Apparently, at some point, I will have to be a Skip. This means I have moved up the ranks from Lead, Two…Three etc to being the boss. I am not sure I will ever be ready for this because I think I might have to take the Skipocratic Oath. First, do no harm! My guess is that it means I have to be positive, say nice things and generally encourage my team AND, if they haven’t played well I have to FIX IT! (I know this because I have heard people saying to the Skip ‘We’ll be okay. You can fix this.’ I am one of those people! And these days I lose sleep over it.)

I have been Skip a number of times and, being a people watcher, I like to take note about what is happening around me. It isn’t much fun being the Skip.

Skips are not happy about short bowls. Me? I get irate, anxious and tetchy BUT all my training in the power of positive thinking comes to the fore. And I paint a grin…ace…well, grimace on my face. So, here’s how I see it.

The errors in the first and maybe the second ends can be tolerated as everyone is finding their feet…well, their green and their line. Then it needs to get serious. The plan is to learn from what you see.

A short bowl arrives – skip says ‘that’s okay. Adjust your weight.’ BUT skip thinks ‘Jeez. I would’ve thought you’d got some sort of read from your first six bowls.’

Another short one arrives. Skip says ‘that’s okay. Good blocker’ BUT thinks ‘ I hope you aren’t planning on playing like this all day.’

Skip asks for a back bowl. The bowl tracks up and hurtles into the ditch. Skip claps as it passes his feet…probably because at last someone has put some weight on and actually come past the jack. ‘No worries’ he calls. BUT Skip is thinking ‘I wanted a back bowl not a bloody bank bowl.’

So, when the Skip is about to go down and bowl he takes a look at the head. Hadrian’s wall is lined up three deep in front of the jack, there’s a couple on the bank and not much else. He turns to walk to the mat and his team is approaching to swap ends.

A good skip smiles and says ‘good bowling.’ But me…well, I avoid eye contact, try to look pensive and jam my hands in my pocket so I don’t slap the person who says ‘We’ll be right. You can fix it.’ I have changed my bowls a number of times but the elusive one that weaves around several bowls seeking the jack is yet to be found.

My head is full of comments such as ‘I could have stayed home today and cut the lawn with my nail scissors. My lead might be better at home with a cup of hot soup, a good book and a lobotomy. Just how thick are you…what part of ‘take more green/weight don’t you understand? My two would be better employed counting the number of eyelashes on a donkey and dividing them by four just for the fun of it. Sometimes the urge to yell ‘what the f#ck are you thinking you great blob of dung,’ is over-whelming. If their last few bowls have been skinny you’d think they would’ve learned and corrected but NUP, that’s too obvious. The bowlers of the world must have had a big bowl of stupidity for brekky!

However, bowls really is fun and the people lovely. The best part is when you get home and put your feet on the coffee table while you drink tea…sometimes I wished I drank alcohol. Lots and lots of alcohol. One day I will be Skip but in the meantime I will play lead, put up short bowls and forget about my weight and line. But these days I am uncomfortably aware of what the Skip is REALLY thinking.

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