like to think we’re friends now (actually that’s just wishful thinking 🙂 ). That’s Marilyn on the left and Nana on the right and, just for clarity, the short, round, middle-aged one in the centre, looking very unglamorous in gorgeous company, is me.
I have no idea how often Drag Queen Bingo takes place, but if you get a chance to go then do it, you’ll have a great time.