The savage and the tender,
Some social join, in leagues combine,
Some solitary wander …“
In the end I’m glad I couldn’t get the BBC commentary last night; something to do with a badly-spelt URL. Local TV was showing a re-run of Liverpool v Man. Utd. And the reception was lousy so I went to bed and wrestled with dreams.
I can’t say that being partisan has turned me against the pampered bunch of Mercedes-driving ‘stars’, or with the sense that ‘when I were a lad’ I could have played better.
However, I daresay I could still take them on at some sports. Perhaps not Swamp Soccer which is played on a genuine, wet Finnish bog, but I have excelled at some of the following team sports.
Stoolball is a possible forerunner of cricket, rounders and its offshoot, baseball. Originally recorded as being played in North Wiltshire, North Gloucestershire and near Bath in 1671, it now has a national association with rules.
There are regional variations of this bat and ball game, such as Bat and Trap, Nipsy and Knur and Spell.
Perhaps the oldest game which I have an affinity with, though not because Jakartass is particularly venerable, is Ringing The Bull which, although first recorded in 1838, was probably taken to England by early crusaders.
This is an indoor game the aim of which is to swing a metal ring which is dangled from the ceiling on a rope, onto a metal hook on the wall. Originally, the hook was a bull’s horn. Quite often the hook is embedded in the nose of the head of a bull on the wall.
Bar Billiards is another sport which has early roots, though no-one seems quite sure about the where or when. Skittles guard holes in which one attempts to pot balls. It is still played in Southern England pubs, although the emergence of American 8-ball pool has led to a steady decline.
Jakartass is not enamoured of this new-fangled game with its crass commercialism and large pockets, and neither has been The Reveller (scroll down). In Indonesia, pool is known by the locals as Billyard. Unfortunately, this is not the real game requiring a zen-like concentration which was taken to North America by the Spaniards in 1565.
The closest game played here is Carom which is also played in the UK. This game is played on a board like a small square snooker table made of wood with pockets in each corner. On the board are nine black disks, nine white disks, one red Queen disk and one larger white Striker. Players flick the Striker from their side of the board in an effort to get their own colour disks into the pockets.
My Brit readers may be reminded of the game Shove Ha’penny. The name obviously dates the game to the pre-decimalisation era. So what’s the game called now? Shove quidcoin?
Carombole, or Carom Billiards, is, I believe, the game which links the pub going pool playing idlers with the unemployed carom playing idlers. The latter can’t afford waist-coats.
I also rarely wear a waistcoat, so, in the immortal but slightly mangled words of Rabby Burns, I must be a solitary joiner. Why else would I, like Inspector Sands, continue to support Charlton?