Men And Their Bowls: An Ancient Tale

Updated: Sep 7, 2019

by Craven Arrs-Likka


Readers of this month's Unique Dorset Bowls are in for a treat. Well-accustomed as they are to a magazine which regularly offers subscribers the widest perspective on the game they know and love [from the latest on the Abbotsbury Ladies Over 60s touring team to the hot transfer gossip surrounding Yetminster's crack Premiere League Crown Green side], September's especially curated edition will, for the first time, take them deep into the history of their beloved sport. Author and special advisor Craven Ars-Licker has been drafted in to supplement the usual team of expert writers and he has set about fulfilling his daunting brief with the same deep knowledge and infectious enthusiasm that characterises all of his work; not least his recent exposé of Lord and Lady Garden's private domestic passions.


The cover of this month's historically-focused Unique Dorset Bowls depicts Gerald, Lord Garden in action for the Puncknowle Crown Green team.
The cover of this month's historically-focused Unique Dorset Bowls depicts Gerald, Lord Garden in action for the Puncknowle Crown Green team.

Many readers will, of course, know that bowls have played a significant part in any number of important historical events: that Sir Francis Drake fiddled with his whilst the Armada burned [its first two letters transposed, it was later rebuilt as a hotel chain]; that the Dauphin of France sent Henry V a fine set [NB CORRECTION: They were tennis balls [Ed]] and that the War of Jenkin's Bowls turned on a dead rubber. But how many know that the Pharaoh Tut'Ankhpiece was embalmed with his bowls and that when his mummified body was examined both were in near perfect condition [see pdf HERE]; that the ancient Sumatrans ritually cupped each other's bowls before anointing them with oils, or that the Bayeux tapestry depicts celibate monks at a loss to know what to do with theirs? It is in these arcane historical byways that the excellent Craven Ars-Likka, together with picture editor Hulton Picha-Galry, proves such a sure-footed guide. So sure-footed indeed that even the most historically-challenged reader will profit from his brilliant exposition and emerge better able to contextualise and evaluate their ongoing relationship with their own bowls. [SPOILER: I particularly enjoyed the insightful article by Bowls Philosopher Roger Scrotum - who knew that, in an act of cognitive foreplay, Archimedes wrestled with his bowls for several hours before turning attention to his screw?]


Dare we suggest that, with this very special edition now before us, in only one respect might the staff and readers of Unique Dorset Bowls be better served than at present? If so, we venture that a similar volume on the future of bowls - curated hopefully by the same brilliant team - would be wholeheartedly welcomed?


In the meantime, potential readers will want to know that this special edition contains all the usual Magazine features and latest bowls-related news as well as a comprehensive 2019-20 regional fixture list. Fans of Lady Garden are also well-catered for as she reveals all about her "organized" life with Gerald [as told exclusively to Craven Ars-Likka].


Unique Dorset Bowls' Gerald Lord Garden Feature HERE


The rich history of bowls and bowling is almost unrivalled amongst sports.  Men [and some women] have been  fascinated with their bowls since the dawn of time.  Here [CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT] an Egyptian 1 pin bowling alley stands empty whilst the Pharoah Tut'Ankhpiece admires a particularly weighty bowl; two monks admire the restraint with which their celibate brother is handling his bowls; Sir Francis Drake considering the proximity of his opponent's bowls; ancient Sumatrans embnrace as they admire each other's bowls. [Pictures courtesy Hulton Picha-Galry]
The rich history of bowls and bowling is almost unrivalled amongst sports. Men [and some women] have been fascinated by their bowls since the dawn of time. Here [CLOCKWISE FROM TOP LEFT] an Egyptian 1 Pin Bowling Alley stands empty [Valley of the Sports, Thebes] whilst the Pharaoh Tut'Ankhpiece admires a particularly weighty bowl; two monks admire the restraint with which their celibate brother is handling his bowls; Sir Francis Drake considering the unusual proximity of his opponent's bowls; ancient Sumatrans embrace as they admire each other's bowls [LEFT] before offering them up for inspection [right] . [Pictures courtesy Hulton Picha-Galry]

© Craven Ars-Likka. Craven Ars-Likka is a freelance journalist feeding off the backs of minor aristocrats and celebrities. A graduate of the University of Afpuddle, he gained a first class degree in English with Interior Design [£300; easy instalments available] and has since written for numerous magazines including: Ideal Gnomes, Unique Dorset Aristocrats, Unique Dorset Bowls, The Buckland Ripers Arts Monthly and Threadlines [The Theadbone Airways Inflight Magazine]. His most recent book - Blag Your Way Into People's Homes [And Even Get A Cup Of Tea!] - is published next month, though not, surprisingly, by the Threadbone Press.

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