A few years back lawn bowls was almost a secret society. For women the uniform consisted of a white dress with a stipulated hem length, white shoes, white hat etc etc. And I don’t recall my Mum ever really talking much about her bowls. I do remember her telling me of a particular lady she bowled with – Noeline – who always seemed to be in strife.

“Noeline was in trouble today because she wore white sandals and had painted her toenails bright red!”

“Noeline was in trouble today because she didn’t wear a petticoat under her dress and her legs could be seen through the fabric.”

Well, hell, I think there was a very endearing…daring…photo of the late Princess Di in a similar situation! and the world didn’t come to a screeching halt. But in the bowling days of old it was a terrible sin to flout the rules.

I can just see some of those old biddies thrusting out their bosoms and their index fingers and berating the delightful Noeline. Mum would never have broken the rules but I think she took delicious pleasure in Noeline’s courage…and I think it was these little scenarios that, over time, and a thousand and one incidents all over the world that changed the face of bowls. Now it is colourful, fun, casual, relaxed, serious or whatever you want it to be. It is also very addictive…trust me, I know. And my husband, at the grand age of 76, has just become a bowler and is loving it. It’s never to late to start.

And surprisingly of all – when Mum died I found a length of ribbon absolutely laden with medals she had won during her bowling career – and she had never said a word.

She just got out there – and did it. (Much to her surprise because she would never have considered herself as a sporty sort.) Good on you, Mum, and I fully understand the importance of having a little bit of life just for yourself. And now, when I am playing badly I just rap your old ‘bowl picker-uppa’ and say ‘Come on, Mum, I need a hand here’ and 9 times out of 10 the shot I’m after works.’

Looks like lawn bowls doesn’t even end when we head to that great bowling green in the sky.

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