Rookie Corner – 126 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
View closed comments 

Rookie Corner – 126

A Puzzle by JollySwagman

+ – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – + – +

The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

More entertainment from our antipodean setter, JollySwagman. As usual, the setter will be delighted to receive feedback from you, the solvers. I do ask that you remember that for most setters this is a new experience, so please only offer constructive criticism.

Prolixic has updated his document entitled “A brief guide to the construction of cryptic crossword clues” which can be downloaded, in pdf format, from the Rookie Corner index page or by clicking below.

Download asa Word file

A review by Prolixic follows.

Time is short this evening so the review is brief.


1 Where many involved in Labour split combine in the centre and reach out (11)
BIRTHPLACE – An anagram (out) SPLIT B (combine in the centre) REACH.  Not quite sure that the definition really matches the answer.

7/10/1D 15/21’s widow left son holding the fort to make … there’s a word for it when not married (3,9,8)
MRS WENTWORTH BREWSTER – A word meaning left or departed and the abbreviation for son include (holding) the name of an American fort and word meaning to make (as in make a cup of tea). After this include a word meaning “there’s a word for it” without the final M (not married).  The initial three letters do not appear to have been indicated.  As a rule, the more difficult the answer, the easier the wordplay should be.  Here, the name of an individual character in a song  coupled with complex wordplay, may be considered somewhat harsh for the solver without the need for googling.

9 Wise way to become a painter … (5)
ERNST – The short name of Ernie Wise followed by the abbreviation for street (way).

10 See 7

11 … of nature morte – principal strategy being: fill the cashbox (5,4)
STILL LIFE – The first letter (principal) of strategy and another word for a being include (fill as an imperative command) another word for a cashbox or register.

12/28 Hurry! Clean up. It’s 15/21’s missionary (5,5)
UNCLE HARRY – An anagram (up) of HURRY CLEAN.

13 Platform for French art dealers (7)
ESTRADE – The French verb for to be (French Art) followed by another word for dealers.  I am not keen on the structure definition for wordplay.

15/21 He has a crowd round at Christmas (4,6)
NOEL COWARD – A four letter word for Christmas followed by an anagram (around) of A CROWD.

18 She‘s from Argentina – dancing’s not great according to 15/21 (4)
NINA – The letters in ARGENTINA after removing the letters in great (after being rearranged – dancing).

20 Unhappy incident results when a plainclothes policeman dives into swirling seas (3,4)
SAD CASE – The abbreviation for Detective Constable inside (dives into) an anagram (swirling) of SEAS.

23 Soldier guards Methuselah? (5)
OLDIE – The answer is hidden inside (guards) SOLDIERS.

24 Eat meat essentially – veal and ham – mixed together (4,1,4)
HAVE A MEAL – An anagram (mixed together) of EA (meat essentially) VEAL HAM.

26 River cascades with a din like a pneumatic drill (3-6)
AIR DRIVEN – An anagram (cascades) of RIVER A DIN.

28 See 12

29 Daughter (a bit of alright) gets introduction to dirty old man (3)
DAD – The abbreviation for daughter, the first letter (a bit of) of alright and the first letter (introduction to) of dirty.

30 After 7 this brewer is told: “No issue on 13 please” by 15/21 (11)
WORTHINGTON – The name of a brewer who with the answer to 7a gives the name of the lady who was advised not to put her daughter on the stage.


1 See 7 Across

2 Meets by accident? (4,4)
RUNS INTO – A semi double definition.

3 Stay here after golf (5)
HOTEL – The name of the letter H (after golf) in the Nato Phonetic alphabet.

4 Laundry detergent for cows. Surf? Far out! (3,4)
LOW TIDE – The name of a brand of laundry detergent after the sound that cows make.  Is it permissible to take the name of an animal as a definition for the sound that they make.  I have my doubts.

5 Is a young person able to eat here? (7)
CANTEEN – Split 3,4 this would mean is a teenager able to?

6 A cutting thing to say? (3)
SAW – Double definition of something used to cut wood and a pithy saying.  The “thing” is a pivot providing part of the first and the second definitions.

7 The noise this makes could spoil a summer (6)
MARACA – A three letter word meaning spoil and the abbreviation for an accountant (summer).

8 Tramp helps out around college (6)
SCHLEP – An anagram (out) of HELPS around the abbreviation for college.  If possible try to avoid duplicating indicators – out was used in 1a.

12 Finish working first and turn over (5)
UPEND – A two letter word meaning working (as in is the website ?? today) followed by a word meaning finish.

14 Dodgson’s girl is at it again according to 15/21 (5)
ALICE – Double definition, Dodgson is the name of Lewis Carroll and the name of a girl in a Noel Coward song.

16 Treat raw waste that’s found in a river (5,3)
WATER RAT – An anagram (waste) of TREAT RAW.

17 Coming from Wales Nye is a nonconformist (8)
WESLEYAN – An anagram (coming from) of WALES NYE.

19 Surprisingly his Rev. has a cold (7)
ASHIVER – An anagram (surprisingly) HIS REV A.  Three anagrams in a row is a bit samey.

20 Affair stops quietly for an interval (7)
SEVENTH – Another word for an affair goes inside a two letter word meaning quiet.

21 See 15 Across

22 Liked a party with lots of wine (6)
ADORED – The A from the clue, a two letter word for a party and a colour of lots of wine.

25 A small layer of grey (5)
ASHEN – The A from the clue followed by the abbreviation for small and a bird (layer).  Some editors will not allow wordplay of definition.

27 Argue with bank (3)
ROW – Double definition.

35 comments on “Rookie Corner – 126

  1. That took us well into Toughie time and needed assistance from Mr Google. His information about Aunt Maud being a case in point. Several other people also were strangers to us. However we did manage to get it all sorted out in the end. An amusing, diverting challenge.
    Thanks JS.

  2. Many thanks JS! Congratulations, great stuff.

    Bottom half went in ok but the top took quite a bit longer – not being very familiar with 15/21 I too needed a lot of googling and in particular it took me a while to get 7/10/1D

    I wondered whether 18a was a hint to look for more, but didn’t see anything.

    My favourite was 20d, but there was plenty to like

      1. Unusually for me it satisfies more people’s foibles about subtractive anagrams as it is.

        The anagram indication (dancing) gets appled to ARGENTINA – to give GREAT + {answer} – then GREAT is taken off – with no further need for anagramming.

  3. Just into Toughie time, and I found I knew more about 15/21 than I thought I did so managed to solve this without any investigoogling.

    Lots to enjoy – I liked the ‘wise’ in 9a, the ‘summer’ in 7d and have * by several other clues including 4d.

    Thanks for providing the perfect Rookie – needed to work the cryptic grey matter to solve it but finished in time to comment just before I have to start work. Thanks in advance to Prolixic too

  4. Loved it JS – what an enjoyable puzzle, many thanks! 20d and 18a were excellent but my favourite has to be the 7/10/1 combination (in particular the surface – fantastic!)!
    I don’t know much of the theme &, like Dutch, needed Google for 1d.

    The SW corner went in first; I slowed up a bit on the ‘product placement’ clues 4 & 30 and was desperately trying to recall themed info for most of those clues. Though I still can’t quite work out how to read the definition part of 1a, the wordplay was clear. I can’t recall seeing your 7d or 20a techniques much elsewhere (and if I have then I’ve forgotten them) and both seemed very fair.

    Thanks again.


    P.S. If anyone is after a (big) hint on 7/10/1 then the following link might help…

  5. Thanks, JS, and well done on fitting in so much material.

    I thought 7/10/1d was a bit too difficult – to solve from the definition requires very specific general knowledge, the wordplay is complex (and doesn’t cover the first word at all, as far as I can tell), and the answer can’t be found in a dictionary or derived from etymology. I would make all the intersecting answers absolute gimmes to compensate.

    My favourite was 8d – it sure sounded like an anagram, but the fodder was so unlikely that I kept second guessing it.

  6. It’s very impressive to work so much themed material into the grid – thanks JollySwagman.
    I had to do a fair bit of Googling and, like Cyborg, I don’t see how the first word of 7/10/1d is clued. I particularly liked 18a, 4d and 17d (brilliant surface!). My anagram count reached 11 – possibly a bit high?

  7. Many thanks JS, especially for the surface readings which were often outstanding, I thought.

    Bottom half flew in, helped by the abundant anagrams.
    NE corner held out for ages till I eventually gave in and turned to Google for the third word of 7/10/1D – which I still can’t parse.
    Nor can I quite see why 7d is what it surely must be, so shall look forward to the review.

    Here’s my list of favourites: 11a, 15/21, 18a, 20a, 26a, 3d, 5d, 20d, 22d and 25d.

    And finally here’s the only quote I know from 15/21, allegedly given as advice to the young Laurence Olivier – it might even have relevance for those of us who like setting crosswords:
    ‘Steal my boy, steal, but only steal from the best!’

  8. I’m never a huge fan of these sort of themed puzzles, especially when a clue like 30a is required to contain four numbered references, however it was well constructed and contained some excellent clues. My favourites were the more concise ones, i.e. 9a, 7d, 8d, 16d and 25d. Like Gazza, I felt that the anagram content was somewhat on the high side.

    I thought that titles of The Master’s works were fair game for the theme, but I was less enthused about the use of names of individual characters within those works. A little unfair on the solver methinks.

    JS’s puzzles are always an interesting challenge, and this one was no exception. Many thanks, JS.

  9. Probably didn’t approach this one in the right frame of mind because I’m not a fan of either inter-dependent or convoluted clues, so the first two across upset me for a start!
    Getting the 15/21 combo gave me a way in (although I thought perhaps the ‘crowd’ should have been around AFTER Christmas?) which meant that I had the theme to work off despite the fact that I had to ask Mr. Google about some of them.
    Top two for me were 17&25D.

    Thanks to Jolly Swagman – nice to see that folk have responded so well to BD’s call for more contributions to Rookie Corner.

    1. Ironically JS sent me this one some time ago and it slipped through the net. He did take the opportunity to make some improvements before resubmitting. For example, 1a was “Overdue issues may get delivered here; in Chilcot’s case he’s arranged with Blair to keep quiet (11)” and, as JS said, Chilcot is now old hat.

    2. at, by, on etc. can all mean “next to”, which can be either side – I can see that ‘at’ is nicest for the surface.

  10. Phew 😌.
    That was hard work.
    By the time I came round to solve the crossword, google must have been on overdrive as the lady in 7/10/1 appeared straight away.
    Remembered the second one in 30a though.
    Thanks to JollySwagman.

  11. Good Lord! That’s my old schoolmate Flott in the video! Thanks, Encota.

    This is the type of puzzle I really don’t care for where one’s eyes are constantly darting all over the grid, compounded by a theme where every themed answer links back to one clue. I persevered though. I got 30A by more inspiration than perspiration, but I was thinking strictly along the lines of beer. Then, again a bit of inspiration, I linked 7A and 30 and the fellow came to me. Not any help with the rest of the themed answers though because 7A/30 was the only familiar one. I managed all but 10A and several in the top left corner before resorting to Google, and to Crossword Solver for 1A. I thought 7D was clever and I quite liked 3D. Thanks JS. Not my cup of tea but I can appreciate the thought and work that went into it.

  12. I usually enjoy a themed puzzle and this was no exception.
    Printing the puzzle out certainly helps with the interconnected clues and with a little knowledge about the theme I was able to avoid Mr Google. The solving time was fair although I’ll be interested to see the review to confirm the parsing of 7/10/1d. I also like the fact that you have your own style which requires the solver to get on the same wavelength. Good stuff and thanks JollySwagman

  13. Great challenge JS. Lots of interruptions from she who must..etc .. so only half way through. Must have a lie down in a darkened room for a while then tackle the top half. Haven’t the faintest re 7/10/1d! Some very good clues though.

  14. A theme of which I’m almost completely ignorant, which meant this was a very tricky solve for me. The bottom half went in ok, but the top was much slower to yield. It all went in in the end, but only from getting all the crossers for 10a and 30a then making some educated guesses which Google confirmed – but I don’t have much of an objection to having to look something up now and then, so fair play. Having said that, I still have no idea what’s going on with 7/10/1 and will have to wait for elucidation from Prolixic.

    The anagram count probably is a bit high, but I have to admit it didn’t bother me during the solve – on the contrary, I was grateful for some gimmes! There were a couple – namely 2d and 14d – that I thought were only just cryptic, and I must confess I didn’t like 4d at all.

    Some notes:

    1a – dazzling surface, though like Encota I can’t quite make the definition work.
    9a – like the ‘Wise’, took a while to click
    11a – can’t seem to read this in a way that works (isn’t it the cashbox that’s doing the filling?)
    3d – mega PDM. Loved it!
    22d – the ‘lots of’ seems a bit redundant to me

    Plaudits for 26a, 3d, 5d, 6d, 8d, 17d and 25d. It should also be said that I had quite a bit of fun looking up and listening to the pieces namedropped in the puzzle – which was perhaps the intention – so thanks on all counts, JS!

  15. Hi JS,
    What everyone else said! The bottom half went in much more easily on the top, and I revealed a letter in 7 to get me restarted, and still had to Google as I didn’t know her. Perhaps this clue was a bit too tricky.
    It’s wrong, but 29a amused me, with 3d and 20d also on the podium, but may other enjoyable clues. A few parsings have eluded me, so I look forward to the review.
    Excellent stuff, thanks, JS.

  16. I don’t know much about Noel Coward or his works, so a lot of guessing.
    I really liked 4d and 8d.
    Thanks JollySwagman.

  17. :phew: and I’ve still got five in the top half that I can’t do.
    I’m really bad at crosswords that keep me diving around all over the place – makes me dizzy – my own fault rather than any reflection on the skill of the setter.
    It took me ages to work out the theme – i.e. 15/21 – and even then I was landed with something of which I’m woefully ignorant.
    I look forward to the review tomorrow to sort me out but, in the meantime, thanks and congratulations to the JollySwagman.

  18. Hi JS,

    Lots of cleverness in here, but unfortunately this one was a bit beyond my pay grade, not helped by an utter lack of knowledge of the theme. I’m stuck with a fair few I can’t parse so I shall look forward to the review. Of the ones I could get, I’m going to pick 3d as my favourite for the penny drop moment.

    Thanks & well done!

  19. Hi All

    Thanks for the comments – and for trying the puzzle.

    Anyone still struggling look away now – unless you want really big hints.

    For those who missed it, the themed answers are the protagonists from Noel Coward songs – the song titles being:

    Alice is at it Again
    Mrs Worthington (don’t put your daughter on the stage)
    Uncle Harry (who wanted to be a missionary)
    Nina (from Argentina – who refused to begin the Beguine)
    A bar on the piccola marina (where love came to Mrs Wentworth Brewster)

    Obviously that makes it a tough solve for anyone who wasn’t familiar with them – but if that was the case your enjoyment upon first hearing them (which I recommend – they’re all on YouTube) might compensate.

    There’s no accounting for taste – some people’s favourites were other people’s bugbears – same for the overall style. A few minor clues don’t deconstruct in the normal way – but the answer is (I hope) quite compelling. I like clues like that – I don’t go out of my way to create them – but when they occur naturally I’m happy to leave them like that. 6d is an example of that. If you try to break it down into wordplay/definition you end up with double duty on “thing” (which seems to be anathema to all – even though it’s only a convention) – but the desired answer hits you in the face so hard that you probably don’t stick around long enough to be troubled with that. To avoid argument it can be called a cryptic definition.

    A common complaint concerned missing wordplay for MRS from 7/10/1D. That actually comes from “widow” – a widow being addressed as Mrs X, even after Mr X has died – leaving the apostrophised reference to Noel Coward as the definition (but widow can extend it). On reflection that’s a bit much. Apostrophised names often indicate an author’s work etc – maybe a particular character from a work is pushing it a bit.

    This puzzle went through a few edits. It started out as one of those themed puzzles with a preamble indicating that the themed answers aren’t properly defined. In the case of that clue it had previously started: “Wife left son …” with a load of definitional waffle at the other end. On reflection I should have made it “15/21’s bereaved wife …” with “wife” being a clear part of the wordplay and “bereaved” (as in “the bereaved” – ie a bereaved person) in the definition – but I bet I would still have copped plenty of moans.

    Kudos to Arepo for finding the surface of 1a “dazzling”. I’m hoping the best bit of that was “reach out” – a regularly used Corbynism. I was rather proud of that little baby of mine (if that’s allowed) especially (as BD indicated) as it was a last minute edit – the original Chilcot-based clue had lost its topicality. The definition is cryptic – but surely easy enough – labour – giving birth etc.

    Anyway thanks all for taking part. Especial thanks to BD for hosting (there’s work involved in that) and to Prolixic (that too) for the blog.

    I’ve got another one ready to go – slightly easier I hope – I just have to do the annotations and I’ll fire it in.

    1. Many thanks for spelling out the theme JS and thanks prolixic for the review – must have been a trickier review to write than most, especially when rushed, so much appreciated.

      I had read 6d as a cd (and 2d for that matter), and the wordplay for 4d as a cryptic indication – especially with the question marks, they all looked fine to me.

      looking forward to the next one JS

    2. Thanks for the clarifications JS – an interesting read. I look forward to the next one.

      Prolixic, thanks as usual for your review – much appreciated by us all.

  20. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, which cleared up the problems I had with some of the parsing of the 7/10/1d combo.
    Definitely a bit of a struggle for those of us who are unfamiliar with more than a handful of NC’s songs!

    1. I have no Noel Coward in my collection Jane
      But Ian Dury wrote this of him

      Noel Coward was a charmer
      As a writer he was Brahma
      Velvet Jacket Silk Pyjamas
      Gay divorced and other dramas.

      One of my favourite Ian Dury songs

Comments are closed.