Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7365/Mordred

Posted by John on May 25th, 2010


Well thank goodness for the cheat facility on the website. Without it I’d never have completed this: all the clues contain the name of some literary work, and often they are very clever, but many of them leave me cold, either because I’m not understanding them properly or because they seem to be a rather laboured way of connecting the answer to the book.

I can see that Google is going to be rather necessary here.

1 LAD MAG — ad in (glam)*
4 MADE A BED — (Adam Bede)*
10 ANSWERS — ER in (swans)*
11 OPINION — I can’t see this (Bet head traps Sleuth) — it seems to be pi in onion, but is a bet the same as an opinion, and why is pi = sleuth?
12 MaN RAY — hidden rev.
13 GAME KEEPER — up for = game, and a ring is a keeper
15 AL(IS)ON{e}
16 ATTEMPT — what is this? 2 defs? If so it seems a bit weak
21 KIDNAP — what’s happening here? — is it simply that if you kidnap someone he could possibly be called Roy? In any case to rob is not to kidnap.
24 EJACULATED — (a jet Claude)*
26 LOL{it}A — but who’s Lola?
28 ROEBUCK — yes, I suspected it was a cricket book by Peter Roebuck
29 DUC{k} TILE
31 EMBERS — defeats me utterly; not even I think a reference to John Emburey
1 LEAP YEAR — well yes, 1984 was a leap year, but is that really all it is?
2 DISPRAISE — (pr diaries)*
3 ABEL — after Adam and Cain, he was the next man to appear. Some say.
5 ALOUETTE — a bird and a song
6 EPIGENETIC — this seems to be (1 Genet) in epic, but quite why epic = Say Les Miserables is beyond me
7 BLIMP — (lb)rev. i{ssue} M{r} P{ye}
8 DE NIRO — (no dire)* — this explains the clue
9 ESSAY — “The Death of a Moth” was an essay by Virginia Woolf
14 NOT UNUSUAL — 2 defs, one of them referring to Tom Jones’s famous song
17 PANTOMIME — (inapt memo)*
18 GO BACK ON — 2 defs
19 SPEAKERS — 2 defs
22 REDRAW — (warder)rev.
23 THE IDIot — was Heidi a character in “The Idiot”? I can’t establish this.
25 A GENT — our man in Havana was an agent
27 SCAM — (Macs)rev.

17 Responses to “Independent 7365/Mordred”

  1. Ian says:

    Thanks to both John and Mordred.

    A reasonably challenging puzzle with a welcome literary theme that shouldn’t have been too hard for either Independent or Guardian solvers. This was much needed after the Gordius in the Guardian today.

    Some of your concerns John are clearly going to be shared by others re 11ac, 16ac and 21ac. I too am lost for a full explanation in connexion with Rob Roy = ‘Kidnap’


  2. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, John. Didn’t enjoy this at all, and gave up. In 23dn, Heidi is both the title of a book and the main character featured in it, hence eponymous. Could look on the net to find the author, but cba.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, John.

    I’m with Kathryn’s Dad on this.

    In 11ac, ‘Sleuth’ = P[rivate] I[nvestigator].

  4. Gaufrid says:

    Hi John
    In 11ac PI = private investigator (sleuth)

    21ac is, perhaps, KID (Roy can be a child’s name) NAP (Rob). Nap=steal is in Chambers.

    I think in 31ac ‘(tomorrow, perhaps)’ is a reference to ‘Ember-days’, “the three Fast-days (Wednesday, Friday and Saturday) in each quarter, following the first Sunday in Lent, Whitsunday, Holy Cross Day (14 September), and St Lucia’s Day (13 December)” (Chambers) and last Sunday was Whitsunday.

  5. Scarpia says:

    Thanks for the blog John.
    A tough puzzle with a few rather tenuous clues.A few thoughts on some of your queries.
    11 across -p.i for private investigator.
    16 across – I had as a double definition.
    21 across – Neil Roy McRob was a charater in Kidnapped.
    6 down – Les Miserables is epic in length if nothing else.

    For 26 and 31 across I have no more idea than you.

  6. Gaufrid says:

    In 26ac I think LOLA might be a reference to the showgirl who lost her appeal in Barry Manilow’s song ‘Copacabana’.

  7. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    Ember Days I didn’t know(heathen that I am!).The only Lola I could think of was from the Kinks song of the same name and that didn’t fit the rest of the clue.
    I must own up to a woeful ignorance of the works of Barry Manilow,but a quick check on Google convinces me you are right.

  8. NealH says:

    The Kinks’ song was my interpretation of Lola. As I recall, it concerns a transvestite, so I suppose that might account for “her” losing her appeal, but it’s a bit unconvincing.

    I largely gave up on this and starting using word searches to finish it when I got Roebuck and found it pertained to some book by an Australian cricketer. There was too much that was hopelessly obscure for me – I’ve not religious, so don’t know anything about “Ember” days. I found 9 underwhelming as a clue when I realized it was just the name of an essay by Virginia Woolf. I’m not bad on films, but even I thought requiring you to know that De Niro appeared as a priest in Sleepers was a bit much. I’d never have got Alouette because I don’t go around singing French songs about skylarks.

    I could go on, but that’ll do.

  9. walruss says:

    This one did seem a bit hard for the sake of itself, with some really obscure parts to the solutions. I thought at first it would be an antidote to the Guardian’s tame offering, but soon realised it had gone too far in the opposite direction. Cheat button used liberally. Now for lunch and the FT, and we’ll see how that goes!

  10. nmsindy says:

    I agree that this was a very hard puzzle, but I guess the Indy does have a policy of varying the standard. The setter took on a formidable constraint with all the italicised titles, this I think may have forced some slightly unfamiliar words into the grid and some answers with less than 50 per cent checking. I got there in the end tho apart from ALOUETTE which I should have thought of really, did not understand some fully before coming here.

    Clues I esp liked were DISPRAISE (well concealed anagram), NOT UNUSUAL (I was thinking of Fielding till the very end when light dawned), REDRAW, and SCAM.

    Great blog, John.

  11. Paul A says:

    26ac – Could Lola be a grown-up Lolita? Hence less appealing, maybe

  12. BC says:

    While I agree this was an unsatisfactory puzzle I can’t see the problem with Lola – Lolita minus “it” where it=sex appeal.

  13. anax says:

    Very tough indeed, but got there eventually despite scant literary knowledge. I didn’t think the clueing spectacular but was very impressed to see this comprehensive literary theme carried through every clue.

    21a Perhaps just the use of ROY as a male name; could be man or boy, of course.
    26a The girl in Lolita was called Dolores – also referred to as Dolly, Lolita, Lola, Lo and L.
    31a I’m with Gaufrid. Wiki describes Ember Days as the Wednesday, Friday and Saturday set aside for fasting.

    I haven’t tackled many Morded puzzles but I’ll certainly be back for more.

  14. Richard says:

    I enjoyed this very much indeed. Although I accept that some of the clues were at the extreme Libertarian end of the spectrum and that a few were pretty difficult (I failed on “alouette”, but managed the rest without recourse to the web or reference books), the puzzle presented a fair challenge and it’s good to have something out of the ordinary like this now and again to refresh the palate. Thanks very much, Mordred, and keep up the good work!

  15. flashling says:

    Hmm tough, guessed leap year but frankly it’s not a great clue is it and had several answers I found hard to justify or frankly anything beyond a “well it could be” thought.

  16. Derrick Knight says:

    Just one response from Mordred – re Lola. I have to say that the Barry Manilow reference was giving me too much credit – I didn’t know it; but Paul A has hit the nail on the head with his understanding of my intention. A bit like a painting, perhaps – the artist may have something in mind, yet observers see other things.

  17. John says:

    Thanks everyone for the help where it was possible (not always I fear, but quite often).

    One pedant’s corner point NealH: Peter Roebuck was a very English cricketer (and a very good one, close to test class) who played for Somerset at the same time as did Ian Botham. He now lives and writes in Australia. I always had a soft spot for him because he found it hard to conceal his dislike of the great Sir Ian.

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