Wednesday, 10 April 2013

The platypus and the identity crisis.

I don't tend to watch TV that much. This means I need to find an alternative method of finding out the news. Sure, in these times the internet is pretty much the source for all the news you could ever want - and don't want. Or isn't true. Whatever. I'm not that old, in my mid-forties, but I'm certainly of an age and disposition that I prefer to read a newspaper, printed on paper.

Obviously, the question then becomes 'which newspaper'? No way am I going to read the parochial Daily Mail and the Princess Diana-fixated Daily Express. Likewise, I want to actually read news about real things, so that eliminates The Sun and the Daily Star. After that, you then turn you what are known as the broadsheets; The Times and The Guardian. However, they are known as broadsheets for a very good reason - their size. I'm sorry, but I don't want to have to wrestle with my newspaper. Also, I have to admit that while I like to think of myself as being better than reading the redtops with their pictures of topless women, The Guardian and especially The Times are far too highbrow for me.

This leads me to The independent..
However, buying a newspaper every day is a tad pricey, especially when you don't have much money coming in. And this is where the people at The Independent had a cracking idea - why not publish a digest version of the main newspaper - give the main points for each story and then move on.
Since The Independent by definition and reputation is fairly unbiased in its political leanings, this is another point in its favour for me. Also, since the i, as the digest paper is known (including the colour), necessarily cuts out a lot of stuff for the sake of space, this means there is a lot, lot less celebrity crap.
Oh, and the paper is stapled, so no trouble with keeping it all together.
All for 20p (30p on Saturdays, as it covers the weekend).

The i is a great read, for me at least, but there is one feature that Julie, my mother and me all enjoy; the crossword at the back. It's general knowledge, and of moderate difficulty. One feature of this crossword is especially fun for us - the first two (sometimes three) clues across make up a pun. For example, the answer to the across clues could be 'Hart' (a stag) and felt (a soft material, often used for hats). If you put them together, you then get 'heartfelt'. Not a funny pun, but it's a little something just to help you along.

Recently, both Julie and myself found ourselves momentarily stumped by a particular clue.
14A Diving duck (6)
Since other answers had given us _C___R, we should have had enough to work with. Unfortunately neither of us are bird-watchers, and I had a headache in any case. Since our habit is to pass the crossword back and forth, each filling in until we get stuck, did that. and then we fell back on our normal practice; trying to talk it out. We worried at a couple of other problematic clues for a while, and then returned to our diving duck. Initially, we both sat in silence, trying to think is through, but then we tried our emergency option - wild guesses.
On this occasion, the wild guesses were to get a little wilder than before...

Obviously, Julie was in quite a whimsical frame of mind.

By the way, the answer to the clue was 'scoter' (to be honest, I'd never have got that). Have a look at the RSPB page for it.