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Hidden Philosophy by Xanthippe

Posted by shirleycurran on 19 Aug 2016

Xanthippe 002What a fascinating grid! The Numpties admired and muttered then got down to solving.

Yes, I promised to stick to an alcohol search after the shock, horror, scandal of Serpent’s randy clues last week so no comment on the NAD that appeared in 21 across, ‘Some vitamin E dense coenzyme (3)’. That had to be an E to A misprint since NED was hidden in the clue and NAD is the Chambers definition. I got down to the third mini crossword before finding ‘Meandering wife drinking, no good leaving (11)’ What a lovely clue, using the US MISS for a southern wife, then IS SIPPING with the NG leaving. Of course, by the time we got to this crossword (as we did solve in A,B,C,D order on the whole), we had realized that MEANDERING had to be the key word so that MISSISSIPPI, obligingly clued as (11), OTTER and MISSOURI were the rivers that were thematic and wandered around their little grid.

That clue was a fine hint to the other Numpty that the sun was well over the yard arm and an even stronger hint followed: ‘Me drinking one southern whisky and lime? (8)’ giving MI round I S SOUR. So that’s what a ‘whisky sour’ is! These were superb clues: I couldn’t find anything to moan about!

The little A crossword filled fairly quickly with some doubt about those three thematic clues that we suspected were ‘swimming’ or anagrammed. Of course, we soon realized that they were fish with ‘The French (swimming) well in front (4)’ giving SO LE which swam to LOSE; ‘Son goes to peak in mountain range run (6)’ ANDES R with the S(on) going to the top, giving SANDER, entered as SNARED and ‘Is charm less universal? (6)’ giving ‘S AM[u]LET, which swam to METALS.

Xanthippe 003[M]ANGROVE, [O]IL PALM and [N]UT PALM prompted us that the B grid contained three ‘pollarded’ trees and the key phrase that was linking these superb mini crosswords now appeared. We had already spotted  OF NATURE at the end of it and CONNECTIONS THAT UNITE prompted us that this was Adam Smith’s Moral Philosophy – ‘Philosophy only pretends to lay bare the concealed connections that unite the various appearances of nature’. Fitting that round the four grids made the remainder of the solve a gentle romp. How I like crosswords that give a visual image when they are completed.

Did I really say ‘romp’? We stared at the little D grid for a while. We had spotted that the A grid gave the instruction ‘AMEND A LETTER MISPRINT’ in the B grid. That one gave us ‘ADD A LETTER’ and the C grid instruction told us to ‘REMOVE A WORD’ from each of the D grid clues. We had already completed the Adam Smith phrase, thus it was clear that we were being told to ‘complete the missing using letters from …’ (ultimately we realised that the missing letters were being spelled out for us in anagrams of SPRINT, ROVER and CATCH) but what was the ‘extra word’ that suggested how to enter the three thematic, wordplay only solutions? And were they mammals, plants or … AAH (39d ‘I’m happy driving company 200 (3)’ AA + H) birds! PARROT, REDPOLL and SPARROW obligingly rose across the SANDBAR and we had four full grids.

This was a pleasure to solve from start to finish: a fabulous compilation, so beautifully tied together in all its component parts. Many thanks to Xanthippe.

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