Something odd happened on the Mayflower when it set sail from Plymouth for the New World in 1620. It must have been a rough voyage because there seems to have been a collective loss of memory among the passengers. For example, on arrival they couldn’t remember that the strip where pedestrians walk next to a road is called a pavement in civilized society. So they called it a sidewalk.
And someone had forgotten to pack enough knives for the voyage which obviously led to that strange aberration whereby Americans cut their food with their knife and then transfer their fork to their knife hand to do the eating. Clearly what they had to do on the Mayflower was cut the food (after scaring the weevils off) and then pass the knife down the table.
But the most disturbing side effect of the pilgrim’s voyage to the New World has been the American desire to supersize everything ever since. If you buy a coffee in New York it comes in a large waxed cardboard bucket unless you specify otherwise. Order a simple pastrami on rye at the famous Carnegie Deli and you’ll be served something so large that it would keep a family of four fed for days. In the land of the free burgers are huge, the steaks are vast and the salads daunting. Unfortunately this supersize mania doesn’t extend to the drinks so you still have to order a double Manhattan.
American cars are huge, albeit not as huge as they were in the days when Cadillacs were pink. Buildings are huge, trains are twice the length of anything else in the world and even Dolly Parton is huge. Big is beautiful in the US of A and don’t let anyone tell you different. Except for the game of Scrabble.
Yes Scrabble. Last weekend I was away with Mrs B for a few days rest and recuperation in the mountains. We normally take our Scrabble set and a large dictionary to while away the time between lunch and dinner. On arrival at our destination our hosts asked us to try out a new “Deluxe” American edition of the game. Most of you will be familiar with the conventional Scrabble board so imagine a “supersized” board with far more spaces for letters. Instead of the triple letter and word score spaces there are now quadruple letter and word score spaces. And there are obviously more triple and double word and letter score spaces. Which also means that there are more high scoring letters in the bag so you could conceivably draw a couple of K’s, three V’s and two Z’s which would be of no use at all. But it also means that there are more vowels so if there are only two of you playing you could just as easily find yourself with a rack of useless letters. Which rather ruins the point of the game.
The Deluxe Scrabble is played in exactly the same way you would play normal Scrabble but all the Americans have achieved is to spoil a perfectly good game by supersizing it. If you’re on a roll you can complete a normal game in just over an hour. But Deluxe Scrabble takes hours and the bag of letters never seems to get any smaller. To be honest, it’s a disaster and just another example of American meddling ruining the lives of ordinary people. Not that this is likely to put the Americans off. They’re already working on a version of “supersized three dimensional chess” with four times as many pieces as a conventional chess set. And after that they probably have plans for “supersize’ cricket with four wickets and two bowlers delivering balls at the same time.