I love ‘The Indoor League’ so much it’s on my permanent medical record. The first, Yorkshire-centric series was an unexpected teatime success in a number of ITV regions, so series two introduced a raft of new things to appeal to a national audience, like arm wrestling, pool, southerners, black people and, ulp, women...
Fiery Fred Trueman, of course, was unphased. He's been all over the world, and as long as he's got his pipe and a pint to pretend to drink he doesn't give a jot. His outfit here is interesting, a musty coloured suit of armour topped off with a helmet of jet black hair. His trousers and shirt are taupe, but his thick cardigan is somewhere between mould and mustard. Freddie can't wait to see the ladies darts, which he describes as 'two lasses showing us what their right arms are for'...
This 'lovely little lady' (as the commentator insists on calling her) is Mrs. Loveday-King from down in Cornwall, 'Daphne du Maurier country'. Her outfit is deceptively simple, but her choice of colour, imperial purple, sets the tone for the way she will sweep her opponents before her.
Here we see Mrs. Loveday-King's darting stance. Text book. As the commentator says 'if you think that all a woman can throw is spuds into a sink, then take a look at this'. I've highlighted the semi-hirsute man to Mrs. L-K's left not just because he is looking at her as if he's wondering what kind of a fit her flayed skin would be, but because I am entertaining the idea that, if you search closely enough, you will find pictorial and photographic evidence of this man at every major event in history, holding a pint and leering at the goings on. I might have to wait until I retire to pursue that project - or at least remember which telly programme I unconsciously nicked the idea from.
Mrs. Anne Westbrook is pretty mod in comparison to the simple elegance of her opponent, but her Vidal Sassoon hair style, big yellow collar and suedette jerkin with vague Native American stylings can't stop her slipping behind almost immediately. She's clearly nervous,but eventually starts to get some decent scores. After all: 'most of these women play with the men - and not just with their affections - they play 'em at darts!'.
There's that bloke again. I'm pretty sure he's one of the figures at the base of a Brueghel crucifxion, I'll have to get my modern apprentice to look into it. Mrs. Westbrook soon discards the jacket, instinctively realising that something heavy and tight around the arm holes is not an ideal uniform for organised sport.
To me, this shot says everything about the tense, combative nature of darts, a sport where you are up against yourself as much as your opponent - where all you can do sometimes is watch your adversary take their turn and hope for the best - or worst.
Mrs. Loveday-King is flanked by her rather sharp in an 'I teach at the Technical College' way husband, as well as her surprisingly hip parents (that said, they're probably in their early forties - these days, they'd be on skateboards). To Mrs. Loveday-King's right is a lady in a black sleeveless cardi and a melange of purples with a huge collar. She's part of Team Loveday-King, but looks a little old to be her daughter. Younger sister, perhaps? Anyway, that's irrelevant, and merely serves as a way of avoiding addressing the pachyderm in the Irish Centre, her fringe - part pudding bowl, part Frankenstein's monster. Mind you, her expression hints at experimental brain surgery. If so, sorry.
The family are overcome with joy as Mrs. Loveday-King triumphs, and Mum gets to show off her bold brown and light blue paisley print dress, which reminds me a bit of Coventry FC's notorious second away kit of the late seventies. The lady on the far right seems to be a better candidate for 'the sister', and her skin tight floral all in one and thick glasses make her look like Olive from 'On The Buses' after a a crash diet and a shampoo and set. Hubby's pleased. She'll be getting some tonight. Briefly.
Finally, a grudge match between 'the world number one' Jean Smith ('in the red Paras beret' and housecoat) and Kay Bradfield, who looks like Sheila Keith and, inexplicably, has come dressed as an extra from 'The Sound Of Music'.
Mrs. Bradfield wins with a virtuoso display of furious darts that 'even the men would be proud of'. Her victory comes after a shaky start for both of them, when the commentator stated that they were 'feeling nerves' and wondered if 'the port and lemons were taking their toll'. Sexist pig.
'Indoor League' will be back soon. In the meantime, Freddie says something incomprehensible along the lines of catching you all later.