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The solution to my July puzzle is in an image behind this link.

I wondered too late, if starting 12 with “holds” might have been a slightly nicer surface. A bit of scrabble knowledge would have helped you with 10. I’m not sure if the definition of 21 was “war” or “of war”, possibly arguable, but if you don’t like one, you ought to be ok with the other. I wanted to have “declaration of war”, but it didn’t feel quite right. 25 didn’t necessarily need the brackets, but I liked the juxtaposition of topper with bowler, so I put it in. 18 & 29 were my favourites.

August’s puzzle is almost finished already, so I hope I can start a new one and get ahead of schedule again soon.

Here’s this month’s puzzle from me. Right-click to download printable .png file, or play in-browser at the bottom of this post (Use the cogwheel/Setting options to turn off the timer, and skipping over letters, if you prefer. Ignore the Submit button, it’s not a competition). The grid is a little over-crossed, ah well. August’s puzzle is well under way.

If you know anyone who wants to publish a monthly crossword, do send them my way. And if you think you get 50p’s-worth of entertainment from my puzzles, please feel free to paypal me on
the-bka@tlmb.net . (Sorry to ask, but times are hard. Obviously, it’s totally okay for you to carry on enjoying them for free.) ReTweets and the like help too.

Thanks for reading, hope you enjoy. Answers in a week. Chat to me on Twitter if you like…
Cheers!

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The solution to my June puzzle can be viewed in this image.

1d, 16 and 17 were my favourites. How about you?
Time to get going on my July puzzle. Except I’ve got a video to edit before I can do that. Damn, too many hobbies, I should have less fun.

I ran my Cryptic Crosswords For Beginners workshop at Lestival, and again at Bungay Balls Up. And again at Bungay Balls Up. And again at Bungay Balls Up! It seemed to go down well each time, with me talking through types of clues and wordplay, with example clues for the participants to be led through. It does need a bit of re-organising though, and a few better sample clues.


Speaking of BBU, there was a lot of crossword action there. I made a 19×19 crossword for people to solve, ran the workshop, and there was a lot of solving of other puzzles going on too. (I was working my way through a pamphlet of 20 of Knut’s crosswords.) While there, Dominique decided to edit a zine for the convention’s anniversary, and asked for contributions. So naturally, I threw together a crossword for it. In an hour – which was my excuse for completely omitting one clue in it. Only one person solved my BBU puzzle during the week, with a few getting well along the way. (I’m not putting it online – There were some BBU-specific references, and anyway, if you missed it, you missed it.)


Had some feedback on my May puzzle (spoilers), and have just got around to finishing my June puzzle, so here it is as a printable png. Sorry, no embedded browser-solvable puzzle again this month, as the software didn’t like the accents in “Dvořák”. (*sigh* Why isn’t everything UTF-8 compliant these days?)
Answers in a week.
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Live Hitchcock

In 1998, I was explaining the differences between yo-yos to a customer in Spitalfields Market, when I realised that the person behind him looking at the stall was Robyn Hitchcock. “Hello Robyn,” I said, to his back, just a fraction too late, as he wandered away.

Meanwhile in Exeter last night, I caught the last night of Mr Hitchcock’s current British tour. It only occurred to me just a few minutes before he was due on stage that these days you don’t have to wait to call out song requests, so I tweeted one through. Slim chance, maybe, but why not?

Robyn Hitchcock - Exeter

While “singer-songwriter” (with added twisted adjectives of your own preference) is an accurate description, one of the good things about an RH gig is that you get to be entertained between the music too. Tonight, after a brief false start with a harmonica rack and a guitar lead that had impertinently failed to plug itself in, Robyn told us tales of, amongst other things, trolley busses, fire alarm memories, ancient ancestors and their trains to Aberdeen, and the problems of Neolithic Grandma Architecture. All of which were quite as they should be in a world where reality and history are parallel quirks of space-time.

Oh, and there were songs too, new and old and in between. I may have been too late with my tweet, but… Antwoman, swiftly followed by 52 Stations, gained early multiple ticks in my book. Along the way, we also had some stunt guitar to close I’m Only You, Raymond And The Wires, Virginia Woolf and I Want To Tell You About What I Want from the latest album, The Cheese Alarm, and Only The Stones Remain. (Wait! It was BEADS and fish that changed hands? I’ve been singing “meat” for years.)

Peppering the evening were also many implausible requests to the sound desk (“can you make this sound like well-played 12-string, with a touch of sober David Crosby”), which each later seemed to have managed to end up going to have been what was about to have happened. (See the note about time earlier.)

Emma Swift joined Robyn for some songs at the end, and her harmonies gave a lift to Glass Hotel in particular. Closing up with the neither-Dylanesque-nor-Morrisseyan-yet-perhaps-related – I paraphrase – Queen Elvis, and the crowd bayed for more.

Shirtwatch: off-acid pink, with blue and maroon floral motif.

Robyn came back, solo, and said “apparently someone requested this”. OH! Seems I’d not been too late after all, so hooray, I got to hear 1974 live for the first time. (It’s been quite a while since my last RH gig.) I can almost taste the coffeemate and the denim. And to exit, for fun (until the melancholic Unforgiven line) Gene Hackman. An excellent evening’s distraction.

Well Robyn, I may not have sold you a yo-yo way back then, but when I got to design my own custom kendama recently, you got swirled in the paint a little, so that seems to close that loop.

Royal Kendama

The solution to my May crossword can be found in this image.

One answer is not a dictionary word, but is so common I don’t mind using it. Although the clue for it did reference an outdated (and probably derogatory) term, but I remember it being regularly used. What did you think of 8d? Too weird? I enjoyed 16 & 27, but I think 10 was my favourite. Meanwhile, did anyone spot my favourite band hiding in the grid? As always, I’m on Twitter for chat.

I had some further feedback on my April puzzle from Chameleon and Gonzo (spoilers!), which was useful.

No embedded puzzle this month. Sorry, the software didn’t like 8d. So, here’s the printable png.

I’m running a Cryptic Crosswords For Beginners workshop on Saturday, at Lestival. Hopefully I’ll get some new converts. Solution will be posted in one week. Happy solving!
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The solution to my April puzzle can be viewed in this image.

8d was my favourite. I liked 13 and 29 for imagery, although the former had general knowledge in the def and the wordplay, so maybe that was a bit too mean. 60% crossed though, so perhaps not? 7d could send you down a wrong road, hmm. I thought 24 was quite fun, but then again, you might find it easy or mean, so who knows!

Nearly finished my May puzzle in good time, and a fresh one for Bungay Balls Up is in the works too. As ever, you’ll find me on Twitter.

What’s that you say Void, “Cryptic”? What happened to “Cryptish”? After getting some further useful and nice feedback on my March puzzle from Chameleon on 1 Across, I’ve decided I’m close enough to “proper” setting now to call my puzzles Cryptics. (Expect “hubris” as an answer soon? 😉 )

So here’s my April puzzle, again as a printable PNG, or in-browser solvable puzzle. A couple of answers are over-crossed. Hey, sorry, but grid construction is hard! Anyway, hope you like it. Do let me know of your favourite, or most hated clue. Answers will be posted here in one week.
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Down the motorway for a mooch around the rainy seaside, shelter in a coffee shop, and then the first night of Unfold at the Sunfold. The basement of said hotel was our venue, and first up were drinks, and food laid on. Very civilised.

First act of the night was our genial host, under the moniker of The Steven Morricone Tyranny. Solo at the mic’d-up upright piano, in the guise of evil crooning haunter, we were treated to a selection of songs from the vault. Cheap Guitar, Vesuvius, I Am The Blind and more, together with a Fall cover, and a new song of perspective Then I Met Joanna. Grave Peril was the standout for me.

After a short break, next up was Gigantelope, or, as he introduced himself, Dave. When he started singing, I realised Dave was a fellow Being 747 alumni. He reminded me at first of Brian, although less twee. Both of which are no bad things in my book. Acoustic guitar, both with and without backing track (“opinion is split”, apparently), we had songs of companionship, meditation (“Take A Thought Holiday”), paeans to ice cream and HD TV, and of the horror-relief of the Night Bus home.

Second brother of the night, and shirt of the evening, was billed as Paul Morricone & Con Medicine, although unless CM was the tape machine, it seemed to be Paul alone. Alternating with and without guitar, to backing tracks, we heard songs from the upcoming solo LP. Two openers were songs of reminiscence (…These Tears), before we were asked that age-old question “Do you want to hear a song about Huddersfield?”. A Man Possessed, Happiness, some lovely chorussed guitar, and Like I Was Never There* followed. Last up was “a cover version”, which turned out to be the first live outing of Be Nothing, a beautiful song of ego-crushing self-realisation.



Our headliner was Thomas Truax, who I first heard, I think, played by John Peel, and who I last saw live in 2007. If this was Melody Maker, I might describe Thomas as Hal Hartley redirected by de Chirico, or as how Kerouac would write about George Shearing if he only had a theremin instead of a typewriter, or spying through your neighbours’ window, whistling silently as they watch reruns of The Twilight Zone. But it isn’t, so I won’t.* With a plethora of pedals, a resonator guitar, and homemade instruments The Hornicator and Mother Superior (Stringaling was sulking tonight), we had songs of giant butterfly girls, foxes, treed kittens, moonlight (including an off-stage, out-of-room, and indeed -building, excursion), the wind and beehive hearts. Who wants to be on a wall anyway?




An intimate gig, a top night’s entertainment, and the veggie chilli was great too.

*Facts and actual song titles may vary. Your Scaramangary rights are not affected. Click to enlarge photos, but preferably find Dave’s shots instead. Please hold to speak to one of our unco-operators.