Many years ago, pre-publication in The Guardian, I remember telling the
great Araucaria that I’d begun waking in the middle of the night with entire
clues written, blindly scrabbling for paper and pencil. Nowadays, my
subconscious is kinder to me, and allows me to do my thinking post-cock
But concentration and inspiration are elusive things.
The other night my better half was to stir with an artistic flash of
lightning. She is a painter, and a half-formed masterpiece had evidently
Many somnambulists would have shuffled to the fridge for a chicken leg. A
footballer would perhaps have reached for chewing gum.
At this point, dear solvers, I should unburden myself of a minor confession.
I snore. Occasionally (I like to think). It has never bothered me, but
marrying at the age of 44, as I am to do in just a few weeks, perhaps it has
So my wife-to-be hadn’t been hankering for a chicken leg, but perhaps it had
been the thought of gum that was the catalyst for her next move.
Sometimes the realisation of an error alights like the thud of an
walked-into unopened glass patio door. However, in those magical hours
between dusk and dawn, the enlightenment is a slow burner.
Convenient though this snack may have proved, the wax adorning one’s
earplugs is an unfamiliar and possibly, at least at first, welcome flavour.
At second, it is, I am told, most unwelcome. A considerable amount of
furrow-browed thought had evidently gone into the identification of the
offending nibbles. Perhaps she had been in the world of comparison between
these objects and a gastronomic creation from my own considerable
‘Giving great joy, earplugs in, for chewing (10)’ Pleasuring it may be for
some, but I’ll stick to gum or a chicken leg.