South Polish Judaism

Sometimes we must focus, rather than glance.

‘600,000 of what are to be found on Antarctica?’ It is perhaps the simplest of the quiz questions from last Sunday’s newspaper supplement.

At the bottom of the page the answer that caught my wife’s eye was to question 14, not question 12. And yet somehow she had probably been searching for an animal, for she inadvertently inserted an extra letter.

‘Chief rabbits?’, she queried.

I had not heard of this species of bunny, nor did I believe rabbits abounded on this inhospitable wilderness – and for a moment  our eyes met in silent confusion.

Glancing a little further down the page, we were to find ‘Emperor penguins’ as the correct answer. But I preferred hers.

This week the Times setting team was treated to the annual Times Crossword Lunch, this year on the executives’ top floor at News International, Wapping. Right posh it were. I even placed a napkin/serviette on my lap and resolved not to filch chips/frites from my neighbour’s plate.

As ever, James Harding, The Times’ editor, was charming and charismatic as host. Joyce Cansfield, former World Champion Scrabbler, and long-time Times setter was presented with flowers and gifts on her retirement. We shall miss her, but we do need more women setting for us. There are now none on The Times’ staff, though crossword editor Richard Browne is working on it.

Why no women? Personally, I think crossword setting lends itself to the fragile male ego. Your thoughts would be appreciated.

Have a great week.

Best wishes,

John (Paul)


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