Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,812 / Gordius

Posted by Eileen on December 6th, 2012

Eileen.

‘Mixed bag’ is a term that has been applied more than once to Gordius puzzles, by me and others – and here’s another: some good clues but, as so often, I have quibbles regarding quite a few more.

Across

8 Director blows up record
PRODUCER
anagram [blows] of UP RECORD
I don’t want to get involved in discussion about the difference between a producer and a director, so I’ll direct you here

9 Get up about noon for a quick dip
RINSE
RISE [get up] round N [noon] – nice surface

10 Schools’ governor? Not half!
GOVE
GOVE[rnor]:
I think this is intended as an &lit but it doesn’t quite work for me.  [For overseas readers, Michael Gove is currently Secretary of State for Education]

11 Plant that makes roads collapse
DAMASK ROSE
anagram  [collapse] of MAKES ROADS

12 Foreigners express gratitude with a chunk of Olde England
MERCIA
MERCI [French 'Thank you'] + A for the Anglo-Saxon kingdom, now known as the Midlands

14 “Roger”, as in building material
CASEMENT
AS in CEMENT [building material] – a rather strange clue for the Irish nationalist, Roger Casement

16 Billingsgate titfer held plate for fish
BLOATER
BOATER [Billingsgate titfer - hat worn by fish merchants, as here] round L ['learner' plate] – the best clue by far for me

18 Some science in firm grip of an extremist
FASCIST
SCI [some science] in FAST [in firm grip] – ‘in’ doing double duty

21 Commercial sea song?
MERCHANT
MER [French sea - only used in English, as far as I know, in the expression 'mal de mer'] + CHANT [song]: I don’t think the question mark is sufficient to let Gordius off this hook

23 English wearing a winning medal is nothing new
AGE-OLD
E [English] in [wearing] A GOLD [a winning medal]

24 College enough for a little theology
AMPLEFORTH
AMPLE [enough] + FOR + TH [a little theology]
I liked the &littishness of this clue for Ampleforth College

26 Vehicle turns over, but not altogether
TRAP
reversal [turns over] of PART [not altogether]: the ‘but’ makes it impossible for me to justify this clue

27 Ulster order was turned to stone
NIOBE
NI [Northern Ireland - Ulster] + OBE [order] for the tragic Niobe who was turned to stone for boasting of her children

28 One man able to produce a legume
LIMA BEAN
anagram  [to produce] of I [one] + MAN ABLE

Down

1 Tree-dwelling, headless snake climbs — true!
ARBOREAL
reversal [climbs] of [c]OBRA [headless snake] + REAL [true]

2 Paid less — lacking pass, not working
IDLE
hidden in paID LEss – or, as the clue says, ‘paid less’ minus ‘pass’

3 Listlessness can make one reject help
ACEDIA
ACE [one] + reversal [reject] of AID [help]

4 Setter is in a blessed state, despite expression
GRIMACE
I’M [setter is] in GRACE [a blessed state]

5 Flower not entirely like the Taoiseach
IRIS
not entirely Iris[h] [like the Irish Prime Minister]

6 Hector’s wife had Cameron shattered
ANDROMACHE
anagram [shattered] of HAD CAMERON, for the wife of Hector, son of Priam, king of Troy

7 Item in service reported to decrease
LESSON
sounds like [reported] lessen [decrease]: I was reduced to using the ‘cheat’ button to decide which word to enter, since the position of ‘reported’ makes the clue totally ambiguous and there is no help from crossing letters

13 One with the opportunity to turn round?
CHANCELLOR
CHANCE [opportunity] + reversal [round] of ROLL [turn]: I can only explain this as another attempted &lit, the Chancellor of the Exchequer being one with the opportunity to turn the economy round – but not just yet, apparently!

15 Source of water in outer space?
SPA
hidden [?] in SPAce – but why ‘outer’?

17 The “old days” are over
ERA
reversal [over] of ARE – but why ‘old’?

19 Put by for Jack abroad
SALT AWAY
SALT [Jack] + AWAY [abroad]

20 Reptiles, not soft but awkwardly unproductive
STERILE
anagram [awkwardly] of RE[p]TILES minus p [soft]

22 Little time before surrounding an animal
ERMINE
MIN[ute] [little time] [with] ERE [before] surrounding

23 In a book about the beginning of history
AT HOME
A TOME [a book] round H [beginning of history] – a nicely concealed definition

25 Hired a straight man
FEED
double definition

26 Check acceptable but proscribed
TABU
TAB [check] + U [acceptable]

67 Responses to “Guardian 25,812 / Gordius”

  1. muffin says:

    Thanks Eileen and Gordius
    I found this tricky and a bit unsatisfactory in places. I gave up on GOVE and cheated, and was amazed how uncryptic it turned out to be; ACEDIA and ANDROMACHE were unknown to me, though the latter was not too difficult to find – I got the former from Chambers Word Wizard.
    I thought CASEMENT and MERCHANT were just about OK as clues, but SPA was very feeble.

  2. Tom says:

    Thanks Gordius and Eileen. I was totally stumped by 25, not being familiar with either definition, and am still unclear how ‘jack’ = ‘salt’?

    Some really nice clues in here, 23D being my favourite, but I’m a little unhappy about 17 and 8!

  3. muffin says:

    I forgot to complain about TRAP as well! I think that the clue marginally more implies PART – I put this in and it obviously held me up.

  4. Stella says:

    Thanks for the explanations, Eileen. The contemporary politicians are total strangers to me, though I managed to work them out.

    I agree with your reserves, but there are some pretty good clues here, too – the classical women were only vaguely familiar, but their names came readily from the wordplay.

  5. muffin says:

    Salt and Jack are both terms for old seamen.

  6. Tom says:

    Ah, of course! Thanks muffin.

  7. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    This took me longer than yesterday’s Brummie. Some decidedly off-beam definitions and strangely extraneous words (‘despite’ in 4d, ‘but’ in 26a, ‘outer’ in 15d, ‘old’ in 17d) served to confuse. 18a doesn’t work for me: I have no real issue with SCI as ‘some science’, but ‘firm grip’ is not FAST. ‘In firm grip’ would do for FAST, but this would require an additional container indicator.

    However, the puzzle did provide something of a challenge, and I did like AMPLEFORTH and AT HOME.

  8. Stella says:

    I forgot – how is FEED a straight man?

  9. muffin says:

    Stella @8
    He feeds lines to his funnier partner.

  10. Tom says:

    Forgot to mention 21A – I find this just about ok with the question mark. “Mer-” is used as a prefix to mean ‘of the sea’ in ‘merman/mermaid’, so if the question mark is indicating a coinage it’s just about OK for me.

  11. Stella says:

    OIC, thanks muffin :-)

  12. NeilW says:

    Gervase @7, how about if you take just “firm” as meaning “fast”?

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen!

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Gordius

    Quite hard I thought with some very nice clues but the odd questionable one as others have noted.

    I ended up with a bit of a cheat on 28 – which I left empty (with a wrong answer in my head that I wanted to check) and forgot to think more about it before coming to the blog.

    I thought 18a was OK – I read it as ‘sci’ in grip of ‘fast’ = ‘firm’.

    I ticked 16a (this held me up a long time as I assumed billingsgate titfer was ‘at), 18a, 24a, 4d, 6d, 20d, 29d.

  14. tupu says:

    Hi NeilW

    I’m afraid we crossed re 18. It took me too long to complete my comment.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I agree with your quibbles. For me, the least satisfying clue was 8ac. A producer is not a director, as my brother, who has been both, could tell you. This is just wrong. The two roles can be combined, as in producer-director, but they are very different roles!

    To be fair to Gordius, I did like DAMASK ROSE, BLOATER, AMPLEFORTH and AT HOME.

  16. UncleAda says:

    Thanks Eileen and Gordius.
    16ac – the Billingsgate hat was a ‘bobbin’ – see “http://backup.britishpathe.com/record.php?id=47989″
    for a nice vintage Pathe video of said headgear.

  17. UncleAda says:

    Oops – working link to bobbins here:-

    Pathe

  18. newmarketsausage says:

    Hello to all the good folk at 225. Thanks for the blog, Eileen.

    Was expecting to see some refugees from the Guardian’s board here, this being a day of protest about the paper’s new comment interface. Perhaps a few will turn up later. Hope they behave themselves if they do.

    Enjoyed this offering from Gordius. AT HOME was nice and I liked the simplicity of ERA too.

    On LESSON I took it as being part of a church service, thus ‘item in service’. Not sure LESSEN could be that.

    Thanks for the sterling work you do at 225. I contribute reasonably regularly to the Guardian’s board but often drop by here for enlightenment when scratching my head fails to do the trick.

  19. morphiamonet says:

    Too many loose ends for a true Gordian but, typically, exquisitely blogged by Eileen.

    For what its worth, I’ve elected not to post on the Guardian thread today. Very amusingly one of the most staunch supporters of the new ‘Threading of Comments’ there (and highly critical of us luddites) posted on the QC today and was somewhat perturbed to find that, somehow, the new system changed his name to ‘Flabby’ haha

  20. newmarketsausage says:

    Belay that comment about LESSON. Have only just seen what the problem is.

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi newmarketsausage and morphiamonet

    Welcome to the other side! ;-)

    I’m going out shortly, so a similar welcome to any other refugees who happen to drop in.

    [Funnily enough, I'm going out to help at our weekly Drop-in for asylum-seekers!]

  22. Aztobesed says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    At 18 I had it as FIST (firm grip) + a Sc (as in BSc). This rather leaves the ‘a’ floating but tidies up the grip. I’ve always liked Gordius because of (as opposed to despite) his supposed ‘looseness’. I always lock on to what he’s driving at and find his humour excuses the odd slip – but to each his or her own.

  23. Sylvia says:

    I found this too easy and thought it would have been better in a Monday slot, so I’m surprised this wasn’t the general view. But then I’ll probably struggle with one everyone else can sail through!

  24. ClaireS says:

    Hi Eileen, thanks as ever for your enjoyable blog.

    I’m another refugee from GU today (where I post under a different name) but I promise to behave myself and remain on topic. As usual, despite solving most of the crossword I’d missed a few things (e.g. Ampleforth college) so a trip here is always worthwhile for me.

    Maybe I wasn’t with it today but I found this harder than recent Gordius’ crosswords and ultimately failed on FEED, which was silly of me. I also didn’t help myself by making a right horlicks of 8a to begin with. There was lots that I enjoyed though – MERCIA, BLOATER, GRIMACE, GOVE. However, I was a little irritated by 7d. Whilst I don’t mind the occasional clue that needs the crossers to confirm the correct solution I felt that was a little bit much. But maybe that’s just because I plumped for LESSEN which turned out to be wrong :-)

    Re 18a – I agree with tupu’s parsing on this (SCI gripped by FAST = firm).
    Re 26a – I had APART = BUT with not altogether indicating removal of the first letter. However, that might be stretching things as it would be apart from rather than just apart?

  25. John Appleton says:

    Mixed bag indeed. I liked CHANCELLOR.

    Didn’t get PRODUCER but I don’t think there’s a problem with the way it’s defined. In the movie industry, there’s a definite difference; but in theatre, (especially in amateur theatre, where the set-up might not always involve a producer) a director might often be spoken of as producing a play – even if they have no responsibilities associated with the job of production. With respect to Liz @15 (and her brother), I can’t say it’s “just wrong” – as I’m currently a director in exactly the position I speak of.

  26. Gervase says:

    Thanks to NeilW, tupu, ClaireS and anyone I may have omitted for pointing out my blindness concerning 18a (see my comment @7).

  27. Thomas99 says:

    Re 8a – if anyone’s in any doubt whether the stage director of an opera is correctly called a producer, see see IMG’s website. The word is not used in the same way as in film, or as in straight theatre. The two terms are interchangeable (producer is the older usage).

  28. John Appleton says:

    …Of course, there’s nothing to say that Gordius’s director is in any way related to TV or theatre. A producer (of TV or theatre), is effectively a manager – someone directing other people in various tasks. So it appears sound from that point of view.

  29. Aztobesed says:

    Just to chip in on the Producer/director discussion, I would say that given his age Gordius should get away with this. The term producer is one that has been manipulated a lot in more recent years by the entertainment business with terms like ‘executive producer’ being shorthand for ‘leading actor’ (a way of bumping up an additional salary) and ‘associate producer’ (a way of saying ‘keeps his trap shut but raised and receives a healthy cut’). If you wanted to be excessively nice about the term, a producer is one who employs a director but usually in the context of a structured production which is being bankrolled by a parent television or film company. If you’re in the ‘my mum has got some curtains, we can do the show right here’ territory, then your good companions would have no problems equating the director with the producer. There’s far too many weasel terms aimed at getting an extra slice of the pot for a crossword compiler to keep track of – producer/director comes from a simpler time and should be applauded.

  30. rowland says:

    Yes, ‘firm grip’ is a classic error really. FIRM can equal FAST I think ,but when you substitute the syninym you ‘lose the right’ to have a plural usage, the syn has to be singular.

    Dislike Gordius for the reasons Az-to-be-sed likes him, but each to his owm!!

    Cheers
    Rowly.

  31. Robi says:

    I enjoyed this, despite some looseness here and there.

    Thanks Eileeen for a nice blog; the effort you put into adding the clues is much appreciated. :)

    Having to retype this as I forgot the captcha [note to self to copy the text before submitting!] but I won’t repeat what is said above about director/producer, except to say in the early days of TV, I think the roles were more-or-less synonymous, and are given as such in several thesauri.

    What about Mersea (Island) in Essex? As you say, an ERA is not necessarily old, although there is ‘end of an era’ and geological timescales that are ‘in the old days.’ I didn’t like SPA, both from it not being well hidden and ‘outer,’ although perhaps that could have meant ‘an exterior part (?)’ I agree that the ‘but’ in 26 is redundant and potentially confusing, ‘but’ its omission would need a surface rewrite.

    I didn’t know the FEED=straight man, so spent some fruitless time trying to parse that one. I liked IDLE, AT HOME and MERCIA as well as your favourite BLOATER.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    As Eileen says,a mixed bag,but in my case a mix of an extremely easy start followed by an extremely tricky lower half (I never did get ‘tabu’ because I wasn’t fully convinced by ‘trap’). I also wasn’t totally convinced by ‘spa’ which I reluctantly entered after trying unsuccessfully to justify ‘sea’.
    I am not sure that Claire@24 should accept that ‘lessen’ is wrong (I entered it too); it seems as equally justifiable as ‘lesson’.
    Although this provided me with a good struggle, usually all I ask from a puzzle, much of the delay seemed to be due to dubious clues rather than hard clues.
    Another example was the dodgy definition for ‘chancellor’.

  33. togo says:

    Thanks Eileen for your usual elegant blog,

    I had exactly the same reservations about Gordius’s cluing, but still quite enjoyed the puzzle.

    [By the way, where is your drop-in (I think you're in Leicester, and so am I...)]

  34. Trailman says:

    The first article I ever had published, a film review, confused producer and director. Luckily I had a chance to correct this at proof stage. That was 40 years ago mind. It does mean that my first thoughts were ‘that’s just wrong’, though I now defer to Thomas99, John Appleton and Aztobesed for their clarification of usage.

    Overall though, too much looseness to make this one of Gordius’s better efforts, despite the excellence of 16ac, 24ac, 23d. Maybe a bit harder than his usual level, but that’s probably a function of the imprecise clueing. And if you’re going to put the four letters of GOVE in the Guardian crossword, you might as well make some sort of point!

    Nice to see the papers’ bloggers forced into a day of action though.

  35. Trailman says:

    paper’s
    I beat myself up over the misplaced apostrophes of others

  36. Robi says:

    BTW; ‘fruits de mer’ is often seen on menus etc. [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fruits_de_mer]

  37. Mickinely says:

    Another Gruaniad refugee grateful for the blog,Eileen. I agree with the mixed bag comment. I was slightly irritated by both ERA and SPA but thought they were more than made up for by BLOATER and AMPLEFORTH. I would say ‘mer’ for sea is fair enough in a G. cryptic.

  38. Thomas99 says:

    NeilW and tupu (12 and 13) are surely right about 18a. Firm = fast. The parsing is that “in firm grip” means “in the grip of ‘firm’ [i.e. fast]“.

    I’d be interested if anyone can explain what rowland’s parsing is of the same clue @30. Perhaps he thinks “grip” is a verb? If so, I certainly don’t.

  39. Aztobesed says:

    Thomas – I wasn’t particularly pushing my take on 18 – simply reporting how it first struck me. Some science = a Sc in the grip of a firm fist. Meh.

    As for the producer/ director being taken from opera rather than theatre, I would tend to agree while pointing out that Stanislavski was the Director (Direktor) of The Moscow Arts Theatre and Brecht was the Direktor (Director) of The Berliner Ensemble, though both would today be called their Producers. Richard Doyly Carte would probably be perfectly happy to be introduced as Gilbert and Sullivan’s producer while Cameron Mackintosh would probably prefer to be described as an impresario since a producer could be someone who cobbles together the daily Hollyoaks. I think Gordius has been quite light on his feet by making sure the Director was given a capital letter.

  40. Eileen says:

    Hi togo @33, if you’re still there

    I’ve posted a reply in General Discussion.

    http://www.fifteensquared.net/2010/12/26/general-discussion/?cp=5#comment-216912

  41. dirkybee says:

    (Refugee number six)
    Always glad to read your blog, Eileen, thank you.

    I`m frequently mildly surprised by the critical slant of the views expressed on this site, a focus on some minor flaw in two or three clues in preference to acknowledging the deft and amusing nature of the other twenty odd.
    Of course it`s fascinating to read the `producer/director` discussion, which I think is a cracking, if simple, clue. (Yes, my mum had curtains.)I can`t see a problem with `mer` if `acedia` is perfectly acceptable. What`s a `but` between friends if it adds to the surface?
    Gordius aims `to entertain – even get a laugh.` And I laughed at Gove and Chancellor and Trap and Casement and Arbo…. Wonderful fun, Gordius. x

  42. ClaireS says:

    RCWhiting @22 – the crossword software used on the Guardian website allows you to check answers entered, which Eileen did to confirm which of LESSON/LESSEN was the correct answer. Unfortunately, we were both wrong. Ah well.

    Rowland @30 – I’m afraid I didn’t understand your objection to 18a either. You talk about plurals but there aren’t any in either the word play or solution so you have confused me.

  43. Eileen says:

    Hi any Guardian refugees – either commenters or lurkers – who are still listening

    It’s been good to welcome some ‘refugees’ today, though most of them admit to having visited us before – just as I have to admit to having dropped in occasionally to their thread on the Guardian website, where I’ve sometimes read slightly disparaging remarks about our website, which I’ve never really understood. We bloggers are not – and do not profess to be – a bunch of know-all experts: we’re simply amateur solvers who’ve stuck their necks out in order to prompt the day’s discussion and ask for help when they’re stumped.

    Many thanks for your contributions – it would be really good to hear from you again. :-)

  44. RCWhiting says:

    Claire@42
    I presume that the software reflects the view of the setter.
    I think if two solutions are equally valid we, as solvers, are entitled to claim either as correct since there is no way we can read the setter’s mind, only read his words.
    In this case I do think both are valid – what say you?

  45. dirkybee says:

    Eileen, thanks for giving me the opportunity to reply with an apology.
    I think the `tone` of my earlier post must have seemed ungracious.
    Ironically and embarrassingly, it reads far more critically than I ever intended.
    I`ve learnt so much from this site, from you especially; I wish I hadn`t just `dashed-off` a post of such thoughtlessness. Sorry.

  46. nesciolatine says:

    Thank-you Eileen for the warm welcome to those of us from ‘the other place’

    My wife posts here from time to time and I confess to a regular ‘sneaky peak’ myself. Sorry about the disparaging comments, it’s just possible that some of them aren’t always meant to be taken too seriously.

    Fair to middlin’ Gordius today, a few quibbles but nothing not already covered above. Also, seem to recall Casement in a Prize a few months back causing a little consternation.

  47. stiofain says:

    I fear I am flogging a dead horse but cant let it go without making comment.
    Ulster does not equal NI (27 ac) this is not only as inaccurate as saying Iberia equals ESP (for Spain) it is deeply offensive to the people of Donegal, Monaghan and Cavan not to mention the Irish citizens in the other 6 counties.
    Ulster is one of the 4 ancient kingdoms of Ireland, NI is not Ulster.
    The only people outside crossword setters that equate them are the more neanderthal members of our society in the naming of their paramilitary groupings.
    It is time the crossword editor banned this offensive inaccuracy.
    Apart from that I was actually enjoying this Gordius but this put him back to the bottom of my list of setters.

  48. g larsen says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    When I see ‘flower’ nowadays I tend to think ‘river’ – hence the holdup caused by 5d, where I got OISE from Taoiseach, no doubt from having recently been to France.

    Otherwise I found this fairly straightforward if unexciting, as usual with Gordius.

  49. morphiamonet says:

    stiofain@47 see dirkybee@41

  50. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    I disliked 26a and 7d for the same reason: there were two alternative readings with nothing in the clue to say which to select. On 26a I went for PART then had to reverse when I solved 26d. On 7d I happened to get lucky. A well-written clue should not depend on luck for the right answer!

  51. stiofain says:

    morphiamonet@49 It is not a minor quibble, a matter of syntax or a debatable point it is an offensive oft repeated inaccuracy that should be addressed by the crossword editor.

  52. Sil van den Hoek says:

    But, stiofain, what about Crucible (Radian/Redshank) who, as one from Northern Island, uses it all the time?
    And things are as offensive as people experience them as being offensive, in my opinion.
    Putting Gordius back to the bottom of your list does make clear that it is a major point for you.
    Fair enough, but I have a different background.
    All those years I spent in the Netherlands I wasn’t proud of anything whatsoever, including “my country”.
    I just live my life like most others do and try to enjoy it.
    I can’t be bothered that someone calls The Netherlands Holland.
    Wrong? Right?

  53. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, NI is part of an Island, but I meant to say Ireland – of course.

  54. stiofain says:

    Sil
    Crucible went down my list too as his flippant reply to my complaint of his use took paramilitary groups names as a reason why it should be in common usage.
    To be honest I am more offended by the inaccuracy than any political leanings.
    While offensive terms are somewhat in the eye of the beholder and this subject is a pet hate of mine I think I am just making my opinion and that of many others heard.

    Sil van den Hoek says:
    “All those years I spent in the Netherlands I wasn’t proud of anything whatsoever”

    Not even Golden Earring ?

  55. Paul B says:

    Re FA(SCIence)ST, i.e.

    Some science in firm grip of an extremist (7)

    Well, the definition is ‘an extremist’, and the SI parts are ‘of’ that definition. So ‘some science’, equalling SCI (if you buy that horribly inaccurate indication much favoured by Grauniad setters), inside FAST=FIRM, is okay. Rowland’s got it wrong about the plural usage (though to be fair, usually he’s pretty much on the money), so what’s up Rowly?

    Please explain.

  56. slipstream says:

    Re 25D “Hired a straight man” = FEED.

    In a two person comedy team, the “straight man” sets up (or FEEDs) jokes that the other partner completes.

  57. Raich says:

    Yes, it is, strictly speaking, inaccurate to equate Ulster and Northern Ireland – however, both main English dictionaries (Oxford and Collins) recognise this common usage – Oxford says “in general use”, Collins “an informal name for Northern Ireland”. So I guess Gordius is using the language as it is.

  58. rhotician says:

    a chara stiofain

    @47: “flogging a dead horse”. More like pissing in the wind.

    @54: Crucible’s flippancy is clearly a case of taking the piss.

    My mother would not approve of my language here.
    But she would not advocate that it be “banned”.

  59. Thomas99 says:

    Try not separating the two elements. A “Northern Ireland OBE” is necessarily an “Ulster order” because all of NI is in Ulster. (Conversely, though not strictly relevantly, all “Ulster OBEs” would presumably be “Northern Ireland” ones, as only the UK awards them.) I think that is an unanswerable defence of this particular clue. I’m also not sure that you speak for all the Irish people that you claim to @47. The borders of Ulster you referred to were themselves set by the English crown in the 17th century and are thus at least partly a legacy of conquest – the comparison with Iberia, which is defined purely geographically (bounded by the sea and the Pyrenees), is imperfect. It is true that loyalists (though not only paramilitaries – remember the “RUC”?) use “Ulster” to mean NI but self-evidently not true that nobody else does. It’s good to be sensitive about the possibility of giving offence but I don’t think this is a case where you can be unconditionally proscriptive.

  60. RCWhiting says:

    dirkybee @41
    So innocuous I think your apology is of more concern.

  61. RCWhiting says:

    As I watched the TV news last night I said to my friend that I see those loonies in NI have discovered yet another pathetic, trivial reason to kill eachother (flags!!).
    Certain overblown comments above just reinforces my view.

    I thought Sil’s ‘not proud’ comment was unusual and so welcome, if only there were more like that.

  62. Charles says:

    sorry to scandalise on the Northern Irish question but I’m in Dublin doing the puzzle in The Irish Times and their setter Crossheir just used NI as a synonym for ULSTER. Dear me.

  63. John Appleton says:

    No idea if anyone is still following this thread now, but NI and Ulster are certainly interchangeable in common usage, outside of Eire/NI at least, where people probably don’t realise the difference. As Sil suggests, this is no different to equating Holland with the Netherlands. Or, perhaps, a director with a producer.

  64. rhotician says:

    Was the latest unpleasantness in Belfast to do with equating union flag with Union Jack?

  65. ClaireS says:

    RCWhiting @44 – You make a good point, I agree with you.

    Eilleen @43 – Thank you for being so welcoming and accommodating to us all yesterday. Whilst I have seen that view expressed over at GU I don’t think it is universally held. I certainly don’t think that and I’m sorry if you’ve been upset or offended by those remarks. For myself, all I can say is I find this site very useful. I look in most days to check my parsing and see if there’s anything I’ve missed in the crossword overall (usually there is). Occasionally I’m brave enough to dip my toe in the water.

  66. Eileen says:

    Hi ClaireS

    Thanks for that – nice to hear from you.

    Nothing to worry about – I have thicker skin than that: not so much upset or offended as amused at the misconceptions!

    I hope you’ll be brave enough again. ;-)

  67. Huw Powell says:

    Three quarters of this puzzle was surprisingly easy for a Thursday. The other quarter, mostly in the SW/W, was incomprehensible. The attempted @lits failed, in my opinion.

    An odd puzzle, in that so many clues were patently obvious, and that the rest were obfuscatingly strange.

    I agree with the LESSON/LESSEN quandary (see RCW et al). I got it “right” but the definition could be on either end of the homophone indicator. Sloppy cluing there.

    Sylvia @23, I agree this was too easy for a Thursday (if I only knew all the very British references required to finish it!).

    ACADIA would have been a better choice for 3, with a new clue, of course.

    Oh well, grumble grumble, not every puzzle can be “perfect”. Thanks Gordius for the interesting effort, and Eileen (and everyone else) for the excellent blog!

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