Rookie Corner – 183 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 183

High Street by Solemate

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

This week we have another setter making his debut. I hope you enjoy Solemate’s puzzle.  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.

A review by Prolixic follows.

A stunningly good crossword from Solemate, probably one of the best first crosswords that we have had in the Rookie corner. The only point to watch, as has been mentioned, is a slight tendency to repeat some wordplay indicators.  Ideally, different indicators should be used each time.  Other than that, the clues were fair, fun, free from obscurities and a delight to solve.  One more like this and Solemate can proceed straight to the Not the Saturday Prize Puzzle.

The theme refers to brands who have stores on the High Street.  I spotted ten main answers with two semi-references with 10a (where the store is named in the plural) and  12a where the full name is not used.  The main themed answers are indicated with a ** after the clue.


1 Airline doctor loves grass (6) **

BAMBOO – The abbreviation for British Airways (airline) followed by the abbreviation for bachelor of medicine (doctor) and to Os (loves).

4 Excellent way to cook rump (4,4)

WELL DONE – Double definition, the second being how a piece of rump stake is ruined.

10 Archery winners with tale to tell craftsman (9)

GOLDSMITH – The plural of the colour at the centre of the archer’s target (archery winners) followed by a homophone (to tell) of another word for a story or tale.

11 The French revolt after getting rotten meat (5)

OFFAL – A three letter word meaning rotten followed by a reversal (revolt) of the French feminine form of the. A minor point but the “La” revolts or turns. As the plural breaks the surface reading, “the French revolting” would be a way of maintaining both the cryptic reading and the surface reading.

12 Brands book with stag’s head (5)

MARKS – The title of the second of the gospels followed by the first letter (head) of stag.

13 Time and time again? (9)

SENTENCES – How you would describe two periods of confinement in prison.

14 Take in small women with permit (7)

SWALLOW – The abbreviations for small and women followed by a word meaning permit.

16 Rich without starting to show embarrassment. (4) **

LUSH – A word meaning to show embarrassment by turning bright red with the first letter removed (without starting).

19 Preparing a menu to include partridge perhaps? (4) **

GAME – The answer is hidden in (to include) PREPARING A MENU.

21 Office for National Statistics infiltrating satellite creating storm (7) **

MONSOON – The abbreviation for the Office for National Statistics inside (infiltrating) a word for a satellite.

24 Leaders of Welsh Assembly move to new accommodation to gain storage (9) **

WAREHOUSE – The first letters (leaders) to Welsh and Assembly followed by a seven letter word meaning “move to new accommodation”.

25 Sovereign put gold back (5)

ROYAL – A reversal (back) of a three letter word for put or place and the two letter heraldic word for gold.

26 Male attempt to produce food (5) **

MANGO – A three letter word for male followed by a two letter word for an attempt or shot at something.

27 Water plants in empty urinal surrounded by cleaning implements (9)

BULRUSHES – A word for cleaning implements used to sweep around (surround by) the outer letters (empty) of urinal.

28 Deluged debtor in hut (8)

SHOWERED – A five letter word for a debtor inside a four letter word for a hut.

29 Seduces office worker on way back (6)

TEMPTS – A four letter word for an office work followed by a reversal (back) of the abbreviation for street (way). As back has been used as a reversal indicator, a different indicator should ideally have been chosen.


1 One entering illegitimate union having great time embracing French friends (8)

BIGAMIST – A three letter word for great or large followed by the abbreviation for time around (embracing) the French plural for friends.

2 Abuse of whisky leads to red eyes and tantrums (7)

MALTREAT – A four letter word for whiskey followed by the initial letters (leads to) of the final four words of the clue.

3 Refuge where nothing stays the same (5) **

OASIS – The letter representing nothing or love followed by a phrase 2-2 meaning stays the same.

5 Henry hiding in ramshackle leanto brewing moonshine? (7)

ETHANOL – The letter represented by Henry inside (hiding in) an anagram (ramshackle) of LEANTO. I think that brewing here is the link word as in the sense of making.

6 Witnesses relative following attractive man (7- 2)

LOOKERS-ON – A six letter word for an attractive man or woman followed by a three letter word for a male relative.

7 Position of France: on the rocks (6) **

OFFICE – The OF from the clue followed by the single letter indicator for France and a word meaning the rocks, as in diamonds.

8 Recruit unruly clients without leader (6)

ENSLIST – An anagram (unruly) of CLIENTS after removing the first letter (without leader). As we have had leaders already as an initial letter indicator, perhaps a different indicator should be used here.

9 Dances about with tool (6) **

JIGSAW – A four letter word for lively dances followed by the single letter abbreviation for about and the abbreviation for with.

15 Odious schoolmate caught out misbehaving (9)

LOATHSOME – An anagram (misbehaving) of SCHOOLMATE after removing (out) the abbreviation for caught.

17 Posh boy beginning to drive erratically into garage (4,4) **

BODY SHOP – An anagram (erratically) of POSH BOY D (beginning to drive).

18 Two articles left on unknown street by small researchers (8)

ANALYSTS – Two indefinite articles followed by the abbreviation for left, a letter used in algebraic notation for an unknown value, the abbreviation for street and the abbreviation for small. Small has already been used as an indicator for S so ideally a different indicator should have been used.

20 Eastern queen free to be fair (7)

EQUABLE – The abbreviations for Eastern and Queen and a word meaning free to do something. The link word here jars slightly in the cryptic reading of the clue as you have wordplay BE definition.

21 Slime spread over posh breakfast dish (6)

MUESLI – An anagram (spread) of SLIME around a single letter used to mean posh.

22 West Country currents forming wetlands (6)

SWAMPS – The geographical location of the West Country followed by a word meaning electrical currents.

23 Gordon could be a moron (6)

DRONGO – An anagram (could be) of DRONGO.

25 About to adopt unpopular path (5)

ROUTE – The two letter word meaning about includes (to adopt) a three letter word meaning unpopular.

50 comments on “Rookie Corner – 183

  1. We think we recognise enough names in the answers to guess at the reason for the title but are sure that we have missed many of them. Not that it caused any problem for us with solving the puzzle as all the clues stood up without having to know the theme. Well put together clues that were a real pleasure to solve. 2d was our last one in and favourite.
    Thanks Solemate.

  2. I thought this was absolutely brilliant. Not too difficult but with plenty of smiles and a proper laugh at 2d.

    The theme was very nicely done, but might have been good to leave as a ghost theme for solvers to find (or not).

    Other favourites would probably be too numerous to list: you clearly have a real talent for this. I have hardly any question marks and as usual they can wait.

    I’ll be plugging this one on the back page blog later if someone doesn’t do that first.

    Thanks, Solemate – more please!

  3. Congratulations on a really good debut, Solemate. I did this one immediately after today’s back-pager and enjoyed it more. The smoothness that you’ve achieved in most of the surface readings is particularly impressive.
    The theme was a bonus but I’m sure I’ve missed some of the references.
    The clues I liked best were 2d, 6d, 15d and 23d (which made me laugh at the memory of the ‘Jilted John’ refrain).
    I hope that you’re already working on your next one.

  4. Very nice and tidy, well done. Silvanus will be on to you about the repetition of ‘posh’, I dare say, but overall a super puzzle which I enjoyed solving. Not overly tricky, and very concise, accurate cluing, which is commendable.
    Impressive stuff, thanks Solemate.

  5. A warm welcome, Solemate.

    I agree with everything that’s been said so far, I absolutely loved it. I would be staggered if this was your first puzzle, but if it is, then it’s an even more impressive feat than I originally thought to achieve such a high level of quality in one’s debut crossword. Very 4a indeed!

    The two mentions of “posh” are fine (different constructions, Rags), but my repetition radar did bleep at “leader/leaders” twice used as an initial letter indicator. The other piece of advice I would offer is to pay a little more attention to link words in the wordplay, I spotted “with” used four times to join constituent parts of 10a, 12a, 14a and 9d. Admittedly far from a hanging offence (!), but something to watch perhaps in future puzzles.

    My ticks were numerous, namely 4a, 13a, 16a, 2d, 3d. 6d, 17d, 22d, 23d and, my overall favourite, 15d.

    Congratulations on a superb inaugural puzzle, as others have said more please soon!

  6. Hi Solemate
    Great puzzle, very well put together.
    I liked the hint in the title as it made me enjoy the relevant solutions more, and I probably wouldn’t have noticed what was going on otherwise.
    Very consistent, polished, neat clues, on the easy side.
    My favourites were 1d 16a 27a 17d 23d.

  7. Nice puzzle Solemate and certainly an excellent debut. Well on the easy side but still interesting and enjoyable enough for almost any solver.

    No quibbles at all except that (maybe I’m missing something) I wasn’t clear where the A comes from in 9d. Should “with tool” be “with a tool”? That would do it for me.

    Congratualtions – hope to see more.

      1. Thanks Kitty – that had to be the only other explanation.

        It doesn’t appear in the generously populated online list “Cryptic Crossword Indicators and Abbreviations” so I thought it might not.

        Not having a BRB to hand I couldn’t be sure.

        1. Annoyingly, I don’t have a BRB, only a big blue Collins English Dictionary, and the Chambers online is a bit clumsy. About as irritating as trudging down to the Kwik-e-Mart on a Sunday morning to get the Sunday wad, only to discover someone’s nicked the ‘Sunday’ section (agreed, Spindrift, Jane). Incidentally, Collins gives a. for ‘about’, too.
          Must get the hang of this sleep lark… it’s as elusive as an Elgar Nina to me. :smile:

  8. More applause coming from here, Solemate – a thoroughly enjoyable puzzle (is it really your first?) with decent surfaces, concise clues and very little that I could find to quibble about. I also thought the theme was extremely well executed – good fun for those who picked up on it but of no detriment to the puzzle for those who didn’t.

    It would be extremely difficult to isolate any one clue for favouritism – I think most of them deserved a tick for one reason or another! I do hope that this won’t prove to be a ‘one-off’ in our Rookie Corner.

    Just one comment – I got the strangest feeling that two people were involved in the compiling, roughly a top/bottom divide. No-one else has mentioned it though, so I guess I’m wrong – which wouldn’t be unusual!

    1. Actually I thought it could well be a one-off in Rookie Corner, Jane. NTSPP next!

      (Hmm, two setters. Didn’t get that impression, but if you’re right, perhaps it’s a sole and his/her mate? But that could be cobblers, friend … )

      1. Think you’re right about the rapid promotion, Kitty, although with a first offering I guess we have to bear in mind that it may (although not necessarily) have taken an unconscionable length of time to compile. Sound familiar?!!

  9. I also found this excellent. Lovely clues throughout and a remarkably clean and concise style with good surfaces. I found the top half a little harder than the bottom, but you’ve avoided making it overly difficult as some rookies are tempted to do. Congratulations! Including a theme makes it harder, so well done! I may have missed some of the themed entries.

    Clues I liked include 4a (although I beg to differ), 1d, 2d, 15d and 23d really made me laugh because I know someone called Gordon who fits the bill.

    There really isn’t much to criticise. A magnificent debut.

    The only clue I worried about was 5d, where it seemed to me there were 2 anagram indicators, but i may be missing something? Also hopefully moonshine is not the same as the answer, else it would be (even more) lethal

    19a you may not need both perhaps and a QM, though it reads fine.

    Congrats again, I’m looking forward to a positive review from prolixic

      1. Haven’t made it, though I know people who know people…

        I have sampled it a time or two. Peach moonshine is really good.

    1. I was waiting for someone to ‘beg to differ’ over 4a! I seem to remember JL getting quite upset about the thought in a puzzle from a while back.

      1. Ha! Just noticed this right after I posted! BTW, I haven’t seen JL around for a while.

        1. I think he’s usually very busy in the restaurant throughout the ‘season’ and only manages to pop in occasionally. Not sure when his quieter time begins but I’m confident he’ll be more ‘regular’ ‘ere long.

  10. Very 4a, Solemate. I could write almost word for word what Silvanus has said.

    I have no questions or concerns and I really enjoyed this from start to finish with inventive cluing, nice humour and smooth surfaces.

    A warm welcome to Rookie Corner and please keep them coming – although I can’t see you staying in RC for long.

  11. Wow. Impressive. So smooth and accomplished. I loved every bit of this…though from a culinary viewpoint I’d never do that to a good rump! My favorite was 2D, but I’m giving a hat tip to 13A because it was my last one in and took me some time to work out. I do hope we see you back very soon, though with this very high debut standard it may well be in the NTSPP spot. Thanks Solemate. this was a joy from beginning to end.

    I’m at a bit of a disadvantage with the high street shops. I knew three for sure and guessed a couple more just based on the word for the answer. I imagine I can safely leave 11A and 22D off my list!

    1. I did wonder about our overseas solvers dealing with the theme but, as I said in my comment, I didn’t think that would in any way detract from enjoyment of the puzzle – thank you for proving me right!
      I got 9 definites for the theme with a couple of others that are possibles but not ones I’m familiar with.

  12. Excellent puzzle, congratulations Solemate! Agree with all the praise above and thought theme clever. Like Gazza I enjoyed it more than today’s back page. 👍

  13. Very enjoyable, probably the first time I have completed a Rookie in one sitting.

    It almost felt like a typical Rufus Monday back pager.

    Well done Solemate.

  14. A most enjoyable and “professional” offering from the latest member to Rookie Corner.

    I managed to solve it without having any idea about the theme.

    My favourite was 19a closely followed by 21d which accurately describes my least favourite breakfast!

    Full marks to Solemate on his/her debut

  15. Could I put in a plea for Solemate to own up to this one at some stage. I think we’d like to congratulate you personally on a great debut.

  16. Thank you to everyone who has gone to the trouble of posting such positive and constructive comments.
    I have another in the pipeline which I’m now spurred on to complete (taking your comments on board)


    1. Hi, Solemate, and a big welcome to the BD gang. So pleased to hear that you have another puzzle in the pipeline – hope it gets completed very soon.

  17. I enjoyed this too and I think everything has probably been said already.
    The only thing that hasn’t been said is anything about 20d – I can’t quite make sense of the last bit although I think my answer has to be right – just me, then.
    I have nine definite themed answers and another possible one although I thought it had an ‘S’ at the end.
    I liked the clue for 4a but not what it’s suggesting.
    Lots of good clues – 19 and 26a and 1 and 2d. My favourite was 23d.
    Thanks and congratulations to Solemate – thanks also, in advance, to Prolixic for tomorrow’s review.

    1. Re: 20d – how about ‘under the circumstances, he felt free/able to be generous with his praise’.

  18. I enjoyed this puzzle very much. It was an easy solve but for 2d which took a bit of time to see even with all of its checkers in place. It’s nice to see plaudits from the heavy brigade too. If they haven’t spotted errors there are none, they take no prisoners. Welcome to the blog. A brilliant debut.

  19. An enjoyable solve with some really good clues. The theme being stated (or at least hinted at) helped a little bit but the puzzle would work perfectly well if it was a ghost (i.e. not stated) theme. I particularly liked WAREHOUSE for its great surface, and MUESLI for its slightly gruesome surface. The only slight flaw I thought was with LUSH where the clue seems (to me, anyway) to indicate that one should take away the first letter of a word meaning ‘rich’ rather than one meaning ‘to show embarrassment’. And maybe MONSOON which is really a weather pattern, although Chambers does allow ‘a violent storm (informal)’ so no real objection there.

      1. No, I think Allan just means that the wordplay suggests that you take away the first letter of a word meaning rich to leave you with an answer meaning to show embarrassment – whereas in reality, as you know, you have to take the first letter off the word meaning to show embarrassment to leave one meaning rich.

        (That was my one remaining query once I’d bothered to look up 17d and verify that it’s not listed as an American term.)

  20. Excellent, really good. I liked 23d for the Jilted John reference, 27d for the smoothness, 1a, 19a was a great, if simple, hidden, 2d. I don’t really have a repetition radar, but did notice ‘back’ and ‘small’ being repeated. The small to replace would be in 18d where it disrupts the surface a bit – one wouldn’t really refer to the size of researchers, normally! I don’t think currents=amps, and the cryptic grammar in 11a might not be accepted by all editors (One piece of fodder is usually considered singular, so would have to be revolting or revolts). Like Dutch, doubted moonshine=ethanol, and I also struggled to match stays the same with as is, but actually really liked the clue. Those are very minor, lots of really excellent clues, well done.

    1. John Shuttleworth is another character played by the actor who played Jilted John. Worth a peek.

  21. Many thanks for the richly deserved glowing review, Prolixic. I do hope that Solemate favours us with some more of his output very soon.

    If anyone has the chance – the answer to 8d needs an ‘S’ removing and 23d has the wrong anagram fodder.

  22. Add me to the fan club.
    A pleasure from start to finish and the theme was a nice touch.
    Double ticked 2d, 3d and 17d.
    Thanks to Solemate and to Prolixic whose NTSPP 399 is next.

  23. Just got round to it and thoroughly enjoyed it. Great debut and top marks to Solemate. Whilst remembering Jilted John, Mr Sheffieldsy is old enough to rember the word “drongo” from a Barry McKenzie film in the early 1970s. Mrs Sheffieldsy was still at primary school!

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