Monday, 18 July 2011


After what felt like weeks of looking at that untouchable box of games and puzzles Heidi suggested that we borrow her scrabble. After that there was no stopping us and we played most nights when there was nothing better to do. We had our own rules- we could pretty much put any word in any language down, as long as it was a real word. There would be double points for using words in Italian or Spanish. One evening after it had warmed a bit we played in our winter coats overlooking the tundra.

Once the researchers arrived we had some more opponents, but we had to play by proper rules. We weren't even allowed to look words up in Valerie's kindle before we put them down! Matt the laddie was serious about his scrabble, even though he'd never actually played before, but his mum is a Winnipeg or Manitoba scrabble champ. We'd also play with Lisa, Vanya, Jean-Michel (researchers) and the other volunteers.

It is not everyday that you get taught scrabble etiquette from a Metis/Quebecois assistant politics professor from the University of Winnipeg. I had thought that being from England I'd absorbed quite a lot about being polite, but Jean-Michel had other ideas. Apparently I was not saying please and thank-you often enough. And presenting the scrabble bag to the next player without neatly folding it with the words scrabble facing upwards is the ultimate crime. Everyone else it seemed had escaped the lesson, it might well have been because I happened to be sitting next to the professor. He could have done with an etiquette lesson himself though. Apparently he had to organise an interview for the following day and would excuse himself frequently to try to make the 'phone call' taking a casual look over everyone elses' scrabble tiles on his way. Made for one of the more amusing scrabble games.

We got pretty excited when we managed to put all of our 7 tiles down at once, or get a good word on the triple word score. Matt even had to get Valerie to photograph his seven letter word as evidence. On Heidi's staff night we played scrabble and she introduced to the scrabble dictionary, which is full of spellings which don't actually exist such as 'et' for ate.

In honour of the tradition we played scrabble on our last night with the new volunteers Sarah and Amy. Symbolically, like the changing of the guard, Valerie and myself were beaten and our scrabble winning prowess, as well as all our volunteer duties were handed over.

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