Saturday, 24 September 2016

Three Urban Legends about Crosswords.

My grandmother did the Times crossword daily. One day she occupied a train journey by looking at the crossword. She worked out the answers in her head, and five minutes before the train reached her stop, she rapidly wrote them in. The young man opposite assumed she had just done the Times cryptic crossword in five minutes. With an expression of awe, he took down her suitcase from the rack and opened the door for her.

According to actors who worked with him, in rehearsals, John Gielgud used to sit and do the Times crossword when offstage. One day he left the paper behind and a younger actor ran after him with it – “Your Times, Sir John!”. But, he reported to the rest of the cast, Sir John had just filled in words that fitted – they had nothing to do with the clues.

Recently a friend told me a similar story: he claimed that he sat on the train to work pretending to do the Times crossword, just filling in words that fitted. But one day just as he was getting off, a man called out “What’s nine down?”.

(You’d need to be pretty clever to fill a crossword grid with words that fitted together.)

Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Who Are "We"?

Who are "we", again?

FATHER, Mother, and Me
Sister and Auntie say
All the people like us are We,
And every one else is They.
And They live over the sea,
While We live over the way,
But - would you believe it? - They look upon We
As only a sort of They!

We eat pork and beef
With cow-horn-handled knives.
They who gobble Their rice off a leaf,
Are horrified out of Their lives;
And They who live up a tree,
And feast on grubs and clay,
(Isn't it scandalous?) look upon We
As a simply disgusting They!

We shoot birds with a gun.
They stick lions with spears.
Their full-dress is un-.
We dress up to Our ears.
They like Their friends for tea.
We like Our friends to stay;
And, after all that, They look upon We
As an utterly ignorant They!

We eat kitcheny food.
We have doors that latch.
They drink milk or blood,
Under an open thatch.
We have Doctors to fee.
They have Wizards to pay.
And (impudent heathen!) They look upon We
As a quite impossible They!

All good people agree,
And all good people say,
All nice people, like Us, are We
And every one else is They:
But if you cross over the sea,
Instead of over the way,
You may end by (think of it!) looking on We
As only a sort of They!

Rudyard Kipling