In these lock-down days, doing puzzles is one way of keeping the grey cells active. For ten years, I had the privilege of sending amazing people from Town, Gown and County to my mythical island of Oxtopia. Among them were two of the best crossword compilers in the world, the late Colin Dexter and Don Manley.

Don Manley compiles under various names – Duck, Pasquale, Quixote, Bradman, Giovanni, and Izetti.
In his foreword to Don’s book the Chambers Crossword Manual, his friend and rival, Colin Dexter described a train journey they took together to record a television programme, called Crosstalk.
‘At Oxford station, Don bought The Times, The Independent, Guardian and Daily Telegraph. Without any assistance from me he had completed them all before we reached Reading. 23 minutes!’
Don told me,

‘Colin and I are two of the most successful winners of the Azed competitions. The most successful winner is Jeremy Morse of All Souls — it was Jeremy who gave his name to Colin’s detective.’
So it is of no surprise that Inspector Morse like Colin himself enjoyed real ale, opera, and crossword puzzles! Colin and Don compiled puzzles for The Oxford Times. I wrote features for the paper for almost 20 years. In this photo a hero of mine, Sir Roger Bannister is talking to his fellow castaway, Colin Dexter at the launch of Oxford Castaways. My friend the artist Weimin He, made the fabulous cover.

Don organised Colin’s unforgettable Memorial Service.


He talked to us ..