I saunter into the pavilion.

“Norm!” I cry, giving a hearty back-slap to a man called ‘Norm’.

Big A follows me in. “Norm!” he echoes.

Norm gives us a sheepish look, like a defence barrister concluding his explanation of how the blood got into the jelly. I pull out my deeply unfashionable shoes from the bowls bag and return him a kind smile.

“It’s just that we weren’t sure whether we’d see you again,” persists Big A. “There was quite a lot of swearing and everything.”

Norm shakes his head. “I spent most of the next morning apologising. It was just, with tempers running high, and then words and stuff, and then he [jerks head] got involved, and…”

“We’re not really used to fights at bowls,” I reflect. “I think there were a couple of raised voices last year when a mobile went off inappropriately, but no actual physical violence. Did it come to that in the end?”

“I think it was just a bit of silly squaring up,” confirms Big A.

“Nice of you all to go straight afterwards, leaving me on my own to sign the cards,” complains the Club Captain, a man with a beard. We make apologetic noises.

“Anyway – good to have you back here,” I assure. I like Norm. He is a jovial and friendly chap; one of those people who is the heart and soul of a club.

My deeply unfashionable shoes are donned; I take my woods and my mat out onto the green to participate in a satisfying draw. There are no blows exchanged.

28 Comments

  1. Commandos(TM) (with a compass in the heel)

  2. No, they were Wayfinders with the compass in the heel. Anyway, how did the fight break out?

  3. With socks with little rabbits on?

  4. Don’t be foolish everybody. They are proper bowls shoes. You would not get away with anything else, even Commandos(TM).

  5. “Saunter”? “Saunter”??? People like you should be prohibited by law from sauntering, at least during daylight hours or anywhere where women, children and the elderly might see you.

    As for violence at bowls, I think you are giving your peers on the green too little credit, Jonny. Has it not occured to you the toll you extract from them weekly, as they watch you sauntering around the place straining the seams of your chinos? The fact that they don’t immediately rise as one, pelt you with the woods, and then hack your head off to use it as the jack is to my mind indicative of the kind of superhuman restraint rarely found in the modern world. If Norm feels the need to blow off steam at other targets that’s all perfectly natural and healthy, and we salute him for it…

  6. S’funny. I’ve been picturing village bowls as a bit like league hockey – involving rather a lot of watery beer for the spectators who really only show up for the bloody and unreasonable fights. Only slightly slower paced and with unattractive footwear. Isn’t that why you have the bowls in the first place? Allowing long distance attack to make up for lack of ice skates and hockey sticks? Here was I thinking the end of the little-old-lady bowls story had her laying Jonny out with one well placed, mid-range toss to the head. Terribly disappointed and am canceling any plans to visit Norfolk for the finals.

  7. So… unfashionable shoes, eh?

    Does this mean playing bowls requires odd garb, much like golf?

    That would be off-putting. My father playes bocce, and they all just wear trainers and khaki trousers and polo shirts.

  8. Oh you holier then thou you! My heart goes out to poor Norm.
    BTW is it done to applaud at bowls?
    Should I ever attend a bowls match I would like to be prepared. I disgraced myself in the fifties by clapping enthusiastically at a cricket match in Cheshire. It should have been slow and desultory I was told.

  9. Who threw the first punch?

  10. Hm – I wonder how you would feel about barefoot bowls, which is all the rage here in Australia? ‘All the rage’ as in very popular, you understand. Not like English bowls, which is apparently rage-inspiring…

  11. *of course* the captain has a beard. Maybe that will be you one day Jonnyb.

  12. At least you seem to have your bowls green without any interference. D’you remember those poor old folk (can’t remember where) who were told they would have to shut theirs down as it was too near a school and the nutters that make laws, decided they might pose a threat to the kiddies, lurking peados and so on? Think they forced them to have Criminal record checks in the end, (as they now do with bell ringers) being typical peados of course. B****y nerve!

  13. Bowls (or is that bowels) at dawn then!

  14. Bowls (or is that bowels) at dawn then!

  15. Did you start the fight? In a subtle kind of way? Insinuating things, quietly?

    I always thought this was a little old ladies’ game…saw only little old ladies in Oz…and now you men are taking over, pushing out them li’l old ladies, starting fights…

  16. After the ‘dust up’ did you leave a business card saying ‘You’ve been visited by the ***** village Intercity Crew’ like the 80’s football gangs?

    They’ll be putting 10′ high fences up round the green next.

  17. I’ve always wanted a friend called Norman, so I could get greet him by saying “Norm!”, like they do in Cheers. And I’ve always wanted to find a bar like Cheers, what with funny people who work behind the bar, and life’s rich tapestry distilled down into a 30 minute situation comedy.

    You see, sometimes you want to go where EVERYBODY knows your name. And they’re always really, really pleased that you turn up. They might be a little pissed when you’ve had a few too many and have started a drunken brawl with that postal worker, but as long as you spend your pay check with them, a few minor altercations are acceptable.

  18. Where are you? Anybody would think it was August.

  19. He must be off somewhere entertaining the Village People.

  20. I thought he was one of the village people!

  21. Hm. You can tell that your priorities are a bit askew when you go off on holiday but spend your whole holiday worrying that you forgot to write a ‘I am going on holiday!!!’ message to people…

    Hm. Better write something today…

  22. Holiday again, was it? Who do you think you are, you peripatetic parasite – Fergie? Well, you have a figure to match, so it makes a certain sense.

    Anyway, no need to hurry back, your highness – it’s not like we missed you…

  23. Pleeease warn us when you’re about to wander off like this, JonnyB!! Else one can only pathetically keep coming back only to note NOTHING’S HAPPENING!

    Whence chickens? Whence eggs?

    Am I using “whence” correctly?

  24. i note HE [gestured at] did not get a back slap. you exclusionary swine, you!

  25. >Am I using “whence” correctly?

    perhaps “whither” might more be the mot juste

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