Never knowingly undersolved.

Inquisitor 104: Merry-Go-Round by Eddie

Posted by duncanshiell on January 2nd, 2009


The preamble stated that five words (one in a shortened form) of a song title would be spelled out in clue order, by single extra letters generated by wordplay in each of 25 clues. This title was stated to be the start of a nine-word quotation, the whole of which would be graphically illustrated in the completed diagram by its author. The remaining nine clues each contained a single extra word which, in various contexts, could stand before one of the nine thematic words in the perimeter, which was also thematically configured.

It is always difficult with puzzles like this to sort out the clues with extra wordplay letters from the clues with extra words as there is no pattern to the distribution other than the fact they are roughly in the ratio 3:1.

You will see from the table below that I am beaten by the wordplay in 8 down. I think it is a clue that has an extra letter in the wordplay and not a clue with an extra word as I have got a good match between the extra words and the nine thematic words in the perimeter. I suspect it will all be blindingly obvious when explained to me.

About three quarters of the way through the puzzle, I deduced the song title as I’M WALKING BACKWARDS FOR XMAS (CHRISTMAS). The centre column had looked like THE IRISH SEA for some time, but I was on the wrong track with the central row where I was looking at LIMERICK or AMERICA for the right hand end. It finally fell into place, of course, as I’M WALKING BACKWARDS FOR CHRISTMAS ACROSS THE IRISH SEA from a Goon Show script written by SPIKE MILLIGAN with the grid showing SPIKE MILLIGAN spelled backwards in the middle row across THE IRISH SEA in the central column.

The merry-go-round of words in the perimeter gave five words going anti-clockwise from the top right hand corner as CARD, BOX, PUDDING, ISLAND and CAROL. ;Four other words went clockwise from just below the top right hand corner as CACTUS, STOCKING, DAY and BEETLE.

All of these nine words can be preceded by CHRISTMAS and one of the nine extra words in the clues to give:

Christmas card Calling card
Christmas box Pandora’s box
Christmas pudding Cabinet pudding
Christmas Island Traffic island
Christmas Carol Oh Carol (a song by Neil Sedaka)
Christmas cactus Strawberry cactus
Christmas stocking Body stocking
Christmas Day Lady Day
Christmas beetle Stag beetle

This was a fun puzzle that kept me occupied for an afternoon of solving. The penny took a while to drop. When I got ‘cabinet’ as an extra word I did begin to think about puddings, and ‘Pandora’ conjured up images of boxes. The link with the word Christmas didn’t come until carol and stocking became apparent.

Presumable ‘merry’ in the title linked to Christmas as well.

A Happy New Year to all our readers!

No. Letter Word Entry Components of Wordplay
9 I SNATH Anagram of (become tricky) HAS IT containing (to grasp) N (new) = SNATH (handle, of a scythe)
10 stag DOUC DO (party) + UC (University College) = DOUC (monkey of SE Asia)
11 M INNER MINN (Minnesota, US State) + ER (hesitation) = INNER (part of a target)
12 W SHOAL Almost all, omitting last letter of (SHOW [display] + ALL [the whole]) = SHOAL (lot of fish)
13 A SACK ASK (enquire) containing (about) AC (account) = SACK (wine)
14 L SIROC Reverse of (back) CLOSE (nearly) without last letter E (gone at last) containing IR (Iran) = SIROC (hot dry wind blowing from North frica to North Mediterranean coast)
16 Pandora’s SPOILSPORT SPOILS (ruins) + PORT (wine) = SPOILSPORT (party-pooper)
17 K AINEE IN (fashionable) contained in;(wanting around) AKEE (fruit) = AINEE (senior female)
18 body REIN REIGN (rule) without (wanting) G (good) = REIN (control)
23 I BAYS BIAS (prejudice) containing (about) Y (an unknown in mathematics) = BAYS (horses)
24 N MARLS MARL (clay) + SN (chemical symbol for tin) = MARLS (a dialect of rustic form of marble; marls, therefore, is the game of marbles)
25 G COPPERHEAD COPPER (bobby, policeman) + H (hospital) + EGAD (a mild oath) = COPPERHEAD (a snake)
26 B AMBIT BAM (hoax) + BIT (took effect) = AMBIT (scope)
28 cabinet INTO Anagram of (reshuffle) POINT without the first letter, P, (ignored at first) = INTO (keen on)
30 A CARED CA (about) + READ (study) = CARED (was anxious about)
31 C ILIAC CILIA (hair-like structures) + C (caught) = ILIAC (of the bones that form the hip)
32 K OTIS OK (all right) + TIS (it’s) = OTIS (reference ‘Miss Otis Regrets’, a song by Cole Porter)
33 strawberry SAAME SAME (not changed) containing (eating) A = SAAME (the people of Lapland, more commonly known as Sami)
No. Letter Word Entry Components of Wordplay
1 W IONA Reverse of (taken up) (WAN [faint] + OI [call for attention]) = IONA (Scottish island with a famous monastery)
2 A DANCING N (initial letter of [start to] ‘nudge’) + CIA (agents), all contained in (into) DANG (damn) = DANCING (performing art)
3 R UNRIPE RIP (tear) contained in (into) RUNE (mystic song) = UNRIPE (immature)
4 D PASTORLY PADS (dwellings) + TOR (hill) + LY (‘largely’ emptied of its central letters) = PASTORLY (suitable for shepherds)
5 traffic OHOS Reverse of (over) SOHO (London area) = OHOS (expressions of surprise)
6 S BRASSIE ASS (fool) contained in (interrupts) BRISE (movement in ballet)= BRASSIE (old golf club)
7 F ROB ROY RR (Right Reverend = Bishop) containing (kept by) FOB (watch) + OY (Scottish word for grandchild [probably used only by crossword compilers]) = ROB ROY (Novel by Sir Walter Scott)
8 O AUTOREPLY I am defeated by this one. AUTOREPLY is a quick response. It looks as if AUTHOR (writer) without H (hotel) may come into it. ORE is money and PLY means use, but I’m not using the phrase ‘no money’ and can’t get any parsing of the clue;to fit, nor can I see where the extra O comes from. Grateful for ideas
15 calling DIATOMITE Reverse of (up) AID (help) + TO (for) + MITE (small contribution) = DIATOMITE (deposit)
19 oh EMBER DAY Anagram of (out of place) MY BEER AD = EMBER DAY (one of the three fast days in each quarter of the year)
20 R LAETARE L (first letter of [primarily] ‘lunch’) + (RARE [excellent], with reverse of [served up] TEA [meal]) coming before [earlier]) = LAETARE (the fourth Sunday in Lent)
21 X IRONING GIRNING (grimacing) without the first letter G (start, off) containing OX (neat) = IRONING (household chore)
22 M UPBOIL Anagram of (upset) most of PUBLIC containing OM (Order of Merit) = UPBOIL (become very heated)
24 A MAXIMA MAXIM (saying) + AA (rock) = MAXIMA (greatest, or extremes)
27 lady ERSE VERSE (poetry) without first letter V (first leaves) = ERSE (regional language)
29 S TARN STARN (another word for ‘stern’ or the blunt end of a boat [sailors’ vessel]) = TARN (lake)

4 Responses to “Inquisitor 104: Merry-Go-Round by Eddie”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    You were nearly there with 8d. It is:

    AUT[h]OR (writer leaving hotel) E[m]PL{O}Y (no money to use)

  2. Kea says:

    The same theme was used in Listener 3701, Wet Feet by Schadenfreude, in 2002 (

  3. Duncan Shiell says:

    Thanks Geoff for the explanation of 8 down. I was too fixated on PLY meaning ‘use’.

    Thanks Kea for the comment about the theme being used before. I guess it must be very difficult for setters to come up with unique themes given that puzzles like The Listener, Inquisitor, Enigmatic Variations and similar have been around for many years. The Listener website is a veritable Aladdin’s Cave of information, but it is not particularly user friendly in terms of the ability to search for themes.

  4. HolyGhost says:

    This took me a week, on & off – but I was trekking in the Sahara with no access to reference books! So, it’s good to have a holiday puzzle that doesn’t stretch the vocabulary too much …

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