Join me tomorrow evening!

LESS THAN 24 HOURS TO GO! At 8pm tomorrow (Sat 12 Apr), we’ll be starting a game show lasting all evening! It’s me vs Nick Gates at 15 games, LIVE AND ONLINE. We’ve even filmed two of the games on location already!

I am the man to beat, having won the last time we played this – but it was a close fight. My jelly bean tasting skills proved invaluable.

All the details are at – where the link to the live event will also appear shortly before 8pm.

Please do come and watch us, even only for a bit, as your support really means the world to us, and makes it more likely that we may do it again in the future. Let’s see if we can get over 250 viewers!

Also – I will hopefully put another crossword up within the next couple of weeks or so. Exciting!

Crossword #2 by Everest

Here is my crossword for February. You can play it using the interactive app below, or have a print version by clicking on the PDF link.

The solution will be uploaded in about a week or so. Do let me know what you think!

Crossword #2 by Everest PDF

Crossword #2 Solution PDF

Crossword #1, by Everest

Here is Crossword #1 by me (Everest). A PDF version of the crossword, and its solution, is available below the interactive app.


#1 by Everest, PDF
#1 by Everest, SOLUTION PDF


I’m going to be doing another game show on Saturday! But this one is a bit different…

Some of you may have heard of a German game show that I have been part of a UK commentary team for called “Schlag Den Raab”, meaning “Beat the Raab” (Stefan Raab is a German entertainer). It’s a show that takes place 6 times a year, is live, and lasts about 6 hours with millions of euros of prize money up for grabs. When it takes place, myself and three other game show experts provide a UK commentary for it over YouTube.

Anyway, David Bodycombe is organising “Beat The Brig”, where Brig is one of the other commentators, and the challenger contestant is… ME! It is going to take place this SATURDAY from 8pm, and will consist of 15 head to head games of me vs. Brig. It will be broadcast on YouTube, and I hope that you will be able to watch it!

As a sense of how amazing this is going to be, both Brig and myself have been mailed a parcel of props for the evening, which we can’t open until instructed on the night. David Bodycombe is a Big Cheese of the game show world, he has been the main Question Editor for Only Connect and has devised challenges for The Mole and The Crystal Maze, amongst other works. So this is a big deal.

I hope you’re able to watch from 8PM, THIS SATURDAY. It is likely (but not certain) that it will remain on YouTube afterwards. But trust me, you’re going to want to watch this!

All the details, including the YouTube link (which will appear on the day), are at . I hope you can join me on the night!

December Update to the 2500 Clue Challenge – I DID IT!

Time’s up. 2013 has been and gone and… I’VE COMPLETED THE 2500 CLUE CHALLENGE!!! YAAAAAAY!

I solved my 2500th clue on Christmas Eve, making it a lovely present for the following day. I continued to attempt solving the remaining crosswords in the year, and I ended the year having solved 2580 clues!

This month’s Clue Of The Month is by Paul from 24/12/13, and happens to be the 2500th clue solved: You 500? (4). Answer coming later.

Some stats: I solved 2580 clues, including 4 completely correct crosswords. Mondays were the easiest, Thursdays were the hardest. Most common number of clues solved in a day: 10. Most solved setter: Rufus, with 526 clues solved, counting for more than a fifth of all the clues I solved. I happened to meet Rufus in central London a couple of week ago, and he’s a lovely man and quite proficient at magic tricks. His thumb lit up when I shook his hand. Anyway, thank you Rufus.

It’s now time to dig deep into your festive pockets and donate to the 2500 Clue Challenge at . If you’ve pledged 1p per clue and have been donating a fiver at a time, please donate £5.80 this time, as I solved a bonus 80 clues this time. I’ll have a look through past donations and try to let you know how much you’ve donated (as it can be hard to remember what you do last week, let alone last year!).

The answer to the Clue Of The Month is: THOU. 500 is half of a THOUSAND, and half of the word THOUSAND is THOU. Brilliant.

The Clue Of The Year though does have to go to Philistine (Puzzle 25947 on 14/05/13) for Rupert Murdoch is old (6,3,5) for BEHIND THE TIMES. That tickles my funnybone, so please accept this small pile of kudos.

Thank you all once again for the incredible support you’ve shown to me, I honestly wouldn’t have been able to do it without knowing you were all cheering me on and emailing me asking me how it was going. I’ve no idea what my Next Charity Thing will be, but I’m looking forward to making it happen.



Crossword #1 by Everest

There’s less than two weeks left in the 2500 Clue Challenge, and things are now going well – I have less than 50 clues to go!

As TODAY is the 100th anniversary of the crossword, it’s only fitting that I give you a cryptic crossword that I myself have set. I hope it is the first of many. You’re more than welcome to ask for hints/answers, I’ll post them in the new year.

I’ve also chosen a crossword pseudonym for myself: Everest. So, why Everest? Well, I hope to be a challenge, but ultimately scale-able with possibly an oxygen mask being required. And it’s a play on my surname, of course.

Click on the link below to download CROSSWORD #1 by EVEREST. Please let me know what you think of it!

2500CC Crossword

November Update to the 2500 Clue Challenge

I’ve just sent out this update to the 2500 Clue Challenge email list. If you want to be put on the mailing list, let me know at

Hello everyone! You’re receiving this email as you’ve expressed an interest in my 2500 Clue Challenge. If you don’t want to receive these updates, then please don’t check your emails (or email me at and I’ll remove you from the list).

ELEVEN months down. ONE to go.

In November, I solved 236 out of 597 clues (39.5%), taking me to 2307 clues in total! After a good October of solving, I’m now 9 clues AHEAD of schedule. There are just 21 crosswords left, to get the remaining 193 clues. It’s going to go down to the wire!

November’s clue of the month is by Arachne (on 12/11/13): Group travel document with two pages missing. (6) Answer later!

Before I talk about depression for the month, I’d like to quickly say THANK YOU to everyone for all your donations. It has been a fantastic (albeit hard!) year, and one that I’ve enjoyed immensely. Sadly it’s coming to an end now, so I’m looking ahead for My Next Thing To Do For Charity. Please let me know any suggestions that you have, for either the Thing or for the Charity to do it for, as I’d love to do something unusual, different and a little bit crazy for charity in 2014.

Anyway, this is the Hypocritical Month or Do As I Say And Not As I Do.

I’ve been giving you my feelings and impressions about depression throughout the year, and some of the ways that I cope with it. Regulating sleep, food, and physical activity and discussing your depression with others willing to listen are all really good ways of coping that little bit better with depression.

But… it doesn’t always go that way. Relapses happen. And one thing I’ve been hiding for the past two or three months is that I’ve had one heck of a relapse. Who have I talked to? Just one person, they know who they are, and not even with them fully. My advice is TO TELL PEOPLE. To talk. But it’s not been advice I’ve been heeding of late, for which I can only apologise. Have I kept physically active? I have not.

Whilst my current work contract is coming to an end in mid-December (so I’ll have the rest of the year off, minimum), I wouldn’t be surprised if the Doctor signed me off of work anyway, to help me recuperate a bit. This is not ‘time off to do nothing’. This is time off to go to counselling, to get back into running a few times a week, to eating more healthily.

And that’s actually an important point I’d like to mention – when people with depression have time off to recuperate, it will usually start off with them doing very little, which looks like ‘they’re just having a holiday’. But they’re not, they’re recharging themselves so that they can build their lives back together bit by bit throughout their time off. To them, doing a load of laundry, getting dressed, buying food, these can be really hard work and each small task has to be taken slowly one at a time until they can be coped with.

So, please Do As I Say – talk to people even in your worst bits, don’t Do What I Do which is to clam up. It makes things much harder in the long run.

The answer to Clue Of The Month: ASSORT. It’s a travel document (PASSPORT) with two pages (i.e. P’s) removed, take out the P’s from PASSPORT and you are left with ASSORT.

Not long now until I complete the 2500 Clue Challenge…!

October update to the 2500 Clue Challenge

Here’s the October update I’ve just sent out for the 2500 Clue Challenge! If you want to receive these emails, let me know at

Hello everyone! You’re receiving this email as you’ve expressed an interest in my 2500 Clue Challenge. If you don’t want to receive these updates, then send me a pack of chocolate digestives (or email me at and I’ll remove you from the list).

Ten months down. Two to go.

And yet, somehow, I’m still trying the crossword each day, in the hope of solving yet more clues! I’m actually really enjoying this challenge, and the fact that it raises money for a challenge is an added bonus!

In October, I solved 222 out of 660 clues (33.6%), taking me to 2071 clues in total. I’m now over the 2000 clue mark! Hooray! I shall be sending out a 2000 clue reminder in due course. Overall, I’m 25 clues behind schedule (i.e. about 2 1/2 days).

October’s Clue Of The Month is a clue by Brendan (21/10/13): Fashionable judgment shown by doctor on a lot of points (5,5). Answer later!

This month I’m going to have a bit of a moan. Apologies in advance. The mental health service provisions in the UK are… frustrating at best. I’m going to use this past month as an example. I have not been feeling in tip-top condition, and I’m currently seeking out some more counselling to help me get through this.

I brought this up with the doctor about 4 weeks ago, and she very kindly gave me the details for a self-referral service. I phoned them up, and they said that “the waiting list to have the initial appointment over the telephone is about 2 weeks”. Finally, after 2 weeks, I did get a call from them – but only to organise when the actual phone appointment would be. Luckily it was a couple of days later.

This initial assessment was reasonably standard, current emotions, feelings within the past couple of weeks, general physical and mental health, and so on. Afterwards, there were 3 options that would suit me, according to the lady on the phone. The first two were during working hours, so they’re out of the question for me. The third one was an evening group session quite close to home. The problem is that starts at 6:30, which is when I finish work, and I’d still have an hour long commute to get there.

Whilst there is some degree of flexibility in my work, I am loathed to use it at the moment as it’s a really busy time and I want to make a good impression to work colleagues and further my career. So, none of these options works for me on the NHS. There are many private services at evenings and weekends, but they cost so much that there’s no way I could afford anything near them.

I feel quite stranded and frustrated by the lack of services. They are there, but accessing them is a right pain in the behind for me. Plus the speed at which you can access the services is on a galacial time scale. A week is a long time not only in politics but in depression too!

Finally, the answer to Clue Of The Month is: DRESS SENSE. It’s Doctor (DR) on “a lot of points”, referring to points of a compass, (N,E,S,W). It’s common for there to be the odd compass point or two in wordplay, but EIGHT! Brilliant.

Until next month, when I shall essentially say “Do as I say, not as I do!”


September Update to the 2500 Clue Challenge

I have just emailed this update to the 2500 Clue Challenge to my email list. If you want to be put on the list, then let me know at


Hello everyone! You’re receiving this email as you’ve expressed an interest in my 2500 Clue Challenge. If you don’t want to receive these updates, then send me a pack of chocolate digestives (or email me at and I’ll remove you from the list).

I’m two thirds of the way through the year, and the time has flown.

In September, I found the crosswords very tough! I solved 149 out of 598 clues (24.9%), taking me to 1849 clues in total. Overall, I’m now just under 3 days BEHIND schedule, whereas last month I was about 3 days AHEAD of schedule. That’s how tough a month I found it, I slipped almost a week. It’s strengthened my resolve, so let’s see how October goes!

September’s Clue Of The Month is a neat one from Paul (12/09/13): Though analogue isn’t a poisoner _ ? (9). (answer later!)

It’s time for my equivalent of an Ask Me Anything. I’ve asked for your questions [ideally about my experiences of depression], and I’ve hand picked the best ones to answer. Without further ado…

Firstly, I’ve been asked a couple of questions about the challenge itself: “Where do you find the time to do them? Genuinely, I thought you did it during the commute. But I don’t think that’s actually right.” – SR.

I used to, SR! When I was commuting to London, I used to do it on the train to Reading. Now during the underground commute, I may only have free space around me equal to that of a walnut, so that doesn’t really work. These days, I tend to have a first decent stab over lunch, and then continue digging at it during available points in the afternoon and evening.

Question: have you found the challenge worthwhile? Would you have set the rules any differently in retrospect?” – Ronald

Thanks Ronald, I certainly have found the challenge worthwhile for a couple of reasons. Firstly – just being mentally active during the week, and making me update the challenge regularly has been a great motivator for me. Secondly – opening up once a month about depression has hopefully been as helpful to you as it has been to me, I’ve found it quite cathartic. The fact that this challenge is raising money for ReThink, that’s an amazing bonus. In terms of the rules, there’s nothing I would change. If I were to do it again, I reckon the rules would all be exactly the same.

At what point would you recommend telling someone to get help?” – Scott.

Great question Scott. The thing about depression is it can sneak up on you without you realising it. I had it for months before realising. So, if you realise you’re not feeling yourself, I’d recommend seeing a doctor just to talk to someone AS SOON as you realise it. You certainly should if you feel sad or ‘not yourself’ for more than two weeks in a row. However, I’d actually not put the burden on you. I’d like friends and family to look out for you (and vice versa). Hopefully they’ll notice before you do that you’re not quite on top of the world, and they’ll either help you through it or let you know that you seem not quite yourself.

Last question for today, again from SR. “How do you deal with a lack of energy, one of the common symptoms.”

Personally, I deal with it by drinking quite a lot of coffee, tea, and coca cola. And that’s not good, certainly not in the quantities I consume. In fact, caffeine can actually make the situation worse as the body gets used to it over time, and it dehydrates the body as well. I’m currently weaning myself off of it. In terms of sleep, I tend to get up at the same time every day, and go to bed whenever I feel tired. That seems to help with the tiredness, even though one day I may go to bed at 9pm and the next at midnight, the sleep I get is sort of based on tiredness levels.

If you have more questions, then I’ll include them in the next update. They are always welcome.

Finally, the answer to Clue Of The Month is: DIGITALIS. If analogue isn’t a poisoner, then the ‘opposite’, DIGITAL, IS. And digitalis (or foxglove) is a poisonous flower. I like clues with rather different wordplay from normal, and this certainly qualifies. Well done Paul.

Until next month…



August Update

I’ve just emailed this out as an update to my 2500 Clue Challenge. If you want to be put on the mailing list, simply email me at and I’ll put you on the list!

Phew! What a scorcher! (Note: at the time of writing, this seems like it happened years ago. Lack of internet at home has meant it’s had to wait until I’ve had time at work to send this.).

It’s been a hot month, a busy month, a Nuts Challenge month. Yes, earlier this month I completed the Nuts Challenge ( in under two hours and what turned out to be a whopping 15 minutes quicker than last year. I ran the course with my friend Geoff and we had tremendous fun, as me diving into a massive mud pit shows.

That’s me trying to keep active – because it is so very easy not to be. But what about the mind? Well, this month I solved 181 out of 630 clues (28.7%), bringing my total to a round 1700 clues. That means I’m 3 days ahead of schedule.

August’s Clue Of The Month is the following: Might a mouse stew do it as a dish of leftovers? (6,3,6). Answer later.

In the last update I said I was going to respond to your questions! But I’ve not received very many (i.e. 1), so I plan on doing this next month instead. Do you have any questions about depression, how I cope/not cope with it? Please email me at and hopefully it will make an interesting update.

So this month I’m going to talk about isolation. The first thing a good proportion of people with depression want to do is shut down socially and not interact with anyone. Despite writing these monthly updates to tell you how I’m doing, it’s something I’m really struggling with. I’ve just moved to SW London and I don’t know anyone in the area, so it’s natural for me to be a bit daunted. Having moved here, all of a sudden I realise it can be hard to make new friends.

I’m going to have to make a huge effort to go to pub quizzes that I’m not familiar with, sports clubs I know nothing about, board gaming stores where I know no-one – and it’s a task I’m not quite able to tackle most days. People! Scary! But even if you do have a close network of friends all around you, it’s so easy to find excuses to stay in and watch the telly rather than go out and socialise. I’m always making excuses to myself.

The one way I’ve found around this is by using a phone! Calling people! It allows you to communicate with others, but also to control when that communication starts and stops. It’s been a major help to me and I recommend to others that if you can’t face talking to someone face to face, then this makes it easier. Then there’s always writing things down. I’ve written letters to my friends, to which they responded using letters, when even the phone was too much and when I shut myself in my room and locked the door.

I can’t vouch for others, but one of the reasons depression inhibits my socialising is that I feel like I’m lying to people. Not lying in the true sense, but lying about my emotions. “Hi, I’m happy and bubbly and everything is fine”, my demeanour says. “But actually I’m a miserable sod” my internal monologue says, and that makes me feel bad that I’m ‘lying’ to others.

But interacting with others is an essential part of being human, and denying that can make depression worse, so it’s annoying depression makes socialising more difficult.

Join me next month when I might have socialised in London (I’m sure there must be someone else around here somewhere).

The answer to the clue of the month: BUBBLE AND SQUEAK (Cryptic definition)