Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,231 (Sat 10 Nov)/Araucaria – Blyton rock

Posted by rightback on November 17th, 2007

rightback.

Solving time: 25 mins, one missing (18dn)

This puzzle was largely a tribute to Enid Blyton who would have been 110 this year (see 24ac). The bottom half of the puzzle fell out quickly, but the top half was extremely slow. After a hiatus of around 10 minutes I was reduced to solving this backwards, by thinking of Enid Blyton characters and seeing where they might fit. Eventually Noddy and Big-Ears occurred to me, but even then I fell down on a culinary reference (again) at 18dn. Please shout if you can explain 9ac.

Music (2dn): Cum On Feel The Noize by Noddy Holder’s Slade.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

Across
1 BANT[u] + ER
4/12/ 15/1dn LITTLE PITCHERS HAVE BIG EARS; (BRAVEHEART STILL EIGHT’S EPIC)* – a new phrase to me; ‘little’ was the only word I even considered before resorting to the tactic mentioned in the intro.
9 AGED (?) – I can’t explain this clue (“Old if unqualified” (4)).
10 PROS(PER + IT)Y
11 SAW YER (= ‘you’) – I don’t know if Bob refers to the Iron Maiden guitarist or to ‘a stranded tree that bobs in a river’ (Chambers).
13 P(SALT)RESS
17 SIMPL(ET)ON – I hadn’t heard of the Simplon Tunnel (formerly the world’s longest) so this was a guess. Uncertaintly here didn’t help on 18dn.
21 FIRM DOWN
22/14 LOVE ME, LOVE MY DOG (cryptic definition)
24 ENID BLYTON; (OLD NINETY B[orn])* – see intro.
27/16 F[riends] + (A MOUS(F-IV)E); semi-&lit – the ‘f-four’ device is a bit lame, but otherwise this is a decent semi-&lit referring to the Famous Five, of which one (Timmy) was a dog. One point each for the other four.
Down
1 B (= ‘second’) + I (= ‘first’) + GEARS
2 NODDY (double definition) – a noddy is a small tern. Listener solvers will remember Double Entry by Adam and know it’s also a word meaning ‘simpleton’ (and ‘rear-door cab’, ‘card game’, ‘inverted pendulum’ etc), so I’m surprised Araucaria didn’t link this to 17ac.
3 EMPEROR; rev. of (RO(REP)ME) – rubbish (me, not the clue); I thought of Lima, Oslo and Riga but not Rome until I had two crossing letters.
5 I’M + PUT + E – difficult word but the wordplay was helpful. ‘Setter’s’ usually gives ‘I’m’ rather than ‘my’.
6 T(ORCH[estra])RACE
7 [n]EUTER PE[a] – the Muse of music and lyric poetry.
8 COMPASS + I + ON + ATE (= TEA*)
18 P.O. + LENT + A – ‘order’ giving PO (Postal Order) is fair enough but the superfluous ‘for’ makes this a poor clue. Easy enough if you know the word, perhaps, but I didn’t.
19 [c]OSMOS IS
20 MOSLE[M for y] – luckily Sir Oswald Mosley came up recently, otherwise I’d probably have spelt this ‘Muslim’ and so struggled with the second word of 21ac.
23/26 V + A + SC(ODAG)AM + A

8 Responses to “Guardian 24,231 (Sat 10 Nov)/Araucaria – Blyton rock”

  1. Geoff says:

    9ac: AGED ‘unqualified’ is the word on its own – pronounced as two syllables – rather than ‘aged 21′ or whatever, where the word is pronounced as a monosyllable, oddly.

    13ac: PSALTRESS is a lovely word, which I hadn’t come across before, but worked out from the clue and checked in the dictionary. Interestingly, Chambers only gives the word for a female psaltery player. What is the male equivalent – a psalterer? Or was it a very girly instrument?

    I also found the top half more difficult, and EUTERPE had me stuck for a while because I couldn’t work out the conceit of the clue with its surreal surface.

  2. Re explanation for 9ac says:

    …. eh???

  3. Barbara says:

    Re: 13. Psaltress
    This word annoys me, as do a lot of other words that end in ess to indicate a female person.
    In particular I object to editress, poetess, doctress, sculptress, paintress, benefactresss, authoress, etc. At least in the theater world, the players all refer to themselves as “actors”, regardless of gender. Let the rest of the world follow suit.

  4. rightback says:

    I agree with Geoff – ‘psaltress’ is lovely. Most of the other examples you give are pretty horrible though (‘sculptress’ perhaps excepted). Conversely I can’t stand ‘actor’ used to mean ‘actress’, as used by Araucaria a couple of weeks ago, while ‘assistant referee’ will never enter my vocabulary (and thank goodness is just too long to appear in a 15×15 crossword).

    I also second the ‘eh?’ above – how does ‘aged’ (polysyllabic or otherwise) mean ‘unqualified’?

  5. Geoff says:

    Sorry for not explaining properly! This is nothing to do with ‘qualifications’ in the GSCE sense. ‘Unqualified’ means (in this context) that the word AGED is not qualified with another word. For example, an adverb (eg ‘badly’) can be said to ‘qualify’ a verb (eg ‘explain’ – as in ‘explain badly’). If the word AGED appears with a number (ie is ‘qualified’ with a number) it doesn’t mean ‘old’ in an absolute sense – someone who is aged 6 is not exactly ‘old’. But if you describe someone as ‘aged’ without specifying the number of years, it suggests they are rather ancient.
    Does that make any more sense?

    I agree with Barbara in general, but ‘psaltress’ is an ancient word, which nobody is ever likely to use these days even on the exceedingly rare occasion of finding a woman playing a psaltery.

  6. rightback says:

    That makes sense – thanks!

  7. Robin Gilbert says:

    I have long been familiar with the proverb “Little pitchers have long ears”, a favourite saying of my father’s, and a quick search on Google suggests that “Little pitchers have big ears” may be the American version, though obviously better suited to a Blyton theme.

  8. John Dean says:

    Re ‘aged’: Another way of “qualifying” it would be in a compound like ‘middle-aged’

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