Friday, December 21, 2012

Merry *cough* Christmas (retch)

I write this from the same place as Yrsa. Not literally, of course - though I'm sure Iceland is very festive at the moment - but physically. As often seems to be the case, I had a project to finish in the days before Christmas. As soon as I hit 'return' after the last paragraph, I began to feel ill. A few hours later and I was experiencing severe intestinal turmoil. The next day I was in bed with the lurgi and pretty indifferent to ancient Mayan prophecies of the world's imminent demise. I have crawled out to type this, a sweat breaking out on my brow as I do.

This is, by my reckoning, is the third of the past five Christmases where I have taken ill in the days before. Each time I have been working my socks off, holding all illnessess at bay, until the time I stop and then Bang! I hit a wall. This time, I'm still hopeful that by Monday I'll be able keep down a cup or two of Christmas cheer. But the time has come to start taking December off, I think. Or at least finish a week earlier to get the illness thing out of the way.

The only consolation is that this year I'll be spared the endless driving of previous festive seasons, stuck in traffic for hours on end in a car full of gifts, with impatient, squabbling children in the back. We aren't going anywhere, so I can lie on the sofa, hot drink in hand and watch terrible television until I feel well enough to focus on a book. That's if anyone buys me a book. The one downside of being an author is that people tend to think you might have already read a book, so plump for socks or a hat and scarf combo as a gift instead. If anyone's reading this: buy me a book. I promise I will love it.

But, anyway, enough navel-gazing. We all like a happy ending. Remember this post from last month? Well, I'm delighted to say the code has been cracked. It took a Canadian to do it. Amateur historian Gord Young believes the code was based on a code used in the First World War. British Intelligence, perhaps slighted that it took a Canadian amateur to do their job for them, have not yet confirmed Gord's solution is correct, but his theory that the message carries information about German troop positions seems convincing enough.

According to Young, the decrypted message reads:

“Artillery observer at ‘K’ Sector, Normandy. Requested headquarters supplement report. Panzer attack – blitz. West Artillery Observer Tracking Attack.

“Lt Knows extra guns are here. Know where local dispatch station is. Determined where Jerry’s headquarters front posts. Right battery headquarters right here.

“Found headquarters infantry right here. Final note, confirming, found Jerry’s whereabouts. Go over field notes. Counter measures against Panzers not working.

“Jerry’s right battery central headquarters here. Artillery observer at ‘K’ sector Normandy. Mortar, infantry attack panzers.

“Hit Jerry’s Right or Reserve Battery Here. Already know electrical engineers headquarters. Troops, panzers, batteries, engineers, here. Final note known to headquarters.”

Anyway, back to my sick bed. Have a great Christmas and see you next week.


Dan - Friday.


  1. Dan, so sorry you are sick. I hope it is all over by Monday. This will make you feel better: a copy of "How to be a Detective" is all wrapped and ready to give to my grandsons. On the other subject, it is hard to believe all those words were contained in that brief code. I'm impressed.

  2. Speaking for myself, Dan, and all the surviving Mayans, I wish you a speedy recovery and a warm, wonderful, intoxicating Christmas.