Posted by Encota on 14 October 2016
So Shirley and Dave will have explained the real business – but what else might we have hiding in this content-packed puzzle entitled ‘HMS Arcady by Hedge-sparrow’? With the eighteen thematic entries spread in groups of six across the three ships this grid and its clues pack in a serious amount of thematic info.
Perhaps the anagram of ‘HMS Arcady by Hedge-sparrow’ is placed there secretly to start the discussion: ‘Why Chambers pay Roger’s dad’? Or perhaps not (only kidding!) – it won’t be true and it makes no sense…
Or perhaps the Trinity mathematician G.H. Hardy has famously re-enacted ‘Cargoes’ on the river behind the College, including a scale-model quinquereme with its five banks of oars glistening in the morning sunlight and Nineveh nestled by the Wren library? No, “Hardy’s Cam” doesn’t seem the most likely of anagrams of ‘HMS Arcady’.
[(c) David Gruar: Wren Library. Walter Battiss: Quinquereme]
Ah, how about the poem’s third stanza:
“Dirty British coaster with a salt-caked smoke stack,
Butting through the Channel in the mad March days,…”
…so it’s ‘March days’ gone mad. And with a ship and an Arcadia feel to it too – pretty neat.
[(c) Rachel Markwick. What a clever stamp collage – worth Googling for more]
Seeing those lines above gets me wondering if Hedge-sparrow also considered ‘dirty’ as a potential alternative anagram indicator? If ‘British coaster’ was now the anagram fodder then perhaps ‘His Basic Retort’ might have described Masefield’s third verse after the opulence of the first two? There must be better.
Returning to quinqueremes, many of you will know that Chambers features bi-remes, tri-remes and quadri-remes as well but quinque- is as far as it goes. It also seems to be confident in its definitions about the numbers of banks of oars in most of them but seems to lose its nerve slightly with quadriremes – have a look for yourself and see if you agree. [‘Perhaps with it being the only non-prime amongst them then there are likely to be more design options’, no doubt you are thinking…]
There were at least a couple of words where I paused this week to double-check I had the appropriate definition that matched the wordplay – 5d’s SPIAL vs SPYAL and 23d’s AMEER vs EMEER. Easy to check but especially 5d with its unchecked middle letter looks like a possible cell where one might slip up.
Enough of my nonsense. Superbly constructed grid and a really enjoyable puzzle overall – thanks Hedge-sparrow!
Tim / Encota
P.S. I also came up with the alternative nautical Title: “Salty jib and binnacle?” which might have applied to the galleon at least, based on an anagram of all 58 unchecked letters less “CARGOES”, JOHN MASEFIELD OM, POET LAUREATE. Good grief!