From Chapter 12:

Sex and Bowls and Rock and Roll: published by HarperCollins UK. Available from Amazon, Waterstone’s and all good bookshops.

Here’s a very short excerpt:

Bowls works because the woods aren’t perfectly round.

As they’re not perfectly round, they travel in an arc rather than a straight line. This is the ‘bias’ of the wood – the shape and weight distribution that allows you to sneak behind, between and amongst things, to bypass short woods, to approach the cott in different directions. Some are heavily biased so they swing in dramatically at the finish; others follow a more gentle and predictable curve. The manufacturers have mathematical diagrams on their websites to help purchasers choose what’s right for them.

It’s a key part of the ritual of stepping up to bowl: foot on mat, stare at head, check bias. The manufacturer’s badge or logo is generally smaller on one side of the wood than the other – this indicates the direction in which your shot will swing.

Getting that bit wrong is not advised.

“Wrong bias!!! He’s got the wrong bias!!!” cries the opposing skipper, as my wood starts out on the left and continues that way, further and further hurtling away towards the next rink. I hang my head in humiliation and shame. Getting the wrong bias is something that happens about once a year, and has no parallel in any sport. It is a relentless, slow-motion embarrassment that causes the game to stop whilst people stand, hands on hips, smirking. Hit wicket, own goals, double faults – all over in a trice. Getting the wrong bias is slow death, like starting a four-minute song before realising that it’s in much too high a key for you and that there is a further octave leap in the final chorus coming up.

An elderly lady on the next rink scuttles over from their head to prevent my wood from crashing into their own game. She gives me a Look. Having crossed the markers that define a wood as out of bounds, mine is unceremonially and brutally rolled into the ditch.

“You get the wrong bias, Alex?” yells Glen from about 27 rinks away. His voice echoes around the green.

“Wrong bias?” asks Big Andy.

“Wrong bias,” I confirm.

“Drinks on you then, mate,” calls Nigel from the other end.

From ‘Sex and Bowls and Rock and Roll’ (HarperCollins publishers.) It explores one man’s inept attempts both to get to grips with the beautiful game and to work out how his life has led to the greens. Available at Amazon now (click here). The perfect gift for the bowls enthusiast in your life.

For more ordering options – including international sales – see the information on the right.

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