The bowling green is tucked away behind the village hall.
I approach it nervously, wondering if I’m at the right place. It is my first competitive game. Well actually, it’s my first game full stop. A man had rung from out of the blue telling me to turn up here. I had expected some form of trial or practice session first but no – I am straight in at the deep end for round one of the cup.
Sporty Kev is my team captain. This is good, as he’s the other person there who I know. Unfortunately, being team captain he gets to stand at the other end all the time, shouting at me to aim it at his foot. I shake hands with my other team member.
The opposition seem very nice. Going first is an elderly lady with a bad hip. She is very good.
I have made a list of all the sports I know. Team sports, individual sports, mixed, men-only, women-only, sports with horses, with balls, with bats and racquets, on grass, on tracks. Now the one thing – the only thing – that all these sports have in common, is this. No matter how new, rubbish, useless or hamfisted that you are, you are very unlikely to be beaten at any of them by an elderly lady with a bad hip. That, to me, is the definition of ‘sport’.
We proceed to get stuffed.
Her bowl lands right next to the white thing. I have my first go, and my bowl goes about a grillion miles past everybody else’s. Her next bowl lands right next to the white thing again. I pick up my bowl for a second go, but unfortunately it seems to have been sitting in some goose shit, and I get goose shit all over my hands. My towel is stuck in my pocket, so I get goose shit all over my trousers as I try to pull it out. By the time I’ve wiped the bowl, everybody is looking at me and I send another poor effort down, this time stopping about 8000 yards short of the cluster.
“Never mind!” shouts Sporty Kev, and everybody is very nice. I scrape smeared goose shit from my clothing.
My next go is a lot better, and lands encouragingly near to where I meant it to.
“Never mind!” shouts Sporty Kev.
By the end of the game, I have picked it up a bit better, and am enjoying myself. Our team gets hammered, but we win on two of the other rinks (a bowling term, I gather), and draw another. So we are through to the next round!!!
“I really enjoyed that!” I say, as we leave the field of play.
But I don’t half ache today.