I am in awe of all the bowlers from the past. Some days there are a large number of black bowls on the head…especially when bowling with new bowlers. They have the dubious pleasure of using all the old ‘spares’ from the back room as they begin their new sport. These old bowls, as we know, take all afternoon to get from delivery to the other end of the rink. If you would like my quick scone recipe, just let me know and I’ll make the coffee while we wait for the arrival of these bowls.

Then, trying to remember which black bowl came from which team member can be tricky as well. Add in the fact that most of us are old with all that goes with aging. Poor eyesight, memory loss, arthritic knees and hips etc…so, after standing around shooting the breeze as we wait for these old bowls and then trying to remember who, which, when and even why…well , a lie down with a cuppa and a scone would be nice. But that’s not really what I wanted to talk about. It was just a lead in.

Narrower, coloured bowls are a godsend. They are easily visible from the mat and there’s no time for a holiday while you wait for them to arrive. Now, down to business. Technical bowling terms. New ones. Some of you are already in possession of a couple I think should go into the bowling manual. A viagara shot. This is a request from your skip politely telling you your last bowl was crap…and short. Basically…get it up! The request for a condom shot means you are required to ‘cover and protect’ the shot bowl/bowls. If your skip clutches his head and rips out tufts of hair it could mean a number of things. Options are that you’ve given the shot away…but that is usually indicated if you can read your skips lip as he mouths a four-lettered word starting with f*ck, but, usually it means he asked for a back bowl, NOT a bank bowl. The baring of teeth is a grimace not a smile. If your skip leans forward clapping his hands whilst shouting ‘I’m liking it, I’m liking it, l’m loving it…pause, clapping stops and his hands go on his hips and you can see the whites of his eyes…well, you know you screwed that one as well.

The new one I have recently added is ‘Can we waddle and watch?’ In a timed game it is important to keep the game moving steadily. However, some bowlers deliver their bowl and then go into some sort of trance as they watch their bowl trundle up the green. Some maintain their pose…crouched, hand pointing palm up like they are high-fiving god for their incredible stance as everyone else loiters around twiddling their thumbs, waiting to move.

I have begun moving forward and saying, ‘Can we waddle and watch?’ And the response has been very encouraging. So far, not one person has said, ‘No. I want to stand here in awe of my amazing ability and want to enjoy my moment in the sun. I want you all to admire my talent and my incredible ability for a few more seconds.’ The immediate reaction is interesting…the bowler does a little jump as the trance is broken and they are happy to move forward. (And remember, it is polite to keep out of the last bowlers view of his/her bowl. He/she is entitled to watch the outcome of the shot.)

Now, while this sounds a trivial exercise there is something important to take note of. If a game is played to time it’s often hard for teams with folks with disabilities…hips, back, knee issues…to get in as many ends as the more fit players. I see this as unfair. No matter how well your team is playing you’re up against it when other teams are able to fit in an extra end or maybe two. If we played to a set number of ends it becomes a much fairer contest. And, to be honest, very few casual galas play a lot of ends so the wait would be minimal. I tend to get a little fractious if the same team wins each week and you see them almost running up the green each week as they change ends. An unnatural urge to reach out with my picker upper and give a speeding ankle a sharp thwack might slow them down. If one team finishes quickly they aren’t going to have to wait very long for the rest to complete their games…unless some unfortunate newbie is still using some old, borrowed bowls! And if we all waddle and watch, once the last bowl has been released and we are changing ends, the game will keep moving.

Even if it is at a waddle.

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