Never knowingly undersolved.

Enigmatic Variations No. 917 – Prime Mover by Samuel

Posted by mc_rapper67 on June 12th, 2010


I came to this EV tired and jaded after a long weekend away golfing and drinking…(or was that the other way around?)…not having done a crossword of any form for 4 days – and was a little slow getting my head round the preamble, let alone the theme…I certainly didn’t expect the Spanish Inquisition!

The preamble referred to 9 thematic clues, without definitions, to be jumbled before entry – and linked to an unclued thematic entry. The other two unclued thematic entries were to lead to the ‘group’ responsible, and extra letters in the wordplay of normal clues would give all but one member of the group, who was to be written below the grid. Phew - pass the Alka-Seltzer…

Given that two of the unclued entries were the full-width top and bottom rows, 1a and 37a, the logical thing to do would have been to attack the Down clues, to find some crossing letters – an approach I did, eventually, take – but not until I had hacked randomly into the rough, and come across TREK as an undefined entry. This led me off on a tangent into the next fairway, looking up the members of the Star Trek crew/group. However, TREK was soon followed by FOOT, PACE and STEP, making my Trekkie diversion ‘not entirely logical, Captain’.

Working through the down clues, I had 1a taking shape with MON?Y… (money?) and 37a starting with F and ending C???US – it was staring me in the face, but not clicking. The clincher was the third unclued entry, 20a, as M?NI?T??. Maybe MINISTER, to go with the PRIME of the title? But no, of course – the MINISTRY of Silly Walks, by Monty P’s Flying Circus – and it all fell into place, with the extra letters spelling out all but the elastically long-legged JC, the PRIME MOVER in the classic Silly Walk sketch, and the undefined clues all giving variations of ‘walks’, entered sillily (yes, that is the adverbial form of ‘silly’ - but I had to check!…)

I have to admit to having to (e-)look up some of the more obscure (to me) words like ‘nilpotent’, ‘latakia’, ‘meranti’ and ‘whipstall’ but, thankfully, there didn’t seem to be any of the recent Ralphs/gremlins in this week’s EV publication.

All in all, eventually, a relatively gentle EV (a short-ish par 3, compared to the previous week’s 500-yard par 5 slog!), and one that was particularly pleasing to me, as it combined two of my formative obsessions, crosswords and Monty Python. And I should really have taken inspiration from my weekend’s sporting activity: Didn’t Mark Twain (or, rather, Samuel Langhorne Clemens) once say that ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled’?


Clue No Length Extra Letter Entry Clue /
1A (12) (unclued) MONTY PYTHON’S Unclued /
to be deduced
10A (4) G AFAR A fine pike, at a distance /
A + F (fine) + GAR (PIKE)
11A (7) I MERANTI Almost desert worker inside wood /
MERI (almost ‘merit’, or desert) with ANT (worker) + I (inside)
12A (4) (‘silly’ walk) FTOO Plead with fellow for money /
MOOT (plead) with F (fellow) for M (money) = FOOT
13A (6) L GRILLE Screen young salmon with lines – not us /
GRILSE (young salmon) with LL (lines) for S (shortened form of ‘us’)
14A (7, hyphenated) L TWIN-TUB Blunt wit aggravated washer /
anag (i.e. aggravated) BLUNT WIT
16A (4) (‘silly’ walk) OLPE Bow is missing /
SLOPE (bow) with S (shortened form of ‘is’) ‘missing’ = LOPE
17A (6) I THOLOI Missing knight, despoiled endless monolithic tombs /
anag (i.e. despoiled) of MO(N)OLITHI(C) – endless, and without N (knight)
20A (8) (unclued) MINISTRY Unclued /
to be deduced
22A (4) (‘silly’ walk) KRTE Turkey pecks every now and then /
TR (Intl Vehicle Reg’n of Turkey) + pEcKs ‘every now and then’ = TREK
23A (4) (‘silly’ walk) APCE Power unit /
P (power) + ACE (unit) = PACE
25A (8) A TRASHMEN Harass stingy junk collectors /
TRASH (harass) + MEAN (stingy)
28A (6) M SERRAE Press close to soul more than one saw? /
SERR (to press closely) + ÂME (soul)
30A (4) (‘silly’ walk) OTTS Lodge with missing tenor /
STO(W) (lodge, W (with), missing) + T (tenor) = STOT
31A (7) I BASALTS Retreating sailor navigates around the rocks /
AB (sailor) retreating + SAILS (navigates) around T (the)
32A (6) D LAHORE City boy lands when ship goes /
LAD (boy) + (S)HORE(S) (lands without SS – ship)
33A (4) (‘silly’ walk) SPET Soak all but the middle /
STEEP (soak) without (all but) the middle = STEP
35A (7) L LATAKIA Volunteers are overcome by revolting alkali tobacco /
TA (volunteers) surrounded (overcome) by anag (i.e. revolting) of ALKALI
36A (4) E TIAN Inmate, not married, cooked vegetable dish /
anag (i.e. cooked) of INMATE less M (married)
37A (12) (unclued) FLYING CIRCUS Unclued /
to be deduced
Clue No Length Extra Letter Entry Clue /
1D (8, 3 words) J MAN TO MAN Confidentially mark gown on top in January /
MANTO (gown) on top of M (mark) in JAN
2D (3) O OFF Money once, farthing’s no longer available /
OOF (old slang for money) + F (farthing)
3D (6) N NATION Company leaves union people /
CONNATION (union) less CO (company)
4D (5, hyphenated) E Y-MOTH Parent nearly following unknown insect /
MOTHE(R) (nearly parent) after Y (unknown)
5D (6) S PEQUOT Native American copies a lost quotation /
(A)PES (copies) without A plus QUOT (abbrev for quotation)
6D (7) C TARBOYS Shearer’s assistants to bottle his finishing? /
T (to) + CARBOY (bottle) + S (end of ‘his’)
7D (6) (‘silly’ walk) OTLLSR Section wag /
S (section) + TROLL (wag – the tongue) = STROLL
8D (9) H NILPOTENT In confusion, leave at first then opt in – there’s nothing when it’s squared? /
anag (i.e. confusion) of L (first of leave) + THEN OPT IN
9D (4) A SMEE Duck upset seamer lacking runs /
anag (i.e. upset) of SEAME(R) without R (runs)
15D (9) P WHIPSTALL With height, foils remarkable aeronautic manoeuvre /
W (with) + H (height) + PIPS (foils) + TALL (remarkable)
17D (4) M TIES Newspaper unites /
double defn TIMES (newspaper) and TIES (unites)
18D (4) (‘silly’ walk) IKHE Start to hate little laughing boy /
H (start to hate) + IKE (Hebrew: Isaac, or Ike – laughing one) = HIKE
19D (8) A BENISONS Head is against Sabbath blessings /
BEAN (head) + IS + ON (aganst) + S (Sabbath)
21D (7) (‘silly’ walk) STEURAN Has historical adventure /
S (contraction of has) + AUNTER (obsolete word for adventure) = SAUNTER
24D (6) N CATHAY Tackle heroin with vote against China /
CAT (tackle) + H (heroin) + NAY (vote aganst)
26D (6) P ARABIC Almost fanatic about following America plan relating to part of the Middle East /
AP (American plan) followed by RABI(D) (almost rabid/fanatic) + C (about)
27D (6) A MALEIC Mineral overwhelms beer: like a salt got from apples /
MICA (mineral) around (i.e. overwhelms) ALE (beer)
29D (5) L ASSAI Attack fruit /
double defn ASSAIL (attack) and ASSAI (frit)
30D (4) I OLAF Old die backing Norwegian King /
O (old) + FAIL (die) backing (up)
34D (3) N TAU Cross upset aunt /
anag (i.e. upset) of AUNT

One Response to “Enigmatic Variations No. 917 – Prime Mover by Samuel”

  1. Mike Laws says:

    A fine puzzle – didn’t need ‘em, but it provoked me to revisit the 2-volume set of Monry Python’s Flying Circus Just the Words (Methuen 1989).

    Great fun!

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