Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,881 (Sat 12 Dec)/Shed – Crimea river

Posted by rightback on December 19th, 2009


Solving time: 12 mins

I have to take my hat off to Shed for this: most of the puzzle was straightforward (and well-clued) but three answers (MORTAR, SCARFACE and CRIMEA) had me truly stumped and accounted for well over half of my time. Moreover, none was in any way obscure or unfair and I kicked myself as I finally solved each.

Music of the day (9ac): Appropriately for Christmas, here’s Baby Boom by The Crimea, which once made the top 10 of John Peel’s Festive 50. May I wish a very happy Christmas to all blog readers.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

7 HANDCART; HAN (= ‘Chinese’), + DART (= ‘river’) around C[old] – I didn’t understand the definition here when solving, but it’s from the idiom ‘to go to Hell in a handcart’, apparently meaning something like ‘to get steadily worse with no hope of stopping the decline’. There’s some discussion of this phrase here.
9 CRIME + A – I completely missed the ‘a’ here and was convinced this was a double definition of some English-looking Ukrainian place-name. (I think I did actually have a particular one in mind, but am still not sure which.)
10 OK + R.A.
11 CONTROVERT; CONVERT around (ROT)* – the unusual verb form of ‘controversy’.
12 PROSIT (hidden backwards) – a Latin drinking toast (literally “may it be of use” or something similar).
14 ROAD RAGE; (RED RAG + [t]O A)* – nicely linked to 6dn, although I think this clue lacks a genuine anagram indicator. The word ‘time-wasting’ indicates removal of the ‘T’.
15 PAR(I)TY – not sure how much I like ‘Do one in’ to mean ‘Do [with] one in’, but it does give a very good surface reading.
17 DECAMP; M[ale] in PACED, all reversed
20 MOD + ERATO (= ‘muse’) – does ‘rocker’ (as in Mods and Rockers) need a capital here?
22 KAKURO; A in K,K, + [e]URO – one of these.
23 DISHEARTEN; DISH (= ‘stunner’), + TEN after EAR (= ‘organ’)
24 GAS + P
25 PEEWIT; PIT around rev. of WEE (= ‘little’)
26 RELEGATE; ELEG[y] in RATE – ‘lower’ is a verb in the definition here.
1 BACKDROP; DR in BACK OP – nice clue.
2 EDNA; rev. of ANDE[s] – very Guardian (‘short-range elevation’), with a dubious hyphen and nounal reversal indicator.
3 LANCET; N.C. (= North Carolina) in rev. of TEAL (= ‘duck’) – I couldn’t really make sense of the surface reading to this.
4 SCARF ACE – excellent clue, but I have no idea why it took me so long; probably because I’d convinced myself it was probably a word or name I didn’t know.
5 SILVERBACK; SACK around (IL + VERB) – another somewhat bizarre surface reading but I liked the cryptic breakdown.
6 RED RAG; RE-DRAG – as in ‘drag and drop’, hence the question mark (which slightly grates, being separated from the ‘whimsical’ part of the clue by the definition).
8 TENURE; rev. of RUNE in TE (= ‘note’).
13 SCREECH OWL; S.C. (= scilicet = ‘that is’) around CREE (= ‘Native American’) + HOWL
16 TEA PARTY; (APE)* in TARTY (= ‘sluttish’)
18 PARASITE; A below PAR, + SITE (= ‘location’) – another Guardianesque hyphen.
19 MORTAR (2 defs) – again, no idea why this caused me so much trouble, although I’d hypothesised an -ER ending which didn’t help me.
21 OLIVER; [go]O[se] + LIVER (= ‘another organ’) – the TV chef Jamie Oliver.
22 KINDLE; KIN (= ‘family’) + DLE (= LED* = ‘led astray’)
24 GI + GI

15 Responses to “Guardian 24,881 (Sat 12 Dec)/Shed – Crimea river”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks,Rightback, I gave up with 3 to go.

    The top left corner did for me but no complaints, the clues were perfectly fair.

    However, I am now going to SHED a tear.

  2. Shirley says:

    Thanks Rightback. Surely 3D Lancet is the instrument (albeit a surgical one)!

  3. rightback says:

    Hi Shirley – yes, at 3dn ‘instrument’ is the (surgical) definition, but I meant that I couldn’t make sense of the surface reading, i.e. what the clue might mean if it weren’t a cryptic crossword clue. ‘Instrument of state cutting duck up’ seems a fairly meaningless phrase to me.

  4. Paul B says:

    Shed has all the tools.

    Sorry about that one, but it is Xmas. Hoe, hoe, hoe etc.

  5. Tom_I says:

    Thanks, Rightback. I enjoyed this one, and didn’t have too much trouble with it.

    I knew the expression referenced in 7a, but can’t find much documentation about it. The variation “to go to hell in a handbasket” is in Cassell’s Dictionary of Slang, but not the handcart version.

    On the same subject, my Concise Mythological Dictionary is adamant that “Hades” should not be equated with “Hell”, but I don’t think it matters too much in the present context.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks Rightback.

    I must admit to feeling disappointed with this one. We’d waited weeks for a Shed and I was really pleased to see his name on the puzzle. I can’t remember having any particular problems [as has been said, the clues were scrupulously fair] but neither were there any ‘ahas’ or smiles, which is most unusual [unprecedented?] for me with this compiler, who is definitely one of my top favourites.

    Maybe, after such a long wait, my expectations were too high. I’ll look forward to the next one and hope it won’t be so long! :-)

  7. Elspeth says:

    re 3d, I think the duck was a TEAL and the state was perhaps Carolina (CN).


  8. Elspeth says:

    Apologies for that last posting. I made the mistake of reading the comments before the actual solution. I’ll get my coat.

  9. sandra says:

    did not have much trouble with this. i enjoyed it and managed to complete it in a much shorter time than usual for a shed. or so i thought until i looked at this site. i only vaguely knew the answer before inserting “kikuro” and should have given it more thought. however – no smiles this time, which spoils it a little for me too.
    thanks rightback.

  10. Davy says:

    Thanks rightback for your excellent explanations. Like you “SCARFACE” was one of the last to go in but I struggled more to get “HANDCART” and “EDNA” although the clues were spot-on. Your solving time of 12 minutes is exceptional. I don’t think I’d even written anything in after 12 minutes, I was still digesting the clues.
    I found this puzzle hard to get into like yesterday’s Brendan and as Eileen commented, I was disappointed after such a long long wait for Shed. I did enjoy the puzzle eventually but any humour was noticably absent and this always alleviates the hard slog.

    By the way, what’s happened to Sil ?. I always enjoy his detailed analysis of the daily puzzle.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, Rightback. Like the others, I found this fairly straightforward. I didn’t get KAKURO, although I should have done from the wordplay. The word wasn’t in my (less than up to date) Chambers, which put me off.

  12. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well Davy, what’s happened to me?
    I have been away to Holland for a week or so.
    Came back just over an hour ago – great fun on the roads near Dunkirk and Dover …

    As to this crossword, I think I have not much to add.
    I agree with Eileen, not many problems and not many smiles either.

    When solving we had one little quibble, about 9ac.
    ‘What you shouldn’t do’ = ‘crime’ (and I agree!), but do the English say: ‘to do a crime’? I thought it was ‘to commit a crime’. But then the surface reading becomes awful, I know.

    Excellent blog again.
    Rightback, you were looking for an anagrind in 14ac.
    What about the whole thing ‘result of showing’?

    In 20ac you wanted rocker with a capital R.
    I saw in this clue not only a muse, but also Muse, the well-known band – and then we don’t need an R.

    So, and now for something completely different (Araucaria!).

  13. rrc says:

    This is the first shed I can remember since the beginning of September

  14. rightback says:

    Sil, good to have you with us – and I don’t envy your trans-channel journey! Not on the Eurostar, I hope?

    In 14ac I can’t see how ‘Result of showing’ can be an anagram indicator (although I agree that’s the intention). How can ‘show’ mean ‘anagram’ in any sense?

    In 20ac the problem with seeing ‘Muse’ as the band (in the surface reading) is that the verb is singular (‘Muse pursues…’). In England we’d always say ‘Muse pursue’, viewing the band as (I guess) a plural collection of people, just as we say ‘England are not going to win the World Cup because they haven’t got a decent goalkeeper’, not ‘England is…’ (although I’ve noticed that a lot of European pundits say that when speaking in English).

    But anyway, this is really a side issue: the problem is that in the cryptic reading the letters MOD are given by ‘rocker’s foe’, and for that to make sense ‘rocker’ has to be read in the sense of ‘Mods and Rockers’. Whether that demands capital Ms and Rs, though, though, I’m not sure.

    Finally, yes we do say ‘to do a crime’, although I must admit it sounds a bit sloppy. I can’t blame that for my struggle with that clue, though.

  15. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Rightback, thank you for your Lessons in English.
    (regarding Muse+plural and doing a crime (“Don’t do the crime”-UB40,1982))
    You must be right too, about the Mods and Rockers.
    Chambers capitalises (singular …?) them, although WordWebPro mentions “mods, as opposite to rockers” – but I think WWPro is US-based, so maybe that explains it.

    Re 14ac:
    I wasn’t thinking of ‘showing’ as an anagrind – although I am pretty sure I’ve seen it before – and I agree with you, it wouldn’t be right.
    BTW, Bradford’s has ‘showing’ as an hidden word indicator, and ‘showers’ as a possible anagram indicator.
    But I thought: “well, you are showing me things and the result of all this can be ….”. ‘Result of’ is probably a bit more acceptable – for me, it then would be an anagrind of the same category as e.g. ‘produces’ or ‘provides’.

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