Puzzles And Riddles: The Background


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Previously Published Puzzles

Previously Published Riddles (A Book Of Conundrum Riddles)
Previously Published Riddles (Music Riddles)
Previously Published Riddles (The Voice)

Previously Unpublished Riddles

Up until about October 1983, I’d written very little in the way of poetry, save the usual stuff at school, a terrible eulogy to John Wayne (which I binned at some point) and the lyrics to a few songs I’d composed while living in Chestnut Avenue, Leeds. The catalyst for the poetry was a deeply personal thing. I started writing lyrics too, and a fair few conundrum riddles, the latter simply to pass the time, although later I envisaged publishing a book or two of them. I didn’t attempt to market any of the latter until 1986, when I met with nothing but rejection. Around this time I saw an advertisement asking for musical talent in Loot, the advertising paper that rightly called itself London’s Noticeboard, and sent off a tape or two of my songs. I also mentioned the riddles I’d been writing, and for once I received a positive response.

When in due course I went along to his suite in Kensington High Street to meet my potential publisher, I was mildly surprised. He was a black guy, late thirties I should imagine, who was running a business with an ethnic angle, and his name, believe it or not, was Winston. When I told one of my right wing friends, he couldn’t stop laughing, but Winston was instantly likeable, and the type who had no time for whining about racism and other chimeras, a genuine entrepreneur. He filled me in on his ethic, and told me to leave things with him. Which I did. In due course I saw a number of my riddles and puzzles published in the Voice, the weekly that called itself “Britain’s Best Black Newspaper!” - with rather less justification than the claim made by Loot, I might add. After having received enough rejection slips for books, songs, poems and riddles to paper my walls, it seemed, finally, that I might be going somewhere. Although I did get some money out of Winston, and his spirit was willing, and his flesh far from weak, he was not the master of his own destiny. In spite of a steady stream of riddles and puzzles finding their way into the paper, there was no sign of a book deal, a record deal, or anything. Eventually it became clear to me what had happened, Winston’s subordinate had a contact at the Voice, a lady journalist whom he was probably slipping a length, but that was the extent of his networking. Finally, my patience ran out and I told him that it was the end of the road. In retrospect I was very uncharitable to him, especially as it was obvious that he had problems of his own. After we parted company I didn’t expect to hear from him again, certainly I wouldn’t have had anything further to do with me if I’d been him, but a couple or a few years later – I can’t remember exactly when - I received a phone call from him out of the blue.

I was very apologetic, and we arranged a meet, but his problems appeared to have caught up with him, and I never heard from him again. Neither I think did his landlord; I spoke to the woman who was the manageress or some such of his premises, and he had left owing rent. Sigh.

Although as I said, I did get some money out of Winston, the amounts involved were pitiful, and the projected puzzle book or magazine never came close to materialising. The links below lead to the puzzle and riddle sections; this is only a tiny fraction of my output; I will add more as time permits. I have included scans of those already published in chronological order, in JPG format.

Twenty years and more on I can state truthfully that Socrates is not the only philosopher who is in a class by himself. I am the only person ever to have written for the Voice, Index On Censorship, Spearhead and Pravda!

Alexander Baron,

March 19, 2009



Today I have added a new sub-section to this part of the site; the third link below leads to previously unpublished conundrum riddles. I say previously unpublished, there may be one or two here that appeared in the Voice all those years ago, or even one or two that appeared in one of my previously published (and unmentionable) collections. The file copies appear to be stashed away at the bottom of my archive, and in any case I don’t have the time on my hands at the moment to wade through these publications and log the riddles individually. I still have well over a thousand which were typed up before I bought my first computer way back in November 1990; these are at the very bottom of my list of priorities.

That being said, I have added thirty here, actually thirty-one, but one has been published in the Sonnet Section. Because it was written as a sonnet! This is a rather easy riddle which I wrote back in 1984 or no later than the first quarter of 1985, probably the former. Now a few words about the rest of them.

Number One is the first conundrum riddle I ever composed. The scansion could be improved, but this is exactly as it was written way back in 1984.

Number 2 was probably written in a moment of madness; numbers 3, 4 & 5 were probably written with the Voice in mind, and I may even have passed them on to Winston. Numbers 10-14 are probably best forgotten, but if I have been known occasionally to use the dreaded N word, I have never really liked it, unlike Chris Rock, Ice Cube and countless others such as Mike Tyson (who features in number 14, and unlike Rock, if not Cube, thoroughly deserves the appellation). Number 15 was probably written around 1994; it couldn’t have been written much before then, for obvious reasons. I have written very few conundrum riddles since then, and I don’t recall writing any this Millennium, although I may have written one or two in the odd moment of inspiration. If this sort of nonsense can be called inspiration.

Alexander Baron,

Updated October 20, 2010

Further Update


Today I have added A Book Of Conundrum Riddles in HTML format. I had intended to scan this pamphlet at some point but the original was manually typed, so this is a distinct improvement, ie from worse to bad.

November 18, 2010



Over the past few days I’ve been doing some hard disk maintenance, and came across three Gridwords (see WORD and PDF files linked immediately below). I can’t remember exactly when I wrote these, but it was certainly no earlier than 1987 and no later than 1992. I cannot remember either if I wrote more than these three, but I haven’t come across any papers relating to them, so I think I probably composed them directly, or more or less directly on disk, which would date them from November 1990 onwards. Having said that, I also have a few Chainwords and Mixwords on my machine in WordStar format, and I began writing these well before I bought my first computer, so I may have done likewise with the Gridwords. Of course, if I’d had more success marketing these original puzzles, I wouldn’t be scratching my head now over their chronology.

There appear to have been other puzzles called Gridwords or Grid Words, which have been developed independently, but as far as I can tell, the ones I developed are entirely original, or as original as any word puzzle can be.

December 3, 2010

Gridwords – PDF file

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