ATH 1987:

Armchair Treasure Hunt 1987

Title: Who Killed the ATH?
Setter: No Hunt Set
Themes: No Hunt Set

Paul Coombs writes...

Those who know me well understand that I am very keen to start new things but quickly get bored when they turn into routine. Since letting others loose on the ATH, every time I have gotten my mitts back on it, I have tried to find a new twist. Sometimes this has worked (1992) and sometimes it hasn't (1997). In 1987, I was overtaken with the desire to do something really different, even though the ATH was only two years old and could hardly have been said to have settled into routine.

The Christmas edition of the Sunday Times Magazine in 1986 had contained an illustrated detective story - I think it was called Who Killed Santa? Text about the circumstances, and interviews with various suspects, was accompanied by pictures of the rooms in which the foul deed took place. Readers had to find out whodunnit. A minor imaginary leap later and I was able to map this concept on to the Logica offices, with the unforgettable title: Who Killed Philip Hughes? [For new joiners, Philip Hughes was one of the founders of Logica, and the the Chairman at the time.]

In retrospect, this was self-evidently a Bad Idea, even in the more liberal days of the Hughes regime. Its badness was compounded by the fact that I needed to ask Brian to draw a specific thing - a room full of clues - but I was groping around wondering what those clues might be or how the whole thing could work. Brian was not keen. Unlike 1986, we had started late, and the whole thing just failed to take any sort of shape. I also realised that there was a faint possibility that Philip Hughes may not like to be murdered in the pages of his own company magazine, and wrote a memo explaining to him what I was planning. The delay in his reply (which was distinctly lukewarm), plus a continued inability to decide what I was trying to achieve, meant that the whole thing had to be cancelled.

Brian Jackson writes...

Who killed Philip Hughes? I used to have some rough sketches for this one. Writer/Artist conflict to the fore again... "What do you mean you can't do a 1963 sixpenny piece on the desk, illuminated by the rays of the setting sun at the precise angle that the sun makes on solstice day at 3pm in London - it's a vital clue?????". I believe Len Taylor's heart attack at that time might also have contributed to some board level reluctance to give this the go-ahead (Len Taylor was also a co-founder of Logica, and the Managing Director at the time).