Yes, this really happened. I won BIG at Bongo's Bingo...
I don’t really tell anyone this. Not unless I’ve known them for a while anyway. I suppose I don’t want people to treat me differently – knowing that I won BIG at Bongo’s Bingo.
Throughout my life before that fateful evening, I’d never won anything ever. Raffles at the rugby club, tombola’s at school, even the lottery – I never had a peep of anything, but all of that was set to change when I visited Bongo’s Bingo back in March 2018.
My life has never been the same again, because I won the grand prize, and when I say ‘grand’ I should probably put an ‘e’ on the end of it because this prize was BIG!
I was actually going there to take images and video for Manchester’s Finest social media, as I’d been informed beforehand that there was a super-secret prize to be given out – one for the Record Books – and so off I popped with a few friends and out came the dabbers.
Now, I’m not sure whether you’ve ever been to Bongo’s Bingo – I’m presuming you probably have – but it’s something that needs a fair whack of ‘lubricant’ to enjoy to its full potential. But fear not, I was suitably watered and was acting like a prized dick head around the second game.
Bongo’s typically starts off small, before building to a crescendo of bigger, better prizes, and so at the beginning of the night, people were walking off with £100 cash, a Henry Hoover and the obligatory cardboard cut-out, which on this particular evening was a pre-scandal Philip Schofield.
By half time I was aware that the amount of money getting handed out to the winners was getting progressively more impressive, and at some point the host – the exquisite Jonny Bongo – unveiled the GRANDE Prize for the evening.
Using his handy large LCD screen, he made the entire 1,000 strong crowd in the Albert Hall aware that the final game of the night will be for a Convertible Mercedes and £1000 cash monies. The place went wild.
I, of course, was diligently doing my job, documenting the evening on Finest’s IG, casually dabbing and dibbing, but not really paying too much attention except to where the next Vodka Coke was coming from and rather enthusiastically getting up on the table for a dance every 40 seconds.
So I was pretty lit. And it was time for the final game of the evening. Safe in the knowledge that I never win anything, I still took the time to mark my numbers off accurately; one line – won, two lines – won, and then it was all or nothing for a full house.
As the final numbers were being read out, I must say that I was concentrating as hard as I could on not fucking up. Get a number wrong, go up on stage and be made to look a fool for making a wrong call; “What you being a dick head for!?” I could hear the everyone shouting at me. So I needed to get it right.
Then that was it, I can’t remember now the last number on my card but I marked it off and shot up – That’s a BINGO! Come on! Yes! A fucking Mercedes and a grand! I couldn’t believe it.
My elation was short lived however as another member of the audience shouted “BINGO” at the same time. Anyone who has been to Bongo’s will know what that means… sudden death dance off.
Now, I’m by no means a bad dancer, but I’m also not John Travolta in the 70s. I was nervous, especially when the other person was in fact a lady – all she needed to do was do the splits, a bit of twerking or take her top off and the crowd would be on her side and I’d lose.
Three rounds, three dances and then a final ‘Clap-O-Meter’ to decide the winner. Fuck it – I was going to just go for it and hopefully not look too much like a tool. Well, you already know what happened – I WON!
I don’t think the other girl on stage was aware of the enormity of what was at stake – for her dancing and performance was pitiful. In an effort to beat her to it – my last round I whipped off my shirt and threw it into the crowd – and I think that’s what clinched it for me. The claps went on and on and as I was declared the winner, everyone stood up and started chanting ‘King of the North, King of the North’ (Game of Thrones was massive at the time and I had a top knot).
I can honestly say that it was probably the best moment of my life. Before and since.
I was ushered backstage and some fella started counting out crisp fifties. He then asked me for my name and email address and said that they’d be in touch with regards to the car, I pocketed the dosh and went back to my seat.
Before heading home I went to Wetherspoons (Paramount at the top of Oxford Road) and spent some of my winnings. A bottle of bubbly and a couple of bottles of Duvel and they hardly made a dint.
A few weeks later the car turned up and if I’m being honest, I was way too tall for it. I looked like that really tall fella in that episode of the Simpsons who drives past in a tiny car. Or a little bit like Jeremy Clarkson in a Hot Wheels.
By the time the car had arrived I’d already spent my £1000. A few days after winning I went to Mexico City to the wedding of my friend and I was seriously splashing the cash about. I also think I used it to pay a couple of bills – the gas one if memory serves.
But what a night that was. I still remember it like it was yesterday, and genuinely think that’s me now for winning anything ever again.