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Half-Thyme by Dipper

Posted by shirleycurran on 20 August 2010

What a pleasure to be spotting solutions as the crossword rolls off the printer. REPS was the first we saw and it gave the game away immediately (Agents rely on records) R on EPS left us with ELY and a quick run through a list of herbs suggested that CIC was the remainder of CICELY. Obviously, as the fair and succinct preamble told us, we were going to pick CIC out of one of the across clues.

We were off on a very productive herb hunt and by the end of Friday had eleven of our twelve herbs (the clue lengths had given away how many letters we were expecting to remove from our across solutions and we rightly assumed – with reference to the title, Half-Thyme- that the same number would come out of down clues). This was fun!

We found ORI/GAN in HIST(ORI)OGRAPHER, 1ac and (gan)net 6d

CIVE in SO(CI)ETY, 11ac and ca(ve) 11d

BETONY in RAB(BET)S, 13ac and Ir(ony) 35d

BORAGE in AIR(BOR)NE, 15ac and sew(age) 27d

SAGE in (SA)LIVA, 20ac and ur(ge) 12d

CICELY in FAS(CIC)ULATE, 23ac and r(ely) 4d

MINT in (MI)LITARIA, 29ac and Ke(nt) 7d

FENNEL in OF(FEN)DRESS, 34ac and flan(nel)s 22d

SORREL in (SOR)BITE, 36ac and (rel)ease 17d

HYSSOP in P(HYS)ETER, 38ac and Ae(sop) 30d

PURPIE in (PUR)POSELESSNESS, 39ac and (pie) 24d.

We noted, of course, that even out in his garden, Dipper was indulging in the usual oenophilic Listener dose of a drop of Sauterne – but we have come to expect that by now – and not even the convenient ASTI filler! No doubt, soon, we’ll have one set entirely round an oenophilic theme!

We needed a twelfth herb and had only its second half LL (from 33d – ECHO – ‘Repeat part of PurceLL chorus). Evidently DI had to be hiding in the solution of our remaining unsolved across clue, ‘Dividing line is base minus unknown angular unit’.

This is the numpty solving blog, so, obviously we didn’t simply solve the clue (RADI with the X ‘unknown’ removed, dividing STEAN – to line, providing STERADIAN).  We gazed, instead, at the clashes (wondering how seven clashes could produce a 9,6 thematic phrase) and, by a stroke of luck, spotted PATERSON’S CURSE.  A quick check in Chambers revealed that the poor Aussie, Paterson, was cursed by ‘any of various naturalized orig European herbs regarded as harmful to livestock’.

Almost there. We now had ?T?R??N to find, with DI to slot in somewhere. A bit of conjuring with the Chambers CD and hey presto, another new word for me, STERADIAN. In one evening the Listener teaches me that Aussie cows don’t thrive on mint and that ‘steradian’ is the derived SI unit of solid angle. Life will never be the same.

I thought this was a super crossword with lovely fair clues and no ludicrous cruciverbal hoops to jump through. Many thanks to Dipper.

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One Response to “Half-Thyme by Dipper”

  1. David Agg said

    If you cup you hands with your fingers pointing away from you, then they more or less enclose a steradian – it’s a natural unit!

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