A “cruciverbalist” is a term for someone who compiles crosswords, or who enjoys word puzzles. I was so sorry to read that Araucaria, compiler for over 50 years of Guardian crosswords, is very ill.
He gently announced this in Friday’s Crossword by way of cryptic clues [here] He is[I think] one of the best compilers around.
Our family have always been keen on crosswords- as a child, I’d sit on my Dad’s lap as he solved the Daily Telegraph cryptic- and then he’d explain clues to me, till I was able to start solving them for myself. Mum was good at solving too [she was a codebreaker, after all] and games like Scrabble, and Boggle, were popular at home.
When I got to Grammar School, the Telegraph and Guardian were on a big stand outside the staffroom. I used to go in [with permission] and attempt to fill in the DT puzzle. Then one term, I kept finding that someone else had got there before me! It was a new teacher. After that, we met daily to solve tem together – and he helped me to get my head round the Guardian puzzle – and we would alternately bless, and curse, Araucaria for his amazingly clever clues. Half the fun was coming back the next day to find out the answers of the ones we couldn’t solve. I learned so much. In my student years, I became fond of the Times cryptic crossword too – written in yet another style, equally challenging.
In his ‘other’ life, Araucaria is 91 year old Rev John Graham, a retired C of E priest. But even in retirement he has continued to conduct services and be involved in church life. I love the fact that when he is not doing cross-words, he is speaking words-about-the -Cross.
The technical terms for the black and white squares are ‘darks and lights’. John knows there will be some ‘darks’ ahead- but can look forward confidently to the Eternal Light ahead of him. May God give him wisdom and grace, as he faces this final illness.