NTSPP – 324
“Ale Here” by Elgar
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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.
The last time we had an Elgar puzzle in the Daily Telegraph was Toughie 1559 on 26th February, so we are very privileged to be able to bring you his latest puzzle right here in the NTSPP series. The puzzle has a special theme – when you have worked it out please don’t spoil it for others, by mentioning it in the comments, until after the review has been published.
A review of this puzzle by crypticsue follows:
The instructions say: This puzzle marks a major anniversary of the death of an important figure in English history, referred to in clues as “X”, and to be identified by solvers under the grid. The entry at one number is a (weak!) cryptic clue to the name by which X is best known; two other (one 5- and one 6-lettered) answers, together with the title of the puzzle, identify him in anagram form.
A big thank you to Elgar. As BD says, a privilege to have this special treat of an anniversary celebration to solve (and in my case, enjoy twice while I sort out the review) Most crosswords from Elgar (and his alter egos) take a lot longer to solve this one and I was surprised how relatively short a time I took to solve and parse the clues, and with only three ?s to check in the BRB too. I did spend some of the time barking up entirely the wrong important historical figure! If you still haven’t worked out who it is yet, have a look at the end of the review.
6a Write “Elgar”, as I might do function for The Listener (4)
SIGN Write ones name on a document or a homophone (for the listener) of a trigonometrical function.
9/13 X so 15, comedian gives edge to very poor shag? (4,4,5,4)
WITH ONES PANTS DOWN A comedian (3) sharpens (gives edge to) an informal term meaning very poor, and some hair (shag here meaning ragged hair). You need the solution to 15d at the start to produce a well-known expression which might describe how X is remembered. The last word of the clue was one of my ? but a visit to the BRB soon found the right definition.
10a Who’s in charge of the Automobile Club? (6)
DRIVER The person in charge of the car or a golf club.
12a Having received help to sort out compiler getting 50% off, thanks Manhattan hotel (3,5)
THE PLAZA Insert into an informal way of saying thanks, firstly an anagram (to sort out) of HELP and half of the name of a setter of crosswords for The Observer.
14a Officially got together over deposit (3)
DEW This watery deposit is a reversal (over) of part of a verb to do with marriage (officially got together)
16a X so 15, suddenly biting head off? (7)
NAPPING Remove the ‘head’ from a verb meaning suddenly biting (as a dog might do). Again start with the solution to 15d to get another expression which might relate to X.
17a A deck operative, note, limits our stay (7)
ADJOURN A (from the clue) someone who operates musical decks and the abbreviation for note, OUR from the clue being inserted (limits) before the note.
19a And this, as “handbags” got out of control? (3)
GBH Our Elgar does love a compound anagram and here’s another one. Remove AND and AS from H
ANDB AG S, and an anagram (out of control) of the remaining letters give you the abbreviation for the crime you’d be charged with if some ‘handbags’ (a facetious term for incidents in which people fight or threaten to fight without causing injury) got out of control.
24a Punch atheist in “God” parades (6)
STINGO An informal term for punch in the sense of alcoholic refreshment is hiding in (parades) atheiST IN GOd
25a See 11 Down
27a Advisably, source and spring do have good intentions (4,4)
MEAN WELL In addition to being an alternative way of saying ‘have good intentions’, the solution also explains how you can define each of the three words – ‘advisably’ ‘source’ and ‘well’.
28a Pop bothers to make the return journey (4)
SODA This American pop is obtained by reversing (to make the return journey) of some ‘bothers’.
1d New Zealand team crushing West Indies is climax for Black Caps (5)
KIWIS IS from the clue ‘crushing’ or having inserted the abbreviation for West Indies, the result then ‘capped’ by the climax or last letter of black.
2d X so 15, discussing what flavours beer? (2,3,3)
ON THE HOP Discussing (with respect to) ‘what flavours beer’
3d Bad 6 typifying hen night? (4)
OMEN A hen night might have eight or more women present but would rarely have more than x xxx!!
4d Dad carrying large (and mum carrying small) percentage of blood (6)
PLASMA Insert the abbreviation for Large into an informal term for a dad, then insert an S (carrying small) and finish with an informal term for your mum.
5d/21d X so 15, bum, bum Shed clue? (6,8)
BEHIND SCHEDULE A synonym for bottom (bum) and an anagram (bum) of SHED CLUE. Put the solution in front of this and you get another way of describing X.
8d X so 15, having been dealt no spades or clubs? (3-6)
RED-HANDED Follow the solution to 15d with the group of cards you’d have if you haven’t been dealt any spades or clubs.
11d/25a Incongruously wreathed in red, led out one of X’s predecessors (6,3,5)
EDWARD THE ELDER An anagram (out) of RED LED goes in[side] an anagram (incongruously) of WREATHED.
13d See 9
15d Might batter be this 5 about anything? (6)
CAUGHT The cricket clue! The abbreviation for about followed by another way of saying anything.
18d Picaresque fellow’s glow cast over Scots maid (3-5)
OWL-GLASS The English translation of the name of a German folk-lore trickster is an anagram (cast) of GLOW put over a Scottish young lady (maid). Yes, I knew him too!
20d Watch horse in pursuit of fox (6)
HUNTER A watch whose face is protected by a metal case or a horse used when chasing a fox.
23d Familiarly for 11, an all-in-one companion in early life (5)
TEDDY A familiar way of addressing someone called 11d, a one-piece ladies undergarment or a toy (companion in early life). I know which of these definitions the gentlemen of the blog might choose to illustrate this solution but I’m going for the companion!!
26d Evasive court painter’s added a couple of strokes up top (4)
EELY An adjective meaning evasive or slippery. I knew the name of the court painter and eventually understood that the first letter needed two horizontal strokes to make it look like the fifth letter of the alphabet rather than the twelfth.
The 23rd of April has a number of anniversaries to celebrate so of course you naturally start of thinking of the most obvious one, not least because once you start solving and combine some of your solutions with the ‘Ale Here’ , he can be ‘identified in anagram form’ from ALE HERE + KIWIS + PLASMA = WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE. A splendid red herring if ever there was one.
But then you realise that (a) all those clues with ‘So 15’ have nothing to do with your important figure and (b) then you get the ‘one of X’s predecessors’ by solving 11/25 and eventually all becomes clear as an anagram of ALE HERE + TEDDY + HUNTER = ETHELRED THE UNREADY. Our book of The Kings and Queens of Britain [purchased from Sainsbury’s for the sum of £1 way back in 1992 when the boys were 8 and 6], confirmed that 11/25 was X’s great-grandfather and I was interested to read that apparently X was more badly advised than he was unprepared. ETHELRED the Badly Advised doesn’t have quite the same je ne sais quoi as UNREADY – I just hope by mentioning this, I’m not giving Elgar ideas for another themed crossword.