This puzzle, by Rufus, was originally published in The Daily Telegraph on Monday, May 31, 2010
The National Post has skipped DT 26253 which was published in The Daily Telegraph on Saturday, May 29, 2010
Crypticsue awards this puzzle only two stars for difficulty, which I guess seems about right as I had only three clues remaining unsolved when I dipped into the Tool Chest.
Some possibly unfamiliar abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions used in today's puzzle
Used in Clues:
Airdrie - a town in North Lanarkshire, Scotland.
Used in Solutions:
daft - adjective British informal silly; foolish: don't ask such daft questions.
Dakota - a World War II military transport aircraft developed from the Douglas DC-3 civilian airliner.
kick over the traces - Figurative to do what one is meant not to do; to rebel against authority. (Alludes to a horse that steps on the wrong side of the straps that link it to whatever it is pulling.)
laird - noun (in Scotland) a person who owns a large estate.
OM - abbreviation (in the UK) Order of Merit.
penitentiary - 1 North American a prison for people convicted of serious crimes. [Note: this word would obviously not be unfamiliar to North Americans, but the fact that the term is uniquely North American may well be - as it was to me]
RAF - abbreviation (in the UK) Royal Air Force.
rota - noun 1 British a list showing when each of a number of people has to do a particular job: a cleaning rota.
snip - noun 2 British informal a surprisingly cheap item; a bargain: the wine is a snip at £3.65
Truro - a city in Cornwall, England whose most recognisable feature is its gothic-revival Cathedral.
Crypticsue (a new recruit to Big Dave's stable of reviewers) provides the review of today's puzzle at Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 26254].
There is an interesting discussion on Big Dave's blog regarding the use of the word "on" in down clues. Among those who chime in are Rufus (the setter of today's puzzle), Phil McNeill (the crossword puzzle editor at The Daily Telegraph) and Anax (the author of a set of cryptic crossword "rules" posted on Big Dave's site).
As background, there is a convention that in across clues "A on B" means A added onto B, which customarily is BA. Seemingly, the rationale is that one can only add A to B if one has first written B. Since English is written left to right, that means that A must be written following B. Some proponents argue that this construction should also be allowed in down clues, as there is nothing inherent in this construction to limit its use to across clues.
In down clues, "A on B" may mean A on top of B. In this case, "A on B" produces AB, since we read the solution top to bottom. This construction clearly works only in a down clue. Some proponents argue that this is the only use of "A on B" that should be permitted in down clues, in order to avoid confusion between the two possible interpretations of "A on B". This argument seems a bit disingenuous to me as the whole genre of cryptic crosswords is founded on obfuscation and misdirection. How is having two possible interpretations for "A on B" different from having two possible anagram indicators in a clue (something I am sure compilers strive for, given the frequency with which this situation occurs).
In the relatively brief time that I have been solving cryptic crosswords, I have learned that there is only one "rule" that one can count on, "There is an exception to every rule" or phrased in another manner, "Rules are made to be broken".
Commentary on Today's Puzzle
30a A number in quiet surroundings provide music (8)
This device usually appears as "large number" but here it is just "number". The number we need is five hundred - but as it would appear in ancient Rome (i.e., D).
8d Joint may be worn out (6)
For me, this was the second last clue left standing. The definition is "joint" (in the sense of a marijuana cigarette) for which the solution is REEFER. Although new to me, a reefer is also a type of jacket which is obviously something which "may be worn [when one goes] out".
Three British dictionaries agree that reefer is a short form for the full name of this jacket, but they don't agree on what that full name is. Oxford has it as reefer jacket (two words), Chambers claims that it is reeferjacket (one word - although that might just be an error on the website), and Collins says that it is reefing jacket.
19d The control of the stockholder? (4,4)
Crypticsue offers one interpretation of this clue. Let me add a second possibility. One definition of stock is "the handle of something such as a whip or fishing rod". Thus the stockholder would be one's whip hand (the hand holding the whip). I note that Gazza has made a similar observation.
Signing off for today - Falcon
12 minutes ago