Rookie Corner – 223 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 223

Kitchen Roll? by Hippogryph

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

Today we have a second puzzle from Hippogryph. 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.

There is always a certain sense of apprehension when you print off a Rookie puzzle first thing on a Monday morning, as you are never quite sure what you are going to get and whether you’ll be able to complete the solve, parse all the clues and enjoy yourself while doing so. This feeling of trepidation is multiplied when you’ve been asked to stand in for Prolixic while he has a few days away

Turns out I needn’t have worried as Hippogryph’s second appearance in Rookie Corner provided us with another themed crossword which, in addition to reminding us of items to put on our shopping list, shows us that he took on board the comments on his first puzzle and produced a very enjoyable crossword with very few quibbles from me, and possibly more importantly, the Monday Quibblers


1a Buying presents? Get so mad after the middle of Christmas! (8)
SHOPPING An expression of how mad with anger you might be goes after the middle letter of ChriStmas

6a Setter in final position – most unsatisfactory (6)
LAMEST How our setter might refer to themselves inserted into an adjective meaning in the final position

9a For example, army engineers march backwards to come forward (6)
EMERGE A reversal (march backwards) of two abbreviations, the first meaning for example and the second, the abbreviation for the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers

10a Remove quietly from six-pack area (8)
ABSTRACT The muscles that form a six-pack followed by an area of land produce a verb meaning to remove quietly

11a Knee worry upset Giants supporter (3,6)
NEW YORKER An anagram (upset) of KNEE WORRY produce a supporter of the Giants football team. This clue should have had a question mark at the as the person in the solution has a lot more to them than just possibly being a Giants supporter

13a Blue clothing the Italian Caesar? (5)
SALAD Another way of saying feeling blue ‘clothing’ or going round the Italian female definite article

15a Rogue Indian sailor switching directions (6)
RASCAL Switch the directions at either side of an Indian sailor

17a Unstable among company (6)
INFIRM A preposition meaning among and a company

18a Was 25 across hard cheese could be (6)
GRATED A synonym for the solution to 24a describes what hard cheese could be

19a First of bottles in final, final case of wine (3-3)
BIN-END The first letter of Bottles, IN (from the clue) and a synonym for final

21a Feel empowered to hold back muddled group (5)
MELEE Held in reverse (back) in fEEL EMpowered

22a Spooner’s garden tool for a short thick branch results in a tasty cut. (4,5)
RUMP STEAK The dreaded Reverend would muddle up the starts of a garden tool and a short thick branch.

Thanks to the queries about this one, and my subsequent research, I’d now consider myself quite an expert on the Spoonerism, still not a fan but definitely an expert! Spoonerisms involve the switching of the first sounds (not letters) of spoken words, which answers one query, and I’d say that ‘spoken’ answers the homophone question, not least because without them being ‘sounds’ some of the Reverend’s most famous muddles wouldn’t’ work. As to whether a stump rake is too big to be counted as a ‘garden tool’, I’ll just say that Mr CS would quite like one to remove some short thick branches from our large garden!

25a Urgent! Clear contents of medical device. (8)
STRIDENT A verb meaning to clear inserted into a medical device

26a The French outside broadcast reversed in order (6)
SERIAL The French plural definite article goes outside a verb meaning to broadcast, the result then, as the clue says, reversed

28a Rolls made by airline sets (6)
BAGELS An abbreviated airline and part of a verb meaning sets

29a Salad vegetables served in Gunners’ meals? (8)
RADISHES The Gunners are the informal name of the Royal Artillery and these salad vegetables could be split 2, 6 to produce some Gunners’ meals


2d Mother and husband raised poor performer (3)
HAM A reversal (raised in a Down clue) of an informal name for mother and the abbreviation for Husband

3d Alcoholic drink pear enriched, refreshing, really yummy for starters (5)
PERRY The ‘starters’ of Pear Enriched Refreshing Really Yummy

4d Liquidised bran diet, ie juiced! (10)
INEBRIATED An anagram (liquidised) of BRAN DIET IE produces a way of saying drunk (juiced being an informal term for such a state)

5d Seed planted in gardens, not forest, produces this bunch? (6)
GRAPES A type of oil-producing seed inserted into the outside letters of GardenS – the clue tells you to remove the name of a forest well known to fans of Mr Shakespeare

6d Catalogue of Hungarian composer on the radio (4)
LIST A homophone (on the radio) of a Hungarian composer

7d Rain dances held by Mrs Simpson making a spread (9)
MARGARINE An anagram (dances) of RAIN ‘held by’ the Christian name of Mrs Homer Simpson

8d “So excited”, I claimed first of all on Twitter, say? (6,5)
SOCIAL MEDIA SO (from the clue) followed by an anagram (excited) of I CLAIMED and the A that is the first letter of All The second use of the word ‘first’ to indicate the need for the initial letter of a word, hidden quietly in the middle of the clue, just waiting for someone with repetition radar to spot it and cause your blogger to have to read all the clues again more carefully to find out where it was!

12d Drink served from regal tray, mixed with unlimited beer (4,4,3)
EARL GREY TEA An anagram (served) of REGAL TRAY mixed with the EE in the middle of (unlimited) bEEr

14d Sick newspaperman holds up Post Office within fashionable Norfolk town (10)
INDISPOSED ED (editor, newspaperman) holds up (in a Down solution) PO (post office) after the latter has been inserted between the two-letter word used to indicate fashionable and a Norfolk town

16d Check the clocks again after Spring holiday period (5,4)
SPARE TIME A way of saying check the clocks again goes after a spring or mineral water resort

20d Spread first indication of business speak? (6)
BUTTER The first ‘indication’ of Business and a verb meaning to speak. The second instance of ‘spread’ in the Down clues. There aren’t any other ways of describing the solutions to 7d and 20d. and, believe me, I’ve checked in quite a few thesauri and crossword dictionaries. Perhaps changing the clue to refer to an animal which ‘buts’ would have escaped the dreaded repetition radar.

23d Sailor Eliot delivers sweet treats (5)
TARTS One of the ways we refer to a sailor and the initials of Mr Eliot the poet, essayist, playwright, and literary critic

24d Vegetables found just before the check-out lines we hear (4)
PEAS These vegetables, which are apparently to be in short supply this year, due to the hot weather, would, if said as a homophone (we hear) and listed alphabetically, go just before another homophone of some check-out lines


27d Land unit used by airmen oddly (3)
ARE A unit of metric land measure is found in the odd letters of AiRmEn.

Thank you to Hippogryph for the perfect crossword for the busy stand-in blogger. I too would like to see you back here soon. I also don’t think it will be long, if you keep up this standard, before you’ll be taking your place on the NTSPP rota

PS: Did anyone, apart from the person who blogged both puzzles, notice the appearances of both New Yorkers and rascals in the NTSPP and the Rookie this week?

48 comments on “Rookie Corner – 223

  1. Thank you Hippogryph, very enjoyable and a good challenge but not too difficult.

    A couple of comments:

    Assuming that I have interpreted it correctly, I don’t think the Spoonerism works. I may be wrong but I am under the impression that a Spoonerism only involves switching first letters of words (I am sure a real expert will advise on this) and you have switched two for one. And, if the garden tool is a rake that is not what you had in the 22a.

    The homophone in 24d eludes me, I know that my answer is correct.

    1. Senf, it’s a homophone of what the Americans (and now many young Brits) call “lines”. Taken together with the answer, it’s good to mind them.

      1. I think it also relates to what precedes the ‘check-out lines’ homophone in the alphabet.

        1. Yes, that’s how I parsed it (post hoc). I was just giving a hint in a different way.

  2. Good stuff – thanks Hippogryph. I don’t think there’s too much to criticise here, though ‘holds up’ in 14d doesn’t seem quite right and I’m not sure that the garden tool would be of much help with the branch in 22a. Top clues for me were 1a and 24d.

  3. Thanks Hippogryph. Very pleasant solve with delicious theme. Not sure you needed “quietly” in the six-pack area at 10a, but otherwise I thought it all worked nicely. Favourite was 8d

  4. Good puzzle, Hippogryph. I found this a reasonably gentle start to the week, although I was held up by having incorrectly answered 24d, which in turn delayed my solving 25a. I agree with Gordon that ‘quietly’ appears to be superfluous in 10a. Ticks went to 15a, 29a, 8d and 16d, the latter being my favourite clue.

  5. Welcome back, Hippogryph.

    I enjoyed this one even more than your debut, as there were fewer questionable surfaces (but still one or two) and many clever clue constructions. The occasional wordiness from last time seemed to have been reined in too, which was good to see. I did wonder if the title ought to have been 1a/6d, but since both feature in the puzzle I can understand why you called it what you did.

    My repetition radar bleeped with “first” used twice as an initial letter indicator, and it was surprising that “spread” appeared twice to define its two principal rivals. The surfaces that didn’t quite cut the mustard for me were 10a, 26a and 7d. “Hungarian” in 6d made the clue too easy I felt, and I think a question mark was needed at the end of 11a.

    There were plenty of ticks on my printed page, with 1a, 15a and 2d particularly standing out, but my overall favourite was 24d.

    Very enjoyable and great to see you on an upward curve, Hippogryph. Many thanks.

    1. A nice way to avoid using “spread” twice might have been “It’s not 20d. Can you believe it?” for the manufactured one (but maybe a bit easy!).

  6. Welcome back Hippogryph and I’m glad that this puzzle of yours (of which of course I’d seen an earlier draft) has made daylight! Very much improved! In particular I like your new version of 16d – perhaps the star clue, for me – and much better than the previous version (which I seem to recall I criticised…). And your re-work of the NE corner has worked wonders too. Though I had some trouble with 19a – my LOI – perhaps partly because I’m not much of an oenophile!

    Not the toughest though. Even allowing for my early viewing of it.

    I’ve no doubt Prolix will give you a good mark for this.

    Keep ’em coming and I look forward to your next – something a bit tougher perhaps!

    L. :-)

    1. Prolixic is on a canal boat currently just outside Newbold on Avon hunting for a pub! Crypticsue will be performing the honours today.

  7. Hi Hippogryph – I enjoyed that. I especially liked 26a’s “outside broadcast”


  8. Hi Hippogryph. I enjoyed this. Yeah, the Spoonerism might have made more sense if the garden tool was made from the branch rather than for it, but still … invoke the good Reverend at your peril!

    Important as they are to the solving experience, it seems I’m more easy-going about surfaces than some. To take the ones Silvanus highlighted, 10a was ok with me and though 26a may not be the best, it makes sense if you take “order” to mean the running order. And if Mrs Simpson of number 7 is holding some rain dances and providing catering too then I wish her great success!

    I liked 17a, 19a, 29a 8d, 16d and 24d, particularly those last two.

    Thanks Hippogryph. On my 1a 6d is a pack of gold stars and a “Come Back Soon” card.

    1. P.S. Can someone cleverer than I advise about the “used by” in 27d? I can’t quite convince myself that it works, but I want it to.

      1. I see what you mean, it’s a directionality thing – it reads ‘definition used by wordplay’, whereas ideally that would be the other way around. ‘definition using wordplay’ would work fine, but doesn’t fit the surface, so a different link might do the trick.

      2. Certainly not cleverer than you, but I think in the sense of the letters used to spell the word ‘airmen’, it just about works.

          1. Kitty, I’d go further than Roy and say it works fine. The word ‘airmen’ uses the letters that spell the answer, in the odd slots.

            1. Thanks Whynot. I think I’m persuaded. I would be very interested to know what the various editors would say, but we can’t know everything.

              1. Ah, yes, “editors”. I should probably have added “for me” after “works fine”. It will be interesting to see what Sue makes of it.

  9. I thought this was pretty sound overall, any niggles are debatable so well done.

    22a is asking for trouble, I think. I am not sure a stump is a branch and the tool would be useless to attack a stump, but the other problem is that it is a homophone as well (stump rake = rump stake). I don’t know whether Spoonerisms permit this much latitude?

    25a, again I am unsure whether ‘contents of’ is a good insertion/containment indicator

    As I said, minor niggles so well done and thank you Hippogryph.

    1. Thanks very much for the feedback Roy. Just on the Spoonerism I did find “short thick branch” in Chambers and was picturing a hefty gardener trying to rake up some of these – but I like Kitty’s suggestion that making the tool from the stump would have been better. Good point on the homophone, likewise I don’t know what the Spoonerism rules permit.

      Thanks to all for the feedback and comments so far – it is all really useful to me and encouraging…

    2. Roy, while it’s always better if a Spoonerism results in a sensible phrase (which this doesn’t afaik), they work on sound not spelling, so the steak/stake point is spurious to my mind.

  10. A gentle but very enjoyable solve. Many thanks, Hippogryph – you have averted a possible cruciverbal crisis here, as I don’t seem to be able to access The Times Crossword Club website this morning!

    Ticks all over the place from me, but particularly 1a, 9a, 15a and 24d. One or two niggles which others have pointed out but this did not detract from my enjoyment.

    For me, a good crossword is one that makes me smile and you passed this test with flying colours!

  11. Nice to see you again, Hippogryph.

    Apart from the few surface read niggles mentioned by Silvanus, this seemed to be a sound second puzzle and I would think the commentometer will probably view it favourably.

    I did spend a while trying to justify ‘marmalade’ for 7d – those Simpsons don’t register on my radar – until 17a proved impossible and I had to do a rethink. Again, I would agree with Silvanus in that an alternative to the repeated use of ‘spread’ would have been an improvement.

    Surprised to learn from Mr Google that Spooner’s tool does exist although I suspect that it would normally be used on a much larger area than a garden!

    6a made me smile but my favourite was 24d – very nice.

    Keep up the good work!

    1. Jane, amazed as I am, I accept that Google knows more than me and must withdraw my criticism of the Spoonerism made in answer to Roy above.

  12. I did enjoy this, Hippogryph, and I suspect Prolixic will not have too much to comment on. As others have said, you have made good progress with your surfaces; a few still need some attention but this is often the last element to fall into place. I thought the difficulty level was nicely pithced for a Rookie puzzle although the SW corner did take me longer than each of the other three corners.

    Whilst acknowledging my limited knowledge of Italian, assuming I am parsing it correctly I don’t think 13a works. The wordplay leads to either “al” (“to the” in Italian) or “la” (“there” in Italian) being inserted in “sad”.

    I had lots of ticks on my page and my favourite was 24d.

    Many thanks, Hippogryph. I’m now looking forward very much to your next one.

    1. La is the feminine singular definite article in Italian (as in Verdi’s ‘La traviata’).

  13. I thought that was good fun but I didn’t find it as straightforward as others seem to have done.
    The 24d vegetables took me ages to work out the ‘why’ bit of it.
    I missed the 21a reversed lurker – husband said that it had to be what it was – I said, ‘could it be a lurker’ and he said no – got him in the end, the lurker not the husband.
    Lots of good clues and, not being an expert on what’s OK and what isn’t, I’ll leave the finer points to CS.
    With thanks and congratulations to Hippogryph for the crossword and, in advance, to CS for tomorrow’s review.

  14. Nice work, Hippogryph. I actually guessed 24d early but left it because I couldn’t parse it. Then I decided it was cues (cucumbers), but later the crosser didn’t work. By the end I’d forgotten my original guess and couldn’t think of any candidates, so I revealed the first letter, at which point I got it and realised what the clue meant!

  15. Thanks to Sue for yet more unpaid overtime. I had noticed the rascals, but not the New Yorkers, which on its own didn’t raise any eyebrows (especially with the knowledge we have from our resident numbers person about repeated answers).

  16. Thanks to Cryptic Sue for the encouraging review – I love the pictures, and to all of the others who have commented. Its a great way to learn and also incredibly rewarding to hear that you all enjoyed the puzzle. Look forward to returning soon…

  17. Thanks for the review, Sue, particularly the clarification on Spoonerisms.
    I shan’t be such a shining wit in future.

  18. Excellent blog, Sue. Of course we will probably have to wait for Prolixic to return with his commentometric equipment for an accurate reading, but I made this: one adverse comment (unindicated DBE in NEW YORKER) and two ‘advisories’ (repetition of “spread” and of “first”), which would suggest that the reading might be around 6-7% — very good indeed!

    In fact, one use of “first” was “first of all” for the beginning of the alphabet, so not quite a duplicate use.

  19. Many thanks for the review, CS – not surprising that Hippogryph was so pleased with both your comments and the effort you’d put in to finding suitable accompanying pictures for the shopping list.
    Umm – ham and Caesar salad sounds good for my own list!

  20. Having only got round to this on Tuesday afternoon there’s not much I can add to the comments, except to say that this was an enjoyable puzzle, generally on the easy side but also requiring a bit of thought. I’ll look forward to your next.

  21. Highly enjoyable puzzle and a jolly review which covered all my thoughts nicely.

    Favourite two clues were 5d and 24d – both excellent. Many ticks elsewhere.

    Many thanks setter and blogger both.

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