Millions of devout Scrabble players have been descending on the Saudi Arabian city of Qaid, to take part in that holiest of Scrabble activities, the haj. Some were arriving on zhos, specially imported from the Himalayas to transport them in their search of ka, while others were being flown there by roc.
Local tradesman were selling model Scrabble boards made out of cwm to pilgrims - the cwm that was left over from the traditional habit of making seven tiles with it, which the Saudi government pays a tax bonus of 50 rials for - and others were selling cups of holy qat tea, served with sowpods and twl.
Scrabble pilgrims, with their Travel Scrabble boards in their hands, were making their way across the reg, using lots of ergs, as the Chief Scrabbler - the Qvxkzwmfhj - called the faithful to players' tables, and soon the games were underway. One pilgr_m, a Miss Vera Chambers, said: 'Eee, it were grand, tha' knaws. For first time in me life Ah felt at 'ome, lots of daft buggers like mesen gettin' together with a common cause - Scrabble! Ah think it's reet sporting of t' Saudi government to allow this 'ere pilgrimage, and they only cut off twelve people's 'ands for Scrabblashphemy this week!'
And another Scrabbler - His Royal Highness Prince Idrinqbutonlyinprivate, of the ancient ruling family of M'tel, added: 'When we get bored we play our own version of Scrabble, using severed body parts. I once got a triple triple with seven cut-off hands of shoplifters! It was great, I celebrated by flying a remote-controlled jet into a New York skyscraper, and then getting lots of American idiots believing it had something to do with Iraq! We're still laughing about that one now. Another JD's with ice, Mr. Bush?' And in an aside he added: 'Poor old George, he can't even pick up the tiles without help, never mind spell any words - he has difficulty even speaking them!'
The haj is part of the cult religion of Scrabble, and no player can see themselves as a true believer until they have used the word, either on a triple word score or on a triple letter square - making a word in 2 directions with the 'j' - at least thirty-four times in a year. But the controversial offshoot of Scrabble - Boggle - has been branded as heresy by the majority of word game players, and indeed a fatwah has been launched against it by the ruling council of Scrabble, the QZXJ, scoring an impressive 123 points when pluralised on a double word score.
The High Priestess of Scrabble, Mrs. Elspeth Bartholomew of Basingstoke, said: 'Another cup of tea, vicar?', before promptly going out with 'BEHEADS, without using a blank. While this story was being written, another 4 Saudis had their hands chopped off for the infidel activity of spelling words from left to right.