A crossword creator dying from cancer has used one of his own puzzle clues to tell the world he has the disease.
Reverend John Graham, 91, a celebrated British crossword setter known online as “Araucaria”, placed the cryptic clues in The Guardian’s online crossword on Friday.
In his clue, which included a special instruction, he wrote,”Araucaria has 18 down of the 19, which is being treated with 13 15.”
Underneath the crossword itself, the clues read:
“13,15 ‘Friendly (say) vicar at ease (say) with arrangement for coping with 18 down (10,4)’ – 15 ‘See 13’, with 18 described as ‘Sign of growth (6)’.”
This translated as ‘cancer’ for the down clue, then ‘oesophagus and palliative care’ for the across solution.
Graham told The Guardian that leaving the clue “seemed the natural thing to do somehow, adding, “I should think this is a one-off because I don’t really know what else there will be to say.”
Graham, who has been writing crossword puzzles for over 50 years, also revealed that doctors haven’t given him a time limit on how long he has to live because they don’t know themselves. He says doctors have advised against surgery or chemotherapy to treat his cancer, BBC News reports.
The Reverend also says he has been “very touched” by reactions to the crossword revelation, which first appeared in the December issue of 1 Across magazine.
“People have been ringing and sending me cards,” he said. “It’s been very nice, but I can’t reply to them all.”
Graham now plans to continues creating puzzles for as long as he can, “I’m not actually doing much else,” he said.
For those who might ask, Araucaria is Latin for monkey puzzle tree.