◀  No. 21054 Nov 2012 Clue list No. 2113  ▶



1.  P. L. Stone: Forest of Dean’s this on east side of the Wye (thick2 + E, t, y, & lit.).

2.  Dr E. Young: They tick ‘swimming’, having packed trunks (anag.).

3.  R. J. Hooper: Violet Elizabeth’s ghastly, yet somehow in solid with elders? (i.e. ‘sick’ with lisp + anag.; ref. William books).


D. & N. Aspland: Hints of endearing traits in someone who’s daft as a brush? (e, t in thicky).

M. Barley: Bristling public condemnation leaves bank in the City reeling ((ban)k in anag.).

Dr J. Burscough: —— ashes? Wielding hatchets is key (comp. anag. & lit.).

C. M. Edmunds: Having packed trunks, exhausted elephant Nellie has taken off (e, t in thicky; take off = swallow; ref. popular song).

Dr I. S. Fletcher: Having ground so —— you could make it OK with scythe (comp. anag. & lit.).

D. V. Harry: Treed elephant in extremis features in ‘Dumbo’ (e, t in thicky; ref. Disney film).

R. J. Heald: Hurst-like hat trick Rooney fans roar on wildly getting carried away (anag. less anag.; ref. Geoff H. & Wayne R.).

J. P. Lester: Densely wooded centres for heathery ericas yokels restyled (central letters).

D. F. Manley: Having substantial scrub? Transform a dirty kitchen, avoiding fouled-up drain (anag. less anag.).

T. J. Moorey: As growth concentrated in small area, King in the City worked hard to spread credit, yet failed (K in anag.; h in tick + anag.; ref. Mervyn K.).

C. J. Morse: With crumbling yet to come, pest imports the end of ash densely planted (h in tick + anag.; ref. threat of ash dieback).

A. M. Price: With a dense covering of trees, the tricky bastard’s got right away (anag. less r).

T. Rudd: ‘Sprouting a shady boon …’ – Such as, creatively, might make you itchy, Keats? (comp. anag.; ref. ‘Endymion’ I, 14).

Dr S. J. Shaw: Such a shaw’s deep brush could be ground packed with bushy ash trees (comp. anag. & lit.).

P. Taylor: A —— area’s damaged as I hack at trees, ay? (comp. anag. & lit.).

R. C. Teuton: Foggy and central characters in comedic idyll acted daft as brushes (thick + anag. of central letters; ref ‘Last of the Summer Wine’).

A. J. Wardrop: As woodland might be after time, uncultivated yet variegated (t + hick (adj) + anag.).

R. J. Whale: Marked, yet turned deceptively. Greaves of old might be so described? (thick (qv) + anag.; greave (obs) = thicket; ref. Jimmy G.).


T. Anderson, D. J. Bexson, T. C. Borland, G. Borooah (USA), J. M. Brown, P. Cargill, Ms U. Carter, C. Daffern, V. Dixon (Ireland), T. J. Donnelly, W. Drever, C. J. Ellis, R. Fentem, G. I. L. Grafton, Mrs E. Greenaway, R. Hesketh, G. Johnstone, Dr A. Kitching, E. C. Lance, J. C. Leyland, W. F. Main, P. W. Marlow, L. F. Marzillier (USA), R. A. Norton, C. Ogilvie, M. Owen, J. Pearce, W. Ransome, N. G. Shippobotham, P. A. Stephenson, Mrs A. Terrill, K. Thomas, J. R. Tozer, A. Vick, Mrs A. M. Walden, L. Ward (USA), A. Whittaker, G. Willett, J. S. Witte, A. J. Young, R. Zara.

A low entry for a plain competition of fairly average difficulty – just 184, and with a number of mistakes. A very few had THICKETS for the clue word, whose definition clue can surely only have indicated an adjective. Rather more had TRAPEZIC or TRAPEZII for TRAPEZIA, presumably through failure to identify ‘attack afflicting brain’ as TIA (transient ischaemic attack). Favourite clue of the month: 21 received one or more votes, those to the longer words all scoring well, with ‘Old Arden’s transformed with effort – it must make forest visit seem like heaven’ (DENDROLATRY) the clear winner, with those for ABSINTHIATED and TOUCHÉ in equal second place. The clues for BAKKIE and HADJ caused special difficulty. Neither was a masterpiece, I admit, but I hope that the notes accompanying the solution will have explained how they worked.
Having nothing further to say about this puzzle, perhaps I could return to the subject of question marks in clues, having giving it a bit more thought. I’ve identified a number of possible uses which seem to me legitimate, while conceding that they can be overdone and it’s up to the clue writer to question their validity in each case and to satisfy himself or herself that they are doing the job intended for them and are not there simply for decoration. Apart from clues which are constructed as questions (often as or as part of & lits) to which the answer is the solution, there is the ‘linking’ question mark, as in ‘Wine? Libertine imbibes gallons’ (ROUGE), where what follows it is the cryptic indicator of what precedes it. Here the question mark seems a more appropriate punctuation mark, than, say, a dash or a colon. Then there is the occasion when the clue writer is indicating something rather fanciful or not strictly literal as the cryptic part, e.g. ‘Green paradise? Adam’s description after arrival of Eve maybe’ (ECOSTATE). A further usage (one of the commonest, I’d say) indicates that the clue writer is defining a general term by a specific example of it, as in ‘Pay out from urn excited Murray’ (UNREEL), where ‘Murray’ (more strictly ‘murray’) is an example of, not a synonym for, ‘eel’. Generally, I feel the need to add a question mark wherever I consider that I have used wording that doesn’t pinpoint meaning exactly but is still a rough indication that will be perfectly clear to the solver once the clue is understood and solved. I hope that doesn’t sound too woolly! I’d welcome comments, and indeed further suggestions, regarding the legitimate (or even illegitimate) use of question marks.


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