Oddly enough, you may not have to be French. The current and recent incumbent is a New Zealander who lives in Malaysia. Better still, he doesn’t even speak French. However he took a mere nine weeks to memorise the contents of the French dictionary. This may seem remarkable, but the French language has a vocabulary not much bigger than Welsh. For example, the French for dinner jacket/tuxedo is ‘le smoking.’

However to his credit he also had to learn the conjugations of all the irregular verbs, and given the French tend to be sticklers for detail, the number of those is very large indeed. He did have to learn how to announce the scores in French as the rules require. It must have been non-stop laughs when they were drafting the rulebook, n’est-ce pas?

However, in order to achieve this feat, it’s clear that the champ, like those Italian boffins last week who calculated Avogadro’s number to a zillion degrees of accuracy, has no social life, and I’m pretty certain he won’t have a girlfriend. This is in part because he’s called Nigel, a bad start in life unless you’ve been to Eton and are now something in the City, married to an Emma, and living in Esher. The second thing is his disgraceful beard.

nigel

It looks as if you could prepare a nourishing broth from the bits trapped in there. Incidentally, I’m delighted to be able to inform you that Gloucester Constabulary is clamping down on beards. Beardies will have to wear a beard net, of which I had never heard before, or bite the bullet and dig out the Gillette.

Curiously, the French championships weren’t held in France. I suppose that makes sense. The French had more important things to do last week, such as blockading Calais, burning tyres at the entrance to the Chunnel, letting migrants climb onto empty freight trucks, and bringing traffic heading to Lyons to a complete standstill. No, the contenders locked horns in Louvain in Belgium.

The contest was held under the auspices of the Belgian Scrabble Federation, another bunch of lads that sounds as if they would be fun to get pissed with. They have a spokesman, vice president Yves Brenez. Crazy name, crazy guy. He offered this powerful insight into the mindset of the champion.

‘(Nigel Richards) is a Scrabble war machine.’ Sounds a bit hyperbolic to me, but hey. He carries on. ‘To him, words are just combinations of letters.’

And on that startling revelation, I bid you adieu.