Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6336/Virgilius — It’s off to work I go.

Posted by Colin Blackburn on February 6th, 2007

Colin Blackburn.

Having just returned from a trip working away I thought I had remembered which puzzle I was meant to be blogging today. Once I got to the newsagent’s I had doubts and decided to buy both papers. It turned out that my regular shop had sold out of Guardians and Independents. A trek across Consett, not something I relish, was needed before I could start on either puzzle. Once on my bus into Durham I was pretty sure I was doing the Guardian today and so quickly rattled off most of Shed while making some mental notes on the clues. Once at work I discovered I was wrong, this was confirmed when I saw loonapick’s review arrive on the RSS feed. No time for a second puzzle so it’s off to work I go, hi ho!

Lunchtime gave me a window to tackle the correct puzzle, Virgilius. As usual with Virgilius/Brendan it’s spot-the-theme, though it didn’t dawn on me until quite late in the puzzle. The cluing is typically excellent with good surface readings, some nicely cryptic definitions and great word play.

10 UNSPORTSMANLIKE — (MIKE’S PLANS TO RUN)* — excellent anagram.
11 PUFF — double def — a powder puff might be found in a compact.
15 BLUEBIRD — double def— a US song bird and the name of several record breaking cars and boats.
16 HAPPY — cryptic def — Happy Hour is often 5 till 6 in UK pubs and bars.
18 DOPEY — (YE+POD)< — a pod is a school of whales.
20 GOES WEST — double def — “Go West, young man!” is commonly attributed to New York newspaper editor Horace Greeley but it was probably first written by JBL Soule, another newspaperman, in 1851.
23 STRAWPOLLS — ST+RAW+”poles”
25 GIRL — GI+R+L
28 CHEYENNE — “shy ann” — nice homophone drawing on two other clues as definitions.
1 GRUMPY — G(RUM)P+Y(et) — good to see GP for doctor for a change.
3 SNOW — S+NOW — s = succeeded.
5 CAMBRIDGE BLUES — cryptic def — sportsmen and women representing Cambridge and Oxford in certain sports are called Blues, both universities having blue as their colour. Cambridge Blue is lighter than Oxford Blue.
7 DRIES UP — double def
8 TOE — T+O+E — I’m not certain of the word play here. I think it is the T of digit (low, say) the O of two and the E of three or five (finally). The whole thing is then a wordy definition of a toe, one of the lower digits on the body.
13 YO-YO — ((t)OY+(t)OY)< — very nice &lit
14 BEVY — BEV(v)Y — one v = very is dropped.
16 HAWK — “auk” — Cockney is common indicator that an aitch is being dropped.
17 IDES — ID ES(t) — nice that both the definition and the word play is Roman.
19 PORK PIE — double def — rhyming slang for lie, which is hard to swallow.
21 SWINDLE — (NEW LIDS)* — do is the not so obvious definition here
24 WHITE — double def — coffee or tea taken with milk is white.
26 WREN — double def — the bird builds a very small nest, the architect designed St Paul’s Cathedral
27 DOC — DO+C — a doctor might treat a cold.

4 Responses to “Independent 6336/Virgilius — It’s off to work I go.”

  1. says:

    An enjoyable puzzle. I twigged the theme quite late too, and having done so, idly wondered whether Snow White featured. I had WHITE at 24 down already, and thus was able to get SNOW above it at 3 down!
    I read TOE as TO (sounds like TWO) + E (three OR FIVE, FINALLY).
    Thanks for HAWK, which I was unable to tell from a handsaw – I had HOWL, but was very unhappy with it, as the H seemed to drop wrongly.

  2. says:

    Disney get much better than this (with apologies to loonapick). I really enjoyed this, as I did Virgilius’s Magic Roundabout special, which may say something about my intellectual level. Just for a change, Virgilius will move to Wednesday next week as I’m introducing a new setter on Tuesday, to mark my anniversary as Indy Xword editor.

  3. says:

    Thanks michod, I think you’re righter than I am with TOE. It comes back to the problem with homophones (see today’s Guardian blog). For me, TO and TWO are very different due to my flat vowels. TOO and TWO are homophones, however.

    Auk was in my head from another puzzle I did over the weekend, where it was also clued via another bird, and so HAWK fell into place straight away.

  4. says:

    Yes, this was very good indeed and, just like Colin, I only got the theme right at the end. Quite a bit harder than usual for Virgilius, I thought. I’d some doubts about SNOW at first but then when I saw WHITE, light dawned. Thanks for explaining BLUEBIRD – I did not understand the wordplay element till now.

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