From the Pabs Archives

June 29, 2011

Hedgerows and Haystacks

(Trotberg 28.09.2005)

I’m not sure how many of you ever grapple with a cryptic crossword, but I have found myself engrossed (fairly fruitlessly) in them daily for some time now. Having spent a little time learning the various rules that apply, I have made it a daily venture to find at least one solution. Yesterday yielded two, but in so doing, it has unearthed a whole host of other information. It is perhaps rather pointless information, but it is the sort of thing that – to a sad man like me – is infinitely satisfying.

The two clues that I got yesterday were:

5 Across: Mjolnir or London Footballer? (6);

7 Down: The yolk, of the rainbow perhaps? (6)

The answers are:

5, Hammer. Mjolnir being the Norse word for hammer; a fact that I picked up because my cricket bat is called Mjolnir (Thor’s Hammer)! Then of course a ‘Hammer’ is the nickname for a West Ham player.

7, Yellow. Yellow being the colour of the egg yolk and yellow also being a colour ‘of the rainbow’.

These are insignificant except that they were the sub-clue for another more tricky one. Bear with me!

This one was: 8,15,17 What’s the note of a bird called? Perhaps that of a 5,7 ? (1,6,3,2,5,4,2,6)

So the two clues I had got, were linked to this. Now what I did know, was that a Yellow Hammer is a bird. So the roots of this clue lay in that. All day I thought about it. What could it be. Alas to no avail. So infuriating to get half way there, but no cigar. On my way to work the following day, I picked up a Guardian and excitedly opened it up to have a look.

The answer was: A little bit of bread with no cheese. This was almost more irritating than not getting the answer in the first place. What the hell was that supposed to mean? When I arrived at work, I “Googled” the expression and after a little searching around, I discovered that the call of the Yellow Hammer is often described by country folk as sounding like someone saying exactly that. “A little bit of bread with no CHEEEESE” A quaint and hilarious fact. So then I wanted to hear it and I managed to find a recording:

http://www.mangoverde.com/birdsound/spec/spec202-4.html

Click the one that says Suoni & Canti. So it takes a little imagination but you can see where they’re coming from!

Finally, in searching for the recording, I came across a poem called: A Little Bit of Bread and No Cheese by Jeremy Over.

It’s good to lose something you don’t really need every now and then,

an item of clothing, some hair, a tooth, a piece of one’s mind.

A tree of course, knows this.

Once we left the family bible out on the lawn overnight

to soak up the late summer dew, and the next day

we kneaded the bloated black pulp and

put it in the oven to bake

And when the door opened a cinema of black birds ….

There’s more to crosswords than meets the eye.

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