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Whatever happened to our scrabble club: The guilty pleasure

| by Pearl Thevanaygam

(November 24, 2014, Bradford UK, Sri Lanka Guardian) Britain became the world scrabble champion beating New York. Craig Beevers, 33, from Guisborough, Middlesbrough, beat Chris Lipe, 34, from Clinton, New York, three games to one in the final at the Excel Centre in London on November 22, 2014.

He won the final game by 440 points to 412 with the word "talaq", which scored 42 points and means a Muslim form of divorce. More than 100 competitors from 25 countries tested themselves in 36 games over five days.

A teenager Warasuwitharana was selected for the world championship following Sri Lankan finals at Colombo Hilton in April1990 when we heard the news Ranjan Wijeratne was murdered by an LTTE cadre at Thunmulla Junction.

Our bible was the world scrabble dictionary by Websters. Many an argument erupted when I insisted that fuck is a legitimate word ergo fit to be placed on the scrabble board.

Sri Lanka Scrabble Club gathered every Sunday in Colpetty and its members took the game dead seriously. That inimitable snob and raconteur Goolbai Goonesekera, Kamini Wijedasa who was forever coming out with lewd jokes such Jamis’ worry which was he could not stop producing babies and when he went to the doctor with his ailment he advised him he was going to stitch his wife up. The perplexed wife pleaded with the doctor whether he could not leave some room for Jamis.

Bernadette Silva, my colleague at Weekend and Sun, Aldo Perera, the fashion Nilame from the hills, Mr Gooneratne the pedant, Elaine a British expatriate and many others had a rollicking time boating at Bolgoda Lake and on one occasion hosted by Aldo at his mansion in Kandy with a mouth-watering fish menu and baked Alaska for afters.

Kamini, Goolbai and myself were forever punished for talking and giggling instead of playing by the poker faced Sarath Fernando and asked to leave the sacrosanct portals according to stringent scrabble rules where we happily continued with our gossips and lewd jokes.

One would have thought we were debating an urgent bill in parliament calling for legislation rather than relaxing on a Sunday.

However I became fifth in the all island competition, so there. Nothing gave me more pleasure than sitting among tiles and accumulating triple scores on a Sunday. To this very day I play against myself being as honest as possible and strangely I always won in the absence of any worthy scrabble player in Bradford to match my skills.

When I finally make it to my country – apart from hosting Honourable Minister Dr Mervyn Silva to dinner – I also plan to educate that there is more to life than tying dissenters to trees and vowing to make Namal President since Mahinda is rumoured not to be in the pink of health. I shall give him free step by step directions in scrabble starting with the alphabet. Our camaraderie goes way back when I lived in Enderamulla under the Dr’s Kelaniya electorate.

A minister of his calibre cannot simply do without the cutting edge of technology and without widening his knowledge base which hardly strains his cerebral prowess.

(The writer has been a journalist for 25 years and worked in national newspapers as sub-editor, news reporter and news editor. She was Colombo Correspondent for Times of India and has contributed to Wall Street Journal where she was on work experience from The Graduate School of Journalism, UC Berkeley, California. Currently residing in UK she is also co-founder of EJN (Exiled Journalists Network) UK in 2005 the membership of which is 200 from 40 countries. She can be reached at pearltheva@hotmail.com)

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