It was another time

February 7, 2009

In response to a challenge from a dedicated commenter, I am posting some of my old photos.

Two from Sydney 1971

Kings Cross Wall  

Kings Cross coffee

Two from the Melbourne Moratorium march as 1971


Corner Collins and Swanston

And one from a Led Zeppelin Concert also in 1971

Led Zepplin


Cryptic crosswords

February 7, 2009


As a parent, there are some things you pass onto your children with pleasure and pride. (Let’s forget the ones that are not such proud legacies). One of my joys which they have all inherited is the love of cryptic crosswords. We often do them together or discuss various clue over the telephone. I have extolled the virtues of global roaming on the mobile phone using one daughter’s request for help with a clue via an SMS while I was overseas as an example.

There have been many occasions when one or other of them have complained about the apparent age of the setters and the opacity of some of the older references in the clues. They do now know what a toff, swell or cove is but only after bitterly complaining about the ancient language.

How is someone in their twenties or thirties expected to associate Bob with hope let alone a shilling or Mae West with a life-jacket?  I am surprised at some that I can recognise from before my era, but another generation on it is a different presumption. There is nothing wrong with expanding one’s store of knowledge, useless or otherwise, from a crossword but some of these obsolete words really need to be retired from the crossword lexicon. 

Clearly I am not alone in this thought. A puzzle setter John Pidgeon wrote in a recent article in the Guardian 

” .. I enjoyed the erudite world into which crosswords drew me. Greek mythology, opera, literature, language, history, concealed in a coded formula that was a challenge to crack: learning made fun. Almost half a century later, however, setters are still marooned in a pre-1960s world. Recent crosswords have clued Alan Ladd and Leslie Caron, whose acting careers peaked in the 1950s, and Leslie Charteris, who created The Saint in 1928.”

He finishes

“ is apparent that unless the crossword nudges itself into the 21st century and updates its references to connect with younger solvers, it will become as endangered a pastime as morris dancing.”

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

The whole article is at