There’s a fine line between curling and spieling

Gav – Pardon the Eruption – reprinted from County Voice
Haliburton Curling Club hosts twin clinics to launch 2010-11 season
Glen Smith with some finer points at the beginner clinic, Sept 25,2010.
By Terrance Gavan – Breast cancer Month
A full complement of 35-40 new curlers were introduced to the finer accoutrements and niceties of the roaring game last weekend at the Haliburton Curling Club.
   On Sunday about 30 intermediate club members attended a two hour refresher and skills session.
   Surely a sign that curling season is sweeping up fast.
   Indeed the Haliburton Curling Club’s league action slides outta’ the hack on Monday, Oct. 4.
   Curling. Hmm, how to place it in its proper perspective?
   It’s a Scottish invention that was never intended to usurp soccer on the world’s stage.
   No, the Scots – who also like to deep fry Mars bars in batter with fish and chip oil – would prefer that you refer to curling as something to pass the time while waiting for the frost to leave the cow pastures.

   When that happens they drop their corn brooms, grab a mashee, and niblick their way onto the mortared, sheep-dunged links that pass for golf courses in Scotland.
   Golf? That’s the Scots’ second sporting invention.
   Both sports have one thing in common.
   The tender capacity to lead even the most genteel of sportsmen into an apoplectic frenzy of hair-pulling, club and broom windmill tilts, and, in the case of Canadian curling young gun John ‘The-Bomb’ Morris, some capricious jaunts into the nadir of abject adjectivity (sic – okay he swears a lot).
   So these flimflammer Scottish pastimes can get under your skin.
   But before you jump to obvious conclusions.
   That can be a good thing.
   Lifetime sports that force you to walk gingerly, swing freely, sweep lovingly, limber carefully and shout like a banshee at the top of your lungs are good exercise.
   And as my doctor continues to impress upon me.
   Exercise is beneficial.
   Good for what ails ya’.
   And good for what might be sneakin’ up to ail ya’.
   I know. I’m old.
   I’m one frozen puddle – granite toe stub or crooked three wood release – from a hip replacement.
   And last Saturday, there I was, knee deep in a curling clinic, along with 35 other aspiring young and old and middle-tuned curlers, all looking for a cure to what ails us – curling wise.
   On Saturday (Sept 5) the Haliburton club had several OCA-approved instructors, and Hal Club senior members, on the ice for an a-b-c introductory guide to curling.
   Call it Curling 101. Call it quiet.
   As in real quiet. Too quiet.
   New curlers have not yet managed the finer points of the “roaring” game.
   Which is nice, because I managed to throw about 65 rocks last Saturday without once hearing the voice of my old men’s league skip Arturo Dawson asking me: “Are you even looking at my broom, Gav?”
   Never answer this query with: “Is that important?”
   Because apparently it is. It really. Really. Is. Important.
   To look at your skip’s broom. Ask Arturo.
   But back to the clinic.
   I was personally amazed at the progress made from an early morning first slides from the hack to a late afternoon game of three-on-three. The new curlers made gigantic leaps under the firm and patient guidance of the instructors.
   I learned curling on the rural Manitoba bonspiel circuit in towns like Ashern, Moosehorn, Selkirk and Beausejour.
   Here’s a hint.
   You don’t learn to curl at Manitoba fun spiels.
   You learn how to shout, buy the next round, pontificate on the relative merits of Jeff Stoughton v Kevin Martin, how to order a cab home, and how to throw takeout weight sliding from the hack while balancing a can of Club Beer on your head.
   You also learn how to write your name in the snow at the Charleswood Country Club in full view of the Lieutenant-Governor of the great province of Manitoba who is being honored for something or other in the main ballroom.
   The Honorable Pearl McGonigal was fairly impressed that all four of us – members of the U of Manitoba Arts-Farts Rink – managed the fine art of the upper case first character on a snowy, cold night in Charleswood back in 1984. Pearl was in charge of a province-wide literacy campaign at the time.
   I have long ago (March 20, 98) forsaken beer and shots, despite Pearl’s validating cheer of “well-spelled gentlemen … now, can my footman call you a cab?”
   And now, when I get to meet up with my old U of M skip, John at the annual Beausejour Bonspiel, I am responsible for driving half the village home after each draw.
   In curling terms I am known as the DDD. Designated Driving Dud. All because I will not play country music, which seems to be a mainstay of the drunk and teetering rural curling set.
   But we digress.
   These two Haliburton Curling Club clinics and the open ice times that the club reserved for members to practice this past week are a nice way to start a new season. They hope to make it an ongoing program.
   And curling?
   It really is a great way to while away the winter.
   Shout, sweep, scream and enjoy.
   Before you know it you’ll be breaking out those other Scottish inventions.
   For now though.
   Hurry Hard!
   For more info contact the curling club and head of new membership Bob MacNaull at 705-457-1872