In the 60s again for a trifling 25 miles to the south, through pretty, Scottishy country, featuring steep roads, a proliferation of trees and rivers, and even a few drystone walls. So quiet compared to the madness of yesterday and only counted about 20 cars in as many miles. (All the petrol heads were driving as fast as hell on alternative freeways and highways.) Arrived in the small town of Richmond at lunchtime and spent the afternoon in the library. It was when asking for a (typically befuddling) street map that I discovered my Scrabble host was actually eight miles to the north – the way I'd come. More back-pedaling, and now it was dark and wet. Cars honked at me on the slick streets, as if it was a crime for me to be there. “Out of my way you idiot! I've got a lot of driving back and forth to do!” And later “I saw a bicycle on the road tonight dear! Did you ever hear of such a thing?” He acted as if he owned the gutter and he slowed me down by at least five seconds!” “It's a bit late in the year to be riding a bicycle across the country ain't it?” “No, but it's a bit late in the life of the planet to be guzzling gas every day and everywhere you go ain't it?”
Couldn't find Steve's house, in the rainy, unlit streets, but fortunately some of Steve's fellow club members were driving by at that very moment and hollered out the window. “Bit late in the year...” No, they called to me by name and we made our way to Steve's house as a convoy. There was three of them – travelling together! In America? Sharing a car? It's true I tell you! Steve's wife and children were elsewhere this weekend and we Scrabble junkies had the place to ourselves, to make merry and make words. Steve worked for Lexmark (named after Lexington, where the firm is based) printers as an engineer, John had retired early from being an attorney, Will was a copy editor and Tiler (great name for a Scrabbler) studied computer sciences at UK (University of Kentucky). Together they made a youthful bunch and looked like a rock band, but then a lot of American men look like members of rock bands to me. They could all shoot some tiles too, hell yeah! I couldn't shoot diddly squat in the first game against Will and lost by a heavy margin. He played UPSTAND with two blanks and later fitted maybe the best word that fits around _ P _ _ (the first letter being a triple word and the fourth a double letter) that it is possible to play. Give up? APEX for 63. A couple of my words were lifted : LICED, & RIZ (acceptable in SOWPODS). Will should also have questioned SUDDIER and REN, but said he felt bad for me! In the second bout, against John, I put TEENAGED on a triple word, yet it still wasn't enough. In between games we had that perfect Scrabble food (pizza) and chocolate fudge gateau. Tiler and Steve were considered to be the best players there and I thought “Great, another two losses comin' up.” However, everything went my way against Tiler and I made a trio of maximums (READIES, DIARIST & RECLINERS) to his one (HEADSETS). Steve had a terrible time with his tiles and changed them three times. There were no bingos and hardly any scores of 40 or more, but I was able to grind out a victory. I copped out when asked if I wanted to play another, as it was after 11 and I was quite happy with my win rate. I slept in a little girl's room tonight (not for the first time) and dreamed of sugar and spice and all things nice.
It had rained all night and was still doing so in the morning, when Steve took me and his yellow lab, Izzy, out to breakfast at a place called Cracker Barrel, which was done up like an olde worlde barn. He drove back via his 'farm', 18 acres of land he has acquired, but unfortunately the bridge over the creek to get to it was flooded, so I could only see it from a distance. Steve had travelled extensively with work, including Scotland, where there is a Lexmark plant. Whilst there he got tickets to see a Rangers football match and was amazed at the number of police and also how the fans were kept so far apart.