It has been quite a week. On Tuesday, my first flights since the pandemic (to and from Hamilton in the North Island) had a return leg shrouded in cloud and turbulence for the last twenty minutes or so, followed by a nice fishtailing landing as we came down in a heavy gale (something of a feature of Wellington airport). Definitely needed the following day to be an easy one, so I worked from home as the bad weather continued, and watched as the house across our stream gradually disappeared before being finally whisked away in the overnight storm on Wednesday/Thursday. Whisked away on the back of a truck, I should clarify, to be re-erected elsewhere – or perhaps two trucks as the activity on Wednesday involved carefully sawing it in half. All it needed was the 50ft woman for it to be some outrageous magic trick, though I imagine our neighbours would not have relished having her high heels in their bamboo.
They like moving houses here. Drive back to the Hutt Valley from the coast road late at night and there’s a chance you’ll meet a house coming the other way – precursor vehicle bearing ‘WIDE LOAD’ sign, lots of lights, and a huge truck perched under a house. Even the house in which I am typing this was first built some 25km away in Wellington, in the street next to the one where we initially rented on moving to New Zealand. Haven’t seen a house on a ship yet, so it doesn’t look like an export business, but think of those impossibly stacked container ships to get an idea of the sense of instability the process suggests.
Last time I talked about what happens when you make an error, which rather distracted me from what I’d had scheduled, which was also related to The Guardian puzzles. One of the comments on an earlier puzzle had mentioned that Pangakupu was Phi’s ‘evil twin’, an observation which I thought worthy of consideration.
Many setters set for more than one paper, and each paper has its own style, set by its editor. So there is some admiration for those setters who adjust their personal styles to meet the requirements of each editor and his/her interpretation of their paper’s house style. Under those circumstances, it would be entirely credible for a setter to appear in paper A with a different style/persona from their work in paper B. Enough perhaps to generate an ‘evil twin’?
I don’t, however, feel that I change my style particularly between outlets. I’ve tried to determine what distinguishes a Listener puzzle idea from an Inquisitor idea from an Enigmatic Variations idea, and I never get very far. But even then the clues that are written for each of them come from the same source. I’m about to do one of my twice weekly collations of clues to be written. These are lists in a notebook of words to be clued, and over the course of the week, I will sit down and pick out the words I can think up clues for. Around Wednesday, I’ll transfer the written clues to computer (much longer and I can’t guarantee to read my handwriting) and produce a new list for the rest of the week.
So each word is simply a word on a sheet of paper. The sheet does bear the name of the publication for which the clues are intended, so there is some awareness of the destination, I suppose. But, frankly, when you’re faced with PLENIPOTENTIARY to clue, the outlet is immaterial. (NB PLENIPOTENTIARY is not currently on any of my clue lists anywhere.) I do feel one can edge nearer the knuckle for the Guardian (and there’s one clue in the offing, if it survives editorial assessment, that might be considered over the knuckle and well on the way to the fingernail), but that’s not a question of difficulty.
And I presume the motivation for the ‘evil twin’ sobriquet is difficulty. I find the difficulty of my puzzles very hard to assess, being on the wrong side of the solving process. I dare say I do vary in difficulty, but it feels implausible that all the hard ones should end up in The Guardian. Pangakupu is just Pangakupu, Kcit is just Kcit, and Phi is just Phi.
The puzzle this time is an Enigmatic Variations puzzle from 26 April 2009. There’s another EV due this month almost exactly 14 years from that date. Further reminders of that to follow.
Off to a quiet start in April, but Good Friday sees a Times Quick by Pedro appear the same day as Phi in The Independent, with a Times 15×15 on 12 April. Those who have been following the monthly Zodiac-themed puzzles in The Independent may want to note that the last has been displaced from the first Friday in the month by the intervention of Easter.
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