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Initially remove Anita Ekberg from untidy fireplace, says me (1,1,1)

2 February, 2015

I have a new laptop, the winter is dark and cold, I am still single despite my pathetic attempts at wooing recently – all perfect circumstances for me to really get to work on the WIP that was interrupted by the death of my old laptop. Except that I have found a new way to waste valuable writing time – learning how to solve cryptic crosswords.

I enjoy a crossword, the normal teatime version, but the bizarre world of the cryptic ones has always been closed to me. It’s like a secret club with its own inpenetrable language and weird injokes, and I want to become a member. Every few years I make a lazy half-effort for a week or two and get nowhere. I can often reverse engineer the answers once I see them and work out how the clues point the way, but like peering the wrong way down a telescope, solving one for myself has remained a very long way off.

Last week, randomly, I decided I would give it another go, and by Jimminy Heck, this time I am going to stick with it. I mentioned this on FB too, and a few people chipped in with advice, but the only way to get good at anything is to keep practising. I have a stab at The Guardian every day, and sometimes the rather easier offering in the i. I can get a few clues in each one, and look forward to the day when I can finish the whole thing.

Is this helping my writing? Not in the slightest. But I like a mental challenge – I really took to sudoku when they first landed about 15 years back – and the cryptic certainly offers that. And the satisfaction of being able to fully appreciate the crossword will surely be on a par with the day I kept eating blue cheese until I learnt to like that.

Oh, and in case you’re wondering, this is how to solve the title of this post – by removing Anita Ekberg’s initials (AE) from a fireplace (GRATE) you get GRT. Untidy indicates an anagram , and the “me” is the overall clue to the answer: TRG. Simple eh?

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