One of the odd things about living in New Zealand is the number of Christmas celebrations that occur mid-winter (it is, if you think about it, very colonial and Northern Hemisphere centred at source – winter = Christmas). It has been particularly odd in a year with such a mild winter (plum blossom already covering our tree, for goodness’ sake) and under conditions of coronavirus.
I mention it because the ending of the flurry of Christmas in July/August lunches coincides with first, the exhortations to book your actual Christmas lunch at the venue you’ve just left, and second, the need to grid and clue puzzles for Christmas. I’ve just done a New Year’s Day puzzle for the Independent (this year I skip a week as Christmas Day is a Friday), I’m currently clueing another for a different outlet, and the annual BBC Christmas puzzle is on the horizon.
The new puzzle on the site this time round, by the way, is a BBC Music Magazine puzzle from 2011.
It all gets a little confusing on the day after you’ve just started the spring work in the garden, the same day that you’re finally getting to see a ‘summer blockbuster’ (Tenet). And at the back of my mind is the nagging feeling that it’s actually autumn rolling up over the horizon – hard to shake off 40+ years of conditioning. I’m still learning to say ‘the…solstice’ and ‘the…equinox’ without putting in a seasonal qualifier.
So let’s just use the month’s names… September is shaping up to be a busy month. To be fair the first item is actually at the tail end of August: an Enigmatic Variations puzzle in the Sunday Telegraph. Some may remember there was a ripple of concern that the EV series might stop at the end of August. That did not transpire, and this is not some sort of final puzzle (in fact, it was originally scheduled for the week just past). Just after that comes a puzzle at the Crossword Centre, my first ever there – that will be out in time for the start of September, which in practice means you will see it there about the same time as the EV appears. And I’ve just heard there is likely to be an Inquisitor from me in the middle of the month – more details on that next time.