Bingo with bells on top
This is a crazy town. Where else would you gather in a performance space made of blue pallets in a desolate landscape of partially demolished buildings to play bingo?
It was halfway through the game of bingo that I got the giggles at the brilliant absurdity of the situation. Is there a better way to respond to a natural disaster than a laugh, a beer and a game of bingo among the ruins?
Keith Preene's Golden Goose Bingo is a fun night of old-school entertainment. It's testament to the show's good-natured warmth that it was able to overcome a chilly, grit-filled southerly in this sheltered, but open-air venue.
Once Preene was on stage, I didn't really notice the cold.
Preene, the alter ego of Christchurch performer Shay Horay, is a faded television personality whose heyday was probably in the 1970s and 80s.
You can imagine him with a show like It's in the Bag during the week and opening supermarkets in Ashburton at the weekend.
He had a good time in those years and so he's determined to stay there. He drinks Rheineck beer, smokes Rothmans and tells long, off-colour jokes. He's like the loveable, old uncle that you only see at family weddings.
He calls the numbers and operates the specially modified, but fantastically vintage, bingo machine. At least he is when he's not necking Rheinecks, telling jokes or charming the audience. The show is carried by the likeable and good-natured Preene.
And you know what, bingo is actually great fun.
My partner, the Essex Princess, is a vegetarian, but found herself wanting to win even though the main prize was a luxury meat pack.
The game is given an absurd twist by Preene's strange nicknames for the numbers. A traditional caller might call 22 "two little ducks", but only Preene would call 72 a tall man bending over to fart in a swan's face.
Hey, TV people, instead of commissioning a reality show about the Ridges, why not give Keith Preene his own old-school game show? He could tour working men's clubs and town halls across New Zealand. Now, that I would watch.
So, this show is two things - a snapshot from a strange city recovering with almighty pluck from a knockdown and a really fun night out.
When we emerged from the pallet pavilion, we were faced with an empty gravel lot and half-demolished buildings.
Where to go for an after-show drink? We ended up in Denny's for hot chocolate and curly fries. It seemed a perfect fit with the show's sense of old-school fun.
Keith Preene's Golden Goose Bingo.
Gap Filler Pallet Pavilion, corner of Durham and Kilmore streets.
8pm every night.