March Update: When things get tough…

I’ve just emailed this to my 2500 Clue Challenge mailing list, updating them on my progress for March. If you’d like to be on the mailing list, then simply send me a quick email to 2500cluechallenge AT danielpeake DOT com and I’ll add you to the list!

We’re a quarter of the way through the year!! Amazing – where did the time go? And also, where did the heat go? It’s been a sodding cold start to the year.

Anyway, enough complaining about the weather. I do plenty of that in my day job. In March, I solved 196 out of 607 clues, taking me to 633 out of 1811 in total. This makes me just under 2 days ahead of schedule, which should mean I finish in mid-December at the current rate. To see my day by day progress, I update this spreadsheet most days: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvH9W6C-9XHRdE8tZnRmSXRTekVZbUpaRWhzN0tyTVE#gid=0 . Also you can follow me, @danielpeake, or search for #2500ClueChallenge on twitter and flickr. Crosswords have been varied, with themes ranging from James Bond, Animal Farm to the discovery of DNA by Watson and Crick. My clue of the month is by Paul: “Bugger duck sauce! (5)”. Answer at the end of the email.

It’s been a hard month, particularly the last couple of weeks. As I’m trying to raise awareness of depression, it’s only fair that it decided to pay me a rather intense visit of late. It was triggered in what I find an amusing (and completely first world) way – I bought the wrong computer monitor. I meant to get a different one, when it arrived from amazon, I realised I’d got the wrong one. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back, as it was by no means the only thing on my plate at that point. But it was enough to make me question my own ability to function.

Whilst I’ve been struggling to cope with the hours of my shift work in my job anyway, this totally blew me out of the water. The depression has made me phenomenally tired, so much so that it’s all I’m doing outside of work. Case in point – several days this week after I finished work at 5pm, I was in bed by half past five, and I slept through until work the following morning. At least I CAN sleep – depression has two different effects on people, it’ll either make you sleep more (like me, 11-12 hours per night on average at the moment), or it’ll make you sleep less like an insomniac. Either way, you don’t feel refreshed by the morning.

The current intense period of depression will ease, I know that, but at the moment it’s a difficult time for me. I’m asking my doctor for an increase in my medication to help me cope better, and I’ll see what the doctor says about how to manage my frankly ridiculous sleep levels. But I wanted to point out that really random things can set off depression, and the effects can be profound and then linger.

By doing the 2500 Clue Challenge, and asking people to donate 1p per clue that I solve,  I’m hoping to raise money for ReThink, which research and support those with a wide range of mental illnesses, obviously my particular focus here is on depression. I’ve got over £300 in donations now, so I’d like to say THANK YOU to all who have pledged and donated so far. If you would like to do so, head over to http://www.justgiving.com/danielpeake2500 for all the details.

FINALLY – please spread the word! I want more people to know about this challenge. Tell them about the challenge, and direct them to my website to find out more, www.danielpeake.com , or simply google “2500 Clue Challenge”.

Until April, let’s hope it warms up (and I bet we’ll be complaining it’s too hot soon).

Dan

ANSWER TO CLUE OF THE MONTH: PESTO. (Bugger = pest, duck = O)

 

February Update – Clues, Memory and appearing on a game show!

I’ve just emailed this to my 2500 Clue Challenge mailing list. If you would like to be put on the mailing list, drop me a line at 2500cluechallenge@danielpeake.com .

Hello 2500 Clue Challenge Pledgers! It’s been a bloody cold month. And I say that officially as a weather forecaster. And cloudy, too.

But enough about the weather for now. I am still continuing on with the 2500 Clue Challenge! Part of me was worried that I’d give up after a week and all this build up would be for nothing but. I was talking to a friend recently and he had a similar concern, that I’d give up, but now reckons that now that I’m into the swing of it, I should be able to finish it. I do agree with him. It might be a bit tricky if I go abroad on holiday and have limited access to crosswords, but that’s just part of the challenge. I’m confident now that I’m not going to stop before the end of the year.

I solved 180/551 clues in February (slightly less as a perentage than in Janary), taking me to 455 out of 1204 clues in total. I am about 2 1/2 days ahead of schedule at this point, which means I will finish sometime in early to mid December at the current rate of progress. That’s fantastic news! When I hit 500 clues, which should be within the next week or so, I’ll send an email alerting you of this fact and encouraging you to then donate £5 (or simply wait until I hit £10… or £15…  or £20… or £25!).

My Clue Of The Month for February just has to go to this: Starbucks offering tiniest bit of tax – at the last minute admitting it (5). Answer at the end of this email.

This is, of course, if I remember to email you. My memory is terrible and is very much affected by my depression. Since my depression and particularly in the last couple of years, my short memory has become quite poor. It is also better on some days when I’m feeling happier, and worse on days when I’m feeling down. It is very frustrating that I cannot appear to be able to control how much I remember. To combat this I have to make lists of anything  and everything that I need to do. For example, on my current TO DO LIST (which is 20 items long at the moment) I need to do (amongst others): Charge phone. Send out Feb 2500 Clue Challenge update. Ironing. Take stuff to charity shop. Laundry. Claim £4 of scratchcard winnings (that one I really need to do, actually).

The list can go from quite important things to extremely menial tasks. But if I don’t write it down, there’s a reasonable chance I’ll forget to do it. I’m hoping my memory will come back as I my happiness increases. But I want to make the point that the depression is having a profound day to day secondary impact that isn’t directly related to “feeling happy” and “feeling sad”. It’s something that could affect my work performance, but I don’t let it. As I say, I write lists. Of course, the real fun happens when I lose a to do list. That happens far too often for my liking.

Before I sign off, a three of things. Firstly, my stats spreadsheet is becoming very interesting now. Fridays are the easiest day, Thursdays are the hardest. Maybe that’ll change through the year, but you can view all my current stats here: https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/ccc?key=0AvH9W6C-9XHRdE8tZnRmSXRTekVZbUpaRWhzN0tyTVE#gid=0 .

Secondly, I’m going to be on the telly again! I’m going to be on the new gameshow The Common Denominator with Phil Spencer on March 11, 3:30pm on Channel 4. I’m hopefully going to be watching it with a few friends so we can have a good laugh together. Do watch it if you have a chance, you’ll be a good giggle at me I promise.

Thirdly – PLEASE FORWARD THIS TO ANYONE WHO IS INTERESTED IN CROSSWORDS OR INTERESTED IN GIVING MONEY TO MENTAL HEALTH CAUSES.

Thank you very much for reading this tome! Until the 500 clue update and then the March update, happy crosswording!
Dan

Oh, and the answer to the clue? LATTE (the letter T in LATE). A sharply observed clue, absolutely brilliant.