◀  No. 22092 Nov 2014 Clue list No. 2218  ▶



1.  M. Barley: Grammatical error, this, or a lapse in social mores (comp. anag.).

2.  C. G. Millin: What spoils clues with promise but not pure unfortunately (comp. anag. & lit.; pure = free from bad grammar).

3.  J. C. Leyland: Short shrift’s first thing it’s given by fussy schoolmistress? (comp. anag. incl. s, & lit.).


D. Appleton: Awkward social mess-up with fax could bring about this faux pas (comp. anag. & lit.).

D. & N. Aspland: Awkward social mistake? One might find it aka —— (comp. anag. & lit.).

Dr J. Burscough: Bad form, perhaps, using moles (sic) unchecked? (anag.; unchecked = not restrained; ref. Molech clue).

W. Drever: Blundering beginner is involved in the opening bit of Strictly Come Dancing (anag. incl. L is S; blundering n.).

Dr I. S. Fletcher: As learner heading up M6, perhaps, it’s not what’s expected (so L + M sice (rev.)).

R. Gilbert: Fish is caught in Cam but not using a gaff (sole + is in C(a)m).

D. V. Harry: Warmed Mosel (sic)? (anag. & lit.; warm = beat).

R. J. Heald: Misuse of semicolon’s not acceptable, being this? (anag. less on, & lit.).

L. M. Inman: How fame changes face after single faux pas! (i.e. c is m after sole).

D. F. Manley: Is some clue lacking proper English slammed for this? (anag. less U, E, & lit.).

P. W. Marlow: Bad form schoolmistress disciplined expelling rowdy hard sorts (anag. less anag. incl. H).

P. McKenna: Nominativus pendens? Only a Latinist’s so upset over the term for indecorum (sole + sic (rev.) + m).

Rev Prebendary M. R. Metcalf: Christmas mistletoe being brandished? Such impropriety could result with that, mister! (comp. anag.).

T. J. Moorey: Abuse in grammar school finally comes out, current Head of Science arrested (I S in anag. incl. l).

A. Plumb: Camisole’s tight, cutting a boob (anag. less a).

D. Price Jones: Semicolons misplaced? It’s not on (anag. less on, & lit.).

P. Taylor: A placement of semicolons that’s not on? (anag. less on, & lit.).

J. R. Tozer: Master Society formality with acclaim before … this upsets it all? (M S ice los (all rev), & lit.).

J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: Misuse of semi-colons not acceptable – it’s a grammatical impropriety (anag. less on, & lit.).

M. Wainwright: Acts awkwardly with social ‘mistake’: a —— one attacks? (comp. anag. & lit.).

Mrs A. M. Walden: Between you and I, perhaps Miss Cole needs a new look (anag.; ref. Lily C., model and actress).

G. H. Willett: A breach of Azed’s rules, the only doctrine demanding inherent compliance? (c in sole ism).


D. K. Arnott, Rev Canon C. M. Broun, D. A. Campbell, M. Coates, N. Connaughton, M. D. Cooke, V. Dixon (Ireland), T. J. Donnelly, J. Fairclough, J. Glassonbury, G. I. L. Grafton, J. Grimes, R. B. Harling, R. Hesketh, R. J. Hooper, G. Johnstone, E. C. Lance, C. Loving, G. Macdonald, M. A. Macdonald-Cooper, J. R. C. Michie, C. J. Morse, D. F. Newton-Edwards, M. L. Perkins, Dr S. J. Shaw, N. G. Shippobotham, I. Simpson, B. Solomons, M. Taylor, R. C. Teuton, D. H. Tompsett, A. Vick, Ms S. Wallace, A. J. Wardrop, R. J. Whale, A. Whittaker, A. J. Young, Dr E. Young.

204 entries, about thirty having MOLOCH for MOLECH. It was perhaps a bit unkind of me to go for this spelling, especially as the E was unchecked and the clue referred to a Latin word appearing only in an etymology (for mole5), though I did warn you about this in the note on Chambers below the clues. It wasn’t mere cussedness (or ‘bad form’, pace Dr Burscough) that led me to opt for this spelling. The idea of Latin mass and church was quite enticing, plus the fact of having two different vowels instead of the same one twice. I was certainly a bit surprised that so many made the wrong choice, and I still wonder how they justified it to themselves. The obvious moral is that you shouldn’t accept too readily that an answer which doesn’t seem to fit the clue is the correct one. As to your favourite clue, of 17 receiving one or more votes (even MOLECH received one!) it was a close race between four, with that for IRON-CLAD (‘Warship in this is fine?’), just nudging ahead of those for À REBOURS, HYMENOPTERA and PHLEUM. In my ignorance, for which I was gently reproved, I defined E-BOOK as ‘something like a tablet’, which I am assured it isn’t. I apologize accordingly; one day I hope I shall start to catch up in the headlong gallop of electronic progress.
As a fellow classicist I was much taken with Mr McKenna’s clue above before deciding that it was just too specialized to be prizeworthy, especially as neither ‘nominative pendensnor ‘hanging nominative’ (a frequently-occurring solecism which always annoys me) is given in Chambers. Is a split infinitive a solecism? Most commentators on English usage nowadays dismiss criticism of it as groundless, citing its use by many reputable writers and blaming bossy arbiters of style for the bad reputation it acquired in the past. It certainly doesn’t bother me except occasionally where it needlessly destroys the euphonious flow of language.
One HC clue which used the attractive anagram of ‘semicolons’ minus ‘on’ (see above) was ‘Misuse of semicolons not on, constituting this’. It failed to score more highly with me for two reasons: (i) it definitely needs a question mark or a ‘perhaps’ to indicate that the misuse of semicolons may be an example of a solecism and is not a definition thereof; and, more importantly, the ing-form of ‘constituting’ undermines the grammatical structure of the clue, which could so easily be improved by rewording, e.g. ‘A misuse of semicolons, not on, constitutes this?’
A few of you with long memories mentioned that ASPHETERISM, my 1 Across in this puzzle, was the clue word in Ximenes competition No. 235 in 1953, in which CJM won first prize with ‘In which the state’s end is to reorganize all mastership about itself’. This and other successful clues in that competition may be found on the andlit.org.uk website, where the entire X archive is steadily being recorded.


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Third prize winner by G. Johnstone in competition 1480