21 December, 2010
The phone rang. It scared the cat. The cat bolted and knocked over a water bottle. The water spilt. The cat freaked. I picked up the phone, still laughing, and a voice said, ‘Doing anything special for your 97th birthday?’
December 22, said the voice. Belonging to a journo, I discovered, by the name of Sarah Collerton. On this day, 97 years ago, the crossword was born.
So it was. By Arthur Wynne for the New York World, a criss-cross diamond called a Word-Cross that soon triggered a social craze. Imagine Facebook, but with checks. As for doing anything special, I was thinking of hiring a Dalmatian and eating a lamington on a chessboard. Aside from that, not much. Maybe wear my brand-new Scrabble cufflinks – A on the left and Z the right – but otherwise, keep a lid on things.
Coz really, the big, big day will be in 2013, or C-Day, when Arthur Wynne’s wunderkind cracks the ton. Maybe now’s the time to start up the subcommittee. Plan the black and white tickertape, the chequered flags, the penguin parades….
But not this year. Ninety-seven is a good innings, a Shane Watson occasion – enough to raise a glass of Black & White and say chin-chin, Wynne.
What about you? Any anniversary suggestions for now – or the biggun? The committee is keen to log your suggestions."