Thursday, September 2, 2010

Green with Envy

When I was five, each Friday evening my mother would drive to the local bowls club and pick up my father. They’d hang around and laugh and have a few crisp drinks of ice cold (and horrible tasting) beer and my brother and I would be given full access to wander around the bowls club. The only rules were...

  • Don’t leave the bowls club grounds.
  • Don’t step onto the bowling green. The bowling green is the most important part of the bowls club. It is not for silly games. Never, EVER stand on it.

This gave an enormous amount of freedom and yet our favourite game was always to walk around the very edge of the green, not quite falling into the trim, manicured grass. One step from danger. The grass looked like uniformed army cadets. Measured, straight and carefully groomed. Once a week they’d be pressed.



None of these taste any good to a five year old.

When the sun went down we’d explore every corner of the interior but the thing that fascinated me was the ceilings. The club had that off-white puffy surface that kind of looked like sprayed on concrete and kind of looked like marshmallow. It appeared to be specially designed to absorb the sick, sticky cigarette smoke that climbed the walls and nested above us.

I’d stare up at that texture befuddled by how anyone could find out what it felt like. It looked alluring. It looked like the sort of surface that could hold you, absorb you and nurture you.

Eventually, many years later, I found a similar texture on a low ceiling. What once seemed far away was finally within reach. I hesitantly reached out and pushed into the marshmallow surface, but it was rock hard.

And slightly sticky.

Today I stopped off at the old bowls club. The building is still occasionally used by a bridge club but the greens have fallen into disrepair. The blades of grass claw upwards like rebellious, leather jacket wearing bikers. Bristly weeds dot the field.

I stopped at the edge and looked out into the ruins of the forbidden green. I guiltily looked around, then walked out into the centre.

Forget your motorbikes. Forget your leather jackets.

I stand on the grass.

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