Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,590 – Boatman

Posted by Andrew on March 22nd, 2012


Sorry for the later-than-usual posting of this blog – I’ve just got back from a short holiday (thanks to Eileen for covering for me last Friday) and am trying to cope with the shock of being back at work. Another reason for the lateness is that I found this one pretty tough, with the SW corner taking me a long time to finish off, but enjoyable and satisfying as well, with a number of nicely concealed definitions, and a wide variety of uses of the word “crop”, which, er, crops up in a lot of the clues. There are several wagons there too, as a kind of mini-sub-theme.

7. BOATSWAIN B[oatman] + OATS (crop) + WAIN (a horse-drawn cart, as in Constable’s The Hay Wain). “Boatman” is the definition, as well as providing the initial B – it’s a bit of a shame that BOAT appears so prominently in both definition and answer.
8. HAPPY PP (pianissimo) in HAY (grass crop), with “content” as the definition
10. LOWER [f]LOWER[s] (thanks to NeilW for correction)
13. BARNYARD BARN* + reverse of DRAY (another wagon)
19. PORCINE Reverse of CROP + IN + [fi]E[ld]. Definition “of pigs”
22. BEETROOT OO (circles) in BETTER*. A nicely concealed definition: beetroot is a crop that grows below the ground.
27. SCART S (the S in “TV’s”) + cart (yet another wagon). SCART is a type of plug used to connect TV equipment, so “Plug for TV”.
29. PRUNE Double definition
30. RETURN KEY N[ews] in RE (about) TURKEY, and you might press the Return key on a computer keyboard to go on to a new line. (To be pedantic, “return” is from “carriage return”, referring to moving the “carriage” of a typewriter to reset its position to the left of the paper; the new line action is a Line Feed.)
1. POLICE Reverse of LOP (crop, in the sense of “cut”) + ICE (to finish a cake), and “pigs” is slang for the police. (Totally irrelevantly, did you know that “police” is the French word for typeface or font?)
3. SWITCH Double definition – this crop is a riding crop or similar
4. DISROBE O in DEBRIS* – “shed [vb.] covering” is the definition.
5. JALOPY LOP (crop – also used in 1dn) in JAY
6. APPEAR A + P[icking] + PEAR; defnition “crop up”
11. ERGO R (Reading – one of the Three Rs) in EGO (“I”, i.e. the setter)
14. ANI A[frica] + N[orthern] I[reland], and the Ani is indeed a tropical cuckoo.
15. DUE Homophone of “do you” or “d’you”. “Directly” as in “due South” etc.
16. PUB REPUBLIC (country without royal authority) less RELIC (e.g. a Saint’s bone)
17. ONE O + NE (homophone [and text-speak spelling] of “any”=”whatever”), and to be “at one” is to agree.
18. CROW CRO[p] + W[heat]. An amusing twist to use CROP in the wordplay without mentioning it in the clue.
20. CHATTING CHA (drink) + TT (teetoal – on the wagon) + IN + [ba]G
23. ENCORE [m]EN + CORE (what’s left of fruit)
24. THRONG Almost (roughly) the reverse of NORTH + G (grand, 1000)
25. OPAQUE Hidden in crOP A QUEstion
26. GULLET GULL + E[at] T[he].

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,590 – Boatman”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    10 – I thought blossoms were fLOWERs, with the word cropped on both sides, in the way of a photo edit.

  2. NeilW says:

    I thought this was both a challenge and good fun. Last one fully parsed was 17.

    By the way, as well as wagons, there were a fair number of pigs around as well.

  3. andy smith says:

    Thanks Andrew – I couldn’t parse 24. I think 10a is (f)lower(s) – it is plural in the clue, so the ‘crop’ means chop the ends off, not just the first letter. Never heard of the Ani cuckoo but was interested to find that it has a quite respectable lifestyle, its not a brood parasite.

  4. NeilW says:

    Actually, only three little piggies but a slightly unusual word to see more than once in a crossword, unlike birds of which there are four (or five if you include cuckoo)…I think.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I enjoyed chasing the theme around, and like you found the SW the trickiest corner. 21d was a 21d, and I still don’t see how it works (I wasted time trying to justify ‘stinger’ – with last of ‘pig’ – until deciding it had to be what you have. And I had ‘owe’ for 17d, with homophone a stretch for owe=agree. Loved ERGO and 30a.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for the blog – an amusing and satisfying puzzle, as you say, so many thanks to Boatman, too.

    [I was more than happy standing in for you last week – a début puzzle from Picaroon, which was a real treat, and well worth catching up on, if you have time.]

  7. Blaise says:

    I agree with andy smith concerning flowers — “crop” in most programming languages does mean remove from both ends. BTW, if you wanted to quibble about IT technicalities (I don’t — the clue is perfect in normal contexts), the return key only gives a new-line character in Unix, Linux and variants. On Macs you get a carriage-return character and on PCs you get carriage-return plus new-line. One of the many little annoyances that bedevil careless developers.

  8. Blaise says:

    Incidentally, I thought…
    Boatman snubbed “crop” (7)

  9. Robi says:

    Nice one, which I enjoyed.

    Thanks Andrew for the good blog. I’m sure you’re right about ‘ICE’ in 1, although I parsed it as ‘ice cake.’ I didn’t notice that north was ‘norht’ in 24 (and thought the roughly referred to the slang ‘grand;’ must be going senile.)

    Following yesterday’s discussion of themes, RCW will likely approve of this one. As promised (or threatened), I did compile an alternative-themed puzzle which can be found here, if anyone wants to look. For any comments, I am happy for Gaufrid to supply my address to interested individuals if you email him.

  10. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I found this one very tricky (>1hr to solve) and very entertaining. Imaginative use of crops, pigs and birds – the only repetition is ‘crop’ = LOP in 1d and 5d. Several well disguised anagrams, which I missed on first (second and third) reading: 12a, 22a, 28a.

    Many wonderful clues with clever constructions and misleading or unobtrusive definitions: 12a, 19a, 27a, 30a, 1d, 5d, 11d were favourites. Couldn’t parse 16d – great surface and ingenious construction, but a 10-word clue for a 3-letter word is unusually profligate!

  11. Rich says:

    Thanks Andrew and Boatman,

    I think this is the best way to do a themed crossword, no specialist knowledge making it too easy or lack thereof making it too hard. It reminds me of a Brendan offering where every clue contained “say”, as with today the theme word was used in a variety of ways, as a def, as fodder, an instruction, etc etc.

    I was a little unhappy about R from reading in ERGO, but of course I had forgotten the three Rs so very fair after all.

  12. William says:

    Thank you Andrew. I found this tricky and took a long time to finish. Jolly good puzzle, though.

    Eileen @6 – sorry to go off piste for a second, but thank you so much for the fun Brian Johnston link you sent yesterday – I took it to work and we all giggled anew!

    Thanks Boatman for another cracker, more please.

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Boatman

    A tricky, clever and enjoyable puzzle as others have said.

    I saw f)lower(s as others did.

    I was held up in the end by 21d by doubts about stinker. Eventually I decided it was the only plausible answer. Your parsing ‘eats its last’ = ‘s’
    escaped me ( :) it seems a very quaint form of old English ‘poesie’) and I thought that eats could be consumes/uses and perhaps need not be literally inclusive.
    So I saw it as (it)s (its last) + tinker. The least good, I think, of a generally very high quality and resourceful set of clues. I was not wholly satisfied with tinker = trifle but they are just about OK on reflection.

    I ticked 22a, 27a, 28a, 30a, 5d, 16d, 17d out of an excellent ‘crop’.

  14. Boatman says:

    Thanks, all, for your generous comments.

    Tupu – I wouldn’t say that I was wholly comfortable with STINKER, though Chambers backs up the use of TINKER (the verb) as a synonym for TRIFLE. My main justification is that I couldn’t get the image of pigs in trifle out of my head. They’re still there now – it’s quite annoying, really.

  15. tupu says:

    Thanks Boatman.

    Its good of you to respond. I see what you mean about the image! I am still unsure where you see the ‘s’ coming from. If it does come from ‘eats’ the ‘its’ seems redundant without helping the surface.

  16. Boatman says:

    Tupu – ah yes, “its” is needed to tell you to take the S from “eats”, so “eats its last” = S in the same way that “Chaucer, his first” might indicate C. If I’d missed out the “its” I’d have had the Ximeneans complaining that “eats last” fails logically in the same way that “second chance” for H is not as satisfying as “first of April” for A. Of course, “eats its last” could be a punctuation-insensitive indication for T, but that’s a different matter!

  17. Tom Hutton says:

    I thought 17dn spoiled a good crossword as neither the cryptic element or the definition seem very satisfactory to me.

  18. tupu says:

    Many thanks again. :) I recognised the ‘olde’ grammatical form when I saw Andrew’s blog but reacted a bit like McEnroe to a linesman’s ‘out’! I did not realise the tightness of the rules you were following which I assume would also disqualify the ‘s’ from coming from ‘its’ as I had reasoned. I’m afraid it does not help to endear me to the clue, but I’m sure my solving benefited from your strict discipline elsewhere in the puzzle. Unfortunately (for me) I’m not always sure what rules different setters are playing to.

  19. tupu says:

    Hi Tom Hutton
    17d seemed fine to me. One does not even need the ‘at’ since it is idiomatic to say ‘We are one on this issue’ for ‘We are in agreement on this issue’. I thought O N E for ‘Oh! Whatever’ was clever and amusing.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This was a chunk of meat that needed a lot of enjoyable chewing.
    As Robi @9 says I do indeed approve of this type of theme. Not only does it provide us with a better challenge but it must be much more difficult and interesting to set. And Wiki will not help a solver in any way!
    After reading the blog I realised that I had failed to complete it since I had a very doubtful ‘oke’ at 17d.
    Last in was ‘stinker’
    I particularly liked the very unusual anagram indicators in 22ac and 25 ac (dispelling – brilliant!!).
    I also appreciated the subtle misdirection in 30ac.
    I should add that themes are not essential for a really top-class cryptic but if we must have them then this one is he way to do it.

  21. Mitz says:

    Ouch – that hurt. Toughest since the Rev’s Bank Holiday Potter monstrosity. Stared and stared at large sections for a l-o-n-g time and only gradually got there. I too failed at 17, thinking ‘owe’ might do the trick. ‘Return key’ was my last in and immediately became my favourite, alongside ‘jalopy’ and ‘beetroot’. Really good stuff, Boatman – I can almost smell the country…

    Thanks, Andrew, for the blog.

  22. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Boatman, for a really good work-out and Andrew for explaining it all!

    Favourite clue was Beetroot – my pet hate on the vegetable front. It is like eating a handful of earth and was forced on us every Friday at school along with fish, lumpy spuds, ‘mushy’ peas and a lump of hard margarine!

    Enjoyed all the pigs, crops and wagons. All good back to our roots fodder.

    If Gaufrid doesn’t mind, thanks to Eileen for Jonners link yesterday.

    Giovanna x

  23. Paul B says:

    Whilst not appreciating the grid very much (it is an absolute monstrosity all but comprised of four separate mini-crosswords), I did appreciate the joy of 17D (and many of the other clues, actually). But I have to go with Tom Hutton on it, as there’s no way one should be able to get away with indicating O for ‘Oh’ and NE for ‘any’ as homophones: they’re not, because the word sounds like WUN.

    OTOH it would be fun to try and create a way of doing it which IS fair. I had a go on one recently (currently sub-judice, so I can’t say what it is) and reckon I’ve come up with one way around this aspect, but it’ll probably end up being a case-by-case job.

  24. nametab says:

    Thanks to Boatman, and all bloggers today. Some really subtle indicators and definitions. Have never really appreciated the multiplicity of meanings for ‘crop’. Got stuck with SW corner.
    Agree with Paul B at 23 about four mini-crosswords grid (although there is an more-infuriating one sometimes with even fewer intersects).

    A disconnected question: Does anyone recall an Araucaria from probably 20 Christmases ago whose theme was based on bell-ringing calls? The grid was long and narrow, with no black squares, and with answers zig-zagging down (and (I think) omitting vowels). I would love to re-discover it.

  25. JollySwagman says:

    @Paul B #23 “no way one should be able to get away with indicating O for ‘Oh’”

    In a clearly indicated (“they say”)homophone.

    How is ‘Oh” pronounced down your way?

  26. Paul B says:

    Well Swaggers, your ‘clearly indicated’ ‘Oh’ and Any’ are not pronounced ‘wun’, which is the point.

  27. JollySwagman says:

    @PB #26 – Am I missing something? It works just as described in the blog.

    Where does WUN come into it?

    The homophone applies only to the wordplay components.

  28. gerardus says:

    22ac. Beetroot is an above ground crop! We grow them on our allotments. Try it freshly harvested, boiled and served with butter. Deliciously sweet.

  29. Kayoz says:

    22ac. I wonder why it would it be called beet ‘root’ if it was an above ground crop? I have grown it and it does grow close to the surface but it is a root vegetable.

  30. Kayoz says:

    Re 22a, a great clue.

    This probably won’t get through but I am offering possibly the best dip you have tasted for a while. BeetROOT dip.

    Take one tin of whole baby beetroot, not sliced. Blend with garlic, some chilli, juice of half a lemon, 1/2-1 tspn of ground cummin. Taste and fold in at least a 1/2 cup of thick greek style yoghurt. Season with salt and pepper as desired.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    I think gerardus @28 might be referring to the beetroot leaves. I eat them regularly, taste very like spinach and can be cooked in the same ways.
    Of course, I also eat and enjoy the underground roots as well.
    Sadly retailers have decided that it is only a root crop and usually cut off the leaves so it is a grow your own solution.
    Hence, to me, the beetroot is one of the most versatile and tasteful vegetables.

  32. Admin says:

    Kayoz @30
    I asked you politely, and in private, to stop posting off-topic comments. It seems you have ignored this request. This site is about discussing crosswords etc, not exchanging recipes (there are many other sites for that). I really don’t want to have to put you under moderation again so please exercise some restraint.

  33. RCWhiting says:

    Where is your sense of humour- it’s only a MB – not the budget statement?

  34. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks to Andrew, and many thanks to Boatman!

    Continuing from 25,899:

    “An interesting week… the Everyman was just what I needed after a hard day’s wall building, and Rufus was just right on Monday. Tuesday came in nicely for my mood and worn intellectual abilities, too.” Wednesday was a themed puzzled of the sort I dislike, but that’s just my opinion and taste.

    Today’s was, again in my opinion, a tour de force. The theme(s) were rampant, but no one solution was required by others, or made them trivial (especially since the 7th or so possible use of “crop” did not occur to me until I solved the clue itself).

    I came up with roughly 6 or 7 ways to use the key word, and counted their occurrences…

    “to shorten” – twice as a device in clues, twice as (part of) the meaning
    “a whip” – once
    “food” – three times, with one from the sub-theme “fruit”
    “as cryptic fodder” – once as part of an anagram, once reversed, and once as part of a hidden answer
    “to appear” – once
    and finally, the last one, “part of a bird’s throat”.

    Oh, and I forgot 18d, where it is just a word one must have in one’s head along the way as a (food) meaning for “harvest”.


    That said, I found the short (3 and 4 letter) clues mostly very hard, which slowed me down a lot. I “cheated” on 30a, I think by using wildcards at OneLook, in spite of having “RETURN” in my head, and never quite jumped on STINKER at 21d. I was also mildly disappointed that “boat” appeared in 7a’s answer, but by then I wasn’t really bothered.

    This is the sort of themed puzzle I really admire and enjoy.

    Now on to “tomorrow”‘s 25,591…

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