Sunday, January 2, 2011

Sunday, January 2, 2011 (ST 4409)

The Sunday London Times Puzzle Number
ST 4409
Publication Date in The Sunday London Times
Sunday, November 28, 2010
Link to Full Review
Times for the Times [ST 4409]
Times for the Times Review Written By
Publication Date in the Toronto Star
Saturday, December 25, 2010


Despite errors in a couple of clues and a fair dose of Briticisms, I was able to complete this puzzle without resorting to the electronic aids in my Tool Chest.

Let me take this opportunity to belatedly extend Holiday Greetings to readers and wish everyone a happy and prosperous New Year. I'm afraid that I missed posting a few blogs over the Christmas period as I got caught up in social obligations with Christmas visitors. Hopefully, I will soon find the time to catch up with the backlog.

Today's Errata

There are errors in a couple of clues today.

1a Meal without starter not totally delightful? Blow! (5,3)

The correct numeration for the solution to this clue would be (8) - not the (5,3) given. Not even the question mark and exclamation mark can justify this.

19a Come across the bar to interrupt three card players (10)

The solution is a verb in the third person, so the clue should have read:
  • 19a Comes across the bar to interrupt three card players (10)

Today's Glossary

Selected abbreviations, people, places, words and expressions appearing in today's puzzle

Appearing in Clues

blow1 - verb 6 (past participle blowed) [with object] British informal damn: [as imperative]: ‘Well, blow me’, he said, ‘I never knew that.’; [with clause]: I'm blowed if I want to see him again.

starter - 3 chiefly British the first course of a meal. [In Canada, one may find this term used in some restaurants].

Appearing in Solutions

aphrodisia - noun sexual desire especially when violent.

A. J. Ayer (Sir Alfred Jules Ayer) (1910 – 1989)- British philosopher known for his promotion of logical positivism, particularly in his books Language, Truth, and Logic (1936) and The Problem of Knowledge (1956).

CE - abbreviation [1st entry] Church of England.

CH - abbreviation  [1st entry] (in the UK) Companion of Honour.

Diocese of Chester - a Church of England diocese in the Province of York based in Chester, covering the county of Cheshire in its pre-1974 boundaries.

Tracey Emin - an English artist and part of the group known as Britartists or YBAs (Young British Artists).
Highlights of her work include Everyone I Have Ever Slept With 1963–1995, a tent appliqu├ęd with names, exhibited at the Royal Academy in London and My Bed (shown at right), an installation at the Tate Gallery consisting of her own unmade dirty bed with used condoms and blood-stained underwear.
nob1 - noun British informal a person of wealth or high social position.

OR - abbreviation Military, British other ranks (as opposed to commissioned officers).

OT - abbreviation [2nd entry] occupational therapy.

pi2 - adjective British informal short for pious.

rabbit - noun 2 British informal a conversation: we had quite a heated rabbit about it [from rabbit and pork, rhyming slang for ‘talk’]
Yes, as pronounced by a Brit, pork really does rhyme with talk - you can listen for yourself at (pork, talk).
roc - noun a gigantic mythological bird described in the Arabian Nights.

S2 - abbreviation 5 Society.

TA - abbreviation Territorial Army noun in the UK: a fully trained volunteer force intended to provide back-up to the regular army in cases of emergency.

Commentary on Today's Puzzle

This commentary should be read in conjunction with the full review at Times for the Times, to which a link is provided in the table above.

9a Society bigwig - the sort I like mixing with? (4)

I had to think long and hard to figure out this clue. The wordplay is simple - S(ociety) + NOB (bigwig). So, what then, is the definition? It is effectively "I". The clue is telling us that the solution is someone who likes to mix with society bigwigs - in other words, a snob.

14a Frightful parish ado about one showing unhealthy randiness? (10)

The wordplay is an anagram (frightful) of PARISH ADO containing (about) I (one). Despite having used "one" in the wordplay, I mistakenly tried to also use it as part of the definition which I took to be "one showing unhealthy randiness". Thus, the solution seemed like it should be a synonym for nymphomaniac. Eventually, after a rather extended dalliance with this clue, I realized that the definition is merely "unhealthy randiness" and "showing" is used as a link word between the wordplay and definition. The solution is APHRODISIA. Merriam-Webster's Medical Dictionary defines aphrodisia as "sexual desire especially when violent " although general purpose dictionaries define it more benignly as "sexual desire" or "a desire for sexual intimacy".

I wonder, is there a theme emerging in the middle of this puzzle? If we take the three major clues at the centre of the puzzle (12a, 14a and 19a), we get 'feminine aphrodisia encounters'. Could this be a commentary on the work of the young female British artist referenced in 12a?

25a Small unit to crack Metro crime (10)

Those of you who favour American spellings should remember that words in British English often end in -re rather that -er.

3d Put down girl, this person going the wrong way (5)

Like Talbinho, "I wasn't sure about the definition here ('Put down')". Perhaps it is meant in the sense:
  • embed - [Collins English Dictionary] verb 3. to fix or retain (a thought, idea, etc.) in the mind.
4d Did something in car, this bringing rage, maybe (7,4)

This is an interesting type of clue, one in which the wordplay is telling us that the solution itself is a bit of wordplay. The definition is "did something in car" and the wordplay specifies that the solution (represented by the pronoun "this" in the clue) is something that might produce RAGE. In a cryptic crossword, RAGE could be an anagram of GEAR. Thus the solution is CHANGED GEAR, something done in a car, as well as an anagram (with CHANGED as the indicator and GEAR as the fodder) that produces "rage".

17d Vehicle bought originally by member of the family is a gem (9)

In a fortuitous coincidence (at least, as far as my ability to solve this clue is concerned), a clue having the same solution appeared recently in a Daily Telegraph Cryptic Crossword published in the National Post (the review for which is still a work in progress). There the clue was:
  • 25a Red stone making for an architectural monstrosity (9)
Not only was the usage of this word as the name of a gemstone new to me, I was also unfamiliar with the reference to Prince Charles' contribution to field of architectural criticism.

26d Companion drops out of walk, being hurt (3)

The companion does not so much 'drop out of' as 'drop off of' the walk. Perhaps one could have phrased the clue as:
  • 26d Companion falls off of walk, getting hurt (3)
Signing off for this week - Falcon

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