Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,397 / Crucible

Posted by duncanshiell on August 10th, 2011


The appearance of a Crucible puzzle in The Guardian today was flagged in the Fifteensquared comments on yesterday’s Independent puzzle from Radian. Crucible is The Guardian incarnation of Radian. Perhaps compilers could tell us why they use different names in different publications.



There were a number of themes running through this puzzle – anonymity, sports, Trade Unionism, other meanings of striker and injunctions (which I suppose in the case of super injunctions amounts to anonymity). I note that the word or phrase super-injunction or ‘super injunction’ has not yet made it into Chambers Dictionary. Speaking of Chambers, it is a joy to find that Crucible doesn’t take his definitions slavishly from the Dictionary. He makes much greater use of equivalent phrases or meanings, many of which, of course, appear in Chambers Thesaurus rather than the Dictionary.

There was some very intricate and complex cluing in this puzzle which is the type of clue construction I enjoy most. I hope the blog below illustrates the point.

In terms of sport we had references to cricket, rugby (union and/or league), football, golf and boxing. Looking at the rain streaming down outside, and scanning the local forecast for the next feew days, I don’t think I will be venturing onto the golf course soon.

If I was being pedantic at 1 Across, I would say that the England Lions are the second team rather than the top cricket team and probably don’t play in Test matches. The rugby team would be the British Lions not the English Lions, and although the English football team sport three lions on their vests, I don’t think they play Tests. Afternote: As cholecyst says at comment 3 below, I am being completely pedantic and actually wrong, as English and test player are two separate elements of the clue and should not be connected. Thanks.

It was good to see Murrayfield used in a sporting context rather than a purely Scottish context. No doubt some solvers thought they were looking for a Scottish word initially at 19 Across. I did. Twickenham or The Millenium Stadium or The Aviva Stadium or any well known rugby ground could have been used in place of Murrayfield but the use of Murrayfield gave good misdirection.

The use of ‘Wells canon’ was another good piece of misdirection given the religious connotations of Wells cathedral and Canons.

I am not a regular reader of Esquire magazine but have been known to browse copies at my hairdresser while waiting for a cut.

You can probably deduce that I enjoyed this puzzle.

Finally, if any HTML geek [wonk] can tell me how to get a fixed width column within an otherwise variable width table, I would be grateful. As I understand it, I have to format the whole table as variable width to allow it to reformat iself onto different size screens. If you are viewing this on a handheld I suspect you will struggle with any column. The Structure column in the table below would look better as a fixed width. In the meantime I’ll experiment with the use of non-breaking spaces and see if that can effectively force a constant width. Afternote: forcing non-breaking spaces into the longest occurence of an entry in the structure column seems to provide the solution.

Another afternote: As pointed out at comments 12 and 13 below, the grid is a pangram.

Final note: I’ve done a bit of tweaking of the formatting and clearing out of minor irritations that have got into the template over nearly 100 blogs. I would be keen to hear from people who have had problems vieiwng the blogs on small screens, whether this offering is any better. If you see no change, please say so. Thanks.

No. Clue Wordplay / Structure (if appropriate) Entry
9 Delivery as English test player got out protecting century … (9) (E [English] + LION [player in an international sporting fixture or test match]) containing (got) (OUT containing [protecting] C [century])

E (L (O (C) UT) ION)

ELOCUTION (the art of effective speaking in terms of enunciation and delivery)
10 … to this hook? (5) CATCH (given that Crucible seems to be implying cricket Test Matches in 1 Across, one of the ways of getting dismissed at cricket is by being caught) CATCH (anything that fastens or holds; hook) double definition
11 United Nations geek backed new 25 (7) UN (United Nations) + WONK (a serious or studious person, especially one with an interest in a trivial or unfashionable subject; geek) reversed (backed) + N (new)


UNKNOWN (unknown person; anonymous [which is the entry at 25 Across])
12 Guy somersaulting in nude shocked 25 (7) MAN (guy) reversed (somersaulting) contained in (in) an anagram of (shocked) NUDE

UN (NAM)<  ED*

UNNAMED (unknown person; anonymous [entry at 25 Across])
13 Penny-pinching meal’s great (5) SUPPER (meal) excluding (pinching) P (penny)


SUPER (exceptionally good; great)
14 Strikers would be the same at Lord’s, taking credit for pressure (9) CRICKETERS (cricketers play at Lord’s cricket ground and are also strikers when batting) excluding (taking) CR and replacing it with (for) P (pressure)


PICKETERS (people or groups stationed to watch and dissuade those who go to work during a strike; strikers [themselves])
16 Part of Wells’ canon’s new habiliments hide varicose vein (3,9,3) Anagram of (new) HABILIMENTS containing an anagram of (varicose [twisted]) VEIN


THE INVISIBLE MAN (novella by H G Wells, one of many of his in the same genre [canon])
19 Tête-à-tête at Murrayfield, special summit about awful mud (9) S (special) + (CROWN [summit] containing an anagram of [awful] MUD)


SCRUMDOWN (a closing in of rival Rugby Union [or Rugby League] forwards round the ball. The front rows of the opposing scrummagers go head to head [tête-à-tête]. Murrayfield is the home of Scottish Rugby Union, although it has also staged English Rugby League matches)
21 Police about to upset anthem (5) MET (reference Metropolitan Police) containing (about) TO reversed</b

M (OT)  ET

MOTET (anthem)
22 Laughed and left editor pursuing endless subject of 13 5 (7) GIGGS (reference Ryan Giggs, Manchester United footballer, widely regarded as the subject of a recent SUPER INJUNCTION [entries at 13 Across and 5 Down]) excluding the last letter (endless) S + L (left) + ED (editor)


GIGGLED (laughed)
23 Promote original article in French (7) (UR [prefix or primitive meaning ‘original’] + THE [definite article]) contained in (in) FR (French)


FURTHER (promote or help forward)
24 Intrigues sometimes conceal suspect (5) Hidden word in (conceal) INTRIGUES SOMETIMES GUESS (think; believe; suspect)
25 Sadly not many of us save the FT – it’s impersonal (9) Anagram of (sadly) NOT MANY OF US excluding (save the) FT ANONYMOUS (lacking distinctive features or individuality; lacking a name; impersonal)
1 Sex in Esquire’s spread needs … (10) IT (sexual intercourse) contained in (in) an anagram of (spread) ESQUIRES (Esquire is a men’s magazine founded in 1933)


2 … story trashing pop with Kylie changing sides (5,3) Anagram of (trashing) POP and [with] KYLIE where the L (left [side]) is exchanged for (changing) R ([right] side). The link to 1 Down is that Esquire magazine could well feature a story about Kylie Minogue [a pop singer of some repute])


PORKY PIE (Chambers tells me that technically it is PORKY or PORK PIE that are used as rhyming slang for lie [story] but PORKY PIE seems to me to be equally appropriate)
3 Guardian’s chasing peculiar kite (6) RUM (odd; strange; peculiar) + OUR (Guardian’s – this being The Guardian crossword)


RUMOUR (kite can be defined as a rumour or suggestion thrown out to see how the wind blows)
4 Zealot insists original nation starts here (4) First letters of (starts) ZEALOT INSISTS ORIGINAL NATION ZION (Jerusalem; the Jewish people; the Christian church [all examples of definitions in Chambers]) Possibly an &Lit. clue
5 Was it issued by trendy judge with smarm? (10) IN (trendy) + J (judge [one letter abbreviation in Chambers]) + UNCTION (smarm is defined as ‘to be unctuous’)


INJUNCTION (an inhibitory writ by which a superior court stops or prevents some inequitable or illegal act being carried out; clearly issued by a judge, trendy or otherwise)
6 Irish hero once managed to pen touching lines (8) (Anagram of [managed] ONCE containing [to pen] ON [touching]) + LL (line + line; lines)


O’CONNELL (reference Daniel O’Connell, Irish political leader in the first half of the 19th Century)
7 Block scurrilous items about celebrity’s bottom (6) Anagram of (scurrilous) ITEMS containing (about) last letter (bottom) Y of CELEBRITY


STYMIE (block; a situation on the putting green, once difficult to overcome, in which an opponent’s ball blocks the way to the hole; a situation from which it is impossible to proceed)
8 Dull report in Thursday’s daily leader (4) THU (Thursday) + first letter (leader) <bD of DAILY


THUD (dull sound; dull report)
14 Proper men ring first (10) PRIM (proper) + OR (other ranks; men) + DIAL (to use a telephone dial or keypad; ring)


PRIMORDIAL (existing from the beginning [of the world]; first)
15 Mavis’s lad G. Hurst trained at West Ham (4,6) SON (lad) + G + anagram of (trained) HURST + H (leftmost or westernmost [West] letter of HAM) Football fans will know that Sir Geoff Hurst, scorer of the final goal (giving him a hat-trick) in England’s World Cup win in 1966, played for West Ham United.


SONG THRUSH (mavis is another name for the song thrush)
17 25 different means to involve the French (8) Anagram of (different) MEANS containing (involve) LES (‘the’ in French)


NAMELESS (anonymous [entry at 25 Across])
18 Strikers here in union fight (8) MATCH (pairing; marriage; union) + BOX (fight)


MATCHBOX (a MATCHBOX contains matches which you strike to obtain a light or flame)
20 Rakes over government crooks (6) ROUÉS (rakes) containing (over) G (government)


ROGUES (pranksters; mischievous persons; cheats; crooks)
21 Tolpuddle man: "It’s my right to protect skill" (6) (MY + R [right]) containing (protecting) ART (skill)


MARTYR (reference the Tolpuddle Martyrs whose actions, arrest and trial led to the foundation of the Trade Union Movement in Great Britain in the 19th Century)
22 17 organised groups for what 13 5 does (4) GANGS (organised groups) excluding (less [reference the entry at 17 Down: ‘nameless’) N (name)


GAGS (a super injunction prevents reporting of [gags] the subject of the injunction.)
23 Total failure following cut (4) F (following) + LOP (cut)


FLOP (total failure)

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,397 / Crucible”

  1. crypticsue says:

    This is one of four cryptics I have solved today, all equally enjoyable. (Don’t usually have them done this early but am expecting big crowd of visitors so needed to get my daily cryptic fix sorted early). Thanks to Crucible for the fun and duncan for the explanations.

    On the subject of the different aliases, could it be that setters don’t want us assuming that all their cryptics will be the same level and so putting usoff from attempting one from a “harder” setter who may well have changed their style to suit the particular newspaper. Anax and his alter egos Loroso and Elkamere being fine examples of this theory, as Eileen and I know well!

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan for a very good blog and crucible for a very enjoyable puzzle.

    Many good clues in this. I ticked 14a, 22a, 2d, 4d, 5d, 15d, 18d and 22d as I went along but others were good candidates. Nice surfaces to many.

    I guessed 23 and hurriedly misread it as F (grade = failure) followed by lop. Your reading is clearly correct of course.

  3. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Duncan and Crucible. Can’t see what’s wrong with 9ac. Surely it’s just English = E and test player = LION. We are not compelled to link the two words as we would in the normal, non-crossword, world.

  4. sidey says:

    I can’t help with your HTML query duncan, but your efforts produce a dashed good blog.

    An amusing puzzle, I’m sure it wouldn’t be too difficult to produce a short story with all the interlinked clues.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks Duncan for the blog, and Crucible for an enjoyable puzzle.

    I agree with all you’ve said – a puzzle with a wide range of subjects, the small discrepancy at 9A ELOCUTION (the last one in btw) which had me searching for a cricketer named Loution, before I saw Lion. Favourites were 18A MATCHBOX, where “strikers” promptly misled, given its earlier use in 14A, and the sporting flavour of other clues; 22D GIGGLED, even this had a sporting reference, and 25A ANONYMOUS, the surface being somewhat accurate, when one considers the readership in 15sq’d for the FT vs. the Guardian cryptics.

    A very clear presentation, especially with the structure column. Sorry, I can’t help with the column question, not being a geek nor user of tables. But I would like to ask if you’ve found an easy way to change the font colours, other than doing each bit of (continuous) text in turn. Thanks.

  6. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Is it Monday today?

  7. scchua says:

    And I think crypticsue@1 is right about setters’ alter egos. Sometimes though, I wonder if one of those egos doesn’t (subconsciously) try to dominate another, as when a Loroso gets as tough as the toughest Anax :-).

  8. Gaufrid says:

    What value does your comment @6 add to this post? Please only comment when you have something constructive to contribute.

  9. Norman L in France says:

    Thank you, Duncan. Agree with Cholecyst, it’s just English and Lion read separately.

  10. tyro says:

    wonderful and lucid explanations – many thanks

  11. duncanshiell says:


    I use a professional Web Site builder and HTML editor for the original draft which allows me to select text and change colour fairly easily. I then look at the generated HTML within another [and better] Text Editor to extract any multiple errors that have crept in such as creating ‘width=’ or ‘height=’ tags in every line. Unfortunately that happens quite often. Any final proofreading edits and format tweaks are done manually within the WordPress editor. This final stage often involves typing in tags.

  12. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks you for your efforts Duncan. Unfortunately I can’t see all your third column or any of the fourth on my notebook. Nevertheless, the blog was clear and informative.

    More later, as I have to go out.

    Is this not a pangram?

  13. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    I don’t think I see anywhere in your, as usual, incredibly comprehensive blog the other “theme” that’s a bit of specialty for Crucible – it’s a pangram. There was also a sub-theme running through the non-sporting clues of newspapers, police, strikers etc – no rioters or looters though!

  14. NeilW says:

    Crossed, Stella!

  15. scchua says:

    Thanks, Duncan@11. I was afraid of that (not so simple that I can manage it).

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I speak a couple of languages other than English, Duncan, but I don’t speak the language you’ve used in comment 11! However, if it allows you to produce such comprehensive and beautifully laid out blogs, it gets my vote.

    Super puzzle, with an interesting theme roaming around the grid. The definitions of ‘kite’ and ‘mavis’ were new to me, and I also liked SCRUMDOWN and STYMIE.

    Indy yesterday, Guardian today … the setter will be off to the shops this weekend.

  17. Roger says:

    Thanks Duncan (needed the shades to read this one !) and Crucible for the entertainment.

    I agree about the &lit-edness of ZION and thought MARTYR was heading that way as well.

    In a similar vein, I wonder if there was a poetical side to O’CONNELL … can’t find one, but did like this quote attributed to him:
    “The poor old Duke of Wellington! What shall I say of him? To be sure he was born in Ireland, but being born in a stable does not make a man a horse.” 

    … and I suppose it’s too much to hope that the middle name of Geoff Hurst’s mother {Evelyn M (nee) Hopkins} was Mavis !

    WONK … what a lovely word.

  18. duncanshiell says:

    Stella @ 12

    I’m always worried about my blogs on small screens. Although it’s written on a 27″ screen, I do check it in a reduced size window to see what happens. Usually it’s OK, but I suspect I don’t check a small enough window. I also have access to a 13″ screen and usually check on that as well. As a result of your comment I have experimented a bit and find that I start to lose the right hand column when the window width (not diagonal) get below 8.25 inches. It would help if there some way of excluding the grey border on either side of the actual blog window, but I am not aware of an yway of doing this. It would also be useful if horizontal scroll bars came into play when the blog window gets too small, but that doesn’t seem to happen.

    It would be interesting to know what the general size of readers’ screen are.

  19. duncanshiell says:

    Stella @ 12 and NeilW @ 13

    Indeed, it is a pangram – thanks. I frequently get caught out by pangrams.

  20. superkiwigirl says:

    Thanks, Duncan, for your terrific blog, and Crucible for a most enjoyable puzzle – I really feel that we are being spoiled today!

    Another pangram, and one that I was pleased to be able to spot after recent Indy offerings from Phi (who gave us a “Q lipogram” on Friday) and Quixote (the full Monty on Monday). Here, the NW corner hinted at this very strongly from the off.

    Lots of great clues to develop and/or confuse the various themes as has already been said. I particularly liked SCRUMDOWN (and, yes, I wondered what sort of Scots word it could be containing 3 “m’s”) and PRIMORDIAL.

    For my part, I’m using a 13″ MacBook for today’s solves, and all of your columns are perfectly displayed (in their glorious technicolour) thank you Duncan.

  21. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Duncan & Crucible this was very enjoyable and everything looked great on my 19″ screen.

    However, as usual with Crucible, I was undone by one of his obscure sporting references: SCRUMDOWN. I figured it was SCRUM something but as I’ve never seen a rugby match in my life – and I never want to – this was much too much for me.

    Also, I couldn’t understand the reference to Mavis in 15d until now.

    I did like PORKY PIE and PICKETERS.

  22. Wanderer says:

    Thank you Crucible for a tremendous puzzle, and to Duncan for an exemplary blog.

    Just one thought: I am guessing that by referencing Ryan Giggs with super injunction, Crucible is breaking the law. As is The Guardian by publishing it, as is Duncan by explaining it, as is this site by running Duncan’s explanation, and as am I by commenting on it. Any lawyers out there who might shed some light on this?

  23. tmesis says:

    Thank you Duncan for a very well crafted excellent blog. I stumbled my way through this one but was at a complete loss to understand a few of the clues

    If it of help there was no display problems on my netbook (8.5″ screen width). It also displayed OK on the iPad in portrait mode (5.5″ screen width). It nearly displayed fully on my iPhone on which only 3 columns displayed for the acrossers but the fourth column was only slightly cropped for the downers

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to duncan for the blog. You explained several times why I had the correct answer without knowing why. I had heard of Mavis=Thrush but forgot it when I most needed it. :(

    I liked 1a: happily I was not led astray by trying to link English with ‘test player’.

    I felt pleased with myself for spotting that ‘tete-a-tete’ meant SCRUM but I had a major task in finding the rest of the word. I got myself locked into SCRUMMAGE which delayed my finding the correct answer.

  25. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Duncan
    “It would be interesting to know what the general size of readers’ screen are.”

    tmesis and superkiwigirl have probably answered part of your concerns regarding how tables appear on smaller displays and I can put this into context.

    An analysis of the screen resolutions used by the 12000+ visitors to 15² during the past four weeks reveals that about 7% of visitors are using small mobile devices and probably a further 1.5% access using a netbook or similar.

    If my understanding is correct, the plug-in WPtouch removes the two sidebars for those using small mobile devices (assuming they have not switched to the ‘normal’ site view) so the problem with the presence of sidebars is probably restricted to netbooks etc.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yesterday, in the Indy blog, Radian (aka Crucible and Redshank) said: “Nice for once to clear the Dutch high hurdle unbruised! Will I escape tomorrow?”.
    As I am a big fan of the style of this setter [the C of my Cryptic ABC] I thought saying for ‘for once’ was not really apt, but yes, Crucible, you did escape today! :)

    That said, this puzzle was surely not as hard as yesterday’s.
    I found it even relatively straightforward as Crucible left out the most devious of his devices today, which – to make no mistake – doesn’t mean that I didn’t like it.
    Faultless cluing and a lot of nicely interwoven surfaces and solutions made this crossword quite coherent.

    The only one I had to look up was O’CONNELL (6d). I saw the construction as such, but didn’t think of ‘on’ for ‘touching’. And perhaps I was a bit wrongfooted by the enumeration.

    My favourite of the day was the elegant 25ac (ANONYMOUS) which was perhaps a (rejected) leftover from Redshank? :)

    I have just one more question (not a point of criticism).
    One of the container indicators in 1ac is ‘got’. So, the past tense. How do purists, Ximeneans and/or editors think about this? I myself have been criticised for that in one of hobby-projects. When the surface really needs the past tense, it’s fine by me. Not sure whether it does here. Anyway, it’s just a question. Maybe someone has an answer or at least some thoughts?

    Many thanks Crucible, and – of course – Duncan for your super-detailed blog!

  27. Goujeers says:

    The British Lions play rugby union test matches

  28. NeilW says:

    Hi Sil

    “Damn!” says Crucible. “Fell at the first!” (Assuming you mean 1st ac instead of 9 ac.)

    I think you’re right – “gets” would have done perfectly well and had no effect on the surface.

    I agree with you that it was relatively easy for Crucible but a thing of beauty nonetheless.

  29. tyke says:

    18d might be an oblique reference to the matchgirls’ strike of 1888.

  30. William says:

    Gaufrid @8 – Bravo and well said. I suspect you’ll suppress this for being off-topic but at least you’ll know you have support.

  31. Stella Heath says:

    Hi, Duncan, if it’s any consolation, I can’t see the whole of my own blogs on this screen either. Other contributors, hawever, are no problem. Not being particularly computer-literate, I have no explanation or solution, so I take things as they come. Usually there’s enough information in the part I see to be able to guess the rest.

    An exception to this last statement today could be 15d, where I can’t see the explanation for ‘Mavis’, but this, for example, I had already surmised as the only possible explanation for her presence in the clue, so no harm done :)

    Having got through the across clues with only two five-letter answers, I was beginning to think this was going to be a toughie, particularly with all the sporting references, as it’s impossible for me to be up to date with what goes on in British sport. I do remember Geoff Hurst, but not who he played for, and Murrayfield only rang a very distant bell once I’d solved the clue.

    In the end, though, the cross-references sorted themselves out, leading the way to further answers, and the whole thing panned out quite satisfactorily. Very enjoyable, thanks Crucible.

  32. tupu says:

    Hi Bryan et al

    I remember mavis from the opening lines of the well known song Mary of Argyle. I associate the song with Robert Burns since it is his ‘Highland Mary’ to whom it apparently refers, but like the modern kilt it seems to be an English product.

    ‘I have heard the mavis singing, her love song to the morn’ etc.

  33. tupu says:


    Apologies. I now see from Wikipedia sub ‘kilt’ that the short kilt’s ‘English origins’ are strongly and very probably correctly disputed. The claim was made by Lord Dacre whom a Daily Telegraph commentator once described as ‘the former historian Hugh Trevor-Roper’ after his debacle over the Hitler diaries. I should have known better than rely on him in this instance. For Dacre’s claim see his paper in Hobsbawm and Ranger ‘The Invention of Tradition’ CUP.

  34. Bryan says:

    Tupu @ 32

    Many thanks!

    Tupu @ 33

    Actually Hugh Trevor-Roper also did some good stuff.

  35. tupu says:

    Hi Bryan

    I’m sure he did!

  36. Eileen says:

    Very many thanks, Crucible, for an excellent puzzle and Duncan for a splendid blog.

    All my favourite clues have been mentioned, I think, but 16ac and 15dn share my top spot for their superb story-telling surfaces and great misdirection. [As Roger says, wouldn’t it be just wonderful if Geoff’s mum’s name were Mavis – does anyone know?]

    Regarding setters’ aliases, I always assumed that crossword editors probably insisted that setters had a name exclusive to ‘their’ paper – but it’s true that there really is a difference [detectable but not always explainable] between their different personae.

    Now that petitions are back in fashion, how about our sending one to the Guardian Crossword Editor asking for a Guardian manifestation of Anax / Loroso and Alberich / Klingsor?

  37. Admin says:

    Your comment has been removed. Snide (or even snidey) remarks are not acceptable on this site.

  38. flashling says:

    After doing Radian’s blog yesterday I thought I’d do this one too and fine it was too if to me slightly easier. Anax has tried a few times to get here I believe. The only setter who seems to use the same is Monk and that Don M has said he tries to make his various personas differ.

    Great blogging style Duncan – wish I had the patience/time to do that much detail – many thanks and to Crucible/Radian for more head scratching.

  39. rfb says:

    Although the super-injunction references have been mentioned, no-one has mentioned 16ac in this connection, which really sums up the whole Giggs affair (prior to the news leaking out): THE INVISIBLE MAN. Right across the middle of the crossword – brilliant!

    P.S. The blogging style is admirable – thanks, duncanshiell.

  40. Paul B says:

    I use different pseudonyms because my first heroes, the Grauniad’s ‘Sons of Araucaria’, did so themselves. But it needn’t necessarily be so, even if it is a lot of fun: Monk is Monk wherever he appears. Some people cross-reference their pseudonyms (Araucaria/ Cinephile, or Don this, Don that, Don the other).

    Variation at the setter/publication interface is normal. Such things as style sheets impose limits or strong guidelines on what setters can and cannot do, while papers can have markedly different target audiences. Thus you’ll see differences as a matter of course.

  41. sheffield hatter says:


    I think you were a bit harsh in slapping down RC Whiting earlier today.

    “What value does your comment @6 add to this post? Please only comment when you have something constructive to contribute.”

    All he was saying was that he found the crossword an easy solve, like Monday’s. Plenty of contributors have made similar comments over the time I have been following this blog, though they are admittedly not usually as spiky as RC Whiting’s.

    Often I see posts which begin, “nothing much to say about this one…”, to which I (inwardly) comment, “so why are you here then?” I think quite a few contributors to this blog treat it as a sort of club, and perhaps feel they will have missed something, or be missed, if they do not appear on screen each day.

    Sometimes off the beam contributions, such as tupu’s @33, can be far from the subject (Hugh Trevor-Roper and kilts?) but have a charm of their own. And clearly you have no problem with contributions of this sort, though what “value” it added to today’s blog I am not quite sure. RC Whiting doesn’t exhibit anything approaching charm, in fact seems to delight in getting up people’s noses, but I thought his comment @6 deserved picking up:

    No, it’s not Monday today because, although I agree that I found this mostly fairly easy, the crossword had an elegance and fairness of cluing which I found almost entirely lacking in Rufus on Monday this week.

  42. riccardo says:

    I find the lettering of eg 6d in this puzzle (ans O’Connell) throws me every time I find it. Surely it is (1,7) and not (8)?

  43. Toby says:

    Thanks Duncan – looks great on my Blackberry! Thoroughly enjoyable puzzle from Crucible.

  44. Daniel Miller says:

    A tremendous crossword today – I was especially amused by Giggled (which was entirely apposite) – the surface to this clue was second to none even though there were many other fine clues.

  45. Daniel Miller says:

    So many elaborately constructed clues – I think Crucible deserves a lot of credit for using G. Hurst and West Ham to allude to football – small criticism though it is he might have continued the deception by referring to West Brom (being the Throstles) – but it’s only a very small criticism as the clue could have lead people around the houses.

  46. tupu says:

    Hi sheffield hatter

    re 33. I’m naturally glad you found this comment had a charm of its own. As you will have seen, it simply followed directly on 32 as an apology and correction for a brief but apparently incorrect aside re kilts. 32 itself was I think quite germane to the puzzle. As the cliche has it ‘one thing led to another’.

    I think I and several others are probably guilty of seeing the blog as a kind of community. I don’t see any great harm in this, provided it does not get excessively cosy and/or exclusive.

  47. sheffield hatter says:

    Hi tupu,

    Thanks for the response. I agree there is not normally any harm in a community of bloggers, but I have felt this week there is a group hostility towards RC Whiting. Partly this has been provoked by his spiky and sometimes even antagonistic comments, but I though Gaufrid’s response was a bit over the top, and I especially didn’t like it when it was cheered (@30). It smacks of bullying to me.

  48. Disco says:

    I’m afraid this post adds absolutely nothing to the discussion of Crucible’s puzzle and, being an HTML geek response, is likely to be lacking in charm of its own too.

    Duncan – you should find that using the “nowrap” attribute within a cell’s “td” tag has the same effect as using non-breaking spaces in that cell’s content (i.e. <td nowrap>Content Here). If you’re using more than a few words it should probably be less trouble too.

    However, just setting the width attribute for a column (i.e. <td width="100">) should force that column to be of a fixed width whilst other columns without such an attribute will resize along with the table.

    There are other ways it can be done but I don’t want to bog down the blog comments more than necessary. Feel free to drop me an email if you’d like mre info. I’m not sure whether bloggers get to see theemail address of commenters so you can reach me via [email protected]
    (temporary forwarding service used so I don’t get picked up by spambots).

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