Get a jigsaw, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
Yes, I succumbed to the current iso trend and bought myself a 1500-piece jigsaw. It wasn’t a well thought-out purchase, I soon discovered. In fact, it was the polar opposite. I was buying a book at the bookshop next door and as I passed the games shop, I noticed a whole wall full of jigsaws and thought “Why not? That’ll kill some time”. There were plenty of 1000-piece jigsaws but I’ve always been an overachiever, so I snagged the first 1500-piece jigsaw I clapped eyes on.
What I didn’t really consider was the picture on the front of the box and whether that would propel me towards a downward spiral into madness. If I had paid any attention to that image, I might have noticed the fact that a vast proportion of the picture is blue. And I also would have noticed that the picture of the palace set on a lake was also reflected in that lake, making the jigsaw twice as hard, because you’re essentially piecing together two identical images and when you pick up a piece, you can’t tell if it’s part of the building, or part of the reflection.
Yep, that would have been great to think about beforehand. Still, I was game. Lots of my friends were doing jigsaws too, and they looked happy enough on Instagram. So the first step to solving this puzzle was going to Bunnings, obviously. I waited patiently in the socially distant queue before buying a couple of large pieces of MDF. This is a particularly important step, because it means I can spread the pieces on one piece of MDF and complete the puzzle on the other, a foolproof method invented by my mother in the 70s, so that the family could still eat dinner on the dining table occasionally.
The next step in completing a jigsaw is to sort the pieces into groups. This is an excruciating task, whereby you grab a handful of jigsaw pieces, turn them all up the right way, extract the edge pieces, and sort the other pieces into say, building pieces, tree pieces, sky pieces with a bit of building on them, sky pieces and also pieces that look like they might be sky pieces but could also be lake pieces. Once this has been achieved and you’ve had your third G&T of the day, you set to work on completing the edge. This has the dual benefit of giving you a frame to work within and also giving you a sense of achievement.
Unless of course, you fail at completing the edge, which is what happened to me. I am a relatively intelligent person, but that edge has defeated me. There is a random edge piece that has some cloud on it, and yet when I look at the box, there is NO cloud on the edge. Has someone slipped an edge piece into the box from a completely different jigsaw?
Nothing would surprise me now.
Then there are the added degrees of difficulty peculiar to my house. Specifically, that whenever I have something laid out on my table, a cat feels an overwhelming urge to sit in the middle of it. I have two cats, and they dutifully take turns at this task, working in infuriating shifts, and managing to sit on the exact pieces that I need for the bit that I’m working on at the time. It wouldn’t surprise me if they planted that rogue cloudy edge piece too, to be honest. They are quite vengeful.
People on the whole have been quite supportive of my puzzling endeavours. For example, a friend gently suggested that I needed a strategy, at which point I almost started screaming “I HAVE A STRATEGY!” but my strategy, after sorting the pieces, finishing the edge, doing the building (and its damned reflection), completing the garden, then attacking the sky and the reflection of the sky in the also blue water. After that, I intend to set fire to the whole thing. Then, when travel restrictions are lifted, I’m going to travel to Spain, take a train to Seville, find the building and burn it to the ground.
Then I’m going to drain the lake, so it can never reflect anything again. So, yeah, completing a jigsaw is doing wonders for my mental health.