August 15th, 2020

Groan...

We were playing football with a balloon in a large gymnasium. The two teams were sitting with their backs against the walls. "Can we stand up?" I asked my neighbour- and they said it was against the rules. I didn't know where the goals were because I was sitting in an annexe, round the corner from the main playing area. The balloon came my way and I kicked at it and kicked the chest of drawers beside our bed and woke up.

In the second chapter of Nicholas Nickleby Ralph Nickleby is launching a company that is designed to fail but only after making him a lot of money. Politicians have been hired to back it and the police are keeping the meeting in order with a very familiar mix of incompetence and brutality. How little things have changed, I thought. And then I thought how Dickensian our present Prime Minister is- with his carefully cultivated quirks of speech and self-presentation. And then I thought about Mr Trump and how he's a kind of mash-up of Pecksniff and Quilp.

"Elgar" is generally acknowledged to be the toughest of the Telegraph's crossword setters. I see his moniker attached to a Friday puzzle and groan and think "Well, that'll keep me going over the weekend". I stared at his latest offering for about half an hour before I was able to make sense of any of it. I'm now about three quarters of the way through....