The last ten days have been very busy, and very enjoyable, for me, and so many people have taken time and effort to make it so. From the February 18th surprise party at my local pub, to a family gathering last weekend in a Derbyshire farmhouse, via a reception at the Guardian on the Eve of my 80th birthday, I have been taken by surprise by the tremendous warmth and friendliness of people in the crossword world.
I think it all started when I was invited down to the Telegraph last year to record a short piece for the One Show regarding the perennial subject of the D-Day crosswords having code-words associated with the invasion appearing in Telegraph crosswords. I met John Henderson (Elgar / Nimrod) working on his crosswords in the bar, and somehow my 80th birthday was mentioned. John immediately said he would provide a themed crossword for that date.
Things seemed to snowball from there. John was joined by other setters to provide a Guardian puzzle and also an FT puzzle, while Dean Mayer (Elkamere / Anax) decided to set a Telegraph “toughie”.
In the event, three extremely clever (you will realise that I was not personally involved) crosswords appeared on February 22nd. I can only stand back and say “Phew” and “Thanks” to all of the setters involved.
I should also like to thank everybody that took the journey to Shropshire for the surprise party which was a lovely start to the events. A very enjoyable day.
The Guardian reception was very enjoyable, meeting the editor, Alan Rusbridger, my wife’s favourite writer Polly Toynbee, who I was delighted to discover was a Rufus fan, and quite a number of fellow setters. The presentations of framed articles and celebratory themed puzzles was another pleasant surprise.
Both the above events were photographed for 15² and Big Dave’s Blog by Jane (JetDoc) Tether, who was also involved with husband John in organising things.
When we returned home the day before setting off for the weekend planned by Anna, we had over a 100 cards – and I thank everyone who very kindly sent them.
All in all, I feel very honoured and privileged. Thank you all!