Naturally, no sooner had I said that I had very few puzzles lined up in September than some proofs come through. Not only that, but the puzzle is appearing today (3 September) as the latest Inquisitor. So rush out and get it. A setter’s blog will follow. Other than that, you have Fridays in The Independent to look forward to.
Those of you in the UK will have noticed that the BBC Music Magazine is celebrating its 30th anniversary with the September 2022 issue. (Here in NZ we have just received the April 2022 issue at the newsagents, while my postal copies have stalled at February 2022. Odd, since until this year, the magazine was coming through pretty much on time, Covid notwithstanding.)
What I only realised at too late a stage was that September 2022 also marks the 25th anniversary of my first puzzle in the magazine. I would, I think, have done something with a silver lining had I realised in time.
I don’t recall there being much of a 5th birthday feel to that particular magazine, and there was no particular announcement that, with puzzle no. 60, a new setter was appearing. But here we are at puzzle 376 – of which 313 are mine (in the early days there were some to work through from the preceding setter).
It’s still much the same process, though I no longer particularly start the grid with whatever I’m currently listening to (Lowell Liebermann’s Variations on a Theme by Mozart, since you ask), but work more with the anniversaries of the particular month. The magazine itself can be less precise, contenting itself with getting merely the right year – and, anyway, if you want to do a big feature on composer A, whose bicentenary coincides with the sesquicentenary of composer B, for whom another big feature is demanded, then one of them will have to shift months! So, if you arm yourself with a list of likely anniversaries for the forthcoming months – well, you’d better hope it aligns with mine.
The grid-filling process is still much the same too, getting a framework of thematic words in, and then draping other musical references around them. It’s very satisfying at the end to count up the obvious musical references, but less so when you find you have to find something musical in a clue to AVOIRDUPOIS (say). No, that isn’t a real example. The deadlines are still four weeks, so the magazine can appear thirteen times a year with a special issue at Christmas. Except, of course, that in the run-up to Christmas, they get concertinaed to three weeks, before the chance to relax a little in December itself when you get near to six weeks for the March puzzle.
And coming up with something new for Christmas gets ever more difficult (and that’s the next one on the list.)
It’s only right therefore that today’s puzzle should be from the BBC Music Magazine. Now, when I started choosing I had a cat on my lap, preventing any real opportunity to check my boxfiles. So I went back to the earliest puzzle I have in the Cloud, which thereby became the most recent BBC Music puzzle on the site – from January 2021. Putting together the interactive version revealed a – coughs unobtrusively – deliberate mistake.
Anniversary II will be along in due course. I’m merely grateful it has a lower ordinal number.