dogger fisher german bight


your madness fits in nicely with my own
your lunacy fits neatly with my own

robert wyatt

for some time now i have been studying the discipline of cryptic crosswords. i am fortunate to have an excellent mentor and tutor on the subject. said tutor, aka the thin man, is something of an autodidact; i realised this when i noticed how many unusual words he knows by their spelling and meaning, but cannot pronounce.

one of the most fun and satisfying aspects of cryptic crosswording is when you “invent” a new word, on the basis that it is the only possible solution to that particular clue, and only afterwards confirm it exists.

my new word is inflorescence. it means the process of flowering, or all the parts of a flower – its stem, petals, stamen, everything – or the arrangement of smaller flowers on their stalk. this surprised me, because although on paper it looks like a word to do with flowers, when i first said it out loud it sounded as if it meant glowing from within.

crosswording is a quiet, often solitary, pursuit. but when we do a crossword in a national newspaper, it is also a validating form of linking up and joining in. copies of the same newspaper have passed through so many strangers’ hands, so many others have filled in the exact spaces in an identical crossword; rather like hearing the shipping forecast, or looking up at the moon and remembering it is the same moon that everyone else in the world who is looking up at the moon sees, these kinds of simple activities remind us we are part of something, and therefore matter.

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