My wife's god daughter and her parents are in town for a couple of days. I had too much work on to accompany them to the Science Museum (what a swizz being a grown-up turns out to be), but had got enough done to join them for so post-luncheon ten-pin bowling (being a self-employed grown-up neutralises some of the swizz). What decadent fun to be bowling at 2pm. Plus cos there was a four year old with us we got to have the gutter-ball barriers up so it was almost impossible to miss. Not that I usually needed the barriers (though they did help me get one strike in the second game). I was more than adequate. And I enjoyed trash-talking a four-year-old girl every time I did something good.
In the lane next to us a group of men and women were playing a raucous game. I suspect they were work colleagues on some of team-building outing (occasionally even a proper job has little perks of childishness to keep you going). They encouraged one another and cheered at every opportunity, even when someone hadn't done particularly well. Supporting one another is all very well, but you have to have some quality control to your encouragement or it just becomes meaningless. It was fun watching them bonding though and they were enjoying this ridiculous and space consuming sport. One guy was much better than the others - he was called Josh - and he got two spares followed by four strikes and scored more points that three of his workmates combined. I was also thrashing the four year old in my lane and I could see him giving me an empathetic look - it's tough when you're so much better than everyone else. You have to pretend to be modest, but both of us knew I was crushing this child and that her bowling technique was appalling. She just picked up the ball and then chucked it, hoping the barriers and momentum would do the rest. Occasionally she tried to copy me by doing a run up before aimlessly chucking the ball high and wide. Josh and me would shake our heads and smile. If only everyone else would leave us and we could bowl topless together. I scored about 140, though hoped that Josh had not noticed the one strike that should have been a gutterball. He got over 170. I didn't mind that he was better than me. I was better than all his friends. We could go out together and bowl and he would be able to remain the alpha male by winning all the time, but I would have his respect and yet remain unthreatening by coming in second. And when we saw any under 5s chucking bowling balls or using that little bowling ball slide that you can roll your ball down we'd raise our eyes to the Heavens and smile. We wouldn't have to say how disdainful we were of these idiots. Our brilliant slightly above average for 2pm on a Thursday afternoon play would say it all. And though we'd have our tops off the whole time and would embrace each other every time one of us did a good roll or just any kind of roll based on how his work colleagues were hollering, it wouldn't be a homo-erotic thing. It would all be about the bowling.
The first rule of Rich and Josh's afternoon bowling club is take your shirts off.
The second rule of Rich and Josh's afternoon bowling club is do not be openly disdainful to the small children who inevitably frequent the lanes at this time.
The third rule of Rich and Josh's afternoon bowling club is any roll is good enough for a hug and maybe if Josh gets a good strike or nearly does then Rich can kiss him. But in a manly way.
The other rules of Rich and Josh's afternoon bowling club are the same as the rules of ten pin bowling. I expect you can find them on line somewhere.
A few extra tickets have been released for Friday night's previously sold out gig in Corsham, Wiltshire. Ring 01249 701628 to see if there are any left and then buy some if there are (if you want to come to the gig).