Lockdown Scrabble Challenge

On Thursday 19 March, 108 days ago, Robin and I sat down to a game of Scrabble and decided we would do a ‘lockdown challenge’. Since then we’ve played each evening and thus consumed a lot of wine and too many accompanying crisps and ‘snacks’. Robin pulled quickly ahead, which I think is as it should be – her being a bit of a wordsmith an’ all. But soon we evened up and it’s been neck and neck since. So it seemed appropriate to call a halt yesterday, Saturday 4th July ‘Independence from lockdown Day’ with Robin winning the final game making it 54/54. That’s just ‘so cosy’! We will of course continue playing Scrabble which has been our favourite (and only) game for years, but may be not every night. And it’s left us with that lockdown stone I’ve been reading about. So now we’re watching the calories and trying to make a reduction in wine consumption.

By the way, we play by our own very strict rules. No funny ‘scrabble words’, those two letter things like: ag; bo; nu etc. And I can’t include names of organ stops like larigot or ophicleide. We have to be able to use the word in a sentence and we both have to agree it without resorting to the dictionary. All very civilised, as it should be if the evening is not to turn sour and grumpy.

Cathedral Choirs

Good friend Rosie Strachan (Lewes Singers) sent me a link yesterday to a lovely Appeal on Youtube supporting our Cathedral Choirs. Many conductors of amateur choirs are ex-Cathedral choristers, like myself (Coventry Cathedral Choir 1965-1970). I can’t over state how much I owe to that experience and training, and that centuries-long tradition is probably the reason that choral singing in the UK is the best in the world. I’ve been aware of the Friends of Cathedral Music for a long time, but yesterday I was moved to join for the first time (with a generous donation). Do have a look at the video and their site, and perhaps consider either joining or making a one-off donation to their appeal to save struggling cathedral choirs. Robin and I love going to Sung Evensong whenever we can, and we look forward to doing so again, when someone discovers a vaccination for this wretched virus!

Today I played for a Mass at St Pancras in Lewes – the first in 16 weeks. I know the congregation looks a bit thin, but with social distancing, there were only 20 people allowed in the church. Others were in the 2 church halls with the service relayed. Next week I’m playing for a funeral and then St Michael’s is holding its first Mass next Sunday at 10.30am. So things are looking up!


Pat Price-Tomes, who reads my blog and often responds very nicely, has alerted me to the One-Voice-Campaign. I’ve just put my name to that, and would encourage you ALL to do the same. Just click on the link to add your name to a growing list of supporters.

Another sign of life – I’m meeting Ruth Kerr this week to accompany her singing. Our recital at St Michael’s in May was cancelled, so it will be nice to look at some repertoire with her. And maybe I’ll get in touch with All Saints Eastbourne (round the corner from me) to see if they will let me resume my weekly organ practice there. That’s a nice positive note to end on!

Have a good week.






  1. Thanks for your blogs Nick. I enjoy them. Excellent dahlias and veg and all the musical thoughts and recommendations are great. If you like Scrabble, try Bananagram. It’s similar but faster, which suits me (low boredom threshold). Best wishes to you both, Loretta

  2. So good to hear of little bits of relaxation of lockdown. Really hope the Chamber Choir can get started somehow before too long even if there aren’t many of us.

    I am thinking about risk and risk averse-ness (is that a word?). Looking at my own family I observe that several of my children (along with their mother!) are not too bothered about the virus, but we do get twitchy about more ‘physical’ dangers – kids tilting their chairs back or climbing up rocks, for example. Whereas my oldest son who has been a massive risk-taker for which I could give much evidence, keeps telling me to stay at home and wear a mask (he can’t enforce it as he lives overseas!!!). The dangers he has braved are, I suppose, more physical, parachute jumping. Everest base camp, stuff like that and worse, which I wouldn’t dream of doing. It seems to me that each of us focusses our fears in different ways. Well, it’s an interesting theory but I have no academic back-up for it!

  3. The thin-looking congregation members are clearly not scrabble players. St Pancras, by the way, must be the patron saint not only of rail travellers, but also of binge-snackers.
    While on the subject of bingeing, our latest lockdown box-set is The Barchester Chronicles, a BBC adaptation of Anthony Trollope’s tale of most unchristian intrigue and skulduggery among the senior clergy of the eponymous cathedral. The music for the series is composed by Derek Bourgeois, the Bristol lecturer who introduced you to Walton. The opening and continuity orchestral pieces are nostalgic and evocative, but the closing choral piece can only be described as relentlessly high-pitched and must have been very hard to sing.
    Keep up the blog. it’s always interesting.

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