Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times 13,680 / Gaff

Posted by shuchi on April 29th, 2011


The line “A celebratory crossword” at the top of the clue list gave me some trepidation. Not being up on the details of the big event happening today, this meant a challenge, and a challenge it proved to be. The 53-letter anagram spread all over the grid looked insurmountable for a long time till the non-thematic clues began to fall in place and gave me some letters to go upon.

Getting the big one was a huge relief and then onwards it was an almost clean wrap-up – 1A and 24A need better explanations, your help is invited. /* Updated. Thanks to DL and jmac. */

An impressive composition by Gaff, researching for which has taken my knowledge of royal wedding trivia several notches up.


10 OVERSEE Archbishop’s position is over see, i.e. the episcopal see.
11 TEENAGE (ELEGANT)* – L (large) + E (energy); and an apt definition – “seven difficult years”.
13, 20, 27, 7, 23, 19, 4, 12 DOES YOUR CHEWING-GUM LOSE ITS FLAVOUR ON THE BEDPOST OVERNIGHT (TODAY SMUG PRINCE ENTHRONES HIS OUT-OF-THIS-WORLD VOGUE LOVER BEG)*  The longest anagram in my blogging history. When I saw the letters for “chewing-gum” appearing I was puzzled till Googling for “chewing-gum royal wedding” gave me the backstory. Not having heard of this song I still couldn’t figure out the rest of the phrase, then the letters for “overnight” fell into place and another Google search gave me the answer. The song is composed by Lonnie Donegan (see Conrad Cork’s comment #5 for more on the song), which forms the answer for the related clue 8D. Great anagram fodder. /* Update: mike04 at comment #6 points out that there is an extra R in the anagram fodder! */
15 EASTERTIDE E[verything] ASTER (flower) TIDE (spring maybe) – the high tide that occurs at the time of the new moon or the full moon, when the sun, moon, and earth are approximately aligned. Good clue!
16 IRIS hidden in ‘sIR ISaac’. The word ‘Newton’ is superfluous to the wordplay though it does give a nice surface.
18 ORBS first letters of “of Royal Ballet School’s”. I have got used to solving/blogging mostly Ximenean setters, and so found “start” instead of “starts of” jarring.
24 END ON An “end on” perspective is one with the end projected towards the observer. “Kate does” possibly because “Middleton” ends in ON? Not a fan of this clue.
26 ADOPTED (POET)* in ADD (supplement)
28 THE PROVINCES THE PRINCE’S (William’s) around [l]OV[e]


2 EMERGES (SEEM)* around ERG (a unit of energy)
3 UPSETTER cd. An upsetter is one who has an unexpected win, defeating the favourite competitor.
3 ROSETTES SETTER (I) reversed, around OS (oversize, i.e. great). There’s a problem here – “I rise” is fine for the surface but the cryptic reading suffers – “SETTER” needs the verb “rises”. In his fine book, Ximenes suggests clueing such cases as “I must/can rise”.
5 GET YOU DOWN dd, which reminds me of Dory’s quip in the film Finding Nemo – “”When life gets you down you know what you’ve got to do? Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming. Just keep swimming, swimming, swimming.” The other “down” is what bedding may be stuffed with.
6 IDEAS hidden in ‘brIDE A Serious’. Not convinced that “amount” suggests a hidden word accurately.
8 LONNIE DONEGAN (NINE DOG LANE ON)*. Interestingly, Lonnie Donegan was born on 29th April 1931 – had he been alive today he would have reached the age of eighty. I cannot find confirmation for the “son of refuse collector” bit but this is another song by Lonnie Donegan – “My Old Man’s a Dustman”.
14 AT THE NADIR HEN (female) AD (these days), in ATTIR[e] (clothing cut short)
17 IN-PERSON dd, with “not remotely” and a somewhat cryptic “sophisticated person” as the two definitions.
21 GODLIKE (OLDER KING)* – R (right) N (knight)
25 SLAV VALS[e] (short dance) reversed. Valse is another name for waltz.

10 Responses to “Financial Times 13,680 / Gaff”

  1. DL says:

    alternative answers?

    1A Tears of grief. anagram: Is after forge.
    3D Rosettes. Setter (I) backwards with OS (oversize – great) in the middle.

  2. jmac says:

    Hi Schuchi,

    I think 1ac is Tears of Grief (anagram is after forge).

    24 ac ithought was because Kate Middleton ends in on, i.e end on.

  3. jmac says:

    Sorry we crossed DL. Agree with you about 3Dn.

  4. jmac says:

    And thank you Schuchi, I failed to get 14 dn and welcomed your explanation. Also thanks to Gaff for a very entertaining puzzle with a lovely misdirection at its heart – brought back childhood memories.

  5. Conrad Cork says:

    Donegan wasn’t the composer of the song. ‘Composition’ is the anagram indicator surely? The song is ‘by’ him in the sense that he recorded it, changing the word ‘spearmint’ in the 1920’s original to chewing-gum, presunably so as not to advertise and get banned from the BBC playlists.

    I enjoyed this so much that I want to buy Gaff a drink.

  6. mike04 says:

    Many thanks shuchi

    That 53-letter anagram appears to come from a 54-letter word group.
    The extra R? I think it floated up from “peserve” in 2dn!

  7. shuchi says:

    Thank you for your comments. Should have got 1A and 3D; 1A is very clever!

    @Conrak Cork: Thanks for the info on the song, I’ll edit the blog to refer to your comment.

    @mike04: Whoa. What a faux-pas! I wonder how many solvers noticed it. I guess most of us thought of the answer first and assumed the letters would fit. That’s what I did!

  8. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, shuchi, this 53/54 thing was exactly why I started to doubt about the device being a full anagram.
    Luckily, after I found ‘chewing-gum’ and ‘bedpost’ I remembered another puzzle from a while ago in the Guardian [probably an Araucaria or Paul] with the same song in it.
    So, there we were.

    I think there’s a lot to admire in this crossword.
    Clues like 1ac (TEARS OF GRIEF), 15ac (EASTERTIDE), 28ac (THE PROVINCES), 3d (ROSETTES) [‘rise’ is not really a problem for me], 14d (AT THE NADIR) are all very well written and contenders for my Clue of the Day.

    Despite the words “A celebratory crossword” there is no real theme on The Wedding going on, but references to it in the surfaces of several clues give us just enough.
    Exactly that what I hoped Paul would do today (and which he did not).

    Thank you Gaff and shuchi.

  9. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I found it.
    2 May 2009, Enigmatist:
    Also an anagram as one can see.

  10. lenny says:

    I came to this late after doing the Times’s sycophantic themed puzzle and the Indy’s slightly more irreverent one. Thanks to Gaff and the FT for trumping them both in celebrating the great Lonnie’s eightieth.
    I don’t know if this would be of any help to new solvers but, whenever I see a 50-odd letter anagram, I write out the phrase as a series of dashes on a separate piece of paper. Doing this today, I recognised the song after getting only four checking letters. It’s quite an achievement for Shuchi to finish this without knowing the song, even with the aid of a Google.

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