Deborah Ross: Our Woman in Crouch End

If that's a seven - and I'm only saying if - it looks like I'll be getting wet feet again
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The Independent Online

Sudoku. Big Sudoku. Little Sudoku. Advanced Sudoku. Intermediate Suduko. Easy Peasy Japanesey Sudoku. Suduko On The Go. Sudoku While You Go. Sudoku on the Toilet. Sudoku and chips. Sudoku on toast. I'd like my Sudoku medium-rare, please, with an extra portion of Sudoku on the side. Would you like to Sudoku? No, I think I'll sit this one out, but thanks anyway. It's Sudoku every which way and everywhere you look, even in The Sun.

Sudoku. Big Sudoku. Little Sudoku. Advanced Sudoku. Intermediate Suduko. Easy Peasy Japanesey Sudoku. Suduko On The Go. Sudoku While You Go. Sudoku on the Toilet. Sudoku and chips. Sudoku on toast. I'd like my Sudoku medium-rare, please, with an extra portion of Sudoku on the side. Would you like to Sudoku? No, I think I'll sit this one out, but thanks anyway. It's Sudoku every which way and everywhere you look, even in The Sun.

So, Sudoku. It's the game, they say, that "everyone is talking about", although, actually, this is not strictly true as Vladimir Putin has yet to say anything about it, as far as I am aware, or Reg Varney, and while Reg has been very quiet on most things for the last few years or so, you would think that if everyone really were talking about it then we'd have heard something from him by now.

Sew 'em up!

As it happens, I just don't get the popularity of this Sudoku business but, then, there is so much in life I don't get. I don't, for example, get all this fuss concerning those nasty youths in hoodies who spit a lot and are six-foot plus yet still gather in fours to mug 12 year-olds at the bus-stop, as they did to my son last week.

The solution, it seems to me, is simple. It may even be, quite literally, staring us in the face. Sew their bloody hoods up! And sew them up good and proper! Then, we can watch them ricocheting blindly off lamp-posts before, hopefully, staggering on to the road directly in the path of an oncoming juggernaut, or maybe even a Sudoku delivery van, which is a big thing because the nation is getting through through Sudokus at such a rate. (There is a 12-week wait at Harvey Nicholls for the latest crocodile-skin ones with diamante grids).

This sounds fearfully harsh and right-wing, I know. And, yes, I know they probably come from "challenging" backgrounds of the the most challenging kind, but I wouldn't mind seeing them a bit more deadish all the same. Sew 'em up! I say. And by sew 'em up I mean sew 'em up, as we must not let them get away with a bit of loose tacking.

Fluff puzzle

Now, where were we? Oh, yes. Sudoku. My partner is addicted, even though he is rubbish at puzzles. He is puzzled when he opens the fridge and there is no food in it, as usually it gets there by magic. He is puzzled by the über-slappers in Celebrity Love Island. "But what do they do?" he keeps asking. They do über-slapping, I keep replying. Still, it's not as if they're all thick. As one said most insightfully the other night, "I support Real Madrid because I love Italian football."

He is puzzled as to why the fluff in the tumble dryer is always grey no matter the colour of the wash, but I'm not sure that counts, as everyone is puzzled by that.

Numbers game

Whatever, he loves his Sudoku. He starts at dawn at the kitchen table. He goes "ah" and "oh" and "if that's a seven - although I'm only saying if - that has to be a two and if that is two then... and again I'm only saying if..."

While puzzling over his puzzle, what he likes is for me to recite random numbers at him very, very fast. "Four-nine-seven-seven-one-three-five-five-four-two-twenty-twelve-one-seven-nine-nine ... can't you find something better to do with your time?" Alternatively, I may sing them. The "Happy Birthday To You" tune works well: "Four Four Three One Seven Two/ Four Four ThreeOne Seven Two/ Eight Nine Six Five Twenty Se-ven/ Four Four Three One Seven Two"

When he moves to another room, he likes nothing better than for me to follow him, singing all the while. (Anything by Slade works, whereas Kurt Weill is tricky). He will eventually opt for locking himself in the toilet, but that's OK, because you can always sing at him from outside the door until it gets too boring.

Actually, what with him doing Sudoku in there and then my recently mugged son (sew 'em up!) slipping in to do a Four-Four-Two - that's his football magazine - I'm rarely allowed a look in and have sometimes been forced to pee in the garden. It's not nice. It's not funny. I can't help wetting my feet. If I were to blame anything - and I'm only saying if - I'd blame Sudoku.

d.ross@independent.co.uk

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