Araucaria uses one of his own puzzles to reveal he is dying

Crossword compiler Araucaria reveals he is dying of cancer in cryptic clues

By
John Hutchinson

PUBLISHED:

01:26 GMT, 12 January 2013

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UPDATED:

08:22 GMT, 13 January 2013

Legendary crossword compiler Araucaria decided to share special message in one of his own puzzles to his fans – that he has cancer.

The 91-year-old, whose real name is the Rev John Graham, decided that a crossword would be the appropriate way of announcing that he has the terminal illness.

Araucaria, which is Latin for the monkey tree, conjures up several puzzles a month across a number of publications.

Did you get it The solutions spelt out that Araucaria had 'cancer of the oesophagus, which is being treated with palliative care.'

Did you get it The solutions (circled) spelt out that Araucaria had 'cancer of the oesophagus, which is being treated with palliative care.'

The particular puzzle in which he decided to open up about his illness, was first published in 1 Across magazine, which he started himself back in 1984.

It was later used in The Guardian yesterday (Friday).

In cryptic crossword No 25, 842, Araucaria revealed that he had '18 down of the 19, which is being treated with 13 15.'

For the smart ones out there who correctly guessed the clues, when substituted for words, it now reads, 'has CANCER of the OESOPHAGUS, which is being treated with PALLIATIVE CARE.'

The theme of the crossword similarly reflected the genius' plight, with other solutions being 'chemotherapy,' 'nurse,' and 'endoscopy.'

Speaking to The Guardian, Graham said: 'It seemed the natural thing to do somehow, it just seemed right.'

He will not have surgery or chemotherapy for the illness and it is unknown exactly how long he has to live.

Honoured: Graham received an MBE in 2005 for his services to the newspaper industry - he has now revealed he has cancer

Honoured: Graham received an MBE in 2005 for his services to the newspaper industry – he has now revealed he has cancer

Graham, who now lives in Somersham, Cambridgeshire, has been touched by the number of well-wishers who have contacted him since the publication of the crossword.

'People have been ringing and sending me cards,' he added. 'It's been very nice, but I can't reply to them all.'

His first puzzle for The Guardian appeared in July 1958; at that time
setters were anonymous, but in December 1970 pseudonyms were introduced
and Araucaria was born. He began compiling crosswords full-time in the
late 1970s when his divorce lost him his living as a clergyman.

Besides Araucaria's cryptic crosswords in the Guardian, for which he
produces around six per month, he also sets around a third of the quick
crosswords for the Guardian, cryptic crosswords as Cinephile in the
Financial Times, puzzles for the crossword magazine 1 Across, and
personal crosswords by request.

Araucaria is the Latin name for the monkey-puzzle tree; another name for
it is 'Chile Pine', from which he formed the anagram 'Cinephile'.

Graham was recognised in the 2005 New Year's Honours List for his services to the newspaper industry, and was awarded an MBE by Her Majesty The Queen.