NTSPP – 129

Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle – 129

Heavens to Murgatroyd by Prolixic

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

NTSPP - 129

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

A review of this puzzle by Crypticsue follows.

A slightly different offering from Prolixic as  this time ten of the clues don’t have a definition but connect to a very obvious theme.    It does contain clues which refer to  two of our setter’s other ‘hats’ but, unusually for Prolixic,  no ‘ladies of the night’! 


 *8a         Vicar is back after touring mid-Wales (6)
{SILVER}  –  Reverse an abbreviation for a vicar, and IS (from the clue) with L (the middle letter of Wales) inserted.   The first  of the themed, undefined, solutions.

9a           Villain beheaded in the past (4)
{AGO}   –  Removing the first letter from the name of the villian in Shakespeare’s Othello leaves us with a adverb meaning in the past.

10a         Exploited American education (4)
{USED}   Two abbreviations, one for American and one for education go together to form a synonym for exploited.

11a         Try to turn round a judge (10) 
{CHANCELLOR}   A synonym for try or possibility followed by a reversal of a turn go together to make a judge of a court of chancery.

12a         Pronouncing prison sentence for composer (4)
{BYRD}   A homophone (pronouncing) of a slang term for prison, derived apparently from cockney rhyming slang, gives us the name of the foremost composer of the Elizabethan age.

*13a      Half-hearted PM nurses penny (6)
{MAGPIE}  Take the diminutive way one might refer to Lady Thatcher,  remove one of the middle letters and replace with a P for penny to get the subject of today’s themed series.

16a         Work in Boston perhaps making fancy fasteners (8)
{BOWKNOTS}  A decorative interlacement of two pieces of rope, this particular example having one or two loops.  An anagram (perhaps) of BOSTON and the two-letter abbreviation meaning work.

17a         See 7d

18a         I hit back about sister’s dog (7)
{BASENJI}   A small African hunting dog that rarely barks.   Insert the abbreviation for a State Enrolled Nurse into a reversal of I (from the clue) and a type of short straight punch.

22a         Not against morals or discipline (8)
{SCIENCES}   The discipline where knowledge is obtained by observation and experiment.   Simply remove the contraction meaning against from the sense of moral correctness that governs or influences a person’s actions.

25a         Abjures paper, for example, moving leader to the end (6)
{UNSAYS}  One of our redtop tabloid editors might preface his words with a headline saying that the [name of his paper] utters or sets forth.   Move the first letter of the name of the paper to the end of the phrase  to get part of a verb meaning to renounce or repudiate.

*26a      Cambodia’s special (4)
{KISS}  The IVR code for Cambodia, the IS implied by the ‘s, and the abbreviation for Special combine to make this themed solution.

27a         Holy pogrom organised for one of the 22a (10)
{MORPHOLOGY}   The 22a concerned with the development of shape or form is obtained from an anagram (organised) of HOLY POGROM.

*30a      Resistance encountered in private league (4)
{GIRL}   Insert the abbreviation for electrical resistance between the much-used abbreviation for an American general infantryman or private, and L for league. 

*31a      Problem with Yugoslavia (3)
{BOY}  The abbreviation for a particularly unpleasant personal problem and the IVR Code for Yugoslavia.

32a         See 7d



*1d        Informative systems found in the outskirts of Wandsworth (4)
{WISH}  Insert the abbreviation for Information Systems into the outside letters (outskirts) of WandswortH.

2d           Cook in Provencal (4)
{OVEN} –  A nice hidden word – a verb meaning to cook in a particular way is hidden inside PrOVENcal.

3d           Curtest barrister is in France (8)
{BRIEFEST}    Discourteously short  – a slang term for a barrister followed by the French word for is.

4d           Method describing delivery returned by Australian player (7)
{WALLABY}   This player is a member of the Australian rugby union team.    Insert a reversal of a single cricket delivery into a method.

*5d        Men in second rank (6)
{SORROW}  Insert  the abbreviation for ordinary soldiers (men) into S (second) and follow with another word for rank or line.           

6d           Covers poems about a French bishop (3,7)
{SUN BONNETS}  Covers young baby girls might have needed this week in the unaccustomed hot weather.    Take some short lyrical poems, insert the French word for a or one plus a B (Bishop in a game of chess) and then split the result 3,7.

* 7/17/32             Obscene revel trotted out (6,5,2,2,4)
{SECRET NEVER TO BE TOLD}   It helps to solve this anagram (out) of OBSCENE REVEL TROTTED if you have managed to work out the theme of the crossword.

14d         Measure of beer changing hands (3)
{ARE}   Changing the middle letter of a type of beer from  Left to Right (changing hands)  produces a unit of metric land measure of 100 square metres.

15d         Capable of grasping slurred replies involving Northern lass (10)
{PREHENSILE}   An anagram (slurred) of REPLIES and an endearing way a Northerner might refer to a lass makes a adjective meaning capable of grasping.

19d         Friend wears a short dress in Arab City (3,5)
{ABU DHABI}  The capital of the United Arab Emirates.    A (from the clue), an informal term for a friend, and a truncated type of dress or costume, split 3, 5.

*20d      German with love for sin (3)
{JOY       Remove a verb meaning to sin or make a mistake from a wartime way of referring to a German and replace it with O (love, nought).

21d         Sailor’s eating game birds (7)
{OSPREYS}   The birds here are fish-eating eagles –   Insert between  the abbreviation for Ordinary Seaman and S (‘S) a term for the creatures hunted and killed as food.

23d         Gangster flees  from analytical group therapy (6)
{CLINIC}  Removing the abbreviated Christian name of Mr Capone, the gangster, from an adjective meaning analytical or functional, leaves a group of doctors for treating or diagnosing patients.

24d         Obtained nothing from EBay.com reorganisation (4, 2)
{CAME BY}   An anagram (reorganisation) of EBAY C[O]M without the O (nothing from) gives us an alternative way of saying obtained or acquired.

28d         The rest come back behind time (4)
{LATE}  A Latin abbreviation meaning and other people used in a list, eg Big Dave, Gazza, and others is reversed to give a simple way of saying behind time.

*29d      Play Ludo regularly (4)  
{GOLD}  A synonym for play or turn plus the alternate (regularly) letters of LuDo give us our final themed word.


The solutions of the  ten linked clues are taken from the  well-known superstitious verse regarding the sighting of particular numbers of magpies:

 One for sorrow, Two for joy,
Three for a girl, Four for a boy,
Five for silver, Six for gold,
Seven for a secret never to be told,
Eight for a wish, Nine for a kiss
Ten for a bird you must not miss.

 The reference to the series in the instructions was wasted on me (as a Blue Peter viewer!) as was the Heavens to Murgatroyd reference.        Murgatroyd was the name of Magpie’s magpie.     I also didn’t know that the theme tune was played by the Spencer Davis Group under the alias of the Murgatroyd Band.  As always with a Prolixic puzzle, not just a great solving experience but an education too! 


  1. Colmce
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 5:10 pm | Permalink

    Very obvious theme? Not to me it wasn’t, never seen the programme, never heard the rhyme.

    However despite that I stumbled through this one with lots of electric help a few guesses and some outright cheating.

    With the theme revealed it’s clear that this is a clever well crafted puzzle, just passed me by that’s all.

    Thanks CS for the review.

    Thanks Prolixic for giving me brain ache this PM.

  2. Kath
    Posted July 28, 2012 at 5:49 pm | Permalink

    I knew that I was going to be in trouble as soon as I read the bit about the ten clues lacking a definition! This was a long way beyond me. I didn’t know where to begin in trying to find the theme and failed totally.
    I’ve been “perservating” on and off all afternoon in between having one eye on the Olympics and one ear listening to a slightly distraught younger daughter who is stuck in Limoges – her flight was cancelled.
    If I possessed a hat (and was wearing it) I would take it off to Prolixic for dreaming this one up, and to anyone who is clever enough to do it.
    The little that I could do I enjoyed so thanks to Prolixic and to Crypticsue for untangling it all.

  3. andy
    Posted July 29, 2012 at 12:27 am | Permalink

    Well done Prolixic, really enjoyed this en route to Glasgow. Very clever, hope CSue has had time to bake some cakes, my nemesis tomorrow, yikes that’ll be today then

  4. Prolixic
    Posted July 31, 2012 at 12:20 pm | Permalink

    A somewhat belated thank you to Crypticsue for reviewing the crossword and to those who took time to comment on it.