In good and bad ways it’s been a busy couple of months.
Thankfully it’s mostly good. Over the past year or so the Sunday Times has occasionally run month-long series of Jumbo GK puzzles around Bank Holidays, and there had long been talk of eventually expanding the puzzles section so that this could become a permanent weekly feature. This has come to be as of the start of August, so it’s a welcome opportunity to shake off the cryptic shackles once a week.
It’s a different challenge – the opposite, in some ways, to cryptics. Once a 225 has been filled the big task is clueing, while with the jumbo puzzles that part of it is straightforward; the hard part is getting a big grid filled with GK-ish answers.
It has presented another challenge though. To keep things from being fiddly and bitty, I’ll generally put together a monthly supply along with – every other month – a two-month supply of concise crosswords. This is fine, but the difficult part is then switching back into cryptic mode. My brain seems to take a long time to adjust to that way of thinking. For different reasons last month was the same. I had a three week holiday in Canada with absolutely no crossword activity and it was mighty hard to turn the lights back on when I got home. I wonder if solvers experience something similar if they’ve broken the solving habit for a few weeks?
On the bad side there’s a bit of intense emotional turmoil going on at the moment. Out of the blue and for no reason I can even vaguely fathom my daughter has blanked me completely and I’m unable to establish contact directly or via her mum. It’s a horrible and utterly mysterious situation, but listen… I have to work and I have to keep functioning, so while the satisfaction was muted I was very glad to get a pair of ST puzzles done and dusted over the weekend.
Solvers of Anax puzzles may be wondering where I’ve been over the past month or so. Don’t worry, I’m still there, and I’ll be back shortly. It’s simply that the past two months have combined a sudden extra workload (to deadline) and almost a month away from all crossword activity. I had actually tried to submit an Anax before the Canada trip but it was a failed grid-fill. The GK and concise work is now done for a few months and the desk has been cleared for full-on cryptic setting.