Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 7980 (Saturday Prize Crossword (12/05/12)

Posted by Bertandjoyce on May 19th, 2012


An excellent and thoroughly enjoyable themed puzzle from Radian, with some crafty misdirection in the use of the word ‘coinage’ and some thematic references in the wordplay to several clues even when they don’t necessarily have thematic answers!

We solved a number of the themed clues before we were able to deduce 14ac. We were only familiar with Edward Lear as an author and poet. However, thanks to this crossword, we now know that he started (at the age of 14) to earn his living as an artist. By the time he was 16 he was employed by the Zoological Society as a draughtsman. It wasn’t until 1846 that his ‘Book of Nonsense’ was published.

It was only when we researched him that we discovered that 15d was a thematic clue as well. Apparently he suffered from epileptic seizures as well as bronchitis and asthma from the age of six. He felt guilty and ashamed of his condition, which at the time was associated with ‘demonic possession’. It was really sad to read that from the age of 7 he suffered bouts of depression and that none of his friends were able to attend his funeral in San Remo. His funeral was therefore a rather 1d affair according to the wife of his physician.

He was born on 12th May 1812 and Google featured a Doodle depicting the Owl and the Pussycat dancing on the Saturday (12/05/2012) the puzzle was printed. We’d spotted the image earlier in the day, which partly helped us solve the puzzle!

We’re really glad that we solve crosswords – it’s amazing what you learn. Before today we imagined Edward Lear to be a humorous, jolly fellow whereas the reality was often very different.


1 LIMERICK Milk dribbled over boiled rice makes 14 work
  Anagram of MILK (anagrind is ‘dribbled’) around or ‘over’ an anagram of RICE (anagrind is ‘boiled’) = work by 14ac (Edward Lear, the theme of the crossword)
5 VERBAL Alla breve excerpt recalled but not written down
  Reversed or ‘recalled’ within al(LA BREV)e = not written down
9 NONSENSE No poles seen working for tripe
  NO + NS (Poles as in North & South) + anagram of SEEN (anagrind is ‘working’) = tripe. Another themed clue – “There was an Old Derry down Derry, who loved to see little folks merry; so he made them a book, and with laughter they shook at the fun of that Derry down Derry.”
10 SPINET Long way round old instrument
  PINE (long) with ST (way as in street) around = old instrument
11 LUTHERAN Anti-catholic unionist article published after end of trial
  U (unionst) + THE (article) + RAN (published) after L (end or last letter of ‘trial’) = anti-catholic – follower of German reformer Martin Luther
12 GUITAR It makes air vibrate with gut
  Anagram of AIR and GUT (anagrind is ‘vibrate’) = a guitar makes the air vibrate with strings made of gut (see also 16d!) An indirect reference to ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’
14 EDWARD LEAR He painted birds and kings
  EDWARD LEAR (two kings’ names) = a painter! We weren’t aware that Edward Lear was a painter and illustrator so it wasn’t until we solved some of the linking clues that we were able to work this one out! Check out this link that talks about Lear’s forgotten past as an artist and his interest in painting birds.
18 PLUMB LINES They go straight to bed to master poetry
  PLUMB (master as in ‘plumb the depths of’) + LINES (verse) = plumb lines go straight down (‘to bed’ suggesting ‘downwards’)
22 LESSON Exercise after taking some clothes off
  LESS ON (wearing less ‘after taking some clothes off’) = exercise
23 SWALLOWS Migrants with a large owl tossed in boat
  W (with) + A + L (large) + anagram of OWL (anagrind is ‘tossed’) inside or ‘in’ SS (boat) = migrants – a clever reference in the wordplay to the Owl & the Pussycat
24 PICKER 12 player and selector
  If you play a guitar (12ac) you could be a PICKER = selector
25 RUNCIBLE 14’s coinage in central Dublin prelate banks
  BL (the middle of duBLin) inside RUNCIE (prelate) = as in the type of spoon coined by Edward Lear.
26 YATTER Go on and on violating treaty
  Anagram of TREATY (anagrind is ‘violating”) = go on and on
27 AS I SEE IT Easiest ground to host international in my view
  Anagram of EASIEST (anagrind is ‘ground’) outside or ‘hosting’ I (international) = in my view
1 LONELY How to represent Lily with no companions
  A cryptic way of representing ‘lily’ would be to describe it as LLY around ONE = with no companions. See nmsindy@1 for a much clearer explanation!
2 MINUTE Precise coinage here without uniform base
  MINT (coinage) outside or ‘without’ U (uniform) + E (base as in the base of natural logarithms in mathematics) = precise. This time ‘coinage’ refers to money rather than the creation of a new word as in 25ac, 7d and 20d
3 REEFER Jack’s joint’s in jacket
  Triple definition – REEFER = Jack (as in sailor or midshipman), =  joint (as in cigarette containing marijuana), = jacket
4 CUSTARD PIE Sort of ‘pud’ cast with ire
  Anagram of PUD, CAST and IRE (anagrind is ‘sort of’) = a custard pie could be described as a sort of ‘pud’ that is ‘cast’ with ‘ire’. Thanks Wanderer@7 for pointing out a much better description.
6 EXPOUNDS Interprets unspecified so-called coinage
  EX (sounds like or ‘so-called’ x or ‘unspecified’ as used in mathematics) + POUNDS (coinage) = interprets. ‘Coinage’ referring to money again.
7 BONG TREE Green boat founders without a coinage by 14
  Anagram of GREEN BO(a)T (anagram is ‘founders’) without the letter ‘a’ = word coined by Edward Lear in The Owl and the Pussycat – another thematic reference in the wordplay, although the surface reading suffers a bit!
8 LITERARY Like library accepting note for book?
  LI(b)RARY with TE (note) inserted in place of b (book) = ‘like library’, or perhaps ‘library-like’
13 CATERWAULS How 16 reacts, excited about ringless owl with heart of gold
  Anagram of REACTS (anagrind is ‘excited’) about (o)WL (ringless owl or ‘owl without O’)  outside or ‘with a heart of’ AU (gold) = how 16d may react. Yet another thematic reference in the wordplay!
15 EPILEPSY Fits in record year netting piles everywhere
  EP (record as in extended play) + Y (year) around or ‘netting’ anagram of PILES (anagrind is ‘everywhere’) = fits
16 PUSSYCAT Love object in boat, origin of part of 12?
  Strings of guitars (12ac) can be made from catgut = the ‘love’ object in the beautiful pea green boat
17 OBSOLETE Outdated version of “O let us be …” with ring for you
  Anagram of O LET (u)S BE with O (ring) instead of u (you) (anagrind is ’version of’) = outdated
19 PLUCKS What 24 does in snatches
  A picker on a guitar PLUCKS the strings = snatches
20 POBBLE 14’s coinage in books European collected
  BB (books) inside or ‘collected’ by POLE (European) = the Edward Lear character who had no toes
21 ASCENT Like coinage’s rise
  AS (like) + CENT (coinage, in the sense of ‘money’ again) = rise


8 Responses to “Independent 7980 (Saturday Prize Crossword (12/05/12)”

  1. nmsindy says:

    Though totally unfamiliar with the works of EL, I was able to solve this, checking the references after. V enjoyable. I think LONELY is just L ONE L Y with one = i in lily. Thanks B&J and Radian.

  2. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks nmsindy. As far as LONELY is concerned, that’s what we meant but your explanation is clearer!

  3. Eileen says:

    Excellent blog [thanks, B and J] of an excellent puzzle [thanks, Radian]!

    For those unfamiliar with the poem, there’s another lovely reference to ‘The owl and the Pussycat’ in 17dn:

    ‘O let us be married! too long we have tarried:
    But what shall we do for a ring?’

  4. Dormouse says:

    This proved a pleasant accompaniment to a trip to Brighton last week. Got a couple of answers (but not the theme) when I first glanced at it on the way down before putting it aside to finish reading the paper. Re-started it on the train back, and to my surprise finished it before I got to Gatwick, which is exceedingly fast for me.

    Radio 3 that morning had alerted me to the Lear birthday. I’m not an expert but knew enough of his work to get many of the themed clues once I got the theme. (I didn’t know about the epilepsy, though.)

  5. mc_rapper67 says:

    A beautifully crafted puzzle – and great blog, with some fascinating background/research – real added value, thanks B&J.

    Happy memories for me, as my wife’s sister recited ‘The Owl & the Pussycat’ as a reading at our wedding, 11 years ago and counting, for ‘…too long had we tarried…’ (7 years).

    Although the registrar wasn’t too happy with the line ‘…and were married next day, by the turkey who lives on the hill.’ (;+>)

  6. sidey says:

    re 18 ‘They go straight to bed’ is the definition of what plumb lines do when measuring the depth of (sounding) a body of water. Added fun facts: the lead (Lat plumbum) weight has to be swung ahead of a moving boat in order for it to be at right angles when it touches the bed, a highly skilled job. The base of the lead would be coated with tallow to provide an indication of the sea bed’s composition.

  7. Wanderer says:

    Thanks B&J and Radian, very enjoyable puzzle.

    Surely 4d is a lovely &lit rather than a cryptic definition? A custard pie is a sort of pud thrown in anger (ie while heckling a politician), thus accounting for pud, cast and ire. My favourite clue.

  8. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Wanderer! We think you are right with 4d. We try and write the blog for new solvers and tend to avoid using ‘&lit’ but we should have been clearer that the definition involved all three parts!

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