In the olden days whenever Mother-of-witch visited her sisters, or the other way round, she/they would slap a pile of magazines on the kitchen table. It was their regular exchange of crosswords. They all did them, and sooner or later they all got stuck, and that’s when they shared them with the others. What one couldn’t do, someone else was bound to manage, or to see where they’d gone wrong and start The Big Erasing.
I reckon this is what kept both Favourite Aunt and Aunt Motta going, and oiled the brain cells and all that. All three had a veritable battery of books to hand; most of them incredibly battered. And pencils, and erasers. Only a fool like your witch does crosswords in ink.
It was the accepted thing to sink down onto a chair and help yourself to the nearest crossword and start rearranging it. We could keep going for hours like that.
A few years ago when my trusted Vi magazine began offering an easy crossword, I had a go, thinking it’d be just the thing to exercise my tired brain cells. Because I can’t do English language crosswords. I just don’t get how they work. But while I do understand the Vi style of crosswords, I reluctantly came to the conclusion that I’ve wasted my brain powers on the wrong stuff, and also that I’ve been away for too long and no longer get the clues, unless pre-historic.
So these days I merely pull all the crosswords out and post them to the Retired Children’s Librarian for her to sigh over at her kitchen table.
And now, Daughter has returned home for Christmas, bearing a crossword book. And she sits there at breakfast wanting help with the clues. It’s more sociable than crocheting, but it requires me to think, and to visualise those Cross Words in my mind, having only partial access to the actual page. (Although it’s easier than doing it via Skype…)
Daughter feels it’s cheating to look things up, but I say that any way that helps you learn new words is a good way, and today all you need is a mobile phone, not piles of reference books, held together with cellotape.