Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25121 – What Shall We Do With The Drunken Boatman

Posted by Uncle Yap on September 21st, 2010

Uncle Yap.

When, as usual, I quickly read through all the clues before I start solving, I could not help but notice a common thread of drinks and drunks; just my cup of tea, if you will pardon the mixed metaphor … and Boatman did not disappoint with his wide array of creative and testing devices forming a rich tapestry of delightful clues. One of the best puzzles I have had the privilege to blog.

9,6 ANTICLOCKWISE *(wines cocktail)
10 IGLOO I (Italy) GLOOmy (sad minus MY for Boatman’s)
11 TOAST Ins of AS in TOT (under-age person)
12 DANDELION *(add online) Allusion to the dandelion clock, a children’s amusement in which the number of puffs needed to blow the filamentous achenes from a dandelion is supposed to tell the time.
13 LILY PAD Ins of *(I ply) in LAD (under-age person) “leaves floating” What a clever def
14 EVICTOR E (last letter of casE) VICTOR (winner) another very creative def
17 ARSON Would you believe that this ha was one of the last that I solved? Isn’t that an irony that the simplest form of cryptic clue can sometimes be the hardest to spot?
19 TAP Easily my COD T (last letter or ender of BART, written as bartender) A P (pee)
20 SPROG *(grasshopper minus seraph)
21 SPASSKY Ins of *(asks) in SPY (agent) Beautiful surface for Boris Vasilievich Spassky (born 1937) a Soviet-French chess grandmaster. He was the tenth World Chess Champion, holding the title from late 1969 to 1972
22 SKINFUL Ins of K (last letter of cocK, indicated by cocktail as pointed out by the ever-vigilant Eileen, thanks) in SINFUL (evil)
24 WASHED OUT Cha of W (whisky) A SHE (girl) DOUBT (not to trust) minus B (first letter of Bottle)
26 AMUCK A (one) MUCK (dirt) corruption of AMOK, one of the many words in the English language contributed by the Malay language but most people never remember compound, merbau and kris but they never forget amok
28 NOOSE *(someone minus me)
29 DRAGONFLY Flagon dry (no drink in the pot) is Spoonerism for this insect whose larva is called a nymph

1 SALT Another unusual cha of S (after the apostrophe) A LT (first letters of Little Troubled)
2 ST PAUL *(LAST UP) with conjointed SET as anagrin. Paul of Tarsus was an avid letter-writer, contributing about a dozen epistles or books to the New Testament of the Holy Bible
3 SCOTS PINES *(copses isn’t)
4 LOADED Cha of LO (look) *(dead) with drunk doing double duty
5 SKIN-DEEP Ins of KIND (tender) in SEEP (soak) Beauty is only skin-deep
7 CLOISTER C (first letter of College) + ins of S (school) in LOITER (hang around)
8,13 DOWNLOADS DOWN (drink) LOADS (lots of stuff)
15 INSTIGATOR *(roasting it)
16 REGAL Rev of LAGER (booze)
18 SNAPSHOT Ins of NAP (snooze) SH (quiet, please) in SOT (drunk)
19 THYROIDS Ins of I (one) in *(dry shot)
22 SATRAP *(Sparta) Persian governor … I hope we have not forgotten the last Shah of Iran, Mohammad Reza Shah Pahlavi (1919-1980) who was overthrown in 1979
23 FLUFFY Bearing down is fluffy .. wordplay thanks to NeilW First letter of foot F turn to the wind LUFF (sailing term) Y first letter of yachtsman.
24 WINO Another creative device … to lose everything is to win nothing or WIN O
27 KEYS dd for those buttons on your keyboard as well as those openers kept together in a bunch

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

37 Responses to “Guardian 25121 – What Shall We Do With The Drunken Boatman”

  1. NeilW says:

    Well done Uncle Yap

    You should probably add a little elucidation to 27dn that Control Space are keyboard keys…

    23dn – First letter of foot F turn to the wind LUFF (sailing term) Y first letter of yachtsman.

    Only two niggles – is ANTICLOCK a word in its own right? The definition of 19dn should really read “throats” in the plural; I’ve never heard of anyone having two thyroid glands

  2. NeilW says:

    Actually my comment about more than one thyroid is not quite technically correct but the niggle still stands in the context of the clue, I think. (As the thyroid migrates in foetal development, it can leave little remnants along the route which may themselves be troublesome later in life…)

  3. molonglo says:

    Another great blog, Uncle Yap. I shot through the top half of this and bogged down at the bottom. Loved the FLUFFY clue. Didn’t think much of 1d. We had a very similar IGLOO on 24/7. Last to go in was 24a, another good one.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap

    This was too tough for me to complete but I enjoyed those that I got.

    I now wish I could find someone who would teach me to drink and smoke and I hope that she’s gorgeous as well.

    Any offers?

  5. Uncle Yap says:

    Bryan, be careful what you ask for.
    Ever heard Rolf Harris singing :
    I never smoked and I never gambled, I never drank at all —
    Until I met my two good amigos, Nick O’Teen and Al K. Hol!

    After many years of the addictive habit, I gave up the former when I became a grandfather. Today, I can taste a good Scotch with greater relish and enjoyment :-)

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, UY.

    Boatman puzzles don’t come along very often, so I looked through the archive before starting this and saw that I’d found some of the more recent ones rather heavy going. However, I seemed to tune into the wavelength more readily with this one and soon found it totally absorbing.

    On first looking through, before starting to solve, I was struck by the fact that ‘cocktail’ appeared three times in the across clues but, on getting down to it, I saw that ‘cocktail’ was used differently each time: as anagram fodder [9,6] as anagram indicator [13ac] and as indicating the letter K [22ac], producing a superb clue in each case [although I do echo NeilW’s niggle re ANTICLOCK].

    I often say that there are too many great clues to mention and then go on to mention a fistful but today I shall resist. It was a super puzzle from start to finish. Very many thanks, Boatman.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap @ 5

    I’d never heard of the Rolf Harris ditty but I sure will be extra careful when the offers come a-rolling in.

    Of course, it is said that the Definition of a Queer Australian is a man who prefers women to beer.


  8. Martin H says:

    Nice commentary UY, and super stuff from Boatman, with the best Spooner clue I’ve seen in a long while. As Eileen says, too many good clues to mention.

    No cd’s, I notice. The odd good one to leaven the mix can be welcome, and for 23 d, ‘bearing down’ just by itself with no further elaboration, might have been rather good. In the context of so much excellent wordplay elsewhere in the puzzle, the resulting groan would have gone down very well.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks to Uncle Yap and Boatman for an enjoyable start to the day.

    I was slightly put off by the plural in 19d., and your explanation, Neil W. has done little to settle my stomach – migrating thyroids? :D

    I guessed 9/6 straight away, but didn’t put it in till I had the crossing letters, because it didn’t seem right.

    I’d never heard of Spassky, so thanks for the enlightenment, UY.

  10. Boatman says:

    Ah yes, the lack of CDs … I just think they’re cheating, somehow. Much of the fun in solving “proper” clues comes from the gentle unhinging of the brain that goes with dividing one’s attention between guessing the definition and parsing the wordplay, and half of that is missing with a CD (and you get the same thing in inverse in the definition-free “H to O” style of clue, but it’s probably best not to get me started there). Not that I can take the moral high ground in writing consistently “proper” clues, of course – it comes down to what clicks with each of us individually, and conventions (as I’ve said before) will subtly shift through the years.

    Anyway, thank you, UY and others, for your lovely comments, which have made my morning brighter. Eileen – yes, we’re on a shared wavelength today – glad you enjoyed the COCKTAIL business. I decided that the split in 9/6 was just about acceptable, on the grounds that ANTI, CLOCK and WISE can be read as independent words.

    All best …

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Very enjoyable, but tough at the end. I also failed on three answers, including 27d, so thanks for these UY. I did wonder if KEYS also control the opening of doors to the space beyond, in addition to the other intepretations? If so, a very clever clue.

    Why did I fail on DRAGONFLY, despite trawling the dictionary for all words beginning D_A_O? Possibly because I had OREADS etc in mind. I agree with Martin H about this being a superior Spoonerism.

    (Question to Eileen: Had I said “about Boatman’s creating a superior Spoonerism”, I think that would have been grammatically correct, why don’t/wouldn’t/couldn’t/can’t I say “this’s being a superior Spoonerism”?)

  12. Martin H says:

    Hello Boatman – I’m right with you on CD’s: they are a sort of cheating, and I consistently denigrate them on this blog. But crosswords are not a dangerous game (are they?), and a bit of cheating, used very sparingly, can add variety and surprise to the mix.

    Thanks for your work today, and please continue writing “proper” clues for our enjoyment.

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave – thanks for that!

    The short answer is that, in ‘Boatman’s creating a superior Spoonerism’, ‘creating’ is a gerund, whereas ‘being’ in ‘this being…’ is a participle.

    [You could also have said, ‘Boatman creating / having created…’ :-) ]

  14. Stella Heath says:

    Also, Dave, the Saxon genitive is only really admissible with people and, if you like, other animated beings. ‘This’ is a pronoun.

  15. Stef says:

    Hello Boatman, just wanted to add my thanks, too – a superb puzzle today I think with brilliant clues. As others have said, too many good clues to mention but I do think that 23d stands out. Took me ages to get the definition (hence coming here in the first place), and elicited a big smile when I did!

  16. Stef says:

    Uncle Yap, I love the title, too!

  17. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks UY and Boatman. Agree with Stef ‘fluffy’ as ‘bearing down’ was the pick of an impressive bunch today.

  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    Nearly! I see a few others were nearly too. 1d was my couldn’t see it one. Wasn’t sure about the wordplays for some, so ta for the blog.

  19. Eileen says:

    Hi Uncle Yap

    I’ve only just noticed that you have a typo in 22ac: the K comes from ‘cock’ [‘cocktail’], as I mentioned in my comment 6, not ‘drink’.

  20. Tokyo Colin says:

    This was inded a wonderful puzzle and blog, many thanks Boatman and Uncle Yap. There were so many clues that stubbornly resisted but eventually yielded to either intense concentration or the “think of something else and then look back” technique, each time with a deep sense of satisfaction. I cannot name a favourite clue, but I must say 29ac is the best crossword spoonerism I have come across.

    I am also very grateful for the fact that while there were numerous colloquial terms (SPROG, f.ex.), there were no blatant “parochial obscurities” to use UY’s term. Very refreshing!

    I have one minor niggle. AS UY states, AMOK is a malay word. I needed all three crossing letters and the Check button to accept that it could be spelt AMUCK. I am sure it is in Chambers or Collins but I find it slightly disrespectful. (Of course I cannot propose an alternative for A_U_K.)

    Also, on the iPhone the puzzle loaded without the setter’s name, so I thought I was going to have to guess who the setter was from the cluing/clueing. But the appearance of BOATMAN in two of the clues soon solved the mystery. I hope Boatman returns soon, he deserves to be in bright lights, not lurking in anonymity.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog Uncle Yap. I really enjoyed the variety in this puzzle and found it quite a tough one. My favourite was 23dn — seems to be a bit of a consensus there!

    Thanks also to Boatman for commenting!

  22. pat says:

    A fine puzzle, with many beautiful surfaces, as noted above. I came unstuck at the last with NAUT at 1dn. As an abbreviation in Chambers of nautical, I thought “Boatman’s” a fair definition, and decided “a little troubled” was okay for A in the head (NUT). I had aleady considered SALT, but missed the wordplay for the LT and rejected it. Ho hum . . .

  23. Kate says:

    Excellent puzzle! Regrettably I didn’t get 1d, opting for Balt instead of Salt (though I had no idea why that should be correct!)
    Bryan – I’ll teach you to drink and smoke ;)

  24. John G says:

    One niggle nobody’s mentioned – the late Shah didn’t have satraps – they were provincial governors in rather more ancient times, I think?

  25. Bryan says:

    Kate @ 23

    Wow Thanks!

    When can you start?

  26. PeterO says:

    Excellent puzzle indeed: Thank you Boatman and Uncle Yap. I too was taken aback at first by ANTICLOCK, but decided that, since it is normal to allow a light to contain more than one word, the split ANTI CLOCK (or, for that matter, ANTIC LOCK) squeaks home.
    Stella ‘the Saxon genitive is only really admissible with people …’? The Winter’s Tale is the first thing that comes to mind.

  27. muck says:

    Thanks Boatman & UY: wonderful puzzle & blog
    Good to see my pseudonym in 26ac!

  28. Sylvia says:

    Almost went astray when, presuming a drinks theme, I entered schnapps at 18 (sh for quiet, naps for a snooze) before reconsidering!

  29. J&C says:

    A most enjoyable puzzle, but we too got naut for 1d.

  30. judy bentley says:

    Message to Dave Ellison – no need to trawl through the dictionary, try Grandma Alice’s Crossword Cracker.

  31. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, judy bentley @ 30, I hadn’t come across GACC before, and it was quick to react. I usually use However, it was a question of the level of “cheating” (defined by my own conscience) I needed to use to get the answer, and given the letters I had already got, it ought not to have taken long to use the dictionary, which my conscience does not define as cheating.

    Thanks also Eileen and Stella Heath. I sat O level Latin at 14, 51 years ago, and such things are a bit hazy now.

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave

    Yes, it’s always struck me as ironical that terms like ‘gerunds’ and ‘participles’ immediately suggest ‘Latin’ – we do have them in English, too! In fact, the Head of English at the [state] school where I taught was indignant when Latin was dropped from the curriculum: “We’ve always relied on you people to teach English grammar!”! [That’s how I ended up joining them!]

    But, O Level at 14 – I’m impressed! :-)

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This is why people like crosswords!
    Sheer quality.

    Even though I had seen the anagram for ANTICLOCKWISE before, and just like molonglo (#3) IGLOO, and REGAL (for example, recently in a nice Radler puzzle at Big Dave’s site), this was a real corker!

    So many splendid surfaces, like 21ac (SPASSKY) in which every single part of the clue falls in place [so agree with you, UY (and thank you for your blog)], the WASHED OUT of 24ac or the ‘horrific’ 25d (EVER).
    I think I haven’t heard my PinC say so many times “that’s clever” and “I like that” as today.

    There were the cunning devices of 2d and 19ac, in which words had to be split. However, there is a difference. Boatman divided ‘upset’ in a natural way (‘up’+ ‘set’), but took some liberties in splitting up ‘Bartender’. We liked it, but purists may disagree.

    For me, the main thing, though, is Boatman’s repetitive use of some words in completely different ways.
    COCKTAIL, for example.
    In 9,6 it is part of the anagram fodder, in 22ac it represents the ‘tail of cock’ (=K) and in 13ac it is the anagrind.
    DRUNK, another one.
    In 11ac it is an insertion indicator, in 4d the anagrind (and even a bit more), in 18d it is part of the construction (‘sot’) and in 24d it is the definition.

    As solvers, we found this crossword hugely enjoyable, but there’s also a feeling that the setter’s around – almost every clue reflects the joy of clueing.

    This was probably the best Boatman so far [and of course, just like on previous occasions, he was there himself (in 10ac and 1d)].

    It looks like the quality of Boatman’s crosswords is inversely proportional to its frequency – let’s leave it like that!


  34. Gerry says:

    Exactly as Kate above, I tried Balt rather than salt (Balt-Baltic-boatman!) and wasn’t thrilled at salt.

  35. El Stano says:

    Hello All,
    Am I missing something here? For 9,6 the answer is (13), i.e. one word. So why are folk going on about the split(s)?

  36. El Stano says:

    Answering my own questions: all words in the grid have to stand alone. Well, in 40 years of solving, that concept has never crossed my mind. You surely must be excessively purist to demand such. Without trawling the archives I’d bet a pint that there have been other breaches.
    You live and learn, though…

  37. Daniel Miller says:

    El Stano – it seems to be a Guardian thing :)

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