Merry Christmas! Thank you all for the kind wishes in the run up the big day. Now we are here, let’s give Covid and the news and all that rubbish the middle finger for 24 hours and escape back to a much happier time: 1970! Okay, perhaps it was only a marginally happier time. Let’s not split hairs.
Anyway, as you may or may not know, Christmas 2020 marks the 50th birthday of the Times Jumbo Cryptic. The first was published as a Christmas special back in 1970 and became a regular fixture on public holidays thereafter, eventually switching to weekly puzzles in the 1990s. The Jumbo Cryptic was the brainchild of then Times crossword editor, Edmund Akenhead, who went on to produce all the Jumbo Cryptics throughout the 1970s and early 1980s.
To commemorate the Jumbo Cryptic’s 50th, I thought it would be interesting to put together a post examining the clues and solution for the very first puzzle. As you’ll see, clueing was a bit different back then. Certain conventions we’re used to didn’t necessarily apply, plus a larger element of general knowledge was required. Also (whisper it) it’s a stinker, which should please the battle-hardened solvers among you! Also, also, I can’t help but admire Akenhead’s skill and breadth of knowledge in putting these things together. It’s not as if he could jump onto Google or CrosswordSolver.org to help him out of a tight spot.
I appreciate some of you might fancy a stab at the puzzle before diving into its solution, so below you’ll find an empty grid and clues. I’m hoping this counts as fair usage, given 1) that we’ll then go through its solution, and 2) how tricky it was (and still is) finding a copy of The Times Jumbo Cryptic Crossword Book 1. It was last republished back in 2002 and doesn’t seem to have been kept in print, not even an eBook/print-on-demand version. Also, 3) this is very much a fan post done solely for the love of it.
So without much further ado, let’s get to it. Till tomorrow’s Boxing Day Jumbo, stay safe, mask up and keep supporting the NHS and key workers everywhere. Let us all look forward to a much brighter 2021. (Probably the latter half, but, hey, it’ll be better than nothing.)
1. Poor fiddler at the front door (7)
5. Fat-headed turkey-chaser (4-7)
11. Take Mrs. Swan’s part in the nursery (4-3)
15. The order of the clues (9)
16. Uses a small volume to begin with, making charges (7)
17. A river rises and many enter, for P.T. perhaps? (9)
18. Life-saving tales (7,6,13)
19. In ancient France, way back, a doctor has nothing for this complaint (7)
21. Took off 18’s number twice for a start (8)
23. Takes for granted that St. Paul’s toe is broken (10)
26. Vessel proves the service is classier as well as senior (3)
27. The hotter they are, the lower in degree, the world around (9)
29. Point to the dubious character of the people (5)
30. Was the enemy, when the sabre was? (7)
31. Simple boy? (4)
32. Saint? Come that makes you a flatterer! (9)
34. Pneumatically operated, can be blown in or out of church (5,6)
37. But they were anti the S. African cricket tour (10)
39. Who, unloved, received that of the Sonnets (10)
41. The body of the Ancient Mariner’s nephew “stood by me ____ to ____” (4)
44. Sluggish sounding river (4)
45. Doing well enough for a season round the Orient (10)
48. One ropy store? Could be (10)
50. Gold in lump form returned by Georgia to Edward, then disseminated (11)
52. Turn out across the broken pier (9)
54. Address to Sir Launcelot’s father in Scotland (4)
56. Fencing offensives (7)
59. Clue for G.L.O. in a manner of speaking (5)
60. Gets smaller binders in business (9)
62. Touchstone’s peacemakers in erstwhile Eire (3)
63. A girl without religious attachment shows such medical skill (10)
64. The bishop’s in ruined Pisa, at the end of a sentence (8)
66. What market researchers do to any sale, perhaps (7)
69. A certain royal caution on Boxing Day? (4,4,9,6,3)
73. Being unlike the axe-grinder makes us, abroad, like the little people (9)
74. Writing to one bird in return for support for the pathetic fallacy (7)
75. Start rope-spinning in a horizontal position (9)
76. President has a square garden (7)
77. Ere this month relaxed, but failed to survive (11)
78. His the unpainted flower in the Queen’s croquet-ground (7)
1. Old Nick? The deuce he isn’t! (5,5)
2. Island has bachelor dance (5)
3. She appears lost in the dramatic winter story (7)
4. One corner it might be worth your while to explore (11)
5. Cloak had for a penny from the London theatre (7)
6. Man barely was before his fall (9)
7. What one of these does to holes in roads (5)
8. Dig up Steed – he’s madly impartial (13)
9. Used by punter in putting up favourites (6)
10. They accommodate from conjectures about half a thousand (5-6)
11. Prophet on the Ack-Ack site (9)
12. They may build up high tension as the last race approaches (12)
13. Plan toast for a change after the little visitors arrive (4-5)
14. Paul on a ship, see! (4)
20. Not one of Italy’s literally countless islands (5,6)
22. The Big Apple by brilliant performer in fishy milieu (7)
24. No lady players to take the collection? (8)
25. The African tourist may find his charges heavy (10)
27. Bumpkin took food with auricular projection (6)
28. Watches Hearts? (7)
33. Haddock comes in these cases (10)
35. They used to be beastly to Tower sightseers (5)
36. Feature of sport is to twist Roman by tail (11)
38. Shoot the odds on the thimble trick (5)
40. In mixing the spirit ‘e gets this way (7)
42. Put into a semi-democratic rising, as calculated (8)
43. Sharpens up for return athletic contests (6)
46. Like those eyes appearing outside the window? (13)
47. Had a quick look and shot off at an angle (7)
49. Runyon’s musical types (4,3,5)
51. Business discussion – Parliament? (7,4)
53. Doctrine takes care of Holy Gates, perhaps, Doomsday and All That (11)
55. Roman copper, sent with one and ten change, is agreeable (10)
57. Back on 44 many are stirred up again (9)
58. But Pompeia wasn’t above it (9)
61. Miners’ complaint of the way the annual general meeting goes in New York, America (9)
65. Showing no cloven hoof, he does get worried about insolence (7)
67. Accomplice is a superior man of course (7)
68. Chaps get no younger in this domestic set-up (6)
70. No screw loose, we hear, in the river (5)
71. Animal took a piece out of this (5)
72. Many a battle to stem the coal-dust (4)
So them’s the clues. To spare careless scrollers or printer-outers from accidentally spilling over onto the answers, I’d better flannel a bit, and what better way to flannel than to tell a long and silly joke that probably hasn’t worked since Christmas 1970? Yes, that would be a fine and constructive way to while away a couple of paragraphs, Mr Poll, you do that.
A couple are out for a romantic meal one evening. The waiter approaches their table and asks if they are ready to order. The lady asks for a light salad. The gentleman orders squid. The waiter nods, bows and minutes later returns with a tank of water alive with squid. The gentleman mulls over his choices and eventually picks a pathetic looking specimen huddled in one corner of the tank. “That one,” he says.
The waiter frowns. “That one? The weird green one?”
The gentleman nods.
“The one with the hairy lip?”
The gentleman nods firmly. The waiter shrugs and returns the tank to the kitchen.
“Yufais!” yells the waiter, flapping his order. He directs the chef to the doomed squid. Yufais pulls the creature from the tank and onto the chopping block in one swift motion. He holds aloft a gleaming cleaver.
“No! No! No!” squeals the squid in a high-pitched voice. “Please don’t kill me, I’m just a little squid!”
“I can’t kill that,” says Yufais. “The poor little bugger’s pleading for its life.”
The waiter holds his head in his hands. “Fine, you massive wimp. Hans! Get over here!”
The pot-washer attends the scene. The waiter orders him to slaughter the squid. Hans shrugs, grabs the cleaver and holds it above the creature.
And once again the squid pleads, “No! No! No! Please don’t kill me!”
Hans sets down the cleaver, visibly moved. “Sorry. I can’t do it.”
The waiter throws his hands up in despair. “Fine!” he says, storming out of the kitchen. He returns to the couple’s table.
“I’m sorry, sir,” he says, “but Hans that does dishes is as soft as Yufais with mild green hairy-lipped squid!”
B-bum tish! Thank you very much, I’m here all week.
Okay, that should be enough flannelling. Let’s move on. You can find the completed grid below along with explanations of the solutions where I have them. As I mentioned earlier, this would definitely qualify as a stinker these days, at least in my book, so expect red bits! If a kind commenter swings by with further info, I’ll update the post.
- Poor fiddler at the front door (7)
Answer: SCRAPER. Solution satisfies “poor fiddler” and “at the front door”, referring to boot scrapers. Not much call for them from urbanites these days since they’ve taken all them horses off the road.
- Fat-headed turkey-chaser (4-7)
Answer: PLUM-PUDDING (i.e. “turkey chaser”, as in something consumed after a big helping of Christmas turkey). “Fat-headed” refers to how the solution starts with PLUMP. Here’s an example of how clueing has changed over the years. These days one would expect the solution to be fully parsed, not just the first bit.
- Take Mrs. Swan’s part in the nursery (4-3)
Answer: PLAY-PEN. Solution satisfies “take Mrs Swan’s part” – a pen is a female swan – and something found “in the nursery”.
- The order of the clues (9)
Answer: NUMERICAL. Pretty much as straight an answer as you’ll get!
- Uses a small volume to begin with, making charges (7)
Answer: ACCUSES (i.e. “charges”). Solution is USES with A CC (i.e. “small volume” or cubic centimetre) placed “to begin with”, like so: A-CC-(USES).
- A river rises and many enter, for P.T. perhaps? (9)
Answer: EXERCISES (i.e. “P.T. perhaps” – P.T. being Physical Training). Solution is EXE (i.e. “a river”) and RISES once wrapped around or having “entered” C (i.e. “many”, i.e. the Roman numeral for 100), like so: EXE-R(C)ISES.
- Life-saving tales (7,6,13)
Answer: ARABIAN NIGHTS ENTERTAINMENT, the original English language version of One Thousand And One Nights. The book is a collection of stories with a framing device of Scheherazade using her storytelling skills to help to prolong her life, lest her husband, the King, have her executed like all his brides before her, hence “live-saving tales”.
- In ancient France, way back, a doctor has nothing for this complaint (7)
Answer: LUMBAGO (i.e. “complaint”). Not 100% on this one. My solution is MB (i.e. “a doctor”, specifically a Bachelor of Medicine or Medicinae Baccalaureus) placed “in” between LU (i.e. “ancient France” – I’m guessing this is a reference to Luxembourg, country code LU) and AGO (i.e. “way back”), like so: LU-(MB)-AGO. This leaves “has nothing for” unaccounted for, so I might not have this right.
[EDIT: Big thanks to Dooj in the comments for cracking this one. MB was correct, but had to be placed in GAUL (i.e. “ancient France”) reversed (indicated by “back”; “way” seems a bit of a red herring there to make the clue scan better). The whole was then to be followed by O (which accounts for “has nothing”), like so: LU(MB)AG-O. Cheers, dooj! – LP]
- Took off 18’s number twice for a start (8)
Answer: MIMICKED (i.e. “took off”). Like 5a, the clue plays on how the solution “starts” with MI and MI (i.e. “18’s number twice” – recall 1001 Nights and think Roman numerals), but leaves the rest unparsed.
- Takes for granted that St. Paul’s toe is broken (10)
Answer: POSTULATES (i.e. “takes for granted”). “Is broken” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ST PAULS TOE.
- Vessel proves the service is classier as well as senior (3)
Answer: URN (i.e. “vessel”). Another I’m not sure about, so feel free to suggest other solutions. Mine, as it stands, when written as U RN, satisfies both “the service is classier” and “the service is … senior”, taking RN as a recognised abbreviation of the Royal Navy (a “service”) and U as a recognised abbreviation of the upper class, who can be said to be “classier” and have “seniority” over us lowly proles.
- The hotter they are, the lower in degree, the world around (9)
Answer: LATITUDES. The clue refers to lines of latitude “the world around”, which narrow to zero degrees around the equator.
- Point to the dubious character of the people (5)
Answer: ETHOS (i.e. “character of the people”). Again, not sure here, but I reckon the clue is playing on the solution being an anagram (indicated by “dubious”) of THOSE (i.e. what one might say when they “point to the…”). If so, then this seems another bit of wordplay you don’t see these days, i.e. not only getting solvers to deduce a word but then making an anagram of it.
- Was the enemy, when the sabre was? (7)
Answer: RATTLED. Clue plays on two meanings of the solution, i.e. shaking something to make a noise, and being annoyed. Sabre-rattling is an aggressive display of power designed to intimidate.
- Simple boy? (4)
Answer: HERB. Solution satisfies “simple” (one definition of the word is “a medicinal plant”) and “boy”, as in a boy’s name, a shortened form of Herbert. I didn’t get it.
- Saint? Come that makes you a flatterer! (9)
Answer: ENCOMIAST (i.e. “flatterer”). “That makes” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SAINT COME.
- Pneumatically operated, can be blown in or out of church (5,6)
Answer: NASAL ORGANS. Clue plays on how one “blows” their nose (which one could argue is a “pneumatic operation”), and how church organs also use air to get the job done. If you got this one you are a better solver than me! In my defence, m’lud, the solution isn’t exactly something you’d find in the dictionary.
- But they were anti the S. African cricket tour (10)
Answer: PROTESTERS. The S African cricket team was due to tour England during the summer of 1970, but this was cancelled after protests from the anti-apartheid movement. While that fleshes out the solution, the clue also plays on how the solution can be written as PRO TESTERS, suggesting people in favour of test cricket. Put PRO TESTERS at the start of the clue and you complete the sentence. Nicely done, but I didn’t get it.
- Who, unloved, received that of the Sonnets (10)
Answer: DEDICATION. The clue references the dedication Shakespeare gave to his Sonnets, the mysterious W.H. Meanwhile “who, unloved” also gets you WH, i.e. removing O (“love” being a zero score in tennis) from “who”. Blimey!
- The body of the Ancient Mariner’s nephew “stood by me ____ to ____” (4)
Answer: KNEE. General knowledge rather than cryptic. The solution completes the quotation.
- Sluggish sounding river (4)
Answer: OUSE (i.e. “river”). “Sounding” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of OOZE (i.e. something “sluggish”).
- Doing well enough for a season round the Orient (10)
Answer: PROSPERING (i.e. “doing well enough”). Solution is PRO (i.e. “for”) followed by SPRING (i.e. “season”) once wrapped around E (i.e. “the Orient”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “eastern”), like so: PRO-SP(E)RING.
- One ropy store? Could be (10)
Answer: REPOSITORY. Solution is an anagram (weakly indicated by “could be”) of I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and ROPY STORE. A repository is a “store”.
- Gold in lump form returned by Georgia to Edward, then disseminated (11)
Answer: PROMULGATED (i.e. “disseminated”). Solution is OR (i.e. “gold” in heraldry) placed in LUMP. The whole is then reversed (indicated by “returned”), and followed by GA (abbreviation of the US state “Georgia”) and TED (shortened form of “Edward”), like so: (P(RO)MUL)-GA-TED. I didn’t get it.
- Turn out across the broken pier (9)
Answer: TRANSPIRE (i.e. “turn out”). Solution is TRANS (i.e. “across”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “broken”) of PIER, like so: TRANS-PIRE.
- Address to Sir Launcelot’s father in Scotland (4)
Answer: OBAN. Solution satisfies a town “in Scotland” and, when written as O BAN, “address to Sir Launcelot’s father”, King Ban.
- Fencing offensives (7)
Answer: THRUSTS in the sport of “fencing”. That’s about it, unless I’m missing something clever.
- Clue for G.L.O. in a manner of speaking (5)
Answer: LINGO (i.e. “a manner of speaking”). When written as L IN G.O. the solution also satisfies “clue for G.L.O.”, a cryptic reference of how L has been placed IN the middle of G.O.
- Gets smaller binders in business (9)
Answer: CONTRACTS. Solution satisfies “gets smaller” and “binders in business”, a contract being a binding agreement between parties. This took a while to twig!
- Touchstone’s peacemakers in erstwhile Eire (3)
When written as IF’S, the solution satisfies “touchstone’s”, a contraction of “touchstone is” – a touchstone can be a criterion or condition – and when written as IFS the solution satisfies “peacemakers in erstwhile Eire”, specifically the Irish Free State, established to end the Irish War of Independence. I didn’t get it.
[EDIT: Hats off to JHS in the comments for correcting this one. “Touchstone’s peacemakers” relates to Shakespeare’s As You Like It, in which a character, Touchstone, says the line “Ifs are the only peacemakers”. This then makes “erstwhile Eire” IFS, being the Irish Free State. Cheers, J! – LP]
- A girl without religious attachment shows such medical skill (10)
Answer: DIAGNOSTIC (i.e. “medical skill”). Solution is DI (i.e. “a girl’s” name) followed by AGNOSTIC (i.e. “without religious attachment”).
- The bishop’s in ruined Pisa, at the end of a sentence (8)
Answer: APODOSIS. In the dry and joyless world of grammar, APODOSIS is “the clause in a conditional sentence that indicates the consequence if the condition applies” (Chambers), which, when written in the form “if (condition) then (consequence)”, one would find “at the end of a sentence”. Depends how you write it, really. Anyway, solution is ODO’S (i.e. “bishop” of Bayeux, and brother of William the Conqueror; the apostrophe ‘s is a contraction of “is”) placed “in” an anagram (indicated by “ruined”) of PISA, like so: AP(ODO’S)IS.
- What market researchers do to any sale, perhaps (7)
Answer: ANALYSE (i.e. “what market researchers do”). “Perhaps” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ANY SALE.
- A certain royal caution on Boxing Day? (4,4,9,6,3)
Answer: GOOD KING WENCESLAS LOOKED OUT. Clue plays on GOOD KING WENCESLAS being “a certain royal” and LOOKED OUT being “cautious”. In the Christmas carol Good King Wenceslas, the solution is followed by the words “on the feast of Stephen” (i.e. “Boxing Day”).
- Being unlike the axe-grinder makes us, abroad, like the little people (9)
Answer: UNSELFISH (i.e. “being unlike the axe-grinder”). Solution is UNS (i.e. “us, abroad”, in this case the German for “us”) followed by ELFISH (i.e. “like the little people”).
- Writing to one bird in return for support for the pathetic fallacy (7)
Answer: ANIMISM, “the attribution of the soul to natural objects and phenomena” (Chambers), i.e. “support for the pathetic fallacy”. In literature the “pathetic fallacy” is “the transference of human emotions to inanimate objects” (also Chambers). Solution is MS (i.e. “writing”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “manuscript”) followed by I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) then MINA (i.e. “bird”). The whole is then reversed (indicated by “in return”), like so: ANIM-I-SM. Very nicely done.
- Start rope-spinning in a horizontal position (9)
Answer: PROSTRATE (i.e. “in a horizontal position”). “Spinning” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of START ROPE.
- President has a square garden (7)
Answer: MADISON. Solution satisfies “President”, specifically James MADISON, fourth President of the United States of America, and “square garden”, i.e. the Madison Square Garden arena in New York City.
- Ere this month relaxed, but failed to survive (11)
Answer: PREDECEASED (i.e. “failed to survive”). Solution is PRE (i.e. “ere”, poetic form of “before”) followed by DEC (i.e. “this month”, being a shortened form of December, this being a Christmas crossword) and EASED (i.e. “relaxed”).
- His the unpainted flower in the Queen’s croquet-ground (7)
Answer: YORKIST, a supporter of the House of York in the War of the Roses, symbolised by a white rose. The clue refers to Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. A rose tree is situated in the Queen of Hearts’ croquet ground, upon which white roses grow. The gardeners would paint the roses red in order to appease the Queen, lest she find out they planted the wrong variety.
- Old Nick? The deuce he isn’t! (5,5)
Answer: SANTA CLAUS. Clue plays on “old Nick” being the devil and how “old Nick” can be descriptive of Santa Claus, seeing as though he is depicted as an “old” man and is based upon St Nicholas, “Nick” being a shorted form of the name. The remainder of the clue comments on how they’re rather unalike.
- Island has bachelor dance (5)
Answer: RUMBA (i.e. “dance”). Solution is RUM (i.e. an “island” of the Inner Hebrides) followed by BA (i.e. “bachelor”, specifically a Bachelor of Arts).
- She appears lost in the dramatic winter story (7)
Answer: PERDITA, a heroine in Shakespeare’s A Winter’s Tale or “dramatic winter story”. Perdita is “lost” in Latin. Needed a Google, not being a Shakespeare nut.
- One corner it might be worth your while to explore (11)
Answer: RECONNOITRE (i.e. “to explore”). “Might be” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ONE CORNER IT.
- Cloak had for a penny from the London theatre (7)
Answer: PALLIUM (i.e. “cloak” worn in Ancient Rome). Solution is PALLADIUM (i.e. “London theatre”) with A and D (i.e. “penny” – this puzzle was published pre-decimalisation; pennies used to get abbreviated to “d”, short for “denarius”, which got translated to “penny” in the New Testament) have been removed.
- Man barely was before his fall (9)
Answer: UNASHAMED. Clue plays on how Adam and Eve used to gad about in the nip or “barely” before they were chucked out of the Garden of Eden (i.e. man’s “fall”). The solution relates to the following Bible quotation: “And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.” (Genesis 2:25)
- What one of these does to holes in roads (5)
Answer: PICKS, hand-held tools used for breaking ground, rocks etc. Clue plays on the noun and verb forms of the word, as in how one would use a pick to pick holes in a road.
- Dig up Steed – he’s madly impartial (13)
Answer: DISINTERESTED (i.e. “impartial”). Solution is DISINTER (i.e. “dig up”) followed by an anagram (indicated by “madly”) of STEED. “He’s” seems there to make the clue scan a little better. Clueing tends to be a little tighter these days, with anagram indicators nearly always preceding or following the word(s) being manipulated.
- Used by punter in putting up favourites (6)
Answer: INSTEP (i.e. part of the foot “used by punter” in, say, a game of rugby). Solution is IN followed by PETS (i.e. “favourites”) once reversed (indicated by “putting up” – this being a down clue), like so: IN-STEP.
- They accommodate from conjectures about half a thousand (5-6)
Answer: GUEST-HOUSES (i.e. “they accommodate”). Solution is GUESSES (i.e. “conjectures”) wrapped “about” THOU (i.e. “half a thousand”, specifically the first half), like so: GUES(THOU)SES.
- Prophet on the Ack-Ack site (9)
Answer: PREDICTOR (i.e. “prophet”). The solution is also “an anti-aircraft range-finding and radar device” (Chambers). “Ack-Ack” refers to anti-aircraft fire, or anti-aircraft in general.
- They may build up high tension as the last race approaches (12)
Answer: ACCUMULATORS. Clue refers to accumulator bets in which success depends on the correct predictions of multiple events, e.g. a series of horse races. Tension could indeed accumulate or “build up” in these situations.
- Plan toast for a change after the little visitors arrive (4-5)
Answer: POST-NATAL (i.e. “after the little visitors arrive” – a curious description of children, but then I guess we’re all just visitors in the end). “For a change” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of PLAN TOAST.
- Paul on a ship, see! (4)
Answer: “Paul” NASH, British surrealist painter. “See” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: O(N ASH)IP. A bit mean not having any kind of indicator, e.g. “artist” or “painter”. I guess he was better known back then.
- Not one of Italy’s literally countless islands (5,6)
Answer: MONTE CRISTO. Clue plays on Alexander Dumas’ The Count of Monte Cristo, i.e. Monte Cristo being one of Italian islands with a Count, the other being “Countless”.
- The Big Apple by brilliant performer in fishy milieu (7)
Answer: COSTARD, a large variety of cooking apple (i.e. “the big apple” – ignore the misleading capitalisation). Solution is STAR (i.e. “brilliant performer”) placed “in” COD (i.e. “fishy”). “Milieu” reinforces “in”, meaning “setting” or “environment”, like so: CO(STAR)D.
- No lady players to take the collection? (8)
Answer: SIDESMEN (i.e. “to take the collection”, sidesmen are deputy churchwardens. Not being a churchgoing type, I imagine these are the ones who dish out the “collection” plates). When written as SIDES MEN, the solution also satisfies “no lady [sports] players”.
- The African tourist may find his charges heavy (10)
Answer: RHINOCEROS. Clue plays on how one can find the beasts in “Africa”, how “rhino” is a slang word for money (something I only learned from a much more recent Jumbo), and how rhinos are rather “heavy” and are prone to “charging”. Very nicely worked.
[EDIT: Hat-tip to Sue in the comments for the typo fix. – LP]
- Bumpkin took food with auricular projection (6)
Answer: LOBATE (i.e. “with auricular projection”, i.e. having ear lobes). Solution is LOB (i.e. “bumpkin”, both taken to mean a clumsy person) followed by ATE (i.e. “took food”). I didn’t get it.
- Watches Hearts? (7)
Answer: TICKERS. Solution satisfies pocket or wrist “watches” and “hearts”, ignoring the misleading capitalisation. Excellent clue!
- Haddock comes in these cases (10)
Answer: MISLEADING. Clue plays on a series of fictitious law reports written by A. P. Herbert and published in Punch, called Misleading Cases. Protagonist Albert “Haddock” would appear in many of these cases, through which Herbert would demonstrate and satirise aspects of the law he saw as deficient or in need of change. I didn’t get this one, but it was probably better known back in 1970 as the BBC had adapted a number of these as a TV series around that time, called A. P. Herbert’s Misleading Cases. That said, I love the concept. I’m a big fan of using the absurd to demonstrate deficiencies in things, so this sounds right up my alley.
- They used to be beastly to Tower sightseers (5)
Answer: LIONS. Clue refers to The Royal Menagerie, which used to be kept at the “Tower” of London for 600 years before being transferred to London Zoo in the 19th century. Not being much of a history buff, I didn’t get it.
- Feature of sport is to twist Roman by tail (11)
Answer: ABNORMALITY (i.e. “feature of sport” – one I’m throwing open to anyone in the know. My Bradford’s lists “sport” under “abnormal”, but nothing’s leaping out at me). “Twist” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of ROMAN BY TAIL.
[EDIT: A big thank you to Doctor John in the comments for clearing this one up. Chambers offers this definition for “sport”: “an animal or plant that varies singularly and spontaneously from the normal type”, hence ABNORMALITY. Cheers, Doc! – LP]
- Shoot the odds on the thimble trick (5)
Answer: SPRIG (i.e. a plant “shoot”). Solution is SP (i.e. “odds”, specifically the Starting Price) followed by RIG (i.e. “thimble trick” – this refers to a game of thimblerig, which is basically Find The Lady except using a pea or similar token hidden under one of three thimbles). Another I didn’t get!
- In mixing the spirit ‘e gets this way (7)
Answer: TIPSIER. “In mixing” indicates anagram. Solution is an anagram of SPIRIT ‘E. I can confirm that “mixing spirits” does indeed get one tipsy. I can confirm this several times. Several, sheveral timesh, your honour.
- Put into a semi-democratic rising, as calculated (8)
Answer: COMPUTED (i.e. “calculated”). Solution is PUT placed “into” the first half or “semi” of “DEMOCratic” once reversed (indicated by “rising” – this being a down clue), like so: COM(PUT)ED. I didn’t get this, but neither did I have many intersecting letters. That’s my excuse, anyway.
- Sharpens up for return athletic contests (6)
Answer: STROPS (i.e. “sharpens up”). Solution is SPORTS (i.e. “athletic contests”) reversed (indicated by “for return”) – this being a down clue.
- Like those eyes appearing outside the window? (13)
Answer: INTROSPECTIVE, which is an ability to analyse the processes of one’s own mind, often summed up in the phrase “outside looking in”. I guess that’s it, but if anyone spots anything clever, I’ll update the post.
- Had a quick look and shot off at an angle (7)
Answer: GLANCED. Solution satisfies “had a quick look” and “shot off at an angle”.
- Runyon’s musical types (4,3,5)
Answer: GUYS AND DOLLS, a “musical” by Damon “Runyon”.
- Business discussion – Parliament? (7,4)
Answer: TALKING SHOP. Solution satisfies “business discussion” and, wittily, “Parliament”.
- Doctrine takes care of Holy Gates, perhaps, Doomsday and All That (11)
Answer: ESCHATOLOGY, “doctrine” of death and final matters, i.e. “Doomsday and All That”. Solution is an anagram (indicated by “perhaps”) of C/O (a recognised abbreviation of “care of”) and HOLY GATES.
- Roman copper, sent with one and ten change, is agreeable (10)
Answer: ASSENTIENT (i.e. “agreeable”). Solution is AS (i.e. “Roman copper [coin]”) followed by SENT, then I (i.e. “[Roman numeral] one”) and finally an anagram (indicated by “change”) of TEN, like so: AS-SENT-I-ENT.
- Back on 44 many are stirred up again (9)
Answer: REAROUSED (i.e. “stirred up again”). Solution is REAR (i.e. “back up”) followed by OUSE (solution to “44” across) and D (i.e. “many” – the setter played this card earlier in 17a; this time “many” is D, the Roman numeral for fifty).
- But Pompeia wasn’t above it (9)
Answer: SUSPICION. The clue refers to the wife of Julius Caesar, whom he divorced in order to protect his dignity after reports of her illicit behaviour emerged, claiming “my wife ought not even to be under suspicion”. I got the solution but had to look up the reason why.
- Miners’ complaint of the way the annual general meeting goes in New York, America (9)
Answer: NYSTAGMUS (i.e. “miner’s complaint”). Solution is ST (i.e. “way”, i.e. a recognised abbreviation of “street”) and AGM (abbreviation of “annual general meeting”) both placed or “going in” between NY (i.e. “New York”) and US (i.e. “United States”), like so: NY-(ST-AGM)-US. One gotten purely through the wordplay!
- Showing no cloven hoof, he does get worried about insolence (7)
Answer: SOLIPED (an animal “showing no cloven hoof”). Solution is an anagram (indicated by “worried”) of DOES wrapped “about” LIP (i.e. “insolence”), like so: SO(LIP)ED.
- Accomplice is a superior man of course (7)
Answer: ABETTER. Solution satisfies “accomplice” and, when written as A BETTER, “a superior man”.
- Chaps get no younger in this domestic set-up (6)
Answer: MENAGE (i.e. “domestic set-up”). When written as MEN AGE, the solution also satisfies “chaps get no younger”.
- No screw loose, we hear, in the river (5)
Answer: SEINE (i.e. “river”). “We hear” indicates homophone. Solution is a homophone of SANE (i.e. “no screw loose”).
- Animal took a piece out of this (5)
Answer: OKAPI (i.e. “animal”). “Out of this” indicates the solution has been hidden in the clue, like so: TO(OK A PI)ECE.
- Many a battle to stem the coal-dust (4)
Answer: CULM (i.e. “coal-dust”). Not 100% on this, but I reckon the solution is C (i.e. “many”, as in the Roman numeral of 100, as seen in 17a) followed by ULM (i.e. “a battle”) in the early 19th century between the French Empire and the Habsburg Monarchy, an early victory in Napoleon I’s reign. “To stem”, however, suggests something being clipped, so there might be another battle out there beginning with ULM.
[EDIT: Thanks once more to JHS in the comments for highlighting that another meaning of CULM is a “stem of grass or sedge” (Chambers), hence “stem” in the clue. Cheers, J! – LP]
So there we go. I hope you enjoyed this little blast from the past. Till next time, Merry Christmas, and have a safe New Year! – LP