Do you remember when you were small? Those days when you tried hard to keep up with older siblings or school friends or whatever. They lead and you followed…or tried to. Well, those were the days you began to learn about frustration and what it felt like when you just weren’t quite good enough. You would achieve something and for a few brief moments your chest would swell with pride…until someone bigger and better and smarter and faster came along and dropped you back where you were before. No wonder kids look forward to being 4 and 5 and 10 and 13 and 16 etc. Until you get to 45 and then want to be 35 and 30…

Well, now you know how it feels to be the lead in a bowling team. On my first day I had no idea what I was doing. I had to ‘do’ the mat when the charming David Bunt reminded me. Then I had to roll the jack up to the blokes at the other end of the rink. Then I had to bowl. Sometimes I did the mat and sometimes David did it. We would change ends with the blokes who had shouted instructions once we had used all our bowls. That’s when frustration sets in! You finally manage to get your bowl to stay on the rink AND stop by the jack – and one of those blokes would come along and knock it off.

If I listen carefully these days I can hear the source of my frustration. ‘Take out the purple bowl.’ ‘Get a wick off the purple bowl.’ If you get rid of the purple bowl we will have six shots.’ Now, my bowls are brand new. I don’t want people launching violent attacks on them. And to make matters more miserable they are supposed to be a beautiful, bright blue, according to the online colour chart. I’ve never heard anyone say ‘knock out the beautiful, bright blue bowl.’ Thank goodness these bowls are made of harder stuff than my pride! Because that seems to chip very easily now that I am 66 but wanting to be 50 or 45… .

Starting out at bowls you begin as lead and then slowly ascend (if you want to) until you are skip. Lead is hugely important. It sets the dynamic for the game. It’s important and if the lead isnt ‘on’ its hard for the rest of the team to follow. So, you have to suck it up and pretend that as everyone has a turn at knocking your bowls away from the jack you are made of tough stuff. Just pick yourself up, dust yourself off and do it all again for the next end.

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