AZED CROSSWORD 2480
1. Dr S. J. Shaw: I reckon small gifts expressing the essence of Xmas can constitute these (anag. less ma, & lit.).
2. J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: St. Nick’s ill? Gofer could be deployed to deliver these (anag. & lit.).
3. T. J. Moorey: Gifts I’ll reckon to get sorted before Santa’s entry (anag. + S, & lit.).
VHC (extra prizes)
M. Barley: Trifles left in sock grandchild’s opening excitedly? (anag. incl. l, g, & lit.).
T. C. Borland: Mini presents grief, conks out on street (poorly maintained) (st + ill in anag.).
C. J. Brougham: What DIY store is doing little seasonal gifts? (i.e. stocking fillers).
J. Brown: Kringle flits so, cape aflutter, / These aren’t much! spoilt children mutter (anag. incl. c).
G. I. L. Grafton: Environment of coal and log fire stinks awfully, given items descending from chimney (anag. incl. c, l).
J. Grimes: Mini presents loveless gonks with frillies to see slyly (anag. less 0 incl. c).
R. J. Heald: Such presents St Nick ‘forgets’ to supply, bypassing tot imbued with wickedness? (ill in anag. less tot, & lit.; ref. Santa’s naughty list).
T. Jacobs: Frivolous small gifts I reckon Ma left out (anag. less ma, & lit.).
J. C. Leyland: For which rummage in pound stores first to find kids’ little Christmas gift ideas? (anag. incl. L and first letters, & lit.).
M. Lloyd-Jones: Noel presents Legs & Co. and flirts wackily to entertain people (kin in anag.; ref. N. Edmonds and regular 1970s ‘Top of the Pops’ dance troupe).
C. Loving: They’re dangled lesser things OK with frolics – not rocking horses! (anag. less anag., & lit.).
D. F. Manley: What may be given by Christmas visitor by various cots – then all fires lit are unwanted! (anag. + king + anag. less a, & lit.).
P. W. Marlow: Rollicking feast’s spoiled without a set of small festive gifts (anag. less a).
M. Owen: At Xmas these could be small extra gifts in sock (comp. anag. & lit.).
S. J. O’Boyle: Unopened Xmas —— could be coins and smaller gifts kid’s beginning to unwrap (anag. less X incl. k, & lit.).
A. Plumb: Christmas bonuses store abandoned if all resign without one (stock + anag. less a).
P. L. Stone: Sundries from Santa secretly left in girl’s sock (anag.).
Ms S. Wallace: Seasonal extras played elfin girls – leading characters in the kids’ Santa Claus operetta (anag. incl. first letters).
K. & J. Wolff: ‘Lickle fings’ to play with first thing on rising (before sun) (anag. + r, S, & lit.).
P. B. Alldred, T. Anderson, D. & N. Aspland, Mrs S. Brown, P. Cargill, Ms C. Carstairs, C. A. Clarke, S. L. Claughton, M. Coates, N. Connaughton (Ireland), W. Drever, Dr I. S. Fletcher, D. Harris, Ms S. Hart, M. Hodgkin, E. C. Lance, I. Mackintosh, J. R. C. Michie, C. G. Millin, T. D. Nicholl, J. & A. Price, W. Ransome, S. Saunders, D. P. Shenkin, C. Short, I. Simpson, C. M. Steele, P. Tharby, J. R. Tozer, A. Vick, A. J. Wardrop, R. J. Whale, A. J. Young.
A disappointingly low entry, just 152, though with no mistakes that I spotted in the grid. A very small number clued the wrong word, unaccountably. (One US-based competitor submitted a clue to STOCKING STUFFERS (qv), overlooking the fact that it contains 16 letters, not 15 as specified.) Favourite clue, of 16 mentioned, was ‘Lassie’s fit, most alluring having shed stone’ for EXIES.
Most who commented indicated that they found the puzzle offered about the right challenge for a Christmas competition, given the other distractions over the holiday period. The penny-dropping moment seems to have occurred relatively early in the solving process, as I’d hoped it would. When the idea for the theme occurred to me, I thought I’d find rather more ‘stocking’ words than I actually did, just about enough to make it workable. In passing, I might mention my shocked amazement on discovering that stocking fillers these days seem not to be the little extras I remember from my own childhood, or indeed that of my children (now in their forties), at least to judge from the advertisements offering stocking fillers ‘for under £10’, and suchlike. What happened to the tangerine and the walnut in the toe of the stocking?
Enough of that. This was a first-class entry, full of delightful clues which gave me much pleasure to judge, and considerable difficulty in the narrowing-down process. Just such a pity there weren’t more of them. One device I didn’t like was the use of a cryptic definition to stand for and replace a literal one, e.g. ‘calves’, ‘legs’ etc, things that can fill stockings in other words. I firmly believe that every clue must contain a definition of its answer, even when the whole (cryptic) clue constitutes a definition of the target solution, an ‘& lit.’ clue in other words, well represented in the clues quoted above.
I must apologize to Dr S. J. Shaw (top of the class this time) whose name appeared among the HCs in the previous slip wrongly as Dr S. J. Simon. Was I thinking subconsciously of the brilliant writer on bridge and comic novelist (with Caryl Brahms) of such classics as No Bed for Bacon?