I wanted to get back, just one more time, to that BCM interview with Ray we looked at a couple of times previously, headed chess is in danger of becoming a superior crossword puzzle.
Now, as it happens, if you want to access Ray's daily Times* column online, you can't really get away from the crossword, since you have to go from the front page
where we would click on Today's sections. and then to Puzzles
- I thought we were looking for a chess column, but it seems to be classified under Puzzles -
and there's our crosswords! Scroll down, and down...
and there it is, almost at the very bottom. There's only Bridge between our man and Show Less
but it is at least a chess column.
Bit of a comedown when we're talking about a newspaper which used to have chess on the front page
but no big deal. A chess column is still a chess column wherever they put it.
But what I want to know is, where have they put all Ray's other columns?
Where's the rest of him gone?
You can access the last week's worth of material on the Times website by clicking on the Past six days link.
of which there are rather a lot, but if you keep going...
...we - phew! - finally arrive at Chess.
We're below Bridge this time, but there we are. And there's our column.
I say column, singular, because although I have followed this route any number of times, I can never locate more than one.
I was expecting to find six columns, which I can't. This bothers me, but it's not what bothers me most.
What bothers me is this. Back in Ye Good Old Days, when we discovering that Ray was a prolific a thief of other people's work as British journalism has ever known, and in the process compiling this kind of information about his serial-copying activities, it used to be possible to read all of Ray's columns, online, from the date (in December 2010, if I recall) when the Times went behind a paywall.
This was why I took out a subscription, to have access not just to Ray's daily column, but all his columns. Sole purpose of shelling out,in truth. And until recently (I don't know exactly when) it was still possible to do this. But, as far as I call tell, it is no longer.
The columns may still exist online, for all I know, and past links can be found if you're prepared to scroll far back enough through Ray's Twitter account. But the format of the Times search function has changed, and whereas it used to be straightforward to pick the date you wanted with Keene or chess as a search term, now it's crude without actually being effective. To cut a very long story short, I can't find anything with its unco-operative assistance.
Now, like most middle-aged people, I am rarely sure that the reason I can't find something on the internet is the fault of the site and not myself. But that's what customer service departments are supposed to be for, yes? So I contacted that service at the Times, hoping to find out
- how I could locate the other five columns from the past six days
- whether it was still possible to access the rest of Ray's online oeuvre.
Over the subsequent fortnight I had one of these circular experiences where
1. you get answers to questions that you haven't in fact asked, then, on pressing further ;
2. you get part of the answers to some of the questions that you asked, you did ask, but not nearly enough, and then, on pressing again ;
3. you default back to somebody who doesn't know anything and prefers to answer questions that you haven't asked.
This went on, as I say, for about a fortnight at which point I decided screw it, cancel my subscription, I'm not paying eight quid a month for this.
So after Friday - i.e. today - when my sub expires, that's it. No more Ray, unless I happen to be back in the UK and see the physical paper. Other than that he can copy who he likes as far as I'm concerned, I won't see it. Acta est fabula. Go on Ray, fill your boots.
I bet he's been up to some other stuff, though. He always is.
* = since I mostly wrote this on a Sunday, it's a Sunday Times column.