Being Wednesday afternoon, Mrs Tilly Postlethwaite was ensconced in the old Odeon cinema preparing for her weekly afternoon session of Bingo. Seated at her usual table, two in from the right and three back from the stage, she arranged her four thick nibbed bingo pens in a neat line above the book of bingo cards which she had purchased upon entering the cavernous hall.
She was still wearing her thick, blue and white check patterned, “outdoor coat”, as she liked to call it. Her head was shrouded in a light blue cotton scarf which was knotted under her chin. As she rose to remove her outdoor clothes she heard,
‘Hello ducky, beat me to it today then!’
Recognising the nasal tone, riven through with a thick Staffordshire accent, Mrs Postlethwaite turned and greeted her friend Dorothy. A stout, middled aged lady wearing a similar coat to Tilley and complete with the obligatory knotted scarf. She had a round, life worn face, the main feature of which was a wispy moustache sprouting from her top lip.
‘Hello Dot, yes I decided to come out a bit earlier today on account of me legs.’
‘Gout playin’ up agen?’ asked Dorothy.
‘No, it’s me veins. Not been the same since we took that coach trip to Skeggy, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’ve gone an caught that trombone prognosis.’ Replied Tilley.
‘You know, when one o’ them clots gets in yer veins and travels up to yer eart and stops it.’
‘I’m telling you Dot, I seen it on the telly. One o’ them nurses brought it back from Torromawhatsit. Had to have her leg off she did!’
‘Silly cow! That’s only on the telly.’ Scoffed Dot.
‘Dorothy Perkins, when ‘ave you known me to cry wolf?’
‘Ave yer bin to see the doctor?’
‘Don’t be daft Dot, them all forrinners down there and I ain’t aving no forrin Jonny running is ands up and down my thighs, thank you very much!’
‘Tilly, they’s all qualified an everythin nowadays you know an they ave to wosh there ands first, it’s the law!’
‘That’s as maybe! Where’s Lisa? Always bloody late that woman, bet she expects us to start for her agen like what we ad to do last wik. I tell yer Dot I ain’t jeporadisin my chances for her!’
‘Don’t blame yer me duck, her fault iff’n she can’t be bothered to get here on time, replied Dot’, sniffing loudly, which was her way of emphasing the point.
Tilley sensed a presence hovering over the table.
‘Hello, Lisa love. We wos just saying ow weed start for yer iff’n yer wos late. Wernt we Dot?’
Dorothy answered with a question.
‘Bloody Hell Lisa, is your air still fallin out?’
Lisa was tall and skinny, her hair, prematurely grey, was straight and hung down to her shoulders. Her coat, which she had taken off when she entered the Odeon, was slung over her left forearm and a weather worn handbag, from which a scarf could be seen peeking from under the flap, hung from her right shoulder. She cast a rheumy eye over her friends before answering.
‘Dot, it’s worryin me ter deth it is an that don’t elp me alpreacher’
‘Ain’t that wot that Gail thingymagig on the telly’s got’ Asked Tilley
‘Tilly, me duck yer watch too much o’ that bloody telly you do,’ said Dorothy.
‘I tell yer Dot, yer can learn a lot off the telly, yo mark my words. Ow else would I ave known about me veins?’
‘Ave yo got bad veins as well Tilly? I’ve bin a marter ter mine over this past twelve months.’
‘Yer never said Lisa.’
‘Don’t like people ter think I’m one o’ them hyperwhatsits, my Harold already thinks I got a season ticket to the surgery!’
‘Bloody cheek! Is he still on the dole, Lisa?’
‘Ssshh, it’s startin!’
‘Two fat ladies…………….’
An hour later the three ladies are sitting around their table, all disconsolate because of their lack of winnings. The next game is the National game which is syndicated across the country. The top prize has risen to £300,000:00. There is a deathly hush around the room as the numbers are called.
‘What yer waitin for Tilly?’
‘I only want a one an I’ve got the big un’
‘Its me! It’s me! House, Bingo, stop! It’s me! Bloody Ell, Bingo!’
Mrs Postlethwaite gets up from her chair and, on very unsteady legs, takes her ticket up to the stage for verification.
‘Bloody typical! That Tilly Postlethwaite cud fall in dog muck an cum up smellin o’ roses’
‘Don’t be so arsh, Dot. although I knows what yer mean. Do yer remember last year when she won that trip to Skeggy?’
‘I do! I’d bin waiting fer fifty five fer a good five minute an she guz an calls on twenty three! I ope she as got trombone prognosis or whatever, jammy cow!’
The caller verifies that Tilly has indeed ticked off all the numbers correctly and duly declares her the winner of the top prize of £300,000:00 and the Odeon manager hands her a cheque. There is muted applause from the floor which necessitates the manager to go to the microphone and ask everyone to give, ‘the lucky lady‘ a round of applause. Tilley walks back to her seat waving the cheque high above her head, her smile is so wide her false teeth nearly fall out. At further instigation from the manager, the people in the hall all get to their feet and give her standing ovation.
The caller declares a thirty minute break, telling everyone that refreshments are available in the foyer as well as books of tickets for the second half. He tells them there will be a new Syndicate Round worth £75,000:00 half way through the session.
Dorothy hugs Tilly as she reaches the table and says; ‘I’m so glad for yer, if any bugger deserves it you do.’
‘Thanks Dot, do yer no, I’m all of a dither. As yer know, I’m not a lucky person.’
‘We were just sayin ow glad we both are for yer,’ adds Lisa.
‘What will yer do we all that money then, Tilly me duck?’
‘The first thing I’m gonna do Dot, is ave me very close veins parted, then I might tek the old man on oliday to Torromawhatsit. We ain’t bin away since Skeggy.’
‘Are yer gonna buy us a drink to celebrate yer winnins?’
‘I’ve told yer before, Lisa Hudson. I’ve seen enough money goo ta waste down the pub we my old man an I ain’t no wastrel like im!’
‘Still, it is a special occasion Tilly.’
‘Not you as well Dot! If yo two wanna a drink that bad, dunna let me stop ya. I’m off um to plan me olidays! See ya both next wik’
Tilly gets up from her chair, puts her coat on and knots her scarf back over her head before making her way to the exit.
‘Tight arse cow!’ In stereo, followed down the aisle.
©Phil Bottomley May 13 2015