I always love a good mystery.
It doesn’t have to involve a body, a la Miss Marple, in fact for preference no bodies
would be allowed, especially dead ones. I like mysteries to be perplexing, rather than painful.
Yesterday we arrived at the Keystone Centre, ready for our Short
Mat Bowls session at a fraction after 6 p.m. “We” in this instance means our good friends Bob and Val – and me. Mr B was nursing a bad back and, while he could have come along as a spectator, he clearly decided that three hours of watching
me trying to avoid hitting the annoying block of wood in the middle of the mat was rather less interesting than an evening in front of the TV.
Now here comes
the mystery – along with two of our usual mats, which were rolled up, as per normal, green side outermost, was a strange, manky looking mat, rolled up green side innermost. You didn’t need to be a detective to suss out that Someone Had Been
Tampering with the Equipment. Everyone gathered around (well, everyone who had arrived early to put the equipment out – we always arrive early on the basis that then we can go home at the close of play, leaving the late-comers to do the clearing
up. Fair’s fair, don’t you agree? ) As I said, everyone gathered round and started saying more or less the same thing over and over again.
not our mat.”
“No, for sure, that’s not our mat.”
“That mat is much thinner than our mat”
“So it is. That can’t be our mat then, can it?”
“No, that can’t be our mat.”
“Apart from anything else, it’s a different
colour green, I think...”
“So it is, you’re right. That can’t be our mat.”
Everyone nods sagely, in complete agreement that This Is Not Our Mat.
We unroll the mat along the floor of the hall. It is a
completely different make from the other two mats and a much darker green. It is also extremely thin and, when we try to bowl on it, more sluggish than a wet weekend.
“Why would anybody swap the mats over?” an enquiring voice chimes in. “Did they think we wouldn’t notice?”
tell it’s not our mat,” someone else agrees. There is a lot of nodding going on.
I sit and change out of my boots and into my beautiful grey bowling
shoes which Mr B bought me the Christmas before last. I may not be an ace Short Mat Bowler but I am always impeccably turned out. From my seat at the side of the hall, I can watch the faces of my fellow bowlers as they arrive for their evening
entertainment and catch sight of the strange mat.
“That’s not our mat!” they say, in turn.
“No, no,” we all say, ”that’s definitely not our mat....”
It’s a mystery that would stump
the brightest of detectives – especially as gathering evidence from our gang would be like drawing blood from a stone. The only firm fact of which any detective investigating this case could be completely sure was that this wasn’t our mat...
Leader, Our Leader (aka Reg) gives out the coloured pegs which denote which team we are in and which number we are playing. I am in green team and I am Number One. I am always
Number One. Or, at least, sometimes I am Number Two but only when there is no Number One. If you follow me.
Reg announces that the green team is playing the blue
team on the middle mat – the one that isn’t our mat. I just knew that would happen. The blue team wins the toss and it’s up to their Number One to decide who will bowl first. She looks at the mangy old mat which isn’t ours and tells
me, sweetly, that I can go first. I wonder why.
At the tea interval, the green team is trailing by 5 points to 14. Even our Skip, who is arguably the
best player in the club, is struggling. However, looking on the bright side, everything changes after tea – the green and blue teams will move onto another mat and we will be able to enjoy the spectacle of the silver and gold teams struggling to
come to terms with the mat which isn’t our mat.
So, there you are – thinking caps on, you would-be Maigrets and Marples. How did “our”
mat disappear and who has taken it? How did they manage to transport it, bulky as it is, out of the Keystone Centre without being seen by, at the very least, the Knit and Natter group who would doubtless have accosted them with their size 8 knitting needles
had they known that a heinous crime was being committed beneath their very noses. Where did the manky mat come from?
WHERE IS OUR MAT?!