Never knowingly undersolved.

Azed 1887: Calling a spade a spade (or a foot plough)

Posted by jetdoc on August 3rd, 2008


A more demanding puzzle than some of Azed’s recent ones; and, to me, all the better for that. As usual, I learnt a few new words, though I’m not sure when I’ll ever use them.

My favourite clue this week is 12a, because it is so concise and has a deceptive surface reading. I like the wordplay in 8d, too.

1 CASCHROM SUCH minus U; in CAROM = ‘short form of carambole, a cannon in billiards’. A caschrom, according to Chambers, is a sort of spade with a bent handle, formerly used in the Scottish Highlands for tilling the ground (also ‘cas crom’). Wikipedia has it as foot plough. In any case, it could be a useful word for crossword setters wanting a slightly unusual sequence of letters.
7 CHAI CHA = tea; I = ‘number one’ (dominant place). A slightly strange clue (is it an &lit? it doesn’t feel quite right). I don’t like tea anyway, but I will assume that chai tastes very different from rooibos, which is not tea at all, despite being know as ‘bush tea’.
10 PRE-EXILIAN PREEN (clean and arrange); about X = ten; ILIA =bones. ‘Before the exile, used of Old Testament writings prior to the Jewish exile (c.586–538BC).’
11 WEEM WEE; M = marks (former German currency). A weem, in Scotland, is a subterranean dwelling.
12 ACINUS Nice clue. An acinus is a pip (in a fruit). AC (= bill, account) IN US.
14 KOCHIA *(a hoick). Kochia scoparia is the burning bush.
16 SPINAL SPIAL (old word for ‘scout’), penning N. Refers to the spinal column.
17 KANGHA Hidden in ‘sleek Angharad’. One of the Five Ks, worn by baptised Khalsa Sikhs as items of faith.
18 ICE-ACTION *(SIATIC ONCE) — ‘not as’ indicates that AS must be removed to get the anagram.
19 EGOMANIAC OMANI = Gulf Arab; in ‘cage’ reversed.
24 EIDENT DEN = study; in ‘tie’ reversed. Another Scottish word, meaning ‘busy, diligent’.
25 TROUSE T = end of belt; ROUSE. Irish close-fitting breeches.
27 HABITS BIT = part of tackle, in the sense of a horse’s harness — specifically the part of the bridle that goes in the horse’s mouth (though Chambers does not actually give this sense under ‘tackle’); HAS = gets (which rings BIT).
29 LEPERS Hidden in ‘despisable persons’. An &lit clue, though I find it a bit offensive that those unfortunate enough to be inflicted by Hansen’s disease should be used metaphorically for people to be despised.
30 SHEA ‘SHEAthing’ minus ‘thing’. Butyrospermum parkii is a very useful tree.
31 EVITERNITY *(Ivy in tree t). A new word for me, with no real etymological explanation in Chambers.
32 GAEA A = dialect personal pronoun; in *(AGE). The Greek goddess personifying the Earth.
33 SIGNLESS *(s Lessing), with ‘novel’ as the anagram indicator. Doris Lessing is a much-esteemed Nobel Laureate whose works I have always found almost completely unreadable. Apologies to her admirers, who greatly outnumber me.
1 CAWK Cawk is ‘an opaque, compact variety of barite, or heavy spar’, a definition I got via Google rather than in Chambers. It also sounds a bit like ‘cork’, which can be used to seal bottles (though I reckon screw-tops are much better). The implication of ‘we heah’ is that people who talk posh might pronounce it like that (see the very wonderful Steve Bell’s phonetic renderings of the way the British royal family talk).
2 AREOPAGITE *(OPERA); on A GIT E. The Areopagus functioned as the chief homicide court of Athens. Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite is also worth a look.
3 SPECIE *(pieces), with ‘minted’ as the anagram indicator. A concise example of an &lit clue — ‘specie’ is ‘coined money’.
4 HELIAC ELIA (= essayist); in H C (+hot and cold). In crossword clues, ‘essayist’ more often than not refers to Charles Lamb, best known for his Essays of Elia (‘Elia’ being the pen name Lamb used as a contributor to the London Magazine).
5 REVALENTA ‘laver’ (edible seaweed) reversed; *(a net). Revalenta is lentil-meal
6 MICMAC Hidden in ‘totemic mackinaws’. A Native Canadian people of eastern Canada; a member of it; the Algonquian language of this people.
7 CLIENT LIEN = right; in CT (first letters of ‘commercial textbooks’).
8 HING [w]HING[e] — edges cut from ‘beef’ in the sense of ‘complaint’. Hing is asafoetida, which does smell a bit alarming, but is surprisingly useful in cooking.
9 INSTANCE STANCE = posture; after IN = wearing. ‘Instance‘ can mean ‘law suit’
13 UPHOLSTERS *(poultr she’s), ‘whacked’ being the anagram indicator. ‘Supplies e.g. stuffing’ is the definition, as upholsterers supply, among other things, stuffing for furniture.
15 SKAITHING *(gas I think). ‘Skaith’ is another Scottish word, meaning ‘to injure; to blast; to scorch with invective’.
16 SHEER-LEG SHEER = vertically; LEG = ‘gel’ (set) reversed.
20 MESETA E = Spain; SET = arrayed; in MA = borders of Murcia. A meseta is ‘a plateau, specif that of central Spain’ so there’s an element of &lit in here.
21 ANTRES Hidden in ‘unpleasant residences’. A poetic word for ‘cave’.
22 ARABIN RABI = the spring grain harvest in India, Pakistan, etc.; in AN. Arabin is the essential principle of gum arabic, used as a thickener.
23 QUI-HYE QUI = French for ‘who’ (a relative pronoun); HYE = obsolete form of ‘high’. A prosperous Anglo-Indian, especially in Bengal, during British colonial rule.
26 SPIE Initial letters of ‘some passionate intercourse eventually’. ‘Spie’ is an old word meaning ‘look’ (spy).
28 SANS Double definition — ‘without’ (as in sans-serif) = ‘save’; short form of ‘sanatoria’ = hospitals.

5 Responses to “Azed 1887: Calling a spade a spade (or a foot plough)”

  1. Richard Heald says:

    I think the wordplay for 7Ac is actually CHAI(RED) [rooibos, I'd guess from the etymology in C, is red].

  2. jetdoc says:

    OK, Richard. That doesn’t exactly convince me, either.

  3. Richard Heald says:

    The clue works perfectly well for me, Jane. Chambers defines chair as “to place in a seat of authority”, hence “given dominant place” = CHAIRED.

  4. jetdoc says:

    I see what you mean now. Though rooibos doesn’t look very red in the photos.

  5. Stephen Naysmith says:

    Rooibos = Red Bush in Afrikaans, and yes – the brew at least is pretty red. And pretty undrinkable to my taste. I couldn’t work out how the clue worked but chaired makes sense to me now.

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