Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 6851/Radian

Posted by John on September 30th, 2008


I have only recently become aware of Radian, which suggests that he hasn’t been around for long. But with this crossword I had no feeling that he was in any way a novice: there were some excellent clues, two of which I can’t explain.

We certainly get our money’s worth today, with 32 clues. I’ve noticed that the Indy crossword often has many fewer than this.

1 SWAMP — m in (paws)rev.
4 DANDELION — d(odder) (old inane)*
9 WAGTAIL — a wagtail wags its tail, or swings it hips, “WAG tale”
10 T(ate) EASELS
11 DELFT — D (left)*
12 GOLDEN AGE — (one lad)* in (egg)*
13 C(OR)GI — computer-generated imagery, although there are other special effects and in my opinion, although I know not that of everyone, there should have been some indicator that CGI is only an example of special effects
14 TEST MATCH — t(ribal) in (cats them)*
16 LOCKSMITH — when a clue is this long it needs to be pretty good to make up for its wordiness. But I don’t think this one is: presumably the references are to Tony Lock, almost certainly not the best LH spinner, and Graeme Smith, not in everyone’s opinion the best SA batsman even of the current team. But a cracking definition and Radian did well not to cop out, leaving the clue as a mere cryptic definition
20 LE(v)ANT
22 SPEEDWELL — (weed)* in spell
24 GR(A)SS
26 OCARINA — (raincoa(t))*
27 THISTLE — (the list)*
28 TEDDY BEAR — (darted by e)* — ref. ‘The Teddy Bear’s Picnic
29 G0R(S(cience))E
1 SEWED — (Swede)*, assuming 25 is correct
2 ANGULAR — U in (raglan)*
3 PL(ANT)AINS — it seems a bit odd that the clue contains ‘planted’, so similar to the answer. Surely this could have been avoided, with something like ‘found’ instead of ‘planted’
5 NETTLES — John Nettles, the star of Bergerac, the TV programme
6 invadE S A REsort — lovely hidden rev. clue
7 1 NE(X AC)T
8 NISSEN HUT — (tin NHS use)*
13 COLTSFOOT — col (st)rev. foot
15 MALIGNING — “a line” in Ming — squeezing the last drop of crossword use out of someone who won’t be well-known for much longer
17 CUE CARD — “queue” card
19 HOLSTER — (others l(inen))* — nice def.
21 AD AP(artmen)T OR — very good clue
23 DAISY I think, although I don’t understand
25 SWEDE I think, although again I don’t understand

16 Responses to “Independent 6851/Radian”

  1. phil c says:

    I’m a cryptic newbie who uses this site to learn how to solve these crosswords, so apologies if i ask questions that may be obvious.

    I am looking at 4 across and cannot find how the clue leads to dandelion?

  2. Geoff Moss says:


    The definition is ‘clockmaker’. The wordplay is D (beginning to dodder) plus an anagram (wobbling) of OLD and INANE.

    The seed heads of dandelions are known as dandelion clocks, hence ‘clockmaker’.

  3. Geoff Moss says:

    25d The theme of this crossword is plants and flowers so presumably ‘sort of theme’ means a type of plant or flower.

  4. Geoff Moss says:

    23d ‘Bell is’ put together becomes ‘Bellis’. The botanical name for a daisy is ‘Bellis perennis’. Daisy is also a common name given to a cow.

  5. Radian says:

    Geoff. ‘Weeds’ is the theme, hence ‘sort of’ in 25d. A better clue might have been ‘Root weeds out’ or some such, making the theme more explicit. That – and the number of clues, some severely pruned to fit – is I suppose a sign of the novice. All your feedback is very welcome.

  6. Geoff Moss says:


    Thanks for the enlightenment. I didn’t see the weeds / swede anagram nor the fact that the theme was actually weeds rather than plants. This was because I find it difficult to equate daisy and gorse with weed , particularly as Chambers defines daisy as a ‘wild or garden plant’.

    Similarly, one form of plantain is used as a staple food in tropical climates and so would be cultivated.

    So far as I can see, the only thematic element defined as ‘a weed’ in Chambers is ‘nettle’, all the rest are defined as plants.

  7. eimi says:

    I’m a little surprised by the objection to ‘special effects’ in 13 Across. Surely ‘special effects’ for CGI is no less unfair than ‘dog’ for corgi. Corgi is an example of a dog. I agree that ‘corgi’ would not be acceptable as a clue for dog, but that isn’t the case here.

    Very glad that cryptic newbies such as Phil C are finding help at fifteensquared. No one should be afraid to ask for explanations. We all have to start somewhere and being able to reveal the answer online isn’t always enough.

  8. Radian says:

    Geoff: I agree they’re all pretty in their own way (as e.g. the name Bellis suggests) but if they get in the way …
    Apart from the omission of ‘dock’, I think all of the examples here would not last very long in a ‘garden’. One man’s plants …
    Oh, and there aren’t many anagrams for ‘plants’.

  9. Geoff Moss says:


    I’m sorry to take issue with you here, particularly in what was an enjoyable crossword, but if there is a theme then surely the elements should be verifiable in a standard, reputable reference.

    You say that all the all the examples would not last long in a garden but this is not the case. Thistles are cultivated in many gardens to attract butterflies. Various types of daisy are specifically planted in borders. Gorse is deliberately included in many seaside gardens to act as a windbreak. Swedes might be grown in a vegetable garden and, in my particular case, dandelions are not weeds because the tortoise likes to eat them for lunch :-)

    Then there is the ambiguity. Daisies in a lawn are weeds but not when they are in a flower bed by intention. Grass is a weed when it is in a flower bed but not when it is in the lawn. A weed is defined as ‘any useless plant of small growth or any plant growing where it is not wanted’ (Chambers) yet most of your examples are, in places, deliberately planted for food (plantain, swede), herbal remedies (nettle), craft or practical use (teasel, gorse) and decoration (daisy, thistle, speedwell).

    I think, due the points raised above, it was impossible to determine that the theme was ‘weeds’, though others may disagree with me.

    PS Why did there need to be an anagram of ‘plants’? You say you used ‘sort of’ in 25d to indicate an anagram but it could just as equally be interpreted as ‘type of’ so there was no distinct pointer to the theme. If ‘swede’ was not intended to be a thematic element then I think it rather unfair to include it as an answer since it is also a plant (if not commonly a weed).

  10. Testy says:

    Although it is often said that a weed is just a plant in the wrong place, and although some of these plants may have decorative or cultivated varieties, I would have thought that (with the possible exceptions of GORSE which, although a wild plant is probably not generally one that invades people’s gardens, and SWEDE which is clearly a cultivated vegetable, but which was presumably included because it was an anagram of WEEDS) most reasonable people would class these plants as WEEDS.

    However, I do feel that the clue for SWEDE was unsatisfactory (largely because it is an indirect anagram which relies on the solver spotting that there is a theme and guessing the exact word that summarises the theme). Radian’s alternative would have been better, but unfortunately including that word at all muddies the water regarding the theme.

  11. Radian says:

    Geoff, I withdraw from the fray.
    It so happens that I like all my ‘weeds'; indeed I cherish some of them for the very reasons you give.
    ‘Swede’ was not intended as a weed, just a small final pointer to what I thought was the theme, but it clearly didn’t work.
    Looking again at the puzzle as a whole, it reminds me of BIll Oddie’s garden – Teddy bear, ocarina, a bit of Delft, a lean-to (almost) – or am I maligning him? I hope it was a delight to some.
    Re your PS: irony, however light, doesn’t travel well.

  12. Geoff Moss says:


    There was no intention on my part for this to become a fray. I was merely trying to offer you a solver’s view of the crossword/theme and hoped that the comments would be considered as constructive.

    There was also no conscious intention for any part of my PS to be ironic. If it came across that way then please accept my apologies.

    On a final note, I very much appreciate input from setters, particularly when a clue is difficult to analyse, since it helps to hone the solving skills and so I certainly wouldn’t deliberately do anything that might deter a setter from participating in future blogs.

  13. nmsindy says:

    I enjoyed this, good varied approaches – did not specifically notice ‘weeds’ theme, but had seen there were a higher than usual proportion of plants in the grid, which, purely from memory, I think I also noticed in Radian’s Indy debut.

  14. John says:

    13ac: My apologies about CGIs and special effects: Eimi is of course quite right. A case of my over-sensitivity about definition by example getting in the way.

    Thanks, Geoff, for elucidating 23dn. A nice clue, which defeated me.

  15. timbo says:

    2D is highly appropriate in a crossword by Radian!

  16. timbo says:

    I might add that I think the ”Independent” crosswords are drifting into the furthest realms of obscurity. Here we have references to cricketers from many years ago and, apparently, a minor actor from a television series, which, according to Google, was broadcast during the 1970s. We have also recently had references to someone who wrote pop songs from a time best forgotten and clues from the ‘devil’s dictionary’ – a work I had heard of but never seen.

    I do not have Google when I am on the train, and I find these obscure references almost as annoying as the high pitched tamborine-like clattering that emerges from other people’s eye-pod thingys.

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