I like typing on the computer. It stimulates my brain and gets my thought process moving. Fingers tap on the keyboard as thoughts form in the brain, and somehow letters are transferred from the keyboard to the screen in front of me. Letters combine to become words, words join to form sentences. A little typing each day adds up and before long I have the makings of an article or some longer piece of writing. Things don’t always work as smoothly as that. Nevertheless there is great pleasure to be had in engaging in the typing process. So it was until the day that my keyboard started playing games with me.

As I typed on the keyboard the words ‘Fact and Fiction’ became ‘act and iction’ as if some new language was been formed in front of me. No matter how many times I pressed on the ‘F’ key I got no response, just like a heedless child who will not pick up its toys from the floor at its parents bidding. I often heard of things being lost in translation but when my ‘fearless daughters’ became ‘earless daughters’ I was horrified. Such mutilation was unthinkable. I thought it was time to take some action, as I took my PC to the repair shop. A faulty key was diagnosed and so I left it in for repair.

Life without a PC left a vacuum to be filled. In idle speculation I began to think. We are told that we are all of equal value in the eyes of our creator. Yet, as people, we have our own valuation system. Parents have a special significance for each one of us. Siblings care for siblings. And indeed we value our neighbours and our friends.
Is it the same with letters on the QWERTY keyboard? I decided to find out. And where better to start than the famous world-wide game of scrabble, with150 million sets sold worldwide in twenty nine languages.

In scrabble letters have their own values depending on the relative frequency in which they occur in text, the less frequent the letter the higher the value. The letter ‘S’ for example has a low value because it can be appended to many different words, to pluralise them. On the other end of the scale however ‘Q’ has a high value, due to its rarity. To form a word it must be combined with the letter ‘U’, just like two close school friends who are inseparable.
Getting back to our QWERTY keyboard there are three rows, like an end of school year graduation photograph. ‘Q’ the most valuable student of all is in the back row to the extreme left with a top mark of ten. Our friend ‘F’ is in the centre row with a mark of four while his companions ‘D’ and ‘G’ on either side have a lowly mark of two each.
That however is only part of the story as the allocated values are language dependent. A Danish ‘F’ has a value of three, and an Italian ‘F’ five, so much for EU Solidarity. Strangely enough within the UK a Scottish Gaelic ‘F’ has a value of five. And so, the individuality between the letters goes on…

One thing is certain however. As UK Brexiteers plan their departure from the EU they can rest assured that no matter how much in value sterling fluctuates the value of their scrabble ‘F’ will still remain the same.
And so as I collect my PC from the repair shop I am happy to say, our friends ‘act’ and ‘iction’ have been restored to their former selves as Fact and Fiction. My fearless daughters are no longer earless, and so the story ends.

Tom Ryan