Category Archives: That’s Life

The Father’s Day

This Sunday, the 18th of May 2017, will mark my first Father’s Day without being able to speak to my father. I’m still my father’s son, but he’s no longer here. The next twelve months will see a collection of experiences for me that will no longer include him. This is the first one.

In recent years I spoke with him less and less. I think I let the minutiae of everyday life get in the way of the important things. It didn’t happen all at once though, it was very gradual. I see now that one can let almost any eventuality occur if it happens slowly enough. I regret that now.

If you’re lucky, you are born into a family that planned for you, loved you, nurtured you and guided you to adulthood and beyond. Again, if you’re lucky, you will have your parents with you on your journey for most of the way. That’s me. I was that lucky. Looking back now I realize I always assumed that when the day finally arrived for me to say goodbye to one of my parents, I would be mature enough or grownup enough and as such, it would be less painful. 

The truth is though, I’m just mature enough and grownup enough not to show how painful it is. Nothing more.

My father was an introverted, playful and generous man. In these last few years, he dealt with illness compounding on illness in an uncomplaining, brave and steady way. He loved his family and always had a special place in his heart for his dogs who, as far back as I can remember, were treated as full siblings to my sister and I.

It wasn’t all perfect though, no family is. There were times that I clashed with my father. There were times when he had to be tough on me, to try teach me a life lesson, to break patterns of destructive or antisocial behavior that I was displaying. But it was done to try make me a person that could prosper in this world. There were times as a teenager that I would be brooding in my room, angry at everyone and everything, where I blamed and berated, said harsh things and felt misunderstood.

I wish I could go back and clamp my grownup hands over my adolescent mouth and whisper into my deaf ears…’be quiet now, say no more.’

That’s the life lesson though, isn’t it? Most of us are given a full measure of life and how we use it is largely up to us. The trick I think is to try to limit those moments that you may later regret. To check yourself.

This Father’s Day, my boys will no doubt burst into my room with open arm hugs and hand-made cards and will plant kisses on my cheeks. They will be loud and playful and carefree little creatures and will delight in the novelty of the day.

That will make it a little easier for me to resist the urge to call my Dad. A little easier deal with the absolute finality of the fact that I can’t speak to him anymore.

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The pool

Our journey to install a pool began some six years ago. At the time we were just moving into our newly renovated home and we had the option of getting the pool done at the same time. After much debate and seesaw decision making we eventually elected to wait a few years until our son, then about nine months old, was pool safe.

Eventually, we arrived at that magical point where our eldest was not only pool safe, but learning strokes and our youngest was proficient enough to plop in, make his way to the side of the pool and climb out on his own. So we found a pool company we liked the look of and submitted plans to the rubber stamp gods for approval. The first on the approval list being the home owners association that approves all building work done in the estate to make sure you don’t install a smurf windmill or build a replica of the Playboy Mansion grotto or indeed even commission a train station to be built on your property because you’re really into trains and have more money than sense. The approval process then moves to the local town council where someone presumably reviews the plan you’ve submitted in order to find a place on it where they may ‘ink’ it with the stamp they carry around with them for eight hours every working day. For this you wait two weeks – if the universe is aligned in your favour. Otherwise you wall till the day after hell has frozen over.

Once everything was approved, the pool guy arrived on site bright and early and his team broke ground with shovels and in just a matter of hours, there was a problem. A very large pipe had presented itself like a fossilized dinosaur leg running across the width of the pool. The pool guys dutifully dug around the pipe which was eventually left suspended over the pool like a tightrope while we tried to figure out what it was. What followed was a series of tests of every tap, toilet and shower inside and outside the house, followed by a gutter and storm water pipe test using the garden hose. Not a single drop appeared in the pipe – which was now sporting a rather handy new ventilation/window feature curtesy of one errant pickax swing.

Eventually we just cut the pipe and dropped the shell of the pool into the hole. The pipe and whatever it was initially designed to carry away was buried again and unless the fountain of youth suddenly explodes out of my new lawn at some point in the future, I’m going to assume the pipe was a dud. Big assumption, I know. Still, ignorance being bliss, I’m strangely ok with that.

After the shell went in, the builders began to fill the pool using our garden hose. Some twenty four thousand liters of filling as it turns out. The utility bill for this arrived at our house via hand delivery by the mayor riding in a horse-drawn carriage. Receiving a utility bill that size probably would have been ok if I had had something soothing to go with it like a steel cup full of moonshine or jelly tequila in a teapot or indeed even a harem of belly-dancers distracting me while I read the big numbers – but I had none of those things – instead I had a Rastafarian paver show up at my door to install the paving slabs around the pool.

He looked sleepy, but willing.

The initial round of paving went in around the pool over the course of a week or so but this was a less than perfect experience to paint it in the best possible light. At that point we were about two weeks into the pool process. Four weeks later and the paving had been done several times over in exactly the same way. It was as if the paver was using a Stone Age axe and chisel in lieu of a grinder and measuring his cuts using a joint. Each time we agreed with the artisan that if the cutting didn’t go well after the very first cut, he would stop and we’d reassess our next move. But somehow that message didn’t get through and we’d come home at the end of a day of paving to find more paving stones lying around in various states of decomposition and the paving looking more or less exactly the same as it had the previous day. All carefully cemented in place, just waiting to be earmarked for replacement accompanied by my rising blood pressure and indignation.

It should be noted that when I arrived home on those days, the pool guys had by then always made good their escape so there was never any chance of me bludgeoning one of them repeatedly with a stone axe crafted from one of the several hundred shards of sandstone scattered about my garden. Silver linings…

Then there would be a period of cooling off where nothing would happen and then the cycle would repeat itself in a Groundhog Day fashion. All the while, the pool was a dark green, thick as pea soup, swamp-like looking mess, filled with building rubble, all manner of sand and stone, one stray hessian sack, several thousand small and very dead insects and possibly a few hardy amphibious creatures. In a world without consequences it would probably also have hidden a body by this stage. In short, it was not very inviting for swimming in.

In addition to that, every day our boys would gather around the pool with us and ask the most pertinent question of all, “Can we swim now?”

The answer was of course always no, because the pool was not clean. One day, the little guy spotted the automatic pool cleaner, the Kreepy-Krauly as it is affectionately known in South Africa, sitting in its box on the patio and asked me what it was. I said, that is a pool cleaner my boy. He immediately rushed over to it and set about trying to open the box asking us why we couldn’t just unpack the cleaner and throw the bloody thing into the pool already.

Ok, so he didn’t say ‘bloody’. But the tone he used definitely indicated he meant to say it. This then was the very question I asked the pool guy. Can we just get this pool cleaned already so that my children can swim in it? I think I might have even quoted a favorite television show of mine; How hard can it be?

And so finally, Friday the 27th of November 2015, our journey was almost at an end. It was D-Day. The pool guy promised on his nether regions to be finished on this day. My children were wound to the snapping point and I suspect that if the pool had not been cleaned, I would have had to drop the boys off at the pool guy’s house so that he could deal with their very justified indignation. In the end though, the pool was cleaned and that evening, the minions lept into the clear blue, solar heated, water with all the abandon of water sprites.

I too was very keen to have it all done by that day. It had been a long winter and summer had officially arrived in my city so I was more than long overdue for my first swim of the season in the privacy of my own home. With the winter fat still clinging tenaciously to my midriff, I was not what one would call ‘beach ready’ so a private swim was definitely in order.

Also, swimming at home has the added benefit of not being restricted to a speedo which, let’s face it, is not going to look as fetching on me as it once might have and also not having to resort to boardshorts  which, at my size, weigh more than a sack full of garden gnomes when wet.

My first swim in the pool then was therefore, inevitably, ‘free willy’. Literally. Any neighbors looking in through the recently thinned out trees and shrubbery around the border of our property, would have been subjected to my awesome flabbiness covered in hair, in all of its dimpled, rolled and anemic pale glory.

And to that I say, voyeurs beware.


The danger zone

So now we live in a house where there is a danger zone. A zone which, when breached, results in anything below your knee being subject to an aggressive assault complete with growls, grunts, barks and bites. It extends from the front door, throughout the entire house. The zone excludes the upstairs study, because there is a baby gate in place there and it excludes the couches, chairs and beds (for now) because there is the small matter of legs being comprised almost entirely of paw and not nearly enough leg.

The puppy that patrols this zone is now well over ten kilos in weight and growing by the day. She seems to operate in cycles. There’s about an hour of frantic activity where the zone is patrolled looking for chewable artifacts. So that’s basically anything left lying about, including feet. The brown fluffy bear in the blog image is taking a hit because he wasn’t able to get on the bed in time. This phase of activity is followed by a cool down phase where she’s still alert, but not actively patrolling the zone probing it for points of weakness. She can however be coaxed into action by one filling the cat’s bowl with kibble or indeed by the cat simply making an appearance from the other dimension she hides herself in during the puppy’s activity cycles. Finally there is a genuine rest period where sleep decends on the little creature and her ears cover her face while she snores and chases the cat around in her dreams.

As an aside, I’m not sure she’s going to make much of a guard dog. Her nose is acutely sensitive and can smell food from anywhere on the property and in any tense. But her long flappy ears, which if frozen over could function like wings on a glider, seem to be quite effective at blocking out sounds. Especially those sounds uttered in high pitched voices screaming words like ‘No’, ‘Stop it’, ‘Bloody hell’, ‘Ow’, ‘Ouch’, ‘Dammit’ and ‘Outside’.

She has several of these cycles in a day and interposed with them are three separate feeding times. Aside from the opportunistic pillaging she does in the cat’s bowl, she gets around 200 grams of puppy science diet a day spread over three installments. She supplements that with other foods from a range of food groups like fluff from pillows or plush toys, the odd piece of Lego, slippers and wellingtons, the bases of couches and beds and of course anything that you happen to drop on the floor in her presence be it animal, vegetable or mineral.

We’ve managed to teach her to ‘sit’. Though really, on its own, that’s not such a prodigious skill for her to have learnt to execute on command. Sure she sits, but then the moment you break eye contact with her, she launches herself at your shoes, pants, socks, feet, shins, calves whatever. I think we should probably have started with ‘stay’ as the first command for her to learn. Hindsight being 20/20, that would have been infinitely more useful. We could then have, for instance put her in her bed, said ‘stay’ and then operated normally while we got on with supper, breakfast, dressing, showering etc.

Instead we find ourselves constantly warding her off with foot shakes and shrieks of ‘no’. Actually, I’m beginning to think she’s probably confused about her name at this point, we say it so often, it might as well be ‘no’. The little guys have taken to operating like they’re lost boys in Neverland. They dart from the safety of the couch to the table or bed. It’s almost as if they’re using happy thoughts and fairy dust to fly around the house.

Fortunately, night time is sleepy time and after supper, she usually settles in for the night and can be transferred to our bed with one quick comfort break detour outside on the way. Did I forget to mention she sleeps on our bed? Yes. In the mornings, we now have a mom and dad, two imps and a Bassett Hound all crammed into a queen-size bed. On the plus side, it is an extra-length bed, that I was tall enough to have warranted, but only my feet sleep comfortably. The rest of us are left with unenviable choices like, do I move the dog from a perpendicular position in the bed to a parallel one and run the risk of her waking up thinking playtime has just started, or do I vasbyt and endure the knots in my back and cramps in my legs. It’s a tough call sometimes.

Lately we’ve been palming her off onto the bed of the little guy who seems so have developed a special bond with her that not even the Mom (who is the main feeder) has. One night last week I found him sitting up in bed, at midnight, staring at her – she was snoring with her  ears over her face. I couldn’t quite figure out if he’d woken up to find her there and decided to watch her sleep or if he’d woken up to find her there and was waiting for her to leave. The little guy is somewhat mercurial in that way.

She is, in a word, Armageddon for the garden. Recently landscaped, our garden was slowly growing into itself much like a child growing into an outfit bought two sizes too big. Now there are patches off once pristine roll-on lawn that have huge trenches carved into them that could easily support another trench war the likes of WWI. Every single plant she exhumes is shredded and the pieces put on display on top of the pool cover (which incidentally she uses like a trampoline). She has a bottomless appetite for destruction of property. She’s a force of nature on the scale of say a tornado or a flash flood.

The dog has also, through no fault of her own, introduced a new problem we have to resolve – and soon. She’s been using the cat flap to get in and out of the house. This has been a boon to us but now she’s gotten so big the flap has been knocked off the door and what remains is a gaping hole through which the winter weather freely makes its way into our kitchen. This is not a superfine thing. To make matters worse, she hasn’t stopped growing yet and I’m quite sure that we’re going to come home one day to find her wedged in the door, indignantly barking at the world and then we’ll have to revert to a manual entry and egress system that will be far less convenient. One option is to make the hole bigger and get a new flap for it but that brings with it its own problems. The cat, for whom the flap was originally installed was never exactly brimming with the initiative required to actually open the flap on her own and I suspect will be much less inclined to do so going forward, if we install a larger flap. Leaving the flap open permanently doesn’t sound like such a great way to keep the house warm in winter either.

That said, to backpedal at this stage and try convince the dog she’s not in fact a human and belongs outside during the day (in a dog house if the weather is lousy) seems like a bridge too far given the whole ‘sleeps in the bed’ thing.

In a word….conundrum.


The forty three

And just like that, I’m forty three. Forty bloody three years old. I was twenty one the last time I looked and then there was work and marriage and children and I’m pretty sure I blinked a few times and attended a few parties and then all of a terrible sudden there was forty three.

Immediately, there are a number of questions that spring to mind. What happened to the hair on my head? Why do I suddenly see less of my feet and more of my belly?

Actually, on that subject, what the hell is going on with all the hair on my belly? It’s as if I’ve donned an organic chest armor that I’ve woven by hand over many moons in my man-cave. All the fibers cut to a uniform length. It’s almost plush. If you shaved it, and managed to keep it all together, you could wrap it around a hairless cat (Sphynx) and make it look quite normal. There’s even a grey patch.

Actually, the hair on my body in general is behaving oddly. I now have hair growing out of my ears. Yes, hair that I now need to clip daily so that it does not get mistaken for an organic new age hearing aid or a winter warmer version of Beats by Dr. Dre.

There is also a chilling amount of hair sprouting from my knuckles, so much so in fact that I’m beginning to have Robin Williams and Steve Carell related nightmares. If you know either of these characters, you’ll understand that the fear is real. And, you know, psychopaths have hairy hands. The future looks grim.

My eyebrows are doing something quite strange too where it seems that the once universal length limit imposed on individual eyebrows has somehow now been repealed. In the past, I never noticed any individual eyebrow exceeding more than a centimeter in length. Now not a week goes by that I don’t find a freakishly long specimen, five or six times the standard length, hidden amongst the other human hair like a bloody mutant on my forehead. I can check the entire crop today and won’t find a single one, but tomorrow morning there will be a six centimeter monster getting ready to colonize my face. 

My nose hair is also stepping slightly outside of the bounds of normal these days. When I look in there, it’s all dark and mysterious. Just as a nostril should be. Then every few days a stray nose hair will step out of line and extended beyond its prescribed boundary, refusing to get back behind the line. Naturally, I immediately pluck these strays but when they’re out, they’re always completely grey. Or it’s it clear like polar bear fur? Hard to say really. Somehow, between the plucking and the plucked, they change colour. It’s a mystery inside an enigma. It also makes my eyes water.

I think that there’s a point you reach as a man, in terms of hair growth and hair loss that once crossed, leaves you in the strange realm where people move to the other side of the street to avoid you. Where beach critters will try to embed themselves in your warm fur, if you happen to remove your shirt on a sunny day in the sand. Or indeed where birds try to pick at you for raw materials for a new nest and then possibly try to build it on your head.

Let me quickly qualify this post and say that I’m not having a mid-life crisis. I haven’t just gone out and bought a topless sports car, nor have I grown anything approximating a ponytail or any other kind of designer facial hair. I’m still married to my lovely wife and have not installed a girlfriend, a mistress, an earring or even a new tattoo. So, I’m completely normal in every way, I think, I’m just flummoxed at how quickly twenty two years has gone. That said, I’ll admit, I am getting a little panicky about all the hair.

Yes, these last two decades have flown by. There were days where time seemed to pass by so slowly that it felt like I was in charge of tracking how fast a glacier moved. As an aside, the fastest moving one is the Jakobshavn Glacier in Greenland that’s moving at about 1.4 meters an hour. If you’re a glacier, that’s pretty fast. If you’re a human, you’re probably beginning to grow moss and people in white coats are fitting you for your own white coat or sticking post-its on you. But I digress.

Then there were days where I blinked and a few years had disappeared before my eyes like Bruce Jenner’s masculinity. Insert your favorite simile here. Insert rants about the jab at Caitlyn here too.

As I collect my thoughts at the end of the day and stare at the ceiling awaiting the blanket of sleep to fall on my face, I’ll probably not be concerned with the twenty two year hop skip and jump in time that landed me at 43 years old.

No, I’ll probably be thinking about buying a universal hair trimming device with all the necessary attachments for all the crazy hair I’ve sprouted.


The blocking thing

I thought I’d prattle on a little today about what appears to be, on the surface at least, a rather odd phenomenon in our cyberculture; the practice of blocking people. Let us consider for a moment what it means to block someone on a social media site.

On Facebook, it means that the person you’ve blocked can no longer see you or anything that you do. You will simply disappear from their reality as if you’ve been swallowed whole by the universe. From time to time, they may see you appear as the nameless, faceless, Facebook head because a comment made by you has been shared by a friend you have in common, or because you’ve stumbled upon a message trail you once had with them, but that’s about it. Similar kinds of things happen on Twitter. There, you are un-clickable, un-discoverable and un-tweetable but tantalizingly still visible to them in tweets made by other people referencing your handle.

It is, as far as I can see, a really odd thing to want to do to someone though. You effectively put that person in a caste lower than a complete stranger who is not your friend and can’t see anything you post anyway. In point of fact, Charles Manson could see more about you on Facebook than someone you’ve blocked can and that’s assuming he’s not already your friend. Let’s face it, what else does Manson have to do all day except send out friend requests to potential ‘Manson Family’ members.

My question here is this is; is it really necessary to block someone? Wouldn’t simply unfriending them be enough? Just turn them back into a perfect stranger like the billion or so other Facebook users out there? Perhaps not. You see that way, you might still have to face them at some point online and eventually some thorny questions could be asked or inferred in a public space. Imagine crickets chirping while your avatar and theirs stare at each other, loudly, across the gulf of cyberspace in complete, uncomfortable silence. It would be like an entire puberty of awkwardness rolled into a single excruciating moment. One can actually imagine rather being in a proctologist’s office watching them make ready for your exam, with gloves and lubrication.

On the plus side, I imagine there are support groups popping up online that help people deal with the rejection or abandonment issues they now face as a result of being blocked. So, there are some silver linings. And I suppose I can see the attraction here. Blocking is a far cleaner process than unfriending. It’s like the difference between a wipe with a wet wipe and a wipe with toilet paper. Parents will know exactly what I mean.

Actually, once you get on board with blocking, it’s easy to want to take it to another level. I think we need a way to replicate this behaviour in real life. Imagine if we were able to carve people out of our real lives as easily as clicking Block This User. Wouldn’t that be the best thing since Nutella? I can think of a couple of relationships I’d like to do that with…

The tax man and I, for instance, would immediately cease to have anything to do with one another. Even my tweets would flutter past him carrying my money in their beaks as a I became a complete non entity in his eyes. How much did I earn last year? Um, blocked. What investments do I have? Please stare at my blank avatar while you wait for that information until the end of all things.

Another group of people up for immediate blocking would be any and all traffic police. Seriously, was there ever a group of people more richly deserving of being blocked by every road user on the planet than this lot? Imagine coasting past a traffic camera at a speed just a smidgen faster than the posted speed limit. Just, just, just fast enough to set off the camera which would then snap a picture of a ghost. Perhaps even a ghost extending an ethereal and semi-transparent middle finger. Not to say that I would do that.

Finally, I think I speak for everyone when I say that we would all block Barney. Not just from our daily lives but entirely from this and every other universe, from our collective memory, past and present. I’d like to do this for no other reason than when that song gets into my head, it’s stuck there for days like an earwig.

Yes, we should block him, spitroast him, eat him, dump him and wipe with a wet wipe when we’re done.

  


The while I was away

Been out of the country. Been on blog holiday. Expect new adventures to begin again on Monday. Stories from London aplenty…


The tiger woods

Golf lessons once a week form part of our eldest boys extra mural activities. I think the idea behind it was that he needed to learn some ball skills and really this is one of the lowest impact sports you can play. By that I mean you don’t see old golfers with cauliflower ears (rugby), false teeth (rugby, hockey), broken fingers (rugby, hockey, cricket) or diminished manhood due to diving for penalties (soccer/football). No, golf is definitely not the sort of game where you encounter these sorts of injuries to your person or persona.

Quite the opposite really. Golf is not a team sport (that is of course excluding team cup events like the Ruder Cup where the scores for your team are combined in a fashion). It is an entirely civilized game where there is no call for tackling or spitting or jumping (unless by jumping you refer to jumping over a small puddle or out of or indeed into a sand bunker). It is one of the fairest games out there that tries to level the playing field with the
handicap system. It is a young and an old mans game; in point of fact as a professional golfer, when your age begins to have an negative effect on your game, they simply move you into a different category of players called seniors and from there you simply start competing again against other professional golfers of your age. Finally, aside from the odd swear word that is uttered around the course when easy shots are botched, it is a very civilized game indeed, where there is organized clapping while fans watch you play a truly great shot. The professional golfer just seems to have an air about him/her that projects a regal sort of calm as if they are above anything petty. I very much like the idea of all of that.

Still, there are some areas for concern. One could argue that stratospheric success in this sport could bring out the worst of ones character. Tiger Woods was so used to winning and handing in perfect scorecards (that’s correct, in this sport they work on the honour system where you mark your own work honestly even if no-one is watching) that he became somewhat numb to the success and fame and riches (yes riches). Ultimately this spilled over a little into his personal life and he ended up making some very poor choices which eventually resulted in facial lacerations caused by a car accident that was in turn caused by an angry wife with a golf club. So not completely immune then to blood and pain.

And therein lies (virtually) the only rub. There is a club involved in this sport. Many clubs actually. Mostly made of steel and alloys and composite fibers and the like but all equally capable of knocking someone’s consciousness into next week if they are used against a head. Up to this point, my boy has been using a small plastic set of two clubs (a putter and a wedge of sorts). These clubs have been used, on more than one occasion, to dish out swift justice to younger brothers for perceived transgressions just for the hell of it (and visa versa). I shudder to think what will occur if and when these plastic clubs are ever traded for a set of metal ones. There will most certainly be broken bones and bruises, and tears.

I guess we’re talking about supervised play with the metal clubs until such time as the urge to take swipes at our younger brothers passes. I’m fairly confident we’ll have to say a phrase a little like the following at some point during the golfing experience, “No! Don’t hit your brother with that club!”

That said, even a battered brother would be willing to concede that a few bruises along the way to golf super stardom might be worth it in the end. Hang in there little brother. Finally, as long as there isn’t an extended period of time spent navigating the Tiger Woods of personal injury and disgrace, I am all for the sport.


The old mans game

Yesterday I played a game that I never thought I’d have the occasion or the inclination to play. It was a game of Boules or, as the variation I played is sometimes known, P├ętanque and not to put too fine a point on it, it is an old mans game.

There, said it.

In fact I think it would take nothing less than an act of banning all old men everywhere from playing this game and then having the ‘Biebs’ becoming a spokesperson and champion for the game to change its status in the world from marbles for ‘old guys’ to the sport of the cool. I expect this will happen about five minutes after all of the Jehovah’s Witnesses abandon the practice of proselytizing on weekends, burn all copies of The Watchtower, and retreat into their Kingdom Halls to lead secular lives of introspection and never interrupt anyone’s morning or afternoon sleep again.

Yes, said that too.

Boules (boule is the French word for ball) is a game of oddities. For instance, the pitch or court can really be any open area but in a more organized world you’ll play on a loose gravel pitch. So uneven terrain with stones or obstructions and the like are all part of the play. In contrast to this is the very James Bond looking metal case lined with cloth-covered depressions that house the Boules snugly. The Boules themselves are metal spheres weighing around 800 grams each and they are arranged in pairs that have matching markings on them. Each player (or team) will play with a pair of them. From a distance though they all look the same and I think that is intentional because it makes the game seem more mysterious than it actually is.

The object is the game I took part in was to get one or both of your Boules closer to the Jack than everyone else’s Boules. The Jack is a small sphere of about 30mm in diameter and is made of wood or sometimes a synthetic material. It is thrown first, once for each game. During play, you hold the Boule in your hand, palm facing down. You then raise your arm upwards and outwards in front of you in a swift fluid motion to the desired release position and let the Boule fly.

Actually the process looks a little like a mimicry of a fascist salute if you want the truth of it, but I’m not here to judge. Suffice to say it is quite an odd way to throw a ball.

Moving on; with each throw you can either ‘set’ the Boule by lofting it high and having it plop down into position close to the Jack or you can ‘point’ the Boule by releasing it lower and have it run along the ground, potentially knocking your opponents Boules out of the way. Exactly like a game of marbles. In the end, if your Boule is closest to the Jack once all the Boules have been thrown, you win that game.

A brand new set of these metal balls looks and feels quite futuristic or indeed even like something shot out of a modern day cannon. In fact, one almost gets the sense that you should be rolling them around on a velvet covered table inside of a secret club for old men while speaking in hushed tones and drinking expensive whiskey instead of hurling them onto a gravel covered playing field. Actually the very act of playing the game scuffs the spheres to the point where they resemble less a highly polished Rembrant and more an untidy scratched Picasso.

Moreover, our children were watching us play this game, lined up along the side of the course and I had a moment during play where it dawned on me that my sons from that moment onward, were forever going to think of the game as an old mans game because they watched me play it. Amidst all the lip biting and swears of frustration and wild swinging and waving of arms and high fives and fist pumping, we had managed to perpetuate a stereotype. There, right before our eyes, a new generation was being indoctrinated.

But there’s nothing really to be done about it, except perhaps that in order to make this a young mans game, we need to teach our children to play it and immediately ban everyone else from playing it, then we wait a generation.