The Womble Hall

The Keeper guides you into a large and rather grand hall, clearly intended for a lofty purpose. A display case of books sits in pride of place in the middle, while one side is devoted to various bits and pieces of football memorabilia. The other side is dominated by an altogether far too large video screen, playing videos loudly enough that you feel the floor shaking.

The Keeper covers his ears and shouts, “Oh, gosh, that dratted cat’s hit the volume control again. Um. Hang on. Where’s it hidden the remote control?”

The Keeper trots around the hall surprisingly rapidly, until he locates both the grey cat and the remote control under a chair. “Aha, yes, now, give that here. Ow! Really. No call for that. Give. Ow! Blasted cat. Gosh. Sorry.”

The Keeper straightens up, a vicious set of scratches to the back of his hand obviously reddening. “Confounded animal,” he hollers. “Let’s just turn this down…” – after a moment’s prodding at the buttons, peace finally breaks out – “…and we can get down to business. Ow.”

You venture further into the hall, your ears still ringing. The Keeper dusts himself down and tries to regain some composure.

“Now, I hope you’ll excuse the sparsity of things here. I had hoped that that nice Green chap would possibly be here himself, or we’d maybe have some more bits and pieces of his, but he’s altogether keener at hanging out at some library down the street. I mean, can’t blame him really: libraries generally mean books and tea, and that’s an unbeatable combination.”

“But it does mean that this is more a tribute than an actual museum – though we do have a few small exhibits, themed around his work and interests, so I hope you’ll enjoy what we have to offer.”

The video screen

The Keeper guides you to the first exhibit, down by the video screen. The cat watches you suspiciously from under a display case, and you give it a wide berth.

“Now, our star exhibit in this part is protected by this nice little puzzle. Very gentle. Nothing to scramble the brain too much. Fancy a go?”

On the board in front of you is a whole lot of complete gibberish:

  • Hardknoll (5)
  • Het Wont Imphung (5)
  • Orf Rends Infests (1)
  • Yawa Seppe Viggin (1)
  • Eth Mulbrt Usclaim (12)
  • Icoca Lashowl Thayled (8)
  • Cafe Iphrase Seaduty Sequinto (7)
  • A Eth Afts Hatt Doof Anchi Lidelk Microcamel (25)

The Keeper hands you a pencil and paper. “Once you’ve worked out the password, do take a look inside.”

The book case

“And then over here,” – The Keeper guides you to the middle of the room – “we have another little game. Once again, you need to look out for a single password.”

He hands you a tablet, with a rather imposing grid displayed on the screen in front of you:

“It’s only a short little exhibit, but it’s worth a look inside nonetheless.”

The football exhibition

The Keeper then carries on to the far side of the hall. “And here we have the land of sportsball. Uh, soccerball? Football? Whatever. Anyway, this is of course the womble hall, and here’s your wombles. Well, Wombledons. Wimbledons? Something, anyway.”

You’re glad The Keeper is enjoying himself here.

“Now, this is a rather tricky little puzzle. You’ve got all these letters, arranged like a ball – jolly clever isn’t it? Thought of that myself. Anyway, what this is all about is football team names from around the world, as many of them have a much more interesting name than Afc…” – The Keeper pronounces it as one word, like a rather violent sneeze – “uh, excuse me… yes, so you’re just looking for all those team names. I’ve put Afc Wombledon in anyway as an answer, but there’s 45 more for you to find. Once they’ve gone, what’s left will give you a clue how to get in.”

You look at one of the biggest wordsearches you’ve seen in a while with no small amount of trepidation. A small key guides you that words can appear horizontally, vertically and diagonally. This could take a while.

“One of my very favourite soccerball team names isn’t actually in there. It’s from up in Scotland, the Civil Service Strollers. Just strolling around the pitch just sounds so elegant and louche – much more my sort of pace of life. Anyway, go well with the puzzles, and I’ll catch up with you once you’re done.”

The Keeper wanders away, whistling insouciantly – but with a definite wavering as a grey, furry form whizzes angrily past his ankles.