The sixteenth of February, 2011: the monkey’s despair

Tributes here, there and everywhere today to mark the 90th birthday of the Reverend John Graham, better known as the fiendish cryptic cruciverbalist Araucaria.

The Guardian’s tribute was threefold: a panegyric by Simon Hoggart, a nice slot in the leader column, and – best and most appropriate of all – a superb crossword by Araucaria’s co-setters Paul, Enigmatist and Shed (these three sometimes set puzzles as a foursome with Araucaria under the pseudonym Biggles (the four setters all have the forename John; Biggles was created by WE Johns…)).

Solutions and deconstruction – plus more birthday tributes – can be found here.

The Independent’s crossword, meanwhile, featured the clues:

  • Cardinal and erotic writer using sex toy regularly (6) – that is, erotic writer (Anais NIN) + the ‘regular’ (alternate) letters of sExToY = NINETY, a cardinal number. And, of course, Auracaria’s age.
  • Man removing books from Margaret Thatcher’s home (8) – that is, Margaret Thatcher’s hometown of Grantham with books (the  books of the New Testament, or NT) removed = GRAHAM, a man’s name (and Araucaria’s name, too).
  • Song about gold vehicle and tree (9) – that is, song (ARIA) surrounding gold (chemical symbol Au) and a vehicle (CAR) = ARAUCARIA.

There’s also a nice little congratulatory message – congratulating both you and Rev. Graham – that pops up when you finish the online version.

In the FT crossword, Gozo (imitation being the sincerest forms of flattery) has a go at an Araucarian alphabetical crossword – with a rather clever acrostic twist. The initial letters of the clues spell out the message: JOHN GALBRAITH GRAHAM IS CINEPHILE – as indeed he is, Cinephile being Araucaria’s monicker when setting for the FT. When you finish the crossword (if you ever do, as it’s utterly devilish, requiring you to spell saturnine ‘satur9’ and ground zero ‘ground0’), the letters around the perimeter  (the ‘perimetrical’, another Araucaria innovation) spell: CINEPHILE IS 90 YEARS YOUNG TODAY. Bravo, Gozo.

And happy birthday, Araucaria.


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