Never knowingly undersolved.

General Chat

Posted by Admin on February 17th, 2009


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278 Responses to “General Chat”

  1. eimi says:

    I’ve been listening to Elbow albums in anticipation of seeing them on their forthcoming tour and came across this line in the appropriately-named Scattered Black and Whites on their first album:

    “She’s listening to the dream I weaved today
    Crosswords through the bathroom door”

    Can anyone else suggest other songs in which crosswords are mentioned.

    P.S. If you haven’t yet heard the Mercury Prize-winning album The Seldom Seen Kid, I can heartily recommend it

  2. Testy says:

    I’d certainly nominate it for an AnaGrammy. Are they signed to Homophone records?

  3. Ali says:

    I seem to remember that Bloc Party make some crossword (and sudoku) reference in a song on a recent album. Let me have a butcher’s . Ah yes, ‘Waiting For the 7:18′, that’s the one:

    “Grinding your teeth in the middle of the night
    With the sadness of those molars
    Spend all your spare time trying to escape
    With crosswords and sudoku”

  4. Testy says:

    Jethro Tull has a song called Crossword and The Partridge Family had a whole album called Crossword Puzzle. I hasten to add that this information was gleaned from searching Google and not from searching my record collection… honest!

  5. Monica M says:

    Hi All,

    I’ve nothing useful to add in terms of music and crosswords … I’m just home, as it is Friday, nearly midnight here.

    However … the new tone to the chit-chat blog is music to my ears.

    The reason I looked in tonight was to see what’s happening … as things had been a bit interesting of late …. I’m actually glad there is nothing to be concerned about.


  6. eimi says:

    Nothing to be ashamed of, Testy. Jethro Tull were a very fine band, and I used to have a crush on Susan Dey of the Partridge Family, but we only had a black and white TV so I wasn’t aware that she was orange in real life. There’s some serious unching on that Crossword Puzzle record sleeve, though.

  7. Tony Walker says:

    The Mayor of Simpleton by XTC has the line:

    “and all crossword puzzles I just shun”

  8. eimi says:

    That’s a neat way to bring together the Partridge Family and Andy Partridge. On the subject of which, how can a song written by Andy Partridge 25 years ago win Best Original Song at the 2009 Radio 2 folk awards? Chris Wood woz robbed.

  9. steven says:

    The Ruts had a single cover that was a crossword grid the only squares filled in said “The Ruts”

  10. Derek Lazenby says:

    Oh my goodness! A chat room!, Dang I never realised it was here, and I see I’ve missed incarnation 1 already! Maybe it was a day I wasn’t on, but I missed any announcements. Oh, well I shall scout around and see wha else gives.

    I have to say it is a blessed relief because life just isn’t simple. Side issues will always arise so thank goodness we are no longer given the choice of supress valid side issues or go off topic. I prefer debate to suppression as y’all have probably noticed. And if that has upset people then sorry, but any suppression of debate is intensely worrying to me. It smacks of the sort of society most of us would not want to live in.

    No replies are needed to the above, y’all aired the surrounding issues in version 1, sorry I missed it.

    Anyway, enough of rhubarb, I’d like to share my experience of using freebie crossword software, but a question first

    What is the difference between a blog and a forum? As a user of both I’m struggling to see how the two differ. The only obvious thing seems to be who is allowed to start new threads. Is that really enough to warrant different names?

  11. Derek Lazenby says:

    So anyway, to briefly recap what I’ve mentioned elsewhere, for want of anywhere better, I took it upon myself to do a one off xword for my preserved railway’s magazine. This is not sufficient to warrant paying money to buy compilation software, hence I tried the freebies.

    As a result I have found 3 Windows applications which do at least part of the job. There are a host of applications which take a word list and generate a grid, but how you are supposed to get a valid grid (according to UK standards) from that process is not clear. Hence the limited number of applications I settled on.

    The first I tried was Compiler Writer. A slightly fiddly user interface, but it does the job well enough. If all you want to do is print out your work it is fine. But it only saves files of it’s own file format. I wanted to get my work into MS Word for my editor, and also Across Lite format so that I could easily have my work tested prior to publication (Across Lite being a free “player” utility that is widely used, The New York Times for example).

    The second I tried was Compiler Utility. This is a bit restricted and not really useful if your design method is try and see then rework as required. Nor does it have any direct method of entering clues. However, directly via the clipboard, or indirectly via saved bit map files, it is possible to get the puzzle and solutions grids to my editor in a Word document, but no clues! And no Across Lite either. Sigh.

    At that point I wrote a wrapper program in Delphi 7 to guide a user through using Compiler Writer for grid and solution generation, manual (sadly) copying to Copiler Utility, and then saving a number of different styles of output from Compiler Utility. My app then provided a chance input header and note information, plus the clues by (forgive the immodesty) a rather nice little clue editor. My app then generated the files I was otherwise missing.

    If that sounds like a bit of a fag, you would not be wrong, but it was still vastly easier than generating the extra files by hand.

    Our good friend Rishi has tried a copy and has been too polite to tell me how bad it may be! What he did tell me however, was that there is a very well hidden (as in hard to find by web searches)application which is called Crossword Compiler. NO! Not the famous one that costs money. This is a freebie from Spoobill Software.

    This has the basic functionality of it’s more illustrious rival and does most of what I want. That is, I can create crosswords in my do it in bits, suck it and see method (though it is ever so slightly fiddly in doing that). And it outputs in several formats including Across Lite! What it doesn’t do is any graphical output of grids. Sigh.

    So, I have written another Delphi 7 program! This one, unlike it’s predecessor, provides an utterly trivial solution. You create and save your work in a file of the Spoonbill Compiler’s default text format. You run my program. All you have to do is select the symmetry type, hit one button, then select your crossword file in a standard “open file” box. And that is all you need to do in my app! The app then creates 3 new files, one for inclusion in MS Word (or whatever), which contains the clues, and two for use by Crossword Utility, the puzzle and solution grids. My app then starts Crossword Utility and you simply open those two files in turn and immediately save them in bit map format. And that is it, job done. The bit maps and clues can be dumped in a Word (or other) document. If you want your friends to test the xword with Across Lite, then you can get a file for that directly from the Spoonbill Crossword Compiler.

    I have sent a copy to Rishi. No doubt he will be polite again! :)

    Personally, I wouldn’t want to re-use my original program, but if anyone who already uses CW and CU wants a totally free copy let me know. But you would be better off using the Spoonbill Compiler Writer, then if you need to get your work into a word processor or desktop publisher use my second gadget in conjunction with Compiler Utility. Again, let me know if you want this freebie. My set up files for both my applications include Compiler Utility as it is a single free standing .exe file that needs no installation actions of it’s own. d dot lazenby at ntlworld dot com is the address you need.

    Anyone who wants to chat in general is also welcome to use that address, but in that case IM may be easier, I’m passingidiot on Yahoo.

  12. Derek Lazenby says:

    Arg, penultimate paragraph, I of course meant Spoonbill Crossword Compiler.

  13. Bella says:

    When I was compiling crosswords some years ago there was no internet, in fact no computers either, so all the grids were carefully hand drawn with a ruler & fine point pen, then the black squares carefully inked in one by one. I rather enjoyed that.

    And what a shame you missed Chat Room version 1, Derek. It was huge fun while it lasted, but I suspect your input would have added even more spice to the festivities. We can only hope for another lively & slightly scurrilous romp such as that. Ah, me I shall have to subside into my Brisbane nest again for a while.

  14. Monica M says:


    I’m with Bella, your “Bad Boy” input would no doubt have been a hoot in #1… I’m sorry you missed it too.

    Let’s hope we get another thorny issue soon… as the last one was hours of fun.

  15. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Bella #13.

    And, don’t forget, we took care of the symmetry ourselves when we designed the grids!

  16. beermagnet says:

    Bella, Re: #13 You’ll be in awe then of the work of Garson Hampfield, Crossword Inker:

  17. smutchin says:

    Derek – there are a few operational/organisational differences between a blog and a forum, but more significant is the intent. A blog is meant to be more like a journal, but with the opportunity for readers to leave feedback, while a forum is more an open discussion between multiple users of equal status (albeit possibly with restrictions on who can start threads) and how much off-topic comment is tolerated varies from one forum to another.

    I don’t think a chat thread fits very comfortably in a blog format, but I wouldn’t necessarily propose changing the format either – the blog format suits the primary intent of what fifteensquared is about.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Thanks for that. Chat may well not fit the prime aim. But that is theory, we are real people, real people never fit theory. We like to socialise as all people do. Where else do we do it? This way is best. A good ole compromise. Anyone who seriously only wants to stay on topic doesn’t have to be here, but at the same time the rest of us can say hi etc without cluttering the main threads. So theoretically (that word again), everyone should be happier, if not entirely delerious.

  19. Fletch says:

    I never minded reading a bit of chat and banter on the Guardian blogs, it gave it a friendly feel.

    While I accept there’s a fine line between a bit of extraneous chat and prattling on ad nauseum, the bits of background and interests both bloggers and commenters have revealed have for the most part been interesting and I don’t see what’s wrong with people bonding and feeling part of a community.

  20. Bella says:

    Fletch: I agree wholeheartedly. I am no longer game to venture comment in the Guardian blogs for fear that I will inadvertantly mention something I shouldn’t. I just lurk & read now.

  21. Monica M says:

    Come on Bella … Don’t be a chicken, where’s that irrevertial colonial spirit!!!!

    Altho, I too agree with Fletch… feeling a sense of community is too often missing in the world today.

    Also, I went back over Chitchat1, and noticed that Paul B apologised … I missed it somehow (probably because it came after you comment about the phone call … and in my haste to respond skipped over it). Had I read that I would have acknowledged it straight away.

    So Paul B if you read this … Thanks, I appreciate the gesture.

  22. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Brisbane Girl,

    May I invite your attention to Comment #41 (by Steven) under the blog Guardian 24,633 – Araucaria of yesterday.

    When I saw it this morning here in Madras in the IST zone before the sun came up fully from below the horizon in the East where the Bay of Bengal is blue, I roared so loudly that my dear wife in her beauty sleep (she is at it for years!) woke up suddenly, frowned (the sticker bindhi on her face fell off) and said “Are you mad?” It will be high noon before the tiff subsides.

    I have been the co-owner and moderator of an Orkut community on crosswords for the past several years posting messages regularly, diligently and assiduously and answering hundreds of questions on parsing clues yet “the spur that the clear spirit doth raise” eludes me.

    in Madras that is Chennai

  23. Monica M says:

    Oh dear, Rishi … I have tears running down my face, I laughed so much!!!!

    For once in my life I’m speechless.

    I’m not sure my “celebrity” extends beyond fifteensquared and my own imagination.

    I think Steven may be a very funny man!!!

    Monica (

  24. Monica M says:

    The (was the beginning of …. Monica (ex Brisbanegirl)

  25. Monica M says:

    And I’m thinking some bloggers wold substitute “notoriety” or even “stupidity” for celebrity.

    You’ve made my night…

  26. Monica M says:


    Now to show my lack of knowledge … What is an orkut community??

  27. Bella says:

    To quote from Wikipedia – Orkut is a social networking service which is run by Google and named after its creator, an employee of Google – Orkut Büyükkökten. It was designed to help users meet new friends and maintain existing relationships. Orkut is similar to other networking sites.
    Orkut is the most visited website in Brazil and second most visited site in India.

    Amazing what Google turns up.

  28. steven says:

    Saturday afternoon.London .Weather dull.Me slight hangover.I Check out yesterdays Fifteen squared and suddenly I’m transported…..

    I can see the horizen to the east on the bay of Bengal where the sea is blue and a new sun is rising and the silence of morning is broken by the sounds of laughter and accusations of madness.Now I’m laughing out loud.Thank you Rishi and Monica because amidst the madness,there is the good madness where you can make people laugh around the world and in different timezones.

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    Monica, talking of timezones, I’ve been playing with various bits of World Time Clock software. They seem to disagree! Some say Sydney is the same time as you, others an hour different. There is also some muttering about Olympics 2000 time or something. Could you please tell me what reality is, as opposed to computer nerd reality?

  30. Derek Lazenby says:

    I vaguely recall someone here saying something about it can sometimes get tiresome when the number of rss generated e-mails gets too high. I have recently been looking at freebie rss readers. They same to do the job nicely without any need for e-mails. The one I have settled on, imaginatively called RSS READER, simply allows me to set a whole list of feed headlines to “Read”. Any individual ones I want to read I simply click on.

    It has one very minor bug which I have reported (dang, the mail just bounced whilst typing this!). It has a pop up notification window for when new items are detected. It can be disabled or set to “Always”, or “System Tray” or “Sytem Tray or Minimised”. Sadly the latter two selections don’t produce the pop-up.

    I rather like being able to set my own default values for rate of update and length of storage time, and then being able to over-ride it for individual feeds.

  31. Bella says:

    Derek – Monica & I both live in Brisbane. We are on “real” time; the other east coast states are on Daylight Saving Time, ie one hour ahead of Queensland. This whole daylight saving time is a subject of endless debate here with the pros insisting we should be in step with Sydney & Melbourne for business reasons & the cons saying it will confuse the cows & fade the curtains. Personally I don’t have a problem with either, it’s just not that difficult to add/subtract an hour.

  32. Bella says:

    Have you tried the World Time clock from Pawprint?

  33. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yes. Tried that. Had a bit of trouble with it. But fiddling around fixed it. I set a clock for ny friend in Texas. It came up with London time and when I looked in the clock manager it said GMT offset was FIXED, what ever that means. But I found the Location manager, selected the town and exported everything. That fixed that problem but lost me the Swatch and UTC clocks which I can’t figure out how to get back and screwed up Brisbane, (hence me looking closer). But I got Brisbane back by repeating whatI did for Midland TX. This is the latest version beta test version. I’m sure when I had it before it was less trouble than this.

    Thanks for the clarification.

  34. Bella says:

    Derek I tried the latest version for a while, uninstalled it, then went back to the earlier version. Much nicer, much easier to set up. I told him (as feedback) but have had no reply yet. I’m glad you had problems with the latest beta version too.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hah, I’ll presume you meant that in the sense of vindicating your experience, rather than that I suffered! ROFLMAO.

    One freeware site I was on recently had a smallprint that said they don’t reply for freeware, it may have been that one. Hard to say, I’ve been on quite a few in the last few days.

    Whilst I remember, (ok, I mean an rss fead just popped up) I hope you two Brisbane gals will be paying attention to the Women’s Cricket World Cup which starts on Saturday in your “little” island.

  36. Derek Lazenby says:

    Can I ask a question or several?

    Have any of you looked at the non-Guardian blogs in terms of the number of posts, the number of contributors? Out of all of them, one blog received 11 replies, the rest were almost all low single figures including several zeroes.

    Can you imagine what that must mean to the blogger, a zero response? Putting in the work and absolutely no indication that anybody appreciated it?

    Why are people so reluctant to post on other blogs? What is stopping them?

    We know people are reading the blogs because there are several new posters who have opened with the words that they have been watching for ages?

    What has changed that these people now feel confident enough to post?

    What has changed that these people are now interested enough to post?

    Why do so many people who have been here a while now feel confident about admitting to not completing a puzzle when that was almost unheard of three months ago?

    Which is the only blog with rapidly increasing support?

    And of all the available Crossword blogs, which one is it where all this is happening? Which is the one with the sense of life and vibrancy?

    I’ll tell you, it is the one that last Friday in the last post was refered to as “But then, what do you expect for a puzzle that’s free online?”.

    It was not a comment from anyone who has made the effort to contribute regularly be it said. It was not a comment that had any element of being on topic, despite the hollier than thou attitude of it’s writer. Did anyone miss the tone of intellectual snobbery inherent in that? Does anybody actually want to share a blog with someone who displays that level of arrogance? It is no wonder other blogs are not attracting support if that is typical of the sort of person that lives there.

    So what do the majority of people want? The frostily ice-cold academia that some imply that they prefer. If you are going to say yes, just look at the numbers. The majority have spoken.

    If anybody wants an ivory tower then I suggest they start an invite only private blog

    This comment was off-topic in the General Crossword Discussion post since your questions relate to this site rather than crosswords in general. On this occasion I have moved it but, as this is not a simple task, I would prefer not to have to do so again.

  37. petebiddlecombe says:

    I don’t think bloggers assume that no response necessarily means no appreciation for their work. The better you do as a blogger at identifying the points that people might find tricky and explaining them clearly, the fewer “can anyone explain 1A?” comments there will be, so a low message count might be a source of pride! I’m more disappointed by a lack of response when the puzzle seems to have been a very good one and people can’t find the time to say so. But when you get puzzles like Dac’s or Phi’s in the Independent, which are consistently good but don’t go in for as much thematic material as others, once the blogger has said “another high-quality puzzle from Dac”, there’s a limit to the number of “yes, I agree” messages that other people will send week after week.

  38. steven says:

    Is there any reason why Fifteeensquared can’t be mentioned next to the setters names in the newspapers?I stumbled across this site and nobody I’ve told about it has ever heard of it.Over the last ten years I very slowly sussed these puzzles out with little help from anybody and at times I almost gave up. I am sure countless others have given up.Since finding the good people here, I have come on leaps and bounds.

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    Chatmeister, sorry, I thought I was kinda following on. I shoulda remembered that not even follow-ons are correct shouldn’t I?

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Peter, I see that that would apply to top end solvers, but as I said elsewhere, talking to many random people over many years, I have never met anyone who was good at crosswords. I have met many who try but consistently fail. If these blogs ever attract the attention of those people, then there will always be questions.

    And if nothing else, the first person on after the blogger should at least have the courtesy to say thank you on behalf of the rest of us, no matter how ritualised that may be. After all, much of good manners is ritual.

  41. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Steven: The main reason I can think of for the newspapers not giving us publicity is that several of them advertising premium rate “phone for the answers” services next to the puzzle. Not much point in doing so if you also say where to read most of them for nothing, with explanations!

  42. steven says:

    Peter:Thanks for the reply.For some reason I was under the impression that you could get the answers online but seeing as I’m new to the web maybe I’ve just assumed that if you can get the puzzle free then you can probably get the answers too.Personally I think the more people that know about this site the better.

  43. Bella says:

    As far as the Guardian cryptic is concerned the answers are there as soon as the puzzle is there – usually around midnight GMT, or 10 am here in Australia. Well 10 in Brisbane, 11 in the beknighted southern states. I don’t access any others on line so I don’t know if answers are available.

    Derek – yes, I meant that in the best possible sense! And thanks, I do like being called a “girl” (or gal)- especially as I’m on the wrong side of 60. And as far as the women’s cricket goes, it is not on any free-to-air channels here so I can only follow it in the newspaper or online.

  44. Derek Lazenby says:

    Bella, I have the same problem with free to air channels. I don’t think being over 60 is too unusual for this site. We have a scheme whereby the over 60’s can get a free bus pass for local travel (and if you have a generous local council that means local travel anywhere in England, but not the rest of the UK). I got mine in January!

    Actually that worries me. Are cryptics going to die out when we do? Where are the youngsters? What can be done to get them to think that crosswords are not just for older people?

  45. steven says:

    Hi Bella.

    Is there any reason why Fifteensquared can’t be mentioned next to the setters name in the Guardian?

  46. Bella says:

    Well, Steven, I guess that’s up to the Guardian to decide. Why don’t you email the suggestion to them.

    Derek – in Aus we get free long distance train travel, 2 trips per year. That means I can go to e.g. Cairns return twice each year or most other places accessable by train. In Brisbane we get train & bus concessions, usually half price.

    I do know some young people fascinated by cryptics fortunately; I had hopes for my daughter at one stage but she lapsed. Might have to invent a GameBoy version!

  47. steven says:

    Bella,I recently met a young man who is fascinated by cryptics and I was the first person he had met who knew anything about them.If someone shows an interest, the sooner things are explained the more likely it is that they will stay interested.Will email the paper today.

  48. Monica M says:

    Hi Folks
    Well some of us are just on the downhill turn of 40. So no discount travel for me.

    To pick up on a theme which has coloured recent posts….

    After the nasty business of a week or so ago, people haven’t left the site in droves, altho the number of posts for the crossword may have decreased sligtly.

    To me that indicates that a lot of us aren’t just here for the solution and discussion of such. People want and enjoy conversation, be it on line or otherwise. Chitchat or a good verbal stoush are part of being human and fortunately a part of fifteensquared.

    On a much more important note … I’ve no free to air TV either. But am listening to the men’s cricket team look like they might choke again.

  49. Bella says:

    Monica – sorry if I gave the impression that all in Aus got free travel – applies to pensioners of course, like me. I am with you, enjoying the interaction with people who I know have at least one thing in common with me – a love of cryptic crosswords.

    I fear the Australian cricket team is on a slow slide, having lost so many great players in such a short period.

  50. Monica M says:


    I knew what you mean’t … no worries. We seem to have all become terribly apologetic recently, on the site.

    As you said the joy of the site for me too, is in the interaction. I think it shows that crossword solvers come from incredibly diverse backgrounds and interests.

    I was quite surprised to know that lots of the posters/bloggers come from maths/science backgrounds … I’d have though a clasiical arts backgound … atho that is there too.

    My main interests are generally sporting (of the spectator type now … I retired from netball a few years ago after nasty injuries) … I spend saturday evening with “the boyz” watching cricket (on fox) and drinking beer … sensational … then spent sunday painting (the artistic type, not the walls) … sooo relaxing …. Oh and also did the chores …washing, ironing, gardening, vacuuming, mopping etc …does it ever end!!!

  51. Derek Lazenby says:

    Comment from todays Rufus, we are nolonger members, too far from London, but when I first met my wife she was a member of, and got me to join the Richard III Society. The general idea being that his history was written by his enemies and therefore being largely spin of a defamatory nature.

  52. Monica M says:

    Oh Derek….

    Many of us get your comments in the manner they’re intended … provocative but fun … I’ve never found you nasty … hence my cheers from the sideline and syncophantic praise.

    Take heart … if you enemies spin your history, at least you’ll be remembered … perhaps a little unfavouraboy tho … this is just a website for us crossword nerds … I’m not sure it wil amount to much in history.By the way

    I agree with your comments about some of us dumbo’s wading in and asking the questions no one else was game to ask … perhaps we did lower the tone, but we made it a site people were more willing to launch into.

    How’s the leg?

  53. Derek Lazenby says:

    Thank you for those kind words, but don’t get involved kid. You’ll be next on the hit list if you do.

    I’ve said this before, although no-one has used the info, not a problem, but in case anybody succedes in geting me banned there are many of you I would like to stay in touch with. So it’s d dot lazenby at ntlworld dot com. And passingidiot on the Instant Messaging. One would think my IM id would tip people off not to get too serious. Oh well, never mind.

    The leg, well don’t tell the consultant but I just got back from my first walk with only one stick. The local shops are just over a furlong away so that is around a quater mile in all. The consultant would have kittens. Still it worked and I’m feeling really pleased with myself.

    I’m trying to decide whether I really want to listen to day 5 of the W.Indies Test Match on the PC. It’s all gone rather sad.

  54. Monica M says:

    Thanks Derek,

    It’s a long time since I’ve been called kid!!!

  55. Monica M says:

    Derek … On Cricket … I think you test, like ours is going to end in a boring draw. Altho our’s looked like it could be interesting for a while …. C’est la vie

  56. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK, Chatmeister, having moved from ‘tother thread as requested what is the unbiased reading of that post?

  57. chatmeister says:

    My reading of the comment is that was made by someone who was simply trying to stir things up for his/her own amusement. Such things are best ignored, unless repeated, and this is the first (and will probably be the last) time I have seen this name (pseudonym?) used on this site.

  58. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK, I can live with that. Well he succeded. I just presumed he was someone who was not a Guardian regular, as opposed to not a regular full stop.

    Still, as we have found by the number of recent new faces who have indictated they’re own actions, there are many people out there who are regular readers who never post. Maybe he was that sort of regular.

  59. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Steve: I can’t remember whether this applies to the Guardian, but some of the papers advertise premium rate “phone for the answers” services next to the xwd. There’s little point in doing so if you also say “or you can go to to read most answers, with explanations, for nothing”!

    Monica: the maths/science bias is by no means complete, but I think it shows that cryptic solving really depends on problem-solving technique rather than all that literary and other knowledge that many people think matters a lot.

  60. steven says:

    Peter:see comment#43.

    Bella ,Monica,I wonder if you knew that Leyton Orient ,The Mighty O’s,play their home football matches at Brisbane road?

  61. manehi says:

    Re young people etc, I only entered my 20s a few months back, and over the past couple of years I’ve met quite a few (low dozens?) of people my age who have been at least interested in cryptics, if not regular solvers. Have to say that the maths/science bias seems pretty complete for my generation, but this may just be due to my choice of social circles :)

  62. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well thanks for that, as you may guess, I’ve not see many myself.

  63. Testy says:


    Re post 36.

    Regarding the Independent blogs, the number of contributors is admittedly smaller, but so is the paper’s circulation. Taking the circulation into account the number of contributors is proportionately greater than the Guardian. However, the main reason for the fewer postings is that the average number of posts per contributor is much lower on the Indy blogs (and there are some posters to the Guardian blogs that greatly increase the Guardian’s average).

    Until recently the majority of posts were directly related to the crossword with only the occasional bit of divergence and extraneous banter. I thought that the balance was OK but, to some, perhaps it seemed a little dry. More recently the pendulum has swung too far the other way for some. Now personally, I welcome some chat with people who share my hobby but I can also understand that we don’t want to clog up the blogs. I think that the Chat Room is a great solution and should please most parties.

    A couple of weeks ago paranoia seemed to grip the site thinking that there was someone using multiple IDs to stir up controversy. Now the paranoia seems to be on the other foot and people are saying that we are victimising newbies. I don’t think it’s fair to paint the longstanding contributors to this site as unwelcoming ivory tower-dwellers. I have often begun a post by saying that I didn’t manage to complete a puzzle and had to cheat and I have never felt ridiculed (and I never felt that I was the only struggler). I have also never seen anyone get put down for asking any questions. On the contrary, I think that everyone on this site goes out of their way to be helpful and polite to people of all levels.

    I am happy for anyone to start a discussion or start a debate (and, given the various threads now available those discussions can be as on or off topic as you want) but I hope that it is not unreasonable for people to show disapproval if it seems someone wants to start an argument.

    One final point. It is sometimes difficult to pick up sarcasm or how far someone’s tongue might have been in their cheek when reading their post so please don’t be surprised if people misunderstand your intentions. If you don’t say what you mean don’t get upset if we accuse you of meaning what you say (or sometimes overextrapolate meaning from it).

    I sincerely hope that this comment is not taken the wrong way. My intention is not to fan the flames but to pour oil on the waters. However, Chatmeister, please feel free to hit delete if you think I it might end up pouring oil on the flames and that we should let sleeping dogs lie.

    I think I’m done mixing my metaphors now.

  64. Derek Lazenby says:

    Testy, thank heavens for a little common sense. I thought that was how it was when I first joined. Then somebody came out with “why is he even doing crosswords” when I asked about something where our two general knowledges failed to intersect. That was hardly welcoming or helpful. It got worse from there.
    I never wanted it to get worse, but it did.

  65. muck says:

    This 15sqd.chitchat thread is great.
    Something to entertain me after completing today’s Rufus.
    In 10 minutes 36 seconds – NOT.
    Weather in Edinburgh is better after hail y’day and snow forecast for tomorrow.

  66. Monica M says:


    Glad you enjoy it the thread … most of us feel more comfortable here, as our comments aren’t always enjoyed in the puzzle blog … but good fun none the less.


    Please indulge me here … yes, there may be a bit of paranoia on behalf of the newbies, but given we were so nastily targeted is can at least be understood. Far more so than the thought of a troll on this site.

    BTW …. the weather this evening … hot and very humid … even I, who love the tropics, am ready for it to cool down a bit.

  67. steven says:

    In my mind certain comments in chit-chat one are referred to as ‘Troll-gate’.

  68. Monica M says:


    Hardy-ha … LOL

    Wasn’t at the time tho … glad things have settled down.

  69. steven says:

    Monica:I wish things were as settled at Brisbane Road ,lost again last night.Weather,London,blue skies,a bit nippy!

  70. Bella says:

    Maybe we could send him some Troll Beads ….

  71. Monica M says:

    Bella, Troll beads might be a bit pretty for a soccer loving lad !!!!

    Still warm and muggy here, but looks like there’s rain on the way … hopefully it will be a lovely relief.

  72. steven says:

    Stroll on!

  73. Monica M says:


    If the LO’s are strolling .. it’s no wonder you’re not winning. But then again … Liverpool walk on!!!

  74. steven says:

    Now you’ve mentioned Liverpool which is famous for the Beatles.Club mostly associated with The Beatles?The Cavern…….Where do Trolls live?

  75. Monica M says:

    Surely, under the bridge!!!

  76. steven says:

    Depends on the troll.See wiki.I never Knew the meaning of ‘Troll’,til it appeared in Chat#1 and today I find it also means ;to sing heartily;pass(cup)around and is also a method of fishing.London;overcast.

  77. Monica M says:

    I didn’t know any other meaning for troll, other than the fairy tale version, until then as well. We live and learn. One of the things which amused me about the whole thing is that my skill with computers is rather limited … blogging is about it … as for setting up a facebook page …forget about it …

  78. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK, apathy ruled for not as long as I expected. I’ve been thinking how best to explain it. I decided to simplify the full complexity so that we could stick to the original point, which is what do you call PI. One of the most obvious things I left out is exponents. There are many others. So, can maths geniuses please bear that in mind.

    First a formal definition. In it a Name indicates something composed of smaller items. Something inside ” marks is as small as items get, a building block if you like. -> means “is defined by”. [] indicates an optional item. … indicates repeated zero or more times. |indicates alternatives.

    Equation ->
    Expression Realtionship Expression
    Expression ->
    [AddOperator] Term [AddOperator Term]…
    Term ->
    Factor [MultOperator Factor]…
    Relationship ->
    ‘=’ (and others we can ignore)
    AddOperator ->
    ‘+’ | ‘-‘
    MultOperator ->
    ‘*’ | ‘/’ (* times, / divide)
    Factor ->
    ‘variable’ | ‘number’ | ‘(‘ Expression ‘)’

    OK, that is the basic language of arithmetic and simple maths. It says in a few lines what your teachers took years over.

    So, PI. Let’s call a circumference C and a diameter D. Then there exists the equation

    C / D = PI

    Now let’s use the grammar above to parse that. This consists of the Relationship ‘=’ and two Expressions. The left hand Expression consists of two Factors (which are ‘variable’s) and a MultOperator. That type of expression is sufficently common that it has it’s own name, a Ratio. The right hand Expression consists of just a ‘number’.

    Notice that all the ‘=’ does is say that the values to either side are the same. It does not say that the structure or properties of the two sides are the same.

    So for example, if I looked at that Equation and tried to say that the Ratio part is a ‘number’, that would clearly be nonsense. It may be possible to evalute it to a ‘number’, but that is a completely separate issue.

    Now you have to be consistent and apply the same terminology constraints to the Expression to the right of the ‘=’. It is just as meaningless to call that side a Ratio, just because a particular Ratio evalutes to it. It is also nonsense to call either side of the Equation a Relationship. The Relationship is the operator in the middle of the Equation, the ‘=’ sign.

    So, does that cover the issue, or have I blinded you with science and I need to have another go?

  79. Chunter says:

    Derek: Thanks for that but I do have a (good) degree in maths.

    All I’m going to say that the entry in Chambers is exactly what I expected it to be, and that mathematical language is not, as you seem to think, some sort of programming language.

    Farewell to Fifteenplus!

  80. chunter says:

    In my last post s/Fifteenplus/Fifteensquared/ (notation chosen to keep Derek happy).

  81. steven says:

    Monica;Ditto re computers .Ilove this chat ,from Trolls to Dereks math in a morning/evening,fantastic.If you go to oldbaileyonline ,enter,troll in ‘search’ it comes up with a case of piracy and transportaion.

  82. Dave Ellison says:

    Derek, I’m afraid you haven’t defined “number” and “variable”.

    But I agree with you on Chamber’s poor quality maths definitions; recall my diatribe on integration and differentiation, some time ago.

    Another of my gripes is lost mathematical meanings. The most recent one is cusp, where it is now colloquially is used as edge or boundary. I have given up long ago on the loss of parameter.

  83. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    On PI=relation/relationship. If you’re an expert on any subject, it seems to me possible to find fault with dictionary definitions related to that subject. That’s just life. Crosswords are not authoratitive treatises on any subject, but a game in need of some rules about what word in the clue you can reasonably equate with some other word or abbreviation in the answer. Forgetting the joys of literary characters, place names and famous people, the rule is surely: if the puzzle’s reference dictionary implies that the words mean the same, it’s OK. Checking the entries for ‘pi’, ‘ratio’ and ‘relation(ship)’, not in Chambers but the Concise Oxford, using ‘relation’ or ‘relationship’ to define PI in a cryptic crossword clue seems perfectly reasonable. There are some clues that perpetrate scientific nonsense, such as “charge” for ION, which is not supported by the dictionaries. Those are the ones to moan about.

    As for “sloppy” meanings of words like “cusp”: they can only arise if people have been exposed to the concept in the first place. Worry more about the words that still mean precisely what they were intended to – because not enough people are using them for any other meanings to develop!

  84. Derek Lazenby says:

    Who said maths is a programming language? Just because a small part of it is amenable to being represented by the same notation that is commonly used to define programming languages does not make any such statement. You are jumping too far.

    So, um, according to you then, all rational numbers are ratios or relationships, given that any rational number can be defined by a ratio and ratio is what you are happy to call a relationship? That rather makes some of the words number, ratio and relationship spurious. Only one of them is needed on that way of thinking.

    In any case, as a mathematician you should be aware that there are other ways to define PI. Should we cease calling PI a number and call it an infinite series? If it is valid to call a number something other than a number based on the evaluation of one expression, then it is only consistent that any other definition of that number can be used as a name.

    Also, as you well know, PI is an irrational number, which by the very definition of the term means there is no ratio which can define it. Any real values for C and D lead to an approximation. So the progression in names from number to ratio to relationship is somewhat suspect.

    Or are you saying it is actually valid to wander around saying “that well known infinite series PI”? Or how about “that well known relationship 1.8″? (as in the scaling of degrees C to degrees F). You wouldn’t do it would you? So, PI is just another number, why should it have different rules as to what it is called to all the other numbers?

    P.S. I keep me happy, but thanks for the concern LOL.

  85. Derek Lazenby says:

    Peter, I was typing at the same time. As ever what you say sounds reasonable. But suppose there were crosswords around the time of Columbus. Everyone would be happy to see “shape of the earth” leading to flat. Well, all except a handful of souls, and the handful of souls would be right. A few years later and any dictionary that gave “Flat, the shape of the earth” would have to be corrected. And all prior claims that the definition was reasonable because it was in common usage would go up in flames.

    But, ah, which words to defend? That is a very good question. Can there ever be any agreement on that? I would be more inclined to take the view that if you wish to defend certain words that are important to you, then if those words just happened to be of less importance to me I wouldn’t try to stop you defending them, nor would I say your priorities in which words to defend was wrong. That choice just has to be too personal.

    But, tell us what words you seek to defend and why and there will be at least some us who will join the good fight, because although we are all different, there are always those we overlap with.

  86. Derek Lazenby says:

    Dave, I didn’t define those because it seemed like it would an unnecessary complication. Most mathematicians would want to see short names for variables and would be unhappy with the long names programmers prefer, and vica versa. And numbers just don’t bear thinking about, which representations go in and which don’t? None of that would have helped because the discussion is based at the levels above those definitions. So a vague definition that most people have some idea what it is seemed preferable.

    If you think that means somethigwas missed, please say.

  87. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    If dictionary definitions change, the crosswords simply change with them. So what? As long as you use a dictionary printed in the last couple of decades, the chance of this mattering is pretty slim. If you were solving just after the end of the general belief in a flat world, whenever that actually was, you wouldn’t suddenty have completely forgotten about it, any more than people in the 70s or 80s solving puzzles written before 15/2/1971 would suddenly forget all about bob=shilling.

    Word defence: if you think there’s a good fight to be fought, in which we tell setters what mistakes in the dictionary they should avoid repeating, you’ve entirely misunderstood my point, which I’ll try restating: the dictionary’s version of ‘truth’ is like Churchill’s description of democracy – far from perfect, but the best realistic system on offer. All that needs saying to the setters/editors is to exhort them to make sure that the dictionary confirms the “synonyms” they want to use, or to copy from someone else (which I’m sure is the process by which the occasional bit of nonsense like charge=ION is usually perpetuated).

  88. Derek Lazenby says:

    I was actually thinking in much wider terms than crosswords, just word mis-use in general. A crossword is of course not a good place to find such.

    You keep refering to charge and ION. Luckily for me I haven’t seen one of those, maybe the setters I like don’t do it, or haven’t done it recently. Given that an ion is of course a charged particle, I would guess it comes down to whether they try to use it as an actual synonym or merely a related or suggestive word.

    The situation is less clear-cut for hydrogen. If you ionize hydrogen you are left with a single proton, which carries the smallest unit of charge. That is then in effect a charge, but I can’t recall ever seeing a proton refered to as a charge. So I think I’d agree with you, but that one scanario gives me a nagging doubt. As soon as someone who is into that sort of thing says they haven’t heard that either then that’s end of story, it’s wrong.

  89. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    ION/charge: “actual synonym” is the one that bugs me when it happens. The good setters don’t do it. I have heard from someone that in scientific slang, a charged particle sometimes IS called a “charge”. But that’s not something other people can be expected to know or be able to verify, so not an excuse.

  90. Bella says:

    I find it quite odd that anybody needs to resort to one particular dictionary when, via the internet, there are vast resources to choose from. If you are a contributer to this delightful forum you must have access to same. The merits of one dictionary or another then become irrelevant. Whether or not you have heard of a word, person, place etc is hardly of any great importance to the setter. (I speak here as a former compiler.) As Eileen & others have said it’s often a learning experience, something new to chew on.
    My main aim in doing crosswords & other puzzles is to keep my aging brain active, not so easy now I work from home & have only my husband to bounce off (verbally that is). The daily stimulation one gets from interaction with work colleagues was one of the hardest things to cope with on retirement, however mundane some of it was. End of rant. :)

  91. Peter Biddlecombe says:


    It depends on what sort of game you think cryptic xwds are. If they’re a verbal and factual treasure hunt, with words liketaghairm a source of delight no matter how obscure, and anything on the web fair game as knowable knowledge, your system applies.

    But the aim of most daily paper puzzles seems to be something like: “a puzzle which reasonably intelligent and educated solvers (typical Times readers in fact) can hope to compete in a half-hour-or-so train journey without needing to annoy their fellow-travellers in the quiet carriage by beeping into the electronic aids on their mobiles.” I’m quoting the current Times xwd editor and I can’t find you public statements from all the others, but I’ve yet to hear of one (in the UK at least) whose stated aim for their daily puzzle is to have you hunting down definitions in OneLook or factoids in Wikipedia.

    When the weekend comes and we’re on the sofa with Chambers instead of the train, the barred-grid puzzles and some of the Saturday blocked ones can stretch things much further. But even then, the vocab range is normally the content of one dictionary, not the combination of dictionaries and other sources pulled together by sites like OneLook. That gives the setters some limits – ones that rarely prevent them from coming up with puzzles that are plenty hard enough.

  92. Bella says:

    For me, as stated, cryptic crosswords are an intellectual stimulus. I get very cross (no pun intended) when I can’t get one out completely, hence the use of whatever resources are to hand. Since I spend most of my days at home & on the internet (mainly work related) I am probably in a better position than most solvers to take advantage of the vast treasury of knowledge available. I also find myself wandering off in some odd byways too, especially when trying to find local (British) references to obscure villages or districts, or “well-known” Brit pollies or telly stars; a bit of a problem here in Australia.

  93. Derek Lazenby says:

    I see some people were saying yesterdays Brendan blog was a social club. Hmm.

    Some of that debate undoubtedly belonged under General Crossword Discusion and at some point we should have transfered. Mia Culpa, grovel, sorry, etc. We need to try harder about using that section chaps.

    But honestly, oh carping ones, if you see someone saying something with which you disagree, do you supinely roll over and play dead or do you answer? Where do you put the answer? Where the answer will be seen, or where it may be missed? Get real. Real life is full of contrary opinion, no matter how rose tinted you may wish things to be. Crosswords, no matter how esoteric, are still part of real life, they are not exempt, disputes will happen.

    One more thing, we who were debating were still more or less on topic. Apart from one sad post late on, the only posters who totally broke the rules and who were totally off topic were the ones commenting about the number of posts. Those comments should have been made here. So before people complain about others breaking the rules, perhaps they would have the decency to learn those rules themselves.

  94. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Derek, I must say, that’s nice and clear. And I agree.

    I only send in comments (or questions) every now and then, and my starting point is always the daily crossword itself.
    When someone, like yesterday, thinks that Brendan missed some opportunies to link themed clues, and is referring to musical clues, then why am I not allowed to give my opinion on that. It is nearly impossible to switch from the crossword blog to the chat room which we are in at this very moment.
    Of course, you should stop the discussion at some point.

    Moreover, when I ask for the explanation of “TON=100″, I don’t like to be treated as an unintelligent person who should have known – as I could read between the lines in one of yesterday’s contributions which was ridiculising my “C=about” query of some weeks ago (of course, I know that C=about, but I just overlooked it then).
    I am not British, and English is not my first language, but I am trying to become part of the cryptic world, but it’s obvious that I still have to learn a lot.
    And by reading the daily blog, I do learn a lot about crossword rules and conventions, and about the way people “think”.
    The fact that there is a kind of social clique doen’t bother me at all. They all have a love for crosswords, and just want to share the joy of solving the daily crossword with others (who they probably don’t even know as a person, but communicate with as a kind of friend).
    As long as the crossword itself is the heart of the comments (and for example, not domestic life) – and this is nearly always the case – then everything’s fine by me.

  95. Derek Lazenby says:

    I don’t have the worlds best memory or even a smooth running recall of what I do remember. So, when I get that problem and ask I too sometimes get panned by the intolerant. But the fact that the people responsible are so incompetent that they can’t realise from your name that you have good reason to be asking makes me ashamed to be English. I can only hope they realise they have an itchy trigger finger and appologise.

    In any case, itchy trigger finger is my job, perhaps I should sue?

  96. steven says:

    Good afternoon Neil.I hope the weather in Devon is better than the overcast and chilly London.

    Sil Van Den Hoek; nothing wrong with questions no matter how basic.I think the intelligent thing to do if you don’t know something is ask someone who does. That it should happen at 15/2 isn’t a problem. Intellectual snobbery does sometimes rear its ugly head but isn’t much of a problem cos its laughable. Some of the threads here are well over my head and I have no idea what they’re talking about. But I love trying to work it out even when I fail to work it out. The world is a diverse place and so is 15/2. Its not only that English isn’t your native tongue that you might want basic questions answered it could be any number of reasons.

    Once spent 3 months working near Hillegom on the flowers.Very nice part of the world.

  97. steven says:

    Sil:sorry ,I’ve assumed that your from Holland which may not be the case. Sorry if I’ve caused any offence

  98. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Steven, for these kind words.

    And no one is going to stop me from asking questions about crosswords.

    And to get back to Brendan’s ETON clue.
    My point was not: why is century 100? (obvious, even more when you write century as just a c). And I do understand (now) that TON can be seen as 100 (as it is sometimes in Holland, and in cars, but for a different reason).
    But: even for me, as a mathematician, this doesn’t automatically imply that: century=TON.
    Another example: female=F , loud=F, so “female” in a clue can be replaced in the solution by “loud” ??
    I find this cumulative kind of construction quite elaborate.
    See, that was my real comment.
    But nobody seems to have noticed these underlying (deeper) thoughts.
    Anyway, new day – new opportunities.

  99. Derek Lazenby says:

    Sil, I take it you have seen other slang names for numbers? More generally, looking up “Cockney Slang” and or “Cockney Rhyming Slang” can be illuminating. I’m not sure why other regional slang isn’t popular for clues.

    I think if anyone tried substituting loud for female the Women’s Lib people would give them a severe mauling!

  100. Will says:

    Hi everyone – like a lot of people, I’m a journeyman crossworder who reads this a lot but rarely posts.

    To answer Sil Van Den Hoek’s question a bit more specifically, I’d refer him to cricket. ‘Century’ and ‘ton’ are both specifically used for scoring 100 runs, so that’s where I’d consider them direct synonyms. I guess you’re not that familiar with cricket, but it’s considered allowed to use most cricket terms in crosswords.

  101. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Will, that’s a very useful answer to my question.
    Problem solved.
    Of course, I’ve noticed all these references to cricket in the puzzles I tried to solve so far. But indeed, cricket’s not my cup of tea (and will never be, I fear).

  102. Will says:

    I’ve a lot of respect for anyone who does crosswords in a second language. And I’m watching cricket right now…

  103. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, what can I say?
    Thank you for these uplifting words.

    Although I discovered English crosswords only ten months ago or so, I had ample experience with it in Holland. I have been writing Dutch clues for as long as I can remember – and that’s a very long time. I had them on all kinds of loose papers. Purely by accident I found out about Crossword Compiler, the perfect solution to put these clues in a database.
    But then one thing led to another, and now I’m doing English crosswords.
    And I am writing clues as well, which is great fun.
    (As you may have noticed at Paul’s Cryptica site)
    And luckily, I have an English girlfriend who is into it even more than I am. By the way, she’s also not really a cricketer …

  104. steven says:

    A good point well made, Will.(in addition…..#99) I’m in my mid 40’s and despite growing up in England and being schooled here, my grasp of English grammar is very poor. When I was younger, late teens, early 20’s, I spent long periods in France and Germany but due to not fully grasping English grammar I struggled to learn the languages cos I didn’t understand the meaning of the English grammar in the text books I was using. As a teenager I was Cryptic curious but they made no sense to me whatsoever. I am quite sure had we the ability then to share knowledge that we have now, the web, I’d have started solving in my early teens and paid more attention in English classes instead of finding them boring and often bunking off.I also have difficulty spelling but fortunately I know which words I struggle with , while solving I often leave a lot of blank squares within words, if I have no dictionary.Despite this I still complete a lot puzzles and continue to learn.I’d be cheating myself if I didn’t look things up and ask basic questions .

  105. Will says:

    Yes – I think my comment must have been edited – I let a little bit of frustration out. But my basic point is that I for example have lots to learn and don’t know all the words in any crossword. So I’m happy to use dictionaries and Wikipedia and Google as I go.

  106. steven says:

    I wonder why it was edited?

  107. Bella says:

    If I might suggest to our esteemed moderator…… If for some perfectly valid reason some parts of a comment are edited (or deleted) could you put, say, a short row of asterisks? I don’t keep copies of what I have written, and to quote Derek, “I don’t have the world’s best memory or even a smooth running recall of what I do remember”. Some indicator would serve to jog my memory & prevent me from transgressing in future.

    Sil: I must say how much I admire people like yourself whose first language is not English attempting cryptic crosswords. It’s hard enough when one is in a different country, given that some compilers refer to local places & celebrities, though fortunately, not too often.

    Here in Queensland we are about to be hit by a massive Cat.5 cyclone, expected to affect most of the Qld coast. As if we haven’t had enough disasters this year, though with such vast amounts of rain we are spared the horrors of the Victorian bushfires.

  108. Derek Lazenby says:

    Take care, good luck.

  109. steven says:

    Hi Bella .I hope your hatches are well and truly batoned. I don’t know if you read Wills comments before they were edited, I can’t remember well enough to quote them, but I didn’t even notice a bit of frustration.

    I like the asterisk connection!

    A win today at Brisbane road.Good luck with the weather.

  110. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Derek/98 – there’s no logical reason why any slang shouldn’t be used – the dictionaries have plenty of “regionalisms”. The attraction of CRS is just the apparent “meaning distance” between ordinary words like “china” and “mate” – perfect material for puzzling clues, unless used too often – possibly true for this example.

  111. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    #108: batoned or battened?

  112. Bella says:

    I believe the Whitsunday islands are **battened** down, with holidaying guests prepared to brave it out. We don’t expect fierce weather in Brisbane for a couple of days but this morning the clouds are gathering.

    Glad you like the asterisk idea!

  113. steven says:

    Rishi,I hope the Bay of Bengal is calm and there are no tiffs in the air.

    While writing #108, I wondered whether it was batoned, battened,batend(see #103 “difficulty with spelling”)and lots of other combinations.I await enlightenment.

  114. steven says:

    Cheers Bella!

  115. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    For which you have to sit under the bodhi tree.

  116. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Sil/97: {century = ton} is OK because they have a common meaning – 100 of something. {female = loud} isn’t, because all they share is how they’re abbreviated. Thinking of a similar example, we’d all criticise {bow (body gesture) = bough (tree branch)} if it was used without a “sounds like” indicator. So IF you could devise an “abbreviated like” indicator, {female = loud} would be a new idea, but fair.

  117. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Peter, you don’t have to convince me (any more).
    I agree with you, ton % …. (or dare I say, century % )
    However, there’s is sill something lurking in the back of my mind. If words should share a common meaning, is this then acceptable: {sec = min} ? (time-sharing)
    On the other hand, this discussion is probably going to far now.
    Maybe we should give it a rest (for a long while).

  118. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Sil/116 – it’s hard to find precise rules to cover all cases consistently, but I don’t think sec = min is OK just because they’re time periods – one is 60 times longer than the other. (I’m sure you wouldn’t want “ton = dozen” …) Something like “short time” in the clue could mean either, but it seems a fair def for both. (Ignoring the idea that “yr” is a “short time” too because it’s a short word for a period of time (yr = year).

  119. smutchin says:

    Steven – one battens down the hatches.

    Interesting similarity of words, though, with some intriguing possibilities for crossword setters – “baton” and “batten” are [almost?] homophones and both could be defined as “rod”…

  120. steven says:

    Thanks Smutching; Batten House for an ageing rock star!

  121. Bella says:

    Hamish is being a real nuisance. All those tourists battened down for nothing as the cyclone still heads south without making landfall. If anyone wants to track it go to for weather in Aus. I have friends & relatives who are now in the direct path. In nautical terms does anyone know what a “batten” is as applied to hatches?

  122. Bella says:

    Sorry that should be

  123. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    A batten is just a strip of wood. “Batten down the hatches” has me imagining people nailing the batten to the main structure of the ship either side of a hatch, but I suspect the real-life version is something more like this kind of door latch.

  124. Bella says:

    “‘Tell me, Jack, just how would you explain the term battened down?’

    A piercing look showed Jack that although this was almost past believing he was not in fact being made game of, and he replied, “First I should say that we talk very loosely about hatches, often meaning hatchways and even ladderways – ‘he came up the fore hatch’ – which of course ain’t hatches at all. The real hatches are the things that cover the hatchways: gratings and close-hatches. Now as you know very well, when a great deal of water comes aboard either from the sea of the sky or both, we cover those real hatches with tarpaulins.”

    “I believe I have seen it done,” said Stephen.

    “Not above five thousand times,” said Jack inwardly, and aloud “And if it also comes on to blow and rain uncommon hard, we take battens, stout laths of wood, that fit against the coaming, the raised rim of the hatchway, and so pin the tarpaulin down drum tight. Some people do it by nailing the batten to the deck, but it is a sad, sloppy, unseamanlike way of carrying on, and we have cleats.”
    [Patrick O’Brian, The Truelove, or, Clarissa Oakes, pp.124-5]

  125. Bella says:

    I should have looked it up but at the original time of asking it was but an idle thought. Hamish is probably going to petr out in the next few days anyway. Downgraded from a 5 to a 4, soon to be a 3.

  126. Dave Ellison says:

    I am struck by the number of mathematicians making comments; I wonder what the distibution of types of people doing the Guardian Crossword is.

    Why is fifteensquared abbreviated 15/2 and not 15^2?

    I wonder if my next comment will get through?

  127. Derek Lazenby says:

    Your next one made my rss reader, but I can’t see it here.

    Yeah, I was kinda wondering why not 15^2 too. It may be the programmer in me saying that, but, there is good reason why programming languages adopted that notation.

  128. Bella says:

    why not 15²

  129. Dave Ellison says:

    Excellent, yes, indeed, Bella, but I don’t know how to get the little 2 raised up there – how did you do it?

  130. Bella says:

    In Windows, on your keyboard type 2 then hold down ALT while typing 0178. (I’m not sure what it is in Mac, maybe Option.) You’ll find all the keyboard shortcuts here –

  131. Bella says:

    I should have said you need to use the keypad on the right of your keyboard. Not sure how it works on laptops without one! Anybody?

  132. David says:

    Hi Bella. It’s a lengthy process, but: Start, All Programmes, Accessories,System Tools, Character Map. Find the superscript 2, then copy and paste.

  133. Bella says:

    I should have checked my own tutorial website which is due for an update soon. On it I re-found this (for laptops): “Some letters on the right side of the keyboard have a small number on them. Hold down the Fn key (next to the Ctrl key) when pressing one of those keys and they will act as a number pad. To type special characters hold down the Alt key AND the Fn key and press the correct number sequence.”

    I’ll get started on the update as soon as our HUGE Rock’n’Roll reunion is over next Sunday.

    Monica: would love to meet you. See details (link top right).

  134. Dave Ellison says:

    On my Sony Vaio, I just need to press the Num Lock key to get the numeric kepad whose numbers etc are located around jkl. Then, alt 0178 produces ², which seems to be a bit minute.

  135. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry, it’s ok when displayed as a comment but tiny when preparing it

  136. Derek Lazenby says:

    On any PC, you need Num Lk on to use the keypad numbers. If you have that set on a laptop then you don’t need to use the Fn key with the Alt key, but then you can’t type normal characters, sigh, clever design that.

  137. Dave Ellison says:

    And typing & sup2 (without the space between the & and sup2) directly into the comment as you prepare it seems to work also&sup2

  138. Dave Ellison says:

    No, ignore last comment; it works when I do my own html page

  139. Bella says:

    So are we on to 15²? ?

  140. Monica M says:


    I don’t think I got it to work … on hundred and fifty-two for me!!!

  141. Monica M says:


    Not sure if you Rock n Roll reunion is for me, but, would love to catch up for a tea/coffee/wine/beer or whatever takes your fancy. Email me … my full name with . at our “can do” council … you’ll be able to work it out.

    Then you can give me a remedial lesson on how to do the super text 2.


  142. Monica M says:

    Sorry … superscript 2

  143. steven says:

    Dave Ellison:Trying the same on my laptop but can only type *178 once numbers are locked?

  144. Monica M says:


    Thank goodness … another luddite …. well maybe we don’t protest against techno stuff … just need one on one lessons …. I’m sure you’ve experienced the tutor (usually a friend), showing they’re exasperation, by rolling their eyes.

  145. David says:

    We are all individuals!
    How many hours have I spent at this (Dell) keyboard and not noticed the blue numbers around UIP?!!! To get them to work I have to have Numberlock on and press ALT/number.

    (I wonder how many people around the world have been playing with keyboards today!)

    Bella, love rock music, but it’s too far for me to go. Have a great time.

  146. David says:

    Hey, Monica, wait ’til you get to my age and your grandkids are patronisingly patient with you!

  147. Monica M says:

    15 alt/num/lock/ …. still didn’t work ##$@%%% and I have a dell.

    David, I don’t have kids thus will never have that humiliation of grandkids doing the deed, but my friends and their 8yo kids get the absolute pleasure.

    Oz, just won the test against SA. Phew.

  148. David says:

    Erm, Monica, as my grandkids would say, try:
    1. Press and release number lock
    2. Press and hold down Fn Key
    3. Whilst still holding it down, press blue numbers on keys UIOP, etc.
    4. Release Fn key

  149. steven says:

    Monica:My bug-bear with various people has been when I’ve asked them how to do something on a P.C. they press 3 or 4 keys in a flash THEN start showing you how to do something, assuming that you already know the basics.But never mind onward and upwards. Another dull one in London. Day that is!

  150. Monica M says:

    I’m actually usually not that bad … it just isn’t working … David I tried your instructions … not working either … Sooo I’m sticking with one hundred and fifty two … Or 15sq (no tricksy-ing functions there.


    PS: Not so hot, still humid and still waiting to see of Cyclone Hamish has got any sting left in him … he fortunately tracked parallel to the coast without coming too close to cause any real damage, just storm surges … but altho he may be weakening we’ll have to wait and see. Cyclone Hamish was compared to Hurricane Katrina … so you can imagine the worry to myself and Bella …

  151. steven says:

    While we’re on this subject I have a question. I’m on mobile broadband and the longer this thread gets the longer it takes to reload the page. Is there anything I can do to improve this. If there isn’t may I propose we start a new one?

  152. Bella says:

    On a”normal” windows keyboard (not a laptop) hold the ALT key down while pressing 0178 on the number pad, not the numbers at the top of the alpha keys. Then release the ALT key & you will see a very small ² – looks odd then but ok when posted.

  153. Bella says:

    On another matter, is there any feedback from my suggestion at #107 …. asterisks for edited words?

  154. Dave Ellison says:

    Bella (#153),

    I think it is probably of some passing interest; it would leave one wondering what had been removed and why.

    I tried what I thought was a little humour at ~#126, by posting a comment consisting of nothing but asterisks.

    This did make it through for just a few seconds until it was removed. Those with rss feeds will, I assume, get all comments, anyway (see #127).

    I guess if one really wanted to do so, some enterprising person could automatically divert all ****** comments to another web site, for general perusal!

  155. Monica M says:


    FYI, I commented on your self-questioned post … saying it didn’t get through, and that didn’t get through either … unless I hit the wrong button (which is entirely possible).

  156. Monica M says:


    Can we get a new thread please … It’s starting to take a while to load this one.


  157. steven says:


    I’ll second that,(#156)


  158. Monica M says:

    Thanks Chatmeister,

    Now on to the use of “swear words” ….

  159. steven says:


    Plaistow Patricia sprang to mind immediately and then I remembered that in Ian Durys, ‘My Old Man’,

    “Later on he drove a roller ,chauffeuring a foreign man,
    dropped his aitches on occasion,said cor blimey now and then,
    did the crossword in the standard, at the airport in the rain,
    at the airport in the rain,
    My old man.”

    On swear words hear or in crosswords or generally ? Bit of a splatting minefield *********

  160. Derek Lazenby says:

    I always liked the phrase that first surfaced during Watergate, Expletive Deleted.

  161. Chatmeister says:

    The previous measure of creating a new Chat post to improve loading times was an interim solution until I could test and install some new software. This has now been done and you will see that the comments in this post are now paged. This means the maximum number of comments that will now be loaded when you access Chat is 50.

  162. Steven says:

    I thought I’d gone back in time for a few secs there Chatmeister. Just to let you know that your, behind the scenes efforts don’t go unappreciated. Cheers Chatmeister!!

  163. Monica M says:

    Oh Dear … Chatmeister,

    After causing you several sleepless nights and a re-jig of the site, it seems we have all buckled into shape.

    Sorry for the angst…

    But it wasn’t ny fault (said like a whiny teenager)

    Cheers Monica

  164. Derek Lazenby says:

    In case anyone missed the aside elsewhere, my name is now blue.

  165. Monica Muller says:


    Have you been speaking to someone from Oz, who’s picked on your auburn locks.

    And … my wordy, you’ve been well behaved, I’ll have to stop calling you “Bad Boy” soon.

    On anothe stream … Steven … where are you????

  166. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Tom #24: Oh yes, “A Retrieved Reformation”, “The Cop and the Anthem”, “The Last Leaf”, “After Twenty years” … such wonderful stories of O. Henry that one can never forget, though “The Gift of the Magi” is the piece that is highly anthologised in school textbooks here in India.

  167. liz says:

    O. Henry is certainly worth reading. ‘The Gift of the Magi’ in particular. Dated, but a particularly poignant short story.

  168. Eileen says:

    Glad to read your latest comment, Liz. I remember seeing ‘The O. Henry Playhouse’, with Thomas Mitchell as O. Henry, on TV, as a child. Thank you, Rishi, for mentioning the titles: I’ve just looked them up on Google and there they are for the reading [I’ve just read a couple] – and literally scores more. As Tom says, perhaps not entirely to modern taste but charming, nonetheless.

  169. liz says:

    Wow! I’m off-topic. Not exactly sure why but there you are.

  170. Chatmeister says:

    Hi Liz
    This was nothing personal. It was just that this part of your comment was not directly relevant to the puzzle, which had O. Henry as an answer. A discussion of his works is a totally separate topic.

  171. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    My comment on O. Henry, removed from where I made it and placed here, followed Tom’s in which he stated: I was just reading him this morning before I did the crossword and the short stories have not aged well in general.

    If my comment was considered irrelevant and removed, then surely the bit quoted above too cannot be where it is now.

  172. Steven says:

    Hi Monica:

    Been a bit busy lately and only kind of half doing crosswords.Yesterday I grappled with Brendan on the train home and sussed that the first half of 4/19d was chicken. Walking home I bought a take away. When I got home I ate my food and did the crossword but soon had to admit defeat. Before going out again,I logged on to 15/2(ah the elusive tiny 2).The second half of 4/19d Chennai. Take-away from ‘Chennai Masala’ Restaurant.(for a taste of home)

    As I left the flat there was smile on my face and I wondered whether the sea in the Bay of Bengal was calm!

  173. Derek Lazenby says:


    First, I read and understand English, so unlike others on today’s Guardian Blog I took on board the post by Chat Meister.

    Second, my education does not leave me bereft of good manners, so I take note of those comments and write here, unlike others.

    Thirdly, you guys seem hell bent on presuming things that I never say. I never said I didn’t want to learn by coming across new words. What I do object to is the presumption which says that “if one knows something it is therefore well known” or “if most of one’s peer group knows something it is therefore well known”. That is ivory tower ruhbarb of the worst variety.

    The sum of human knowledge is immense and therefore the fragment of it with which any of us is familiar cannot possibly be well known in any general sense, there is simply too much. Yet some insist on saying precisely the opposite of that. I merely wish to open people’s eye’s to the simple fact that it is a bigger world.

    Just remember this. Every little item that I don’t know but which you do is balanced by an equal amount of those things that I know and of which you are totally ignorant. That is real life. It is a balance.

    Think of it as a Venn Diagram. One circle for every sector of the world’s population. The phrase “well known” only applies to where the circles intersect.

    There are many interesting words and widely used abbreviations that could go into a crossword, and if they are from outside of your little circle in the Venn diagram you would find them obscure. Why should anyone object if you then said so? I wouldn’t object to you saying so, so why do you object when I say it? It is NOT a critisism, it is merely a drawing of attention to differences, a nag to say be careful of how you use the phrase “well known”.

    When I was young I did not learn Plato as I was fascinated more by the future than the past as the past is dead, but the future is something I was going to live. Nor did I waste my time learning the nicknames of university courses in which I had no interest that were offered by universities in which I had even less interest. Why should I waste my time on such irrelevances? Instead I learnt that which means I can sit here quietly smiling, safe in the knowledge that I belong to a real elite, not an ivory tower elite. I am one of those who has changed the lives of almost everyone in the civilised world. But I don’t get sniffy about how little of that knowledge is possessed by you lot, so do me a favour and, with regard to your knowledge, treat me the same.

    Oh, and do try to learn to understand English to the extent that you refrain from reading additional meanings into the words of others.

  174. Testy says:

    I don’t want to be accused of reading anything into what you say so I’m just asking some questions to clarify.

    Are you saying that crosswords should just cover the intersection of everyone’s Venn circles?

  175. Derek Lazenby says:

    Testy I just spent an age lovingly crafting a reply and the software lost it when I hit submit. It’s too late to retype now, but the basic point is no absolutely not. Crosswords should have obscurities, but the setter has to realise that, and frequently doesn’t, so that one half of a clue compensates for that.

    But you have all for a long time missed the main point. It is not the puzzles, it is the attitude of posters that everything they know is or should be common knowledge. This is invalid. I know just as many words, not to mention obscure words as anybody, but my word set is not your word set, you word set is not Fred Bloggs’s word set and so on. I resent the attitude of some that not only fails to recognise that, but invalidly implies some totally false sense of superiority on behalf of the speaker.

    And if you are honest you will remember those occassions when I took the reverse role, saying that I found certain words to be not obscure. BUT, notice that I never implied that everybody should know those words, nor that people were somehow deficient for not knowing. That is the difference between me and those who had better remain nameless.

  176. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    I don’t know what obscurity stirred up this issue, but I think there’s a bit more to it than different Venn diagram circles. Setters should of course remember that not all solvers will know everything they use, but there must be some set of facts that they’re allowed to assume all solvers will know – the capital city of the UK, where the monarch and the prime minister live, and so on. One problem is finding the edge of this area – what Shakespeare plays/characters/lines should we all know about?

    In the stuff that few people know, there’s an alternative to giving an easy wordplay for an obscure answer: to choose obscurities in a wide range of subjects, so that all solvers should know some of them, and can use these to help towards the rest. We made an attempt a while ago at Times for the Times to analyse puzzles by the subject areas to which knowledge belonged, but this foundered on rocks like getting agreement about what was too easy to count and difficult enough to count double in each field. One problem was xwd clichés: Is ERATO as the muse of lyric poetry difficult because your average person has never heard of her, or a doddle because she comes up so often?

  177. smutchin says:

    The obscurity thing is a red herring anyway – “general knowledge” is knowledge that is general in its scope, not necessarily knowledge that is generally known.

    So, great battles, names of football teams, titles of films and even minor Shakespeare characters are all “general” knowledge.

    A critique of why Napoleon’s tactics failed at Waterloo, the relative merits of 4-4-2 vs 5-3-2, the plot of Forrest Gump and an analysis of the importance of the role of the fool in King Lear would all, by contrast, be “specialist” knowledge because they require detailed knowledge of the subject area.

    As for vocabulary, most words in the Concise OED or Collins have to be considered fair game for setters. Chambers wilfully includes obscure dialect and esoteric spellings, but that is specifically why it is favoured by “advanced” setters such as Azed.

    Setters shouldn’t try to guess the extent of what their audience does and doesn’t know, and to leave words or names out for fear that they are too obscure would be to leave themselves open to accusations of dumbing down.

  178. Derek Lazenby says:

    I really will have to stop replying from my rss reader, it is too prone to losing the text!

    Peter, interesting research, thanks for sharing. I think I’ve already agreed somewhere or other that “spreading the obscurities around” different areas of knowledge would be fairer.

    smutchin, that first para is exactly what I’ve been trying to say! It’s a distinction that has been lacking.

    Everyone else, there is nothing wrong with anybody saying they found a particular word obscure. There is nothing wrong with politely disagreeing. As I said recently, the shoe has been on the other foot a few times and I was at pains not to put people down because of it. So can everybody else remember smutchin’s first paragraph? Just because you (the general reader) and some others know something doesn’t mean it is generally known, despite being general knowledge, so please desist from claiming otherwise.

  179. Geoff Moss says:

    Hugh Stephenson comments on general knowledge and the Guardian’s approach to it in current and future crosswords in his latest article:,,2297493,00.html

  180. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Curious statement about Beerbohm TREE (Herbert, not Max incidentally). One source of the “myth” is Stephenson’s own book, in which (Secrets of the Setters (2005), p. 94) he says: “In crossword jargon, though, TREE means actor and vice versa.” [The book explains about Herbert and Max accurately.] Surely the reason for still including Mae West is simply that you can still find her in the dictionary. The stuff about wit and good causes is irrelevant unless IDI AMIN and Il DUCE have been banished from the puzzle, which I somehow doubt.

  181. mhl says:

    “old actor” for TREE appeared as recently as Araucaria’s puzzle on 2009-03-20, in fact.

  182. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK, 3 days working on the railway, no crutches, no walking stick. The good news is the leg is sore(r) as a result, but bearing up and recovering quicker than it would have just a few weeks ago. Oh, yeah, and we did really well as it was an Ivor the Engine weekend.

    Anyone tried my tongue in cheek xword yet?

  183. Wendy says:

    Anyone tried my tongue in cheek xword yet?

    No, but I would if I knew where to find it!

    En passant, does anyone know where Uncle Yap is? He hasn’t posted for ages.

  184. Steven says:

    Wendy, click on Dereks name.

    Uncle Yap is back!

  185. golgonooza says:

    Thought I’d move the discussion here Derek. Just to sum up I’ve reproduced the main points:

    You said:
    Looking at the mysteries revealed above I note “the world or universe as an orderly or systematic whole”. Who writes this drivel? What is orderly or systematic about chaos and randomness?Abuses of the language are accepted into dictionaries in the name of modernisation. Then they come out with an obsolete fairy-tale for a definition. Consistent eh?

    … but that meaning is dead and gone. A cosmologist studies what? The cosmos? How amusing then that their own observations lead them to spend so much effort applying chaos theory! 10 out of 10 to the Greeks for a nice idea based on limited information, but we have moved on since then, as have the words.

    I said:
    Derek: look at the cosmos and you will find many things that follow observable orderly patterns, from as local a level as the predictable phases of the moon, the eclipse cycle (the interplay of sun and moon), the orbits of the planets in our solar system, the movement of comets in and out of our solar system, and on a galactic level you will also see ordered self-similarity across massive scales such as the patterns created by galaxies which spiral around in much the same way as a shell might on the earth. There are also events and objects that have no discoverable orderliness and appear randomly. Such random events were fitted into the overall Greek scheme of order and had their place alongside the predictable parts – without upsetting things too much. To be honest I see your belief that the universe is “chaos and randomness” as just that – a belief for which you select certain facts to support, but that doesn’t represent the totality of reality.

    You said:
    golgonooza, the things that appear ordered and structured are only thus by not looking hard enough. They are also ephemeral, one day the moon will be out of earth orbit, one day there will be no earth, no solar system, no galaxy. All these things are created from chaotic events (the Greeks got that bit right), but they have no permanence. Everything also ceases, frequently in chaotic circumstances, even galaxies. A supernova may be predictable (one day when we know how), but what happens after that is chaotic.In other words, order and structure are not present in the absolute sense that the Greeks meant. They are transients.I was reading your words with respect, then you said something pretty daft. This is not a matter of belief, nor have I selected any facts, I am including everything. It is what has been observed and calculated by many respected persons with whom I would not wish to argue.
    A word to the religious. None of this reflects on religious belief. Whilst it has been traditional in all religions to deduce that if a god created everything, then he/she/it would also have created order, that is not true. The first part, creation, is reasonable belief, the second part is presumptious. It presumes that mere mortals can deduce the intentions of said god. Those inentions we are assured by religious scholars are not for us to know. So the concept of a chaotic universe is not incompatible with it being divinely created. The big bang was an act of creation. Whether you credit that to divine intervention or not does not change the basic fact, there was a creation, we all agree on that. Belief has nothing at all to do with the forever increasing observations of chaos and it’s effects. Just because things are not as ordered as we thought, that invalidates no fundamental religious belief, but it may invalidate that which was superimposed thereon by those who presume to know the will of their god (isn’t such presumption blasphemy?).

  186. golgonooza says:

    So, I just wanted to respond to some of the points you made.
    Firstly, I wanted to challenge the idea that the Greek’s notion of the cosmos was a “nice idea based on limited information, but that we have moved on since then”. This ‘culturally enlightened’ stance is based on the idea that somehow Greek creation myths were primitive forms of science, ways of coming to terms with a world before we had the tools advanced enough to do it, and that as we’ve now clearly got better, more advanced scientific knowledge we can write off these crude attempts. This approach to myth goes back a long way. More recent theories of myth, though, attempt to take myth on its own terms rather than reducing it to primitive science, as clearly myth is trying to do something else than try and describe all things in a factual way. Myth is trying to express something universal about the human experience they say, it is a response to many different things within the realms of human experience, things such as awe, fear, the need to bring a structure to the seeming randomness of the world. Such universal human experiences remain a constant through the ages, and so myth in general terms never becomes ‘outdated’. Why else do theatre, cinema, music draw such crowds?

    Secondly, you say that things that appear ordered are only that way because people don’t look hard enough. My response to that would be that if it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and swims like a duck, it’s probably a duck. Why complicate matters? Occams razor states that as a first principle of truth. Even if one day these ordered things will become chaotic, how do you know that they will not thereafter become ordered again? I could just as easily state that what appears to be chaotic now will not be chaotic forever, and as chaos is transient it is not absolute and permanent.

    Now you might say that all things are tending towards entropy and winding-down, and the final state of the universe will be a chaotic soup. But that is not cosmological gospel. There are many different hypotheses as to the future of the universe. One is that as there was a big bang that expanded everything outwards, there will one day be a big crunch where everything contracts back upon itself. Who knows whether the whole cycle might not start all over again? If there were an infinite series of such expansions and contractions, I would not want to argue that Chaos and randomness were the final absolute truth about the universe.

    Thirdly you say: “Whilst it has been traditional in all religions to deduce that if a god created everything, then he/she/it would also have created order, that is not true. The first part, creation, is reasonable belief, the second part is presumptious. It presumes that mere mortals can deduce the intentions of said god”. Two points – firstly even a simple reading of the account of the creation in Genesis 1 will reveal that the very act of creation itself was an ordering of a chaotic principle. What was meant by creation was a bringing-order.
    “And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness”. Creation then moves on in stages, permutations of this original division and ordering, all based on this original command which brings light, and this seeing, or judging of light, that it is good and that it had value – so the cosmos is just that – it is what is in creation that is good and has value and that is separate from the darkness of chaos. So the fundamental basis of this is that God didn’t just create something and then leave it, but that his bringing order and light to the world is exactly what creation is. And secondly you say that religious scholars tell us that God’s intentions are not for us to know. Here you are simply wrong. Many religious scholars will of course tell you that in many places humans have purported to know the intentions of God. It is all over the Genesis account – God intended the universe to be a place for humans to look after, God intended there to be a creation that was made in his image and likeness in order to glorify him, etc. etc.
    Knowing the will of God is what makes saints and is the most basic intention of every Christian – which is why they say “thy will be done” in their prayers – it is certainly not blasphemy, and it is why Christians pray.

  187. Monica M says:

    Hey Crypticnut,

    You’d probably be un-surprised that Auster/Southern Cross was less than well received by the Brit crew. I remember being directed to a puzzle she set (that we probably ate for breakfast) … and ahd a great belly laugh … the issue being obscurity. I will find it for you, just because it’s fun.


    PS Derek …. I’ll respond soon.

  188. Monica M says:

    I’ve not found the blog I’m after, but it was a ripper. Eileen might remember. The comments were beautiful … and quite hillariousfor non-brits). I’ll keep looking because it’s worth the effort.

    What’s your demographic, I’m x gen.

  189. Crypticnut says:

    G’day Monica

    Firstly I’m probably best described as pre-B.B. – but only just!

    I would be very interested if you could find that puzzle. I really enjoyed her puzzles – her final was brilliant.

    It’s a pity she is no longer in the CM as the replacement – Boxer – tends to leave me a bit flat, tho he/she can some times come up with a few curly ones.

  190. Crypticnut says:


    I’ve just tried the Guardian website and used the search facility to try and find the puzzle you refer to but no luck, I’m afraid, without a number.

  191. mhl says:

    Monica M: I guess you’re thinking of this one:

  192. Crypticnut says:


    Was it 24646 or 24686?

  193. mhl says:

    Monica M: I still maintain that that was a very enjoyable crossword

  194. Crypticnut says:

    Monica M
    I’ve had a look at mhl’s suggestion and I agree that (a) it wasn’t well received; and (b) some of the comments were hilarious!

    I vaguely remember doing that one when it appeared in the CM, and was amazed at “HUMP THE BLUEY”, because I didn’t know, at that time, that Auster was Southern Cross.

    I note also a lot of discussion about “EQUADOR”. The clue clearly states to substitute C for Q and D for T in “EQUATOR”. ECUADOR was the correct solution. I’ve found the puzzle on the Guardian website and used the check function.

    And mhl, I agree it was a very enjoyable puzzle. The whole point about cryptic crosswords is to set clues which are somewhat mysterious, sometimes misleading, to provide a challenge to the solver. I find it a great source of satisfaction when I get through the deception and solve the puzzle. Life is far too short to be too pedantic.

    Monica – anyone complaining about not having heard of “HUMP THE BLUEY” didn’t enjoy Lucky Starr’s hit “I’ve Been Everywhere”!

    Now I’m showing my age…..

  195. mhl says:

    Crypticnut: the clue was amended late in the day in the online edition to make it produce ECUADOR instead of EQUADOR (and the answer in the online version was changed) – I noted that in the final comment on that post.

  196. Derek Lazenby says:

    Damn, forgot this thread!

    So, Wendy, if you see a poster’s name in blue here, click on it for a web site.

    Mon, don’t mention the cricket? Whatever can you mean? (Ducks behind sofa)

  197. Monica M says:


    That’s the one … I had a great old laugh at the comments too!!! And yes it was an enjoyable puzzle, only made more fun by all the kerfuffle in the post here.

    Derek, You stay behind that couch!!!! Looks like your mob has learned from and improved on our cheating lessons (tongue firmly in cheek).

  198. Crypticnut says:


    Did you get to do the Puck puzzle in today’s CM?

    That was a beauty – and caused almost as much kerfuffle as Auster’s in the blog.

    Particularly liked the top line – which, I understand, was NOT accidental!

  199. Monica M says:


    I had a red, hot go at Puck today and although I’d previously done it online I still couldn’t get it out. It was a beaut … got all the WC allusions and the top line, which I rememebr in the online version … I recall being annoyed I couldn’t join the post that night because I was too busy and I sooo wanted to mention the Banana Bender thing.

    I do the CM on the train on the way to work (so no access to reference tools) and the online as my lunch-time treat with my sandwich (google gets a workout, let me tell you).

    I must say I’m getting much better though … this site has really improved my skills and confidence.

  200. Crypticnut says:


    Know how you feel. I would have loved to have had my ten cents worth on the blog but, sadly, not practicable after five weeks.

    I have to say that I do not agree with a lot of the comments being critical that the puzzle was too UK-entric. The clues were well constructed and should have been solveable anywhere – though that’s easy for me to say having been doing cryptics for over thirty years. Having said that it took me a while to get started but I put that down to sleep deprivation from staying up till the wee small hours watching that which we don’t want to mention!

    Looking forward, now, to the blog for Paul’s prize puzzle from last Saturday, particularly 12d……..

  201. Monica M says:


    I rarely have a chance to look at the prize puzzles, 2/day during the week … weekends are for chores etc … just time for the CM.

    I’ve only been solving a couple of years … self taught … when the “normal” crossword just became too boring.

    I agree with your comment about UK-centrism … if a clue is well formed the solution should be get-able regardless of cultural knowledge.

    If you’re a fan of cricket … talk to Derek about Women’s cricket (as well as the game we aren’t talking about), he’s a big fan and great advertisement for the girl’s game. I think that next time the women play at Allan Border Field, I’ll be going.

  202. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hmmm. I’m an advocate now am I? Oh well, here a few thoughts for you all, and appologies for any repeats from earlier. But first let me just point out that I am actually a fairly recent convert to the ladies game. Being, as you know by now, semi-retired, I wanted simply to see a good game without needing to mortgage everything to afford a single day’s ticket, let alone a 5 day ticket. That included subscribing to SKY sports. So, having heard good reports, I took myself off to see an England 50 over game last summer. I was impressed. I went to another with my good lady, a lifelong cricket fan. She was impressed. We went to another this year. Ditto. Sadly, with all the matches on the box this summer, this has, somewhat ironically, led to a SKY Sports sub. Sigh. Best laid plans and all that!

    The cost of admission? Typically £5 instead of £75+ per day. Money-wise this a no-brainer!

    I could go on for a long time on this to do it justice, but here are a few specific incedents, just to shorten things.

    How about a drive towards point which has 4 written all over it and at a height of about a foot? Point dives full length and takes a left (wrong) handed catch. That is world class in any form of the game.

    How about a cover drive? Two chase to the boundary. One has a good arm the other somewhat weaker. Just in case strong arm gets there first and flips to weak arm, two more run to halfway between the wickets and the boundary so that a throw can be relayed to either end. Another runs to cover the bowler’s end. Two more run to cover overthrows. Two more run to cover the overthrow fielders. Add that up. That is every single fielder moving! When did you last see a men’s team show that much commitment?

    The England Twenty20 semi against Australia has been described by the TV and Radio commentators as the best run chase they have ever seen in any form of the game. These are hard bitten ex-Test players, many of whom also captained their sides. Do you think they might just know what they are talking about? In case you didn’t see it, 4 wickets down, 12 overs to go, 10 per over required. Were further wickets risked by trying to slog 6’s to get the run rate down? No. They just calmly scored at 10 an over with no risks!

    One commentator remarked that getting swing with the white ball when new is difficult and that one of the few bowlers who can reliably do this is Katherine Brunt. Strength may be lower, but skill is not.

    The men’s team have just been fined for slow over rates in the second Test. 4th day at tea they were at 25 per 2 hour session when 30 are required. Contrast that to the first day of the ladies Test. 99.3 overs in 6 hours. 10% over requirement. Which do you think is entertaining and which a tedious drag? When it comes to over rates men are incompetent, the ladies excel.

    Like I said, I could go on for a long time, but that is quite enough food for thought for one day!

    Thanks for the excuse Monica!

  203. Monica M says:


    I just think it’s wonderful that it is a man extolling the virtues of the women’s game, and drawing positive comparisons to the men.

    You should submit your comments to “The Spin”… yes, my mates and I subscribe, because it’s good to get another perpective. I have a friend who has had his comments printed … those comments are often obscure … but ususally very incisive.

    Go get ‘em tiger

  204. Monica M says:

    And another thing … I’m so pleased that the site is getting close to finding the balance between off-topic banter and puzzle comment … I think we’re getting the hang of it. Things are feeling far less prickly … YAY!

  205. Crypticnut says:


    I see your point and clearly remember from a few short years back, having to work five days, then spending my days off doing the washing, cleaning, cooking etc. And I was running a small business then so stuff like book-keeping, invoicing, payroll and things like GST tax returns etc had to be done at night, mostly.

    I don’t know whether you realise it, but the Saturday prize puzzle is the one we get in the CM on Mondays, only five weeks later. That’s why they are always so much more difficult.

    The clue that got me so excited goes like this:
    “Antipodean machine with multiple teats of ice water malfunctioning (10)”.
    When I finally cracked it I couldn’t believe it and, just to be sure, Googled it and had a great deal of trouble finding it in any on-line reference resource. I don’t know where Paul got it from but it is bound to provoke great discussion on the blog! If you get time see if you can solve it (hint: it’s an anagram).

    Now, Derek.

    Thank heavens there is another male on this planet that agrees with my view on women’s sport. It is a sad fact, and I’m sure Monica would agree, that the coverage of women’s sport in the Australian media is an absolute disgrace! As an example – the Australian womens hockey team has been competing in a major championship in the last couple of weeks and what do we get? A fifteen second grab on the seven o’clock news and virtually nothing in the print media.
    It seems that, if you don’t follow Rugby League or Australian Football you are ignored. The only reason that there is any cricket coverage in the print media at the moment, is because there is an Ashes series on.

    I totally agree with your view that women’s sport, in this case cricket, is just as, if not more, exciting. The competitive spirit is just as intense and the skill levels are as good as, if not better than the men’s game. Your point about over rates is well taken. There is too much time wasting going on in both five day and one day games – and I’m not just bagging England here. All teams are equally to blame.

    There is a light on the horizon. In the next few years Australia will catch up with the rest of the world when digital TV is fully introduced. It was originally scheduled to take over last year but has now been postponed until 2011, due in part to one particular network dragging the chain. Digital TV will allow each network to offer three extra channels and one network has already introduced a dedicated sports channel.
    I am pleased to report that they were able to find room to give, albeit not complete, live coverage to the Netball championship involving teams from the five mainland states and two from New Zealand. I have to say that this made great viewing – and an excellent alternative to another networks replay of a rugby league match. Once upon a time I was an avid league fan but, for a number of reasons, I have lost interest. This has, in no small part, been largely due to the determination of some of the so-called “stars” of the game to out-do the male characters of “Men Behaving Badly.” Sad to say, they are succeeding!

    Now that I’ve got that off my chest, and now that I’ve recovered from the injury inflicted by my grand-son, when he got an almost-new Kookaburra past the bat and onto my ankle, last Tuesday, when he should have been using a tennis ball, I can turn my attention to Edgbaston.
    According to the media Pietersen is out and Flintoff is in grave doubt. I’ll believe it when I see it.
    Believe it or not, I am pleased that this series is turning out to be a real contest – not like the Ashes series pre-2005. However, as an Australian, I fear that you guys will come out on top unless Ricky suddenly develops some tactical expertise. His track record suggest that that is not about to happen.

    Let the hostilities begin – next Thursday!

  206. Monica M says:


    So, I’m not the only Aussie who thinks that (without the “best team in the world”) young Ricky’s limitations are on show, and becoming more obvious. It’s just like work …it take a while for the rot to set in after a good manager goes….

    And I wish he’d get rid of that chewing gum!!!

  207. Crypticnut says:

    Hi Monica

    I have felt this way for a while. I actually e-mailed ABC Grandstand last summer suggesting that we needed another captain.

    The response from a certain commentator (not JM) was ‘who cares whwther he’s a good captain – he’s a great batsman”.

    Glad someone agrees with me!

  208. Derek Lazenby says:


    The Times eventually covered the end of the Women’s T20. I’d like to think my lengthy e-mail helped. Pity it was a web submission so I ain’t got a copy to show you. But they have probably not been laid into like that before, grin.

    Sorry not on here much. Can’t concentrate on crosswords. The leg was causing me to compensate hence regular back twinges. Well that just became a burst muscle. I can barely move and it hurts several times worse than the broken leg did. Don’t bother with sympathy, there’s people in worse states.

    passingidiot on IM if anyone can take conversations where it may take a while to get a reply.

  209. Andrew says:

    Hi Derek,

    Sorry to hear about your troubles – I’d been thinking we hadn’t seen you much lately. Welcome back, and get well (or at least better) soon.

  210. Derek Lazenby says:

    Thank you Andrew. And one day I might have enough energy to say something contraversial again. I noticed one or two people saying things I would have said, but they didn’t get the responses, which was boring. I like a bit of fun. In the sense of Rugby players who try to gouge each others eyes out for 80 minutes and then spend the rest of the night drinking together!

  211. IanN14 says:

    Good luck Derek,
    Hope you’re back more often soon.

  212. mhl says:

    Derek: sorry to hear that you are still in pain, I hope you’re feeling better soon.

    With regard to the comments on today’s Araucaria about history, people might find this article interesting:

    The friend who I got this link from also suggested trying these questions before reading the results, so you can compare your performance to current history undergraduates:

    1. Who was the general in charge of the British army at the battle of Waterloo?

    2. Who was the reigning monarch when the Spanish Armada attacked Britain?

    3. What was Isambard Kingdom Brunel’s profession?

    4. Name one prime minister of Britain in the 19th century.

    5. In what country was the Boer War of 1899-1902 fought?

  213. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ta chaps, but um? isn’t question 4 a trick question? I thought the title Prime Minister was a more modern adoption? The term was used informally earlier but only formally occured in the British Order of Precedence in 1905. The formal title, which is still in use, was First Lord of the Treasury.

  214. Andrew says:

    Good point Derek, though I think the term PM was in common use in the 19C. Additionally, Gladstone, Disraeli et al were PMs of the United Kingdom.

    And if we’re going to nitpick (and why not?):

    Q2 – The Spanish Armada was sent to attack England, not Britain.

    Q5 – The obvious answer here is “South Africa”, but I think the modern RSA didn’t exist then. Quoting Wikipedia: it was “between the British Empire and the two independent Boer republics of the South African Republic (Transvaal Republic) and the Orange Free State.”

  215. C G Rishikesh says:

    BOUSTROPHEDON: a word that was used in Guardian Genius 74.

    This unusual word was set for a Simple Clue-Writing Contest in the Usenet group rec.puzzles.crosswords

    If you wish to see the offerings, you might visit

    (I might add that my clue was declared the winner.)

    The SCWC that I initiated is now in its 90th edition.

  216. Derek Lazenby says:

    Firstly, re my post 208. It is a lot worse than I thought in the sense it turned out to be a collapsed vertebra (inoperable, but it will “settle down”) caused by an incurable cancer (myeloma). However, it seems that the latter can be stabilised but will recur and that if I’m not already dead, the chances are I’ll die of something else first. So, no panic folks, it’s mainly just a bloody nuisance (rather like me, grin).

    Don’t worry kids, I’ve got what I what always wanted, a prefect excuse for being an idle bugger. Not quite how I would have planned it, but never mind, can’t win ‘em all.

    Please note flippant attitude and don’t waste tears, I shall merely find other ways of having fun.

    BUT, that isn’t even why I’m posting today. I have something much more important to say…….

    Eileen, you may have gathered a certain lack of fondness for the classics on my part. After today, I take it all back and unreservedly appologise, your interest is totally and utterly justified by the letter in today’s Times (yes I know, that lot, sorry) entitled “Why education must be a national treasure”.

    You really, really do have to read that letter.

  217. Eileen says:

    Hi Derek

    I don’t often visit this page but Gaufrid kindly alerted me to your post and even found the letter and the link to the slide show of the artefacts [amazing!] so I could read the inscription for myself. Very interesting – thank you very much. And I’m glad to hear you’re fully converted – although it will be strange not to be reading any more anti-Classics rants from you! But, as you say, you’ll no doubt find something else. :-)

    Actually, I have been going to the Chat Room more regularly lately, hoping to hear some news of you. It’s not the best – but I have known several people in that situation [likely to die of something else first, I mean].

    I just hope they have been / will be able to do something about the pain. Any news of your going home yet?

    All the best in the meantime.

  218. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Derek

    I want to apologise for the seemingly flippant way I expressed myself in my previous post. What I meant to say was that I’ve known a number of people who have lived with cancer for many years. Forgive me, please.

    [It’s so much easier when you can actually talk to people – it’s so difficult to get the tone right in writing.]

  219. Derek Lazenby says:

    Eileen, there is nothing to forgive, but thanks anyway. I knew what you meant and just took it that you were joining in with the tone I had already set!

    But wasn’t that letter priceless? Even if it was in that other publication!

    And you won’t miss much in what I have to say in future. Not only are people of my age given to forgetfulness, but there is a certain attitude that says if I’ve survived this long then not only have I earnt the right to a degree of hypocrisy, I also have a duty to pass it on, just for the fun of it!

    Oh, and I got home Wednesday evening with most of the hospital’s supply of pain killers in me bag!

  220. Eileen says:

    Bless you, Derek

    Thanks so much for responding. I’ve really put myself through the mangle today and it’s great to hear from you. I was literally just on the point of asking Gaufrid to remove my previous two posts. You’re quite right that I was trying to respond in the tone you had set – but it’s ok for you to be flippant, not so much for the rest of us. I’m sure you know we’re all behind you.

    I’m delighted to hear you’re home and, as I said before, I hope the pain is under control.

    Thanks again for putting me in touch with that letter – priceless, as you say!

    All the very best!

  221. liz says:

    Hi Derek, I’ve been away on holiday for a couple of weeks and was very sorry to read about your recent diagnosis when I logged back on here. I hope that they manage to get the pain under control and wish you all the best. Your comments are always a breath of fresh air, even (or perhaps especially) when I don’t agree with them…and I look forward to more in the same vein!

    BTW, I have often privately thought it was amusing that you share the same surname as my better half and come from the same county too — he doesn’t like crosswords, tho!

    All the best, Liz

  222. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well thank you liz!

    Bloody hell, you mean me and him are some incomprehensible, umpty times removed cousins or something?

    Oh well, you must have acquired at least a small understanding that arguing can be done with a grin, just for the craic, as the Irish say.

  223. liz says:

    Well, it’s quite possible! Not too many Lazenbys, after all…My h’s bugbear is getting asked whether he’s any relation of ‘George’, which always elicits a groan.

    Yes, I agree that arguing can be fun. It was my degree (!)

  224. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yeah, I get pee-d off with that question too. Just to make it worse, my dear papa was actually called George. I then have to explain… you think I would be living here/doing this/or whatever, if it was that one! LOL!

  225. Derek Lazenby says:

    The longer term readers will have noted my activity level here has gone down recently, and they will be aware that there are underlying medical reasons why. I appologise if that irritates someone taking more daily meds than me (13 (reduced from 16 last week) + 1 weekly + 2 monthly)and who is still coping. It is just the morphine level that gets me really.

    But anyway, in today’s Guardian thread I said this would be funny. So……….

    One of the meds is dear old Thalidomide! Remember the scandal? Well you can’t just be prescribed that, oh no. I, a 60 year old man, had first to sign a declaration that I would not become pregnant!!!

    And then people wonder why old men become Grumpy Old Men (TV series of the same name recommended).

  226. liz says:

    Derek — I had to laugh! Thanks for this and I do miss your contributions. I’m sorry the morphine level gets to you but I hope at least that it gets to the pain.

    Speaking as a grumpy old woman…or as my father-in-law used to say ‘a woman of a certain age’…I do find myself increasingly going into rant mode. Train announcements are a particular bugbear, especially the use of ‘station stop’. Pathetic, I know.

    BTW I do think that your suggestion on the other thread that a Quiptic should be included in the paper alongside the Cryptic is a good one. When I first started doing Cryptics, more years ago than I care to admit, getting three answers right on a given day was about par for the course and it took a long, long time before I could complete one. Some stepping stone between the Quick and the Cryptic would have sped matters up, I’m sure.

  227. Huw Powell says:

    Hello everyone, I just found this site a few days ago and like it a lot. I sort of “introduced myself” while posting about Rufus Mon 15/2/10 puzzle, then read the friendly manual and realized that was kind of off-topic and that I should say hi here probably.

    Anyway, 50 yo ex-pat in the US since 1969, first cryptics I found were Frank’s in The Nation, couldn’t make hide nor hair of them until I read his brief explanation of how clues work on their website. For years I just did my once-a-week puzzle in that magazine, but then a year or two ago I think I made the mistake of googling “cryptic crossword”. After slowly burning through the puzzlecrypt and Atlantic archives (and getting nervous that my fix might dry up! I highly recommend both those sites, by the way, the puzzles are barred and special, in some cases *very* special) I found the British dailies on line and now I never lack for reasons to bang my head on the table.

    Now a quick question: as I said, I left a comment on one of the blogs, but it hasn’t appeared as far as I can tell. Are noobs moderated? Or do the comments just take a little while to propagate?


  228. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Huw and welcome to 15².
    Normally comments aren’t moderated, even for first time posters. However, for some reason unbeknown to me, your comment was intercepted by the spam filter. I have now recovered it and it should appear in the relevant post.

  229. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks Gaufrid!

    Why do I get the urge to refer to the site as “225”?

  230. IanN14 says:

    Kathryn’s Dad,
    I think we might have something in common.
    Just wanted to ask whereabouts in the Peak District you were living (I noticed you mentioned it in a previous blog).
    I spent most of my childhood (7 – 17) in Baslow, near Chatsworth, school in Bakewell.
    Anywhere near?

  231. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Ian

    Yes, in Cubley, just south of Ashbourne. Baslow is a regular trip for our junior cricketers in the summer (Clifton CC is our club; our claim to fame is that we had Chris Lewis as our professional for a number of years before he was up before the beak for druggy stuff). Baslow is in the same junior league and it’s a bit like the trek that Sunderland fans have to Portsmouth, difference being that we normally win.

    The Bakewell school is Lady Manners, I guess? So how come you end up a Spurs fan?

    Peter (aka Kathryn’s Dad)

  232. IanN14 says:

    Hello Peter,

    Thanks for responding.
    Yes, you’re right about the school.
    It was a grammar when I started, but became comprehensive a year later (1972).
    I’d moved up from the south coast when I was 7.
    I did play cricket, and football, for Baslow, but only as a schoolboy.
    Used to be a Chesterfield fan (many freezing hours at Saltergate). Still am, in a way.

    I moved to London at 18 to go to college and have been here ever since.
    My flatmate Lee was a big Spurs fan and we used to go on his motorbike to most home games (including the fantastic European nights in the 80s. Hoddle, Ardiles, Perryman; those were the days) so it stuck with me…

    How about you? Why move to rural Derbyshire from, er, Sunderland? (I have been).

  233. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Ian, that’s a long story … mail me at pwharvey at msn dot com if you really want to know. And who does eimi support? I’m confused.

  234. eimi says:

    I’m off to the Lane tomorrow night and it’s not to support Fayed’s fugging Fulham

  235. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thick as thieves, both of you. So the next time IanN14 bigs up one of Eimi’s puzzles, we’ll all fugging know what that’s about. Good luck for fourth place, would love to be there or thereabouts with the Lads.

  236. nmsindy says:

    …who play Spurs in their next home Prem game and have lost only twice at home all season. Spurs seem to be in their best position of the season, with a view to making 4th, but I think two trips to Manchester remain to be negotiated too.

  237. IanN14 says:

    OK K’sD,
    We’ll see how critical you are of the next Raich in the Indy…
    (Niall, you’re right. Plus Chelsea AND the Arse at home).

  238. eimi says:

    In the meantime, six points for the Black Cats in their next two games would go down very well with Ian and myself. Personally, I’d rather lend you Charlie Cairoli, I mean Corluka, than Super Alan Hutton.

  239. nmsindy says:

    Not checked it thro, but I think because Hutton is on loan from Spurs, he may not be able to play against them, that could make quite a difference. We’ll battle at Villa and Pool but in truth any pts gained would be a bonus.

  240. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sounds like we’ve started a footy blog here, but before we finish, just wanted to point out that six points from two games for the Lads these days is a perfect example of an oxymoron. But still, it’s in the DNA, can’t get rid of it, and we live in hope. But if we lose at home on 3rd April I’ll be hiding under my fifteensquared stone for some time afterwards, trust me.

    But if we win, then I may just be first to comment on the Monday morning. Is it a Raich?

  241. eimi says:

    No, but there’ll be another Raich soon after. Well done for the point at the Villa on a great night for the Lilywhites.

  242. Sam says:

    I do the crossword and use the computer to get away from the constant stream of football at home. I’m new here, is it worth staying?

  243. Gaufrid says:

    If your comment is genuine rather than being said tongue in cheek then my answer to your question has to be ‘yes’. This ‘General Chat’ post was created so that people with similar interests, in addition to crosswords, could discuss them without cluttering up the crossword related posts with off-topic comments.

    If you only wish to read comments relating to crosswords then stick to the rest of the site and just avoid this particular post.

  244. IanN14 says:

    Oh dear,
    What have you done, K’s D and nms?
    I hope you can live with yourselves..
    Your lot have unleashed the juggernaut that will be Man Citeh for years to come.
    By the way, I think Bent should, perhaps, go to South Africa.
    He’d fit in perfectly in the inevitable quarter-final penalty shoot-out…
    Now time to concentrate on the cup…

  245. eimi says:

    Nice one, Ian, nice one son

    But it’s clear that one player who should be going to the World Cup is Michael Dawson. The sight of Bassong and Kaboul lining up in central defence together filled me with horror before the kick-off and I only had 35 seconds to wait to be proved correct. So I did something a bit anoraky and checked Spurs’ goals conceded this season when Dawson was playing and when he wasn’t:

    Goals conceded
    Games without Dawson: 1, 1, 1, 1, 1, 3, 3, 2, 1, 1, 3, 3
    Games with Dawson: 1, 0, 0, 0, 1, 1, 2, 2, 1, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 0, 2, 0, 1, 1, 0, 1, 1, 0

    If he’s not fit again soon, we’re in big trouble. And having to play the promising but inexperienced right-back Kyle Walker in only his second Premier League game simply points up the folly of letting Super Alan Hutton go out on loan.

    And don’t get me started on Modric – the most overrated player in the Premier League

    Well done, nms (who was there) and K’s D. Your team did you proud.

  246. nmsindy says:

    Unlucky to meet us when we’d our best performance of the season, in what was also the best game of the season, with the super outcome that, while not mathematically certain quite yet, we’re staying in Prem for a 4th season.

  247. IanN14 says:

    Blimey, eimi,
    Put that anorak away…
    But I agree about Daws.
    The most UNDERrated player in the country, surely?

  248. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, eimi – The Lads do not often give their following the opportunity to be slightly smug, so I’ll just enjoy it while it lasts and wish Spurs all the best for the semis this weekend. And Ian’s right – what a perfect excuse for taking the boy to Zuid Afrika.

    Anoraks in future years will have a great time with the question about which Premier League striker missed three penalties in the same season against the same club. But we won’t dwell on that just now.

  249. IanN14 says:

    OOOoooouuuhhhh!! YYYyyuuuueeeessssSSSS!!!!!!

  250. eimi says:

    I second that emotion.

    I’ve waited 49 years for this, but …

    isn’t it the great that you can’t buy success?

    The Indy setters get the lowest fees, but produce the best crosswords (I think, anyway)

    Come on you Spurs!!!

  251. IanN14 says:

    DO the Indy setters get the lowest fees?
    That”s terrible.
    I agree they’re the best.
    Seriously, something must be done…
    But in the meantime, let’s hope for a Fulham win on Sunday…

  252. IanN14 says:

    …as I was saying, Eileen,
    Does that mean you’ve finished it and sent it off?
    I just couldn’t get it finished until yesterday afternoon, and even then I’m not too sure about a couple.
    As I’m sure I’ve mentioned a couple of times, I find Araucaria perhaps the most difficult setter, because some of his ideas are so vague.

    Oh, and thanks for your congrats on today’s Morph blog. (Now there’s a setter with whom I seem to be on the same wavelength…).

  253. IanN14 says:

    Oh dear,
    I’ve just realised I’m using the wrong chat room if I want to talk about crosswords….
    Sorry, I’ll be over at “General Crossword Discussion”.

  254. Rishi says:

    In the thread on today’s Guardian cryptic crossword, Tupu while quoting a passage from a poem wrote: “it’s amazing how much of school-learned stuff is still there so many decades later!”

    How true! I remember many lines from various poems that my father read to me and my siblings when I was a lad of some 12 years. I also remember and can quote passages of 10 to 15 lines from Shakespeare or Wordsworth or Keats or Burns or any other poet that I studied when I was a college student.

    Mind you, no effort was made to learn it by rote: but whatever was read to me or whatever I read was done with great pleasure and I may have reread some of the poems subsequently.

    But, on the flip side, now at 67 years of age I have missed a train because I misremembered the departure date even while holding a valid ticket; I have almost missed a train because I misremembered the train number on the very date of departure and was sitting on a wrong platform! The trouble is: something from the distant past gets stuck in the mind! I have made international journeys in the past but now I don’t contemplate any air journey lest I should be stranded in some foreign clime.

  255. tupu says:

    Hi Rishi

    Thanks for that. I suppose we were more receptive in those days, and I certainly had good teachers too. I must confess I’ve been back to the poem from time to time – it’s remained a favourite – but my memory in this case goes straight back half a century to school. Also I had to check Burns’ spelling now (I used Google so I can’t vouch for it). Another strange thing is how ‘multiple’ one’s memory can be. Remembering teenage japes or even this sort of thing one becomes that person at that age again if only for a couple of minutes.

  256. mhl says:

    Rishi / tupu: I think there must be something about Burns that’s particularly memorable – I think I can recite more of his poems than those by any other poet, although having been schooled in Edinburgh is certainly a confounding factor. Still, I think there’s something about having to learn the poems as much through sounds as words that means they really stick… (I find a similar effect with Gerard Manley Hopkins.)

  257. tupu says:

    Hi mhl
    I never got into Hopkins and his ‘sprung rythms’ – no fault of his but I moved to other subjects after O level and turned to other poets – inc. quite a lot of American ones. One I came across again recently in a surprising context to me was Edna StV Millay. She apparently responded sharply to a quip that ‘life is just one damn thing after another’ with words to the effect that ‘No it isn’t. It’s just one damn thing over and over’!

    Re Burns I saw a quite fascinating TV program about his life some months ago. One message from it sticks in my mind. You can’t easily stick to and expound your principles if you aren’t rich and powerful.

  258. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Bill Taylor

    Sounds like you and I might come from the same part of the world? To answer your question on the Indy thread today, most of those places … and a few others. Red and white blood in your veins?

  259. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sorry, Bill, meant the Guardian thread …

  260. Bill Taylor says:

    Red-and-white all the way through, KD. My dad was from Ryhope, just outside Sunderland, so I was raised properly. Born and raised in Bishop Auckland; moved to the States in ’73 and to Toronto in ’82. Best thing I ever did.

  261. Kathyrn's Dad says:

    Bill, I’m originally from the red-and-white half of South Shields, so not too far away. If you want to chat about the trials and tribulations of The Lads, I’m on pwharvey at msn dot com

  262. Bill Taylor says:

    They’ll go from strength to strength next season, KD, especially now Newcastle are back up to provide them with 6 easy points! When you’ve a spare minute or two, you might take a look at the excellent blog run by my good friend and fellow journalist Colin Randall:

  263. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen (ex crucuble)
    I had the benefit of a public library that had room enough to keep all their old stock and I devoured books by Tilden and others as well as watching b&w TV and playing lots of parks and, later, college tennis. We were all inspired by Fred Perry who was said to have ‘grown up’ in the game on NW parks courts though our hopes of emulating him were of course quite in vain. He was clearly a one off – not only our last truly great male player (and perhaps our only one) but also so out of kilter with the ‘establishment’ of the game at the time?

  264. Eileen says:

    Hi again tupu

    My first Slazenger [beginners’] tennis racket in the ’50s was sponsored by Fred Perry [which was how I first heard of him] and Dan Maskell [Oh, I saaay!] and came with an instruction booklet written by them. The racket head had FOREHAND AND SERVICE FACE printed on one side and BACKHAND FACE on the other and, on the handle, there were arrows and instructions to show the correct grip for service, forehand and backhand. I’m not sure just how much it did for my game but I should have hung onto it: I’ve just googled it and found that one went at auction for £45 – it didn’t say when!

    [Back to the exam marking :-( ]

  265. Alan Goddard says:

    Just an observation on the difficulty rating for Chifonie in the Guardian. I believe that the rating for Chifonie is overstated at ‘hard’. A quick run through of yesterday’s should convince that a lower difficulty would be more appropriate

  266. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Alan, I completely agree with you.

    Chifonie uses a very limited number of devices – about 90% is either anagram, charade or ‘A inside B’. His surfaces are usually nice, but the crosswords as a whole belong in the category Easy.
    His alter ego Armonie in the FT – just more of the same – does get the “Easy” label.

    That said, a lot of the information given under the button “Setters” on this site needs updating anyway.
    There are just a few Guardian setters qualified as “hard”, one of them being Rover [which is quite unbelievable]. And Brendan is easy …. ??

    Also, the who’s who should be looked at again [e.g. there’s no mentioning of anax in the Indy, nor of Alberich/Klingsor, nor does it say that Enigmatist = IO, etc etc]

    Maybe Gaufrid (as the Cerberus of this site, which is nót Hell :) ) should take a look at this in due time.

    You’ve made your point.

  267. Kathryn's Dad says:

    So can anyone give chapter and verse, if such a thing exists, for ‘cluing’ or ‘clueing’?

  268. Stella says:

    Hi KD.

    As a rule of thumb, you drop the ‘e’ before ‘-ing’, unless it’s the only vowel or it’s double, so ‘cluing’ would be the correct spelling.

  269. Eileen says:

    Hi Stella

    Hurrah – thanks for a bit of support!

    See comments on the Independent puzzle on August 5th, which sparked Kathryn’s Dad’s comment here:

    Most [I think] solvers seem to prefer ‘clueing’ – to me it just looks wrong – but I can live with it, because the verb ‘to clue’, I think, has been coined by crossword solvers! :-). Chambers, alone of my dictionaries, gives it as a verb but with no spellings for its gerund / participle.

  270. sidey says:

    Funny you say ‘clueing’ looks wrong Eileen, I think ‘cluing’ looks like an onomatopoeia for a thump on the head with a cow-bell.

    A poke round on-line dictionaries only produces three with cluing, all American, the same three also give clueing as do two UK ones.

    Oh, both Opera and Firefox’s British English dictionaries only give cluing.

  271. tupu says:


    I have been looking at the OED on line. It offers no help with clu(e)ing but notes that the root word was originally ‘clew’ – which would have made life easer.

    There seems to be no simple general rule

    1. for rue it gives only rueing.
    2. for imbue it gives only (in passing) imbuing.
    3. for blue it gives both blueing and bluing.
    On balance I think I’m with sidey – :) but with friends like me …..!

  272. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’m ruing the day that I started all this by replying to Eileen’s comment and suggesting that there perhaps wasn’t one single rule here … no doubt there’ll be people queueing up to disagree with me in the ensuing debate.

    You say clueing, I say cluing … let’s call the whole thing off.

  273. tupu says:

    Hi KD

    Very nice. :) Please forgive the following ‘juvenile’ but affectionate extravaganza in celebration of the hare you started!

    There once was a young lady’s dad
    Who developed a very sad fad.
    He got hooked on pursuing
    the spelling of ‘clueing’
    Until he and his friends all went mad.

  274. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    Very nice :-)

    And hi K’s D

    I’d just like to draw your attention to my last comment in response to yours on the original thread:

    “# Eileen says:
    August 5th, 2010 at 7:50 pm

    “I blame Eileen for starting us all off on it.”

    Hands up – you’re quite right, K’s D. This discussion has been rumbling away for quite a while now and I’ve been resisting commenting. I just wish I’d continued resisting!

    You’re quite right that this is not the right place but I’ve nothing further to add to my comment 18, I think. [I shall continue to write ‘cluing’. :-) ]”

    I agree with your last sentence – let’s just stop argueing!

  275. tupu says:

    Hi all

    :) This is just a bit of trivia for fun about something that recently bothered me slightly.
    On August 9 I had thought I was quoting a remark of Clive Dunn’s from Dad’s Army which I thought was ‘Not many people know that’.

    A number of people kindly took the trouble to respond and assured me this was wrong e.g.
    “muck says:
    August 9th, 2010 at 3:49 pm
    tupu@23: ‘Not many people know that’ isn’t from Dad’s Army. I thought it was Michael Caine, but see this (hyperlink to article re Peter Sellars)”.

    I then tried to check on Google and got nowhere.
    A friend confirmed my recollection but thought it was ‘Not many people know that story’.
    I then found and wrote to the Dad’s Army Appreciation Society with my recollected ‘quote’ and received the following reply on 23 August.


    Yes you are correct Corporal Jones did say this, the episode escapes me at the moment.

    Tony Pritchard
    Dad’s Army Appreciation Society”

    I suspect my friend may be right about the wording – he is going to check – and Jonesy may not have said it often, but it is a relief if he said it at all since my memory on the matter was worryingly clear!

    The moral for myself and other aging ‘false memory syndromers’ seems to be ‘don’t give up quite yet’. Of course, the D’s A App. Soc’s memory may be worse than mine is!. :)

  276. Carrots says:

    Hi Sil….Being Dutch you are an honorary British Citizen anyway! I did ask “The Viking” at the time why she was so certain you were Dutch and she replied that, like her, you tend to write as you speak. If this is the case, it`s very difficult to spot in your case! I think it is just as likely that your deference and courtesy….even when very definitely speaking your own mind!….over-eggs the pudding a little. Anyway, your contributions are much appreciated and please don`t be afraid of letting rip. The “Heavies” of 15 sq. ruffle their feathers a bit sometimes, but they are at the sharp end of English Usage. There….enough idioms for you to practice on?

    Hi Bryan….I couldn`t agree with you more about the Dutch and I am woefully embarrassed in any European country by my lack of the native language. Before we finally retired, we used to run a holiday cottage and had many Dutch guests (mainly Antique Dealers) who were, without exception, delightful in all respects. My lunchtime pinta with Rufus lasted precisely 20 minutes at my slowest sipping speed (this is about a hundredth as fast as Rightback`s quaffing rate) so I shall sneak off to the pub for a pre-prandial pinta….whilst the chefette watches Strictly..
    Anne Widdecombe in a Tutu…I DON`T BELIEVE IT!

  277. Carrots says:

    If any Fifteen-Squareders happen to be sailing on the Queen Liz`s maiden voyage to the Adriatic on 8th November, please get in touch. I will need immoral support to avoid being dragged round piles of rocks and Bars/Crossword Puzzles are my first line of defence.

  278. flashling says:

    Flashling is a sad bunny, his very good friend Fenton Wallace died unexpectedly today only in his forties, you may well be aware of my firework stuff but he and I have been doing displays for 13 years. Frankly I’m devastated and just wanted to post a goodbye to a dear friend, so if my comments are less upbeat I hope you understand.