Puzzles Of Invention: The Quiet Pleasures Of Rock Saws

The sedate pleasures of the rock album cover jigsaw puzzle.

The generations that listen to what we now call ‘classic rock’ – which seems to be anything up to the turn of the century by this point – have never quite given up their love of the music that they grew up on, but as they age, nights out flinging yourself about with gleeful abandon at sweaty gigs have increasingly given way to… well, more prosaic family and career matters. Less Rock ‘n’ Roll All Nite and Party Every Day, and more Rock n Roll Once A Week Until a Reasonable Hour, perhaps.

Jigsaws are not, by and large, seen as particularly rebellious pastimes. I mean, even if the stories of their excesses have been exaggerated, you can’t imagine that Led Zeppelin relaxed after a gig by carefully constructing a nice pastoral scene. But just as Classic Rock has become a very luxurious affair – from corporate gig packages to hugely expensive special edition album box sets – so the audience has taken to more staid pleasures, and so the rock ‘n’ roll album cover jigsaw is a concept that we can only marvel has taken so long to appear.

Now, there seem to be two types of jigsaw person. There are those who want to keep it simple – anything above three hundred pieces is seen as being excessive, and ideally, a puzzle should be something that you can complete in an evening. The other sort of person wants a jigsaw that is fiendishly complex – for them, the ideal puzzle will be two thousand pieces of a single colour, perhaps in some novelty shape that is more involved than building a nuclear reactor. I was rather unsure which of these people I was, having not actually put a jigsaw together for many, many years. But when a puzzle from Rock Saws arrived and I noted that it was a thousand-piece affair, I’ll admit to taking a deep breath.

I was asked to pick a jigsaw to sample, and after some consideration, I plumbed for The Mothers of Invention’s We’re Only In It For The Money. Of all the covers on offer that I might have considered, this seemed as though it might be the most entertaining – the Sergeant Pepper-spoofing artwork being varied enough not to leave me staring in dismay at large chunks of a single colour. And indeed, I can only imagine the horrors involved in putting together something as visually minimal as Guns n’ Roses’ The Spaghetti Incident?.

Anyway, we put aside a day to tackle this, our main concern at this point being finding a big enough board to put it on. This was, in retrospect, a naive idea, something that became very clear as an hour ticked by and we still hadn’t even managed to turn all the pieces the right way around and – in the classic tradition – locate all the straight edges. Things were not helped by the Office Junior spotting what we were doing and deciding to join in.

If we judge the value of a product in how long it takes to consume, then Rock Saws are certainly well worth the money. There are literally days of fun involved in putting this together, though of course the ‘fun’ aspect waxes and wanes as the thing becomes brain-meltingly frustrating. This puzzle has a significant section that is all soil, tomatoes and other vegetables, and that was not the part that we were looking forward to. But there’s something oddly compulsive about a jigsaw, the sense of satisfaction in finally completing a difficult bit quite unlike anything else. Finishing it feels like an accomplishment – maybe not a major one, but an achievement nonetheless – and putting it together was oddly satisfying. I can see the appeal of the jigsaw more now – it’s a great way to switch off from life’s irritations. A small, quiet pleasure – and who doesn’t need that in these stressful, divisive days?

The Rock Saws are produced to a high quality and contained in LP-sized boxes, all the better to store with your record collection. The box is a bit loose fitting – you might want to either keep the plastic bag inside for holding the pieces or use a rubber band to make sure that it doesn’t pop open and spill everything out. That’s my only criticism, though. Otherwise, this was an entertaining way of spending several evenings – with suitable background music, of course. I’d certainly be up for tackling some of the others.



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