Of all the animals of prey, man is the only sociable one.
Every one of us preys upon his neighbour, and yet we herd together.
The Beggar's Opera: John Gay

Saturday 12 January 2013

No man is one: learner in singular desert (6)

Veteran Guardian crossword compiler, Araucaria, this week chose the unusual medium of one of his crosswords to tell the public that he has terminal cancer.

I first encountered the work of the Reverend John Graham back in my socialist youth, when I cut my cruciverbalist teeth on - naturally - the Guardian's daily offerings, leading to a habit that has since consumed many idle hours.

Araucaria's crosswords were the pick of the bunch - the outward manifestations of a brain so stuffed with arcane knowledge and convoluted verbal dexterity that others paled into insignificance beside him. 

It's saddening to hear of his illness but greatly heartening to know that his immense brainpower has continued unimpaired into his 90s and he's not giving up yet:
Rev Graham said he plans to continues to creating puzzles for as long as possible.
"I'm not actually doing much else."
An extra toast this week, then, to Araucaria, with thanks!


  1. Crosswords are ok, but the cryptic type that my mother loves are just baffling to me. I can admire the skill in setting and answering them, but like trainspotting, it leaves me cold!

  2. It's probably no coincidence that most of the crossword adepts I know are either at university or retired; for the rest of us, the problem-solving circuits are fully occupied with daily life and work.

    I only ever do them when I'm on holiday - in any case, these days I prefer sudoku (the killer version for choice)- but family get-togethers wouldn't be the same without the communal effort to solve the giant bank holiday version.


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