The Shipping Forecast Puzzle Book | BBC Books

For every Shipping Forecast area, you find the places on the map indicated by various clues. Join the places to form the shapes of letters. Join the letters to form a sea shanty.

Out 5 November from your local bookshop / Penguin / Waterstones / Amazon etc.

It also gives a flavour of what it’s like to be in each of Dogger, Fisher, German Bight…

Borat Subsequent Moviefilm | Amazon

“Additional material”, written before the substantial Covid elements, for this, released on 23 October.

Borat

Richard Osman’s House of Games | BBC2

Series four starts on 12 October. Happily (for me), the question-editor bit of production preceded … the Unpleasantness.

See also: my book for Penguin, The Joy of Quiz. And, to a lesser extent, the official spin-off book.

How to solve Cryptic Crosswords during Coronavirus

Looking for a distracting hobby that takes a chunk of time? 

Maybe one with a bottomless supply that you can access without going out into the world?

But you find cryptic crosswords baffling?

Here’s a selection of understandable explainers from the Guardian (if you prefer, your local bookshop can get my book for you).

And another thing: crosswords are best learned with a friend or family member. Beginner-friendly puzzles: Observer Everyman; Guardian quiptic; Telegraph; Times2.

Cryptic devices

Right, these are the bits of business like anagrams that you find in cryptic clueshidden answersdouble definitionssoundalikesinitial lettersspoonerismsCockney rhyming slang; containersreversalsalternate letterscyclingstutteringtaking most of a word

Bits and bobs

You also come across abbreviations and whatnotRoman numeralsNato alphabetGreek letterschemistryabbreviations for countriespoints of the compassplaying cardscapital lettersapostrophescricketalcoholthe churchdrugsmusicanimalscarscitiesriverswhen the setter’s name appearswhen the solver appears

Individual letters

A surreal set of “interviews” with the alphabet: ABCDEFGHIJKL

Top 10 Crosswords in Fiction

10Brief Encounter
9PG Wodehouse
8The West Wing
7Martin Amis
6Madness’s Cardiac Arrest
5Rubicon
4Alan Plater
3Inspector Morse
2Lord Peter Wimsey
1: The Simpsons

Interviews with setters

What makes these people tick: Paul; Enigmatist; Anax; Tramp; Boatman; Arachne; Rufus; Shed; Puck; Pasquale; Morph; Orlando; Gordius; Audreus; Philistine; Otterden; Doc; Crucible; Picaroon; Nutmeg; Chifonie; Screw; Chalicea; Knut; Styx; Marc Breman; Azed; Navy; Smurf

Random bits and bobs

100 years of crosswords; commentary from the Times Crossword Championship; rudeness; plagiarism; David Nobbs; Steve Pemberton

Inside No 9 | BBC2

You should watch this episode first

… then listen to the podcast to discover my indirect association.

The book in question is The Joy of Quiz.

See also: The Riddle of the Sphinx

Richard Osman’s House of Games | BBC2

Series three of House of Games; 100 episodes.

See also: my book for Penguin, The Joy of Quiz

Richard Osman’s House of Games | BBC Books

Book of Games

I am proud of this book, which comes out on 17 October.

It has some games from the TV show, and some new ones and, with a couple of exceptions, all new questions. There are some imaginary behind-the-scenes conversations and general nonsense.

Blurb:

Do you know how many post boxes there are in the UK? Could you guess how many times the word ‘goat’ appeara in the King James Version of the bible? Fancy playing a game of charades where all of the books, films and plays are entirely made up? Now, look around the room. Is anyone there the kind of person who’ll say ‘I just don’t understand this’, when faced with something that’s not just perfectly easy to understand, but is … well, fun? Ask them to leave. Have they gone? Good. Now welcome inside the House of Games.

Hotel California | BBC News

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A Smashed Hits about (the) Eagles’ Hotel California:

“Vaguery is the primary tool of songwriters,” Frey told a journalist during a 2003 pro-am golf tournament in California’s Pebbel Beach, where he was partnered with Huey Lewis. “It works, it means whatever the listener wants it to mean.”

Sources: History of the Eagles; Hit Story: It All Started Because Of Rattlesnakes; Rockin’ ‘Round The Round, SF Gate; Jennifer Parker’s McBusted: The Story of the World’s Biggest Super Band and this lovely data collection from Southern California Public Radio.

Trump, double-negatives and politics | BBC News

double negative

A quick piece for the BBC about double negatives:

It’s hard to understate how often we find ourselves using two negatives when we don’t mean to – in fact, this sentence begins with a common example

See also:

The Lion Sleeps Tonight | Financial Times

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A piece by me for the FT’s Life of a Song series on “The Lion Sleeps Tonight”:

Solomon Linda recorded the spine-chilling isiZulu-language ‘Mbube’ in Johannesburg in 1939. Some he improvised as the tapes rolled. And for those moments, the song belonged to Linda.
 
Then he was bought out for ten shillings by Eric Gallo, the Italian wideboy who owned the studio, and who now owned ‘Mbube’. Even when it became a local hit, Linda could have had no idea what he had given away.

I am indebted to Rian Malan’s collection of essays, and we are all indebted to his indefatigability.

Here’s a playlist of the music mentioned:

Richard Osman’s House Of Games | BBC2

Series two begins on BBC2 today.

particularly pleasing… This is trivia, plus; it requires a bit of wit, and imagination, even, certainly silliness — Sam Wollaston, Guardian

…just how much I loved BBC2’s new quiz show Richard Osman’s House of Games… Like all the best TV quizzes, ROHOG scores very highly on the playalongability chart – so the half hour fair flies by — Ian Hyland, Mirror

the BBC’s new infectiously funny prime time show… deserves praise for finding a sweet spot which fits all audiences — Adam Bloodworth, Metro

it shouldn’t be a surprise that [Richard Osman’s House of Games] is terrific… The victor gets to choose between a dartboard, pasta maker, cushion and dressing gown, but really, we’re all winners hereRobert Epstein, Independent

viewers couldn’t stop laughing… The show’s debut was a success by all means as fans loved Richard’s new format — Helen Daly, Express

Stand By Me | BBC News

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A piece for BBC News about the use of Stand By Me at the royal wedding:

That’s why Harry and Meghan’s choice of song meant more than if they’d gone with, say, Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You. And the performance by the Kingdom Choir takes Stand By Me back further still, re-infusing it with the defiance as well as the devotion of gospel.

Read the rest of this entry »

Heat Map | BBC Radio 5Live

I am a panellist on Heat Map this Sunday.

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Under discussion: cultural appropriation, Kanye West and The Communist Manifesto.

My choice of intro music: