You’d have to speak to She Who Was Born To Worry to get confirmation, but I think I was probably a right little pain in the arseass when I was a kid. ‘What’s changed?’ I hear you cry in a kind of unison that’s both cruel and a little unnecessary. But as a child, I had an uncanny knack for being particularly irritating if I wasn’t making use of my grey matter in some other way.
With that in mind, it’s probably not surprising that I quickly got into puzzles. Let’s face it, it was either that or the safe knowledge that my mum would be currently nearing the end of a twenty five year stretch
at her Majesty’s pleasurein the slammer.
I couldn’t get enough of puzzles though. I particularly loved logic problems, the weird grid of boxes that allowed you to discover (eventually, after torturous process of elimination) that Jack and Miles were best friends who used to play squash (not badminton) on Wednesdays. You don’t seem to be able to buy logic problem books in the US (you can take a look at one here), so I can only assume that Americans couldn’t care less about Jack and Miles, let alone their midweek workouts.
Then there was the Rubik’s Cube, the greatest money spinner ever created from a bit of plastic and thirty six colo
ured stickers. The stickers were very important to me, as no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t complete the cube by legitimate means and had to resort to removing and replacing the stickers surreptitiously in order to give the illusion of genius. And to be fair, replacing the stickers exactly straight so that nobody knew what you’d done required a certain level of extra-worldly ability.
The Rubik’s Magic was rubbish though. Having eagerly lapped up the pre-release hype, I was bitterly disappointed to have completed it in a matter of hours. It was probably a good thing though – there was no way I’d have been able to break into that bastard to switch around the panels without the use of a chisel and a pair of glass cutters.
Since those heady days, I’ve been a puzzle freak, lapping up the latest obsession from cryptic crosswords to sudoku or kakuro. I know that The Special One is particularly enamoured of my predilection for a quick game of solitaire on my phone just before turning the lights out at night. I think she’s just relieved that she doesn’t have to wheel out the ‘I’ve got a headache’ excuse, to be honest.
But today I am putting Hasbro, Mattel, Waddingtons (and any other games manufacturers from my youth whose names haven’t been obliterated from my memory by more than fifteen years of late night binge drinking) on notice that I have discovered a puzzle that will beat all others. A convoluted brain teaser that will make the Rubik’s Cube look like, well, a bit of plastic with thirty six colo
ured stickers on it. And the joy of it is that all you need is a wife (or live in girlfriend, if you prefer)!
Basically, all you do is take a large quantity of brassieres (beginners should start with no more than six, although I am now capable of anything up to thirteen), and stick them in the washing machine. Set the cycle to gentle (experts can opt for hot wash, but that does introduce an element of violence to the puzzle, when your partner realises what you’ve done to her expensive La Senza over the shoulder boulder holders), sit back and in twenty minutes you’ll have the toughest puzzle yet invented.
Marvel as you wonder how the bras can have become so intertwined! Gaze in awe at the creation of knots more effective than anything seen in The Big Book of Particularly Effective Knots For Sailors! And cry real tears of frustration as you realise that your early days of attempting to undo a bra without the user’s knowledge in no way prepared you for this unbelievable challenge of logic and physical dexterity!
Playing the game yesterday, there was such carnage that I believed the laws of physics and matter had somehow been broken during the course of their time in the washing machine. At one point I believed I was going to need to resort to snipping the straps to pull them apart, before sewing them back together; the Bra Puzzle equivalent of taking the stickers off the Rubik’s Cube. Sadly I’m useless with a needle and thread, so instead I spent half an hour painstakingly prising the puzzle apart, one bra at a time. The joy you feel at completing the puzzle – the moment the final two bras fall apart – is indescribable though.
Sadly women are not able to take part, given that one touch on the pile of aforementioned lingerie is seemingly enough to break the connective bonds and turn it into a useable collection once more. It’s enough to send this useless man back to the sudoku, I can tell you.