Tales from End to End
The Valiant Loser’s Tale
Well, it’s all over. The pressure to finish is ended. Five months of concentrated effort is completed. The stamina needed to keep going is almost drained away. And Nancy’s won and I’m the loser!
Ever since our webmaster published the Scrabble score graph on the blog a few weeks ago, the game has been totally transformed. No longer could we play in a kind, co-operative, friendly manner. The bar chart showed that I was only four games behind and suddenly the competition became deadly serious – I was in with a chance! Could I possibly catch – and even overhaul Nancy – before the deadline of John o’Groats? But it was not to be. I’ve lost and Nancy’s the victor. How can I redeem lost pride? In the post-match analysis perhaps I can offer a number of reasons.
At all costs, though, I should avoid the ‘we wuz robbed’ excuse. That sounds too much like the Whining Whinger’s Tale beloved of football managers. No; my defence needs to be rather more sophisticated and reflective.
Maybe the Olympian Sportsman’s Tale would sound better. You know – the Olympic Games ideal of Monsieur de Coubertin: ‘It’s not the winning that matters; it’s the taking part.’ I could say how it’s been an enormous joy and privilege to have been able to play in such a thrilling competition against such an august opponent. I couldn’t have wished to have been defeated by a more illustrious rival. There’s no disgrace in being hammered by someone better than yourself, and after all, if there were no losers, how could there be any winners? What an honour to have been asked to take part! I’ll have to watch that I’m not too treacley or friends will accuse me of insincerity.
Possibly I could develop the Classical Greek theme and make my case that of the Tragic Hero’s Tale. I could pose as one of the ancient Greek superstars, magnificent in battle; resourceful in adversity; determined in perseverance but from birth hampered by one small defect. Remember Achilles, the mighty warlord who, despite all his military prowess, was doomed to eventual disaster because since he was a baby, he’d had a poorly ankle?
What could my fatal weakness have been? It must have been that I was too kind and generous; I couldn’t bear to see someone else suffering. And in the noble field of Scrabble, I couldn’t let my Loved One be humiliated. I could never play sufficiently cut-throat (‘Scunthorpe’ in our language) so that she would be ignominiously beaten. I was, in fact, too kind and soft with her. Yes, that’s the line I could take – the Noble Hero, destined from the very beginning, despite all my Herculean efforts, to be pipped at the post.
The problem with that last excuse is that it’s still a little bit negative. Perhaps I should try to be more positive. How about the Positive Spinner’s Tale (sometimes thought of as The Self-Deluding Con-Man’s Story)? This argument goes something like this: Wasn’t I terrific? Didn’t I do well? I came second; yes, only one place behind the winner! I can hardly believe how well I’ve done! Isn’t that a fantastic achievement? And I’ve gained the coveted Silver Medal! Wouldn’t my parents be proud of me seeing me on the podium receiving my medal?
It’s been such a exhausting campaign. You know how Test Match cricketers play for five days in the sun (they chicken out if it rains!). Or think of the Olympic Games or the World Cup. They just go on for a couple of months. Well, we’ve been going for five months – five gruelling months. This may well be the longest-ever Scrabble competition on record and maybe we should apply for it to go in the Guinness Book of Records. I’ve been privileged to have taken part! What an honour! No wonder we feel shattered.
Will we ever play again? Probably, but not for a little while.