The rain pelts down from the gloom-ridden Norfolk skies. I gaze through the window, enthusiastically.
During the winter months, I was chosen by popular vote to be in charge of the bowls this year. I am a sort of Fabio Capello figure, but with bowls. It is half past five – not long to go until we have to leave.
The telephone rings. It is Trevor, wondering, as it is raining so hard, whether the match might be called off to allow us to go to the Village Pub instead.
“Nonsense,” I lie. “It might be raining hard where you live, but I am about 300 yards south and it has almost stopped.”
So far we have played two games. We lost the first one 8-0 and lost the second one 6-2. Boooooo – perhaps I am not the Fabio Capello of bowls after all. I am the Steve McClaren.
The telephone rings again. It is Huey. Huey is having to drop out at the last minute, as he is being sick. He is apologetic, through his sick, but this leaves me in a bit of a hole. I know Eddie is around, as he has been spotted – I will try to get him to fill in at the last minute. Even Steve McClaren had these sorts of problems, with metatarsals etc.
I ring the opposing manager first, to check whether the match might be called off, allowing us to go to the Village Pub instead.
“Actually it is not raining here,” he lies. “In fact there is a bit of blue sky.”
I ring Eddie and ask him to play, shouting to make myself heard over the rain.
“But isn’t the weather…”
“I have just spoken to the opposing manager. It is bright sunshine there, with light temperate breezes,” I lie. Boooooo – not even three games in and I have immediately turned into some ducking and diving Terry Venables bowls figure.
We drive to the game, stopping at Eddie’s cottage on the way, in order to forcibly bundle him into the car. I switch the windscreen wipers on to their maximum setting as we inch forwards through impromptu lakes in the road, the headlights struggling to cut the gloom.
“I think it’s brightening up,” I say. “Look – there are some people in bermuda shorts, and some other people having a barbecue, and an ice-cream van.”
We arrive at the venue and start playing bowls. Our particular block plays so badly that at one point I substitute Nigel (a good, experienced skipper) with me (have never done it before, am rubbish). Booooo – I am turning into the Rafael Benitez of bowls.
We lose 8-0.
“Thank you for playing, everybody,” I tell them afterwards. “I hope you enjoyed the game.”
We drive to the Village Pub.