Most newspapers, and many magazines have crossword puzzles in  them; quite often there are two puzzles, a cryptic and a general knowledge one. I’m quite good at general knowledge, but I find the cryptic ones almost impossible – although one an answer is explained I do understand how it was arrived at.

I though maybe crosswords had been around for a long time, knowing how people like to have word puzzles and teasers going back to Saxon times and their riddles. However, I was surprised to discover crosswords are actually not that old – what we would think of as very basic word puzzles started appearing in the 1800’s, and at first just being for children. All changed when a crossword puzzle was published in 1913 by Arthur Wynne; his puzzle was just white squares but within the next ten or so years, the black squares were introduced. These puzzles, at first in American newspapers and magazines, and then crossing the Atlantic to Britain, were for adults as well as children. Soon, in Britain, the cryptic clues began to appear, and crosswords began to get more and more fiendish!

I’m no good at the cryptic, but as I mentioned I’m not bad at the general knowledge. The Saturday crossword in our paper is quite large, and some of the questions are very obscure… in fact we never manage to finish it. We never ‘cheat’ and look up the answers; only when we admit defeat do we then do some research and track down the mysterious solutions.

Here are some of the clues which defeated me today:

  • also called a gate-keeper,a mainly orange coloured butterfly feeding on brambles, ragwort, wild marjoram and wood sage (5,5)
  • Swiss —–; the national anthem of a country with no capital (5)
  • item used in the game of taw (6)
  • capital of the Correze department in south-west France (5)
  • item worn as an amulet or charm (7)
  • monetary unit of Indonesia (7)
  • author of The Destructive Element; or a 1990’s drama starring Jimmy Nail (7)

Do any of the answers spring out at you? Did you manage to get them all right? or were you totally baffled, like me?

Here are the answers:

  • hedge brown
  • psalm
  • marble
  • Tulle
  • periapt
  • rupiah
  • Spender

Well, now I know, but I can’t imagine I’ll use any of them very often – although knowing the butterfly might be useful when we’re out in the country!




This marble, dead and cold

The featured image is not by me, I have never been to the Washington Monument – I have been to Washington State, but not Washington DC. Today, I’m sharing a poem for February from Walt Whitman; he was born in 1819 in Long Island, New York, and died aged 72 in Camden New Jersey in 1892. I have been to New York, and I have been to New Jersey!

The Washington Monument is a huge in Washington, D.C., built to commemorate George Washington; it was begun in 1832, and made of marble, granite, and bluestone gneiss. It is  the world’s tallest stone structure and also the world’s tallest obelisk. It is nearly 555 feet tall but was originally planned to be 600 feet tall. It was dedicated in February 1885, and opened to the public in 1888.

Washington’s Monument, February, 1885

Ah, not this marble, dead and cold:
Far from its base and shaft expanding – the round zones circling,

Thou, Washington, art all the world’s, the continents’ entire  –
not yours alone, America,

Europe’s as well, in every part, castle of lord or laborer’s cot,
Or frozen North, or sultry South – the African’s – the Arab’s in
his tent,

Old Asia’s there with venerable smile, seated amid her ruins;
(Greets the antique the hero new? ‘tis but the same – the heir
legitimate, continued ever,

The indomitable heart and arm – proofs of the never-broken

Courage, alertness, patience, faith, the same – e’en in defeat
defeated not, the same.

Wherever sails a ship, or house is built on land, or day or night,
Through teeming cities’ streets, indoors or out, factories or farms,
Now, or to come, or past – where patriot wills existed or exist,
Wherever Freedom, pois’d by Toleration, sway’d by Law,
Stands or is rising thy true monument.

Walt Whitman