I like doing cryptic crossword puzzles. In these, you don’t get a straightforward clue, but a pun, or an anagram, or a rebus, or something else clever; you have to figure out what’s going on. (Example: “Choose Providence for power,” eleven letters. Answer: ELECTRICITY (“elect R.I. city”). Get it?)

Well, I finished one recently, all but one definition, as follows:

15 DOWN: Raise drink, imbibing one (5)

So I’m looking for a five-letter word that means “raise,” or “raise drink,” or “one,” or something. I could not make head or tail of this.

So I took a bath. And, just as I was getting into the tub – just as my toes were hitting the hot water, in fact – it came to me.

HOICK (meaning “raise” in British slang). This is “hock” (a kind of wine) which has “imbibed” I (Roman numeral one).

Isn’t it interesting how the mind works?

Ideas come from everywhere. They come from nowhere. Our minds are churning all the time; they burp out all kinds of interesting information when we least expect it. We just need to be grateful for the inspiration when it comes.

Grant Wood, the artist, said he got his best ideas while milking the cows. Phyllis McGinley said she worked on poems while vacuuming the house; Agatha Christie said she got ideas while doing the dishes.

But the best story of all is this:

Anton Bruckner, the Austrian composer, was asked where he got the idea for a melody in one of his symphonies (I think the opening of the Seventh, but some say the Ninth). “Well,” he said, “I was hiking in the Alps. What a lovely day! The mountains, the forests! But it was a hot day, so I sat down to rest on a fallen log, and I unwrapped my lunch. And – well, my wife had packed me a cheese sandwich, and it was very strong cheese. And as soon as I smelled that cheese, the melody popped into my head.”

Okay, kids, you heard Anton. Go make yourselves a cheese sandwich, and then go make some good art.


About Loren Williams
Gay, partnered, living in Providence, working at a local university. Loves: books, movies, TV. Comments and recriminations can be sent to

4 Responses to Inspiration

  1. starproms says:

    Hilarious re the cheese sandwich. No I don’t think that would work for me.
    I greatly admire you and others who can do the cryptic crosswords. I can’t. I’m hopeless, impatient with it and can’t see the answer until someone points it out to me. Well done!

    • The first time I looked at a cryptic, I had no idea what was going on. I like them now, especially the English ones, because the slang is completely different. And I have certainly learned a lot of cricket terms!

      • starproms says:

        How very interesting! My ex, who lives here, does them frequently and has become a dab hand at them. He aims to finish it by lunchtime but I sometimes get disgruntled with him, preferring that he ‘does something more useful instead’! Some days he can’t get into it at all, then when he comes back to it, he sees the answer straight away.

      • I think it depends on a person’s state of mind. Some days I sail right through; other days they’re impossible. (American crosswords are very dull.)

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