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Torfaen Tales


Part 16 of the K-Nine Tales

It was late on Tuesday afternoon and K-Nine was bored. He had spent most of that morning tidying up his workshop in the TARDIS. He had even paid a visit to the cloister room and considered polishing the great bell that hung there but decided to leave that particular task for another day.

“Perhaps Teeza could do that for me. She likes polishing brass things,” thought K-Nine to himself.

K-Nine made his way to the console room, logged onto the TARDIS computer and checked out the Bush Inn website. It appeared that Tuesday night was bingo night, but K-Nine did not know what bingo was. He entered “Bingo” into the computer’s search engine and studied the results …

Bingo - A game of chance in which each player taking part has one or more cards printed with fifteen different numbers arranged on a three by nine grid. When the respective numbers are drawn and announced by a caller, the player marks them off on the card. The first player to mark off a complete row of numbers or all the numbers on the card is declared the winner.

Some further research into the game also showed that each of the numbers from one to ninety had one or more different nicknames which the caller could include when announcing the number drawn. K-Nine was puzzled by some of these names and their origins but decided that the best way to find out was to go and play the game himself.

Just after eight that evening, K-Nine rolled into the lower bar of the Bush. At first he thought the bar was empty but then he spotted Stephanie the barmaid sitting at one of the tables doing a crossword. She turned to the tin dog and said, “Hello K-Nine, back again so soon. You really must like this place.”

“Oh yes,” replied K-Nine, sounding a bit like Churchill (the dog from the insurance advert, not the famous British politician). “It cetainly has a number of attractions, including your good self.”

Stephanie blushed slightly, put down her magazine and went behind the bar. K-Nine ordered a can of WD40 then positioned himself next to the leather sofa by the side wall. Stephanie brought his drink over and placed it on the nearby table. The tin dog had a feeling of déjà vu … again.

“Where is everyone ? I thought tonight was bingo night,” asked K-Nine.

“Don’t worry. It’s early yet and most of the regulars don’t come in until at least nine o’clock.”

“Guess I’ll just have to help you with your crossword then,” said K-Nine with a cheeky grin.

As the evening progressed, a number of regular (and a few irregular) customers began filtering into the bar as Stephanie had suggested. First there was Alvin the teacher followed by Bryn the bingo caller and Marvin the local brewer. Later they were joined by Dirk and Garth, who ordered their pints and then promptly disappeared outside for a cigarette (or two).

Meanwhile, K-Nine had been chatting to Bryn who had explained how the game of bingo, or Bryngo as he preferred to call it, worked. It all sounded quite straightforward and K-Nine was looking forward to playing.

Just after ten o’clock Stephanie placed what appeared to be some sort of electronic random number generator on the bar and began selling the bingo tickets to the customers. K-Nine purchased two tickets, returned to his table and waited for the game to start. Twenty or so minutes passed and there was still no sign of the bingo starting. K-Nine was getting a little impatient.

“What are we waiting for ?”

“TK,” replied Bryn.

“Who or what is TK ?” asked the tin dog.

“Toby Katbreederson, one of the regulars. He should be here any minute. He never misses the bingo.”

As if on cue, Toby came marching into the lower bar followed by his daughter Rowenta. He looked at Stephanie and said, “Two pints of Crow please, when you are ready.”

Stephanie poured the drinks, sold Toby and Rowenta some bingo tickets and then turned to Bryn.

“I think we are all ready to go now.”

Bryn turned on the bingo machine and pressed the select button.

“Eyes down, the first number out for a line on your top ticket only … unlucky for some, thirteen … Burlington Bertie, number thirty … life’s begun, forty one … bullseye, number fifty ...”

“Great, smashing, super,” thought K-Nine as he crossed off the first number on his top ticket.

“Tom Mix, number six … legs eleven … droopy drawers, forty four …”

All the players in the bar were concentrating intently on their cards and marking off the numbers as they were called out. K-Nine noticed that some of the players appeared to be having more success than others.

“Bring back the balls !” called out Toby, somewhat predictably.

Bryn continued calling out the numbers and the tension in the room mounted as several of the players got closer to completing a line …

“Garden gate, number eight … Winnie the Pooh, forty two … Heinz varieties, fifty seven … top of the shop, ninety.”

There were several oohs and aahs as numbers were feverishly crossed off the cards and the anticipation grew …

“Stairway to heaven, twenty seven.” Complete silence.

“Hmm, not a good number,” thought K-Nine, “About as popular as a lead balloon of German origin.”

“Duck and dive, twenty five … seventy seven, sunset strip.”

“House !” shouted Dirk.

“Well done Dirk,” said Stephanie. “Now you can afford to buy your own pizza,” she added with a wry grin.

Bryn checked Dirk’s card and announced “Line correct.”

K-Nine was enjoying the game, especially the good humoured banter and the interaction between the caller and the players. He was glad he had studied the nicknames earlier and had already prepared some of his own comments for the next game, should the right numbers turn up.

Bryn reset the bingo machine and started the next game. “The first number out for a line on your bottom ticket, then carry on for a full house … man alive, number five … two little ducks, twenty two ..”

“Quack ! Quack !” shouted some of the players.

“Key of the door, twenty one, Debbie McGee, number three …”

“I like that, not a lot, but I like it,” thought K-Nine.

“Rise and shine, twenty nine … on it’s own number nine … par for the course, seventy two … two fat ladies, eighty eight … “

“Sexist !” shouted Stephanie.

The game continued and eventually one of the players got a line. This time it was Garth who won. Bryn checked his ticket, verified the winning numbers and then continued …

“Line, correct. Carry on for the full house ... Kelly’s eye, number one … dirty knees, thirty three … snakes alive, fifty five … Danny La Rue, fifty two … Gordon’s den, number ten.”

“Not for much longer, I hope,” muttered Marvin.

“Everyone’s favourite, sixty nine.” There were chuckles from some of the players. K-Nine did not understand that one and decided he would ask one of the other players after the game. As more numbers were called out, the excitement grew once again in the room.

“Someone must be sweating,” commented Toby.

“Not me, I have my hydraulic cooling system activated,” replied K-Nine.

“Clickety click, sixty six … dancing queen, seventeen … Bobby Moore, number four … Brighton Line, fifty nine ...”

K-Nine was very excited. He only had one number left on his ticket.

“Torquay in Devon, eighty seven.” That was the one he wanted.

“House !” barked K-Nine loudly. Bryn and some of the others jumped.

“Well done, K-Nine,” congratulated Stephanie. She picked up the tin dog’s ticket and went over to check the numbers with Bryn.

“House correct,” confirmed the caller. Stephanie picked up the winnings from the bar and handed them to the tin dog.

K-Nine smiled. He liked this game. Not only was eighty seven the winning number, it was also one he could comment on, so he did …

“By the way, did I mention that I once visited a rather quaint little hotel in Torquay. Lovely place it was, with some really interesting views.”

Alvin and the others suspected that this may well be a joke, an anecdote or just some clever linguistic manipulation from the tin dog but they asked him to continue anyway …

“Oh yes, there was a small café and snack bar run by Sid, one of the locals; some very impressive horticultural displays suspended outside a house owned by a former rugby star, and at certain times in the evening you could see numerous varieties of avian creatures flying over vehicles in the nearby railway station.”

There were blank and puzzled looks all round. What was the tin dog going on about ?

“Would you care to explain ?” asked Rowenta.

“Of course, I was referring to Sidney’s Coffee House, the hanging garden baskets of Barry John, and birds and wild geese swooping majestically across the trains. Well, what would one expect to see out of a Torquay hotel bedroom window ?”

The room was filled with a mixture of groans and laughs.

“Nice one, hun. Now what would you like to drink ?” asked Stephanie.

“I think I will have a large WD40 and a can of Torro Rosso as the Italians or formula one racing team might call it.”

“Are you talking bullocks again ?” said Garth.

“Probably,” replied K-Nine.

The bingo machine was put away for another week, the used tickets were thrown on the log burner, which was a bit pointless as it wasn’t lit, and Stephanie began spraying the tables with some strange smelling liquid. Dirk made a few exaggerated coughs and went outside for a cigarette.

As midnight approached, K-Nine reflected on another entertaining evening at his favourite pub and contemplated what he might do tomorrow … once his head had cleared !

By Nigel Daft

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