Ramblings From The Oche

I flung a few arrows the other night. Not many went straight. It was hardly unexpected. I haven’t graced the oche since the night of Sid Waddell’s passing. Muscle memory had become muscle amnesia. Fortunately the others around me were sympathetic. At the end of the night the wall around the board told the story.

I have always liked darts as a sport. It is pure in a way that most are not. Apart from the player the variables have been stripped away. No weather to blame, misshapen conveyance to confuse or umpire to vilify. Gravity is really the only non-human factor.

I also like it because the pathway to the finish line is so clear. Team tactics do not apply. No need to keep up with some genius revolutionising the way the game is played.  All that is required is some rudimentary Mathematics. So simple in the mind, so hard to execute. Novice Darts has the wonderful habit of continually throwing up surprises. Everyone is in with a chance.

On my way back to East Gippsland I enjoyed V-Line’s hospitality. It’s a rare treat to have a few hours away from the world. I read some misery from the paper, then some joy from the web. I snuck a look at my neighbour’s iPad. Some sort of pie graph showing his wealth distribution. I closed my eyes and let the rambling begin.

My first thoughts were to honour life’s organisers. Even for a darts night someone must do some hard yards. A venue, a dart board, a score board, a marker, even a wiper! I do not know John Harms well, but he organised the darts. He also organised this almanac. We should not forget to thank the organisers.

I drifted on to my friend Peter Flynn. I have known Flynny for about 30 years. We have talked a lot of crap in that time. The conversation jumps around a bit, and is rarely serious. Despite this we know and acknowledge our lives are not perfect. In the last fortnight Peter had experienced tragedy in a close and very personal way. I read the Eulogy he constructed. It is beautifully written. I found myself brushing away a tear. I suspect it was for both Peter and for Al.

I found the tear unsettling. Less than two years ago my closest male friend was tragically killed. I did not cry for him because I could not make any sense of what had occurred. Despite the passage of time I am still none the wiser. Words have been said, beers have been consumed and memories have been chased. Just not with John present. I can’t shake the feeling I should have done more with the time given.

I’m not sure if it’s only me, but I have found writing Eulogies somewhat cathartic. One is forced to ‘cut to the chaise’.  I was particularly struck by one of the lines in Flynny’s piece. “I hope he realised how much he was loved”. As a rule blokes do not communicate feelings well. So at the risk of drawing ridicule, Flynny, I am extremely thankful for your friendship, my life is richer for it.

This does not only apply to Peter of course. Most of us are friend ‘accumulators’. As we get older we have to prioritise our time a little. I am becoming a fan of the ‘locked in’ occasion. The long weekend in March, that’s when ……. Without it I can drift along. My report card on maintaining contact would say ‘He should try harder’.  And so I will.

On passing Sale I had settled on some other sections of my report. They are in the improvements section. Take work less seriously. Play more with the kids. Hug the wife often. Ring dad for advice, even if it is not required. Call the siblings on their birthday. Dance occasionally. Sing out loud more often. Watch no rubbish TV. Look more at the stars. Howl at the moon sparingly. Celebrate often. Communicate more.

I flung a few arrows the other night. Not many of them went straight.


  1. Great stuff Mick. You threw enough straight ones to win the tournament!

    Yes life seems to slip past and strange things happen to us along the way. Friends and conversation are keys. Family makes it joyful. I’m not one for New Year’s resolutions, but a few years ago I did resolve that I would say “yes” more often. Yes to opportunities, yes to involvement, yes to invitations. These days I go to openings of envelopes. And darts nights.

    The darts was a great night. Lets hope we can do it again.

  2. Well played, Michael.
    The organisers, absolutely.
    And we should also remember the contributors.

    Grand contribution.

  3. Matt Dowling says

    “I flung a few arrows the other night. Not many of them went straight”.

    Couldn’t agree more Mr Howard, not all of life’s arrows hit the mark and the ones that fall short or miss the board completely only serve to widen our perception of the world.

    Choose your life… Flatline and find contempt or take a few risks and miss the target now and then.


    P.s. Hit the mark for me, written on my birthday, how apt.

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