Hello from California. I’m on holiday, road-tripping down the coast from San Francisco to Los Angeles, and it’s been largely blissful apart from one brief moment a few nights ago when my boyfriend and I were walking back to our room from a hotel bar. He had our Scrabble board tucked under his arm. “Excuse me,” asked an American lady sitting at the bar as we strolled past, pointing at the game. “Is that yours?”
“Jeez,” she said, shaking her head. “My husband was wondering if it was yours but I said what kind of intense couple takes a Scrabble board away with them?” She threw back her head and tinkled with laughter as if this was the best joke she’d ever made. Her husband, I noticed, remained quiet. Poor man.
Lloyd and I explained that we were keen on the game and hurried away before the opinionated American lady kept us trapped with her thoughts on Rousseau or the theory of time.
A Scrabble board isn’t such an unusual item to take on holiday with you, surely? Admittedly it may cause the odd, tense moment when your other half uses a “Z” on a triple word score and you wonder whether you can face spending the rest of your life with someone so pleased with himself. But those moments aside, it’s a brilliant game to play in the sunshine and well worth packing.
The writer Alexander McCall Smith travels everywhere with his teapot, which I consider fractionally more eccentric. And many couples I know insist on bringing babies with them on holiday, but you never hear of interfering American women questioning them about that, do you?
A friend reports that she recently picked up her mother’s suitcase and was surprised at its weight. Why? Her mother had packed a frying pan “just in case”. Another tells me her mother won’t leave Britain without several boxes of oatcakes and a bottle of Gordon’s. My mate Bells, meanwhile, takes cans of tuna with her wherever she goes because she “doesn’t trust” foreign cans.
Your holiday is just that – yours; ideally, a joyful break from daily life when you can eat as many eggs and croissants as you like for breakfast and spend a good deal more time horizontal than you do vertical. If you want to take a jar of Marmite or your own pepper grinder with you, well, go for it. If you want to take your own loo roll or a universal bath plug (my stepmother) that’s dandy too. As is a Scrabble board, although you need to be careful about what’s in it, according to another pal.
Her mother (what is it with mothers squirrelling away unusual items for their holidays?) also travels with a Scrabble board and airport security absolutely don’t mind that. But apparently they did get reasonably upset the other day when they found some chopping knives stashed inside this mother’s Scrabble board. She takes them abroad for slicing lemon and limes very thinly, but airport security took a dim view of this and she was held for interrogation.
Mind how you go.