Written by

Andrew Millar


September 19, 2009

I’ve always been bad at games.

As a child I could never win playing snap with my father, even when he did the fatherly thing and tried to let me win. At school I avoided playing team sports because I would always be left with the role of being the uncoordinated one who lost the Grand Final in the dying seconds rather than the more Hollywood role of kicking the winning goal after the siren. After school was over I avoided getting too serious about sport because I was older but still crap at it. Except for running. I became a good distance runner. I did a couple of half marathons in the low 1:30s…

I liked running because there was no pressure to perform. There is no ‘It all comes down to this one final shot… the trophy, the money, the fame and the girl all hang on this one final shot.’ And I’d make a complete pig’s breakfast of it. Probably spearing the ball off into the crowd where it would hit some little girl in the head or break a valuable car window or something equally embarrassing. All you have to do to be a good runner is have a dumb determination to keep going one foot after the other.

My problem with performance is one of ‘muscle memory’. Apparently when we learn an action, like kicking a ball or throwing a javelin our brains remember this action for next time. And next time we modify it slightly to improve the outcome… and a little more the next and so on until we reach a state of perfection or admirable proficiency… or an Olympic Gold Medal.

Well my muscles have the memory span of a gold fish. I could be half way through game of golf… after having found my ball in the rough, off a fairway adjacent to the one I was meant to be playing…. and I’d walk up an ‘address the ball’ as the books say to do, and I can hear my muscles say ‘What is it we are meant to do again?’

I call it ‘Muscular Amnesia’.

So golf never made me happy, though I managed to put a smile on the face of many a golf ball.*

So it is ‘a truth’ that I will never make my fame and fortune from playing sport.

Which is why I have secretly been trying to invent a game and have others make me famous and rich by playing by my rules.

And I think I have an idea.

It’s called ‘Car Park Curling’. And the beauty of it is that the playing fields already exist. And the equipment already exists. And the rules already exist. In other words is a cunning adaption of an existing idea for a new market. Now don’t knock my apparent lazy lack of originality. Kerry Packer made a fortune (another fortune actually) adapting 5 Day Test Match Cricket to One Day Cricket… His genius was to add lights to the oval and dress the players in pajamas. In my case, I’m not adding anything to Curling, the Northern Hemisphere game of sliding stones along ice, like lawn bowls, I’m just subtracting the need for extreme cold weather.

Here’s the deal. Two teams of two or four players each turn up at a local shopping centre car park and select a trolley each. (Stop me if it gets two complicated.) One team then places a McDonald’s wrapper in their trolleys. Note the cleaver use of plentifully available local materials. This makes scoring easier when the time comes.

Next the teams need to find an area of the car park not being used for parking… but it needs to be an area with the ‘disabled park’ sign painted on the ground because the idea is that team members take it in turns to send their trolleys down from 30 metres away to see who can get the most most number of wheels inside the wheel chair logo at the end of each round… or ‘shopping trip’ as I call it. The team captain can assist the passage of each trolley by running in front of it and sweeping the ground furiously with a broom. These brooms are the only piece of kit that will need to be purchase. But as most centres have a ‘Cheap as Chips’ the investment to play is but a few bucks.

The winning team is the one with the highest accumulated score after an agreed number of ‘trips’. It’s brilliant in it’s simplicity.

I see a national league sponsored by the major grocery chains. I see money from advertising deals for trolley space. I see the television rights being sold to The Shopping Chanel. I see fame and fortune. I see the riches.

But most of all I see floods of research and development money being poured into making a trolley that runs straight. Like Teflon and Velcro came from the space race, the whole world would benefit from Car Park Curling**

Andrew Millar

*Complicated attempt at wit: When you miss hit a golf ball, the club head can split the outer case of the ball leaving a crescent shaped gash that makes the golf ball look like it’s grinning…

** Rights registered, Andrew Millar 2009.