Editorial by David Akenhead, CEO Akenhead crosswords

Your memory is undiminished. Vivat! Vivat! Regina! On Easter Sunday, in my Book, the laws of Jesus Christ are paramount, reflecting the verses from Calvary I related to our congregation in our Kirk on Good Friday. Little children, yet a little while I am with you . . . Love one another as I have loved you – John 13, 33-34 (extracted)

So sorry about King Charles’s illness, with admiration for his courage and fortitude in handling it, extended to his younger son, Prince Harry, for his recent support and devotion to his father. I have nothing but admiration for his wonderful initiatives for Invictus. I also have admiration for Prince Andrew and his family and the Princess Royal. People who serve their country and their monarch have my admiration, as does the Princess of Wales at this challenging time for herself and her family. Prince William too has my sympathies.

The indiscriminate killings in the Concert Hall in Moscow has my revulsion and condemnation whoever was responsible for the senseless mass slaughter of innocents as were the Hamas terrorists earlier on the State of Israel, who earned Hamas and supporters a very bad name indeed including some high-blown idiots in the House of Commons. Nothing new there, clearly, including sadly, George Galloway, even if he is a moderate in his own family, which I respect. 

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 and at https://akenheadcrosswords.com/ normal business was resumed as of 15th October and I recommend, if you are looking for good journalism, a subscription to Times-On Line still has some ace cards at its disposal!

New exciting initiative on all our digital products there to reflect the real World from the imaginary!

As a former employee of The Times and recent revelations on both my websites, I remain hopeful of a fresh review of how I can assist in expanding their crossword book operations globally.

Akenhead Austerity Relief was suspended as from March 21st, 2024

I believe in loyalty, and my first loyalty lies with Lachlan Murdoch and The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun, who like me does NOT believe in autocratic and unsanctioned legislation in trade disputes.

To my 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 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.

My weekly/monthly crossword competitions courtesy of Linked-in, Facebook and Instagram are increasingly popular, promoting digital crossword works 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 subscription to the digital versions of the books with any enhancements gratis in the interim. 

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 and 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 Corp and 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.

Mr Murdoch senior, 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.

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’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 (2 volumes) by the distinguished historian, H. Morse Stephens, Balliol College Oxford 1891, where he recounts in volume 2, 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, (sorry Lucy, but you are plain wrong on this one), 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 along with restitution of the original Jumbo royalty of 1% on all publications (backdated) and reinstated in perpetuity for me and my children. In addition I need permission to publish digital versions of all Jumbo titles without restriction which is not the case at present.

The same goes for my late dear friend, Barbara Hall MBE and her 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.

Below an illustration of the free publicity I used to receive in all Times Books crossword publications in gratitude for my proof editing services.

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 spanning 195 countries stands at 311,655 with 2 employees, double TOL with 500 times more people, I’m sitting here doing all this work gratis on The Times crossword archive, and several other Times and Sunday Times crossword publications, not to mention huge gratis promotion for Harper Collins Publishing and there’s Instagram being run by 15 billionaires and The Times still can’t recognise their limited books market compared with the potential of our added global reach with my digital alternative, still knocking on the door for admission? Brings to mind: C.E. Holt’s ‘Our Ernie – Mrs Entwhistle’s Little Lad’, the finest comic strip ever created (Knock-out 1939), always ended with grandad saying, ‘Daft, I call it‘. Well, I echo grandad on this one! – DA

Why? I continually ask myself along with numerous other artists, actors, and authors worldwide now asking the self-same question! The same goes for new young doctors, scientists, the world over too! World’s run by idiots who wouldn’t know how to fit a light bulb, it seems.

AI too is finally being put to good use too at TOL with a recent halving of their workforce to compensate even if per capita I’ve still already colonised Mars and returned to Terra nostra! – DA

Times given quite enough warning in advance, my shout echoes! (3,7) (FOR E)+X+AMPLE

Relishes working without children? (8) HEIRLESS or HOPELESS still tending to their needs regardless of adulthood till we drop!

I share the philanthropy of Phil Bloomberg! 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 try to restore gens humana and the peacemakers!

LEST WE FORGET

In Canada much is today to be desired, foolish and corrupt leaders abound sadly, with ludicrous taxes afflicting the hard-pressed and scapegoats too, including still prevailing woeful advertising standards, highly dubious lending schemes and scant attention to weights and measures, never permitted in Britain as the proud sign above Greenwich Market soberly still reminds all traders, and me with my own stall there once! I quote:  “A false balance is an abomination to the Lord but a just weight is his delight”, whereas in contrast, here in Canada a halving of many goods in fancy packaging to give the illusion that nothing has changed, particularly on things like batteries and expensive moisturising creams found half empty, and we realise that we are conned and we have Peter Mansbridge’s fine words too on reverse mortgages “It can be whatever you choose to make it”, can’t it just! (It all depends upon which side of the equation you belong!)

Thank you, Peter, the man’s a prophet who is still a delight for the freedom of the Press, along with Rex Murphy, for the majority here with their irrepressible wit and Mary Walsh, love her, though she and Seamus O’Regan are totally out to lunch when it comes to their courageous professional highly trained Newfoundland soldiers of World War 1, along with the ANZACS and the Territorials, courageous? Yes, in droves but professional? Not in the British Army code book under the sometimes deluded top brass, they weren’t!

Their only choice was an inner grit and determination to challenge authority, just like our Lord, in the Army certainly, (though in the Navy and the Air Force they were treated with more respect), and proud with it like my grandfather, Francis, a lawyer in civvy street, in Newport Mon. Wales, and a Territorial at weekends, of the 5th Manchester Battalion, reservists thay called them and many rookies, some underage, allegedly untrainable and expendable! hence, they were along with the Anzacs at Gallipoli among the diversionary troops in the heights of Krithia,  and my Great Uncle David, Captain, Terrier and medic in the main Suvla Bay landings with the 6th Lincolnshires, earmarked for the Somme, refusing to segregate the Turkish captives from his attentions as a surgeon, whose lot was similar to the other Newfoundlanders destined for The Somme and Beaumont Hammel and their terrible decimation that morning of 1st July 1916, mown down by machine gun fire from a well entrenched and inaccessible enemy beyond them in a singularly callous and regrettable exercise to test the strength of the foe.

David Akenhead bowed out at Flers Courcelette, later that year, the notorious tank offensive, after achieving his objective depositing his hugely diminished Troop’s wounded from the lower Sugar Trench across a mile of No-Mans Land Hell, to the relative safety of the upper Sugar Trench, when his Tank commander and he in the last functional tank did a U turn at the Sugar Factory, and went back down to save their friends above the lower part of the Sugar Trench stranded under their own tank which had seized up in No-Mans Land from the outset, now at the mercy of snipers who had infiltrated the lower British trench from the East.

They reached the other tank, but their own seized up too trying to turn in the war-ravaged mire, and David only saved, (severely wounded by shrapnel and losing an eye), by his older sister, Alice Akenhead after she had witnessed her younger brother’s reckless actions earlier. Stuff this for a game of soldiers was her reaction, as related to me much later by my great uncle: Who’s with me, girls? She said, and about twenty followed, all later awarded the George Medal, Royal Red Cross 2nd (1st reserved for Royalty), St John’s Ambulance No. 161901, subsequently excused Court Martial for disobeying orders, and instead decorated and pardoned by George V at the insistence of Queen Mary, marching down the hill together amid sniper fire protected only by their Red Crosses.

Immediately, the Bavarian infiltrators, ceased fire in respect for the valour of those nurses and on that day, late afternoon, 15th September 1916 amid the utter futile carnage of the day on both sides, the Battle of Flers Courcelette was conceded with a German retreat to their base, as a mark of homage to the British nurses, enabling the Allied wounded back home to England along the Grandcourt Road to the Pas de Calais. But for the bravery of those girls, the enemy’s pincer movement, like Alexander of old, may well have won the day; a stand for love of humanity rang the bells on both sides instead.

What a day for my family! Alice went on to supervise an army hospital for the 6th Lincolnshires in the grounds of Lincoln Cathedral in the vicarage adjoining and the home of my great grandfather, Laird Edmund Akenhead, rural Dean of Lincoln and his wife, Lucy Collingwood Taylor Corbett. Lovely Alice, quiet and modest like her younger brother, David, and a super water colour painter too!

Meanwhile the Manchesters along with my grandfather, Francis, had been recuperating in Alexandria after abandoning the Heights of  Krithia along with the Newfies and ANZACS sustaining severe losses but were soon re-engaged defending the Suez Canal then sent to Belgium in 1917, all again to the toughest places from the beginning of the Great War to the end, when they were finally demobilised just before Christmas, my grandfather being at Charleroi, as Captain Francis Akenhead, whither he had gone, so almost invariably had the Newfoundlanders and ANZACS and their war record together is quite incredible.

I have it all, and the list of battles runs to half a page, starting with Krithia Vineyard In Gallipoli where the Newfies largely had to chance their luck as messengers between the various groups in the Heights of Krithia and High Command below, and ending with the final encounter at The Battle of the Selle! and for the few that lived to tell the tale, it was one of unsurpassed valour and instinct for survival!

Below find:

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 Articleand 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. I would like that archive extended to the present day, please, Mr Murdoch.

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

24th April, 2024

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