‘Full House’ is evidence that numbers are far from up for thriving bingo scene

Our man Frank on another eyebrow-raising (for him) trip to the bingo; Taking health advice with a (tiny) pinch of salt; A new granddaughter arrives… and the slightly dreaded M50

It’s just coming up to 8 pm on Friday evening last, and as I sit into my car to go to the bingo in the local school hall the rain is absolutely pelting down – and I think to myself that there’s unlikely to be much of a crowd in tonight.

And so, when I got to the school, I couldn’t believe my eyes – there were cars parked all along the street. There was no place to park near the school, and so I had to settle for a place halfway up the village. I had been so sure that the crowd would be small that I didn’t bother to bring a coat, and so after struggling a couple of hundred yards through the wind and rain it was a good impersonation of a drowned rat that made its way into the bingo hall.

By the time I got there, the number caller, Conor Rabbitte, was already through the first game, and the huge crowd were totally engrossed in their single books, their double books, and their flyers. Sadly, there were ‘checks’ coming from all round the place but nothing was forthcoming from the table I had joined – between all the single lines, double lines and full houses, together with the tickets I bought for the raffle, nothing came my way.

As I left, I wondered if non-bingo players have any idea as to how popular the game is. I told you before of my late aunt, Bridie Brandon, who used go to bingo nearly every night of the week! However, that was a good few years ago, and I foolishly thought that bingo’s popularity had almost vanished.

I can honestly tell you that I must have been very wrong, as after seeing all the people who braved the horrible weather of last Friday night to take part in their favourite game, I now admit to not having had a clue about it at all. It seems it’s back bigger and better than ever, and big crowds are going all over the country to take part.

I fully expect Olivia Harris, who organises our game, to make sure we have lots of bingo to play in the coming weeks, months, and years.

I will keep you up to date with all new dates, and wish you well when the time comes – and hope you have better luck and more success than I had!

Also, I must say the ladies committee excelled themselves with lovely hot teas and coffee, along with a huge selection of biscuits, buns, and cakes. And even though my numbers didn’t come up, I thoroughly enjoyed the craic and the banter – and I probably got my entrance fee back in the number of sweet things and teas that I had!

If, like me, you were, or are, a bingo sceptic, the next time you see it anywhere near you, take a chance, play the game, and maybe, just maybe, you might actually enjoy it – and even win some prize. I will definitely be back for the next one in Creggs, and hopefully the weather will be more favourable.


Cereal offender


For a few years now I have lived my life with stents to keep my heart valves open, and the medical advice would be to stay away from salt, and – as a result of my long-standing relationship with diabetes – to ease up on the sugar as well.

I confess that I am not the best patient of all time, and (forgive the worst pun ever) I tend to take medical advice with a pinch of salt. And so, I have been known to sprinkle the odd bit of salt on my dinner, and likewise with the sugar on my cereals, and only for Professor Luke O’Neill I wouldn’t have thought twice about it.

However, Professor O’Neill tells us that too much salt is as bad for a person as smoking, and while a lot of what he said went straight over the top of my head, I did get the fact that over in Uruguay they have taken all salt dispensers off the tables in restaurants.

As it happens, three-quarters of our salt intake comes from processed foods, including ‘innocent’ items like bread, cereals and tomato sauce, while fast food and takeaways are well endowed with the little white stuff (salt, not cocaine). So while removing the dispensers from restaurant tables won’t totally solve the problem, it does show they are taking the matter seriously. After all, studies show that people on a low salt diet are less likely to experience strokes, heart disease, and other causes of death.

As for me, I would miss the sachets that come with almost every ‘fast food’ meal, and until the change is actually made I will continue to sneak a little bit of salt, and sugar, into my not so healthy diet.


M50 musings –

and a happy event


It’s Monday evening and Carol and myself are in Dublin, where we are excitedly meeting our new granddaughter Hayley for the very first time, after she was born to our daughter Lisa and husband Brian last Thursday.

I drove up earlier in the day, and as I told you before I do not look forward to the actual journey, but especially the final part of it, which brings us out past the airport on the infamous M50. It being Monday afternoon, traffic wasn’t that awfully bad, but as we just about reached the airport I saw a poor driver pulled up on the hard shoulder with, of all things, a puncture.

As we drove out towards the airport, the big, well lit up overhead signs were informing us of a breakdown on the slip road between the M50 and the M1, and when I saw the poor lady in question in distress my heart went out to her.

The motorways are a fantastic addition to our infrastructure, but they are an unforgiving place for breakdowns, and always in the back of my mind is the fear that I might be the next one to suffer.

Thankfully we made it safe and sound on Monday, and acquainted ourselves with Hayley, who had weighed in at a healthy 8lbs 7ozs and who has (so far) been happily welcomed by two and a half year old big sister, Riley.

I am writing this on Monday evening, with the return journey to Creggs in the morning, so I hope I don’t jinx myself and that we have an uneventful trip home!


And finally…


As we struggle on through the never-ending wind and accompanying rain, spare a thought for the folk in Rio de Janeiro where red-hot temperatures caused the death of a young Taylor Swift fan as she waited for a concert by the superstar, and forced the cancellation of Swift’s concert on the following night.

Footage of the first night’s show apparently shows Miss Swift struggling to sing in the intense heat as she gasped for air, and the star had no choice but to cancel the following night’s concert in the same open-air stadium.

I have often said that despite our constant giving out about our weather, the truth is that we – to paraphrase the famous Carlsberg ad – might just have ‘probably the best weather in the world’. It will be some time before a Daniel O’Donnell concert in Ireland will have to be cancelled! Unless of course it’s due to the wind and rain…