I’m standing at the front of a cheering crowd being lifted in joyful hugs by a guy who sports a mullet, is wearing an open flannelette shirt over a blue singlet and has pluggers on his feet. We proceed to move in what can only be described as a type of barn dance, linking arms and skipping around to the music. This is all right before I grab my crotch and gesture to the adoring crowd the ‘sign of rock’ with my hand while shouting out “Bloody Bingo”.
I’m at the Underdog pub in Clapham experiencing Bogan Bingo first hand. I marked off all the numbers on my card before anyone else and I wasn’t sure if it was the fact that I had won a bottle of wine and a bar tab or if being thrown into the middle of a bogan Australian stereotype that made me feel happy. Bogan Bingo only seemed to exemplify my own inner bogan deep down and made me realise how I actually love the bogan-ness that is Australia.
Going to Bogan Bingo is like injecting a massive dose of occa into a very London way of life. I would usually cringe if I saw the same overt display in Australia. Sure, the stereotype may be played on excessively by the hosts, but really, I think flannies, mullets, stubbie shorts, pluggers, our love of abbreviating everything, our mates named Shazza and Barry, drinking beer, air guitar and Jimmy Barnes and John Farnham are all what we really love about Australia deep down.
As an expat living and working amongst some very British people, my ears prick when I hear our familiar Aussie drawl; my ears attune to the unique way we speak. I find it very easy to spot an Aussie in London, even if they aren’t talking, simply by the way the person is dressed and is conducting themselves (and the fact that it’s just above 10 degrees and they are wearing a pair of Havaianas and board shorts). I love our laid-back lifestyle, our care-free attitude, our impulse to have fun, our taste in music, our outback towns and country pubs, our Holden cars, Neighbours, and even Alf Stewart.
I find my mind goes into overdrive when I come face to face with an over-the-top Australian in London and I feel uplifted and think of just how bloody great our country is. Maybe it’s a matter of living in London that makes you truly appreciate and embrace Australia and all of our quirks — bogan or not. But one thing is for sure, if you’re feeling blue, Bogan Bingo is the perfect week-night ‘pick me up and take me back home to Australia’ cure, even if it’s just for a couple of hours.
Q&A with the Bogan Bingo master — Trev
Who’s your favourite sporting idol?
Its gotta be David Foster. Big Dave the Axeman. What a legend — he’s the most decorated sportsman in the history of sports. Ever. An absolute machine with the axe – he’s more of a threat to national forests than bloody die back.
What’s your favourite type of beer?
A cold one served alongside about a dozen others. Personally I’m a bit of a beer slut but I’ve gotta say those Czech blokes know how to marry yeast fermentation with hoppy goodness.
If you could have any car in the world, what would it be?
Sandman Panel Van. Or a done up Cortina. Either way, I wouldn’t be able to drive it – lost my license for driving without my license.
Why bingo, isn’t it something old grannies do in a RSL club?
We started Bogan Gardening and it didn’t take off. Also tried our hat at Bogan Boiled Fruit Cake making. Again, struggled to get the punters in but with Bogan Bingo, people seem to go nuts for it. These grannies in the RSL’s know what’s good for ‘em — playing bingo all day and drinking discounted shandies between 3 and 6pm. Winning.
Check out Bogan Bingo at the Underdog every Thursday from 7.30pm.