It’s been a couple of years since I wrote a blog for a puzzle, but, seemingly a lifetime after the inception of LWO, I find myself back where I started.
So, what have we got? Standard looking 12×12 grid. Fourteen double clues, and a thematic creation to highlight. Looks okay – no carte blanche, no really horrible gimmick, cup of tea by my side, some music on the stereo (the newly reborn Big Country), the family are quiet (save for Peanuts the new(ish) family hamster scuttling around on the floor), so off we go!
17ac looks like a goods starting point – Miler jogging on earth bearing more trees. Obviously an anagram of MILER + e for earth. RELIME? No, ELMIER looks more positive. We’re off. The way forward here must be to work out the double clues – presumably these are going to be some of the longer ones. 9ac looks like one of these, as ‘shaped, some said til-shaped’ looks like an anagram if ever I saw one. TIL = SESAME, so…. (ponders for a minute) – SESAMOID. And the first part of the clue looks like a play on RECENTLY/DECENTLY, so we have DECENTLY and SESAMOID. But which to enter?
Let’s look at some of the crossing answers. 2dn must be REGALE (GAL in REE – there’s only one type of ‘enclosure’ or ‘yard’ in Scotland) so we can be fairly certain that… well, of nothing, it appears, as the second letter is E in both DECENTLY and SESAMOID. Grrr. Oh, the CD’s finished. Time to change over. More Big Country live, I think – they’ve just toured with Mike Peters from the Alarm replacing the sadly deceased Stuart Adamson on vocals, and I was lucky enough to see them in Leeds a few weeks ago. If anybody wants to see a REALLY good live band, then go along next time they tour. Wonderful stuff.
Anyway, back to the puzzle. 15ac looks like it could be something-ROTTEN (or ROTTE). With the crossing A, we get ?A?ROTTE – GARROTTE? Can it be spelt with two R’s? A quick check in Chambers, and it can. Good stuff. The intesecting 5dn is a nice clue – ‘Not quite slow – fast’, which is LENT(O). So, even less helpfully, 9ac now looks like ?E????E?. Great. Maybe we’ll concentrate on another area of the grid.
Half an hour later, and more progress. Have managed to identify BEDRID at 3dn, what might be ADAGES at 1dn, and that means that 9ac now looks like DE?EA?E?. So It looks as if perhaps this might be entered as DECEA?E?, which could be DECEASES – a real word, which is good, and half of each word joining in the middle. I wonder if this holds throughout? 37ac looks like ESCAPIST/ETALAGES, so following this logic, this would be entered as ESCALATE, also a real word. That can’t be coincidence surely? Hmm, the word ‘cross’ in the title seems to now have meaning as well, as the resulting words are ‘crosses’ of the original clued answers. Also, it is possible, judging by the misprints that I have already found, that the end of the misprints spell ANIMAL. That is also promising….
Quick break to talk to Molly (now 8 – fans of the early LWO site and its predecessors may remember her as being much younger. We’ve just had a good laugh (or at least I have). Molly was looking through my wallet and found my conservative party membership card, and asked me how I joined the conservative party. I said it was just like joining the Beano Club (of which she’s a member, if now not so enthusiastically as she once was). She looked astonished at that, and asked ‘What, does that mean that David Cameron is like Dennis the Menace?’. I said ‘Yes, and Nick Clegg is like Walter Softie’. She didn’t understand, but it was good to have finally established the de facto pairing that Dave and Nick resemble – Dennis the Menace and Walter. I think there are many Lib Dem voters who might agree on that one! With that degree of political insight, maybe Molly might be the new Paxman when she grows up….
Anyway, back to the puzzle. 14dn is NEMN, but I’m not at all sure about clueing n = NOON = MID-DAY. I think some people might moan about that. It’s only a small gripe, however. I’m remarkably puzzled by the start of the message spelt by misprints. I have H?O??ING ANIMAL – what is that all about? Is there an owl with a speech impediment around? Actually I’ve been stupid – I already know GAR = FISH from GARROTTED, so that’s actually H?OF?ING animal. What on earth? HOOF SING ANIMAL? I Really don’t understand. I’m also getting annoyed by 35dn, (crab injured crow (4)), which I’m guessing involves anagramming one of CRAB or CROW, with a misprint somewhere. Actually, that’s probably BRAG. I’m still not happy with the ‘A operator B’ type clue though, as discussed in the guidelines for setters. Maybe I am getting grump….
Ah! I have it. Nestling on a bookshelf to my right is a set of old green hardback books, all a bit stained and the worse for wear. And there, on the spine of each of them is HUGH LOFTING. Of course, H LOFTING ANIMAL, which is the PUSHMI-PULLYU, which was the front halfs of two animals (a unicorn and a….. can’t remember the other one) put together. And there, in the SE to NW diagonal, I can see most of PUSHMI-PULLYU. Job done! Well done to Nudd on a) a theme that I like and know, and b) a good treatment of it. Just a few clues to finish off, and then we’re done. And we’re not even up as far as the Big Country encores yet. Hurrah!
Ten minutes later, and the grid is complete. I enjoyed that, as I said above. Do I have any moans? Well, probably the two small clueing ones I mentioned above. I’m also a bit surprised at the fully checked entries – it would have been easy to have proper unching in two of them by adding a bar to turn USAGE into SAGE, and in the symmetrically opposite entry, ALARY into ALAR. I wonder why that wasn’t done?
Those are small moans though, and an impressive debut from Nudd. Only the second puzzle that I have solved by this setter, I think, the other being in The Magpie. It’s good to see new setters making such good debuts. It’s also be good to be back blogging. It’s about time that Dave, Shirley et al had somebody to relieve them of the burden occasionally, so I think I’ll try to do more from now on. Right, time to fill out my submission grid, and time for those encores. Restless Natives, I think….