< Slip No. 766 View the clue list Slip No. 774 >



1.  C. J. Brougham: Shirt ’em hairily (anag. & lit.).

2.  R. J. Palmer: Sacking could make ’em shirt (anag. & lit.).

3.  Mrs A. G. Phillips: Take in a spell in quiet retreat? They would, gladly (r in time in sh (all rev.)).


M. Barley: In the RM, it seems, their life’s not for one in the public eye (hidden; ref. Prince Edward).

E. A. Beaulah: The Ancient Mariner met one of us (put differently: met his ‘one of three’, perhaps) (anag., incl. r; ref. ‘The Rime of the A. M.’, Pt VII).

E. J. Burge: Is taking part in manoeuvres with the Royal Marines for those outside normal society? (anag. incl. RM).

E. Dawid: Those seeking privacy, when aroused, might register as ‘E. & R. Smith’! (anag.).

N. C. Dexter: What quarters theirs? Molluscan, originally (anag. incl. m, & lit.).

C. M. Edmunds: Marine life tires – HM’s upset (anag.).

D. V. Harry: Derby that was Chaplin’s – it’s perched on back of head (herm it’s; see ‘hermit’ in Brewer).

P. J. Heap: Dock smithery forged anchors (anag. less y; anchor2).

P. F. Henderson: What moves them is a bit of reclusion (anag. incl. r, & lit.).

R. J. Hooper: They must interpret theism with utmost of rigour (anag. incl. r, & lit.).

J. C. Leyland: Ashramites? We as a set might be (comp. anag. & lit.).

D. F. Manley: Their molluscs’ exteriors may disguise them (anag. incl. m, s, & lit.).

C. G. Millin: We introduce a bit of rigour into theism, singularly (anag. incl. r, & lit.).

C. P. Rea: Singular theism is about right for them! (anag. incl. r, & lit.).

D. R. Robinson: Solitaires owned by the woman possessing nameless millions (mi(n)t in hers).

H. R. Sanders: Crack gang caught in abortive heist – it’s solitary for them (RM in anag.).

T. E. Sanders: Solitaires will provide a lady’s hands with the finishing touch of adornment lacking (her mit(t)s).

A. J. Shields: Perfect their morals? Goes without being said (anag. less oral, & lit.?).

W. K. M. Slimmings: Eights rowing without their no. 3 have jolly well caught crabs (RM in anag. less g).

S. Woods: Me shirt’s hairy, one of them might say (anag. & lit.).

Dr E. Young: A singular mass, theirs (anag. incl. m, & lit.).


K. Aaronovich, R. Abrey, S. Armstrong, D. Ashcroft, M. J. Balfour, R. C. Bell, K. & J. Burton, E. Chalkley, P. R. Church, J. H. Churner, C. A. Clarke, M. Coates, B. Cozens, A. B. Crow, G. Cuthbert, R. Dean, R. V. Dearden, J. H. Dingwall, P. Drummond, G. & J. Ferris, S. Gaskell, P. G. W. Glare, M. Goodyear, R. R. Greenfield, J. F. Grimshaw, F. Haworth, E. L. Hayward, V. G. Henderson, S. Holgate, R. F. A. Horsfield, C. L. Jones, F. S. Kemp, F. P. N. Lake, A. Lawrie, C. W. Laxton, J. F. P. Levey, C. J. Lowe, M. A. Macdonald-Cooper, D. J. Mackay, L. K. Maltby, S. M. Mansell, H. W. Massingham, L. May, J. D. Moore, J. J. Moore, T. J. Moorey, H. B. Morton, R. A. Mostyn, J. J. Murtha, D. S. Nagle, R. F. Naish, S. L. Paton, Mrs L. E. Pimlott, L. G. D. Sanders, W. J. M. Scotland, F. Stevens, F. B. Stubbs, P. Thacker, T. R. Theakston, Dr I. Torbe, C. Vanstone, A. J. Wardrop, Mrs M. P. Webber, M. R. Whiteoak, D. C. Williamson, M. G. Wilson.

447 entries, no mistakes. ‘Gosh, a plural! ‘as someone remarked, and I agree they’ve been very rare as clue-words. Ironical, too, that one of the very few previous plurals I’ve given you was SOLITAIRES in May 1973. Needless to say I’d forgotten this. And the existence of BEADSWOMEN elsewhere in the puzzle was entirely fortuitous. (A few of you asked what my attitude is to clues submitted that cross-refer to such clues of mine in the puzzle diagram. Frankly I’m not wild about them. It’s one thing for me occasionally to exploit some internal link between words in the grid when it is there for solvers to perceive. Doing this with a single word viewed more in isolation seems much less satisfying or appealing. I doubt whether competitors would really appreciate it in a prize-winning clue.)
A couple of my other clues caused puzzlement or disapproval: those to HERBLET and LASER. Both still seem OK to me if a little unconventional, and! hope the notes clarified matters. BLETHER is a ‘cyclical’ form of HERBLET, with ‘foster’ used in the sense of ‘promote, bring about’. ‘Waggly’ becomes ‘waggery’ with ‘l’ as ‘er’. Not a masterpiece, either of them, but quite passable, I think.
As to HERMITS, much the most popular idea involved the sex appeal in busts (how feminists must groan at the way crossword conventions perpetuate stereotypes!) with the majority of such clues all much of a muchness. I was on the look-out for more distinctive treatments of the word and this ultimately determined my choice above. A few comments about these. Mr Brougham finally pipped Mr Palmer on wit and economy, with ‘hairily’ just passing muster as an anagram indicator. For absolute satisfaction RJP’s ‘shirt’ should be ‘shirts’, too – they must have more than one between ’em! The most original clue was undoubtedly Mr Harry’s although it does require pretty specialised knowledge and is actually a clue to HERMIT’S not HERMITS, but I felt it was too clever to relegate. Some might regard Mr Dawid’s as rather cheeky in its disposal of the E and the R, but again the total manipulation of a fetching idea worked in its favour. Lastly, I think Mr Heap’s clue raises a most interesting point to do with wording. For the cryptic reading’ dock ‘ functions as an imperative, and ‘forged’ as a past participle. Natural language is strained if one is to interpret the clue cryptically as meaning ‘Dock (the word) smithery and then forge it.’ In other words the forging process would naturally precede the docking process. It could be argued though that the forging process might produce any order of the letters of SMITHERY, including a number ending in y. True, but this adds an element of vagueness which detracts from the clue’s neat economy and ambiguity of wording. I hope my point is clear. I find such considerations fascinating, and not purely academic.


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