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Many athletic pursuits claim status as “the sport of kings”, but for the lazy there’s one sport that takes the crown. Lawn bowls. Traditionally the domain of the retired – snowy-haired old ducks and elder gents with their shorts pulled up to their armpits – lawn bowls has enjoyed a renaissance among the young in recent years. A number of factors could account for this revival – the dapper all-white dress code, the popularity of the movie Crackerjack, clubs relaxing their previously draconian rules to attract a younger clientele. But mostly it would have to be down to the fact that uni students will always sniff out cheap drinks, and the prices at bowls clubs are straight out of the 1980s.

Bowls always held a special place in my heart. Dad’s promise as a footy player was cut short by injury, so he took up lawn bowls. He was the youngest club member by at least a decade or two, but embraced the sport with gusto. There is, after all, something rather zen about a sport you can play while holding a beer. As a result my sister and I spent quite a few childhood hours running around the St George bowls club high on “red drinks” and the acid fumes of salt-and-vinegar chips.

There’s something really calm and dignified about the expanses of lawn (don’t talk to me about the new, neon “supergrass” greens) and players doddering about all in white. Of course, some of that dignity evaporates when you head to a club like Toowong, deep in University of Queensland heartland. On Sunday my sister threw a surprise 25th birthday party there for her boyfriend, complete with themed cake:

It was a fantastic day out – the rain held off, everyone dressed up in op-shop finery, by the end of the night everyone was singing and dancing in the club-house. And it’s not every day you can buy drinks at the bar while wearing no shoes….

These are old as the hills (or, at least, my own uni days) but here are some haiku about lawn bowls:

Saturdays with dad
Softdrinks while he worked the bar
No shoes on the green.

Scolded by ladies
Sharp faces, white hats; great towers
Of varicose veins.

The men grew old
Pants pulled higher, more empty
Stools, pokies chirrup

Now I too wear white
With pride and cheap-drunk joy and
Only a little irony

Happy birthday Shed!

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