Never knowingly undersolved.

Financial Times no.13,871 by REDSHANK

Posted by Ringo on December 8th, 2011


Christmas has come early at the FT: despite us not yet being into double figures on the advent calendar, Redshank has dished up a spicy pudding of festive allusions. It doesn’t take much to get me into a rosy-cheeked Dickensian spirit, so the theme is right up my street – but I have to say I found this rather an awkward and unsatisfying solve nevertheless.


1. BLONDE HAIR  D(irector) within anagram of hole in bra to give the type of coiffure (‘shock’) associated with country singer Dolly Parton

7. YETI  Ye [you] + reversal of it; a Himalayan sherpa might have cause to yell on encountering the Abominable Snowman or Yeti

9. SNOW  (New)s + now [present (see 18dn.)] to give the brightly-socked news presenter Jon Snow

10. EXHAUSTING  Ex [old] + a [one] within husting(s) [election campaign]; the whole provides the definition (somewhat vaguely)

11. MARLEY  Alternate (‘regular’) letters of ReLiEf within may [might] to give the spirit who first visits Scrooge in A Christmas Carol (see 5dn.)

12. ICEBOATS  Reversal of be [live] within anagram of Scotia (‘nova’ being the innovative Latinate anagram indicator)

13. CONJUNCT  Conjunction [a linking word such as ‘but’] minus reversal of No I

15. OHMS  Double definition: OHMS is the acronym for the franking mark ‘On Her Majesty’s Service’ used on Government post in the UK and Commonwealth, and Ohms are SI units of electrical resistance

17. EPIC  Epicerie [French for ‘grocer’] minus Erie [the Great Lake, water]

19. AIRHEADS  Think this must be ((blonde) h)air [see 1ac.] + heads [nuts]

22. METEORIC  O [zero, ‘love’ in tennis] within met Eric, an allusion to the British comedy double-act of Eric Morecambe and Ernie Wise

23. TOTEMS  Tot [add] + ems [em dashes, long spaces in type-setting]


26. PAST  Sounds like passed [went by]; the Ghost of Christmas Past was Scrooge’s second spirit visitor in A Christmas Carol (see 5dn.)

27. STOP  Reversal of pots [i.e. pots of money, Scrooge being a wealthy miser in A Christmas Carol]

28. TALK TURKEY  Double definition: talk like a turkey, or get down to business and discuss or ‘treat’


2. LONG AGO  N(ew) gag [joke] within logo [such as that signifying the ladies’ toilets]

3. NOWEL  W(hite) within Noel [Coward, the playwright] to give an Anglicised synonym for Christmas

4. EVERYONE  (Th)e very one; in A Christmas Carol, Tiny Tim’s (see 8dn.) final words are ‘God bless us, everyone!’

5. A CHRISTMAS CAROL  Anagram of alarms so cratchi(t) (see 16dn.) to give Dickens’ marvellous novella

6. ROUTES  R(ickety) + o(ld) + utes [utility vehicles, trucks]

7. YET TO COME  Yet [still] + co [company, firm] within to me [in my opinion]; Scrooge’s final spirit visitor in A Christmas Carol (see 5dn.) is the Ghost Of Christmas Yet To Come

8. TINY TIM  Not sure about the parsing here – but Tiny Tim (the pitiful crutch-toting infant Cratchit from A Chrostmas Carol) is an anagram of impatient minus the letters of plea; are we meant to infer that the ‘plea’ is ‘invalid’?

14. JOCKEY CAP  C(harles) within joke [gag] + reversal of pacy [fast, meteoric (see 22ac.)] to give a hat that might be worn at Ascot race-course

16. CRATCHIT R(adical) within catch it [a cry that might be heard at Lord’s cricket ground] to give Bob, Scrooge’s clerk in A Christmas Carol (see 5dn.)

18. PRESENT  Double definition: the present tense in grammar, and the third spirit – the Ghost of Christmas Present – tio visit Scrooge in A Christmas Carol [see 5dn.]

20. DEMESNE  Anagram of (s)eedsmen

21. PROFIT  Prof [professor, don] + I [1, one] + t(ime)

24. TAPER  Double definition: one who tapes or records, and a term for a taper used to light candles and lamps

7 Responses to “Financial Times no.13,871 by REDSHANK”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Ringo
    In 19ac I read ‘1, but not leader’ as being [f]AIR.

    You’ve missed out the wordplay for 25ac which is O (nothing) in *(THE FRENCH).

    You’ve too many Gs in your explanation for 2dn, the container is simply LOO.

    In 8dn, ‘invalid 16′ is the definition and TINY TIM PLEA can be anagrammatised (‘may be rendered’) into ‘impatiently’.

  2. Ringo says:

    Thanks for tidying up after me Gaufrid!

    I’m sure you’re right on 19ac. And of course, it’s ‘loo’ and not ‘logo’ in 2dn. Meant to go back to 25ac., having passed warily over it in the fear that my incredibly limited command of French might be called upon (a groundless fear, it turns out).

    As for 8dn… temporary brain failure is my only excuse.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ringo and Redshank / Crucible / Radian for the third treat in less than a week – we are doing well!

    I enjoyed this a lot more than Ringo appears to have. It certainly wasn’t too taxing, once 5dn was in, but it was fun unravelling the various threads.

    There were some very nice clues – too many to single out, in fact.

    I do have one quibble: what Tiny Tim actually said was, ‘God bless us, every one’, which means something rather different from [and more sensible than] ‘everyone’. [I found this even more frustrating because the enumeration in the clue itself [‘the very one’] was actually correct!]

  4. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Redshank for an enjoyable crossword and Ringo for the blog.

    19ac: I had this the same way as Ringo, but Gaufrid’s comment @1 prompts a rethinks. On reflection, I think it works best as “nuts with 1″ = FAIR HEADS taken as a phrase.

  5. Redshank says:

    Eileen, your quibble is quite justified. Apologies. Careless of me.

  6. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Redshank, I can’t help the pedant in me – but it didn’t spoil the puzzle! :-) Many thanks.

  7. Huw Powell says:

    This one went rather oddly for me – after scanning the clues lightly and drawing arrows all over the place between clues that depended on each other, on a puzzle like this, I would usually try to fill in as many “non theme” words as possible to get a running start. But here I had penciled in NOWEL, then happened to look at the clue for 5, and penciled in the answer without even being sure of the cryptic part. So I worked this one backwards – pretty much got all the themed answers quite quickly, which then set me up to break into the rest.

    I found the intricate inter-cluing to be quite witty, by the way.

    Failed to parse 8, although I had the correct meaning of “invalid” (an ill person) figured out. I’m in the (f)AIR HEADS camp. Thanks for the blog, Ringo, I needed help parsing a few other answers, as well.

    And thanks for the puzzle, Redshank!

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