THE TABLE TENNIS MENACE AND QUOITS QUIRKIES
Some people are competitive and they just can’t help it. It seems that something in their nature makes them that way. So when an innocent game of table tennis transforms into old people in sandals and socks belting table tennis balls at each other, you might be a little better prepared. You might laugh at the concept of being belted with a ping pong but it is a serious matter.
For those that don’t know: the game of table tennis involves the usage of small bats (paddles) and light-weight balls. Of course there is the table and a height-challenged net. Hence the name table tennis. I often wonder who came up with such an activity. I bet when the idea was conceived that the creator had no idea how a sweet old granny could turn into a table tennis hustler. There she was sweetly sitting beside the table tennis group doing a bit of crochet and then she ‘innocently’ offered to join in to make up the numbers. As soon as she lifted the ‘paddle’ you noticed her eyes transform from cute with crochet to bat-wielding-warrior-ess, oh and with a distinct assassin’s gaze. When she handled the ping and ponged the ball at unsuspecting players with venom, you knew the inner competitor had risen and she intended to win. A gentle and fun game became a competition of Olympic magnitude as the old chaps gathered together in support of one another. There is no way they were going to be ‘chicked’ by the crochet countess. What made it particularly attention-grabbing was the sudden appearance of sweat bands. During the leisurely game there were no such items; however, when the old dear got the guys going a sudden supply of sweat bands magically appeared.
So there we are: Mabel has mauled the manly mob with a ping pong ball and suddenly other ladies got wind (some have wind anyway) of the phenomenon taking place. The men lined up and were sent game after game with their tail between their legs. All the while the entertainment host tries to calm any hostilities. When the next loser crumbled he threw his ping pong paddle on the floor in the same way as John McEnroe because it should not be so ping pongyly serious! A fun game descended into a competitive catastrophe as Mabel mobilised all her skills and wiped the floor with her competitors. She took the prize and smiled with graceful delight and returned innocently to her crochet creation. Unfortunately, there was an exhausted array of old chappy carnage dotted about the deck. In the end someone asked Mabel if she had played before. She smiled sweetly, oh yes – I used to compete for the British team. A beautiful moment for the onlookers, those jammed in the Jacuzzi and others who were stuffing their face with food from the grill making it their tenth meal of the day.
In the meantime, deck quoits usually had quite a turn out. It seemed that during days at sea the quoiters increased in numbers. Maybe a weird type of quoiting cloning was going on in the cabins. Cabin clones… Hmmm. Anyway, for those that don’t know what deck quoits is well it is essentially lobbing circles of rope across the deck. The whole point of the game is to throw a ring of rope across a grid painted onto one of the cruise decks. There are usually a few painted grids because the game is surprisingly popular. It apparently originated from people hurling horse shoes. When these games descend into chaos, and they do, especially if a few cocktails have been involved, then it is better to have a facial collision with a bit of rope than a metal horse shoe. Also if you think about it logically it is easier to make another quoit of rope when there are plenty of ropes on cruise ships. That is, unless horses have taken to going on world cruises, there would only be a certain amount of horse shoes available for throwing.
With regards to the ‘Quoites Quirkies’, it is worth going along for a watch or even taking part. What I personally found amazing is how so many of the ‘Quoites Quirkies’ have a tendency to wear tops with horizontal blue and white stripes and in the quoiting quirky group there is an increased number of Captain’s style hats per head than the general Captain’s hatty average about the ship. After that little deviation you might notice that at first the game appears innocent but then there will be those who are competitive. The entertainment host has to really pay attention because there are those fixated on scores and are desperate for that prize certificate. Strangely the more sea days there are then the more serious the ‘Quoites Quirkies’ get with the game. At times you wonder whether the sea air makes them a little bit odd because when you see someone throwing all the quoits out of the box you realise that someone has lost it!