Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6815/Morph

Posted by John on August 19th, 2008


This took ages — Morph seems to be getting very difficult nowadays. This wasn’t helped by the fact that there were some answers that appear a bit tenuous, although it’s more likely that I don’t understand them properly.

1 MING CAMPBELL — “mink amble” — not sure I like ‘could hear’
9 DEEP I think — (peed)rev. I don’t approve of this sort of clue: it could just as easily be PEED, and one can only be sure when one has the last checking letter. In my opinion the answer to a clue should be unequivocal
11 LET ALONE — presumably this is ‘let(h)al one’, although is a lethal one a cause of death? A lethal injection maybe, but a lethal one? Does this term exist?
12 AVOCET — (cove)* in at, nice clue
13 LITTLE BY LITTLE — Stuart Little doesn’t appear to be a person, but a film. Good clue
19 I’S OG ON — not quite sure when I’d use ‘on’ to mean ‘valid’
23 HEALTH FOOD — (do half the)* around 0, but nuts and pulses etc. aren’t the only health food, so this is definition by example — fine if you’re happy with that
24 EX P.O.
25 FECKLESSNESS — Father Ted and his friends use the word ‘feck’, no doubt
2 IMPLANT I think — one’s sole of foot is (just about) an implant, and dental (e.g.) implant
3 GUSTO — gut so with the t and the s upset — excellent semi (I think) &lit.
4 A COMEDY OF ERRORS — I’m not sure about this: The play is “The Comedy of Errors”; does the change from ‘the’ to ‘A’ reflect the fact that ‘play’ is slightly altered to ‘ploy’? And ‘funky’?
5 PRIVATISE — “private eyes”. Is there some subtle joke going on here, since arguably the only killing from the BR privatisation has been the ill-effect on the rail system?
7 LOUSE? — (b)louse, but the last three words are a mystery to me
8 CELERIAC — (clear ice)*
14 EMMENTHAL — ((chees)e n ham melt)*, almost a nice & lit., spoilt for me by the ‘What might be grated’, which seems odd as an anagram indicator (‘what is grated’)
15 ENVELOPE — 2 defs
17 ANGELIC — (nice gal)*
18 SUCKERS? — I can’t see how these are hearing aids
20 S/H ELF — lots of rather good &lits in this crossword
22 LADEN — ref. Osama, who isn’t necessarily (as I thought) ‘Bin Laden’, but more often, apparently, ‘bin Laden’

21 Responses to “Independent 6815/Morph”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    18d Homophone – suckers and succours

  2. John says:

    Very good. Excellent misdirection. Should have seen that.

  3. Fletch says:

    I’d suggest ‘make a killing’ in 5 means raking in the profit.

  4. Geoff Moss says:

    4d Some sources give the title as ‘The Comedy of Errors’ whereas other equally reputable sources give ‘A Comedy of Errors’.

    I think therefore that ‘a funky ploy’ is simply a cryptic indication of the title.

  5. Geoff Moss says:

    7d “but the last three words are a mystery to me”

    Presumably a reference to that bane of young schoolchildren – ‘head lice’

  6. Testy says:

    …and presumably body lice too (hence either in shirt or in head).

  7. Richard Palmer says:

    I found this a mixture of the good, the bad and the dubious.

    16A, 21A and 25A raised a laugh.
    Re 5D it’s not the government that made a killing from privatisation but the bastards who acquired our public assets at a knock-down price.
    1A very dubious homophone – there is a G sound in the answer.

  8. Testy says:

    I don’t think that the G in Ming is normally pronounced with a hard G sound at the end. It is actually his nickname being a shortened, more phonetic spelling of his real name Menzies, in which the end of the first syllable is not pronounced with a hard G sound but with a soft G (as in “sinG”) and when run together with Campbell I think it makes a very good homophone.

  9. Fletch says:

    My thinking was along the lines of the proceeds acquired from the sale together with money saved by no longer having responsibility for maintenance.

  10. NealH says:

    I wasn’t totally sure about implant. I assume one’s = I’m and therefore plant = sole of foot. I’ve heard of plantigrade animals, which walk on the whole of the foot, so I assume at some level plant means the sole of the foot, although it’s not listed as such in my dictionary.

  11. Testy says:

    “Plantar” certainly means “relating to the sole of the foot” so I gave him the benefit of the doubt and assumed that there was probably some dictionary somewhere which listed it as such. My problem related more to not making the dental connection (being more used to thinking about surgical implants in a slightly more southerly location!)

  12. Fletch says:

    Testy, I didn’t notice I’d posted after you earlier, it’s a while since our paths crossed!

  13. Testy says:

    An enforced crosswording/internet hiatus. Service is now back to (almost) normal.

  14. nmsindy says:

    This was very hard – I did not enter a single answer on first run thro. Got there in the end. I thought in A COMEDY OF ERRORS funky ploy was funny play (i.e. comedy) with two misprints (errors). I liked FECKLESSNESS a lot.

  15. Geoff Moss says:

    2d I’m not too happy with one’s = I’m, though I suppose if I were the Queen this sentence could have started ‘One’s not too happy….’.

    However, one of the definitions for ‘plant’ in Chambers (1998) is ‘the sole of the foot’.

    The same definition is given for ‘planta’ but this is irrelevant.

  16. Geoff Moss says:


    An excellent interpretation of the wordplay for 2d!

  17. Pricklewedge says:

    18d = lovely cheeky wordplay for the homophone I looked and looked at s_c_e_r_ for ages before it hit home. T

  18. Ali says:

    Second day on the trot that I’ve pretty much failed on the top half. Didn’t find the bottom half too tricky in my usual 25-min-bus-to-work session, but think I’d have given in on quite a few clues even if I’d had the chance to have a second look. Tough week so far!

  19. Morph says:

    Thanks for all the comments, from which correct interpretations always emerge in the end.
    In 9 ac, I hoped the reversal was clear because the verb is intransitive. It has to be the water that ebbs, it would be unfair to ‘ebb’ the second half of the clue. But I realise this type of clue often gives problems.
    As for Ming, I’d like to think Testy’s right – I’m no expert on Scots pronunciation, but I haven’t heard it said with a hard G on the end.
    But John and Richard, you definitely have a point re 5dn – the government might sell off state assets to raise cash, but it tends to be the buyers who make the killing. I may have sacrificed accuracy for the misidirecting surface there.

  20. Testy says:

    For 9A I can’t remember the clue exactly but think that it’s possible that the reversal indicator (if it was “ebbing” or “ebbed”) could have been fairly interpreted as an adjective referring to the second half of the clue.

  21. Fletch says:

    Fair enough re. 5d. I think my efforts to justify it possibly smacked more of desperation to leap to the setter’s defence in the face of a somewhat negative blog!

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