Bingo-ing Mad In France

I attended a French Loto event last night. I spent 4 hours at it so I feel I’m well qualified to advise on this. If you’re thinking of going to one – don’t.

You might be tempted by the fact that a bingo session is considered a good night out in England. Not necessarily my cup of tea, but my cousin took me to one a couple of years ago in a Working Men’s Club and it was quite hilarious. Plenty of bar breaks, lots of audience interaction, entertaining bingo callers, music, all quite sociable and everyone merrily cheering the winners on. Not so in France.

French logo event

There were no “legs eleven”, “two fat ladies” style fun phrases shouted out. We were in a hall full of about 200 people who sat silently and seriously checking off numbers for 4 hours as a man with a monotone voice called out numbers so quickly I went cross-eyed with the focus. There was one 10-minute break for the bar, no chance to chat and certainly no fun. In fact the mood could turn quite sour when someone called a line – towards the end of the evening as people became more ticked off with losing there was even booing. Some particularly viscious booing happened when people called a line but it was found they’d made a mistake – they were obviously being accused of trying to cheat by the rest of the room. Children were hissed at to shut up when they tried to play. It was about as much fun as a funeral. But having stumped up €20 to take part, going into hour 3 we were too heavily invested in it to leave just in case we could have clawed something back by winning a prize. Of course, we didn’t.

A couple of chaps next to us were desperately trying to get drunk and have a bit of a laugh with it, but the concentration involved in trying to keep up with the monotonous number calling put the dampers on them. You have to solve a maths puzzle to work out what the numbers are in French. Sixty-nine goes inexplicably onto sixty-ten instead of seventy, followed by sixty-eleven and so on to eighty, which the French bizarrely call four-twenties. After four-twenties-nine, you move into the long-winded four-twenties-tens up to four-twenties-nineteen. “Do we have a sixty-ten? Was that twenty-four or four-twenties?” are the sort of problems you come across in quickfire bingo.

Apparently these Loto nights move round different towns and there’s another one local to us next month. Unfortunately, looking at my schedule, it seems that day I’ll still be busy trying to make up for the 4 hours of my life lost to my first and only French Loto experience…

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