NTSPP – 008

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 008

A Puzzle by Prolixic

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Welcome to the eighth in our series of weekly puzzles.

Prolixic, or should that be Prolific, entertains us again. This one should be medium, say three stars. See if you agree.

The puzzle by Prolixic is available by clicking here:

NTSPP - 008

Feel free to leave comments about this puzzle.


  1. mark
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 12:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Can’t seem to get this to work!

  2. Sarah
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 1:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    An hour and a half spent and three clues found!!! 3d and 11 & 13a. Have you set out the chairs ready in CC? If it’s not too early to plead …… could someone post hints for 1 & 6 across as this would then give me some starting letters for others …. pretty please :sad:

    • gazza
      Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:26 pm | Permalink | Reply

      For 1a the definition is little slugs and it’s the abbreviation for gross + anagram of TEASHOP.

      • Sarah
        Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Gazza – nearly there but not sure of abb for gross in this instance – isnt a gross a dozen dozen – I’m prob not helping myself here!…..

        • gazza
          Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

          If you had to guess a 2-letter abbreviation for Gross (which is a dozen dozen, as you say) you’d probably get it right.

    • Claire
      Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:28 pm | Permalink | Reply

      Ah – sounding much the same as me – two comfy chairs in CC please! 2 of my 3 are, however, different 3 to yours – 3d and 22 & 25a.
      22a 3 letter word for a cad i.e. ‘ you dirty ***’ in between two (different) sounds used when hesitating.
      25a anagram of first two words with another word for swine taken out (I really love this clue – it ticks all the boxes for me – thanks, if just for this, Prolixic!)
      Sadly I can’t help with 1 & 6 across :-( but will keep trying …….

      • Sarah
        Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Claire, shall we pull up the chairs? Will the kettle be on? I have got 25a now and i think 22a tho havnt quite got why the end works but still… I have 11a as anagram of 3rd n 4th word but you prob. have that by now – also have 16a as a hidden within type – take end of one and beginning of another … just like the old verbal reasoning questions of yore.
        Will struggle on …. hvnt used books yet …. trying to get better at “reading” the clues / separating out the words before just looking for alternatives to either beg or end word.

        • Claire
          Posted April 3, 2010 at 4:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

          How are you doing? I’m still at it but not getting there too fast! SW corner coming on nicely but still can’t get those little slugs in the NW! Got 6a,8d and 15a inNE but what old Bob’s got to do with it I’m not entirely sure (unless of course I’m wrong). A nice cup of tea in CC corner would go down well!

          • Sarah
            Posted April 3, 2010 at 4:45 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Well I think I might as well just get the kettle going Claire … grand total of 8 written in! I’ve more in SW corner than the other three but not complete and still cant get little slugs either! Finding it very frustrating … dont know about you but think my main problem (out of several) is reading the clues too quickly that is to say as a whole sentence rather than really breaking them up and see what is being suggested .. I read swiftly by habit and its not helping here….. with 1a are you working along the lines of anag of teashop as Gazza supplied plus two letter D’s? Wasnt it the two of us hanging on by the fingernails last Saturday? :sad:

            • gazza
              Posted April 3, 2010 at 4:52 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Gross is GR, not DD, and slugs here means bullets.

              • Sarah
                Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Thank you Gazza – do you despair of the pair of us?!?

                • gazza
                  Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:18 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  I think of you as the terrible twins. :D

            • Claire
              Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:31 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Yep – I think so… Got the slugs thing just before coming back here – obviously the gardener in me couldn’t get beyond the obvious!! Now have the LH side almost done. Oh! just got 5d – clever. {I can’t do it (have to look) but you might if you reply!} Can anyone tell me where the archdeacon comes into 18d? or old Bob in 15a? I have the answers and get the rest of the wordplay (I think!). Now to the RH side………

              • Sarah
                Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:41 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Ah I see 5d now I think – i have a very blank RH side as well – what does that tell us? Mind you have gaps all over. Did just get 18a – i think which of course has given me first letter of 14d but no light bulb moment just yet. Did finally get 8 d few moments ago. There arent many posts from others I notice – could they all be struggling? – somehow I doubt it!

                • Claire
                  Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:53 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  Mind you – if I have 5d and 8d right then it seems to make 10a and 12a very odd. The only word I can make fit 14d is something you do when asleep followed by something you go across water in – which I can’t make fit the clue. Either everyone else has something better to do…. or they all found it so easy they don’t need to blog… I wonder which :-/

                  • gazza
                    Posted April 3, 2010 at 6:05 pm | Permalink | Reply

                    I think that you’ve probably got 14d wrong. Start with a short girl’s name (think of the late Princess of Wales) and add the S then a verb meaning to give a tangible form to (symbolise)

              • gazza
                Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:58 pm | Permalink | Reply

                For 18d you start with a word that means money coming in (receipt) (think what HMRC used to be called) and replace the VEN (Venerable, title given to Archdeacon) for a rectangular loaf of bread to end up with a train (people accompanying someone important).

                • Claire
                  Posted April 3, 2010 at 6:13 pm | Permalink | Reply

                  Oh – it’s all so obvious when you explain it – clearly I have a long way to go! But hopefully learning all the time :-) Thanks again

                  • Sarah
                    Posted April 3, 2010 at 7:27 pm | Permalink | Reply

                    Where would we be without him!

          • gazza
            Posted April 3, 2010 at 4:55 pm | Permalink | Reply

            In pre-decimalisation days a S(hilling) was known as a bob.

            • Sarah
              Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

              This is what I do a lot – (did know bob was a shilling) so guess the word but keep forgetting to just take the initial letter and work with it.

            • Claire
              Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

              Of course! that makes sense now….. and the Archdeacon? You are a star Gazza – feels like our own private tuition in cryptics :-)

              • Sarah
                Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:42 pm | Permalink | Reply

                Yes – thanks for all the prompting and patience Gazza. It’s much appreciated :grin:

    • gazza
      Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:33 pm | Permalink | Reply

      6a. You want a synonym for post (as in to display a notice, say) + the books of the Bible (pre-Christian part) and reverse (back) the whole lot to get a phrasal verb meaning to estimate or accumulate.

      • Sarah
        Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:59 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks Gazza – I did have this as it turns out .. just was very unsure and hate writing in clues in pencil for some reason I cant explain so those two little words were waiting in the wings.
        I should try and get further before saying “Help!” but one only has to read a few posts saying what a gentle start to the day or what a walk in the park it was and a faltering feeling approaches!

  3. Tilly
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 2:30 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Nice one Prolixic! Not too taxing. Particularly like 25a, 22a and 2d. Back to the drudgy reports ………

  4. Shrike1313
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 5:54 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Some interesting conventions I didn’t know here – eg “king” as “gr”. Thank goodness for the internet!

    • Claire
      Posted April 3, 2010 at 6:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I guessed it must be GR for king George like ER for queen Elizabeth – does this work for any previous kings (or queens)?

      • Shrike1313
        Posted April 3, 2010 at 6:34 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Got it from here – there may be others though?


      • gazza
        Posted April 3, 2010 at 6:51 pm | Permalink | Reply

        Yes, e.g. Victoria Regina (VR). You occasionally have to add the monarch’s number, e.g. King Edward I may appear in an answer as ..ERI..

        • Sarah
          Posted April 3, 2010 at 7:32 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Wondering if I have the right word for 1d – i get GR for king and “e” for beginning of word – ease – so is an abbreviation for opus ie musical work what i need to complete the word?

          • gazza
            Posted April 3, 2010 at 7:39 pm | Permalink | Reply

            Yes, the definition is feel (as in touch).

  5. mark
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 9:01 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Thanks for this Prolixic – another really challenging one (for me!). It has been very helpful reading the hints and discussions – thanks to all the posters.
    I am still struggling with quite a few of the clues, but now I have a few more letters to help me!

  6. Sarah
    Posted April 3, 2010 at 9:47 pm | Permalink | Reply

    Well its getting late …. and have had to admit defeat and go interactive for the last few ….. oh the guilt! However have had fun trying and enjoyed the blogging for help and advice. Tomorrow brings the Everyman in the Observer which I have actually finished several times ….. need the boost after today. Looking forward to Monday’s puzzle and all day to do it in – but who knows it might be finished before lunch! Hmm ….. Adieu all. :grin:

    • Claire
      Posted April 3, 2010 at 11:24 pm | Permalink | Reply

      I gave up a while ago, with 8 clues to go, to watch a film. Not sure whether to go interactive or see if light dawns tomorrow. Haven’t tried the Everyman, perhaps I should give it a go. Will try the Sunday Telegraph as usual and then the bliss of two whole weeks with lots of time for crosswords! Happy Days :-)

      • Sarah
        Posted April 4, 2010 at 8:54 am | Permalink | Reply

        Give the Everyman a go if you can one day Claire – I really look forward to doing it. It has more “punning” type clues perhaps …. if that is the right word. I dont always finish it but quite often do (can take a few hrs tho) – always, always find it enjoyable but that maybe because it’s possible easier than the DT. I believe it is thought to be. Anyway see what you think.
        Have woken up to sunshine here in Essex so a bit of time on the veggie plots first :grin:

        • Claire
          Posted April 4, 2010 at 9:49 am | Permalink | Reply

          Sun just arriving over S London now too – Happy Easter!

  7. Prolixic
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 7:12 am | Permalink | Reply

    Setter calling from Menton in the South of France.

    Many thanks to Gazza for keeping people on the right track and for all the feedback.

    I would be interested to know how people would rate this puzzle in terms of difficulty compared with the usual back page crossword. I find it difficult to judge so any thoughts would be useful.

    • gazza
      Posted April 4, 2010 at 7:41 am | Permalink | Reply

      I really enjoyed it – if I’d been blogging it as a Daily Cryptic I would have given it **** for both difficulty and enjoyment.
      The areas that pushed it, for me, into the harder end of the scale were:
      1) the elastic between some of the definitions and answers was a bit stretched (e.g. estimate (6a), strategy (11a), low (4d), doctor (7d))
      2) some of the wordplay was quite complicated (e.g. 25a, 18d)
      3) some bits of knowledge required (e.g. slang term for pawnbroker in 10a, name of philosopher in 24d)

      My favourite clue: 8d

    • Claire
      Posted April 4, 2010 at 9:44 am | Permalink | Reply

      I too very much enjoyed it – Thanks Prolixic for giving me an enjoyable, sometimes frustrating, saturday afternoon!.. and big thanks to Gazza for all his help. I agree with his rating and most of the comments though for me 25a was the star clue, as I mentioned above – beautiful wordplay! There are still a couple I don’t really understand – will there be a review?

      • Sarah
        Posted April 4, 2010 at 11:28 am | Permalink | Reply

        There were quite a few I didnt get so look forward to a review – it was still enjoyable nonetheless if in a slightly masochistic way … so thanks Prolixic for making my grey cells work, thanks Claire for support and encouragement and thanks Gazza for edging us ever closer to getting clues in. Here’s to next Saturday and Happy Easter to all.

      • Posted April 4, 2010 at 2:20 pm | Permalink | Reply

        I’m open to offers on a review, Claire. Do you fancy having a go?

    • Posted April 8, 2010 at 10:35 am | Permalink | Reply

      Difficulty: it took me 20% longer than what I’d count as my average for the Times puzzle. If I did the Telegraph puzzle every day, I _think_ my average would be about 25% faster for the Telegraph than the Times. But as a difficulty assessment you have to remember that setters I haven’t seen before are always harder. Adjusting for this probably means you’re at or slightly below average Times difficulty after I’ve got used to you.

      I agree with the comment made elsewhere about “elastic”. I’d also encourage you not to use “leading character” to mean “the first character of ‘character’ “. With you on “heigh-ho” = something commonplace, and don’t think there’s any reason to see the “routine” in the Chambers def as a dance routine. Although Chambers sometimes has one-word defs which leave you wondering which meaning of the one word is intended, I think they’d have said “dance routine” if they’d meant it.

      • gazza
        Posted April 8, 2010 at 11:19 am | Permalink | Reply

        My suspicion that the Chambers definition of heigh-ho as “routine” meant dance routine was totally wrong, and if I’d bothered to look up its other definition of “jogtrot” I’d have seen that it defines that as a humdrum routine.

  8. gnomethang
    Posted April 4, 2010 at 10:13 am | Permalink | Reply

    Another Fine effort here, Prolixic.
    I would agree with gazza’s assessment and also the couple of niggly definitions – I would remove 6d from his list but possibly insert 2d!
    After 30 minutes I had all but 6d, 20d, 24d, 23d and 20a.
    I had to look up 6d as I am guessing that ‘Tenor’s Performances’ are to be placed round IC. I ca see ‘The stroke of keeping time’ as a def for this word – is this the intention?
    23d – U = Boat is a tad oblique?.
    26a – should have got this sooner!
    20d – I was inaware of the abbreviation for Portugal but eventuall put it in.
    24d – Got in the end but do mot inderstand the wordplay.

    Favourites where 1a, 13d, 6a (I don’t have a problem with this definition), 22a and 8d

    • Claire
      Posted April 4, 2010 at 10:28 am | Permalink | Reply

      Thanks gnomethang – I now understand 22d – definitely didn’t see U as boat. Don’t understand the reasoning behind 12a and 24d either (but probably me being obtuse). 6d I got as T(enor) then ACTS around 1C – definition wiles as in wiley character is one who is tactical. Am I right??

      • gazza
        Posted April 4, 2010 at 10:32 am | Permalink | Reply

        12a. The answer sounds like (rumoured by some) HAY HOE (grass cutter). Presumably “by some” is Prolixic’s defence against criticism of the homophone!

        • Prolixic
          Posted April 4, 2010 at 6:02 pm | Permalink | Reply

          Tilsit thought that in some parts of the country it might be pronounced Hi Ho, hence the qualifier “by some”.

          Chambers gave “Routine” for the solution alongside another Scotish reference to jog-trot which turned out to be routine humdrum. I was therefore content that the definition was not out of kilter. I’m grateful to John McKie for confirmation of this.

      • gnomethang
        Posted April 4, 2010 at 10:41 am | Permalink | Reply

        Thanks gazza and Claire – I was trying too hard on 6d!

    • gazza
      Posted April 4, 2010 at 10:29 am | Permalink | Reply

      6d seems straightforward – T(enor) + ACTS (performances) around I (one) and C(haracter). Definintion = wiles,
      24d. It’s DR (Doctor) + (A. J. A)yer (philosopher).

      • Claire
        Posted April 4, 2010 at 10:58 am | Permalink | Reply

        Ah – need to learn my philosophers! I get the Hay Hoe bit – does Heigh-Ho mean commonplace then? and I thought it was just the dwarfs song from Snow-white! ;-)

        • gazza
          Posted April 4, 2010 at 12:04 pm | Permalink | Reply

          According to Chambers as a noun it’s a Scottish word meaning routine, but I suspect that’s a dance routine, for example. As an interjection it can be an expression of weariness or boredom, so commonplace probably just about fits.

          • John McKie
            Posted April 4, 2010 at 1:49 pm | Permalink | Reply

            The Concise Scots Dictionary gives he(i)ch-how (spelling varies) as a noun meaning fixed routine or habit, especially in “the auld hech-how”. It’s given as Fife or Borders (the CSD leans, for me, to the east) and I’d probably say “auld claes an parritch”.

            • Posted April 4, 2010 at 2:16 pm | Permalink | Reply

              … and therte was me thinking it was from Slumdog Millionaire!


              • Tilly
                Posted April 4, 2010 at 5:57 pm | Permalink | Reply

                or the Lone Ranger …!

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