Digested week: Ducks in the garden and Wordle are my rocks in a sea of chaos and injustice | Lucy Mangan


I live in fear of Wordle disappearing behind a paywall. It is my rock, my anchor, my beacon of reason and sanity. I need it. And Quordle (four Wordles at once). And – most recently – Octordle (you get, I’m sure, the idea).

I start my day off with this tiny piece of chaos resolvable (almost always) into order and only then can I face whatever the news and life plans to throw at me for the next 12-18 waking hours.

Today’s a challenge, mind. Louis CK, the comedian who was recently outed as a serial sexual harasser of women, won a Grammy for his rcomedy special that centred on his – uh, “cancellation”.

Nadine Dorries announced the government’s plan to privatise the critical and commercial free-to-air success that is Channel 4, which reinvests its profits in the UK, so that – she says – it can compete with streaming giants such as Netflix which carries $18bn of debt, requires subscription payments (at rapidly inflating rates), commissions mostly from America and (to use the technical term) is increasingly shite.

Plus there’s, you know – *gestures widely at war, plague and a second series of And Just Like That being greenlit* – everything else.

Still! Wordle in four today, Quordle in seven and Octordle in NEVER MIND. On we go.


News reaches us from Ireland of a 19-year-old woman who had to be rushed to hospital with severe stomach pains after holding in her farts around her boyfriend for two years.

Oh, to be young again. I mean – imagine having the time, the energy, to hold in your wind? Imagine being so eager to please, so in love with someone that you still cared enough? Do you remember those fragrant days?

Keir Starmer: ‘So, you make the batter accordingly to your *ability*, you see? Then we distribute it according to others’ need! Well, no, then you don’t get to keep the whole cake … no, it’s not a flaw in the plan really because – you know what? I’m going to come back after juice time. We’ll talk again then.’ Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA


The greatest thing has happened. A duck has nested in our garden. I am beside myself with joy. Consumed with it. It is the fulfilment of a genuine childhood dream.

Growing up in Catford, southeast London, a short walk from the gun shop under Eros House (under whose umbrous overhang took place so much teenage fumbling that – as long as the Greek god’s scope includes Mere Genital Curiosity as well as the higher forms of human longing – could not have been more suitably named), I devoured books about the countryside and all its myriad natural delights.

A nest in the garden, the possibility of ducklings tearing about the place – both the child and I and the child in me are almost overwhelmed by the idea.

His father, who grew up in the countryside, thinks we’re mad. “It’s a duck,” he says, shaking his head. “It nests. It lays eggs. It’s what birds DO!”

The child and I agree that this is a tragically jaded position to be in and enjoin him to shut his yap. We continue to patrol the garden, noting that the mint has gone mad, the camellia Grandma gave us has “taken” and that the hellebores are even better than last year. Spring is here, eggs and dreams are incubating, hope is rising. Unfamiliar feelings everywhere.


I’m supposed to be going out this evening. Out-out, and I realise I have forgotten how.

It was never really my thing, as I’m sure you appreciate, but still I used to have a routine that I would follow and which would function as a kind of runway that would ease both the physical journey from inert, unwashed mass on the sofa to presentable form in acceptable clothes going out the door, and the even more painful one from – well, typing monkey to conversationally adept, socially-skilled adult human.

But this has all fallen away over the last two years. I roam the house looking for the good hairbrush, the necessary unguents, make-up and above all the depilatory tools that once had natural homes, the ease of access to which helped speed me on my way.

Now it’s a stuttering rather than streamlined process, which allows too many pauses for thought and reconsiderations of my position and desires. I get as far as moisturising and then give up. Nature may be healing, but the rest of us take time.

Jacob Rees-Mogg phone-in on LBC
‘Nanny? Take these things off me! There are liberals in my ears! Radio 4? What’s that? Bring me back my zoetrope of Catholic martyrs and be quick about it!’ Photograph: Stefan Rousseau/PA


I made the mistake of telling my sister about Octordle and she has taken great delight in beating me at it every day since, as comprehensively as she has always done in Scrabble despite me being the supposed wordsmith in the family.

It’s just further proof of course that the geeks will surely inherit the Earth, if they haven’t already. My sister works with computers. She has the kind of brain that can talk to them, make them talk back to her and I believe her actual job is to make them talk to each other.

She has, in short, actual intelligence – the ability to strategise, prioritise, think in seven dimensions at once, strip a problem down to its component parts and reassemble them as a solution in the time it takes me to alight on the three-syllable word I need to balance a sentence.

Such are her abilities (I mean, like, she’s literate as well, you know?) that she can swipe victory from me in any game that has the slightest tactical or any other practical element to it that you care to name. I was a success at school. She is a success at Life.

Wordsmith” my sister WhatsApps me on reading this, somehow managing to snort via text. “Try ‘typing monkey’. That’s all”. So she has a way with words too. The unfairness of the world.