From my visit to 1st bowl Newcastle (part of the MFA bowl franchise), I can only assume it is called 1st bowl because it was the 1st ever bowling alley, as it is definitely not due to it being anyone's first choice of bowling alley.
After a long week in theatre, my colorectal brothers and cardiothoracic sisters wanted to wind down and relax. With no zoo avaliable bar the animals residing in the Byker estate, bowling seemed a good choice of activity to help us take our minds off scalpel slips that had plagued the week gone. A quick google search flagged up the nearest polished laminated lanes to reside in the establishment 'MFA 1st bowl', a short taxi ride away.
The taxi company (LA taxis) much have selected the taxi in accordance to the dump we were about to arrive at. The driver was a funny little chap, who could be quite easily likened to an angry badger who had spent the past few days in a coalmine. The cab smelt rancid and selection of poor quality cheeses decorated the tired leather seats.
After a short cab ride we parked up next to some run down limousines and jumped out at our destination. The exterior of the building caused ill feeling to pollute the air that surrounded the group, concerns were raised:
Colorectal sister - "this looks like a scene from a zombie apocalypse"
Cardiothoracic sister - "Silence is upon us, where is the laughter of children that should fill this vacant air?!"
I did my best to put their minds at ease and suggested entering the weathered shell that was once a place of happiness.
We set foot inside, the carpet was so worn it could only be described as balding. Posters advertising special bowling nights from the 70's hung limply from the dusty walls. A few amusements were scattered around the foyer, the large majority out of order. The chap behind the desk looked about as happy to be there as I was, his cheap perfume was overpowered by the smell of the buckfast he'd drank the previous evening, and every evening previous to that one. He did however greet us politely and five pounds for 3 games, great value...so we thought. The shoes provided possessed more holes than colander, and in my case they were not the holes to thread the shoe laces, because I was provided with velco shoes, yes velco shoes. I couldn't contain the embarrassment, as the cardiothoracic sisters who had once flirted with me, stood and laughed hurling abuse such as 'Mongaloid feet' and 'Clumsy thumbs'.
We entered our details in the lane 14 computer and the bowling began. It was running smoothly and 3 of 6 of us had bowled. Sister number four set her self, approached the lane and sent a spinner taking out pins 2,3,5,6,8 and 9. The mechanical beast in charge of pin crowd control, picked up the 4 remaining pins and the barrier swept away those that had been dispatched. One pin unexpectedly dropped from it's grasp, like a woman overburdened with bags after a long day at the metrocenter. Another dropped. The barrier then came down, sweeping back and forth, more pins dropped, the beast was out of control! After 5 minutes of mayhem and much distress, we decided to inform our friend on the desk that there was a problem, which was quickly resolved by moving us to the adjacent lane.
Thirty minutes in and I had championed the opening game. Local families were singing my name, my colleagues were buying me drinks, offering to sacrifice their dignity by swapping shoes, just to get closer to a true champion. The celebrity status went to my head, a rush of arrogance and cockiness was to be downfall. Trick shot after trick shot failed to make strikes or even spares, my colleagues were pulling away. I had a shot that could change the course of the game, one pin remained on my second bowl, a spare here could see me back in contention. I bowled a medium weighted ball at a steady speed, as it approached the business end of the alley, I could see it was heading for empty space. Thinking on my feet, I grabbed a light ball from the rack and wanged it full pace, it was heading straight for glory. A split second before it could reach the pins, the barrier closed the passage, like Moses sending the red sea crashing down on the pursuing Egyptians. SMASH. The ball hit the barrier at such velocity it became wedged, the barrier looked bossed. The families who once sang my name, hurled abuse at me from two lanes down, 'YOU BLOODY IDIOT' they cried. My head was in my hands, had I broken it? Will I be charged?
Five minutes had passed, sweat pooled on the floor beneath me. My sisters of surgery gave me a wide berth, ashamed to be in the same run down alley as me. Just as I had given up hope, as if by a miracle, an angel (engineer) dropped down at the other end of the lane. Five further minutes he spent with his ratchet and spanner tirelessly working on saving the barrier, hearts were in mouths. It moved, abit slower and at more of an angle than before, but it was alive. The game went on!
After finishing all three games and only winning the first, it was time to leave. After sharing finger cavities with many of tyneside's less desirable residents, we needed to attend to hand hygiene, ASAP. I rushed to the toilet, extending my hand onto the door, smack, my elbow jarred. The door was locked! I asked at the desk and they explained a code was needed to use the toilets, which we were provided with. This seemed a very odd way of doing things, but judging by the surrounding neighborhood, it was a very tactical on site drugs prevention system.
All in all, the alley needs a good make over or more practically, a wrecking ball. The decor was dated, the machinery tiring and the staff needed a clean break. For what it's worth the price was good, but I doubt us surgeons will frequent again.
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