I enter the pub at around midnight, together with photographer Amber and a few others. We’re curious to see how crowded the place will be. After all, it’s Monday. But the place is reasonably full. Groups of guests, seated at low tables, are having drinks, while the regulars are at the bar, holding large pints. No sooner have we entered than we order some beers. They are served with a bingo card, which is the main reason we’re here. You see, rumour has it that Paddy Murphy’s inflicts a special punishment on people who yell bingo prematurely – they are asked to lick the bingo host’s nipple.
It feels like we’re in a pub in Temple Bar in Dublin. The place is full of flickering Christmas lights that hurt our eyes. Bunting flags line the ceiling, and the walls are decorated with mounted images and signs. There is sawdust on the floor, which has its uses, because sawdust absorbs beer, wine and vomit. So when you sweep the floor, you’re also cleaning it of the fluids that may have been left on it. In other words, the floor will require less mopping. And just like a real Irish pub, this one is long and narrow and divided into separate sections, with lots of little nooks and crannies where you can sit and enjoy a drink.
There is live music every night, and today the entertainment is provided by a duo playing the guitar and the accordion. Guests are allowed to sing along, and the more alcohol is being served, the louder the singing gets. Some people are even dancing. Then the clock strikes one, the familiar bingo jingle is played, and the baristas start handing out pens. All of a sudden, the pub is packed, and everyone’s eyes are glued to the stage. Under normal circumstances, a game of bingo might be fun for your grandmother, but there are no rollators to be found in this place. You probably shouldn’t be bringing your nan to this pub, anyway, because the rules of the game are a little different, and old people’s bingo probably doesn’t involve semi-naked dudes.
When the bingo jingle stops, a young man in a floral shirt steps onto the stage and welcomes everyone to the pub. Our host, who has an Irish lilt, briefly goes over the rules. “Get a complete horizontal line in round one, and you’ll win the grand prize!” Tonight’s grand prize amounts to €450. The winners of rounds 2 and 3 will get a bottle of booze and a round of beers, respectively. Around us, we see experienced bingo players get their cards ready, their pens poised to cross out numbers.
Unfortunately, no one actually wins the grand prize in round 1. However, there is a winner in round 2. He gets to spin a wheel, while the crowd yells, “Spin that fucking wheel!” It’s clear that the regulars are familiar with the way things are done here, and they are the ones yelling the loudest. The winner gets to take home a bottle of Jameson’s. We move on to the final round straight away. The winning numbers are called in increasingly quick succession, leaving us with very little time to sip our beers. In the final round, too, someone gets to spin the wheel, and he is treated to a round of beers on the house. Time flies when you’re having fun.
Tonight our host didn’t have to take his shirt off due to an invalid bingo, and we have to admit we’re a little disappointed. For a brief moment I consider yelling “Bingo!” when the final number is called, even though my card is half empty, but in the end I refrain. To be completely honest, licking the chest of a dude I don’t know isn’t entirely my cup of tea, either.