I’m a fan of FiveThirtyEight’s weekly puzzle column The Riddler. This week’s edition is a fairly simple challenge:

If A, B, C, D and E are all unique digits, what values would work with the following equation?

This is one of those puzzles that’s fiddly to solve by hand, but dead easy if you write a program. Some quick coding in Small Basic (I’m old-school) reveals that there’s just one solution:

A = 2 B = 1 C = 9 D = 7 E = 8
879,912 = 4 x 219,978

Interestingly, there are no other solutions even if you don’t require every digit to be unique. As well, for this particular equation, a solution only exists when you multiply ABC,CDE by 4 – there are no solutions for any other integer between 2 and 9.

All the Wow! moments from the Bananarama reunion show

I’ve seen Bananarama in concert half-a-dozen times over the last 20 years, but yesterday was special. The original three-woman lineup (Sarah, Keren and Siobhan) is touring for the first time ever, so naturally I went all the way from Sydney to Ipswich to see it. Here’s a random selection of highlights from the evening.

High-level security

Weirdly, everyone entering the venue had to empty their pockets and be patted down. Who knew Nana fandom was so gangsta? The security queue manager told us this was based on a request from the promoter, rather than being normal Ipswich procedure. But no matter, it didn’t take long.

Standing room only

From the moment the opening notes sounded (eventually to become ‘Nathan Jones’, fact freaks), the entire crowd in the stalls stood up, and didn’t sit down for the duration of the show. For pop fans in their 40s, this is frankly unusual behaviour, but very welcome.

Best staging ever

The most elaborate staging I’ve seen the Nanas use previously has been a pair of back-up dancers. For this tour, there’s a tiered stage, elaborate lighting, a full band and a mass of video projections, including outtakes and extra footage from iconic videos.

Fans galore

My new friend Angus. Travelled all the way here from Sydney to see the Bananas! 👌🍌 #bananarama #concert #downunder #newfriend

A post shared by Rashid Hales-Khan 🐰🇬🇧 (@rashidhk81) on

I ended up seated next to Rashid. Impressively, it turns out we’d both been at the 20th anniversary gig at G-A-Y back in 2002, which was the last time all three girls were on a stage together.

All the hits you weren’t expecting

Obviously, all the big hits were present, but a huge part of the fun of this night for me was hearing songs the Nanas have never done in concert before when I’ve seen them. ‘Rough Justice’, ‘More Than Physical’, ‘Aie A Mwana’ and ‘Cheers Then’ all made an appearance, while ‘Shy Boy’ got mashed up with ‘Boy Trouble’. And of course the Nanas do a version of Shakespear’s Sister’s ‘Stay’, and also acknowledge the Jacquie years with ‘Preacher Man’, described by Shuv as her “favourite post-me song”.

Fantastic venue

A key reason I headed to Ipswich was because the timing fitted in. But a secondary benefit is that the Regent Theatre in Ipswich is a much more intimate venue than where the Nanas played in London.

Lots of solo vocals

The essence of the Nanas sound is three voices blended as one, but during the evening every single member got a chance to sing solo lines, with the others contributing backing and harmony. This was put to particularly effective use on ‘It Ain’t What You Do, It’s The Way That You Do It’, covering for the Fun Boy Three bits really well.

The band enjoying themselves

With some band reformations, it’s obvious everyone’s in it for the money and is performing with gritted teeth (case in point: Spandau Ballet). That wasn’t happening here. The Nanas looked as relaxed and happy as ever, with Shuv entirely a part of the proceedings.

All in, an amazing night, and tonight I get to do it again in Southend. NANA NANA!

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 12

Words written today: 5,031. Running total: 20,414.

Actually, that’s a three-day total of sorts. As I predicted, Friday turned out to be a total non-starter. I did a decent chunk of writing on Saturday, but didn’t blog about it or even update my counter. Still, after a few sessions spread over Sunday, I’m back on track word-count wise. I didn’t get around to building my tracking spreadsheet for the novel, but that can wait. This week I’m jumping on and off planes a lot (even by my standards), so I’ll have to try and make my time in air productive.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 9

Words written today: 1,740. Running total: 15,383.

Still on track, despite a very fractured main writing session with numerous interruptions. I know that on the weekend I will need to spend some time actually mapping out what I’ve written so far, noting major and minor character names, lengths for each chapter, and other details, so I can make sure I’m keeping my main narrative connected and rhythmic. I enjoy that part of the process, but it rarely helps boost the word count!

NaNoWriMo Day 8

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Words written today: 1,709. Running total: 13,643.

Keeping the pace, with another 1,700-odd words completed, in line with the day 8 goal of 13,600 or so. Something I need to factor in: this year, I actually write faster with a pair of 1-hour slots than with a single 2-hour marathon. Time for some calendar jigging!

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 7

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Words written today: 1,716. Running total: 11,934.

I wrote half of today’s words on a plane, half in my lunch break and in a quick dash after work, and then headed out to a Pretenders/Steve Nicks concert. Not bad hey?

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 6

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Words written today: 5,096. Running total: 10,218.

This is clearly going to be a stop-start NaNoWriMo for me. I’m now slightly ahead of the scheduled target of 10,200 words, but I did basically no work on the weekend. So I’ve hit that target due to an extra (planned) day off work and a marathon writing and planning session.

It’s definitely not the ideal way to produce a novel. On the upside, I now have so many different chapters and elements sketched out that there should always be something for me to dive in on during the week. So my simple goal for the next three days is the make sure I hit the 1,700 words per day target on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Friday already looks questionable but we’ll see!

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 2

Words written today: 1,704. Running total: 5,122.

I was correct in my assumption that I would get no writing done on the day of the Finder Awards. But I’m back on track today, knocking out my required 1,704 words in a little under 90 minutes. In an ideal world, I’d get even further ahead, but life is busy. And I’m happy that I nailed a crucial plot insight.

NaNoWriMo 2017 Day 1: Smashing targets

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Words written today: 3,418

The daily target is 1,700 words, so I’ve well and truly smashed that – but there’s a reason. Tomorrow we have the 2017 Finder Awards, and I calculate I will have zero opportunity for writing. So I’m knocking off enough to cover the first two days.

Writing more is usually easier at the start of a NaNoWriMo project, because all the ideas you’ve been mulling in the run-up come pouring out. That said, it was a long work day and I really had to push myself to dive into writing. Got there in the end though.