Looking for some old-fashioned community spirit? Join the club
PEOPLE over 50 often yearn for the communal yoke that used to bind their towns and suburbs together.
Whatever happened to community, they ponder?
“We had a sense of community back in those days.
“We knew our neighbours, we looked out for one another, we chewed the fat over the back fenc
“Now?? Now everyone is too busy on their bloody smartphones (more like dumb phones) and their blueberries and strawberries and their bloody Apple i whatevers”.
Now, community can only be found in history books, they moan, and in a cabinet in Hobart, next to the last Tasmanian tiger - and he’s stuffed! Just like society today, tsk.
OK, so these days we don’t sit around with our neighbours playing parlour games or listening to radio plays on the wireless.
But community isn’t dead.
It’s humming along beautifully at your local bowling club.
Every Thursday, for the past four months, some colleagues and I have been packing a bag with daggy shorts and comfy shoes and heading down Millswood for a leisurely session of Night Owls lawn bowling.
Ten bucks buys you the right to roll each week and a free run at the barbecue – ably manned by a rotating crew of volunteers, like the famous “Millswood Dave”, who also offer up their time to keep the greens tidy and the beers flowing over the bar.
But of course $10 buys you something much more valuable than a sausage in bread.
It buys you a share in a genuine community, with genuine characters.
Our group has gone head to head with teams like “The Ferals”, “Hell’s Carpet”, “The Esky’s”; a motley crew of landscapers, accountants, builders and retired teachers by day, deadly bowlers by night.
When all the games have been won and lost, teams retreat to the clubhouse try their luck in the weekly raffle over a pony of port, a glass of beer, a party pie or a roast lamb and pickle sandwich triangle.
The raffle, MC’d by the larrikin Brooke, rarely seen out of shorts, thongs and a noisy shirt, is a sacred ritual.
Each week, winning raffle holders are free to choose from a bounty of locally-donated goodies, fanned out on the pool table.
But the jewel in the crown is a whole raw chicken.
And each week, the tiny hall erupts with the same noisy admonition - “Take the chook!”
They don’t always heed the advice.
One week, Nathan went home with a box of bananas, while Cameron scored a framed painting he was assured was a “genuine Mozart”.
Looking for those kinds of thrills on a Thursday night? Join the club
This article was first published in The City magazine and on advertiser.com.au