The only job a Fourteen-year-old boy could get in the 80s

I can’t get on with the pub game skittles and there is very good reason why. Skittles, in case you don’t know is a nine-pin game that is played down an alley. It’s the forerunner of Ten-pin but it’s not as glamorise as that, which should tell you lots about it. It’s the kind of game that is usually played by middle aged pub goers. The teams are never mixed just men and women. They are then split into pub leagues. It has yet to grace the Olympics though that’s only a matter of time. My mother was a keen member of the Talbot Toppers, a viscous bunch of women determined to sweep all before them. That’s not true, they were just some ladies who wanted to get away form their husbands on Wednesday night. My role in this was the sticker upper. It was my first foray into the world of part time employment at the tender age of 14.

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The game of skittles is simple. You get three hard compound rubber balls to bowl and you have to knock over as many pins or skittles as you can. The ball is heavy, and some Bowling wrist support of the type found at  would be an idea to use. You do this over 9 legs and the team with the highest score wins. Sounds simple? Its surprisingly not. The gaps between the pins are larger than you think, and if you end up with one pin on one side and one on the other, or bedposts as it’s called your chances are limited. The one that annoyed my mother was King Pin. Before you could score you had to knock the front pin over. Nothing else counted if you hit it. Technically the maximum you can score is 21 but average is usually about 5. Consistence is the key. Most of this was lost on the ladies who just wanged the thing down the lane. You could tell they were disappointed by the fact they were spending a Wednesday night in pub rather than out at some glitzy do. Thrust a young naïve teenager, who looked older than his fourteen years (getting into 18 rated films was not an issue shall we say) and you could feel the anger increase. To be clear nothing happened, these were women in their middle 40’s and up plus my Mother cast a watchful eye and I was stuck up on end of the lane for the night anyway.

My role? Not that exciting I’m afraid. As the pins fell I have to leap up and kick the ones left spinning into the gutter at the back. When the three bowls were sent down I have to rearrange them. It was very dull and I couldn’t blag any booze because my mother was there. It did earn me a hefty 5 pounds a week though. It certainly kept me in Iron Maiden albums!

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