The Bingo Bungle

Blantyre's Ain Website

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

Poems about Blantyre

The Bingo Bungle

Hello Bill,

I’ve been checking out your Blantyre website for quite a while now. You’re doing a great job! I have some old photos I can dig out and scan, which I will send to you, if you like.

My grandparents were Bob and Kathy Brown, owners of Hasties Farm in its heyday. I spent most of my teenage years dragooned into working there.

I came to Canada in 1980, aged 24, and have been here ever since. I grew up in High Blantyre, went to High Blantyre Primary, then Hamilton Academy. I recognise a lot of the people in the site’s picture albums. I have fond memories of Thomson’s shop in Hunthill Road. My old grandpa used to send me round there for sweeties and a wee special parcel for himself (a hauf bottle of whisky)!

What a surprise to hear Drew Semple’s song “Homeless”. Very nice, and even better with Brian Leonard playing lead guitar. Brian and I were in a few bands in the late 70s, some great laughs we had!

I’ve attached a wee poem I wrote a long time ago, about a wild evening in Blantyre Miners Welfare social club. It was around 1977 or 78 when incident occured, and everything in the poem is exactly as it happened. There might be some people in Blantyre (and abroad) who remember that night, and what a night it was! The poem explains all.

Keep up the great work!


Lon McIlwraith

The Bingo Bungle

Blantyre Welfare

Ah’ve spent a lot of time in pubs,
And quite a bit in social clubs,
Like oor local Miners Welfare,
We had some rerr laughs drinkin’ there.

There wis wan Sunday night, Ah think,
The crack wis guid, just like the drink,
While up on stage, gaun through her paces,
The cabaret, straight fae “New Faces”.

Well, so said the poster on the wa’,
The committee says that aboot them aw,
But even though she tried her best,
She sounded just like aw the rest.

And as she sang some wee love ballad,
Giving it aw the feeling she had,
A voice arose, just tae reward her,
“Right c’mon youse lot, best of order!”

Fairly soon it wis time fur the brek,
Time fur bingo, a pain in the neck,
When wise men leave, and go tae the bar,
Where they get peace tae huv a few jars.

But that night some of us stayed behind,
No’ tae play bingo, that we declined,
But tae watch Auld Davie’s hopeless plight,
As he read oot the nummers that night.

(That prestigious job, nummer wan,
Belonged tae the heid committee man,
But he wis absent, away tae Spain,
He said it wis club business, again.)

So there wis Auld Davie up on stage,
Crashin’ aboot in a mad rampage,
Trippin’ ower wires, an’ knockin’ things doon,
Tryin’ tae make thae wee baws go roon.

Yet even as he near wrecked the place,
That confident look ne’er left his face,
And wance he finally got things right,
He toddled aff fur anither pint.

Ten mins later everywan’s ready,
They’ve got their tickets and their bevvy,
Auld Davie steps up, confident still,
Grabs haud of the mike, and sterts doonhill:

“The furst gemme – haw whit’s wrang wi’ this?”
Nae sound fae the speakers, just a hiss,
Oot in the crowd you could hear the groans,
Then somewan shouted, “Switch it oan!”

Undaunted by this technical hitch,
He looked at the mike, and saw the switch,
He clicked it on, and a piercing screech,
Near blew everywan ootae their seats!

A wee committee man jumped on stage,
(That’s quite a feat fur a man his age.)
He went tae the amp, and twiddled knobs,
Then turned tae Davie, and gied him the nod.

“Testing, wan, two, testing…Aye, that’s fine,
Right, this furst gemme’s fur a single line!”
The gemme wis on, and the heids were doon,
Auld Davie had us rollin’ aroon:

“Ninety-nine, naw wait, that’s sixty-six;
Next wan, fifty-six, go tae the flicks;
Diamond weddin’, nummer forty;
This is ma wife’s age, eight-oh, eighty.”

He went on like that aw night long,
Makin’ it up as he went along,
We aw thought it wis hilarious,
But no’ Auld Davie, he wis serious!

The first three gemmes dragged on forever,
Fanatic players yapped together,
“Somethin’s wrang”, you could hear them whinin’,
And afore long aw the others jined in.

Wan wee wuman, heidscarf and a fag,
Wi’ ashtrays and glasses in her bag,
And markin’ aff ten tickets at wance,
Yells oot, “Haw Davie, geeza chance!”

Well, soon the rabble were on their feet,
Wan wuman even stood on her seat,
“There’s nummers missin’, Ah want a check!”
“The gemme’s a bogey!”, “Haw, geeza brek!”

The wee committee man grabbed the mike,
And shouted, “Ah’ve never seen the like!
Right, c’mon youse lot, sit doon will ye?
Noo Davie here’s daein’ his best fur ye!”

But his plea wis lost in the uproar,
“We want a check!” the rabble implored,
So reluctantly he said, “Awright!
We’re gaunnae be here aw bloody night!”

They waited fur the baws tae come oot,
And maistae the crowd were in nae doot,
The two men’s faces were gettin’ red,
“We’ll huv tae be careful,” Davie said.

They didnae want tae start a panic,
Davie tried tae be diplomatic:
“They’re aw there as far as Ah can see…
Except four, nineteen an’ fifty-three.”

Pandemonium then erupted!
The mob just aboot self-destructed!
A big fat wuman jumped up and doon,
And near cowped the tables aw aroon!

“That’s no’ fair!” she yells, makin’ a scene,
“Ah’ve waitit ages fur that nineteen!
Ah want a prize, or ma money back!”
Whit she needed wis a brain attack.

And the winners didnae think it funny,
When somewan yelled, “Take back the money!”
“You’ll be lucky, we’ve drank maistae it!
It’s no’ oor fault he made an arsae it!”

And that wee wuman, heidscarf and a fag,
Wi’ ashtrays and glasses in her bag,
She stood there shoutin’, wi’ aw her heart,
“Ye never checked yer baws at the start!”

Well, it took a while tae calm the fools,
The gemme went on with modified rules,
But every time that “House!” wis shouted,
True tae form, an argument started.

The poor singer wondered whit wis wrang,
Naewan listened tae a word she sang,
They just continued the great debate,
While drinkin’ themsels intae a state.

But though Auld Davie’s nerves were shattered,
He got free drink, that’s aw that mattered,
And he knew somethin’, but dared no tae speak,
He wis calling the bingo, ALL WEEK!

Lon McIlwraith
Copyright 1982, 2009

Your Comments:

Thomas Hamilton-Hailes: The Miners Welfare snooker hall was a boon for us young lads right next tae Calder Street School with more visits than the Library across the way, or the Police Station directly opposite the school. The down side was that we used the dance hall for gym classes which meant having to get rid of all the chewing gum from the floor before we could begin.

Annie Black: I used to be in the “Flying Angels” gym hall when I went to Calder Street School from 1969 until 1972 and we travelled to do Gym display’s. I think his name was Mr. Mathers the gym teacher. To be that young again….

Annie Black: Brilliant great memories in there when I was in Blantyre..

Margaret McCluskey: :Had my wedding reception there back in 1990, got married in Congregational church so just a short walk to the reception lol.

Emma Trevethan: My girls used to go for karate lessons in the hall x

June Stone: Happy days!!!!!


If you have any Poems… Send them to Bill

Blantyre, Lanarkshire, Scotland

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