Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7893 / Dac

Posted by duncanshiell on February 1st, 2012


This was a good crossword with no gimmicks, no pangrams and no theme that I could see.




A number of the Across answers had double letters  – HAGGIS, MORRIS, JOANNA TROLLOPE [twice], ISABELLA, TILLER and TEA CADDY, but I don’t think they formed any sort of theme  

I think that beginners and experienced solvers alike would find something of interest in this puzzle.

There was a wide variety of clue types with some clues containing two styles- e.g. additive & container and contents; additive with reversal, additive with anagram.  One entry stood out as having a far more complex construction than all the rest – CONFIDENTIALITY which comprised contents within contents within an outside container, with a reversal thrown in for good measure.

I’ve done enough crosswords now to know that ‘theatre’ is unlikely to refer to the stage, and ‘brave’ is almost certainly a reference to a North American native.

The Arts has never been my strong point so INGRES [artist] and SWAN [poet] were not known to me without the need for checking.  I was aware of JOANNA TROLLOPE.  

I’m OK on golf clubs and cars.


No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Abolishes special clothing for those working in the theatre (6) SCRUBS (the clothes worn by a surgeon and others assisting at an operation) SCRUBS (abolishes)
5 Officer accompanies soldier at start of conflict: he’s possibly brave (8) CO (commanding officer) + MAN (soldier) + C (first letter of [start of] CONFLICT) + HE COMANCHE (a native American person; possibly an Indian brave)
9 Check terrain’s properly prepared (8) Anagram of (properly prepared) TERRAIN’S RESTRAIN (check)
10 Old woman is eating good Scottish food (6) (HAG [ugly old woman) + IS) containing (eating) G (good)

HAGGIS (a Scottish dish made of the heart, lungs and liver of a sheep or calf, etc, chopped up with suet, onions and oatmeal, etc, seasoned and boiled in a sheep’s stomach-bag or a substitute.)  I had an excellent HAGGIS on Burn’s night recently.

11 Teacher with memory about a 19th-century designer (6) SIR (form of address for a [male] teacher) + ROM (read-only memory) all reversed (about) MORRIS (reference William MORRIS [1834-1896)], 19th-century designer)
12 Botox misused by former dictator, TV revealed (5,3) IDI (reference IDI Amin, former dictator of Uganda) + an anagram of (misused) BOTOX IDIOT BOX (television set)
13 Suggest drinking lager as session turns boisterous (5,4,5) Anagram of (turns boisterous) LAGER AS SESSION RAISE ONE’S GLASS (a suggestion to drink)
16 Piano accompaniment for chorus, work by English writer (6,8) JOANNA (a piano) + TROLL (to sing the parts of [e.g. a round or catch] in succession; chorus) + OP (opus; work) + E (English) JOANNA TROLLOPE (novelist [1943 – ], author of The Choir, The Rector’s Wife and other books)
18 Embracing sailor, I deceive a woman (8) (I + SELL [deceive]) containing [embracing] AB [able seaman; sailor]) + A ISABELLA (woman’s name)
20 Artist commanding respect, though not entirely (6) Hidden word in (though not entirely) COMMANDING RESPECT INGRES (reference Jean-Auguste-Dominique INGRES [1780 – 1867], French neoclassical painter)
22 Shoot a dancing girl? (6) TILLER (reference the TILLER Girls, one of the most popular dancing troupes of the first half of the 20th century.  There seem to have been a number of troupes in different countries.  The individual frequently identified as one of the most famous alumni is Betty Boothroyd [Speaker of the House of Commons 1992 – 2000]) TILLER (a shoot from a tree stump)
23 Artless females in class assimilating second part of lesson (8) (IN + GENUS [class]) containing (assimilating) E (the second letter of [second part of] LESSON) INGÉNUES (artless young women)
24 Terrible day – cadet leaves container in the kitchen (3,5) Anagram of (terrible) DAY CADET TEA CADDY (a container for [tea] leaves usually stored in the kitchen; leaves container)
25 Perhaps rave about current state of equality (6) PARTY (a rave is a type of party) containing (about) I (a symbol in physics for electric current) PARITY (equality)
2 An old German car reversing in Italian city (7) AN + O (old) + MERC (Mercedes; German car) all reversed (reversing) CREMONA (Italian city)
3 Golf club not initially accessible, say (5) PUTTER (golf club) excluding the first letter (not initially accessible) P UTTER (say)
4 Poet’s blue material (5-4) SWAN’S (poet’s; the only poet I can find called SWAN is Michael SWAN who has a strong background in linguistics and grammar) + DOWN (blue) SWANS’-DOWN (a soft woollen or mixed cloth; a thick cotton with a soft nap on one side; material)
5 Secret information editor turned up, probing rampant inflation in City (15)

(ED [editor] reversed [turned up] contained in [probing] an anagram of [rampant] INFLATION) all contained in (in) CITY


CONFIDENTIALITY (secret information)
6 Spiritual leader somewhat petulant during broadcast (5) MAHDI (sounds like [broadcast] MARDY [petulant])

MAHDI (the great leader of the faithful Muslims, who is to appear in the last days)

7 Nearly time to crash? (9) NIGH (nearly) + T (time) + FALL (crash) NIGHTFALL (nearly the time to go to bed [to crash out])
8 Awful builidng briefly accommodating a German (7) HOUSE (building) excluding the last letter (briefly) E containing (accommodating) EIN (a German form of the definite article ‘a’)  It’s not often we see 4 out of 5 letters of a word clued as ‘briefly’.  I started parsing this using just the HO of HOUSE, but couldn’t then see where the the US came from. HEINOUS (awful)
14 Macho Lib’s rambling all over the place? (9) Anagram of (rambling) MACHO LIB’S SHAMBOLIC (all over the place)
15 One faction, having absorbed another, getting bigger? (7,2) GROUP (faction) containing ([having] absorbed) WING (another faction) GROWING UP (getting bigger)
16 Simply do away with American magistrate (7) JUST (simply) + ICE (kill; do away with [American criminal slang]) JUSTICE (magistrate)
17 Alleged reason party leader’s on-message (7) P (first letter of [leader] PARTY) + RE (on) + TEXT (message) PRETEXT (alleged reason)
19 Seduced by city bathed in light (5) UR (old city) contained in (bathed in) LED (light emitting diode; light) LURED (seduced by)
21 Taking journey north … um .. I’m late (5) GO ([taking] journey) + N (north) + ER (hesitantcy; um) GONER (a person who is dead; I’m late)

14 Responses to “Independent 7893 / Dac”

  1. Ian W. says:

    All fairly comprehensible except that I’d never heard of MAHDI or MARDY and never would have dreamed they were homonyms.

  2. ma_thomas says:

    Solid stuff as always from Dac; 7dn is superb.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, Duncan, for your blog.

    Dac is my favourite Indy setter and I always look forward to his Wednesday puzzle. Smooth surfaces, great clueing, plenty of entertainment without the need for a nina or a ghost theme.

    Today I really liked PRETEXT, GROWING UP and INGENUES. I didn’t know that definition of TROLL in 16ac; I thought they were just ogres or people who do multiple postings on blogs like this one.

    MAHDI was my last one in, but goodness knows why, because it’s a Derbyshire (and perhaps further north) expression. If you’re in the middle of some petulance, you’re ‘in a mard’ and if you persist in doing it, you’re a ‘mard-arse’.

    I think you might be in trouble, though, from the Latin Grammar Police for your use of ‘alumni’ in describing an ex-Tiller Girl. You need ‘alumnae’. I’ll take my pedant’s hat off now and get me coat …

  4. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the very clear and full blog.

    Classic Dac stuff. He’s amazingly consistent.

    4d – The poet is the Swan of Avon, isn’t he? That was my assumption.

  5. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Dac for a crossword well up to your usual high standard of entertainment and Duncan for your excellent blog.

    Favourite clues 15dn and 7dn which I would mark as a complete “& lit”.

    4dn: I took this the same way as Thomas @4.

  6. scchua says:

    Thanks Duncan and Dac for an enjoyable crossword.

    I think in 4D SWAN’S DOWN, “swan” is a common noun for a poet (or even someone who sings sweetly), used in a literary context – my last one in.

  7. flashling says:

    @K’s D surprised at the mardy comment even if I had to to a bit of brain racking for the answer itself, thanks Duncan for another excellent blog (damn you!! :-) )

    Put in Swan’s Down without fully understanding (I was on a train, my excuse for no research). TROLL keeps appearing recently – in my last two blogs and again here.

    Thanks DAC as ever for a great puzzle, pity you never seem to reply here.

  8. Bamberger says:

    Dac will go down as the first Indie that I ever solved unaided but todays answers of Morris, Joanna Trollope , Ingres , Tiller , Ingenues, Cremona and Swans down (the reference to a poet anyway) were all unknown. If I’d had other crossing letters I might have been in with a chance but I’ve decided to leave Dac to the better solvers with a wider general knowledge.
    My favourite setter is the Don in one of his many guises.

    Thanks for the terrific blog -the best there is.

  9. dac says:

    Flashling, please don’t think that my infrequent contributions mean a lack of interest or involvement. I follow all your comments carefully, and am usually embarrassed by your generosity! So thanks for positive comments on this week’s – and most week’s – puzzle(s).

  10. Bertandjoyce says:

    We’ve just finished the puzzle over dinner and a glass (or two) pf wine! We hasn’t heard of tiller either but we live in the East Midlands so knew mardy!
    An interesting puzzle, pretty straightforward and good surface reading throughout as one expects from Dac.
    Enjoyed 10a but I don’t know why! Maybe a bit like the product itself!
    Thanks Dac and Duncan.

  11. NealH says:

    I’m afraid mahdi went right over my head – never heard of mardy (I’m obviously from the wrong region) and I’d always assumed mahdi was pronounced something like mak-di. It was fairly straightforward apart from that, although I did hesitate on swan’s down. I only knew Tiller Girls from its mention in relation to Betty Boothroyd.

  12. flashling says:

    Sorry Dac I’ve just couldn’t remember seeing a comment from you before, nice to know you do follow us, but at least you know we do like your stuff. (Even if sometimes the praise seems fawning to a certain extent).

  13. Wil Ransome says:

    Excellent crossword as usual, especially the quite nagnificent 7dn, but Swan’s Down? Nobody has yet totally justified the existence of the poet (unless he is indeed the swan of Avon, in which case well …): I was doing this on a bus and gave up.

  14. nmsindy says:

    Re’s Wil’s comment at #13, SWAN is given in dicts as a literary term (general) for a poet. I’ll have to admit I did not know this till I looked it up, nor had I heard of SWANS-DOWN so this was tricky but totally fair of course.

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