What the fuck is it with Sundial (I love it that there are used copies of puzzle books for sale on Amazon, btw)?
Not sure how many people who read this will be familiar with the brain-twisting quiz to be found in the Currant Bun every day, but it was always a staple (along with George & Lynne on sunbathing, sauna, or even 'housework' days) when I was a young pup. And we always return to our youth I'm told, so I dipped into the thing just this evening for a spot of nostalgia in these dangerous times.
For those who don't know, Sundial is a Reader's Digest type coffee break challenge (I always loved Rich Tea fingers liberally dabbled in milky Nescafe) printed daily in the nation's favourite rag. There are 9 letters, cunningly arranged in an old-skool phone dial shape with a slightly larger fonted letter in its middle. Your mission - should you choose to accept it - is to make as many words of four letters or more as possible whilst using the middle letter in each one. Plurals and proper names are not allowed, neither is using the same letter more than once. So far so good, you might think; but this would not be taking into account the propensity of the paper's editors to compute the maximum quantity of obscure words possible and then inflict humiliation on their readership by setting impossibly high standards.
I've always thought that my vocabulary - though not Churchillian - was at least not too shabby, but I have struggled to attain even the level of 'Great For Kids' on every occasion that I have bent my mind to this particular lexicographical teaser.
Below are some examples (those words with which I was not initially familiar but later remembered have been excluded, but please be assured that these were - to say the least - obscure) from yesterday's puzzler:
apgar (I dare you to find a definition without resorting to a proper dictionary, for I could not...)
napery (I'll give you this one. A collection of household linen!)
parang (without Google, not easy, and some ambiguity is evident)
parget (h'mm - though may go some way to explaining Pargeter)
tapa (not the singular of tapas)
tarpan (Get real!)
trepang (Of course! How could I have not known that?)
It's always really rankled that I have rarely been able to achieve the aforementioned 'Great for Kids' score on Sundial, let alone a 'good' or 'excellent' rating for adults. I mean, no offence, but purveyors of the Bun are not exactly renowned for their extensive vocabularies, are they?
For the record, employing the dubious 'venti' I managed to achieve 23 without internet assistance, with a 'Great For Kids' bar set at 20 and a 'Good' rating at 26. The 'Excellent' standard of 31 was ridiculously out of reach.
But maybe I'm just being a bit of a sneb.