Startlingly, more British people play bingo than watch professional football. So the idea that the world of fat ladies and Mecca dobbers is some sort of relic of the working class, post-war north couldn’t be more wrong. Sure, as this ‘Timeshift’ documentary acknowledges, bingo is currently in a period of transition. But then it’s always been embattled: assailed by snobbery, constrained by regulation, co-opted by criminals, aggressively opposed by high and low moralists alike. The tales we hear in this film explain its cockroach-like resilience. Its apparent mindlessness is its trump card, enabling it to be simultaneously competitive and sociable. It’s also arguably empowered women by providing safe, welcoming venues for socially marginalised housewives. And finally, it’s fun: it was invented during World War II to take soldiers’ minds off the horrors they were experiencing, but proved infinitely maleable as the years went by. An interesting and cheery dose of social history.
Beloved pubs getting turned into blocks of flats is a depressingly common narrative in London. So it’s heartening that Borough’s The Gladstone, having been condemned to the property developer’s wrecking ball in late 2016, has reopened six months later, having been declared an asset of community value and taken on by a new team. Hooray for that. Old regulars needn’t panic – the much-loved live music offering is still intact. Elsewhere, the new-look Glad brings few surprises: a craft beer offering, a menu of small plates, reclaimed furniture and the obligatory canopy of filament lightbulbs. Even if you’ve never set foot in the place, you’ll feel like you’ve been here before. On my visit, the draught line-up was solid, if a touch conservative, with Hammerton’s punchy N7 pale ale the pick of the bunch. Given the pub’s location, it was disappointing not to see any south London brews on the taps (except the omnipresent Meantime), though Kernel, Brew by Numbers and Partizan all featured in the bottle fridge. Food lacked finesse, though: Japanese-style fried chicken ought to have come with something to dunk it in, while nicely crisp chips were in need of some seasoning. Still, most people won’t come to The Glad for two-thirds of Belgian sour and a gourmet feed – they’ll come for the cosy, friendly atmosphere, up-close live music and to bask in the fact that for once – just once – developers got told to do one.
Venue says: “Make sure to check out our Big Birthday Bash as we turn 1 year old (again). Beers, Canapes, Live music & more - book now!!! 🍺🎂☀️🎷”