When signing out Hackgrass from Concourse in February 1985, I left my name hidden in a not very complex code of initials in the final sentence of that piece.
Most of my fellow committee members didn’t know that I was Hackgrass. Indeed the only person on the committee who did know was Pete Wild, as the only people still at Keele who did know my identity were my remaining former Barnes L54 flatmates (hence Pete), Petra Wilson and Annalisa de Mercur.
For the last day of our office as sabbaticals, I wrote a final Hackgrass one-pager and revealed myself to the lovely Pat Borsky in the print room. (As Hackgrass, I mean; please retain some decorum and concentrate, dear reader). Pat agreed to print the one-pager as a publicity circular (pub. circ.) special and the rest is history.
The one-pager caused more a bit of a stir that day in students’ union circles. I thought best to lie low in my office.
Soon enough, John White plonked himself in my office with pub. circ. and a copy of the February Concourse, saying that he wanted to break the code.
I said that I didn’t much care who Hackgrass was and that I wanted to finish off some work, as I was still very busy.
John laboured with the puzzle for some time in my office, concocting some highly convoluted theories such as:
a=1…z=26, reverse the number series and rework the letters
Once I got irritated enough, I suggested to John that whoever Hackgrass was, he or she probably wasn’t that sophisticated a cipher-wright, so John might be better off trying something really simple like the initial letters of the words in the sentence.
About 10 seconds later, I received an unrepeatable (indeed forgettable) stream of invective from John. I have forgiven him for the invective and I believe he has forgiven me for keeping my identity as Hackgrass a secret during our sabbatical year.
Post script – John White has left an extensive comment on the above few paragraphs, but for reasons known only to himself (perhaps cognitive dissonance between a need to vent his spleen in public while simultaneously hoping no-one will find and read the venting) has posted the comment on a different posting – click here to read both posting and comment.
In all the excitement, I don’t seem to have kept a copy of the printed pub. circ. itself, but I do have the original text, a scan of which follows.