Two weeks into the long summer break some people reading this will be on the verge of murder, or at least considering putting their offspring on ebay with no reserve. Those without children to entertain over the next month might be cursing as they stand in crowded shops as mummies and daddies everywhere struggle to get their little darlings to take an interest in pumps, grey trousers or navy skirts and tights. I am mercifully free from any such worry. I am having my first two-week child free break with my husband this century in an idyllic corner of Suffolk, meeting up with old friends I haven’t seen in years and reading, writing and walking to my heart’s content.
Please don’t all hate me at once.
Instead, think of me sitting at the dining table each evening, staring at a half full Scrabble board trying valiantly to resist the temptation to poke my husband in the eye with the sharpened pencil I am calculating the scores with. Why would I consider such violence over a mere board game? What could possibly induce me to get so worked up about a word puzzle? Well I have set myself a challenge. I have never beaten my husband at Scrabble, and this holiday I am going to if it kills me.
Peter is a lovely man. We have been together for almost half our lives and I consider myself very lucky in many ways. However, he has always been guilty of highly dubious tactics when playing games that are designed to provide ‘fun’ and ‘light entertainment’ in a relaxed setting, even those aimed squarely at the under sevens. Gamesmanship is not pretty in any situation, but when you are holding on to Mr Bun the Baker just to deprive your five-year old of a winning hand it is close to criminal. Monopoly is a cursed game in our house. Twice round the board and Peter has bought one street of each colour to stop anyone else getting a complete set, and half an hour in we are all coughing up hundreds of pounds for stays in his little plastic hotels. Where is the fun in that?
On holiday in Ireland a few years ago, when the children were quite young, our son James bought a pair of dark glasses for our games of Texas Hold ‘Em poker (no KerPlunk for us!) in an effort to remain inscrutable in the face of his father’s ability to read a bluff or a good hand from a simple glint in the eye. It was an hour into the game before I noticed an eagle-eyed opponent could see James’ hand clearly reflected in the mirrored plastic lenses. Hmm, I wonder who was winning at that point?
So back to the Scrabble. At the risk of boring you all rigid I have long complained that by the fourth round I am regularly too far behind to stand any chance of winning. ‘That’s 30’ Peter will say, then ‘Oh, and as I used up all my letters that is a 50 point bonus’. Scrabble has long been a game where I effectively played against myself. So, for the challenge. it has not started well. Two days and two games in and I have lost both times. Yesterday it was ‘squiggle’ that did for me and today it was ‘fazed’ on a triple word score. But I refuse to give up. If nothing else it sharpens one’s wordsmithing skills, and that must be good for writing ambitions, and I might actually, by the end of two weeks, have him beaten. Then I can insist on a nightly game of Trivial Pursuit. Or perhaps that is what I am doing already….