Not really. Not really at all. But as I am fascinated by the idea of London Skittles I can dream. I am fascinated by skittles, I think, as a pub game primarily because of the act of throwing a fairly heavy weight accompanies the act of drinking beer. We don't do that much anymore. We really don't know that we as a culture did. We roll things or poke at them with sticks but have largely given up hurling large objects around. Except for a few:
The game thrived in the 1930s, when hundreds of alleys could be found in Edwardian London; but tonight just six players represent the core of the capital's only active team. "It's one of those things that has almost died out, but no-one's even noticed, have they," says Paul Robinson, a software developer. Not that he's downcast: in the three decades he's been playing, "it's always seemed like it's dying out." And yet it hasn't, not quite. The hard core who keep it going play by lobbing a wooden disk, the size of a dinner plate but much heavier and known as a cheese (hence the cry), onto a rough diamond (wooden, again) bearing nine pins made, predictably enough, from wood.
The cry? "Good Cheese!" of course.
Knut forwarded me this story a few days ago and ever since I have been puzzled. See, as the game is preserved on only a few pubs elsewhere, I can't play. Yet if Knut and I lived roughly similarly both longitudinally and latitudinally as opposed to just the latter, we may well play the odd match of London Skittles but geography means we never will. That's the puzzle. Surely there is an answer to this. Surely a series of web cams could be set up in good pubs throughout the globe and people might play London Skittles remotely from each other but still against each other. It's not like anyone plays defense in London Skittles. No one jumps in the way of a cheese mid-flight. A world-wide IT-based skittle league composed of singles or teams playing one side of a game in a basement under the steady watch of an electronic eye broadcasting the match to their opponents several time zones away. Wouldn't that make life better?