‘It’s an interesting linguistic conundrum, isn’t it?’ mused Cycle Girl, as she tried to balance a pint of Harveys, a score sheet, her bag and phone. The Harveys won, naturally – everything else slid to the floor.
‘What, the ambiguous status of the word “balls”?’ said DJ Mama, showing off a little by juggling four skittle balls.
‘It’s one of those words that’s innocent in some contexts, and rude in others.’
‘On such a premise was the entire flimsy edifice of Are You Being Served built,’ said Born and Bred Boy, who was playing for the other team. In the literal sense of the phrase.
‘There are a lot of words like that,’ continued Cycle Girl, ‘For example…’
‘That’s quite enough, thank you,’ said Grange Girl, who had only popped into the Grange gardens to complain about the noise but was now dragged against her will into our team.
‘It seems silly to make a fuss about balls,’ said Head Girl, ‘when here we are, playing with them.’
‘Fnar,’ said Aging Lad wearily. After more than forty years of laughing dutifully at double entendres he can’t stop now, even though he’d clearly like to. If there’s a gap where someone ought to say ‘fnar’ he can’t bear it to go unfilled (fnar.)
The stern but friendly Rotarians in the Control Caravan announced the line-up for the Ladies Tournament in which we were playing, despite Grange Girl’s insistence that the term “ladies” was offensive. Most of the other teams had names like the Haywards Heath Harriers or The Pretty Shoes. No other team had the honour of their name being censored.
‘And in lane seven, playing Pink & Perky…’
‘Fnar,’ sighed Aging Lad.
‘How did they get their name approved?’ asked Cycle Girl.
‘...playing Pink & Perky are Ladies With, uh, Appendages.’
‘I think that’s us.’
‘Flipping heck,’ said Sweary Mary. ‘Lucky we didn’t go with Pussy Posse.’
Aging Lad held up a sign that said ‘Fnar,’ and the game commenced.
‘Has anyone practised at all?’ asked Grange Girl, as we quickly came to realise that the true meaning of balls for us was round objects you miss skittles with. ‘Or ever played before?’
‘Crazy golf’s my sport,’ said DJ Mama, launching a ball whistling into the air and narrowly missing several spectators.
‘I practised in the garden with pebbles,’ said Cycle Girl, sending her ball so wide it went into the next lane and knocked over more of their skittles than she’d ever managed of ours.
Born and Bred Boy sauntered over. ‘Just scored fourteen,’ he said. ‘What’s your top score?’
‘Three,’ said Head Girl bitterly, trampling our score sheet into the mud.
‘Head is another of those words,’ said Cycle Girl.
‘So’s score,’ said Sweary Mary.
Born and Bred Boy picked up one of the balls we were using.
‘You know what the trouble is? Your balls aren’t heavy enough.’
‘Fnar,’ we all said cheerily.
Beth Miller, July 6th 2011. Published in VivaLewes.com. Photo by Alex Leith