Thursday, 23 June 2011


Bill is reading the book of short stories, titled Lord Peter.  (I’m back onto Harry Potter; no point in owning them all if I’m only going to read them once, right?) 

He remarked that if Dorothy Sayers had any failings as an author it was her fascination with puzzles.  I admitted that after the first explanation of how to decode the messages in Have His Carcasewhich was admittedly very clever, I skimmed over the rest until the story resumed.  She tells more than the average reader wants to know about patterns of bell peels for churches in The Nine Tailors.

My last office was in Milburn House in Dean Street, Newcastle, next door to the St. Nicholas Cathedral and working past 6 pm on Wednesdays was impossible, because of the bells.  Dead annoying if you were trying to meet a deadline, but then the whole building was shut and locked with lights out at 7pm as I recall, so there were some limits to the insanity of work hours.  But back to Dorothy Sayers.

Apparently puzzles were very fashionable during the inter-war years.  Crosswords were first invented in 1890, they only became widespread after WWI.  More than wide-spread:  they were the latest craze. 

Imagine a world without crossword puzzles.  Not that I do much with them.  For all that I love words, I’ve never been any good at crosswords and crosswords in a (still) foreign culture – I get nowhere at all.  Mom loved them, though my Dad preferred the daily cryptoquote; he showed off by doing them in his head and writing the answer all at once.

One wonders what all those crossword fanatics did with their time and brains before crosswords came along?  Probably all those useful and practical things that people did before computers were invented…


Rick Stone said...

My Mom loved crosswords, back before her dementia set in. I think that was one of her worst losses, the ability to do her crosswords. She prided herself in being able to do the NY Times Daily Crossword in ink.

Years ago the folks used to like to play Scrabble with Mom's mother, another crossword fanatic. Neither woman graduated from high school but would "smoke" my college graduate Dad in Scrabble on a regular basis, I think because of the Crossword prowess.

Shelley said...

Although I'm hopeless at crosswords, I do love words (as you might have notices) and would probably enjoy playing Scrabble. Bill's just not into games, however, unless they are on the computer... Guess I'll have to find someone to play board and card games with!