Editorial by David Akenhead, CEO Akenhead crosswords

My prime mandate on this website is to uphold, and indeed expand 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 during the Second World War, which for multiple reasons, using a lovely phrase borrowed from my late Australian-born mother, have hitherto “barely cracked a mention”! – a memorable phrase she used when she visited me as a young man in Sydney, working as a final reviser for The Sydney Morning Herald (then owned by Fairfax) and after putting the paper to bed in the wee small hours, and a suitable sleep thereafter at my home in Cremorne, engaging in my other love, the Independent Theatre and the theatre arts nearby on the north side of the Sydney Harbour Bridge.

I have outlined in my letter below to Mr Murdoch, all my recent innovations and advances. The results of all this on my website lately have been quite dramatic with my viewing figures swooping up and have over 84,800 as I write, compared with 60,000 – pre February this year then on a par with TOL whose support has also improved to over 89,000.

Matters though have reached a head now for me with the Delta Variant such that my Indian staff are presently almost non-existent. My Australian grandfather, Horace, always used to advise me: David, he would say, in times of crisis, the only way to get anything done is to appeal to Caesar! So this is my appeal to my overall boss.

“Mr Murdoch, my father as representative for the Journalists in your hour of need, loyally openly advised them not to follow the line of the Printworkers with open confrontation at Wapping, but give the new man (yourself) a chance to prove his way as the only way forward, and Printworkers offered at least the chance to improve themselves with training in the new technology. My father’s appeal won the day, and your titles received the chance advocated.

At my father’s memorial service, true to your word through both Sir Edward Pickering, Chief Executive and David Hopkinson standing in as Managing Editor, through your own request, high praise was accorded to him for unflinching loyal service at The Times between 1965 and December 1990 when he died. I, my brother, and mother were also thanked and I was permitted and encouraged through the new Managing Editor, Peter Roberts, to continue in my father’s footsteps, whence my eventful subsequent history is documented on this website.

I now appeal to you, to support me again at this difficult time. Since 21st February this year, my programmer in India, Sunil Kumar Mutaka, has not worked for me in any appreciable capacity. This has meant, that without devaluing the family silver, my restricted field of operation is no longer commercially viable. I am only permitted in the current agreement to operate within my brief, which is effectively Times and Sunday Times Crosswords up to October 2000, and without The Sun means I cannot possibly compete commercially, nor would I wish to, with TOL and Harper Collins as the independent freelancer I am at present. Yet, not only do I have a wider global appeal than them, but find myself anew with no remuneration whatsoever, entirely PR and voluntary. To compound matters for me, on 21st February my weekly splash from TOL was also stopped. There appears to be no rhyme or reason for this particularly with the challenges I now face, and particularly by virtue of the fact that mine are British products!

In short I defer to Oscar Wilde who on arriving in New York on 3rd January 1882 was asked if he had anything to declare and he famously answered: “I have nothing to declare except my genius”. In my case that includes your guardian of a priceless crossword archive,  a 208 clue response (all my own making) to Brian Greer for his Diamond Jubilee Crossword, with my own 90th Anniversary celebration last year and an ability to host On-Line any number of contestants locally or globally for the annual Times Crossword Competition, also instituted by my late father. Added to those pluses, I have invented utterly addictive crossword games including some Latin crosswords also of my making, as well as a brand new interactive digital crossword!

Clearly with the restrictions I am currently under, I cannot possibly compete with strong competitors like The New York Times and The Washington Post, when I am not permitted to promote recent publications including those which were originally my father’s own invention for the firm, the Jumbo crossword books, from which my royalty benefit inexplicably has been confined to just the first two books. I again ask for a rethink. That was not what was envisaged with the 1% royalty for the inventor (now mine) when the original deal was struck with James Bishop, and was supposed to encompass ALL succeeding Jumbo publications for Times Newspapers Limited regardless of size! On that note I ask that all editors observe that Jumbo on both The Times and The Sunday Times is spelt with a capital J since it is mine and my father’s copyright and I urge too that it is The Times crossword (No upper case C) when referring to the institution in general terms!

In the light of the above considerations, I ask for the old arrangement to be reinstated, of which my brother is fully versed, whereby News UK in future accepts total responsibility for my welfare, promotion and publicity, while I am permitted to continue my prime role as Times crossword archivist, hopefully with a similar pension enjoyed by my late father, as well as reinstatement of my title, which was supposed to be for life, as Crossword Consultant to The Times. Any failings attributed to me earlier, were not of my making, but I took the rap, just as other dear and innocent friends did post Levison! I am an asset to you, sir, and to quote Carnot, “available for useful work!”

Accordingly, and until or unless my brother, Sir Robert Akenhead, who acts as my mediator with Times Newspapers Ltd, hears to the contrary, due notice served (submitted 19th August) that as of 1st September 2021, my commercial operation on this website was suspended, reverting to my earlier role with you as PR representative for digital crossword products from The Times, The Sunday Times and The Sun pending a resolution to my present issues. For my Sun products, beyond their complimentary copies and pending a separate agreement between The Sun on behalf of News Group Newspapers Ltd. and myself, I am divorcing those samples from the main archive and placing them alongside my Visits section.

Please find a way to reinstate my former weekly splash from David Parfitt, TOL Puzzles Editor, but this time with free access to ALL your crossword publications including The Sun and axing the existing non-sensical guillotine of October 2000. I have found a superb new programmer, a young man by the name of Deepak Kumar who will assist me in resurrecting my commercial operation soon. Give me the tools and extended licence I request along with a resolution to my own copyrights etc I have mentioned above, and not only will I finish the job but I’ll make this concern a going one ad infinitum to benefit everybody!

As it is, with the assistance of my loyal global supporters it is my intention to eclipse TOL’s own following very soon. Why should this be necessary, when together as a formidable force, we can become trailblazers for both the magnificent crossword books as well as my digital products putting Britain refreshingly back in the driving seat globally?!

All this can only benefit all my clients worldwide including India, and globally, particularly in the realms of the Arts – Music, Film and Drama in my own initiatives and with my daughter Charlotte, who is going from strength to strength it would seem with her lovely voice at her Opera Academy in Portugal  —

 She did this delightful aria earlier from Handel’s Rinaldo, Lascia ch’io pianga.

 

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.

and your only remaining Times crossword archivist!

26th September, 2021″

 

Article by David Parfitt, TOL Puzzles Editor, Dated 20th February 2021 (and duly updated since)

David Akenhead’s Crossword Archive
David Akenhead, the son of the former Times Crossword editor, Edmund Akenhead, has assiduously collated and digitised his huge archive of historical crosswords published in The Times and The Sunday Times. His work begins in 1925 for The Sunday Times and 1930 for The Times and includes rare publications including his father’s original Jumbo crosswords up to 2000, when our Crossword Club archive takes over.

David now has a new commercial app, containing nearly 1,500 Times and Sunday Times crossword games and rare vintage crossword publications from his extensive archive. There is an annual fee for this work, of US $10. This feature is being discontinued from 1st September 2021 – see above.

The remainder of his work may be found on his website, free for all comers and includes many features and developments from crossword history, and interesting articles accompanying his and his father’s industry and other devotees over many years, including Brian Greer’s mammoth Times Diamond Jubilee puzzle, David’s own comparable 208-clue 90th Anniversary of the Times Crossword, and some vintage Times and Sunday Times crosswords.

Further details, including ongoing projects, and methods of payment/subscription can be found by visiting his website, which is entirely independent of The Times and The Sunday Times, via this link: crosswordsakenhead.com

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