Magazine article The Spectator

In the Beginning Was the Crossword

Magazine article The Spectator

In the Beginning Was the Crossword

Article excerpt

On Thursday evening, a stream of distinguished visitors poured through the doors of 22 Old Queen Street. These were the readers who had applied and been picked to attend a party to celebrate the publication of the 2,000th Spectator crossword. Tom Johnson, aka Doc, crossword editor, presided over a roomful of dons, doctors, vicars and at least one astrophysicist - 'the country's finest crossword minds', as Spectator editor Fraser Nelson put it. The atmosphere was heady with wine fumes, wit and only the occasional whiff of pedantry.

News had got around, and there were guests from Scotland, Northern Ireland, Switzerland, France. . . and the Congo:

Julie Walker had pleaded to be allowed to submit her entry online from Kolwezi, and had duly made the pilgrimage to meet her crossword hero, Doc.

Also present were setters Dumpynose and Mr Magoo, unmasked by Fraser Nelson in his speech as Chris Brougham and Mark Goodliffe. But there were no flies on the guests and when Dumpynose was asked to explain his pen name, almost the entire room piped up to point out that it is an anagram of 'pseudonym'. The uninitiated - there were a few present - could not fail to be impressed by the power of the crossword bond. Alas the legendary Columba, aka Colin Gumbrell, and Lavatch (James Brydon) were unable to make it, but had honourable mentions.

Doc - about to celebrate his 500th puzzle in these pages - gave a potted history of the Spectator crossword (the Spectator Spectator series began 40 years ago, with Jac as the original setter). Then solver Rhidian Llewellyn, whose claims to fame include having taught David Cameron Latin, delivered some elegant insights into its joys: 'You never feel euphoric when you solve it quickly, you feel deflated - "what am I going to do until the next one? …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.