Posted tagged ‘bingo’

Bingo, it’s a cliché

September 15, 2015

As academics all over the Northern hemisphere usher in the new academic year and all its activities, they will no doubt be enjoying the new round of committee meetings. One way of passing the time at these, according to an American website, is to play a game of bingo that spots various clichés and behaviour patterns. Some of it is very familiar on this side of the Atlantic, some of it less so (do people here talk about ‘the guy with the short shorts’?).

So perhaps we need our own bingo cards. I’m open to relevant entries.

Finding some social space

July 5, 2009

For a couple of years in the late 1970s, I was part of a small group that travelled around the Irish Midlands every so often to take part in what was then a popular phenomenon: the whist drive. Whist, as I hope at least some readers will know, is a team card game., and a ‘whist drive’ is an event at which teams compete for a prize. To be honest, I don’t really know how widespread whist drives were at that time, but they were in fashion in Counties Westmeath and Offaly (which is as far as we got) back then; and if I say so myself, I was rather a good player.

But what I remember most from those days is not the game but the occasion. The players were an extraordinary social mix, from all sections of society, and in addition to the game there was a lot of conversation over refreshments. And in many respects I found that social side of the events even more interesting than the playing.

I had forgotten about this until a passer-by in the town where we currently are asked today whether there was a ‘bingo hall’ anywhere in the vicinity. I confess I have only ever played bingo once or twice, and I have no idea whether there is any such thing as an operational bingo hall here. Somehow I doubt it, because the era for such diversions seems to be over. And that made me remember the whist drives.

Of course there is entertainment of much greater sophistication available today, a good bit of it heavily technological. But not much of it takes place in spaces where people gather and socialise. And even when people manifestly want to gather – as can be seen with many young people – we don’t offer them the space in which to do it; and then we wonder why they annex a space that suits them and from which they create apprehension in others. Moving them on from that is not the answer – we need to give them the infrastructure for social interaction.

We cannot turn the clock back: it is unlikely that are going to return to whist drives and bingo. But we need to find the modern equivalent, and the locations for it. We already know and have the online virtual locations, but I believe we also need the physical ones. Now that our recently acquired wealth is coming under threat, it is time to re-discover a sense of community.