Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7,850/Punk

Posted by Ali on December 13th, 2011


I often grimace when I see puzzles in which many answers require initially solving a key clue, but this one was cracking stuff. Hard for sure, but very enjoyable, cracking stuff.

For no obvious reason that I can discern (perhaps he’s just a big fan?), Punk’s themed this one around pop legend Barry Manilow. His heyday was well before my time, though there can’t be many people who’ve never heard of most – if not all – of the 5 songs given as clue answers here. All 6 themed answers are very meticulously clued and it took me a while to break into this one before ‘Could It Be Magic’ suggested itself from the checking letters.

I’m sure there’s a perfectly clever explanation for 22/19 too, but it’s defeated me.

7/8 COULD IT BE MAGIC – U in COLDIT[-z] + GAME rev. in BIC
12 FALSEHOOD – [-pe]A + [-chervi]L + S[-oup] + EH? in FOOD – A mouthful of a clue if ever there was one!
14/30 BARRY MANILOW – BAR (some music) + RY (tracks) + MAN (person) + 1 LOW (down)
17 FAIR – Double def.
20 ETCH – ETC. + H(ard)
21 MANDY – M and Y!
22/19 I WRITE THE SONGS – NOt sure on this one. The wordplay part is “signs, 1 2 3 amended”
25 RED ADMIRAL – (MAID) * in LARDER rev.
28 RIDE – [-b]RIDE
1 COPACABANA – COP A CAB + AN A[-dventure]
2 FLATUS – FLAT + U[-pset] S[-tomach] – &lit.
3 VIEW – VIE + W(ife)
4 LEMON – M[-arx] in LEON
6 MIRO – RIM rev. + O (circle)
9 ST. JOHN’S WORT – I think this is (TO J(ack)) in (OWN SHORTS)*
13 HOST – Double def.
15 ROCK HUDSON – ROCK (old fish) + HUDSON (river)
16 ASTI – Hidden in signorA’S TIpple
23 EARWIG – Double def.
25 EARN – “URN”
26 LEAD – Cryptic def.

14 Responses to “Independent 7,850/Punk”

  1. crypticsue says:

    Very enjoyable – I wonder how many people got stuck like me singing Manly Barrilow songs all morning :)

    22/19 is an anagram (amended) of I (one) TWO THREE SIGNS

    Thanks to Punk and Ali too.

  2. Pelham Barton says:

    HI Ali

    22/19: (SIGNS I TWO THREE)*

  3. Allan_C says:

    Not being a Manilow aficionado this took me some time to get into. 10/24/11 was eventually the key when checking letters suggested ‘without you’ for 11 and the remaining letters of the anagram fodder soon unscrambled. Then it was a case of googling the song title to discover who wrote it and Wikipedia provided the rest of the themed entries.

    Some nice neat clues for the short entries – HOST, FAIR, LEAD etc. But conversely I found the clue for ST JOHNS WORT less than satisfactory. Upper crust? Well, in that the wort in brewing may form a crust on top of the fermenting liquor I suppose that’s true. But St Johns Wort is a plant and surely there should have been a definition element in the clue to indicate that.

  4. Cumbrian says:

    Oh dear – I never imagined I’d ever voluntarily try and remember anything about Barry Manilow, or his songs, so I was cursing Punk for bringing that about. However, if the said singer must be the theme, then the inclusion in the grid of FLATUS at least went some way to providing a balance. That apart, I thoroughly enjoyed this one and surprised myself by completing it.

    I had 9d as (CRUS)T below J(ACK) in (OWN SHORTS)*, giving St John’s Wort as a herbal antidepressant or upper. That was a favourite, along with Rod Laver whom I’m old enough to have seen playing at his peak.

    Many thanks for the blog and the puzzle.

  5. flashling says:

    St John’s Wort is a herbal antidepressant so it’s “Possible upper” as the definition and (crus)T ultimately as part of the wordplay.

  6. Thomas99 says:

    I agree with Cumbrian/flashling on ST JOHNS WORT – that was one of my favourites too, along with FALSEHOOD and I WRITE THE SONGS, although with the latter I was hoping some synonym of FLATUS would be involved in the wordplay or even solution – not that I have anything in particular against the big BM. “Possible Upper” is a very nice definition – scrupulous in an almost Azedish way; no-one can complain that it’s not a real upper etc.

    My only slight problem was that I’m sure I’ve seen BRIE+FLY before; still, it was a rare easy one to get me started in this challenging puzzle so I ought to be grateful.

  7. Conrad Cork says:


    You say ” though there can’t be many people who’ve never heard of most – if not all – of the 5 songs “.

    Well, I had never heard of any of them. so I must be one of the few.

  8. Allan_C says:

    I bow to the collective wisdom on St Johns Wort. And I find that Chambers gives one meaning of ‘upper’ as “a drug producing a stimulant or euphoric effect, or a pill containing such a drug (slang).”

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I am joining Conrad’s few. Good job there was a lovely Virgilius in the Indy i today …

  10. Quixote says:

    I managed this on the Oxford to London bus without any aids and without any knowledge of the hits of Barry Manilow — and I got it right, solving some pretty tricky clues and using 50 years of solving experience. But I really do worry about the unhelpful checking for these thematics and the level of difficulty this brings. This sort of puzzle isn’t going to draw in (I suspect) new readers to buy the paper, even those oldies remembering the likes of BM. That said, there were some very nice touches and I thought the clue to RIDE was beautifully creative. But colleagues (and esteemed editor eimi)– can’t we give these ageing rockers a break?

  11. Wil Ransome says:

    I’m with Conrad and K’s D, also I think Quixote. Had never heard of any of these songs. As a result I didn’t really enjoy this very much, because in several cases one was left with the wordplay alone. I never understood 7/8 and even now can’t see why BIC clues ‘people with razors': OK a Bic is a type of razor, but where do the people come in?

    One or two good clues, as you would expect from Punk, but some were not in my opinion up to his usual standard: 7/8, even if it is sound and I’ve missed something, has a very clunky surface, as does 12ac, both of them uncomfortably long and with very little obvious meaning.

  12. Bertandjoyce says:

    Well…. after googling ‘Can’t smile without you’ our hearts sank when we discovered the singer. We needed a discography of his to give us some clues as well! We have to say that 9d and 12a defeated us although we knew what had to fit in without fully understanding why! Thank goodness for 225, Ali and the rest of you!
    We normally look forward to Punk but some of the clues weren’t exactly 17a! Hey Punk, make our day next time!

  13. Ali says:

    Thanks for the explanation for ST. JOHN’S WORT. I knew it’d be clever, but just couldn’t see it.

    I do find it odd that people can never have heard (or heard of) Copacabana, but I’m sure I would be (and often am) equally stumped by references to opera and classical music, so I guess I shouldn’t labour the point.

    Wil – I think ‘people’ here refers to the company, in the same way you might refer to, say, Starbucks as ‘the coffee people’. A bit clunky though I agree.

  14. redddevil says:

    Bit late coming to this but I’m firmly with Wil on this one. Found 7/8, 12 and 9 to be 3 of the worst surfaces I’ve encountered since doing the Indy crossword. Am also getting fed up with self-referencing crosswords and one clue for multiple entries. I knew one of the BM songs and am embarrassed to admit that.
    What next – an X factor theme?
    I think I’ll take a break.

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