EV 1513 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1513

Enigmatic Variations 1513

Pretty Lights by Vismut

Setter’s Blog


I suppose that one regret I have from my university days at Warwick is that although the bus station at Pool Meadow in Coventry (which I used frequently) is right by the cathedral, I never went inside. At the time, I thought it rather an ugly building and when you’re that age other things are just more interesting aren’t they? The Stage Bite at the Belgrade Theatre for one.

I first became aware of John Piper when I studied painting with the Open College of Arts around thirty years ago. The first painting I saw of his was this one. I don’t think that at the time I actually realised what it was. A painting of the shell of the still hot building a day or two after the old Coventry Cathedral was bombed in an air raid during World War II.

I simply fell in love with the colours and the composition.

Later I found out that John Piper in collaboration with Patrick Reyntiens was responsible for a number of stained-glass windows, including this one. The scale of this work is immense (81 ft high and with 195 lights of abstract designs) and it’s difficult to comprehend where on earth you would start when designing such a thing (John Piper) and where you would find the patience to make it (Patrick Reyntiens).

You can see looking at the photo here that there is a fairly obvious likeness to a crossword grid, but it took me quite a while to get it right. Adding the font was a bit of an afterthought, but I’m delighted that it fitted in to give a representation of this part of the new cathedral.

It couldn’t of course compete with the original, 81ft of coloured glass into 11×13 squares just doesn’t go.

My own thoughts were that it would be fun to do in colour and this was my original effort at representing the window in the form of a crossword grid.

A step too far for most I dare say, but hopefully some of you solvers have played this game too. If you have, please do share it with me below.

It is a gift to the crossword compiler when numbers of letters coincide and when the date of the raid Thursday fourteenth November nineteen forty matched Patrick Reyntiens, John Egerton Christmas Piper (what a fabulous name that is) I could see my way to a gimmick. Weaving the letters at the beginning and ends of the clues stopped the more experienced solvers just having a quick peek there before they started. To me it’s a bit like the light, concrete, light, concrete, spacing of the window anyway.

Since the relevant date this year coincided with a Sunday, an EV was born.

I hope you enjoyed this puzzle.


A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.

3 comments on “EV 1513

  1. A stunning grid construction – dare I say ‘Harribobs-ian’? And a devilish feat to interweave the messages in the clues that way. Thanks for an enjoyable – and educational – challenge!

  2. Brilliant!
    It was only after positioning the lights that I realised their significance – which makes the puzzle even more of an achievement.
    Thanks again.

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