“Got up, shaved, did the Spectator crossword, shaved again”
Roger McGough (misquoted)
This week the Spectator has been celebrating the publication of tits 2,000th crossword with a dinner attended by some of its compilers, including Doc, Mr Magoo and Dumpynose. None of those attending had to ask how Dumpynose got his pen name- they all knew that it is an anagram of pseudonym.
The essence of a crossword, in the words of Roger Squires is to “entertain by misleading”. The guests revealed some of their favourite clues:
Transport unfortunately isn’t arriving (6,6)
Stiff examination (4-6)
There was some discussion at the dinner of the rumoured demise of the Chamber’s English dictionary. The dictionary was described as “a repository of amazing words” and “the crossword setter’s bible”. It has always been special to me, since I was given it as a present for my 12th birthday by an aunt who was a crossword whizz (I didn’t realise how brainy she was until I discovered, after her death, that she had been a code-breaker at Bletchley Park) and it was she who set me off on this particular pleasure. The Spectator didn’t reveal the answers to the clues above, preferring to allow their readers the glow of satisfaction which you get from working out the answers- which are, respectively, Virgin Trains, Post-mortem and Water.
For more on crosswords see ‘Wild Asian Ass’, January 4th.