This is what I like about cryptics. There’s no such thing as a cryptic dictionary. One just has to nut it out for oneself from the clue. As I said, very self satisfying. My wife reckons I have a twisted mind so I love telling her how I sorted out an answer from a very convoluted clue. Every compiler has their own individual style, but I haven’t been able to pick who’s who at Lovatts.
At 73 and my wife at 71, we are far too young to be losing it. My mother is 101 and as a high school teacher, librarian and craft teacher, she lead a very active life until dementia got the better of her.
You have indicated that you enjoy getting feedback so here is some. People who buy your books probably do so for many different reasons. I began years ago with Colossus. I wasn’t particularly good at crosswords then but, my son and I would sit and struggle through some clues at the breakfast table before he left for school. My daughter and I eventually learned together how to solve cryptic after her homework was finished. They are now 34 and 35 and still like to put in their tuppence worth in when passing.
Over the years I have become addicted to crosswords and subscribe to BIG, Colossus, Cryptic and Addoku which have been given as birthday, Christmas and anniversary presents. I like the challenges of some where I need to ponder over clues, the simplicity of others which I can do from beginning to end without any help and those which keep me occupied for hours of searching in my dictionaries and encyclopaedias. I try not to look up the internet but sometimes have to, as my knowledge of Greek mythology, scientific facts and inventors is a bit lacking but my husband surprisingly, hyas a memory like an elephant and soaks up facts like a sponge so I have to let him try first. He seems to know everything – it is so annoying!
Your books keep me company when I can’t get to sleep and Starhunts have a calming effect at 2 or 3am. My spelling has always been shocking but I can now spell colossus the correct way! I used to have a double ‘l’ instead of a double ‘s’. I have kept Papermate in business. There are a few more spellings of words I have improved on through the years and thanks to you, my vocabulary bank is a bit bigger. My favourites have been Skeleton and Krypton (which has sadly disappeared). You can’t please all the people all the time but you certainly try.
Because of your books, I have become a collector of dictionaries and encyclopaedias. I even have a nursing dictionary and also, one I bought at a swap meet, which belonged to someone in 1907 from my home town in Scotland. It is so old it does not have a print date and it has been elastoplasted (new word for you!) together on the cover. The owner wrote his name and the date inside.
I have tried three DIY competitions in my years and I find them to be so difficult. I just can’t imagine how you can churn out so many, month after month and not give yourself a great big, sore head. Thanks Christine and all your team. You are brilliant.
Margaret I Bowker
I have been doing your crosswords for some twelve to thirteen years - they kept me sane when I was really bad with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. Even now with how the CFS has affected my brain with fog, sometimes I can do cryptics and other times when I try, I get a complete blank - the same with the DIYs. Have only managed one and it was quite easy, but no longer.
I always have either a BIG or a Colossus on the go and often get some done during TV commercials on mute. My two closest late friends, my late mother (95) and her late eldest sister (101) were both dedicated crossword solvers and I can only wonder if it is their way of letting me know they are watching over me still.
I do not feel spooked - more amazed really, and grateful I get some form of communication, as that is the only answer I can come up with.
I was amazed, but delighted, to see you had printed my list of authors and titles and the anecdote of my childhood near Mackay. Last thing I expected, as I felt it was all far too long.
My dear Dad was the head teacher at Coningsby, a little country school near the canefields – and the snakes. They turned up in many varieties – even the taipan.
How could I have forgotten my other companion, Jock, a handsome dog – not only a ‘lady-killer’ but our expert snake killer. He’d grab them behind those venomous heads and shake them to death – and thoroughly enjoyed it.
That was the era of the Great Depression, but the five years we spent there were rich with good memories.
The mellow voices of the descendants of the South Sea Islanders – some of whom were forcibly taken from their homes (it was called ‘black birding’) to labour in the cane fields, would float over from the school to the house, singing ‘Home sweet home’. The first time my homesick mother heard it she cried her heart out.
Am enclosing a poem about a tiny event of that time. Wish Dad could read it.
Deception Bay Qld
“What’s that sound I hear, sir?”
“Sound? What sound, Mattie Vella?”
“Sir, I hear little bells.
Please may I go out, sir?”
“You all may .. I’ll be with you in a minute.”
Out streamed the children, crowding the school fence –
Only to see padding along with its nose in the air,
A pampered racing camel.
Its colour was pale cream, the harness fashioned of red leather,
Tasselled and hung with little bells.
The rider was an Afghan, robed in black and white,
Turban neatly wound,
Guide stuck on a lean hand.
As they passed, he gave the stick a little twirl,
For us, a dignified nod – then they were gone,
And the sound of little bells faded into the distance.
I was one of those happy kids that day,
Never saw such a pretty sight before,
An Afghan on his racing camel –
No-one will ever see it again –
Faded like yesterday into the distance.
They’re long gone and forgotten,
But the memory lingers
Of the tinkle of little bells –
And an Afghan rider passing by,
On a pampered racing camel.
Love your puzzles
I have been doing your puzzles for years and last year my partner taught me how to do cryptics, and they have quickly become my favourite puzzles.
I spend an hour nearly every morning doing your puzzles online, and now when my work is finished, I can do some more. Once again, thank you very much.