Thursday, 17 February 2011

I never seen him, I only heard of him...

'Like a teasing, gossipy conversation with an old friend.'
Photograph: Linda Nylind for the Guardian
Talking 'bout the big monkey puzzler.

John Graham is a prodigious and immensely popular crossword compiler. His moniker, Auraucaria, comes from the Latin name for the Monkey Puzzle tree. And he's still setting heads scratching at 90.

There's a lovely article about him by Simon Hoggart in yesterday's g2. His eclectic thinking reminds me of the kind of resourcefulness we have to employ to tussle with brand problems - where a view of the wider world is essential to crack the particular of an essential truth. According to Hoggart, "he knows about Latin literature, and Shakespeare, and Dickens, but he also refers to popular culture of today, sometimes to the bafflement of solvers far younger than himself." While he's setting clues we're cracking codes.

In an article marking his 80th birthday, David McKie described his work as "a blend of diligence and inspiration." I'd like to think mine can be described that way too.