Bowling on the NHS?

Following on the from my blog about the Hampden Bowling Club and their pre-eminent position as custodians of the world’s most important square of grass, I am keen to open a second front in defence of one of the triumvirate of great Scottish games that have been given to the world. To many, bowls is a merely a sport. A game which can be played, in order that a moderate amount of exercise may be taken. And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where an egregious error is being committed. Many things weaved into the fabric of human society, have unintended consequences. We may think we can predict the outcome of anything that any human does, but we are incorrect.

I feel that we are missing a trick, in our keenness to ensure that people remain healthy and happy for as long as they are alive. The answer lies not in pills and potions, but in bowls and club pavilions. If there was a thread running through my observations of the start of the bowls season, it was a golden skein of simple happiness. At Hampden on that shining Saturday, friends greeted one another with pure warmth and laughter ran through the clubhouse, as the first tea and buns of the season was celebrated.

Note that I have not mentioned the game itself, for it is the gregarious nature of the club itself which underpins the beautiful benefits of the lawn game. It was clear that many members had been looking forward to this day for some time. 2015 had seemed to have provided nothing but rain, in the minds of us all. It was clear that many of the fifty-five members and their guests were there to imbibe the milk of human kindness. Their bodies were now unable to cope with the gentle demands of a reasonable sport, but they were bowlers all the same. Bowls gave them a reason to get up in the morning. It gave them a plan for the week. It gave them someone to talk to, in a life that infirmity and the death of loved ones had rendered solitary.

If I was in the Scottish Government, instead of prescriptions for people who were on the edge of giving up on life, I would pay the membership fees to their local bowling club. If I was a GP, the condition would be that my patients took their medicine at least three times a week. The minute the sun was over the clubhouse roof, I would be telling them to get out of the house and parked on a bench by the green. There, they could soak up the rays and engage in banter with their new pals in the community. The financial injection would save many clubs from closure and bring warmth to the lives of those, for whom a free prescription will never cure what ails them.

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