Fuck Time Out: Palace Bingo, Elephant and Castle

“Shut your bumbaclart mouth.”

Those words float into my consciousness about once a month, usually unprompted. They simply appear in my mind, perhaps as I take a bite of a croissant or flick through a magazine; “Shut your bumbaclart mouth.” And they drift away again.

The words were directed at me on August 4th 2013, and came out of the mouth of a very angry lady. A lady who regularly attended Palace Bingo in Elephant & Castle and found zero amusement in the fact that I’d decided to have my 23rd birthday party there.

I thought it would be a hilariously ironic place to have my birthday, having never played Bingo before and thinking it was an old lady’s game. Little did me and about 20 of my friends know that Bingo is not a light-hearted affair. It’s serious business, and the people that attend regularly, that look forward to their Saturday night game of Bingo, did not appreciate me and my friends messing around, misunderstanding the rules and laughing uproariously at the etiquette of this micro-community.

Why did the man on the stage talk so fast? Why was his tie so big? What do these weird-shaped tables mean and how do I fit into one? All this and more from me and my friends.

So in retrospect I do not blame the very angry lady for turning around, looking me directly in the eye and saying, to the birthday girl herself, “Shut your bumbaclart mouth.”

So I did just that. I shut my bumbaclart mouth immediately, and ever since I’ve had a genuine respect for Palace Bingo in Elephant and Castle. The game itself is a noble one. One of skill, endurance. The community is bold and not afraid to speak its mind; willing to defend the essence of the game ‘til the death. So next time you’re at a loose end on a Saturday night, sack off that edgy indie film, shut your bumbaclart mouth and go forth to Palace Bingo. Where, if you’re lucky, you’ll win some money and not a smack in the face.



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