A Special Friendship With a Cryptic Twist

(Image: Rita Waghorne)

We sat down with our new resident Rita Waghorne this week to talk about her unique friendship and interesting hobby.

Rita and Dot have been friends for over 30 years, they met as primary school teachers in North Beach, WA in the late 80’s – it was the start of a special friendship.

They moved on from their jobs in North Beach and kept in touch, catching up regularly.

Dot moved to Albany a few years ago to be closer to her family and Rita recently moved into Meath Care’s, Dr Mary Surveyor Centre in Kingsley.

Every day at 2.30pm they call each other and spend an hour or two on the phone going over The West Australian’s cryptic crossword.

It’s become such an important part of their lives, they only miss a day when Dot has family commitments.

They have a strategy, which is to solve the small words first making it easier to tackle the larger ones later.

Rita explained that different ‘compilers’ build the crosswords, she studies their individual approach to understand the formula.

Some compilers have a linguistic approach, using words from a variety of languages, others have a more technical or artistic approach.

She can tell when a new compiler is contributing as the language changes and the different aspects become obvious.  Sometimes it can take her a while to figure it out, but says “once I’ve cracked the code it becomes easier to solve”.

She also explained that many compilers are getting older and cryptic crosswords are a dying art, “many are getting older and passing away and they aren’t being replaced”.

Both Rita and Dot love the intellectual challenge of the crossword and believe it helps keep their minds sharp, Rita says “it keeps her brain going”.

Dot is not only a gun cross-worder, she’s also a competent seamstress.

When Rita mentioned she couldn’t find certain colours and styles of clothing in the shops, Dot offered to run her up a few blouses.

She looks out for fabrics with specific colours, sews the garments and then posts them up to Rita in Perth.

Rita’s wardrobe is filled with a variety of beautiful shirts and jackets made to order by Dot.

She’s very grateful to have such a thoughtful friend, she told us “she’s so kind to me, I’m lucky to have such a good friend”.

We asked Rita “what is your proudest achievement in life”, her response warmed our hearts.

“I believe I was a good teacher, I loved my students and they loved me.  Over the years many have kept in touch, imagine that – keeping in touch with your year 2 teacher”.

Rita is widowed with a devoted son John, two grandchildren and two step-children.