Last weekend I learned that if you mix up the letters to ‘Weak anteater girth’ you get ‘Heritage water tank’. And not just any old heritage water tank. It’s the water tank at number 10, Summit Street, North Lambton.
Let me explain.
Last Saturday, me and my writing group buddy Margaret Jackson (who blogs here at Marg’s Slices of Life) were invited into the ABC Newcastle radio studio for Treasure Hunter with Jenny Marchant. It was our job to solve the clues – with the help of some very clever listeners – and navigate the ABC car around town in search of the elusive red envelopes.
I’ve always love cryptic clue solving. When I was younger, my lack of general world knowledge meant the classic crosswords weren’t really my thing. But cryptic crosswords were all about mixing up words, looking for patterns and that incredibly satisfying ‘ah-ha!’ moment when you solve the clue.
So Marg and I turned up to the ABC studio, both dressed in matching purple (showing promising signs of just how tuned-in this clue solving team was). We met Jenny Marchant, sat in the ‘green room’ and waited for the 10 o’clock news.
You can’t help but feel like a star when going into the ABC radio studio. Craig Hamilton was just finishing off his set and although tempted to jump at this local celebrity and ask for a photo, I managed to keep my cool. Marg and I took our stations at the microphones and put our headsets on. We were ready to go.
‘Many happies, Helen, but you can’t keep the diamond, so to speak, and listen to Barry.’
Seriously, cryptic clues are ridiculous.
Remember the song ‘Happy birthday, Helen’? The one song that has plagued celebrations of women named Helen ever since 1992?
Well this clue is all about that. You see, the song is by the band Things of Stone and Wood. But if you can’t keep the diamond (stone) all you’re left with is the wood. Now, if we’re listening to Barry… or in fact, saying it with that strong ocker accent we Novocastrians love, it comes out more like ‘Berry’. So let’s put Wood and Berry together and we now know to send the ABC Treasure Hunter car to Woodberry Rd.
It’s fun being behind-the-scenes of a radio station. There’s the classic red ‘on air’ light, promos of other shows dispersed and of course a few chicken noises thrown in for good luck. The chicken noises reminded me a little of that Family Guy episode where ‘Dingo and the Baby‘ give DJing a go (I like dogs, Marg, so you can be the baby).
The clues took us to Sangate Cemetery where I got a French language lesson.
‘Where in France this ruler’s there’
Oh no! Don’t tell me I need general world knowledge to solve this one?! Do I know any French rulers? French kings? Do they even have kings?
See why I’m so terrible at the normal crosswords…
But no. This is a cryptic clue. It’s about language. In particular, the French language.
What’s French for ‘this’, ‘ruler’ and ‘there’? CE, METRE, Y. So we send the car off to the largest graveyard in Newcastle, where we discover there used to be a railway station that brought people (dead and alive) to the cemetery all the way up to 1985. Margaret told her memories of travelling by train to Sandgate, and listeners called in to share stories. This is what live radio’s all about!
All in all it was a fantastic day. We got the treasure with about 10 seconds to spare, sending the ABC car to the scout hall in New Lambton (‘They search before they change course’ – searching is SCOUTing and change course can also be known as HAUL… so it’s the Scout Hall).
Ding! Now there’s a satisfying lightbulb moment.
If you’d like to listen to 1233 ABC Treasure Hunter you can listen live here or, if you’re local, tune into AM 1233. It’s on every Saturday from 10am – 12pm.
For the full write-up of clues and their answers, go to Jenny Marchant’s blog post here.