Despite being slightly tinged with sadness, as Araucaria's recent death was still very much in people's minds, last Saturday's gathering at Penderel's Oak on High Holborn turned out to be a most enjoyable occasion. I don't know how many turned up, but they fitted nicely into the large basement bar, giving those present the opportunity to meet old friends as well as people who had up to that point been names rather than faces. Of these latter I was particularly pleased to meet two ladies whose solving times I regard as benchmarks: lickert of the Times Crossword Club, whom I've battled against more or less daily for most of the last nine years or so, first at Race the Clock (of blessed memory) and latterly at both the T2 quickie and the Times cryptic; and crypticsue, a regular Times for the Times commenter who is perhaps better known as one of Big Dave's regular blogging team.
The afternoon featured crosswords and quizzes of various kinds, as well as talks by well-known names from the world of crosswords. Most notable of these were John Henderson's moving tribute to Araucaria (which you can find here
) and Don Manley's fascinating Crosswords: 100 Years in Ten Clues
, which included a particularly fine &lit (one that may be familiar to others, but which I hadn't come across before):
Marlborough's second crusher in conclusive quartet of victories (9) [RAMILLIES]
(select between the square brackets for the answer, or read on)
Those (like me) who remember BROM 4689 from their schooldays will have got the answer immediately from the definition, but (again like me) may have taken a little longer to work out the wordplay.
Another person familiar by name, but whom I'd never met before, and who was kind enough to introduce himself to me, was the Guardian's blogger, Alan Connor. His new book Two Girls, One on Each Knee
(geddit? :-) was mentioned, but the only two copies in evidence (he'd had to leave early so maybe there'd been a stack of them and I'd simply missed the boat) turned out to be raffle prizes. The raffle draw started at 5:00 p.m., which was about the time I had to leave, so after the first handful of prizes had been drawn, I left my tickets with Peter Biddlecombe asking him to choose whatever prize he thought best if one of my numbers came up. This morning I received an e-mail from him saying that I had indeed won a raffle prize and that he'd picked a signed copy of Alan's book, as he'd enjoyed it himself and hoped I didn't already have a copy. Good choice, Peter :-). (I've arranged to collect it when we next meet, probably at a Sloggers & Betters get-together, so I won't be commenting on it before then.)
I'm sure all those present would wish to join me in thanking Jane Teather, John Henderson and the rest of the organising team for a most enjoyable afternoon. I'd particularly like to thank whoever it was who arranged to have name badges printed for those who confirmed in advance that they were going to be there. Organisers of the Times Crossword Championship please note!
Current Location: Ealing
Current Mood: pleased