We are quick to find others wrong. As crossword pedants, doubly so.
Often I find myself ambling down a street suppressing the need to knock upon the doors of local retailers and question their eye-catching ‘Banana’s, Half Price’ chalkings. Perhaps this is a ploy to have middle-class snobs such as myself wander in off the street and correct them, rather than pass by. Perhaps.
Perhaps I should be more forgiving.
I do remember fairly recently seeing some footage of the Ku Klux Klan (for which clues are invited) in their cowardly and sinister white cloaks and inverted icing-sugar-bag-headgear get-ups. They were wielding placards daubed with various hideous slogans, the details of which I have systematically erased from my pure-as-driven-snow mind. I forget the slogans, but I do remember being very impressed by the KKK’s consistently correct use of the apostrophe. For a fraction of a nanosecond I very nearly admired them, for their grammatical prowess, if not for their ghastly views and dress sense of Liberace on speed.
Perhaps I should not be so forgiving.
Anyhow, thankfully I have learnt never to mix with such people, in much the same way that I have learnt never to challenge a man in a silk shirt to a game of darts. Sort of.
Moving on from the oche to another expert at his game, it is Rufus’ 80th birthday this month, and rightly he is being honoured at The Guardian offices with a party, to be hosted by Alan Rusbridger, the editor.
Rufus provides a much-needed way in for cryptic crossword solvers. Indeed, my first completed puzzle was one of his. He has been the master of the play on words for many years, the creation of which has to be clutched from thin air. For me, there is no methodology – a play on words clue just comes to you, and is therefore not an easy clue to write. I pen few puns.
Rufus is perhaps most famous for ‘Stiff examination (4,6)’ but his clues translate really well to the novice, and prove memorable. Long live the prolific and incredible Magic Circle member and word magician Roger Squires (for he has a real name). He’s a top bloke to boot.
Roger Squires – Rufus