My dear friend Eric Westbrook sent me an email to ask if I had any plans to do a clue-writing course in the New Year, an idea which was vaguely mooted some time ago and which, I’m sorry to say, I’d sort of forgotten about.
It’s an attractive proposition but one I’m very nervous about, so I’m using this blog to sound out opinion. The most important question, of course, is ‘Would anyone turn up?’ There are further questions about what format such an event should take – it needs to be instructional and informative but it needs to be fun as well. So let’s start with a few questions, to which your answers are extremely welcome.
1) Would you come, and would you be happy to pay a cost-covering charge? I don’t anticipate payment myself, but the venue would cost and I’d like to offer refreshments – buffet, drinks.
2) Where? Birmingham seems ideal as it’s so central geographically. Then again, you could say London is more central demographically. I’m open to suggestions. As for the venue type, I’m not sure. A pub doesn’t seem particularly suitable – sufficient demand could result in unreasonable space requirements, pub rooms seldom have a “conference-friendly” shape, and extraneous noise also has the potential to foul things up.
3) What would we do? On its own, a talk about how cryptic clues work would be dry and mechanical, so how do we liven things up? A Q&A session would be good of course. A crossword to solve would be terrible… a room full of silent, deep-in-thought solvers has no appeal whatsoever. Some other interactive clue-writing exercise? All suggestions are welcome!
Going back to that question about whether or not people would turn up, I ask it because I find it rather difficult to imagine myself as a “draw” for solvers. Major players such as Don Manley, Roger Squires, John Graham, John Halpern, John Henderson are huge names with long-established reputations. Although I set for several newspapers I’m still the new guy on the block and I sense that the response to An Evening With Anax will be An Evening With Who?
So please do let me have your thoughts!
Talking of Eric Westbrook, I’m delighted to announce that the 1012 3D Crosswords Calendar is now on sale, raising money for Children in Need and RNIB. And yes, it’s got an Anax puzzle. Full details here: http://www.calendarpuzzles.co.uk/calendar_puzzle_2012.html