I was very young when I first realised that my mother and friends and family indulged in a strange ritual which involved staring at squared patterns in the newspaper in silence. This was followed by appreciative murmurs and scribbling on the checked designs. To this day, Kate and I and our friend Rachel meet every weekend (though I live in West Africa, Zoom makes many things simple) to match our wits against the Guardian Prize Cryptic Crossword. Earlier this year, Mum was there too helping us solve a Shakespeare-themed puzzle. Without ‘Nanapedia’ and her arcane knowledge of plays and characters, we would not have finished.