Never knowingly undersolved.


Posted by Gaufrid on October 15th, 2008


Well, that gave my brain a workout for today. At times I felt as if I was solving one of the weekend barred/thematic crosswords. An ‘Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland’ primary theme and a sub-theme relating to the Boston strangler which were linked by 16a with a reference to the Boston tea-party.

Overall, a most enjoyable crossword but perhaps one more suited to those who regularly complete the weekend puzzles mentioned above.


1, 25 MAD AS A HATTER  – *(AS A HATTER) gives ‘AREA THATS’ with MAD being the anagram indicator – definition ‘bananas’

4 MASSIF  AS IF (would be) split with each half following M and S (sections of Marks and Spenser) – a complex wordplay in which I think ‘different’ is superfluous or even misleading

8 ERASURE  ERA (Times) SURE (positive) – I vaguely remember hearing of a pop group called Erasure

9 POINT UP  dd

11 PHALANGIST PH (bar, public house) ALAN (chap) GIST (point to make) – ‘chap’ is doing double duty as a phalangist is a Spanish falangist or fascist

13 SEOUL  homophone of ‘sole’ (the only)

14 DORMOUSE  DOR (golden) MO (instant) USE (exercise) – d’or is not in Chambers, COED or Collins as a headword and so is perhaps a little unfair

16 TEA-PARTY  cd

18 ALICE  [m]ALICE (ill-feeling) – definition from 16a

20 FLAT  dd

21 TRUE TO LIFE  IF (classic lines) in *(ROULETTE) – ‘If’ is a famous poem by Rudyard Kipling

Edit: On reflection, the poem ‘If’ is most appropriate to the theme – “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs …..” fits in well with the Queen of Hearts regular uttering of “Off with their heads!”

24, 23 PRICE ON HIS HEAD  *(HE HAD PRECISION) – no anagram indicator in the clue which is a little naughty!

Edit: I should have pointed out originally, for those not familiar with the Alice novel (there may be one or two!), that the Hatter was depicted with a price tag attached to his hat (10/6 or ten shillings and sixpence, 52.5p in today’s money)

26, 3 BOSTON STRANGLER  B (bass) RTS (rights) NOT SO (less) reversed ANGLER (fisherman) – definition 2


1, 12 MARCH HARE  MARCH (demonstrate) HARE (unofficial gravedigger) – the definition ‘character’ referring to the major theme and also perhaps the fact that during the breeding season (March) hares display madcap antics and are therefore ‘characters’ – ‘Hare’ being one half of Burke and Hare who reputedly robbed graves of their contents.

2 DE SALVO  *(SOLVED A) – Albert De Salvo, the person thought at the time to be the Boston Strangler – ‘anagrams’ is being used a verb, not a plural noun,  but I have yet to work out the relevance of ‘or without’

Edit: with hindsight, perhaps the ‘or without’ is indicating that the answer can be obtained from an anagram of ‘solved’  outside (without) ‘a’  as well as from an anagram of ‘solved a’

5 AFOOT  A FOOT (one third of a yard)

6 SYNCHRO  homophone of ‘sin crow’ (bad bird) – short for synchronised swimming which is recognised as a sport though I’m not sure why :-)

7 FLUORESCE  *(OF RECLUSE) – ‘give out more than is received’ refers to the fact that when a substance fluoresces due to exposure to radiation it emits rays of a greater wavelength than those received

10 MIDDAY SUN  cd – a reference to Noel Coward’s ‘Only mad dogs and Englishmen go out in the midday sun’

13 SHELLFISH  how a drunk would pronounce ‘selfish’ (egocentric)

15 ROAD TO RIO  *(to radio or) – 1947 film in the Bob Hope / Bing Crosby ‘Road to …..’ series


19 ILLICIT  hidden word in ‘cyrILLIC ITalics’

21 TRACE  dd

22 FROWN  FR (father) OWN (confess) – a clever definition which initially had me looking for a word relating to news until I realised that ‘headlines’ needed splitting in two

7 Responses to “FINANCIAL TIMES 12,899 by IO”

  1. Octofem says:

    Hi Gaufrid. Glad I wasn’t the only one to find this more time-consuming than most days. As usual I had got the answers but needed you to explain some : ‘If’ being the poem in 21a, and ‘As if’ – ‘would be’ in 4a.

  2. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Octofem, glad I could help.

    On reflection, the poem ‘If’ is most appropriate to the theme – “If you can keep your head when all around you are losing theirs …..” fits in well with the Queen of Hearts regular uttering of “Off with their heads!”

  3. smiffy says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    I enjoyed this one although, as a resident of Boston, this was probably more of a shoo-in for me than for others.

    Pleasantly surprised to encounter Erasure, in a musical context. They were electro-pop royalty (although queens rather than kings, if you catch my drift) for several gloriously sequin-laden years in the mid/late 80s.

    11A: I beg to differ on your “double duty” accusation at. Like most ….ists, this can be adjectival as well as nounal (e.g. capitalist pig).

  4. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Smiffy

    Thanks for the info on Erasure. Not my era nor musical taste.

    I was going to disagree on 11A in that Chambers gives capitalist and fascist as a noun and indicates ‘also adjective’ whereas there is no such annotation for phalangist which is only given as a noun.

    However, further checking reveals that COED gives phalangist as noun and adjective and Collins noun as modifier.

    So it is a case, not for the first time, of taking your pick as to which reference source you wish to believe!

  5. smiffy says:

    A lucky assumption on my part (I should have phrased my note as a question not a statement).

    It’s always with some trepidation that I challenge you on grammatical nuances, given that you have better instincts and more immediate access to reference books than me. (A case in point: I was initially going to use “nudist beach” as my exemplar above, but then tied myself in knots wondering whether that wasn’t simply a corruption of “nudists’ beach”).


  6. Gaufrid says:

    Perversely, nudist is listed as a noun and adjective in Chambers and Collins but only as a noun in COED.

    You were right to change to capitalist as this is shown as an adjective in all three!

  7. Jake says:

    This was a brilliant puzzle today.
    It took me a while a while to start, but it flowed naturally once the theme was started..

    IO, if you’re reading this. Fantastic.

    Thumbs up,

    A top cryptic….

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