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Yes, I know this is headed 'Personal' but I'm not going to bore you with details of my family, my holidays, interests, the latest exploits of my cat (I don't own one) or my tastes in music, etc. That doesn't leave much, does it? So I'll just say that having retired from a wage-slave existence, I'm very happy to be getting paid for something I really enjoy doing. Er ... that's it, really, but there follows some info. about my crossword career.
How I got to be a crossword setter
I started over 30 years ago, submitting entries to my local newspaper’s ‘Reader’s Crossword’ feature, on the assumption that ‘I could do better than that’. Eventually I got one accepted for the grand sum of £2.
More acceptances followed plus the odd success in puzzle magazines. I was a runner-up in a
crossword-setting competition run by Games & Puzzles mag. and waited for the big offers to come in ...
and waited ...
then I got my first personal computer ...
... a Sinclair ZX81 on which I wrote a crossword-creating program for myself – enlarged and enhanced
shortly afterwards on a BBC ‘B’ 32K. This made grid completion less of a hassle and I was able to
produce fairly professional-looking submissions.
Better still, the program enabled me to create lists of
themed words, searchable for matches when completing the grid. Specialist magazines (Film, Music,
Art, etc.) became my target. Appropriately, it was a computer magazine, Acorn User that published
what I regard as my first ‘proper’ crossword - i.e. one that brought in a decent fee!
I should say that I now use Antony Lewis's commercial software, Crossword Compiler, an excellent aid to crossword construction - and it enables me to put puzzles (some of them interactive) on the web.
About ten years ago, my wife, Jo (who was never really one for crosswords) branched out from her role as my checker and admin assistant and started creating crosswords herself - just the grids at first and then, confidence mounting, the clues. Now, she appears to be threatening to oust me as chief crossword wallah in our household.
Who publishes my stuff at present?
With my wife Jo's help, I'm published in the following:
- monthly puzzle: difficult cryptic based on The Chambers Dictionary
Angling Times, Action on Hearing Loss (RNID magazine),
BBC Gardens Illustrated, BBC Countryfile, BBC History magazine,
Countryman, Country Walking, English Gardens, Geographical,
The Guardian (Brummie), Improve Your Coarse Fishing,
Parking News, Private Eye, Scouting,
Teazel (android crossword app), TownsWoman, Mosaic (OUP's in-house mag.)
Vital (British Dental Assoc) Walk (Ramblers Assocn. magazine) and What Investment
and on the web ...
Music Room - prize puzzles (Pop alternates with Classical).