My Great-Uncle, Fowler Beanland, was a crown green bowler. In his youth, he played bowls in his native Keighley, in his thirties he played bowls in Cumbria where he was working, and in his later years he returned to the crown greens of Yorkshire. He was also a great postcard collector and his collection of postcards and old photographs – the distinction between the two wasn’t as clear-cut a century ago as it is now – came eventually into my possession. He has marked this particular photograph as being taken in Devonshire Park in Keighley, and, as far as I can make out, it shows Fowler himself on the left of the group examining a complex arrangement of bowls to determine which is the closest to the jack.
Looking at the old photograph again, there was something about the almost statuesque arrangement of the group of players that stirred a memory. That memory was the statue of The Pétanque Player in Bond Court, Leeds. Pétanque, or boules, is closely related to bowls – and that isn’t the only close relationship. That Leeds statue was the work of my brother, Roger Burnett, another great nephew of Fowler Beanland.