Having decided to raid the 2005 folder for a few puzzles over the forthcoming weeks, I have landed on an Independent daily barely three weeks from another already on the site. But Nina-fans can rest assured that there is one to be found.
I received my first Christmas issue of a magazine this week, which feels a little odd though the local big department store has just announced the opening of its Christmas department, I suppose. And it means, of course, that once we’ve put away the Christmas Day barbecue and demolished the pavlova, I can settle down to some nice Easter-themed solving before nodding off.
I spent a little time this week looking at the publicity surrounding Stephen Fry’s new book of memoirs. A lot of the interviews had him mentioning how he’d settle down to do ‘difficult crosswords’ while toked up, but the book itself mentions very little. (The book, however, does get a little wearying with a tendency for him to be self-deprecating about how self-deprecating he is. And much too much name dropping, whatever else he may have been dropping at the time.) I was intrigued by the claim that the drug assisted the solving because years ago I had a financial adviser who, having ascertained that I was good at crosswords, asked me what I was on. He’d always found that having a spliff helped his solving no end, apparently. To be fair, he did rather neatly observe that the then sponsor of the Times Crossword – Knockando whisky – supplied ‘no can do’ if the K was omitted, a lexical quirk I have yet to find a use for. He had a surname (though I’ll spare his blushes) that wouldn’t have been out of place in an awkward corner of an American grid, although his predecessor (who I remember being called Zoob) outdid him in that regard.
Enough looking back: next week sees one of those little periods when I have a neat daily sequence of puzzles – you may start with a Telegraph Toughie on 9 October, an Independent Phi on 10 October, a prize puzzle in a third paper wherein I remain anonymous on 11 October, and Beelzebub in the IoS on 12 October.