The liquid scalds the back of my throat. I blink in surprise and pain.

“Not bad, is it?” asks Don.

I decline a second helping. The sporting authorities are far keener these days on fostering a clean-living and healthy look – Lord knows what the image-obsessed International Bowls Federation would make of a team that blatantly distributes home-made cider from a vodka bottle before the start of play.

“It tastes a bit… spirited,” I agree, as I stagger towards the mat, coughing in agony, my eyes streaming and face melting.

We complete our handshakes. “I’m very sorry about the green,” says my opponent. “The groundsman was meant to mow it today. We’ll kill him if we get hold of him.”

His tone leaves no doubt that they will, indeed, kill the groundsman should they get hold of him. I make conciliatory noises, as does Big A. It is the same for both sides and frankly anything that evens things up is ok by me. My conciliatory noises are interrupted by more cider-originated coughing; my eyes and ears don’t appear to be working properly.

My first wood stops about ten yards short of the jack. My opponent’s stops next to it. I glare savagely at the uncut grass, a surface fit only for amateurs.

When it’s Nigel’s turn I have a decent idea. “If you can come in round this way,” I shout, “you might be able to knock these two up.”

Big A prods me tactfully in the ribs. “Nigel’s just had his turn,” he explains. I look confused. Somebody offers me more cider.

“I was a bit surprised when they just stole that end and you started muttering ‘fucking bastard,'” muses Big A in the Village Pub afterwards. “You seemed to be getting a bit competitive.” I sip my pint sheepishly. “I was having a bit of trouble getting into the zone,” I reply.

The season is but a few matches old, and we are already looking like we might challenge for honours. I need to keep my head if we are to keep this standard up.

31 thoughts on “I take a long, furtive swig.

  1. johng says:

    Second! You can do it Jonny!! Just go easy on the cider.

  2. Sorry, Jonny – in too much of a hurry to find exclusively short, simple words to explain this to you, so will have to make do with adult language:

    It’s only the same for both sides if the other team has not deliberately left the grass that long and practised on it all week, you five-star, fur-lined, inflatable, ocean-going retard.

    Now go sleep it off and tomorrow you can tell us how you sat on the wedding eggs when you got into the car to deliver them, or whatever…

  3. Megan says:

    Seems it would even things up better if you slipped a bit of that there homemade cider into the opposition’s water bottles. I’ve experienced homemade gin, homemade wine, homemade “vodka” and only just avoided homemade something-with-garlic and I suggest that three days from now when the world stops spinning you might want to make a quick check to see what bits are still attached.

  4. Rachel says:

    So, was Don on your team or a member of the opposition? If the former, it sounds like he’s a fifth columnist — shades of Burgess and Maclean.

  5. Saltation says:

    “Our chief weapon is sur-oider”

  6. Pat says:

    Yes I’m afraid Ivan is right although he could have put it a little more politely.
    BTW Jonny, Chelsea, you know the garden place, have one garden with the most beautiful chicken house. Do look!

  7. NAGA says:

    “If you can come in round this way,” I shout, “you might be able to knock these two up.”

    Exactly the kind of behaviour I would expect when drinking homemade anything.

  8. msbaroque says:

    Well, it’s clearly the time of year. Bringing the drink out into the open air… see, the outdoor activities leave one little choice. I like the vodka bottle, nice touch.

    And Jonny, it’s serendipity! Because speaking of drink and sports, I only last night posted up a wonderful account of Dorothy Parker seeing off Orson Welles in the “Clash of the Tightest” drinking championships, run by that estimable organ, Modern Drunkard magazine. Yes! It’s (too good to be, and yet still is) true. They’re clearly waiting for you…

  9. Next time they come up with even more cider you can always claim you have a drinking problem and the doctor ordered no drinks for at least a day or two… 😉

  10. AndyB says:

    Never mind Don, who’s Jack?

  11. AndyB says:

    No, it’s alright, I knew, it was a …… I’ll get me coat!

  12. I often find I perform sport better drunk too.

  13. Manager Mom says:

    Hmmm… my husband just took up golf after a 15 or more year absence and he’s been getting frustrated. but I think that alcohol is the critical element that has been missing from his games.

    good tip. I’ll pass it along.

  14. Fanto says:

    I’m surprised your opponents didn’t cry foul at your blatant abuse of a performance enhancing drug. It’s well known that homemade scrumpy can be like nandrolone.

  15. Fanto says:

    …… or is that Windolene?

  16. zed says:

    Is your daughter playing yet? I really do think that you should pass on your bowling techniques to her. But do give her Ribena in the pub, won’t you, dear?

  17. Tanya says:

    Dear Jonney,
    Please may I borrow your protest song about post office closures and update some of the lyrics? I’d hope to get my neighbours to sing and dance it and then get it on the local radio/TV and on youtube. Please let me know a.s.a.p because we are holding a meeting on thursday. Thanks.

  18. JonnyB says:

    Hullo Tanya and welcome. Yes – you’d be very welcome and you have my blessing to proceed with your FRANKLY BIZARRE IDEA. Please leave a link when it’s on the You Tube.

    And hullo Manager Mom and won’tletlifedefineme and welcome, also.

    Anyway. Welcomes over. The big topic this morning has to be:


    This is brilliant. The Village Shop certainly does not stock it, but I should be able to order one?

  19. msbaroque says:

    See, I knew you would like it! Look in the internets.

  20. tim relf says:

    Home-made cider from a vodka bottle? I like the sound of bowls!

  21. Sarah P says:

    Is drinking mandatory? I really hope so, there’s lots of home made wine in the attic and I could flog it to the bowls player of my region, I would make a little money and I get to get old folk drunk whilst operating heavy balls!

  22. Tanya says:

    Thanks Jonney, I’ll let you know how it goes. xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

  23. Rudy says:

    Jonny, why not put down astroturf in the pub? Then you could bowl and drink without bother from grass and the International Bowls Federation.

  24. When I was younger and stupider I used to drink “Suicider.” It was about twelve per cent and you had to be twenty one or above to drink it.

    Shortly afterwards I discovered that struggling to keep control of your bladder and bowels is no fun, so I stopped drinking it.

    One day I’ll work on that enough to make it into an anecdote.

  25. SarahB says:

    Can a swig be furtive?

  26. Saltation says:

    i hope so

    jonny, how could you have forgotten so soon? Only 2.5 years ago i blogged that very magazine’s classic encounter of:

    Charles Bukowski vs Dylan Thomas!

    “Round Eleven
    Bukowski orders two glasses of Night Train Fortified Wine.”

  27. clare says:

    “we are already looking like we might challenge for honours.”

    Is this technical bowls-speak? Sadly it means nothing to me… is it a good thing or a bad thing?

  28. Tanya says:

    our protest song on you tube

    It also made both local TV channels.
    Thanks for the inspiration.
    I’ll let you know if we win or not

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