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South West: Afternoon Skittles at Salcombe YC
17th November 2018 @ 12:00 pm
The WOA SW group lunch and skittles event took place at the Salcombe Yacht Club on the 17th of November. Having left it a bit too close to the wire when committing, I was pleasantly surprised when, clearly forgiven, the “Organiser” (Phil Loynes) dropped me an email offering me a lift. How very kind, I thought, and what a pleasure not to have to drive oneself for a change. We hadn’t long left Crafthole when my nowadays sub standard hearing, picked up something about finding somebody to write the event up for the magazine. At 40 mph it was probably too late to exit the vehicle and I realised that I was about to pay for my tardiness. The tone of the discussion left me in no doubt that no amount of wriggling would get me out of it so here it is.
For those who have never been to the Salcombe Yacht Club, it is set in a genuinely spectacular location half way up the hill on the west side of the mouth of the Kingsbridge Estuary with views across the Bar and out into the Channel. We were fortunate to have the full benefit of the lovely autumn weather and excellent visibility as we mustered in the yacht club bar for a couple of drinks before lunch. Thirteen of us sat down to fish pie or lasagne plus what can only be regarded as a mountain of French Fries, and if it were possible, even more peas – I mean really more peas.
After what was a very pleasant lunch, we moved on to the main event. The skittles alley was a temporary fixture laid out in what I assume to have been the main dining room cleared for the action. The base being very cleverly made up of sections that were locked together with some form of gully rigged along the side for the return of the balls. A little disconcerting was the temporary padding set up at the business end of the alley consisting of upholstered sections requisitioned from a sofa. I thought that this was a bit over the top but inevitably; I was to be proved wrong. We were organised into two teams with Jonathan (Sally & Phil’s son) in the unenviable position of having to play for both “Pageant” and “Windrush” to even up the numbers, thereby taking flak from both sides no matter what he did.
So the games commenced. Two teams of overfed, sluggish and mature individuals playing a nice gentle game of skittles. What could possibly go wrong!
Firstly, those who venture to sea are a hardy breed and when cornered, demonstrate a ferocity and competitiveness that is remarkable, if not astonishing, whilst feigning an air of calmness and difference. In Jim’s case, temporarily dispensing with his crutch after a recent knee injury!! The balls were being whipped down the alley at a force and speed that would have made Nelson’s gunners proud. The comparison did not end there as I quickly discovered why the padding was required without which, the splinters from the glass and wood as the balls struck the superstructure would have been at least as devastating as the flying shards of Oak from HMS VICTORY at Trafalgar. As the afternoon wore on, people were looking more and more nervous as they tottered to the skittles end to take their turn in setting up and returning the balls, they being directly in the line of fire. Great credit must go to Sue, who not only manned (if that’s not politically incorrect) her post at the scoreboard, again, also in the line of fire throughout but still managed to do the sums using neither her fingers nor calculator – what stoicism. Ultimately, “Pageant” just shaded it, which spoke more for their calmness under bombardment than any skill at skittles.
After a short break and discussion, it was decided that we hadn’t quite had enough and opted for a game of Killer, which involved everyone taking it in turns with skittles not being replaced unless they had all been knocked down with people dropping out when they had missed completely two times. This was obviously considered to be a bit tame by some so a kitty was created with each putting in the princely sum of 20p (Total £2.60!) to add a bit of edge. Did I mention competitiveness? Well as we dropped out one by one it was clear that the “Organiser’s wife” was heading towards scooping the jackpot although John was giving her a run for her money until at the penultimate round, the eagle eyed “Organiser’s wife” spotted a foot infringement by her opponent and swept to victory after mounting an objection. The rest of us suffering from PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and devoid of energy after dodging flying balls were incapable of calling for a TMO (Television Match Official) Review and rather meekly accepted the result.
Seriously though, for those who couldn’t make it, you missed some good food and a lovely afternoon in a beautiful setting with excellent company. And finally, as someone who has done his share of organising and collecting money, our thanks to Phil for his perseverance in making the event happen, generally taking charge and ensuring it’s smooth efficiency. I’m sure everyone very much appreciated it.