I discovered this weekend that the English, though world-renowned for being the most polite people on the planet, have absolutely no concept of bowling etiquette. This may be due to tenpin bowling being a relatively new phenomenon on this side of the pond.
Fortunately for you all, I have been bowling since I was about 7 and competing on leagues since I was 12. I will now give you the benefit of my years of experience and teach you all how to behave properly in a bowling alley. You're welcome.
Rule no. 1: Stay by your own lane.
If your party is using only one lane, and you are therefore sharing a ball return with another party, stay the fuck on your own side of the ball return. Do not run around the ball return playing 'Duck-Duck-Goose,' 'Ring-Around-the-Rosie' or any other such nonsense like a bunch of crazed lemurs on crystal meth.
Rule no. 2: Use only your own fucking ball.
It is profoundly rude to use someone else's ball, as it can be extremely difficult for some people to find a ball whose weight and finger size and spacing suit them. If you are sharing a ball-return with another party and you use a ball belonging to a member of that party, that person will be forced to wait for you to finish your frame before s/he can proceed. This seriously slows up the action for the other party, and they will HATE you and spend their waiting time making voodoo dolls of your children.
Rule no. 3: Rack your ball when you are finished playing.
Every bowling alley has ball-racks lining the walls that are filled with balls for the public use. Theoretically. At the alley where I bowled this weekend (Hollywood Bowl at Cribbs Causeway) the ball racks were completely empty. Every single ball in the alley was sitting on a ball-return, regardless of wether or not it was being used. It took us 20 minutes to find balls to use, during which time we had to interrupt and annoy countless people. So when you're done playing, for fuck's sake put your balls away. It's just like playing with toys at home: when you're done using it, put it back where it belongs. If you can't handle that, go back to kindergarten; your teacher will be happy to explain it.
Rule no. 4: Don't bowl if someone on a lane next to you is bowling.
If you see that a person on a lane next to you (either side) is preparing to bowl -- that is, standing in position, ball in hand, staring at the pins and lining up their shot -- wait. Wait until they've thrown their ball, and then go. It's not difficult. But throwing your ball as someone else is preparing to do the same is extremely distracting to the other person. Like talking when someone is golfing: you just don't do it. So when it's your turn, pick up your ball, look to your left and right, make sure no one is in the process of bowling on either side, and then proceed.
It may sound like doing this will make your game take twice as long, but really it doesn't. If everyone in the alley is abiding by this simple courtesy the alley naturally falls into a rhythm of even lanes bowl, then odd lanes, even lanes, and so on. It works. Trust me.
(and this one's crucial),
Rule no. 5: Don't eat chips with mayonaise and then go sticking your slimey fingers in everyone else's balls.
This will lead to a shortened life-expectancy. I guarantee it.
There. Now that you all know how to behave civily in a bowling alley, you may go forth and enjoy the great game of bowling.