A day with a torrential downpour is always likely to facilitate website updates. So this time round you’re getting a BBC Music Magazine puzzle from 2016. If the presentation looks a little different, that’s because I’ve finally taken the plunge and expanded my software package repertoire to try some things in Crossword Compiler. ‘Try’ is definitely the verb I’m looking for but we’ll see how we progress.
The BBC Music Magazine puzzle has been mildly edited – in its original form it was linked to that year’s Proms programme. I’ve taken out some elements of definitions that pointed up that relationship as they no longer have the timely reference implied. For example, ‘composer with premiere’ became simply ‘composer’. The gentleman in question is still composing (and even has a premiere available on the BBC iPlayer as I type) but the definition no longer serves the original purpose. At least it wasn’t a case of “can’t use him – everyone will say ‘Who he?'”
The next fortnight sees a few puzzles – the usual Friday Independent appearances, plus a Telegraph Toughie on Thursday 25 November, and the Inquisitor on Saturday 27 November (which should free up time for the next update!).
To the unexpected puzzle: I decided (not that I have any say in the matter, of course) that it was about time Julian Barnes published another novel. (And there is one coming in April 2022, so I wasn’t far off. Not as close as when I decided that Nicola Barker was due a new novel, and found it was coming out the next day, but not bad.) But checking around led me to the man’s own website where I stumbled upon a crossword.
Mr. Barnes has reached the age of 75, and two of his loved ones decided to set him a crossword. Not just any old crossword but a proper Listener-type puzzle, with bars and thematic entries and an endgame. And cryptic clues in French – Barnes is a celebrated Francophile – the setters note that solutions are in the same language as the clue. One clue starts off in English and drifts into French, but as it is for a French word adopted by the English, I suppose that is acceptable. (One clue has a burst of German not reflected in the language of the answer.)
It’s very entertaining, particularly if you’ve read JB’s books (such knowledge means that the triply unchecked entries are not as fearsome as they might seem). There were one or two clues where I was moved to call for a bargepole so that I could fail to touch them, but there are also plenty that wouldn’t engage an editor’s blue pencil. Camilla and brother are to be congratulated. I wonder whether the fact that a crossword was deemed an appropriate commemoration reflects cruciverbalism among the Barnes hobbies.
I pasted the link in below, thinking you could click through, but WordPress seems to have gone the whole hog in some way, and given you a printable link. Enjoy – you can also reach the puzzle from the current home page on the site at julianbarnes.com.