Winston Churchill could murder a pint (5)

On Saturday I made a brief cameo appearance on the back page of The Herald.  Every Saturday Myops, the resident cruciverbalist, uses a clue supplied by a reader.  The prize – the Good Word Guide.  I wasn’t really in it for the prize.  Truth is, I have several Good Word Guides already.  I just do it for the fun of it.  I’ve always been fascinated by wordplay.  In Scrabble, I once scored 176 points in a single shot by putting down MUDFLATS between two triple word scores.  For a brief period I became known as Mudflats.  “You don’t want to play Scrabble with old Mudflats.” (Scrabble, incidentally, like croquet, is a dirty game in a douce and genteel disguise.)  Back to The Herald crossword – I’d better not tell you Saturday’s clue as for all I know there may be copyright issues, so I’ll tell you the last clue I sent in, as they didn’t use it – I can’t imagine why.

Actually it’s a “portmanteau” clue, two clues in one:

Apropos the Smiths’… (10)

…outburst, take note! (11,4)

There’s a crossword in my forthcoming book.  It’s a “designer” crossword after the fashion of some of the Sunday broadsheets, with a theme obliquely alluded to in a rubric.  (In case you find that a complete turn-off, let me say that you don’t need to solve the crossword in order to read the book.  My main protagonist does the solving for us.  There is however a piece of information so deeply embedded in the solution that I’m not even sure my publisher knows it’s there.)

I wonder if solving cryptic crosswords, like playing chess, is predominantly a male pursuit.  I say that with the greatest respect.  Most of the women I know have far too much emotional intelligence to waste their time on inanimate and schizoid activities.  I’m aware myself that cruciverbalism is largely a sterile and self-referential activity.  Never look at more than one crossword in a day and never give it more than half an hour.

Still, anagrams are great fun.  Monday – dynamo; orchestra – carthorse… and who would not be delighted by Britney Spears – Presbyterian?  The ultimate anagram is the “panagram” or anagram of the alphabet.  When I was told there was only one panagram in the English language (Cwm fjord-bank glyphs vext quiz), I strove to find another.  I came up with one last year following a report in The Herald about the littering of beaches in the Bahamas that seriously upset one of the residents – Sean Connery.  (Incidentally I wish Sir Sean would come over and exercise his considerable charisma on the good burghers of Glasgow to get them to clean up Great Western Road.  I love my home town but it resembles a professional man, down on his luck, who begins to descend the social scale, ceases to take an interest in his appearance, and loses all self-respect.  I go out of my way to mention this here, in order to discharge a duty to a good friend of mine, resident of Great Western Road, who wishes to spread the pick-up-your-litter message and regards me as his surrogate blogger.)

To return to Nassau… It can’t be as bad as Glesgae.  I mean, are there half-eaten kebabs?  A panagram on unspecified Caribbean flotsam and jetsam:  I imagined it as a text message the MI6 quartermaster sent to his boss:

M: Gulf wrack hext spy, viz, J. Bond. Q

The Herald didn’t publish that either.

I know; I really do need to get out more.


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