Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7103/Merlin

Posted by John on July 22nd, 2009


A rare departure from Wednesdays for Dac, but this Merlin offering is excellent. To begin with I found it very easy and it seemed that all would be done quickly by my standards, but I came to a halt; was completely beaten by the brilliant 13ac and had to use aids for a couple of others.

1 FASTNESS — 2 defs
10 RANSOM E — he appears fairly regularly as an answer in cryptic crosswords, or perhaps it’s just that I’ve always noticed it. R, N, O, E, are probably quite a common combination (like the letters in Countdown that make the fairly rare word LEOTARD appear so often)
11 UTENSIL — (nuts lie)*
12 D(R)IP
13 WHODUNNITS — (1 hunts down)* — ‘miscreant’ isn’t an obvious (to me at any rate) anagram indicator but it’s perfectly sound — a marvellous &lit.
15 MY GENERATION — but why? It’s a song title and I can see some sense in this as a CD but that’s surely not the whole story …
21 BROWN SUGAR — the Rolling Stones hit, Gordon Brown, and a reference to Sir Alan Sugar, who is now the “business tsar”
22 IRON — 2 defs and a decidedly chestnutty feel to it
27 ASP(HOD)EL — OK Michael Aspel is a bit old (born 1933) but so far as I know he’s still working and I’m sure he wouldn’t be happy with this adjective
1 FIRED A MP — very nice definition
3 N E.ON
7 NESSIE — (is seen)*
9 MUDDY (THE) WATERS — Muddy Waters
14 INGLENOOKS — k in (loosening)*
16 WIN ROUND — ‘wino’ can be seen as ‘win o’
17 STENDHAL — (nets)rev. dhal
20 DOD{d} GEM
23 {H}umph — Humphrey Lyttelton

10 Responses to “Independent 7103/Merlin”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Yes, tremendous puzzle, not too hard. WHODUNNITS was brilliant. Re MY GENERATION it’s a Who song from the late 1960s, and the second part I think refers to DNA being passed down through a generation.

  2. IanN14 says:

    Thanks, John.

    15ac. My Generation was done by The Who. (As pointed out by nmsindy just now)
    But I think it should be read as “My gene ration”.
    A good clue, I think.

  3. Anax says:

    Hear hear – a very enjoyable solve. Having only recently started solving the Indy regularly Merlin is new to me; I’ll be looking out for more Merlin in future.

    The BROWN / SUGAR spot is absolutely superb and, of course, hugely topical. I was going to say I wondered if that topicality could have been exploited more but, in fairness, I’ve just had a bit of a play with it myself and couldn’t find anything convincing. My chorus of approval for WHODUNNITS has to be slightly muted – Murphy’s Law, only a month ago I supplied a magazine cryptic with the singular version which began “I hunt down criminal…”. Merlin’s interpretation is of course excellent.

    MY GENERATION is fantastic. “Who delivered this” as the def, “DNA delivered to me?” a very nice suggestion of genealogy (I suspect “delivered” is referring to childbirth).

    The only slight quibble was the LOOSENING anagrind which I assume is “up”? The phrase “what’s up?” equates to “what’s wrong?” but I wonder if the transplant is sound enough?

    An extremely entertaining solve – thanks Merlin.

  4. IanN14 says:


    Re. 15ac. The online version has “allocated” rather than “delivered”.
    I think this makes more sense regarding “ration”.

  5. Colin Blackburn says:

    17dn makes an appearance in the Times today too. Agree with the general praise for 13ac and 21ac.

    Thanks for MY GENE RATION, the definition was excellent but I didn’t see the subtlety in the word play.

  6. Anax says:


    You’re absolutely right and we now have 100% evidence that I am slowly but surely losing my marbles. Nurse!

  7. Ali says:

    I really struggled with this one and had to resort to help (by coming here and looking at the answers!)

    Some very good clues here nevertheless. The MY GENERATION clue is fantastic.

    Anax – if memeory serves, Chambers gives one definition of ‘up’ as ‘in an excited state’, so I think it’s become an acceptable anagrind (I imagine thanks to Azed and his competition entrants)

  8. IanN14 says:

    I think I see what you did there.
    Delivered IS in the definition part, so you were right about the allusion to childbirth.
    Good luck with the treatment…

  9. Richard says:

    Very enjoyable indeed. (Given the number of references to media personalties I don’t think I could have resisted clueing SAMOSA by way of a reference to SAM COSTA.)

  10. Allan_C says:

    Re 21a and #3: Sir Alan is now Lord Sugar. Tuesday’s Indy had a photo of him in his robes.

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