Today was Finals Day at Mr B's Bowls Club, with four gallant ladies battling it out in the Ladies Pairs Final to be the first ever winners of the Frank Ball Memorial Cup. Frank Ball was Mr B's much-loved
Dad and we were presenting the cups in his memory. Better still, we had Jack and Hazel with us to help us "do the honours."
Let me tell you a bit about Frank Ball. He was a very little
man, not much more than 5 feet tall, but what he lacked in height, he more than made up for in his sheer joy of living. The life and soul of any party, that was my lovely father-in-law. One of my favourite memories was at a family
"do" when he waltzed over to a woman at a nearby table, pulling her to her feet and dancing her round the room in an extravagantly over-the-top version of the polka. At the end of the dance, he escorted his breathless partner back to her
table, a gentleman to the last, planting a smacker of a kiss on her cheek, before returning to his place with us.
"Who was that, Dad?" we asked. "Aunt Cissie," he replied, with complete certainty.
We had to break it to him gently that Aunt Cissie was sitting at a quite different table in a far corner of the room, and that the dance partner whom he had treated with such warm familiarity, was, in fact, a complete stranger. He was
quite unfazed. His mystery partner, I imagine, would have been all of a twitter...
When his wife died, bowls came to Frank's rescue, providing him with the warmth and companionship
he craved. We have a great photograph of him on a bowls trip to Austria - the only man on the coach, a small, bronze ball of a man (if you'll excuse the pun), surrounded by what appears to be an adoring harem of lady bowlers. And every year
he came down to stay with us, to watch the English Bowls Tournament, returning at the end of each day to regale us, not only with tales of the championship games, but also hilarious accounts of how he had chatted up the landlady of the Royal
Oak, where he went for his lunchtime pie-and-a-pint.
Everyone loved him. And we were so very pleased that Jack and Hazel were able to join us today in presenting these cups in memory
of a great-grandfather they never knew - but would undoubtedly have adored.