Posted by RatkojaRiku on December 20th, 2011
I hadn’t blogged a Scorpion for a while and when I realised that the Tuesday slot had fallen to me, I was hoping it might be one.
True to form, Scorpion did not disappoint. This was one of those rare puzzles where the theme is literally staring you in the face, hinted at by the indication “an answer to all clues, initially”, which appears in ten clues; in other words, the solver is being invited to take the initial letter of each clue in order and spell out the question: WHAT HAVE THE ROMANS EVER DONE FOR US? This question is answered in Monty Python’s sketch of the same name in Life of Brian, in which reference is made to all the supposed relics of Roman civilisation that are the solutions to those ten clues.
How quickly you manage to solve this puzzle would, I suppose, depend to a large extent on how quickly you spot the theme, as otherwise you would need to establish a link between words as random as e.g. baths and irrigation. Once the theme has been spotted, even if you don’t associate it with Monty Python, you can predict some of the answers (baths, roads, aqueducts, etc) from general knowledge, although you might struggle with e.g. peace and order. The entry at 25 and the Roman numerals in the wordplay at 13 serve to reinforce the Roman theme.
7 proved to be the trickiest clue for me today, not helped by the fact that I wasn’t sure of 1, not knowing the comic. My personal favourites were 19, as I very much recognise that use of “yesterday”, and 25, for its smooth surface and for cheekily using something as mundane as a dog’s ear to clue the name a Roman emperor!
Incidentally, as if Scorpion had not given us a big enough treat already, this puzzle is also a pangram, with all 26 letters (of our version) of the (Roman!) alphabet appearing at least once.
*(…) indicates an anagram; * indicates a thematic entry
|7*||IRRIGATION||[RIG (=required equipment) + AT + <b>I<rkdale> (“Birkdale’s 2nd means second letter only)] in IRON (=wedge)|
|8||BORE||Double definition: BORE is “hollow barrel”, as in 12-bore shotgun AND “carried”, i.e. past tense of bear|
|9*||MEDICINE||[E + DIC (CID=police, “over” indicates reversal)] in MINE (=author’s, i.e. Scorpion’s)|
|10||UNTRUE||U (=top-class) + *(TURN) + <nam>E (“ultimately” means last letter only); “hysterical” is anagram indicator|
|11*||EDUCATION||[DUCAT (=historical coin) + I (=one)] in EON (=years)|
|13||SPIV||VI (=six, in Roman numerals) + P<layer>S (“vacated” means all but outer letters are dropped); “about” indicates reversal|
|14*||ROADS||R (=runs, in cricket) + <v>O<c>A<l> D<i>S<c> (“regularly” means alternate letters only are used)|
(=ex-Aussie captain, i.e. the cricketer Allan Border, 1955-); “bowled (=B) out” means the letter “b” is dropped
|19||ASAP||[S (=special) in A A (=acres, i.e. 2 x A)] + P (=parking); the definition is “yesterday”, as in Can I have your report by yesterday, please?|
|21*||AQUEDUCTS||[QUE<bec> (=Canadian city; “half of” means half of letter only are used) + DU (=some French, i.e. the French word for some)] in ACTS (=Biblical book)|
|24||KUWAIT||<hijac>K <snaf>U (“extremists (right wing)” means that the last letter only, i.e. the outer letter on the right of the word, is used) + WAIT (=pause)|
|25||CALIGULA||[ALI (=boxer, i.e. Muhammad Ali, 1942-) + GUL (LUG=ear, “turned back” indicates a reversal)] in CA (=roughly, i.e. circa); Caligula was Roman emperor, the third of the Julio-Claudian dynasty, from 37 AD to 41 AD)|
|27*||WINE||Homophone (“overheard”) of “whine” (=peevish complaint)|
|28*||SANITATION||<ur>ANI<UM> (“centre for” means middle letters only) in STATION (=military base)|
|1||BREEZE||(The) Beeze-r (=comic, i.e. British children’s comic, 1956-93); “recipe (=R) promoted” means that the letter “r” moves up the word to an earlier position, giving b-r-eeze (=piece of cake, i.e. something straightforward, doddle)|
|2||FIJI||[I (=number one) + J (=journal)] in FI (=motor racing, i.e. Formula One)|
|3||MAXIMA||MAXIM (=saw, i.e. adage) + A<partment> (“ceiling of” means first letter only)|
|4||KINETIC||KIN (=family) + [I (=island) in ETC (=and others)]|
|5||INNUENDO||INN (=pub) + *(NUDE) + O (=circuit, i.e. a visual representation of a journey round something, e.g. a lap of a track, an orbit); “vagrant” is anagram indicator|
|6||CROUPIER||[O (=ring) + UP (=in court)] in CRIER (=informer, as in town crier)|
|8*||BATHS||H (=husband) in BATS (=round the twist)|
|12||UNA||“Diego’s one”, i.e. the Spanish word for one; the definition is “woman”, i.e. a woman’s name|
|14||RASPUTIN||R<equest> (“first to” means first letter only) + AS (=when) + PUT IN (=enter, i.e. log, record data); Rasputin (1869-1916) was a controversial monk and mystic at the court of Russian tsar Nicholas II, hence “old courtier”|
|15||SMARTASS||*(ASTRA) in SMS (=text messaging); “new” is anagram indicator|
|17||DOC||COD (=fish); “eyed up” indicates vertical reversal; the definition is “bones”, a nickname used for a doctor, not least Leonard “Bones” McCoy in Star Trek|
|18||TUSCANY||SC (=self-catering, i.e. in holiday ads) in *(AUNTY); “foreign” is anagram indicator|
|20*||PEACE||P<olit>E (“outwardly” means outer letters only are used) + ACE (=master, i.e. expert)|
|22||DELETE||LET (=permit, as verb) in DEE (=river)|
|23||SALMON||M<otor-boat> (“front of” means first letter only) in SALON (=lounge, as noun)|
|26||GUTS||Double definition: GUTS means “stomach” anatomically AND “backbone”, i.e. courage, nerve, bottle|