Guest Blogger, Liam Blake, is a Brixton-based actor and writer. He's the author of Blake's Progress, a blog about life as a single dad.
Aside from the daily marvel that is my seven-month old son there is, sad to report, not much left over from a decade-long relationship of any great sentimental value. The cats are soon to be split, as much to their own mutual satisfaction as ours I suspect. There is, however, beneath the computer desk and several soft layers of dust, a classic Scrabble set. It contains the regulation board and tiles, and a rich store of memories.
Foremost among them is a rare visit to the board by my then father-in-law who, with calm assurance, led off with the word TRYON. Up second, I felt it in my best interests to raise the query demanded by a roomful of raised eyebrows. Curiosity drove me - a tryon? Hmmm.. a long-redundant gardening implement of medieval origin, perhaps? Or an aborted attempt by NASA on the road to non-stick triumph with TEFLON?
Our nameless former father-in-law had a patrician and highly tactical way of talking to someone as if they clearly had no idea what they were talking about, thus cunningly deflecting the inconvenient truth that it was indeed he who hadn't the foggiest idea of what anyone was flapping on about. "Didn't you ever buy a pair of trousers in a shop?" I was asked. I replied that yes, indeed I had. Many, many times. "Well," he went on, clearly having difficulty concealing his impatience with the dullard before him, "didn't you TRY them ON first?"
I confirmed that though I'd often taken the sensible precaution of ensuring a good fit before heading to the till, I'd never bookmarked the experience for future use on the Scrabble board as ...well, there'd be a couple of things wrong with that, wouldn't there? Not least being that THERE'S NO SUCH FUCKING WORD.
Tiles withdrawn and father's honour bruised, I did my best to set a potentially fraught encounter back on an even keel with a timely retelling my favourite Scrabble yarn - up until that point, in any case - detailing a friend's repeated refusal to deploy the word quim in front of his mother-in-law, however rich the reward in points. Perfectly acceptable under the rules of play and to be found in the Chambers dictionary, the game's official lexicon of choice.
Oh me in my infinite naivety. The winning score was coolly racked up with the offending four-letter word by my (then) mother-in-law. From that point on quim was to recur with metronomic regularity. Steady. A shame, as a quick glance at its successor in the dictionary shows quin - altogether more wholesome and paternal...
Visit Liam Blake's blog Blake's Progress
He attended my Blog Workshop in February.