Editorial by David Akenhead, CEO Akenhead crosswords
Welcome to Autumn, 2023!
The love of a hugely grateful and indebted nation are with Queen Elizabeth who died peacefully at Balmoral on Thursday, 8th September 2022. She brought kindness and light to the world through its darkest hours and throughout her inspiring and adventurous life. Now one year on, and your memory is undiminished and as bright as ever, thanks to both your children and grandchildren and great grandchildren! Vivat! Vivat! Regina!
On August 10th 2022, I introduced my new e-commerce operation via my new subdomain akenheadcrosswords.com. It is my purpose longer term to make akenheadcrosswords.com my modus operandi going forwards blending old with new and with all the latest platforms and tech available but with a view in future to our own independent trading platform – meantime as a loyal former employee of The Times, I do not wish to be seen to be competing against them or Harper Collins.
Accordingly from 22nd July 2023 until 15th October 2023 on all items from this advanced link and platform affording as promised the best possible resolutions at lightning speed courtesy of our new technology at https://akenheadcrosswords.com/ we offer solely samples of well over 1,000 individual digital crossword products as evidenced alongside under Library today reduced to items not yet part of our pending repertoire commercially. So in the immortal words of Dylan Thomas “To begin at the beginning . . . ” Again! In the meantime:
The only digital item immediately available on a lifetime lease and non-transferable for a one-off payment of £10 minimum ($17 Canadian) is The Sunday Times Crosswords Omnibus Book One (1996) with 120 exclusive crosswords from the late Barbara Hall MBE, former Crossword Editor of The Sunday Times and myself as Proofs Editor for Times Books. You may purchase this title in two parts, if you wish at no extra charge.
On 15th October I will add The Times Crosswords Omnibus Books 1 (1995) and Book 2 (1996) both edited by John Grant, former Crossword Editor of The Times and proofed by me for Times Books – price £12 minimum each ($20 Canadian) all at 90% discount off their global book price, and on a similar basis to The Sunday Times title. Thereafter, I will add other titles gradually.
This will continue as long as News Corp insist that I terminate without issue when I die as they did to Barbara Hall and her 4 children. Two simple words: not cricket. My father though went further than her with a number of inventions as did I whose worth will need to be determined in due course, hopefully amicably. In the meantime (delightful cryptic ring!), I’ve proffered an olive branch by removing all my crossword products bar one commercially, as well as continuing a gratis link to Harper Collins via my rapidly expanding readership.
If you want both value for your money, and an organisation still able to uphold traditional values of quality and service, look no further. Our products will not disappoint, and for no extra charge you will have the the added advantage regardless of currency fluctuations, of embracing AI too, strictly regulated in the cause of promoting superb crossword products, or any other products we may embark on.
I’m in the business of supplying my loyal global following with enjoyment from the rich crossword legacy to which I have become the sole living guardian.
I’ve made a start with my weekly/monthly increasingly popular crossword competitions courtesy of Linked-in, Facebook and Instagram promoting digital crossword works within my rich remit, emanating originally from either The Times or Sunday Times during the first 75 crossword years of each newspaper within the limits of a crossword grid of whatever size or type, a recent welcome spur to these aspirations being courtesy of Microsoft (and AI applications, which I am mightily interested in) incorporating in Windows 11, the latest audio transfer system with faithful sound reproduction of the written word, and an international commentary of choice (male or female).
Winners of crossword competitions will receive a lifetime’s access to the digital versions of the books. Accordingly, and to ensure scrupulous fairness, I have temporarily suspended the Times editions of the Omnibus Series from akenheadcrosswords.com.
With the leading service provider in the USA, the best domain platform on the market and impeccable references from Harper Collins, VIP status at The Times with a licence for my digital crossword software for life, and a formidable provenance for the goods in my care, your privacy and protection are assured along with the high standards demanded by News UK.
Let it be known that I am the first to sing the praises of books old as well as new, and crossword books in particular in line with my passion, as is witness to my extensive archive which continues to be replenished with all the latest crossword publications from both The Times and Sunday Times courtesy of Times Newspapers Limited and HarperCollins.
On 26th April 2023 Book Depository announced they were closing, a living example of a worthy venture going to the wall, unable or unwilling to embrace the new technology.
I had hoped that my digital alternatives coupled with recent very encouraging viewing figures might have swayed the powers that be to bring me back aboard to assist therein, in support of which I suggested a free copy of my work with every new book order. Subsequently I withdrew not only my quest for a sponsor, but I reactivated my gratis link to Harper Collins too as gestures of goodwill. That remains despite the present stand-off occasioned originally by new brooms post Peter Roberts (see below) ploughing uncertain fields minus good seed left to fend for itself, as again today, never a good idea.
I really think that it is high time I was recognised again as an asset by the Firm. I wasn’t even invited to Peter Roberts’ memorial service, and once again today, they are making me yesterday’s News, or trying to, judging by my daily honest portrayal of a Cavalcade of world-wide supporters on my Visits Page.
I have always put my readers first as did my late father, and it seems to me that our only common crime was that of workaholics twain combined with scrupulous attention to serving The Thunderer and her readers. Mr Murdoch, you enjoyed my father’s crosswords and I dare say, some of mine. I’ve earned my spurs again, please let me keep them this time! You paid us all a huge compliment by ensuring your presence was represented by senior staff, evident below, Sir Edward Pickering, your Chief Exec. and David Hopkinson, Deputy Managing Editor of The Times both there for my father at his memorial service back in New Year 1991.
Mr Murdoch, I and my father, helped you and Sir Edward once in the Printworkers dispute, my suggestion being an opportunity to sacked Printworkers for retraining in the new tech that I was involved in directly myself with my computer crosswords. Sir Edward embraced my idea. I am asking for your backing now in these difficult times besetting all of us.
I note you are standing down as Chairman of News Corp and Fox. I wish your son, Lachlan, every success as your successor, guarding your assets wisely, as you have done, and to him I say, sir, I am one of those assets, presently in mothballs, and it is high time I was re-admitted to the fold, as a loyal footsoldier who delivers, (ask Alastair Brett) presently enjoying a following of over 75,000 with 2 employees using AI, ahead of TOL with 1,300 plus employees, as my own father did to yours! I’d also like the Sun crosswords back on board as they were for many years under Bill Newman.
I’ve never let down either the Firm or our Publishers, and the correspondence below speaks for itself. I also recommend as its sole extant Times crossword guardian, that the Times Archive including its crosswords is brought up to date including the missing years between January 1986 and October 2000.
Thankfully, I have a learned younger brother supporting me, his school motto from Rugby, Orando Laborando, liberally translated: (your prayer answered through work), reflecting mine from Dover College, Non Recuso Laborem, (no rest from work).
On that happy note, I draw comfort from one of my most precious possessions, The French Revolution by the distinguished historian, H. Morse Stephens, Balliol College Oxford 1891, where he recounts King Louis’s actual demise at the celebrated Place where there was indeed a scaffold, attended by Sanson, his loyal executioner! but the myth begins there, the truth seemingly, conflicting with the gruesome sanitised glorious version handed down! curiously some of the modern persuasion seem to dismiss their elders, and occasionally betters these days. Yet here are Stephens’s own words, judge for yourselves.
“But there was no effort made, and Louis found it necessary to mount the scaffold, from which he attempted to say a few words to the people. The drums were at once beaten, and while they rolled, Sanson the executioner seized upon the king, and at twenty minutes past ten Louis XVI was offered up as a sacrifice to the Revolution.”
Such enlightenment that, even at the last, like our own Charles I, Louis XVI was permitted to exercise his Divine Right of Kings and spared Lucy Worsley’s dreaded mythical machine, which was nowhere to be seen! His fate, was like Anne Boleyn’s, accomplished by a master swordsman, again a Frenchman, and with breathtaking alacrity!
King Charles’ demise, by contrast turned initial mockery to silent respect for his bravery and wit, adjusting his beard, before the gruesome expert’s axe that ended his life commanding his own end signalled to his executioner for the axe to fall at his bidding, resulting in his immediate decapitation by another master craftsman (Richard Brandon, an Englishman this time), and heralding Oliver Cromwell’s downfall in a trice before its hushed and appalled witnesses in the spectacle and aftermath.
Proof, if any were needed, Mr Murdoch, that old retainers like me are still backbone medicine, worth retaining, and worth the candle! I am not, as my kind friend, Alastair Brett, once remarked to me, ‘like Guy Fawkes in your back yard!’ Far from it, I have great respect for my most impassioned advocate of The Times crossword, which passion I share! I will continue to serve you and my readers, if permitted so to do, in a manner becoming to them all, and hopefully in a continued spirit of goodwill to your own vested interests, with a delightful blend of old with new.
Please, Mr Murdoch, impress upon The Times my services need to be acknowledged anew and my earlier honorary title for life of Crossword Consultant to The Times restored to me along with restitution of the original Jumbo royalty of 1% on all publications (backdated) bearing that name on The Times, promised to my father in his final days in perpetuity to him and his family, where with his health seriously undermined, I acted on his behalf with James Bishop, Features Editor, all agreed with Times Books and to be handed on to my mother and thence to me, his eldest son, fully enshrined and respected by all parties. Once that is achieved I will assume the right to publish any digital Times or Sunday Times Jumbo product to date (presently inexplicably restricted to publications to September 2000 inclusive).
News International later claimed that I was never a member of staff, which is tosh, and therefore was owed nothing, when they decided to sack me post Leveson, without any foundation, and I received no severance either. I do not hold Mr Murdoch personally responsible, since, when he took over The Times and Sunday Times, he signed an undertaking not to contest editorial sovereignty, and my family did all in their power to support him – David Akenhead, Senior Representative of Clan Akenhead.
The same goes for my late dear friend, Barbara Hall MBE’s estate, in witness of which I just dug this up too! Eventually downtrodden authors like me and her have to make a stand. This is an increasingly common complaint of good dedicated people in the Media business today, whose prime loyalty is with their followers for whom I am proud to be accountable serving a large mutual appreciation society globally. We will have the last say, of that you can be assured.
Added to the above in 1996 witness the blurb below when I introduced a Sunday Times equivalent courtesy of Barbara Hall alongside my Times Crossword Omnibus Book 2 for Times Books who kindly granted me a full page in both Omnibus Books, and proof if any were again needed of our earlier and continuing popularity globally as well as the prices we once commanded, and still do, which could still prove highly beneficial to News UK and HarperCollins with the free offer I have put to them in return for a dramatic rethink on where I stand with the Firm.
My current licence from The Times is your guarantee of both quality and provenance but I want the extension I am owed, please, after I’m gone. I’ve earned it and so did my father, and so did Barbara Hall on The Sunday Times.
Since March 28th last year (under my renewed contract with Times Newspapers Limited) our viewing figures below tell their own story. These are still superb British crosswords and something to be rightly proud of.
Our following today stands at 214,883 with 2 employees
Contrast today between Times On-Line and us.
138,326 followers with
Times given quite enough warning in advance, my shout echoes! (3,7) FOR EXAMPLE Relishes working without children? (8) HEIRLESS (or HOPELESS) take your pick!
Modern experts got it hopelessly wrong, and once again, I got it right! There is good somewhere in everybody, if one looks for it, and I share the philanthropy of Phil Bloomberg too! Médecins Sans Frontières both of us! We have no time for terror merchants either or vengeful types, but we have all the time in our delicate world to restore gens humana and the peacemakers! – DA
Lachlan Murdoch, you will help restore your father’s fortunes, if you admit me back to the firm with all the advantages I enjoyed under Peter Roberts, Roger Eglin, and Bill Newman at News International, and Barry Winkelman and Paul Middleton at Times Books, rightfully reviving, my life title again as Crossword Consultant to The Times. I never wavered and always delivered, but Alastair Brett and I were hung out to dry post Leveson by unscrupulous individuals. Alastair Brett vouches for the quality of my work on this very website, and my father and I stuck our necks out loyally supporting Rupert Murdoch when everyone was gunning for him. As a loyal Australian and Scot, that will not change ‘ere I draw breath! – Akenhead, Laird of Akenhead.
As a humble journalist I cannot play the Top Table game (yet!) but we’re working on it and the quality of my labours is not in dispute either! Meantime I undertake to publish any of the 185 countries’ flags registered with me daily if their visits to me exceed 100 whilst I continue to grace Harper C gratis with my readership!!
You can’t teach an old dog new tricks, when he’s way ahead of the curve already!
My column appears to be having some effect, with blissful overnight disappearance of daft ads with cars being wired up to terminals too – Good! and electric is NOT the be all and end all either! Our guiding star, the Sun, has yet to manifest itself! Eco-friendly hybrids are key as in the new Fords range. Delighted too that Fords Canada are promoting harmony among their work force and an example to the World. Well done, Fords Canada! Fords USA take note!
As for good advertising standards, they should be what the long-suffering public deserve, with presentation, appearance, elocution lessons and drama training paramount, all decidedly lacking in some rank amateurs. It’s not what the good programmes deserve either, starting with Corie, Johnny Harris, Schitz Creek and Son of a Critch!! and somebody needs to enlighten reporters that Sikhs are NOT Sick either! Also, on the subject of the cosy cartels of the internet service providers in Canada, parity with Europe is what is required at the very least.
Loan sharks prosper and abound with reverse mortgages and spiralling interest rates!! insurance companies advertising huge payouts in the event of accidental death, also an invitation to murder! – this stuff would NEVER be permitted in GB nor would hackers endlessly plaguing innocents with phone demands! – if that’s not bad enough, Service Canada, for all the wrong reasons, presumably in a vain attempt to support the Canadian dollar, are now targeting the vulnerable in society, often with no justification whatsoever, resulting in misery, suicides, litigation and huge payouts the state cannot afford.
Sadly, Mr Trudeau, you must understand that L’État C’est Moi has never rung more hollow, in your case, and where I see politicians daily tearing each other apart whilst patently next to zero is done by you except meaningless endless apologies in resolving Canada’s mounting problems, not just for your sake or your family’s, but your long-suffering nation, I entreat you, please, go to the country if you wish to preserve your own credibility.
To you and Zelensky, I say, stop rocking the boat please and proclaiming your questionable wisdom upon the world stage and give us all a break! else you will only alienate, if your pronouncements start undermining nations’ economies, starting with Poland, who have my sympathy and support 100%.
Mr Trudeau, urging people to Boycott Facebook and Instagram is the height of stupidity and smacks again of cheap politics at the cost of many jobs and livelihoods. You only lead this country, and Mr Furey in Newfoundland and Labrador, courtesy of fair weather friends at best.
We cannot be stirring things up like this on the world stage and visibly creating imbalance. Zelensky has done exactly the same thing with Poland. More fool both of you, I say. Look at Pakistan today, if proof were needed as a result of all this posturing. More jobs shed in their millions are at risk as a result. If Trump is a liability, (which he is), your ill-informed bases appear no better, endangering the very world you profess to protect. Electric batteries are welcome too provided they are safe and used as a hybrid source of eco-friendly power, as in the new Fords range.
To other World leaders, I say: Please get in touch with the no longer silent, long-suffering global majority who I remain proud to serve! No time for the Pomp brigade either, unless their Circumstance brings lasting benefit to the whole of mankind, on our precious, increasingly fragile, planet.
Let’s all take a leaf from Voltaire and make our own gardens beautiful again before messing about with others. Self-respect is key, starting with family and care for our environment.
UN Security Council should support all our security (calling war crimes and any participants to account for their barbarism, starting with executive which needs to be without stain) and regardless of division make Odesa a free port, please and Crimea autonomous too, permitting them a free vote on their former affiliation with Ukraine.
To Ukraine I say look to your own borders pre-Putin’s invasion, and let Crimea look to theirs, else you will prolong an utterly futile and costly war, and neither do your young men and Russia’s deserve to die for it. Corruption, it seems, is rife in both camps. Come to the table with a view to restoring Ukraine as she was before she was invaded. Render dictators harmless, but with patience, and stealth.
With goodwill, and mutual respect between nations, we can still find a better place, but it won’t happen without the action of the Peacemakers, wise counsel, and a heart for innocent scapegoats, and anyone suffering persecution, for all generations in this Brave (and still occasionally beautiful) New World to thank them! – DA
My father’s memorable contribution in 1984, (published 1st January 1985) for the memorial illustrated tribute The Times Past – Present – Future to celebrate the Bi-Centenary of The Times ( Akenhead Article) and a copy of the First Edition under the name of The Daily Universal Register of 1st January 1785 (beneath) complete with a clue of mine to fit another 1 across! preceded some 60 odd Years earlier by my ancestor, Robert Akenhead’s, Newcastle Mercury which he founded with his printing presses on The Olde Tyne Bridge, in Newcastle on July 10th, 1722. The Newcastle Mercury was one of the earliest broadsheets of its kind. And on this same memorable day in 2023, his descendant proudly celebrated over 200,300 loyal followers globally on this cloud website since its very recent inception!
My prime mandate on this website remains that of upholding, and indeed expanding my role as guardian of The Times crossword archive, a voluntary role which I am devoted to, and am at present expanding with The Times crosswords published between 1930 and 1985 including the Second World War, hitherto largely untouched and a thoroughly intriguing exercise it is proving! In addition, introduced is a new feature entitled the Akenhead Years, gradually retracing the history of the Times crossword during my father’s eventful stewardship with his small team and myself (our styles at variance!) to the final record of the Times crossword from the existing Times archive culminating in December 1985.
My daughter Charlotte did this delightful impromptu aria earlier from Handel’s Rinaldo, Lascia ch’io pianga.
Plus her earlier riveting solo, Ave Maria:
Kind regards, David Akenhead, former Crossword Consultant to The Times and inventor of The Times, The Sunday Times, and The Sun Computer Crosswords and Games
2nd October, 2023