Posted by bridgesong on June 11th, 2011
Given the structure of the grid I was expecting to find a nina in the letters that form the circumference of the puzzle but it soon became apparent that the final destination referred to in the preamble was not to be found there. It turned out to be at 2, 17 down. The clues themselves showed considerable ingenuity and a variety of clue types. One (2, 17 down again) is the longest clue of its type that I can remember encountering. Some clues were very easy, but they were balanced by others, particularly the asterisked ones some of which were virtually impossible to solve until the theme had been deduced.
I solved most of the puzzle in bed on Sunday morning. My wife was reading a book next to me. By some extraordinary coincidence it was Audrey Niffenegger’s Her Fearful Symmetry, which is not only set in and around Highgate Cemetery but also features a Guardian crossword setter as a character in the novel.
Hold mouse over clue number to see clue.
|7||HALIFAX||I in HALF-AX(e). I generally consider it a weakness in a clue for it to include part of the solution (except of course for hidden words), but the insertion of the letter I (the setter) just about justifies it in this case|
|9||BLAH||Hidden reversed in “lethal blows”|
|10||ACCOLADES||CO(mpany) in AC(e) LAD(i)ES. I guessed this fairly quickly but only managed to deduce the wordplay as I wrote this blog. It wasn’t immediately obvious which word was going to lose its last letter (become de-tailed).|
|13||ROOF RACK||ROO, FRACK (for frock)|
|15||ASHE||A SHE. Younger readers may need to be reminded of the achievements of Arthur Ashe|
|17||CROP||Hidden in “elastic rope”.|
|20||OOMPH||MOO reversed, PH|
|21||SAINT PAUL||*(NUPTIALS, A)|
|22,5||TOMB RAIDER||TOM, BRAIDER|
|24,8*||MICHAEL FARADAY||ICH in *(ALE,A FARMYARD) less R.
|25||STIR FRY||Cryptic definition|
|1,23*||KARL MARX||L in KARMA, RX. This was the first of the asterisked clues that I solved, and it opened up the theme for me, as I knew that Marx was buried in Highgate Cemetery.|
|2,17||HIGHGATE CEMETERY||HIGH (drunk) GATE (number of people) C(arriag)E MET(ropolitan) E(xit) R(ailwa)Y. “Remains there” is the definition; it’s one of the longest clues I can remember.|
|3||CARAFE||* A FARCE|
|4*||PAUL FOOT||* (A FOOL PUT), but also PAUL (another Guardian setter) FOOT (a measure). I hadn’t realised he was also buried in Highgate Cemetery.|
|11,18*||CHRISTINA ROSSETTI||(w)RIST in CHINA, * (STORIES, T). When I saw “first mate” in the clue, I was looking for a name including the letters eve, as this usage had appeared in a crossword by another setter earlier in the week. Here, however, “first” indicates that “mate ringing topless joint” comes before the rest of the clue.|
|12||GUSTO||* (OUT, G S)|
|16||OCTETTES||ETC in SET-TO all reversed|
|19||SMITHY||S M I, THY. The first three letters are the leading (or “top” letters of Some Money It).|
|20||OWLETS||0 W(ith), LETS. LETS stands for Local Exchange Trading System.|
|21,6||SLIPWAYS||W A (lad)Y in SLIPS. This was the last clue I solved and I was troubled by the W until I realised that it refers to the fact that W is M upside down (or turned). “Piers” is the definition and the surface reading is brilliant.|