Wednesday, 5 September 2012


Fantasy Bob's father has played bowls for as long as FB can remember.  Family members may think that FB is committed to the point of obsession with playing cricket.  But they acknowledge that FB's disorder is nothing compared to his father's commitment to bowling.  Indoor, outdoor, all season, all weather.  Bowling is the thing.

An idyll or not?
FB has therefore long acknowledged in the back of his mind that when the exertion of a long spell up the hill against the wind finally becomes too much, or the challenge of another all run three seems beyond the call of duty, his future sporting life might well lie on the bowling green.  He is sure his action, which has delivered the occasional unplayable in-swinger, will readily adapt to working with the bias.  And he understands that in many bowling clubs tea is an important ritual and empire biscuits may be available.  But the time is not right yet.  FB has a few more overs in him yet and his cover drive can still draw gasps of surprise, if not admiration, from observers.

It is just as well.  FB has assumed that the world of bowls is tranquil and polite.  There may be the occasional, 'Bother' uttered as a bowl ends up not in its intended place. 'Dearie me,' will occasionally echo across the lawn.  But nothing beyond that and the quiet clicks as the bowls collide.  Idyllic in its own way.  However FB has read this week how wrong that impression is.

At a recent incident in an Edinburgh club, a player - who says he is considered the John McEnroe of bowls - divested himself of his shirt, dropped his trousers and was head butted by a 76 year old steward trying to remonstrate with him.  The player claims he was provoked by the taunts from spectators and opposing players.  He also acknowledges that he had four or five pints of beer before the match.  In a long interview he describes bowling's booze culture amongst its elderly fraternity and players and spectators alike.

There is another report, this time from Forres, where a 68 year old player exasperated when a 71 year old player fell off his chair dragged him out of the club by his heels kicking him twice before dumping him outside.  The Sheriff fined him £265.

This does not seem the kind of world that Fantasy Bob should enter with equanimity.  His father is obviously made of stern stuff to have survived so long.  But for FB, another season bowling up the hill and against the wind seems preferable, with only the taunts of the junior members to disturb him.  Bowls will have to wait.

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