Posted by Hihoba on January 11th, 2012
A nice seasonal puzzle with some tricky cluing. I started at the top left (unusually) which turned out to be very helpful, as the most important theme word was at 1A. DA?E? led readily to DAMES. So we were looking for two types of Dame, and the rubric indicated pretty clearly that they would be real ones and pantomime ones.
The M of daMes led quickly to Helen MIRREN, then Maggie SMITH appeared lower down, so these were Dames from the THEATRE (31A) and the others would be from PANTOMIME at 6D. I took a punt on this and put pantomime in on the basis of its last letter only! Judi DENCH was clearly going to figure in one of the two remaining 5 letter slots on the right of the diagram. It wasn’t until I found ORVIETO at 26D that DENCH could be fixed as the lower of the two. On the basis of the N of paNtomime, I guessed Julie ANDREWS as the final theatrical dame.
Now the Pantomime dames. I was at first searching for the names of men like Les Dawson, Douglas Byng, Danny La Rue and John Inman, but the one in the fourth column was Aladdin’s Widow TWANKEY. (Named in 1861after Twankay which was a tea, popular in London at the time, from the Tuan Kay province of China – not relevant, but interesting.) I did an internet search and came up with Dame TROTT from “Jack and the Beanstalk”, SARA the cook from Dick Whittington and finally Mother GOOSE. This corresponded nicely with the rubric’s “three surnames and one given name”. A further indication was given by a lovely clue at 21D giving MEN IN DRAG.
This left the “appropriate lyrical description” provided by the extra letters. Many years ago I played in the orchestra pit for a week of performances of Rogers and Hammerstein’s “South Pacific”. I knew the lyrical reference must be to the famous song “There is nothing like a dame!” – hence the title INCOMPARABLE!, but I had to look up the lyrics to get the final line of the song “A girly, womanly, female, feminine dame!”
It was only after getting this quotation that I was able to unravel a number of the clues, particularly on the right hand side of the grid. The clues were tricky because the extra letter might have been anywhere in the clue, definition or wordplay. We had particular trouble with 30D and 40A.
The final missing piece was the seasonal reference to the New Year HONOURS at 17A.
Thank you Glow-worm for a challenging puzzle which brought back many happy memories.
As it is January 1st 2012 as I write this, may Hihoba wish you all a HAPPY NEW YEAR, and hope that the Inquisitor keeps us amused and informed for another 52 weeks!
|4||King and Queen, say, in tog(a)s||A||TWO-PIECES||Togs: reference to chess pieces|
|10||Vessel’s in dock – a (g)rand climax forfeited||G||TRIMARAN||Vessel: trim (dock) + a ran(d) – climax (last letter) removed|
|12||Misjudged recoil of Derr(i)nger; no good – last rook missed||I||ERRED||Misjudged: remove N(o) G(ood) R(ook) from DERR(ng)E(r) and reverse (recoil).|
|14||Bitumen g(r)ains found in bullseyes||R||TARGETS||Bullseyes: TAR + GETS (gains)|
|15||Go(l)d brought back in triumphal launches||L||ALLAH||God: hidden reversed in triumpHAL LAunches|
|16||An(y) abstracted, hesitant convert can become a believer||Y||THEIST||A believer: [HESIT(an)T]*|
|19||Stereotyped plans returned by Centre for Astronomy (w)atchdog||W||SPAMMY||Stereotyped: MAPS reversed + MY (centre of astronoMYatchdog)|
|24||De Nir(o) regularly mentioned backing image recreator||O||EIDETIC||Image recreator: (d)E(n)I(r) regularly + CITED reversed|
|25||Sell a pu(m)p to couple in bar?||M||TWO-TIME||Sell a pup almost means the same as two-time: Two time indicates a musical time signature of two in a bar|
|29||See g(a)in when switching into spirits||A||GENIES||Spirits: [SEE GIN]*|
|34||Girl – Iva(n)’s daughter returning to North America||N||DAVINA||Girl: IVA+D(aughter) reversed + N(orth) A(merica)|
|35||Topless 29 (l)over’s a flower of Paris||L||SEINE||Flower of Paris: 29 is genies, so [(g)ENIES]* – over is the anagram indicator|
|36||Car(y)’s admitted by medic – a saint||Y||DOMINIC||A saint: DOC round MINI|
|37||Fires sank a (f)ew bats||F||AWAKENS||Fires: [SANK A EW]*|
|38||W(e)aver ties the end of raffia off||E||HESITATE||Waver: [TIES THE (raffi)A]*|
|39||Somewhat hastily grab (m)y gratuities back in dispute||M||ARGY-BARGY||Dispute: Hidden reversed in hastilY GRAB Y GRAtuities|
|40||P(a)unches can be turn-offs?||A||BORES||Double definition: punches (both punch and bore mean pierce in Ch) and turn-off also means to bore in a different sense|
|1||Two cats, maybe, (l)et in dust – it’s messy||L||DUETTISTS||Two cats maybe: ET in [DUST IT'S]*|
|2||For tribal leader pursuing absolute support to overr(e)act’s not right||E||ABRAHAM||Tribal leader: A(bsolute) + BRA (support) + HAM (over(r)act)|
|3||Seen along bookshel(f) eg is this poet||F||ELEGIST||Poet: hidden in bookshEL EG IS This|
|5||’(E)’s invited into Vienna watering-place||E||WIESBADEN||Watering-place: S (from (E)’S) + BADE (invited) in WIEN (Vienna)|
|7||(M)organ’s prominence gives nobleman gong||M||EARLOBE||Organ’s prominence: EARL + OBE|
|8||Not especially w(i)despread disorder in Lear, maybe?||I||EDWARD||Lear: [WD(esp)READ]*|
|9||Band section needs a second horn up front||SASH||Band: S(ection) + A S(econd) + H(orn)|
|11||Pound from Mum’s helpful at first||MASH||Pound: MA’S + H(elpful)|
|13||Old book’s short title||DAN||Double definition DAN(iel) and a title|
|18||Count out contents of disused till||UNTO||Till (obsolete): hidden in coUNT Out|
|20||A(n) open-air setting for Mark Spitz’s birthplace||N||POMERANIA||Spitz’s birthplace (the Pomeranian dog is a Spitz): M(ark) in [A OPEN-AIR]*|
|21||In Ongar (I)’d nine members putting up as 6 1ac||I||MEN IN DRAG||Wonderful clue! 6, 1ac is Pantomime dames: hidden backwards in OnGAR D NINE Members|
|22||Diamonds Switzerland’s stored in (n)asty unsound vessels||N||ICE YACHTS||Vessels (are they? My understanding is that they skate ON ice not IN it!): ICE (diamonds) + CH (Switzerland) in [ASTY]*|
|23||One single nereid||IONE||A Nereid: I + ONE|
|26||Rov(e) around heart of Kiev to acquire white wine||E||ORVIETO||White wine: [ROV]* + (K)IE(v) + TO|
|27||Plant auction includes new cuttings from “(D)inky” chrysanthemum||D||SANICLE||Plant: SALE (auction) round N + I(nky) C(hrysanthemums)|
|28||Grinder’s headache we(a)rying rather||A||CHEWER||Grinder: hidden in headaCHE WERying|
|30||Ca(m)p in Harrow||M||PINNER||Double definition: Pinner is a suburb of Harrow and is a “headdress with lappets flying loose” – a cap?|
|32||Type of square support||TEE||Double definition – T-square + golf tee|
|33||No end of scary ferment in Norfolk?||EAST||in Norfolk?: YEAST (ferment) with Y (end of scarY) removed|
|34||Mad(e) in pointilliste fashion||E||DOTTY||Double definition – mad and pointilliste|