Thursday, May 7, 2015

Thursday, May 7, 2015 — DT 27655

Puzzle at a Glance
Puzzle Number in The Daily Telegraph
DT 27655
Publication Date in The Daily Telegraph
Monday, November 24, 2014
Rufus (Roger Squires)
Link to Full Review
Big Dave's Crossword Blog [DT 27655]
Big Dave's Crossword Blog Review Written By
BD Rating
Difficulty - ★★ Enjoyment - ★★
Falcon's Experience
- solved without assistance
- incorrect prior to use of puzzle solving tools
- solved with assistance from puzzle solving tools
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by puzzle solving tools
- solved but without fully parsing the clue
- unsolved or incorrect prior to visiting Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- solved with aid of checking letters provided by solutions from Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- reviewed by Falcon for Big Dave's Crossword Blog
- yet to be solved


I am back from Europe and attempting to get back to my normal routine. My watch may have been reset to Eastern time but my body clock certainly hasn't yet made the adjustment.

Today's puzzle — filled with snakes and tragedy — was a fairly gentle reintroduction to solving cryptic crosswords after an extended absence.

I invite you to leave a comment to let us know how you fared with the puzzle.

Notes on Today's Puzzle

This commentary is intended to serve as a supplement to the review of this puzzle found at Big Dave's Crossword Blog, to which a link is provided in the table above.

Primary indications (definitions) are marked with a solid underline in the clue; subsidiary indications (be they wordplay or other) are marked with a dashed underline in all-in-one (&lit.) clues, semi-all-in-one (semi-&lit.) clues and cryptic definitions. Explicit link words and phrases are enclosed in forward slashes (/link/) and implicit links are shown as double forward slashes (//). Definitions presented in blue text are for terms that appear frequently.


1a   Madrid is in her itinerary, but part /can be/ cut off (10)

In the cryptic interpretation, but[5] is used as an adverb meaning no more than or only ⇒ (i)he is but a shadow of his former self; (ii) choose from a colourful array of mango, starfruit, and raspberries, to name but a few.

6a   Mid-off on field /in/ repulsive jumper (4)

Scratching the Surface
In cricket, the term mid-off[10] denotes a fielder, or fielding position, on the off side closest to the bowler.

In cricket, the off[5]  (also called off side) is the half of the field (as divided lengthways through the pitch) towards which the batsman's feet are pointed when standing to receive the ball.

In Britain, a jumper[5] is a knitted garment typically with long sleeves, worn over the upper body (in North American terms, a sweater — in particular, a pullover). [When applied to sports uniforms, the now current term in North America would seem to be jersey. I can remember when a hockey jersey was a hockey sweater.]

The garment that we call a jumper, the Brits would call a pinafore[5] (a collarless sleeveless dress worn over a blouse or [British] jumper [i.e., North American sweater]). Thus, if a British lass were to wear a pinafore over her jumper and a North American gal were to wear a jumper over her sweater, they would be dressed identically.

10a   Summer danger (5)

Despite this clue being a play on two different meanings of the word "summer", contrary to Miffypops, I would call it a cryptic definition rather than a double definition.

The adder[5] (also called viper) is a small venomous Eurasian snake (Vipera berus) which has a dark zigzag pattern on its back and bears live young. It is the only poisonous snake in Britain. The name is also applied to other snakes that are similar or related to the adder.

The adder[7] is cold-adapted and hibernates in the winter. In Great Britain, males and females hibernate for about 150 and 180 days respectively. In northern Sweden hibernation lasts 8–9 months.

Thus, in general, the adder may pose a danger in summer but not in winter.

In electronics, adder[5] is a term for a unit which adds together two input variables.

11a   Daily // signal (9)

The Daily Telegraph[7] is a daily morning broadsheet newspaper, founded in 1855 as The Daily Telegraph and Courier, which is published in London and distributed throughout the United Kingdom and internationally [... and the newspaper in which this puzzle initially appeared].

12a   Secret // American manoeuvres (2,6)

13a   Easily shattered /by/ loud jeer (5)

Forte[5] (abbreviation f[5]) is a musical direction meaning (as an adjective) loud or (as an adverb) loudly.

15a   A big hit, poetry /that is/ in fashion (1,2,4)

17a   The best government? // Have a wry smile about it (7)

Elitism[5] is the belief that a society or system should be led by an elite ⇒ local government in the nineteenth century was the very essence of elitism.

19a   Lamb, say, rambling /is/ unfathomable (7)

Abysmal[5] is used in a literary sense meaning very deep ⇒ waterfalls that plunge into abysmal depths.

Scratching the Surface
Might the clue be an allusion to English essayist and critic Charles Lamb?

21a   Supporters set out for gripping // ties (7)

Clearly, I am a bit rusty after a two-week layoff from solving puzzles. Thinking that the "supporters" were FORS, I wrongly came to the conclusion that the solution had to be FOSTERS. I then wasted a good deal of time trying to find some obscure British usage that would explain why this might mean "ties".

22a   Leave secretly for the match (5)

Behind the Picture
Gretna Green[5] is a village in Dumfries and Galloway, Scotland, just north of the English border near Carlisle, formerly a popular place for runaway couples from England to be married without the parental consent required in England for people under a certain age.

24a   You never come to the end of this sort of ring (8)

An eternity ring[5] is a ring given as a symbol of lasting affection, typically set with an unbroken circle of gems ⇒ a gold and diamond eternity ring.

27a   Unwinds -- /and/ makes it all over again (9)

28a   Comes to // parties (5)

Especially in Ireland, wake[5] denotes a party held after a funeral.

In his review, Miffypops refers to another meaning of wakes (treated as singular) which is an an annual festival and holiday held in some parts of northern England, originally one held in a rural parish on the feast day of the patron saint of the church ⇒ his workers absented themselves for the local wakes. I would presume that the plural of wakes (in this sense) must also be wakes. If so, one might say ⇒ having attended the wakes [singular] in my home parish last week, I will be attending the wakes [plural] in several neighbouring parishes in the coming weeks.

Delving Deeper
The wakes week[7] is a holiday period in parts of England and Scotland. Originally a religious celebration or feast, the tradition of the wakes week developed into a secular holiday, particularly in the north west of England during the industrial revolution.

Although a strong tradition during the 19th and 20th centuries, the observance of the holiday has almost disappeared in recent times due to the decline of the manufacturing industries in the United Kingdom and the standardisation of school holidays across England.

Every church at its consecration was given the name of a patron saint, and either the day of its consecration or the saint's feast day became the church's festival. Church services began at sunset on Saturday and the night of prayer was called a vigil, eve or, due to the late hour "wake". Each village had a wake with quasi-religious celebrations followed by church services then sports, games, dancing and drinking.

As wakes became more secular the more boisterous entertainments were moved from the sabbath to Saturday and Monday was reserved for public entertainments such as bands, games and funfairs.

During the Industrial Revolution the tradition of the wakes was adapted into a regular summer holiday particularly, but not exclusively, in the north of England and industrialised areas of the Midlands where each locality nominated a wakes week during which the local factories, collieries and other industries closed for a week. The wakes holiday started as an unpaid holiday when the mills and factories were closed for maintenance.

Each town in Lancashire took the holiday on a different week in the summer so that from June to September one town was on holiday each week.

29a   /A/ good /but/ uncommon /description/ (4)

I struggled in my attempts to mark up this clue. In the end, I concluded that the words "A ... but ... description" provide a framework on which the double definition is displayed. Effectively, the clue can be interpreted as An adjective [descriptive word or description] that can mean either 'good' or 'uncommon'.

30a   Realise it's about // Biblical Hebrews (10)


1d   Expensive // address (4)

Behind the Picture
The illustration in Miffypops' review comes from one of his favourite reference sources, My First Dictionary, a blog which later became a book.

Here is how a review in the Boston Globe described the book:
In his new book “My First Dictionary: Corrupting Young Minds One Word at a Time’’ (It Books), Ross Horsley, a British librarian with a wicked sense of humor, skewers the adult world of lies and secrets, infidelities, and overindulgences. He accomplishes this by pairing cheery illustrations based on a children’s dictionary from the 1970s with his own twisted and irreverent definitions. Each word, from “abandon’’ to “zoo,’’ is used in a simply stated vignette involving adult subject matter, running the gamut from sexually transmitted diseases, pedophilia, and adultery to alcoholism, suicide, and murder. Horsley is an equal opportunity offender.

2d   Often sitting /in/ garden in street over a railway (9)

Eden[5] (also Garden of Eden) is the place where Adam and Eve lived in the biblical account of the Creation, from which they were expelled for disobediently eating the fruit of the tree of knowledge [thereby losing their innocence].

3d   Mean to accompany a // woman (5)

What did he say?
In his review Miffypops writes This [woman] had a lucky escape unlike Saint Sharon.
Saint Sharon is a pet name which Miffypops often uses to refer to his wife.

If the comment is meant to be a reference to the 1831 opera Norma[7] by Vincenzo Bellini, I certainly don't understand it. The opera concludes with the Druid priestess Norma and her lover Pollione immolating themselves on a burning pyre.

I also considered that the remark might be a reference to the the 1940 drama Escape[7] about an American (played by Robert Taylor) in pre-World War II Nazi Germany who discovers his mother is in a concentration camp and manages to free her, abetted by Countess Ruby von Treck. Although one of the stars in the film is Norma Shearer, she plays the role of the Countess — not the mother — which would seem to discount this explanation.

4d   It's the absolute end (7)

Miffypops references a definition from the academic field of logic. It seems to me that a more logical approach would be to simply use the plain, old everyday meaning.

5d   The notoriety only a hypochondriac would enjoy (3,4)

Ill fame[5] is a dated expression meaning the state of being held in low esteem by the public or, in other words, disrepute.

7d   Exotic creature // going around in a shopping centre (5)

8d   Standard position for a passing-out parade? (2,4-4)

Scratching the Surface
Pass out[5] is a British term meaning to complete one’s initial training in the armed forces.

9d   As hot drinks they take some beating (3-5)

Egg flip is an alternative British name for egg nog[5], a drink consisting of rum, brandy, or other alcohol mixed with beaten egg, milk, and sugar.

14d   Mistake one cannot make twice (5,5)

16d   It measures resistance // old headmaster confronted with hesitation (8)

Headmaster[5] (abbreviation HM) is a chiefly British term for a man who is the head teacher in a school.

18d   Facial make-up used by the police (9)

Identikit[5,10] (US trademark) denotes a set of transparencies of various typical facial characteristics that can be superimposed on one another to build up, on the basis of witnesses' descriptions, a picture of a person sought by the police.

20d   'Lear' in production set up /with/ part of 'Hamlet' (7)

Here "part of 'Hamlet'" is to be interpreted as a part (or role) in the play 'Hamlet'. Note that I have included the single quotation marks around "Lear" and "Hamlet" which were present when the puzzle opened in the UK but which have been dropped for the touring production appearing in the National Post.

Laertes[7] is a character in William Shakespeare's play Hamlet. His name is taken from the father of Odysseus in Homer's Odyssey. Laertes is the son of Polonius and the brother of Ophelia. In the final scene, he kills Hamlet with a poisoned sword to avenge the deaths of his father and sister, for which he blamed Hamlet.

Scratching the Surface
King Lear[7] is a tragedy by William Shakespeare. The title character descends into madness after disposing of his estate between two of his three daughters based on their flattery, bringing tragic consequences for all.

21d   See fair play // bloom (7)

Freesia[5] is a small southern African plant of the genus Freesia with fragrant, colourful, tubular flowers, many varieties of which are cultivated for the cut-flower trade.

23d   Happen // to come to mind (5)

25d   Sounds like a strange letter /in/ the post (5)

My first thought here was DOWEL. Not only did it throw me off track here but may well have contributed to my difficulty at 24 across.

26d   In the guise of an afterthought, // they're venomous (4)

The asp[5] (also asp viper) is a small southern European viper (Vipera aspis) with an upturned snout.
Key to Reference Sources: 

[1]   - The Chambers Dictionary, 11th Edition
[2]   - Search Chambers - (Chambers 21st Century Dictionary)
[3]   - (American Heritage Dictionary)
[4]   - (Collins English Dictionary)
[5]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford Dictionary of English)
[6]   - Oxford Dictionaries (Oxford American Dictionary)
[7]   - Wikipedia
[8]   - Reverso Online Dictionary (Collins French-English Dictionary)
[9]   - Infoplease (Random House Unabridged Dictionary)
[10] - (Collins English Dictionary)
[11] - (Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary)
Signing off for today — Falcon

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