Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25579 Shed

Posted by scchua on March 9th, 2012


This balances yesterday’s puzzle, and there should be no similar complaints today (but there are complaints…and there are complaints – and complainants).  A tough one especially the right half.  Though completed, I can’t explain one.  But I’m not complaining – you can’t win ’em all.  So thanks Shed.

Also sorry for the late blog – Murphy’s law – a toughie on the day when I have 2 back- to-back appointments.  Also thanks to PeterO for swapping with me as I had a cataract operation yesterday –  and now I can say that I’m the bearer of a nice pair of implants (says he straight-faced).     

Definitions are underlined in the clues.


4 States circumvented by hasty retreat of gay character (6)

HUSSAR :  US(United States) contained in(circumvented) plus(by) reversal of(retreat) RASH(hasty,unthinking)

Answer: One of the characters in The Gay Hussars, the English title (literal translation of the German title is “Autumn Manoeuvres”) of Emmerich Kalman’s operetta.  From the old-fashioned meaning of gay, and not to be confused with “The Gay Hussar” restaurant in London. 

6 Mutant 2 transmuted metal (8)

TITANIUMAnagram of(transmuted) of MUTANT + II(Roman numeral for 2,two).

9,1 Inquisitor wrecked Manx army jeep (6,6)


Defn:  Cryptic defn: Inquisitor,interrogator of politicians on BBC’s Newsnight programme, with a style criticised as aggressive, intimidating and condescending, and also applauded as tough and incisive.  Questioner of another sort on Univeristy Challenge.

10 Ecstatic about coiffure for prom (8)

SEAFRONT :  SENT(ecstatic,raptured) containing(about) AFRO(coiffure where the hair is shaped into a wide frizzy bush) 

Answer: Where you’ll often find the prom,promenade, a public path for leisure walks in a seaside resort.

11 Monarch caught by his opponent on air (7,4)

CROWNED HEAD :  C(caught as in cricket notation) plus(by) ROWNED HEAD{homophone of(on air) “roundhead”(nickname of one, such as Oliver Cromwell, who was an opponent of the monarch, King Charles I in particular during the English Civil War, for supremacy of Parliament over the monarchy.  So-called because of their hairstyle, far removed from the Afro.

15 Discriminatory fifth-rankers catching seventh note (7)

ELITIST :  E(fifth letter in the English alphabet) + LIST{giving the ranking of, well, rankers(rankees?)} containing(catching) TI(musically, syllable for the seventh note in the diatonic scale, also what to “drink with jam and bread”)

17 Eg fungus-scavenger initially multiplied by 20 (7)

CULTURE :  “Vulture”(large scavenger bird) whose first letter(initially) V(Roman numeral for 5)  is replaced by C(Roman numeral for 100 which is 5 multiplied by 20).

Answer: Fungus may be,eg a product of cultivation for scientific and medicinal purposes.  Note the nice touch of adding the hyphen to correspond to “culture-vulture”.

18 Dance mistress and dissolute priest on the job (11)

TERPSICHOREAnagram of(dissolute) PRIEST plus(on) CHORE(job,task that is needed to be done)

Cryptic defn:  Of the muse of dancing (and choral song),dance mistress – “mistress” as in a woman who has the power of controlling or disposing of something at her own pleasure:.

22 What Syrinx did in 8? Yielded! (8)

RETURNED :  In myth(answer to 8down), Syrinx, a nymph who did TURN into hollow water REEDs to protect her chastity from Pan, who in turn cut and turned the reeds into his first set of pan pipes.  So much for escaping, and thus the exclamation mark after “yielded”.  Interestingly the word “syringe” is derived from this. 

Answer: As in yielded,returned from a financial investment. 

23 Yob getting hold of New Order’s 22 garment (6)

KIMONOReversal of(returned,answer to 22across) [OIK(British slang for lout,oaf,yob) containing(getting hold of) {N(new) + OM(Order of Merit)]. 

Answer: The Japanese wrap-around garment.

24 Unfashionable subject’s popular favourites (8)

CLASSICS :  CLASSIC(not subject to fashion changes,unfashionable) + S(in grammar, abbrev. for subject, part of speech).  Edit.note morning after: But see the final authority@52.

25 Polish writers wanting head of Polish painter (6)

RUBENS :  RUB(polish) + ENS{“pens”,writers minus(wanting) P{initial letter(head) of “polish”}


1 See 9

2 Receivers receiving setter’s payment, initially, in coins (10)

FIVEPENCES :  FENCES(crooked receivers of stolen goods) containing(receiving) [I’VE(setter’s,setter has,I have) + P(first letter,initially of “payment”)]

3 Bulb in lift lifted in house (8)

DAFFODILReversal of(lifted, in a down clue) DOFF(lift, as when you doff your cap) containing(in) DAIL(lower house of parliament of the Republic of Ireland). 

Defn: Of the flowery kind

4 Terrorist (cyber-criminal) embracing leaders of Islamic jihad (8)

HIJACKER :  HACKER(cyber-criminal) containing(embracing) [I J](initial letters,leaders ofIslamic jihad”)

Answer: He/she used to be just a thief, and not a terrorist

5 Pasquale, perhaps, cross-culturally cross-dressing, cold and dry (8)

SARDONIC :  SARI(Indian garment) containing(cross) DON(dressing) + C(cold)?  Is Pasquale the setter, sardonic? Or “Sardinian”(Italian from the island who might,perhaps be named Pasquale) +  ???? + C(cold).  That’s as far as I got, which is not near enough, so help requested.  Edit.note.  Thanks NeilW@1 and tupu@2.  {SARI(Indian garment,cross-culturally…dressing) containing(‘cross) DON(an example of which,perhaps is Pasquale aka Don Manley, crossword setter)} My excuse for not twigging the DON connection: that sedative from yesterday hasn’t worn off :-) Edit.note, morning after revision:  Thanks to tupu@5.  {DON(an example of which,perhaps is Pasquale aka Don Manley, crossword setter) contained in(…dressing) a SARI(an Indian,cross-culturally, female,cross-dressing garment)} + C(cold).

7 One-trick artist’s creation (4)

ICON :  I(Roman numeral for one) + CON(as a noun,a trick)

8 Yen to interrupt thousandth tall tale? (4)

MYTH :  Y(abbrev. for the Japanese currency) contained in(to interrupt) MTH(Mth,thousandth)

12 Discouragement of French dramatist adopting recipe (10)

DETERRENCE :  DE(French for “of”) + [TERENCE(name in English for Publius Terentius Afer, dramatist of ancient Rome) containing(adopting) R(abbrev. for recipe, and one that has been much discussed in previous blogs!)]

13 Feel bad about turning on gas in beleaguered economic area (8)

EUROZONEReversal of(turning) RUE(feel bad about,regret) placed above(on, in a down clue) OZONE(gas of tri-oxygen-atom molecules). 

Answer: Currently area that is economically beleaguered, including the PIGS and perhaps more.

14 Kind of ancient Roman people keeping half of 13 confused (8)

GENEROUS :  GENS(families,people in ancient Rome claiming descent from a common ancestor) containing(keeping) anagram of(confused) EURO(half of answer to 13down)

16 Hobby generating unearned income (8)

INTEREST :  Double defn: 2nd:  Income you don’t earn by doing anything other than to invest a principal sum and to collect interest, though the taxman may still (or may not) tax it.

19 15 circle needing brains to crack this? (6)

CLIQUE :  IQ(brains, or rather a measure of how much there is) containing(to crack) CLUE(this,what you’re reading). 

Answer: An exclusive circle of people from the elite, described by the answer to 15across.

20 Idle, maybe, being possessed of infinite riches (4)

ERICHidden in(being possessed of) infinitE RIChes 

Answer: Eric, comedian and one of those,maybe, with the surname Idle.  A nominal gift to crossword setters – if I had a penny ….. I’d have riches, maybe not infinite.

21 Weasel docked in colonnade (4)

STOA :  Stoat(weasel) minus its last letter,tail(docked).



59 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25579 Shed”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    SARDONIC: the Pasquale is otherwise known as the DON. He’s wearing “cross-dressing” a SARI, followed by C cold. Def is dry.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Scchua and Shed

    A cleverly entertaining puzzle with some interesting devices (e.g. in 5d).

    My understanding of 5d was Don crossed by ‘sari’ (female garment) + c(old) = dry.

    I only properly understood 22 (‘turn’ into reed) after checking the myth though the answer was clear enough after solving 23a.

    I slightly arbitrarily ticked 9,1 (unlikely anagram), 11a, 17a, 18a (nice surface), 13d, 14d, and 19d but liked many others too. 20d had me looking at ‘deli’ and ‘rich’ before the penny dropped.

  3. NeilW says:

    Sorry about the extraneous “the” but perhaps that’s a good descriptive of “the DON” plus, of course, Pasquale is a Spanish name and thus the “perhaps” in the clue.

    By the way, it’s a pangram, just to make this puzzle even better.

  4. NeilW says:

    15 is an ironic reference to the phrase “A list celebrities.”

  5. tupu says:

    On further thought I think it is Don in cross cultural female garb + c.
    Pasquale is an Italian name but the perhaps relates, I think’ to Don Pasquale as a well known operatic and X-word setter example.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, scchua – and all the best for a speedy recovery.

    Tough, yes, but so very rewarding! Wonderful clues, but also a huge bonus for 15² readers in the laugh that Shed is having at the expense of our foibles [including thoughts on ‘recipe’!] expressed in the comments on his recent puzzle: , which I urge you to re-read!

    I know RCW claims not to give a toss about humour in crosswords but I do hope he appreciates this one. I simply fell about when I got to 25ac [see his comment @23]

    Huge thanks, Shed, for an exhilarating start to the day. I layghed all the way through it, once I saw what you were up to.

  7. NeilW says:

    I’m sure you’re right, but I thought 24 was a simple double definition, which adds more irony to the mini-theme of classical references!

  8. liz says:

    Thanks Scchua. I was expecting a workout when I saw who the setter was! I also found the r/h side tougher than the left. Clever, entertaining clueing. 17ac defeated me :-(

  9. Cliff says:

    Is it just me, or are crosswords becoming very cliquey all of a sudden? We had crosswords set to celebrate a setter’s birthday a while ago, and had to know his personal history in great detail to understand some of them. Now we are expected to know all the pseudonyms used by the paper’s setters. Not good.

  10. NeilW says:

    Hah hah, Eileen. We crossed making the same point. :)

  11. Robi says:

    Nice crossword, although a bit difficult to get started.

    Thanks scchua; like NeilW @7, I thought 24 was a dd. Otherwise, is ‘s’ really an abbreviation for subject? Apart from the image of the Don in a sari, could the ‘cross-dressing’ be related to the way that a sari crosses over (I think, but I don’t often wear them) the body?

    I saw ELITIST CULTURE as a banner across the middle, which maybe relates to the Classics??

  12. Robi says:

    …….. maybe that was the point that Eileen made.

  13. NeilW says:

    On the subject of this being a pangram: one of the first in was JEREMY PAXMAN, and I immediately thought that this was a good solution to use when constructing one. I promptly forgot about it. My last entry was CLIQUE as I was sure I was looking for —NUT. If only I’d realised I needed a Q! :(

  14. Gervase says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    Definitely nearer the opposite end of the spectrum of difficulty of Guardian weekday puzzles from yesterday’s effort. I found it a real struggle, particularly the SE corner. I couldn’t get WIRELESSES out of my head for 2d (‘receivers’), which didn’t help. Perhaps if I had spotted the pangram (which I usually do) it might have been a bit easier.

    As others have said, the DON in 5d is ‘Pasquale’ – Don Pasquale is originally the title of a Donizetti opera, but Shed is presumably alluding to his fellow Guardian setter (Don Manley, whose various pseudonyms are all ‘Dons': Pasquale, Bradman, Quixote, Duck).

    Some splendid clues here, with ingenious devices: 1a, 17a, 22a, 4d, 19d were favourites.

    Brava Eileen for spotting Shed’s witty take on the comments herein following one of his previous crosswords. This is one clever compiler. More, please.

  15. JollySwagman says:

    Great puzzle and well blogged – thanks both.

    @Cliff #9 – the reference is tho the Donizetti opera of that name and there is no specific need to know of the setter who took his pseudonym form the same source.

    Debate rages (or raged – have to be exact) on the G thread over whether the tense for TURN agrees in 22A. More than one explanation makes me happy enough.

  16. Eileen says:

    And of course, Jeremy Paxman is part of the ‘theme’, which I didn’t want to spell out too minutely! There’s more than just ‘classical culture’ – you really do need to read those comments again.

  17. Gervase says:

    NeilW @13: I also toyed with COBNUT for 19d (‘to crack this?’), having C***U*. My recurrent problem of not spotting the Q before the U.

  18. Robi says:

    Nice one, Eileen…. I wouldn’t dare object to STOA, as I would get told that ‘telephone’ came from the Greeks. Funny, I didn’t know they had invented it; those Greeks were certainly well advanced for their time!

  19. Eileen says:

    Any reference to 25ac reminds me of the classic ‘Dud and Pete at the Art Gallery’, which I’ve directed you to on previous occasions. After all these years since seeing the original, it makes me laugh.

  20. NeilW says:

    JS, I agree with you: it’s long accepted that punctuation means nothing in crosswords (although the ? is Shed’s little apology.

    For me, the clue read as “What Syrinx did in MYTH:” Answer: TURN into REED.

  21. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Shed, for a fun and thoughtful crossword and scchua for all your hard work.

    This took a while to conquer but was worth the effort, with a few laughs along the way.

    Cliff @ 9 The tongue-in-cheek references to setters and our foibles add to the fun but are not needed in order to solve the puzzle. (Although they add an extra dimension)

    Eileen, I thought 24a was a nod in your direction!Is Classics an unpopular subject these days?

    Giovanna x

  22. nusquam says:

    Thanks for the blog. I needed your emplanation to understand ‘kimono’. I enjoyed the crossword, and enjoyed it all the more after following Eileen’s link to the earlier discussion and the setter’s reaction to it.

    Two details about 14dn. It’s an anagram of Euro, not a reversal, surely. And, at the risk of being deemed elitist, I would observe that ‘family’ not ‘families’ is a more correct explanation of the singular noun ‘gens’.

  23. Thomas99 says:

    Eileen –
    Would you be able to clear up what Syrinx actually turned into, please? Was it a single reed, or several? Wikipedia says the latter and so does one of the commenters on the Guardian site. But I thought the former, as I think Shed does. I thought she was one reed, cut into short lengths by Pan to make his pipe. Perhaps there are various versions?

    I really liked the puzzle. I’m sure you’re right that it’s a reaction to those comments – which means he’s worked pretty fast… I think it makes its case well, if it’s intended to show you can allude to these things in puzzles without being unfair or annoying too many people.

  24. tupu says:

    Hi scchua

    I should have said that I know from experience that cataract ops take time to recover from but hope it won’t take long and meanwhile enjoy the shockingly bright blues and whites one had more or less forgotten. I admire you greatly for doing the blog on the very next day!

  25. liz says:

    Thanks to Eileen @6 for adding immensely to the enjoyment of this puzzle.

    And apologies to Scchua for not mentioning your heroic effort posting the blog the day after your op. I hope you have a speedy recovery!

  26. Tom_I says:

    nusquam@22 – in fairness Chambers gives ‘gens’ as ‘(in ancient Rome) a clan including several families descended from a common ancestor’, so ‘families’ seems correct in the blog.

  27. Eileen says:

    Hi Thomas99 @23

    I hadn’t given it a great deal of thought, I must admit. I suppose I thought it was a single reed and this is borne out by my Larousse Encyclopedia of Mythology: “One day he [Pan] was chasing the nymph Syrinx and had nearly caught her when she cried aloud to her father, the river god Ladon, to change her into a reed. Her prayer was granted. Pan consoled himself for his disappointment by cutting some reeds with which he made a flute of a new sort, giving it the name Syrinx, or Pan-pipes.”

  28. Tom_I says:

    Did anyone else find 2d a bit unsatisfactory?

    Chambers gives FIVEPENCE as ‘the value of five pennies’, so FIVEPENCES would be more than one such value. Is ‘coins’ really an adequate definition?

  29. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Well, I was happy just to finish this one today and of course the theme just passed me by. No matter; it was a puzzle where I found the northern half reasonably straightforward but struggled for ages with the southern half. CROWNED HEAD was my favourite and I laughed at the surface for TERPSHICHORE.

    Lovely blog, scchua, and a fine puzzle too. Thanks to both.

  30. NeilW says:

    Tom_I, think 5Ps.

  31. Gervase says:

    Tom_I @28: You’re right in that, since decimalisation, we no longer have names for our coins in the UK. A ‘sixpence’ was a coin worth six (old) pence, but nobody ever calls the 5p coin a ‘fivepence’ (although it is colloquially referred to as a ‘five pee’). However, I’m happy to concede this one to Shed in such a cleverly constructed puzzle with so many references to this blog – but it did make for a tricky solve.

  32. tupu says:

    Hi Tom_I

    My Chambers gives ‘fivepence’ as a coin worth that amount – presumably on the lines of the pre-decimal sixpence.

  33. nusquam says:

    Thomas99@23 and Eileen@27

    Ovid Metamorphoses I 705-6 (which is referenced by Wikipedia)
    Panaque, cum prensam sibi iam Syringa putaret,
    corpore pro nymphae calamos tenuisse palustres

    and that Pan, when he thought he had seized Syrinx for himself,
    instead of the body of the nymph had taken hold of marsh reeds..

    Plural reeds is clear here (calamum … palustrem was available if Ovid had wanted a singular), and in the lines that follow he is inspired by the sound given back by the reeds when he sighs to fix reeds of different lengths together with wax – no cutting is mentioned.

    Of course this is just one version. I don’t know what other classical sources there are for the myth.

  34. Gervase says:

    Hi tupu – we crossed! This seems to be another example of Chambers seemingly inventing usages – have you ever heard anyone actually employ this expression? But it does give Shed some justification!

  35. Gervase says:

    nusquam @33: Robert Graves, in his masterful ‘The Greek Myths’, interprets Ovid thus: “…he (Pan) pursued the chaste Syrinx from Mount Lycaeum to the Rvier Ladon, where she became a reed; there, since he could not distinguish her from among all the rest, he cut several reeds at random, and made them into a Pan-pipe.”

  36. Wolfie says:

    An excellent challenge, I enjoyed this very much.

    I save fivepences in a jar for my granddaughter, and have always referred to them by that word. I can’t stand it when people call them ‘five-pees’.

    Thank you scchua for the blog and I hope your eyes are not too sore after today’s efforts.

  37. Thomas99 says:


    Thanks for that – I wonder when the other version came in and how. Of course Ovid might have chosen the plural at least partly for onomatopoeic reasons – you can hear her eerie sibilant sigh in that second line! (Sadly I can barely understand the language though – only made it to 0-level.)

  38. Eileen says:

    Thanks, nusquam

    Absolutely correct in all respects but the point at issue on the Guardian thread [and I hear they think we’re humourless nit-pickers over here 😉 ] is, apparently, whether Syrinx was turned into one reed or several, not how many reeds Pan used to make his pipes.

    PS Thanks, Gervase. Now, pease, no one mention angels and pinheads. 😉

  39. Thomas99 says:

    The plot thickens! I see Graves doesn’t quite contradict the Ovid, though (Pan could still be “taking hold” of several while Syrinx is only one of them). I’ve got the Graves and it’s full of notes, as if he was proud of his scholarly credentials and not just making up new versions. How authentic they were, however, I don’t know…

  40. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks scchua

    I normally managed to complete puzzles compiled by Shed but, like yesterday, too many clues that I couldn’t make sense of. My brain must be atrophying.

    Of course entering wrongly spelled words on the grid doesn’t help!

  41. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Was I delighted by such smooth surfaces? Did I chuckle at every other clue?
    No I did not. Am I a personal friend of Shed? No I am not.
    Was I puzzled by this crossword puzzle? You bet I was.
    Puzzled over my coffee, still puzzled after feeding myself, even more puzzled during a shopping trip. That’s what I call a challenge.
    I had never heard of Syrinx but when I read he myth I gave it my clue of the day. I thought mth was clever. Last in was 17a which I didn’t parse.

    I hate pees too. Always refer to the coins as fivepences.

  42. NeilW says:

    At the risk of provoking the boys and girls over the way, Eileen:

    Chambers: REED 2. a thing made or formerly made, of a reed or reeds…

  43. Gervase says:

    And moreover, in English at any rate, REED can refer either to a single stem or the whole plant (Phragmites sp.), which would have several stems. There are loads of Greek myths involving metamorphoses of humans or nymphs into plants (Narcissus, Hyacinthus, Daphne, Philemon & Baucis etc) and in all cases they seem to transform into a single organism…..

  44. andy smith says:

    Eileen@38. Not everyone! (The threads serve different purposes IMO, and 225 is perfect when you can’t parse a clue, TVM all)

  45. scchua says:

    Thanks all for your comments.

    If Shed is (gently) baiting us, which seems to be the consensus, there’s another bait: in 3D, should it be “house” or “House”, something which has been debated in previous blogs.

    Thanks too for your wishes. Strangely it wasn’t my vision today that was a problem – more the time constraint and level of difficulty. With medicine as it is today, my sight was half up and running yesterday, with only an eye shield that one could still see through, and today it was fully up and running. So far, touch wood,head there’re no post-op complications.

    Goodnight all after a long day – only one puzzle completed today :-)

  46. Jan says:

    Thank you, scchua, for the blog, Shed, for yet another enjoyable puzzle and Eileen for insisting we re-read the blog from January. I had completely failed to appreciate Shed’s light-hearted dig at ‘our foibles’.

    (I did spot that it was a pangram, though.)

    Night, night, scchua – he’s probably fast asleep now.

  47. tupu says:

    Hi scchua

    Sleep well! Many thanks again for the heroic blog and also for bothering to acknowledge the ‘sardonic’ parsing. In case you read this tomorrow, I think my second stab @5 may be better since it draws out the double reference to cultural and gender shift (cross-cultural + cross-dressing) that Don’s being in ‘sari’ would imply.

  48. stiofain says:

    A great crossword and very witty of Shed – thanks to Eileen for spotting the fifteensquared link, though Im not too sure I wanted to find out such intimate details of The Dons private life I wont be able to do a Pasquale again without the mental image of him setting in his sari.

  49. regalize says:

    A brilliant start to the weekend with this. Thanks scchua for the very informative blog and to Shed for the puzzle.
    Cliff @ 9
    I think the clues stand up on their own without knowing the references to other(possible) setters. One would hope that the editor would not allow a puzzle to be published if it were not ‘solvable’ by the regular solvers who read the newspaper. Or even indeed by anyone chancing upon it.

  50. FranTom Menace says:

    Thoroughly beaten on a number here today! All incredibly clever though, and mostly gettable. We like Shed’s puzzles because of the unique and often really clever cluing, but we mustn’t have been in the right frame of mind. ‘Turn into reed’, I love that type of thing… so simple but perfectly fair. Such a shame we weren’t on it today.

    Thanks Shed and Scchua, we promise to try harder next time!

  51. Sil van den Hoek says:

    For some reason (reasons that only I know (plus some others :)), I am not as frequently around as I was in the past.
    But when a crossword is as good as it was today, I am happy to add an exclamation mark to everything that’s already been said.
    This was Shed at his very very best.

    Also, good to see that Shed and I had something in common today (17ac) – but, true, again for reasons that only I know (plus some others :)).

    Thanks scchua.

  52. Shed says:

    Thanks to everyone, especially sschua, but also to RCWhiting for getting me started. I’m relieved to see several people pointing out that you don’t need to understand the in-joke to solve the puzzle.

    24ac was indeed meant to be a simple double-definition.

    As to how many things Syrinx turned into in 22ac, I’m surprised no one’s mentioned Andrew Marvell’s ‘The Garden': ‘And Pan did after Syrinx speed/ Not as a nymph, but for a reed’. If it’s good enough for Marvell, it’s good enough for me.

  53. scchua says:

    Thanks for dropping by Shed, and for clarifying 24ac.

    nusquam@22, apologies for not responding last night. You’re right about 14D. I put in the wrong code for the wordplay instruction, but should have caught it in previewing. Typo now corrected, thanks.

  54. ernie says:

    Excellent puzzle – hardest in top right. Thank you Shed and scchua.

  55. nusquam says:

    I returned to see if the thread had gone quite cold. There appear to be some glowing embers. Your apology, scchua,is quite unnecessary. It’s nice to see your contribution, Shed, along with the quote from Marvell. I am quite happy with ‘reed’ as a non-count noun, even when it is growing (as in ‘There is a patch of reed by the bend in the river’), so I never had any sense that the Syrinx clue was inaccurate.

    However, I have been thinking further about Ovid’s treatment of the myth. The Greek word of which Syrinx is a romanisation seems to mean only pipes, not reed, and at least in some instances syrinx (singular) is used to refer to a set of pipes. So the story is about how one girl turned into a set of pipes, a number of lengths of reed. It’s hard to envisage a singular individual turning into a bunch, and so I see Ovid’s vagueness about the process as artful.

    He describes many other metamorphoses in careful detail. Of Arachne, for example, he says (VI 139-145):

    ‘As she went, Minerva sprinkled her with the sap of a sorceress herb. Arachne’s hair, touched by the potion, melted away, as did her nose and ears, and her head became minute, indeed her whole body was small. At her sides she had slender fingers instead of legs, and the rest was abdomen. But from this abdomen she excreted thread, and, spider now, continued with her former weaving trade.’

  56. rrc says:

    I brought this crossword upon my phone, and managed to do 91 fairly quickly. Unfortunately crosswords on phones are not really to my liking, but didnt manage to pick up the paper copy until late Friday evening, so ineffect saved this to Sunday. Really enjoyed it then.

  57. David W says:

    5d was one of several in the NE which defeated me. I used to be able to construct answers (including words I didn’t know!) from the wordplay. Here I got no further than “Pasquale, perhaps” perhaps meaning “setter”, and even if I’d got from there to “Don” I’m sure I’d still not have got “sari”.

    Am I just getting old, or is there a recent trend towards making the wordplay a puzzle to be solved after the answer itself has been obtained by guesswork, in the style of a quick crossword, from the definition and the crossing letters?

  58. David W says:

    Sorry. NW not NE!

  59. Bob the Bolder says:

    Re 21d ….. I’m sure stoats and weasels aren’t the same ….. “a weasel is weasily distinguishable and a stoat is stoatally different” (trad)

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five + = 7