Listen With Others

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Listener No 4587, Of Course: A Setter’s Blog by Malva

Posted by Listen With Others on 19 Jan 2020

I have to admit it came as a pleasant surprise to learn Of Course would appear during the festive season, and for a few deluded moments, I even considered the possibility of my puzzles becoming as much a Christmas tradition as watching The Guns of Navarone, picking up the poinsettia leaves that start dropping off 30 minutes after you get it home and wondering if there’s any connection between inadvertently forgetting the binmen’s Christmas box and finding our wheelie bin up a tree at the end of the road.

Realistically, I suppose there’s not much chance of my puzzles becoming a seasonal staple, so I’ll just have to content myself with the traditions I’ve helped establish over the years. Like us hosting the Boxing Day extended family bash for a good while, in which, spookily enough, words featured large in the post-prandial games.

There was the dictionary game, where you had to come up with definitions for obscure words (you can tell how long ago it was by the fact that you could say polenta was a South American burrowing rodent and everyone reckoned that was spot on). Then there was the letter game, where you had to compile a long list of things beginning with a randomly chosen letter, but that had its own holly-hued headaches, especially when Aunty Olga would have a nuclear strop because she insisted Yugoslavia began with a J, which was a tad irrelevant because the chosen letter was F, and Uncle Russell had already given himself three points for Fasso, Burkina and no-one wanted to play after that. Usually, by about seven, there had been enough cross words to fill the other 51 weeks of the year and the assembled crew trotted off and we were just left with about six hundredweight of washing-up and not a single morsel (or ort as most solvers would say) of uneaten food apart from a bucket of Cousin Helen’s homemade chestnut stuffing, which I eventually used to waterproof the porch roof where a couple of the tiles had slipped.

OK, so Of Course won’t be setting any Yuletide precedents and probably a proportion of solvers will be hoping I at least follow New Year tradition by resolving to create just one more avian puzzle at the most – obviously to be completed using a feather quill and delivered to John Green by carrier pigeon. But then, who makes resolutions any more?


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