< Slip No. 349 View the clue list Slip No. 354 >



1.  R. P. C. Forman: O may these in apt array / Give my fir its halo gay! (comp. anag. & lit.).

2.  Mrs N. Jarman: Flashy rig, with it, must create glowers among the spruce (anag.).

3.  Mrs B. Simmonds: Fanciful clues – they sparkled this Christmas in square with central column (fairy lights; ref. Trafalgar Square and puzzle grid).

VHC (extra prizes)

E. J. Burge: For which power supply is fed – into firs gaily arrayed (HT in anag., & lit.).

J. Coleby: These on tree make for a glittery shine (comp. anag. & lit.).

D. M. Colley: Illumination appropriate to this puzzle is just before start of your clues (fair + y + lights; ref. preamble).

D. A. Crossland: Nucleus of brightness amid firs gaily twinkling (hr in anag., & lit.).

R. D. V. Davies: Can be arranged to make a fir sightly (anag. & lit.).

R. V. Dearden: Queen settles possible New Year decorations (fairy lights).

L. K. Edkins: They make a fir sightly, twinkling (anag. & lit.).

D. S. Fielker: They could make a fir sightly (anag. & lit.).

S. P. Flitton: A set of shiners showing up about one during Boxing Day events? (I in Lyra (rev.) in fights, & lit.; constellation).

J. D. Foster: We’re haphazardly if garishly arrayed round pole of tree (t in anag., & lit.).

E. A. Free: Coloured spots before eyes may be produced by these lungs after fag (fairy lights).

J. E. Green: Mediums of brightness in firs gaily strewn? (ht in anag., & lit.).

D. Harrison: Retreats having draught inside might be the source of seasonal glow (airy in flights).

F. M. Holroyd: Answer may be mesa in transfigured fir, say (light in anag., & lit.).

R. J. Hooper: Flashy rig half the time needing attention, that could make a fir sightly? (anag. incl. ti(me), anag., & lit.).

R. E. Kimmons: Fantastic matches are on over Christmas (fairy lights).

Dr D. R. Laney: For Christmas small bulbs are well ventilated and left in boxes (airy l in fights).

A. Lawrie: Give us Nowell then as glint we / Fir and holly might you see (comp. anag. & lit.).

M. D. Laws: Railway in trouble, gripped by disputes? They should be strung up! (ry in ail in fights).

D. F. Manley: What could give this gay fir luminance? (anag. & lit.; ref. AZ’s tree).

J. D. Moore: What one needs to make fir gay this Noel, perhaps (comp. anag. & lit.).

J. J. Moore: A set of these can make a fir sightly (anag. & lit.; set = setting).

C. J. & R. S. Morse: We’re switched on by mistletoe – enough to give shy girl a fit! (anag.; by = near).

C. P. Rea: They are hung, first and foremost, in dressed up gay firs – and lit (anag. incl. h, & lit.).

R. C. Teuton: What could make a fir sightly? (anag. & lit.).

J. R. Tozer: Fir’s gaily set out with a sort of cable concealed – supplying these (HT in anag., & lit.).

Rev C. D. Westbrook: What might dress fir, say – there’s a clue in that (light in anag., & lit.).

P. J. Woods: What may make a fir sightly? (anag. & lit.).


C. Allen Baker, T. Anderson, D. R. Armitage, F. D. H. Atkinson, Rev R. Bamford, Miss G. Barker, R. T. Baxter, E. A. Beaulah, L. A. Best, A. G. Bogie, H. J. Bradbury, Rev C. M. Broun, A. and A. Brown, A. J. Bulman, D. A. H. Byatt, R. S. Caffyn, Mrs M. J. Cansfield, P. A. Cash, T. G. Cordes, Mrs M. P. Craine, A. J. Crow, C. Davey, R. Dean, P. Drummond, J. R. du Parcq, R. A. England, Dr I. S. Fletcher, J. S. Fowlie, B. Franco, P. D. Gaffey, F. D. Gardiner, I. Gill, S. Goldie, Dr J. F. Grimshaw, A. Hoagson, D. Hoyle, J. G. Hull, Mrs M. Humpage, P. Hunter, W. Johnson, G. Johnstone, Miss H. Kimble, J. R. Kirby, A. D. Legge, W. Lewsey, C. J. Lowe, N. Maxwell, L. May, D. P. M. Michael, J. H. Moore, A. C. Morrison, F. Moss, R. A. Mostyn, Mrs J. M. Mothersill, E. Murphy, F. E. Newlove, S. C. Norman, R. J. Palmer, Mrs J. M. Pattenden, T. Proctor, J. L. Reardon, H. L. Rhodes, A. Rivlin, D. R. Robinson, R. Rogan, N. Roles, H. R. Sanders, L. G. D. Sanders, T. E. Sanders, W. J. M. Scotland, D. P. Shenkin, W. K. M. Slimmings, M. D. Speigel, T. A. J. Spencer, E. W. Steel, R. Stephenson, F. W. R. Stocks, Miss M. Stokes, Brig R. F. E. Stoney, F. B. Stubbs, J. G. Stubbs, G. L. Symes, A. J. Wardrop, P. Watkin, Miss V. Webb, G. H. Willett, D. C. Williamson, S. E. Wozowczyk, N. D. Young.

A huge entry, giving me a major task in the judging. About 690 competitors in all, and very few mistakes, the commonest being SEEDS for SEEDY which can only have been guesswork. Cues by and large were very sound too so I had to be at my most nit-picking to whittle the entries down, For instance much play was understandably made of the two anagrams A SIGHTLY FIR and GHASTLY FIR.
Filled with Christmas charity and good will I preferred the sentiment that fairy lights tend to improve the look of a tree to the view that they make a grisly spectacle. I also preferred, as being truer and also more accurate in clue-writing terms, wording like ‘They can make a fir sightly’ to ‘They make a fir sightly’ (which they only do when they’re switched on and when the letters are rearranged).
A couple of sticklers for accuracy (with whom as a breed I have no quarrel whatever) pointed out that Christmas tree branches grow upwards as well as outwards so my downward sloping words were inappropriate. Pure ignorance on my part. For me Christmas trees are always the stylised symmetrically growing conifers of greetings card art, their branches as like as not pointing at twenty past eight and weighed down by plentiful dollops of dazzling snow.
Anagrams were decidedly the order of the day. This girl Fay, shy fat girl I embarassed, etc, turned up in many disguises, some more impressive than others. I thought that Mr. Forman’s composite anagram struck exactly the right note of tinselly cheer but lest I be deluged monthly from now on by rhyming clues I should add that I normally see no special merit in them. For the Christmas competition however it was a nice extra touch, not overdone (others submitted quatrains or even longer stanzas, frequently very flattering to me but too diffuse for high honour). Some of you clearly think that the composite anagram is beginning to figure too prominently in these lists (and perhaps also in my own clues) and I agree that it could suffer from overexposure. It is certainly very popular at the moment – a fashion that I suspect I have unwittingly encouraged – and is undeniably very effective if well used (almost invariably to achieve an ‘& lit’, clue), but I have noticed that some of you use it almost every time, occasionally requiring the addition or subtraction of long strings of letters. I submit that this is when the device becomes a cumbersome bore to solver and judge and should be abandoned in favour of something simpler and more succinct.
I must close now and press on with SHEER-HULK. Response to the note about the AZ tie has been terrific so I can start the looms roiling (if that’s what looms do) almost at once. In a forthcoming slip I shall ask for money from all those who have said they will order ties, plus a statement of which colour they prefer(all three will be available), plus an s.a.e. sufficiently large to accommodate their order. Delivery time is an anticipated fourteen weeks from when I give the go-ahead. A few ladies are still asking for scarves but still nowhere near enough to justify an order. I’m sorry about this and am open to any suggestions.


The Azed Cup

Dr S. J. Shaw wins First Prize in competition 2517.


Working on ancient codex thus could give one identical Romanic text

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Dicky had no gee-gee – losing leader of England totally downcast (7)

Second prize winner by D. F. Manley in competition 1958