"You know you can have the bumpers up, don`t you?" says the maintenance man on his way back from beyond the pins.
"No need, thank you!" say I brightly, hoping he gets hit by a twenty-pounder.
I look up at the score board defiantly. We`ve just finished our first game and out of a maximum of 300, I`ve managed to score 28.
A dazzling record of which I`m proud - no-one else has come Near!
I might point out here that we haven`t touched a bowling ball for two months… during summer school holidays the alleys are best left to zillions of gifted and hyper-excited children. (Particularly since they added LaserThwackBattleFun to the superbowl centre). (With Lasers).
Of course we four have missed the thrill; we`ve been playing together for two years now and our enthusiasm has brought us very close; though it`s usually me winning The Flaming Ball, the simple hilarity of the game means it`s always a Fun and Good-Natured test of skill.
What a delight it was to push open those gleaming doors again and enter the reception, misty-eyed as we gazed once more upon the table football tables, the virtual car rides and the YouCanBe-Rambo Experience.
Aah, those Mechanical Arm machines where you can win a ghastly Thing of Plastic (or a fluffy Meerkat for the dextrous). The place pulsates!
We go through to the lanes clutching our vouchers for a free non-alcoholic beverage at half-time... Then begins the FindaBall ritual.
George likes a Fourteen-pounder despite semi-dislocation of shoulder. Bill and Ella both take a Ten-pounder, (having gone so far as to acquire their own), and I wander despondently about the racks searching for an Eight.
Which are usually orange and taken by a child who should be back at School, or by a fleet of regulars whose championship started three minutes ago and whose aisles are lined with all the orange balls.
The first fling is Thrilling – will the ball make it all the way down the lane or will it smash into the floor and just stop three feet away; will it ricochet from bumper to bumper and finally have a touch and go tussle with one pin…
(Not that we often bumper-up of course) - we win or lose by Pure Skill.
Is it gaining this sporty new skill that makes Bowling so beam-inducing? Yes... but there`s the camaraderie too, the gleeful collective astonishment of an actual Strike and above all, with the autumn chill drawing hordes of lunchtime spectators, nothing beats the Roar of the Crowd from the gallery.