Bowling is a relatively marginalised recreational activity in the UK. One hesitates to call it a sport because it’s possible to get drunk while doing it.
Admittedly, if practised at a hopeless, novice amateur level it would just about be possible to get laggin’ while playing football, rugby, cricket, tennis, curling, jujitsu and many others. Competing in the 110-metre hurdles or hurling a javelin while supping from a toxic tin of Super T would surely take more impressive dexterity, but you get the gist.
In the US bowling tournaments are big events, where participating Septics can win enough to keep themselves in cheeseburgers and Oreos for at least half an hour.
Not all of our transatlantic cousins take the game of frantic frames and fancy jackets seriously. The Farrelly Brothers’ ‘Kingpin’ is perhaps the most underrated of the aforementioned sibling’s films but is a minor comedy classic and arguably responsible for the artistic rehabilitation of curmudgeonly comedy icon Bill Murray. Highly arguable, given that ‘Groundhog Day' came out the year before, but I digress.
‘Kingpin’, the occasional episode of The Simpsons and the odd scene in Peep Show notwithstanding, 'The Big Lebowski' provides the most hilarious and best fictional portrayal of bowling in the States.
This latter Coen Brothers’ cult fave screens on a loop above the pins at the end of five lanes at Bloomsbury Lanes.
A knowing and playful touch of irony which helps the WC1 joint stay a step ahead of competition such as the reliable Rowan’s Bowl in Finsbury Park and the down-at-heel Lewisham AFL in the league of London’s top alleys.
Bloomsbury has long been beloved of the now-not-quite-as-cool-as-they-used-to-be Shoreditch hordes because of its karaoke lounge (replete with thousands of retro and indie tunes) and occasional new band performances and this too is a boon.
It was somewhat unsettling to bowl two yards behind an avant-rock skinsman/guitarist cranked out Battles-esque experimental sounds at John Peel Day last night (Saturday 10 October).
The alley’s website lacks full information about our unknown man’s stage name, but this will be appearing here soon. I never met Peel but listened to his consistently interesting shows occasionally and got the impression he would have enjoyed and been invigorated by the music played in his name.
Many other patrons did and were, not least the staggering casualty who could barely speak coherently or walk two steps without spilling his recklessly-nursed bottles of Asahi…