Wednesday, April 14, 2010

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…”


  1. I'm definitely going to use "qophs" in my next Scrabble game :D

  2. I can feel the pull of Scrabble come back over me. Online Scrabble is addictive. And amazing practice. My husband refuses to play with me any more! (Scrabble. Obviously.)

  3. I've been playing a lot of Facebook Scrabble, which is seriously a bunch of made up words. I sit there typing random things into the dictionary section of it and always manage to find something weird and nonsensical. One day I discovered the word 'Geep' - a cross between a goat and a sheep. Seriously?!!

  4. My husband and I frequently come to blows (not literally I hasten to add) over Scrabble and what is and what is not allowed and whether you're allowed to even have an actual dictionary next to you to consult. Are you? I say yes.

    That Brenda sounds a feisty one.

    The tranny made me hoot. I would love to know the story behind that. I used to read the 'Looking for' section in London's weekly listings. People who had exchanged glances in an elevator (lift, we say) or passed each other on the stairs. Always wondered whether they found each other.

  5. This made me giggle. See, I have a serious mental block when it comes to scrabble - despite being a voracious reader, and writing for a living - I'm lucky if I can come up with an 'and', 'if' or 'but' for the board. Brenda'd sort me out quick-smart.

    Oh, and your visiting tranny had me intrigued - were you on the lookout for likely lads/lasses strolling the street? The intrigue!

  6. LOL - nothing that interesting @PinkPatentMaryJanes. I just read them the same way I used to read the 'messages' section when I lived in the Big Smoke. You see the most interesting things in those bits. I'll use them all in a book one day...travelling tranny inclusive.

    And I'm with you on the 'but', 'and' school of Scrabble. I have a theory that it's the maths people who are best at scrabble, not the words people. The maths people focus on the score, the words people are all about getting the best 'word' out.

  7. Lovely post. And congratulations to Brenda.

    I once used to avidly read the classified ads of a Lady Of The Night in my home town. I will always remember she once boasted "Mirrors on the floor, mirrors on the ceiling.". It left quite an impression on my young mind.

    I've often toyed with becoming a Professional Letter Writer but suspect having a blog is the 21st century equivalent.

  8. I wonder if "tranny" counts on the Scrabble board or if you have to spell it out ... One week only to find out, apparently. =>

  9. I'd love to move to your town but fear the excitement may be too much for me. I fear however, I would be labelled as one of Those Young People. Or maybe that is wishful thinking on my part?
    And as for scrabble, Brenda sounds like something of a scrabble demon. I think I would have to stay at home as well.

  10. Love Scrabble, couldn't beat Brenda, but not too bad in the games I play. Don't mind the online one but agree what is with the Dictionary and the foreign words etc. I mean really. Hey and I am not soo young - lol.

  11. I miss the South Coast Register.

    And do love reading those messages like the Tranny one and wonder if it's code for a drug exchange, or something.

    I hope you had a great school holidays and are ready for another term of school drop offs, picks ups and sandwich making. x

  12. And yet again, your post makes me crave the potential of the Scrabble board....

    (I am posting this comment via iPhone - it is hard. So will leave the linkying up till next week, on your lovely Weekend Rewind.) xx

  13. I love scrabble but have no one to play with me ...great new words.I am not up to Brenda's league either.
    There was someone on twitter who is a real champ ?

    I am also a fan of reading local paper classifieds, our home local is small too and I learn so much.
    Reading memorials too reminds me of the tragic events of years gone by and hiw they still affect the ones left behind.

    WR x

  14. PS the letters are fading off my laptop ...& blogger needs an edit feature.

  15. We used to have scrabble wars *coughs*, sorry that should be GAMES, in our house but my husband took sooooo long to make a word that it became the failing point!

    I love our local newsletter too. They print photos of cars that park badly and give out about it lol.

    I really enjoyed this post, gave me a good giggle :) Jen

  16. I still mourn Scrabulous a little bit. x

  17. Sounds a lot like the Augusta/Margaret River Times....Only most of the Letters to the Editor in our local rag are currently in protest to the proposed mine/proposed woolworths/proposed hotel development....

    And it would not be a weekend in Margs if it was not for a few hundred garage sales...

    Your post made me giggle...

    Gill xo

  18. I think I'd be far too scared to play Scrabble with your friends. Whoah, this girl reads the dictionary as light reading I fear. What a lovely post, and just beautifully written.

    My word verification was sessedly. Is that a word you can use for Scrabble? xx

  19. Not too keen on vocabulary so Scrabble's not for me. But I love watching people play. Will try your tips about the local paper. I often skip those parts.

  20. Would you believe I've never, ever, ever played Scrabble..? I think I'm missing out...

  21. ha ha ha ha, you've got to love local papers. One of the classified adds in ours a few weeks ago was "Free to good home, new snow. Hardly used. Must bring own shovel."

    Comedy genius.

  22. Do you know I think this was one of the first post's of yours I read. I remember thinking back then how cleverly you wrote. I still think that.

  23. I have resisted the urge to play Facebook Scrabble. I would never stop. Although I'm now hooked on Angry Birds.

  24. We are still at the scrabble-stage in our house where all the titles are placed where I can see them and give subtle no qophs for us!!
    Sounds like you live in a craaaazy town :-)
    have a great weekend

    PS: btw- wow on that old pic of Lucy (2nd comment)!!

  25. I've taken part in scrabble wars - never the victor though! Clever post- I really enjoyed. Thanks!

  26. Your comments on the local paper are so true. We have one with an "inside cover" where someone different gets on their soapbox each week!

    Interesting reading.

    Scrabble is one of the few things that makes me competitive...!

  27. Ah Scrabble! Ah travelling trannies! Ah local papers!

    Since we moved to the country I have devoured the local paper with stories of 14 people attending the local opening of the new footpath which was celebrated with scones afterwards. now THAT is news.

    Great post - thanks for sharing.

  28. What an industrious travelling tranny. LOL.
    I love the local paper. And I love the idea of Scrabble, but I suck at it. Great post.

  29. Spooky that this is the post you picked for today. I am on a promise for a night of hot Scrabble tonight...

  30. Oh ah, fellow scrabble fan, love it!

    Growing up, I would devour the contents of my small town local paper, if for no other reason to see if someone I knew was arrested, getting married, had babies etc - kinda like NW Magazine country town style, hehe. And now that we have had our own sea change I've realised the one way to get to know my new community is to turn to its bible. You'd love it there is a section dedicated to "Ticks and Crosses" where people write in about a good event (TICK!) or a gripe (CROSS!). Hilarious, but obviously a local institution that no one messes with...

  31. Ah scrabble! I love it. Though I actually like Boggle more


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