Never knowingly undersolved.

Independent 8167/Punk

Posted by Pierre on December 17th, 2012


Punk on the oche again for the Monday offering.  I did enjoy this one: some folk might think the setter’s taken one or two liberties, but I like the fact that there is a variety of styles among the Indy compilers.  Generally an accessible puzzle, I thought, as is normal for the Monday slot; but if my reasoning is right we might have to have a stewards’ enquiry about one of the clues.  Most importantly, however, it made me smile in a few places, which is my main criterion for judging whether a crossword is pleasing or not.  There are some interesting words and derivations, so as usual I have wittered on a bit.

It seemed that there might be a theme, with a number of cross-referenced answers, but I think it’s just a case of some loosely-connected clues and solutions (he said, nervously waiting to be proved wrong …)


cd  cryptic definition
dd  double definition
(xxxx)*  anagram
anagrind = anagram indicator
[x]  letter(s) removed


Some soldier perhaps finding God, peace non-starter
I invariably start with the first across clue but quickly gave up on this one.  I eventually got it with only a few left.  It’s a charade of THOR for the Norse God who’s responsible for Thursday being the fourth day of our week, and [P]AX for the Latin word for ‘peace’ (as in Pax Vobiscum for all you lapsed Catholics out there) without its first letter.  The definition is ‘some soldier perhaps’.  A ‘soldier’ is an ANT and an ant, like all the members of the class Insecta, has three body parts: a head, a thorax and an abdomen.  So a THORAX is some part of an ant.  Why do compilers set the hardest clues for the first across?

Highest range making cock a hen, by the sound of it?
Typical Punk, which raised a smile once I’d cracked it.  I was fixated with HIMALAYAS, which is what we’d normally call the range in English, so couldn’t see it for a while.  But if you decided to make a cockerel a hen, you’d make ‘him a layer’.

11  Tribute as drink’s consumed
An insertion of AS in TOT for ‘drink’, and an &lit, or ‘all-in-one’ clue.

12  Those once charting the fall of apartheid
(APARTHEID)* with ‘the fall of’ as the anagrind and a reference to the dizzy heights of the 1970s when we all waited anxiously once a week to see who would be top of the charts.  Happy days.

17  Number proceed quickly, neither straight _____ for the 9-n guide
I do like a good surface, but for me this isn’t one.  I thought at first it might be a misprint for 9dn, but there is no 9dn.   Punk occasionally uses this _____ device, which I personally think is best left to the quick crossword.  9-n is asking you to put N on the end of HIMALAYA to make HIMALAYAN and the HIMALAYAN GUIDE is TENZING NORGAY: a charade of TEN, ZING and somebody who’s neither straight NOR GAY.  In fact, imho the whole thing is nonsense.  Perhaps not one of Punk’s most elegant clues.

21  Element that’s consuming god
An insertion of ODIN for another Norse god in IE for that is, id est.  A halogen, and the tincture that surgeons rub on you before they slice you open, leaving you with purplish stains for days afterwards.

22  Tour tiny empty church, viewing work of art
A charade of TRIP for ‘tour’, TY for ‘tiny’ emptied of its middle letters, and CH.  A TRIPTYCH is a painting made up of three sections.

25  Another handle turning fat, one for the barbie?
The definition is ‘another handle’ with ‘handle’ in its ‘name’ definition.  Then it’s a reversal of OS for ‘fat’ and BRIQUET.  I’d always spell it BRIQUETTE, but Punk’s variation is in dictionaries, so as our Australian barbie fans would say: no worries (and pass me another tinnie).

28  Just delivered a short story on gas
A charade of A TAL[E] after NEON.

29  Redial incorrectly to come off the line
(REDIAL)* with ‘incorrectly’ as the anagrind.


Christ the Redeemer, perhaps, about right height
Punk is referring to the imposing STATUE of Christ above Rio de Janeiro, and asking you to put an R in it to get your answer.

7 13 was in this underwear touring political division, and topless
VANESSA REDGRAVE was one of the main characters in HOWARDS END, the 1992 film based on E M Forster’s novel.  It’s an insertion of WARD for ‘political division’ in HOSE for ‘underwear’ followed by [A]ND.  HOSE in this sense is not really heard in modern British English, but if you’re familiar with the traditional song The Lyke-Wake Dirge, then you’ll remember

If ever thou gavest hosen and shoon,
Sit thee down and put them on

where ‘hosen’ means ‘stockings’.  And Americans say ‘panty-hose’ for what we would call ‘tights’.

3/4  Dreamer’s island funny, as Spooner would say
My least favourite clue type, but that’s just me.  A suggested Spoonerism of MALTA WITTY for the fictional fantasist.

Thoughtless having wine on cruise ship captain finally abandoned
A charade of CAVA for the sparkling wine and LI[N]ER.

Knock up a soldier
More Punk smut.  Since it’s a down clue, it’s a reversal of RAP and A.

7/13  Current indicators on sex appeal, and socialist, serious actress
Well, she could certainly be described as a socialist and a serious actress.  A charade of VANES for ‘current indicators’, SA, RED and GRAVE.

10/27  Highly pressurised stuff – having a laugh about it?
This is where I initially really bollocksed myself.  Scanning through the clues for some first entries and without any crossing letters,  I looked at this and confidently entered NITROUS OXIDE, which is ‘laughing gas’.  Please tell me this also works.  In fact it’s an insertion of HAVING in SCREAM.

15  fff pb?
Ximeneans should look away now.  As far as I can work out, this is fff for the musical abbreviation for fortissimo or fortississimo (very loud) or HEAVY followed by Pb for the chemical symbol for lead, which is a METAL.  If someone has a better idea, do the sum below and let me know.

16  Nut going nuts, pity the story
A charade of (NUT)* and RUTH for ‘pity’.  I always used to struggle with RUTH for ‘pity’ until someone on this thread pointed out that it was a backward derivative of RUTHLESS.

18  Not entirely crazy business set up over a beer, ultimately, in land off East Africa
The definition, and therefore the solution, is pretty obvious once you’ve got some crossing letters; but the parsing I found more complicated.  ZAN[Y], BIZ reversed (‘set up’ in a down clue), A and R for the last letter of beeR.

19  Leg aroused 13’s co-star
Not Vanessa but Steve REDGRAVE, Matthew PINSENT’s partner through I can’t remember how many Olympics.  A charade of PIN for ‘leg’ and SENT for ‘aroused’.

20  Thumb thing that’th a thign?
Decide whether you like this or not.  The definition is ‘thumb thing’, since you put a THIMBLE over your thumb when as a consequence of the treble-dip recession you’re darning your socks rather than replacing them with new ones.  Then as far as I can see, Punk’s suggesting that it’s the way that someone like Violet Elizabeth Bott (who threatened that she would ‘thcream and thcream till I’m thick’) would say SYMBOL, which is a thign/sign.

23  Pale, something to do with one’s nose, say
Please.  Obviously one of the things that you can do with your nose is to ‘pick it’, a homophone (‘say’) of PICKET, which is a synonym of ‘pale’ in the fencing sense.  Which is why we say ‘that’s beyond the pale’.

24/14  Fundamental needs universal – in harm things abused
(U HARM THINGS)*  U as in the cinema classification.

26  One’s bound to show reserve
A dd.

Many thanks to Punk for today’s puzzle.  I did think at one stage that there would be a pangram, but I think we are one letter short.  And on the Fifteensquared thread in Another Place last week it was mentioned that Punk and his wife have just had a baby boy, so congratulations!

10 Responses to “Independent 8167/Punk”

  1. Wanderer says:

    This one made me smile throughout — and I quite agree with you Pierre, that’s definitely an important part of a puzzle for me. Many favourites here but SHAVING CREAM, THIMBLE and HUMAN RIGHTS stood out. Thanks for explaining THORAX, which I parsed from the wordplay without understanding the definition. I also appreciated NEONATAL as a nod to the new arrival, so congratulations to the Punk household.

    My take on ‘fff pb?’ is probably nonsense but I read it as: fff = not just Very Loud, but, more specifically, Very Loud Music, of which HEAVY METAL is an example; and pb is not just a metal, but the proverbial HEAVY METAL.

    Many thanks to Punk and Pierre.

  2. Pelham Barton says:

    Thanks Punk for a puzzle with a lot to enjoy and Pierre for your detailed blog. For pangram spotters, we appear to have 24 different letters, but no J (unsurprising) or F (a bit more of a surprise). This makes me wonder if anyone has every deliberately produced a crossword to appear at this time of year using 25 different letters with no L.

    11ac: This could be regarded as a partial “& lit”, with the whole clue providing the definition, but “Tribute” has no role in the wordplay. I would rather regard it as a standard clue, with “Tribute” on its own forming the definition, and then helpful wordplay.

    17ac: The one thing I did not like about this clue was “9-n”. If that device is to be used at all, it really should be written “9n”.

    15dn: I agree with Wanderer @1 that this is sufficient for a double definition. However, I really think it should have a capital P to conform with the standards for chemical symbols. Personally my preference is for completely correct capitalisation throughout, but I accept the widespread view that false capitals are acceptable. There appears to be much less acceptance for false omission of a capital.

  3. Pelham Barton says:

    Correction to 2: “anyone has ever” (not “every”).

  4. Rowland says:

    Omission is the sin, as I understand it. That is the convention.


  5. allan_c says:

    A nice offering from Punk, though with some weaknesses as others have pointed out. On 15dn I agree that false capitalisation is an acceptable device but omission of necessary capitals is not. Not particularly logical, but conventional.
    And thinking of 3/4dn, the trouble with this type of clue is that Spooner’s name gives the game away at once – can anyone think of a way to clue a spoonerism (no capital, according to Chambers) without using the Reverend gentleman’s name?
    Not a pangram, with F and J missing, but the presence of X and Z had me looking for one and helped me get SOBRIQUET.
    Thanks, Pierre, for the blog.

  6. Aztobesed says:

    Alan_c @ 5

    ‘Adjacent metathesis’. Tricky for surfacing, mind

  7. Pierre says:

    This blog is becoming a bit erudite all of a sudden, innit?

    Just me with NITROUS OXIDE, then …

  8. Pelham Barton says:

    Pierre @7: I will say that NITROUS OXIDE was my first thought as well on reading the clue at 10dn/27ac, but I cannot make it work. I would not put it past Punk to have noticed the enumeration and worded his clue carefully to make us think that way.

    While I am back in:

    Allan_c @5: It was SOBRIQUET that made me think it might be a pangram, and this may have helped me to get THORAX.

    9ac: I took this more simply as HIM + A + homophone of LAYER, with “making” as a linking word. From an exteme purist perspective, “making” is only truly appropriate as a linking word if the wordplay comes first and the definition last, so I quite like Pierre’s parsing as an alternative.

    24/14: Here I think that the letter U (clued as a natural abbreviation of universal) is not part of the anagram, but is inserted into the anagram – otherwise I cannot account for the word “in” in the clue.

  9. Bertandjoyce says:

    Well, it’s too late to be erudite!

    An enjoyable solve. THORAX was the last one in – we did manage to solve it cryptically but it took a few moments to work out how it related to soldier.

    Thanks Pierre and Punk!

  10. Rorschach says:

    Couldn’t call Walter Mitty to mind and sobriquet defeated me.

    I enjoyed the crossword but too many of the surfaces for me just didn’t make any real sense.

    I like definitions by example clues like fff pb? but it just doesn’t mean anything as a surface. You may as well write one plus two for THREE… It’s just a piece of mental arithmetic.

    Still loads of fun though which is what is most important! Thanks both!

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