The Five Things I Learned From Jigsaw Puzzles

I was in a garden centre today, acting as moral support and guard duty for the Textiliste. It’s not that she is regularly under threat, you understand but any trip out that involves her mother runs the risk of strangling and or some other form of justified homicide as the old lady proves that multitasking disappears with age.

So while we paused for the laborious, fourteen step process that aimed to wipe the Aged Beak I found myself distracted by a section that displayed nothing but jigsaw puzzles. There were cats and dogs, mountains and seas, cartoon and caricatures, countries and continents. They came in boxes and bags, tins and tubes. On wood and cardboard. From ten pieces for a mewling baby, to the factorial of all Prime numbers for Stephen Hawking.

How much distraction do we need in this time of Brexit? Loads, clearly.

As a child and into youthful adulthood I did countless jigsaws, 1000 pieces being the norm for those expert years as a Dissectologist Supreme.  I cast my mind back – there was going to be a significant pause, much like a Time Twister – we had reached stage six: the opening of the handbag, an important moment because, if planets align a tissue may, fossil-like, have shifted with some tectonic serendipity out of the bag’s Jurassic depths to sit, snow like, a’top the mountainous contents. Breaths are held and hopes spiral up only to be dashed as the first of many items is prised from within and handed to said stoic daughter – it is at moments like this when memory begins the process of re-imagining; what in reality was the scarring wrought on this trainee parent by the fortieth rendition of The  Wheel On The Bus before the sun rose becomes, through the prism of a pair of old lady’s battered sunglasses something akin to the exultation felt when I first heard Clapton live.

Where was I… dreaming. Yes, jigsaws and life lessons:

1. If you are doing a jigsaw and have an older sibling they will always steal a piece so they can complete the puzzle. It is one of the top ten Bastard-Sibling Laws, like them always getting the better chocolate from the box and them lying better than you. Throughout your life, someone will always be hiding the piece that you need to attain your goals and you will only realise it too late;

2. Completing the edge first is the perfect metaphor for negotiating a new relationship. Until you’ve sussed the boundaries, it really doesn’t matter how many ideas you may imagined as to what you might do with all the many interesting pieces that have been scattered in front of you;

3. If someone gives you a gift ‘because I know you like a challenge’ understand that it is merely another example of pre-emptive schadenfreude. They are already enjoying the idea that you will have to thank them even though you both know you will soon hate them. The jigsaw equivalent came when I was given a 1000 piece puzzle that comprised Brussels sprouts, each one almost identical to its neighbour and then, when I opened the box I realised the puzzle was double sided…;

4. When you’ve been  up to your neck in the detail for the last hour, there will always be someone who turns up at the last minute and finds the piece you’ve been struggling to see and that person will always be smug.  There is absolutely nothing meritorious in being the smart arse that can see the bigger picture; cutting through the crap merely lets more crap flow;

5. If you can find the patience to put back together something that has been deliberately mullered then see it broken up and start over again and still smile, then you’ll probably cope with whatever life will throw at you. Unless it’s covered in Brussels Sprouts.


About TanGental

My name is Geoff Le Pard. Once I was a lawyer; now I am a writer. I've published several books: a four book series following Harry Spittle as he grows from hapless student to hapless partner in a London law firm; four others in different genres; a book of poetry; four anthologies of short fiction; and a memoir of my mother. I have several more in the pipeline. I have been blogging regularly since 2014, on topic as diverse as: poetry based on famous poems; memories from my life; my garden; my dog; a whole variety of short fiction; my attempts at baking and food; travel and the consequent disasters; theatre, film and book reviews; and the occasional thought piece. Mostly it is whatever takes my fancy. I avoid politics, mostly, and religion, always. I don't mean to upset anyone but if I do, well, sorry and I suggest you go elsewhere. These are my thoughts and no one else is to blame. If you want to nab anything I post, please acknowledge where it came from.
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67 Responses to The Five Things I Learned From Jigsaw Puzzles

  1. Ritu says:

    Oh I love a good puzzle… 50’s my maximum! 😂


  2. Ha! A Brussels sprouts puzzle!? That’s fantastic.


  3. Mary Smith says:

    Have you deliberately removed your tweet button?

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Very true observations, Geoff. 🙂


  5. Paula Light says:

    I love them, but you can’t do one with a cat in the house.


  6. Geoff, this is one of your best! LOL, you’re spot-on.
    But (dramatic sigh) at this point I’d happily (well, not quite happily) settle for Brussels sprouts… :mrgreen:
    You gave me a new favorite word. Schadenfreude!
    Hugs on the wing.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. I look at editing as like putting together a jigsaw. You can spend 1,000 hours editing a piece of work, and somebody finds a mistake in the first line. A bit like that smug person finding the piece of the jigsaw you’ve been looking for!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. I hate puzzles. There are irritating and frustrating. I never do them and think you are a saint being able to do them.


  9. noelleg44 says:

    Never met a jigsaw puzzle I didn’t like, which is why they are banned from the house. And I do love Brussels sprouts so that won’t work.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. The zen of jigsaw. Murphy’s law of jigsaw, “No matter how carefully you have set the puzzle to be out of the way, someone will need the space where the puzzle is 90% finished.”

    Liked by 3 people

  11. Love puzzles. MSM always had at least 2 on the go. I completed loads when we stayed with her or when we were house sitting for her. We kept one of some canal boats and it’s hanging in our lounge. I’m tempted to buy one and once finished frame it as we did with a couple of WASGIJ, but I’d go for a scene now. The biggest I’ve ever done was 3000 pieces, bt a 1000 piece is a good size and a frame is not too expensive for it.
    My in-laws gave us a country cottage one Christmas because they couldn’t do it, so we did, framed it and gave it back the following year. MIL was not impressed, but FIL was chuffed as rocks.

    Liked by 2 people

  12. I swapped jigsaws for cryptic crosswords years ago – no large amount of space required, no chance of losing pieces etc etc. Just as annoying though.

    Liked by 2 people

  13. JT Twissel says:

    I stick with word puzzles. I have no patience for jigsaws! What did brussels sprouts do to you?

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I loved the challenge of jigsaw puzzles well into my young adult years. But, truth be told, I never did learn all your valuable life lessons. Life lesson #2 is a gem, in which our current US president is well versed.

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Elizabeth says:

    I can’t believe that your brother did the same thing as mine about hiding the last piece. I can still see the huge grin on his face as he went “ta-da” and put in the last one. I love that you found life lessons in jigsaw puzzles.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Suzanne says:

    Jigsaw puzzles remind me of confinement to small areas of the family house during rainy days as a child. Not good!! Thanks for a laugh and she who has aged parents I could share quite a few stories!! On second thought, as my parents read my blog, I had better not 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  17. Love a jigsaw & would happily have one constantly on the go, but once started, I have to finish which means, hours are lost. So true about the eldest sibling stealing a piece to go for the end glory 😂

    Liked by 1 person

  18. gordon759 says:

    Now we know what you would like for your birthday, I think I saw one which was just baked beans the other day!

    Liked by 1 person

  19. Norah says:

    Oh my, a double-sided brussels sprouts puzzle. That would be a challenge. I never was too fond of brussels sprouts. I had a round jelly bean puzzle which would have been a little easier because of the colours and a whole lot easier because it was single-sided. I, too, loved jigsaw puzzles and agree with you about the life’s lessons to be learned – especially the first and the fourth. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  20. Lacey Dearie says:

    I found this through the #Mondayblogs hashtag on Twitter and wasn’t sure what to expect! Do you know, this is one of the most enjoyable blogs I’ve read in a long time. It’s just the right length for my tea break and it’s all so true. Nice one 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • TanGental says:

      That is splendid. Tea break length. Maybe that’s my genre… the biscuit blog, crunchy and good for dipping… or am I now beating a perfectly good metaphor to death?


  21. Brussel Sprout jigsaw, it’s must be a form of torture. I remember trying to do one which was a a French Chateau. It was just windows and walls. Nightmare

    Liked by 1 person

  22. willowdot21 says:

    Have you tried those puzzles that show you a picture but the puzzle itself is what the horrified people in said picture are starting at? Sooo hard 💜💜


  23. Very insightful on many levels, especially the sibling part! I’ve never heard of a double sided puzzle – that would be the ultimate challenge. And Brussels sprouts, well what can I say? Glad to have found your blog through Norah Colvin!

    Liked by 1 person

  24. Jackie says:

    I’m currently working on a thousand piecer of Starry Night, an equivalent of your brussel sprouts. Agreed about the boundaries, and even those can get tricky.

    Liked by 1 person

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