It’s not everyday I hear a story that inspires an extended nursery rhyme reference. Or one that makes the morning commute on the 405N seem a little more bearable. But miraculously enough, this story I heard on NPR one morning this week did both.
Here’s the 30-second version: A British puzzlemaker, Dave Evans, created the world’s largest jigsaw puzzle, a 40,000-piece monster measuring some 19.5 feet wide and 8 feet tall, which took him about 200 hours to put together. (For the record, I would’ve assumed a puzzle that big would take much longer — it appears Evans is an extraordinary puzzlemaker and an equally extraordinary puzzle-putter-togetherer.)
The puzzle, which depicted Queen Elizabeth II’s Diamond Jubilee, was set to be displayed at Queen Elizabeth II’s estate in Norfolk. Talk about eternal puzzle fame. But then, a few days before its big trip to Norfolk, the giant puzzle crashed to the floor in Evans apartment, “a great fall” that broke the masterpiece into 40,000 little indiscernible pieces. A puzzlemaker’s worst nightmare. As I heard the story, I could feel my heart breaking right along with the puzzle.
After all this talk of sitting on a great wall and having a great fall, the story ends on the obvious play on words, which I can imagine NPR staffers getting more than a few laughs out of. Says the narrator in an unwavering voice, “Evans is asking for help, hoping that some of the queen’s men and women can help him put it back together again.”
I can almost hear the drum roll and the clash of the cymbal.
Somewhere, Humpty Dumpty was rolling over in his grave, and Dave Evans was likely scowling at that horrible pun that made light of his horrible luck. But I’d also like to think that the hundreds of LA commuters inching along the 405N that morning were a little less disillusioned with the world after having heard that story. Sure, they might be stuck in horrible traffic that’s moving about as quickly as cold molasses. But at least they didn’t just create the world’s largest puzzle only to see it crumble days before its big debut at the Queen’s estate. And they also didn’t just make a bad Humpty Dumpty reference, on national radio, in good conscience!