I am often greeted with a blank face.

My opening foray into a conversation with a new acquaintance might perhaps
be to point out that the word ‘desserts’ on their menu reads ‘stressed’

Or That the acquaintance in question’s name ‘Hannah’ is in a select band of
palindromic appellations, along with Bob, Anna, Dud, Eve, Elle and Otto, for

Or that Hannah’s job as a ‘bookkeeper’ is far more alluring for being a word
with three consecutive instances of double letters.

Let me now enter the world of the poor non-solver. He or she has been handed
the last tiles in the Scrabble bag, and has been left with H,E,E,E,E,L,P.

What does one say to a cryptic crossword setter?

‘How interesting. I’d never realised that ‘desserts’ was ‘stressed’
backwards’ – and then what?

I really do make friends easily. And I have it that mine is the most
fascinating job on the planet!

I am an international man of mystery. But perhaps sometimes I should remain

Best wishes,

John (Paul)

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