Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7978/Punk

Posted by John on May 10th, 2012


I didn’t enjoy this. The two long phrases were hardly known to me, certainly one of them at any rate, and I couldn’t find either of them in Chambers. Which isn’t to say that they can’t be found somewhere, but in cases like this it seems only fair that the long expressions should be bona fide phrases, otherwise a whole lot of the crossword is inaccessible.

Some of the straight clues were good, though.

9/25/15 I FEEL LIKE A PAIR OF CURTAINS — not a phrase I’ve ever heard — no doubt it is used somewhere but I’d never have got this without pressing Reveal — if eel-like a p(A1)rof curtains, where curtains = death
10 REC{ord} TO
11 R ARE R{equired}
14 VIGOUR — VI go (ru)rev.
17 IN-LA W — if you are visiting Hollywood you are in LA
19 neW HOuse
20 MCCOY — presumably there was a Doctor McCoy in fiction (yes, Leonard McCoy in Star Trek I learn), and ‘the real McCoy’
22 PEDDLE — “pedal”
23 FROUFROU — but goodness knows why: all I can see is that frou-frou is elaborate or fussy decoration
26 NOTEPAPER — (to pen)* aper
28 TRAMS — (smart)rev.
29 1 DEAL
30 I VAN LEND L — lend = advance, front = van
2 BED RAGG(L)ED — surely not necessarily wet, possibly just dirty or untidy
3 CLARET — 2 defs, one of them an old slang word for blood
4 LITTLE OWL — the owl is {f}owl, but what the rest is about I can’t see
5 SE US {Key}S — Florida is possibly (certainly, I should have thought) in the south-east US
6 PRIAPISM — p (impairs)* — a brilliant &lit, which makes up for a lot of the rest of this crossword — priapism is persistent erection
7 AC(M)E — I suppose it’s that 999 is not exactly 1000
8 DOCTOR — 19 is Who, so Doctor Who
18/21/13/27 WELL PULL YOURSELF TOGETHER THEN — another expression that seems to me to be quite arbitrary — it’s as if an answer is ‘well did you enjoy the cricket match then’ — I suppose it’s connected to the other one in that curtains can be drawn, ie pulled together — if you’re not requiring the doctor you’re well, and the rest is (thoughtfully relents or pee)*
22 P(INK)IE — ink is writer’s (pen’s) content
24 UNTOLD — 2 defs

25 Responses to “Independent 7978/Punk”

  1. Jake says:

    John, I take it then you have never heard the old joke;

    PATIENT: Doctor doctor, I feel like a pair of curtains
    DOCTOR: Well pull yourself together then!

    I’m not sure what dictionary Indy setters use, Collins English or Concise (or both)?

    When sayings appear in puzzles, I usually use ODQ. However where humor is of concern Nigel Rees’ ‘A word in your shell like’ is rather good, 6000 curious everyday phrases explained, actually any thing by him is worthy of purchase in these cases.

  2. Richard Heald says:

    The wordplay for 23Ac is FOUR + FOUR (i.e. 8 “in halves”) both anagrammed, i.e “doctored”. Clever!

    Re 20Ac, I thought the real Doctor McCoy referred to here was Sylvester McCoy, who played Doctor Who in the late ’80s.

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks, John. When I first looked at the clues I thought I was going to be in your camp and not enjoy it, since I’m not a big fan of Punk’s long anagrams. But once I got a start, some of the crossers for the long clues became apparent, and it was the I at the beginning of I FEEL LIKE A PAIR OF CURTAINS that helped, and once DOCTOR DOCTOR became apparent both the long clues became a write-in. So in the end it was a bit of fun.

    LITTLE OWL is (Doctor) [DO]LITTLE plus [F]OWL.

    Of the other doctors scattered around, I liked MCCOY, and agree with your parsing of it.

    Thanks to Punk. And sorry, I can’t resist:

    Patient: Doctor, Doctor, I feel like a pack of cards
    Doctor: I’ll deal with you later

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    And meant to mention that I too thought PRIAPISM was excellent – a really funny clue.

  5. eimi says:

    I agree that long anagrams shouldn’t be used too often, but as K’s D points out, there’s lots of other stuff going on here and typical Punk humour.

    Patient: Doctor, Doctor, I keep seeing pink elephants?
    Doctor: Have you seen a psychiatrist?
    Patient: No, just pink elephants.

  6. sidey says:

    It’s a positive change from foopball I suppose.

    Please do not take the above very seriously…

    Doctor doctor, people keep ignoring me.


  7. Miche says:

    “Doctor, doctor, I keep thinking I’m a pair of curtains.”
    “Then pull yourself together.”

    It’s a very old joke, and no doubt has been phrased many ways, but the wording here is oddly feeble, with “feel like” weakening the setup and the superfluous “then” muffing the punchline.

    But top marks for PRIAPISM. ;-)

  8. crypticsue says:

    I loved this one from start to finish – long anagrams, priapism and all. Is there some reason why ia is missed from the explanations.

    Thanks to Punk for cheering up a very dull grey grumpy Thursday and to John (who had the fun of enjoying it tiwce over).

  9. Bonzo says:


  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Indeed Bonzo (it’s 1dn actually): I took this to be I B[U]R[Y] in LETTI, the well-known island in Romania.

  11. nmsindy says:

    I think it’s LETT I (separately). Very hard but got there in the end – may have a v vague recollection of the joke, but no more than that. Thanks Punk and John.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’m sure you’re right, nms, but I quite like my parsing …

    … the Indy crosswords have always been a bit left-field.

  13. Miche says:

    Re 2d: I too would have said that one can be bedraggled without being wet, but Chambers is firm — “Very wet and untidy”.

  14. Mr A Writinghawk says:

    John, I wonder if with all those numbers at the beginning of 9/25/15 you didn’t notice the ‘8 8′ (= ‘Doctor, Doctor’) that is part of the clue? Perhaps that would have revealed all, for the reasons Jake points out above. Thanks for the blog and sorry you didn’t enjoy it – I found it an excellent mystery outing. I too took the McCoy to be Sylvester (the reference to Doctor Who in the clue for 8 tending to confirm).

    As you say, Florida is certainly in the SE US, but if you are in the SE US you are only perhaps in Florida – ? (like ‘perhaps’ etc) is here used as a standard indicator of a definition by example.

    1dn Agreed that M for ‘999? not exactly!’ is edgy, but I thought it just the right side of the line :-) And yes in 1dn, the European is a Lett.

    P: Doctor, Doctor, why do people keep insulting me?
    D: Piss off and stop wasting my time, you moron.

  15. Jean says:

    ‘Curtains’ clue obscure in the extreme!

    I think the phrase ‘The real McCoy’ was around long before Star Trek!

  16. nmsindy says:

    It also reminded me of another old quip “Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist should have his head examined”.

  17. Rorschach says:

    6dn is not an &lit. It’s &littish but not an &lit – the clue is ‘male condition’ and the rest of the clue elucidates it.

  18. Paul B says:

    Mr A Writinghawk talks about looking before leaping, it seems, which I feel is an extremely good point to make.

    Rorshach is right – that’s not an &lit.

  19. John says:

    Thanks everyone. Yes I completely forgot about 1dn, which as already said is I b{u}r{y} in (Lett i), and I also missed the 8 8 at the start of the first clue — actually I didn’t at first but later, when it came to parsing them I did. And yes, 6dn is I realise not an &lit. — I was being lulled by Azed into calling anything with an &littish quality an &lit.

  20. helen btamall says:

    4down: LITTLE OWL is DoctorDolittle minus party(do). The doctor doctor joke is a well known one!

  21. Bertandjoyce says:

    Enjoyable reading tonight – so glad we logged on! Can we have more Doctor, Doctor jokes please?
    Thanks Richard @ 2 for explaining 23ac. Really enjoyed the surface reading to 6d – great clue!
    Our first thoughts were that the long interconnected clues were going to spoil things but in the end it was an enjoyable solve, saved by the standard of the rest of the clues.

    Thanks John and Punk.

    Doctor, Doctor Can I have a second opinion please?
    Yes, certainly. Come back tomorrow.

  22. Dormouse says:

    Well, I enjoyed this more than Tuesday’s, getting enough answers to get the long phrases (which I did know). I immediately thought of Dr “Bones” McCoy for 20ac but I’m a bit of a Trekkie. Needed some electronic help towards the end. Certainly wouldn’t have got 23ac without it.

  23. flashling says:

    Getting the joke filled in a lot of the grid, but still very tricky in places, quite shocked john didn’t know or spot the rather old joke, I suspect the Dr Who/McCoy/StarTrek was quite deliberate.

    Thanks John/PunK for helping me waste 30 mins or so.

  24. Allan_C says:

    30 minutes, flashling? – this was an ‘overnight’ one for me. I twigged straightaway that the two long answers were a ‘Doctor, doctor’ joke but couldn’t think which one, there are so many of them. I’d actually forgotten the ‘curtains’ one. Talking of which……

    Doctor, doctor, I keep forgetting things!
    When did this trouble start?
    What trouble?

  25. Richard says:

    I thought this was great fun, although it did take quite a time!

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