Yesterday I was very pleased to be a guest writer at the IGGY Summer U. The students on the creative writing course, aged 13 to 16, were charming, enthusiastic, creative and full of ideas. One of the things I shared with them was the inspirational joy of cryptic crossword clues. Forget about trying to solve them (that is a separate pleasure), just treat them as phrases cut loose from any context, in which case they can act as starting points for pieces of prose.
â€œPrince enters flat of majorâ€ was one of the clues in yesterdayâ€™s Guardian crossword, and I wrote a short piece inspired by it.
Prince Fulgencioâ€™s entourage â€“ all clanking armour and burnished golden helmets â€“ gathered in the corridor outside the dingy flat wherein Major Blenkinsop lurked. The brevet captain of the entourage rapped on the door, thrice, before the more brutish and sullen members of the entourage kicked it down and stomped into the flat, roaring their heads off and unleashing a flock of half-starved starlings to sow havoc and confusion. Thus was the necessary atmosphere created for Prince Fulgencioâ€™s entrance. He had come to have breakfast with the Major, and wanted to eat his cornflakes and doughballs while watching starlings peck the wallpaper off the walls. That was the kind of Prince he was, especially at breakfast time.