Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 97 – DISASTROUS EFFORT by Lato

Posted by Hihoba on November 14th, 2008


Ho (of Hihoba) had inconsiderately gone on holiday this week, so Ba and I were left to struggle with this, and struggle we did!

We worked on the normal clues for some time and the top left corner came out reasonably well, leaving us with PE?O, DI?NE? and LI??O as thematically clued. Our efforts were not helped by thinking these were PESO, DINNER and LINGO for a while. They eventually turned out to be PEPO (a B[M]erry), DISNEY (Walt[l]) and LIE TO (the two word one for Be still on sea[t]).

Ages later and the odd clue at a time we had most of the clues solved, but quite a lot of unexplained wordplay, when Ba suggested that the long unclued light, which was ?C??NA???L if DACOIT was the robber, might be McGonagall the bad poet from Dundee. There was little to support this at the time, but the misprinted letters in the thematic clues seemed to include BAD POET, so a bit more research on McGonagall in Wikipedia led to his “greatest” poem “The Tay Bridge Disaster” which is the “DISASTROUS EFFORT” referred to in the title. You can read it in its entire magnificence here: and you can read about the disaster here

The poem includes the immortal lines:

As soon as the catastrophe came to be known
The alarm from mouth to mouth was blown,
And the cry rang out all o’er the town,
Good Heavens! the Tay Bridge is blown down.

It is the last line, minus the words “Tay Bridge”  which is formed by the extra letters in the 25 clues mentioned in the rubric, and Tay Bridge is to be written below the grid.

The thematic clues are listed in the table below. Their misprints yield the phrase “ALL ARE BAD POETS” and all the thematic answers are anagrams of names of poets. Perhaps it would have been easier if we had noticed that earlier, rather than right at the end!

Difficult, but ultimately worth it and very satisfying. If you solved it alone, congratulations! Neither of us would have been able to.

Solving time, Saturday until Wednesday morning! Many hours.

Misprint  Amended clue  Answer  Poet  Location A/D, row, column
Sta(i)ffs place  ENDON  DONNE  D,9,2
L(J)ack felt strongly  VOID  OVID  A,9,6 
Conduct involving goal(t)  HORME (yes it is – I looked it up!)  HOMER  D,13,1  
Be still on sea(t)  LIE TO  ELIOT  A,7,5
Without cheer(k)  BLEAK  BLAKE  D,9,1
Engaging pe(a)rson  BOOKER BROOKE  D,8,7 
B B(M)erry  PEPO  POPE  D,1,2
Sta(o)ked  ANTED  DANTE  D,2,3
D(W)itch  SHEUGH HUGHES  A,6,8 
Camp(e)  LAER (same as laager)  LEAR  D,10,12 
Po(a)st  STAKE  KEATS  D,12,1 
Name for male(l)  DUANE  AUDEN D,11,8 
Walt(l)  DISNEY SIDNEY  D,1,7 
Soon at Largs(e)  ENOW (soon, Scots) OWEN  A,7,10 

 The “normal” clues + misprints are below:

 1   APHICIDES are killers in garden; [C(O)P HIS IDEA]*
 5 G PUSH is an offensive; [G]P (doctor) + US + H(ospital)
 7   TEAM is a turn-out; TEA + M(ass) 
 8   SNIP is cut; PINS reversed
 9 PINTO is a horse; P[O]INT (aim) + O(ld)
 10 O HERBAR is a Spenserian garden; H[O]ER is one clearing weeds + BAR (except) 
 11 D NOT FOR NUTS is incompetently (under nuts in Chambers); {[D]ONT TURN SOF}* 
 12 EGER is a bore (as in #95!); E.G. + [H]ER
 14 E VEER is turn; REEV[E] reversed
 15   AGEE is off the straight; A(bout) + GEE (move a horse to the right)
 16   ADZE is a tool; EZRA (Pound) with (pai)D for R(ight) reversed
 19   DUPE is trick; P(riest) in DUE 
 23 SPREDD is extended (obs); SP[A]RED + D
 26 BEER is a drink; BE[V]ERAGE minus AGE (a lot of time)
 27 E JURA is an island; JA(maica) round [E]UR
 28 N EDISON is an inventor; E[N]D (death) + IS (occurs) + ON (just after)
 30 S AO DAI is from the east; A O[S] (big) + DAI (Dafydd?). I found this by much looking up and am not keen on the clue at all!
 31 PELE is the footballer; PEL[T] is shower + (gam)E
 32 H SEER is an Indian measure of about 2 lbs; (i)S {[H]ERE}* – not keen on “to be spent” as an anagram indicator!
 33 E KNEW is had (sexual intercourse with);KEW (gardens) round [E]N
 34 I THRESHERS are birds; (F)RESHER in TH[I]S
 1 S AT AN END is exhausted; A(ctive) + [S]AN (hospital) in TEND (nurse) 
 2,25A   IMPLODE is collapse internally; IMP is an old word for graft + LODE (vein)
 3 B INTREPID is brave; [B]INT (woman) + REPAID minus A(merican) – really struggled with this one!
 4   SPETCH is undressed leather; [THEPCS]* 
 6   UNBEGUN is not opened; UN + B + E + GUN
 8 SHOVEL is a hat; S(un) + H(ot) + [L]OVE (honey) + L(eft)
 13 O GAUP is stare stupidly; G[O] UP is mount round A(rea)
 17 STRINKLE is scatter in drops; ST + [W]RINKLE
 18 GOER is a promiscuous female; GO[N]ER 
 20 PRESIDE is control (rare);P[D] (James) + RE (on) + SIDE (page)
 21 OLD AGE is state of seniors; O (round) + L[O]DGE round A (one’s locked in)
 22   WHALERS are boats; sounds like WAILERS 
 24 DACOIT is a robber; DA[W] is a bird COIT is Australian slang for the backside. Why pinched?
 29 ASH is remains; [N]ASH is the architect

3 Responses to “Inquisitor 97 – DISASTROUS EFFORT by Lato”

  1. HolyGhost says:

    Indeed, more difficult than of late – but that’s fine. HORME (HOMER) and ANTED (DANTE) were my way in, quite quickly followed by most of the others + MCGONAGALL. I stumbled a bit with ENOW (OWEN) and became fixated with LOOKER for “Engaging pe[a]rson” (engaging = attractive) – but that’s not a scrambled poet. Finally “… there’s some corner of a foreign field that is forever England” came to mind, and I was done.

  2. Lato says:

    Many thanks for the blog and comment.

  3. nmsindy says:

    Very difficult and very satisfying when I finally got there – I found the quote first but had eight of the extra words before realising they were anagrams of poets – the breakthrough was asking why did Lato use ANTED not ACTED.

    I had thought for a long time that SNOW was an answer from Wall (Fall) before light dawned.

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