The skittles’ season has begun. We have two teams who call the Legion ‘home’ and play from the Autumn to the Spring.
We used to have a Summer Skittles’ League but the chap who ran it moved away and none of us could work out how he’d made a profit.
The summer skittlers consisted of a good dozen teams, most of whom were missing at least one player who was on holiday or under the weather, much of the time. Where there was a vacancy, this was soon filled by a member of the bar staff.
I would have thought they should have seen my form and released me to a life of chronicling and fiction, never to hurl a pink rubber ball again.
Sadly, their desperation to fill the gap in the team was such that I played more than anyone else in the league, and never allowed such extensive practise to improve my ability one iota. I managed to hit the Chairman once. Not a single pin, but I caught the ankle of a well-proportioned Scotsman.
Most of the time, I was called out from behind the bar in between pints. Only one of the team captains bothered to phone me before the shift. At the time, we were speaking. Not so much these days. However, it was helpful to be told.
I was studying to be an electrician around that time, and one of my voluntary brothers decided to have a laugh with the skittler who used to call me up.
He made a picture in his mind and then derided the skittler for not showing up at the Club on a Tuesday. The skittler was confused; he had never been to the Club on a Tuesday, why that week should be any different made no sense.
My volunteer brother told him that he had missed a visual treat, that I had been to some electrical conference and had returned to the Legion in full makeup, fishnet stockings, leather bustiere and a skirt that more closely resembled a serviette.
I can think of little in the world that would compel me to wear a skirt. I have never had the figure for it, and when I wear makeup, I give the impression of somewhere between prostitute and clown. Still, the skittler fell for it and they all had a giggle at his expense.
Unfortunately for my voluntary brother, he wound up telling the story so many times that he convinced himself that it had actually happened.
It can be tricky to live down an outfit that only ever existed in someone else’s brain.
All the players chipped in a couple of quid per session, and this went towards the self-catering (usually cheese and biscuits) and a prize pot for the end of the season.
The prize pot paid for a round of drinks for all the skittle players, and a trophy the size of a generous thimble for the winning team. I suspect the chap running it actually paid in more than anyone else because there was no space for profit.
Among the accountants, weathermen and computer programmers in their matching and embroidered t-shirts, was a group of just-barely-teenage skittles players. They were among the best players in the league, they were sponsored by a nearby estate agent, and now they’re all old enough to drink. To a certain extent.
When Aimée arrived at the Club, a couple of the former skittle boys had evolved into twenty year old shot slingers. Sour shots and jägermeister tended to be among their favourites.
And then they saw Aimée, all sculpted eyeliner and skinny-fit jeans. She was in training, so the boys paid no attention to my presence behind the bar. I could have burnt to the ground and they wouldn’t have noticed.
Aimée is many things, but she certainly is not stupid. As the boys played with their designer collars and fiddled with their fringes in the large mirrors behind the bar, she changed optics and cleaned glasses.
They spent the evening buying her drinks and exercising their best chat-up lines. It was all profit for the bar and, not being a drinker, that night kept her in wine for the better part of a fortnight.
Towards the end of the evening, one of the lads plucked up the courage to ask if she was seeing anyone. Rather late, in my opinion, but there it is. Aimée answered that, indeed, she was seeing me. Thus ensued much awkward laughter, until he realised she was serious.
“But she’s so.. old!” he cried.
I was standing right there.
“I know your mother,” I began, “and I’m pretty sure I’ve met your girlfriend, so maybe just leave it there.”
After a momentary wandering, the winter skittlers returned to the Clubhouse when their local pub closed, and we acquired a caterer. On a shoestring budget, she can roast a potato and whip up dozens of pasties like nobody’s business.
We’re pleased to have the skittlers back. Every one of them can drink their weight in cider and among their number is a quizmaster.