A Conversation for West Country Skittles, England, UK
Devil amongst the Tailors.
Array Started conversation Jun 15, 2009
A good entry, and takes me back to my youth, drinking in Kent village pubs, where some had a skittle alley running down one side of the public bar. They had wooden floors, and a wall seperating the players from the drinkers. The 'ball' was a disc (?) of wood similar to that used in green bowling woods. The end wall would also be wood, so it was a very noisy game.
The other was table-top skittles, which I have a set somewhere. This consists of nine skittles (known in my area as pins) which have a hole drilled in the base, and a string inserted. The strings are pushed through holes in the base of the board, in the shape of a diamond. All the strings are joined together to make one single thread. The reason will become clear shortly.
To one side is a long upright pole, supporting a chain or thread, from which is suspended a wooden ball. The length of the chain/thread is just sufficient to make content with the furthest skittle. The chain/thread must be attached to the pole in such a way as to allow a full 360 swing, so potentially preventing it wrapping itself around the pole, which can still happen.
The objective is to swing the ball in a preferred manner to knock down all the pins on the first attempt. There are three attempts permissable. I cannot remember the scoring method. At the conclusion of three attempts, the string connecting all the pins is pulled, and they all erect themselves on their correc space. This prevents claims of cheating by not placing the pins in the right place. It also prevents them flying around the pub, which could be dangerous...
Btw, the alternative name of table or bar skittles, Devil amongst the Tailors, appears to have been taken from an historical event in London. It appears that, in 1783, there was a ntorious play being performed at the Theatre Royal, Haymarket. The tailors took great exception to this play (the play isn't named) and created a riot. The Dragoons (light mouned cavalry) were summoned and laid into the mob. To many onlookers, it appeared that they attacked he mob with such zeal and relish, as to be similar to a ball knocking down skittles,and so the name stuck, the ball being the devil, representing the Dragoons, and the skittles or pins, representing the tailors.
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