It’s Scrabble and it’s personal

At the last meeting of the local Scrabble Club, the highest game scored 461 points. The highest word was ‘blowsier’, scoring 89 points, played by Brenda. The most unusual word played was ‘qophs’, which means the 19th letter of the Hebrew alphabet (also one of Brenda’s).

I did not go to the meeting, I hasten to point out – I would be out of place given that my highest game tends to be around the 89 point mark, meaning I’d be trounced in one move by Brenda – but I learned all the details from our local paper.

I love our local paper. In the first five pages of today’s edition it covered a visit by KRudd, the theft of a large, red tricycle by heartless thieves, the fact that women’s breasts are getting bigger, and a big win at the Easter Show by a team of young Dairy Farmers. But it’s not the front section to which I immediately turn when it lands on my doorstep.

If you want to understand a community in a short space of time, pick up a local paper and head directly for two sections: the Letters to the Editor and the Classifieds. Every edition of the paper contains updates on the ongoing saga between the letter-writers of the Pro-Progress Lobby and those from the Maintain the Status Quo Brigade. There’ll be a letter about the Young People of Today, and there will always, always, be scurrilous scuttlebutt about one local councillor or another. Usually written by another councillor. Love it.

The Classifieds are a whole different ballgame. Among the garage sales (plentiful) and the job vacancies (scarce), the public notices about chestnut picking (truly), art classes and general meetings, are the more, um, personal announcements. In the Big Smoke, these would run for pages and pages and I wouldn’t read them. Here there are only two or three a week and I’ve become an avid fan.

My favourite so far was the one that ran last month, just once: “Try something different. Tranny. One week only.” A travelling tranny? My mind ran wild. Holiday? Business? Visiting mum?

Back at the Scrabble Club, words such as ‘noil’ (a noun meaning ‘short or knotted fibres that are separated from the long fibres by combing’) and ‘crankle’ (a verb meaning to ‘bend or wind’) are flowing thick and fast. I’m not sure where you stand on Scrabble, but I love the game in its original form. The online version, where everyone has access to a dictionary, not so much.

My mum is a demon Scrabble player. She’d give Brenda a run for her money, if she were a joiner – which she’s not. Mum was outraged at last week’s news that proper nouns are now allowed on the Scrabble board. Outraged. Almost as outraged as she was the week before when she played a game with a friend and discovered that the word ‘shranked’ was in the Scrabble dictionary. Shranked. Is that even a word?

Perhaps I’ll pop along to the next Scrabble Club meeting and ask Brenda. Better still, I’ll write a letter to the local paper. I can see the response now: “The Young People of Today wouldn’t know a proper word if they fell over one…”