Rookie Corner – 330 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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Rookie Corner – 330

Four Lads Who Shook The Wirral by Gonzo

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.

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.

Thanks to Gonzo for a good workout today with this crossword.  Overall, the constraints of the theme presumably gave rise to some surreal surface readings and probably reflects the style of the group.  I am assuming that the clues and the solutions reference songs by the group alluded to by the introduction to the crossword but I lack any knowledge of the theme to check this.  Only a few points on the clues themselves but with 10 anagrams and lots of initial and final letter clues, overall it felt unbalanced.

The commentometer reads as 2.5 / 28 or 8.9%.


1 In gym, lean, working out with net – beginning to look like Jim Reeves? (11)
GENTLEMANLY – An anagram (working out) of GYM LEAN NET.

8 It may be cooler in a saloon, but it’s warmer at home (8)
RADIATOR – Definition of something that cools a car such as a saloon and something that warms a home.

9 Course of salts? (5)
EPSOM – A race course that is also the name of a type of salts.

12 To a large extent in agreement, after intro to Architecture and Morality (1,4,4)
A GOOD DEAL – A four-letter word for an agreement after the initial letter (intro to) of architecture and a four-letter word for morality.  I don’t think that morality gives the word required in the solution – it would need to be moral to work.

13 Work’s over on late show… (4)
EXPO – The abbreviation for opus (work) reversed (over) after (on) a two letter word meaning late or former.

14 …in retrospect, pay maybe for show not worth much (6)
GEEGAW – Reverse (in retrospect) a four letter word for pay and the abbreviation for “for example” (maybe).

16 Fred Titmus starts to get hurt in deal put before wastrel (8)
UNTHRIFT – The initial letters (starts) of Fred Titmus with an anagram (deal) of HURT IN before them (put before).

19 Ginger Spice in no ordinary tour – “America Naked” (8)
TURMERIC – Remove the abbreviation for ordinary from tour and follow the letter letters that remain with inner letters (naked) of America.

20 Melancholy, soon losing heart outside entrance to Papworth General (6)
SPLEEN – The outer letters (losing heart) of soon around (outside) the first letter (entrance to) Papworth and the three letter name of a General.

22 Small unmusical group, revolting and insignificant (4)
NULL – The answer is hidden (group) and reversed (revolting) in the first two words of the clue.

23 Bar secured to host divorced earls’ jollification (9)
BEANFEAST – A three-letter word meaning bar or prohibit and a four-letter word meaning secured each included (host) the abbreviation for earl (divorced implying they are included separately).

26 Musicians, carrying on without a break, perhaps content to litigate (5)
SEGUE – The abbreviation for “for example” (perhaps) inside a three-letter word meaning to litigate.

27 Bob Todd’s face omitted from “Things Ill Sculpted” ? (8)
SHILLING – An anagram (sculpted) of THINGS ILL with the T (the initial letter (face) of Todd).

28 I employ racy sports in 1996, say (7,4)
OLYMPIC YEAR – An anagram (sports) of I EMPLOY RACY


2 Hesitate at nothing for lyrical inspiration (5)
ERATO – A two letter word expressing a hesitation followed by the at from the clue and the letter representing nothing.

3 Dame Thora’s usual fee, you might say, is not much to write home about (5-4)
THIRD RATE – Split 1,4, 4 this would indicate T(hora) Hird’s usual fee.

4 Encounter with snooker’s top referee at last promoted admiration (6)
ESTEEM – A four-letter word meaning encounter followed by the initial letter (top) of snooker and the final letter (at last) of referee all reversed (promoted).

5 Something in the sky over Dallas leads to intense reflections in a flat (8)
AIRPLANE – The initial letters (leads to) of intense reflections in the a from the clue and a five-letter word meaning flat.  Unless related to the theme, I am not sure what “over Dallas” adds to the solution.  Typing in (using quotes) “something over the sky in Dallas” into Google gives a very rare occurrence, only one hit being this page!

6 Search repeatedly for Old English vegetable (4)
LEEK – A four-letter word meaning search with each O (old) replaced by an E (English).

7 Oddly irate – Trumpton Riots becoming persistent (11)
IMPORTUNATE – An anagram (riots) of IAE (the odd letters in irate) TRUMPTON.

10 Ultimately, time flies by after work in physical relationships (3,4)
SEX LIFE – An anagram (after work) of E (ultimately time) FLIES X (by).  I think this is on the wrong side of being an indirect anagram as the X is a synonym for by or times not a direct abbreviation.

11 Her eery superiority like this irritated? Could be er … I hate Nerys Hughes! (11)
HAUGHTINESS – An anagram (could be) of ER I HATE NERYS HUGHES gives HER EERY plus the solution.

15 In Peru, the sun god gave us life tips first, coming up with an aid to sleep (7)
EARPLUG – The two letter word for the Egyptian sun god inside the IVR code for Peru with the initial letters (tips) of gave us life before them (first) with all letters reversed (coming up).  I doubt that one of these on its own would not be an aid to sleep – perhaps a partial aid to sleep!

17 Rogue fly up hole is looking on the bright side (9)
HOPEFULLY – An anagram (rogue) of FLY UP HOLE.

18 Special order to break up crowds, papers about to reveal (8)
DISBOSOM – The abbreviation for special order inside (to break up) a four-letter word for crows and the abbreviation for papers all reversed (about).

21 Island doubled its turnover covering Albert Hammond’s No. 1s (6)
TAHITI – The IT from the clue twice (doubled), each reversed (turnover) around (covering) the initial letters (No 1s) of Albert Hammond. 

24 Addicts’ self-help group admits Pence regularly a cause of lost sleep in the States (5)
APNEA – The abbreviation for Alcoholics Anonymous includes (admits) the odd letters (regularly) of Pence.

25 Seal clubbing live (4)
VEIL – An anagram (clubbing) of LIVE.  Unless an old usage, this relies on seal meaning to cover and to cover meaning the solution without the two (seal and the solution) being synonymous.

24 comments on “Rookie Corner – 330

  1. This one’s mostly for fun – and the fans.
    A couple of obscure words/meanings, some gnarly wordplay perhaps… and compound anagram alert!
    You only need to know the basics about Jim Reeves :)
    Enjoy yourself, it’s later than you think.

  2. Very much enjoyed the tHeMe, even thougH I’m a Bit rusty on it, and have only seen it in person once. Favourites 21, 14. A couple of parsings escape me, I’ll read the review for those. Cheers!

  3. I’ll give this a go later, but regardless of the challenge, I want to say that it’s a joy to (for the first time, I think?) see a puzzle with this particular theme – a favourite of mine for many years. Will report back later.

  4. Well I’ve solved it all – I’m still looking for the theme and I have two clues with the correct solution but no idea quite how I arrived there. I did have the right Jim Reeves knowledge to get 1a. 24d needs a bit of punctuation or something in the middle and a ? at the end. The clues I really liked were 8a and 3d, and 14d because it is a lovely word I haven’t heard for years

    Thanks Gonzo – a bit of a challenge over the mini Shredded Wheat this morning, but I did enjoy it – thanks in advance to Prolixic

  5. Pretty tough with some cleverly worded clues – I enjoyed the challenge though I got stuck on the left side and revealed a letter to finish. Thanks Gonzo.
    I’ve no idea what the title and/or theme’s all about.
    I gave my ticks to 19a, 23a and 6d.

  6. Welcome back, Gonzo.

    Although a Google search of the puzzle’s title explained quite a lot, my only previous knowledge of the band in question comes from David Lloyd’s occasional references to them during his Sky cricket commentary stints. He would have faced Fred Titmus numerous times during his playing career.

    I’m not a fan of excessively wordy clues but I’ve come to realise that’s Gonzo’s style and the theme probably doesn’t lend itself to brevity. The pruning shears ought to have come out on several occasions though. I was disappointed to see nine separate initial letter indicators used in the puzzle (none repeated thankfully!), so roughly they occurred in one in every three clues, which is far too many. Several of the surfaces appeared to be under the influence of mind-altering drugs.

    I’m sure fans of the band would love the named references to individual lyrics and find the puzzle infinitely more enjoyable than those of us who aren’t. My ticks went to 8a, 6d and 18d.

    Many thanks, Gonzo.

  7. I have been struggling all morning regarding what to say about this puzzle as I don’t want to denigrate the considerable effort that must have gone into producing it. However, it was not my cup of tea, and I think my biggest disappointment is that nothing much seems to have changed since Gonzo’s previous Rookie puzzle.

    The main point of a crossword puzzle is to entertain the solver and for me having a theme makes this job for an inexperienced setter much harder. Also this particular theme is likely only to appeal to a limited audience (admittedly two of whom have already put their hands up!)

    The very wordy clues and repetitive devices are still there, along with some strange surface readings. In addition, the surface of 25d conjures up a very unpleasant image. There are also a couple of clues for which I found the parsing impenetrable.

    Generally the less complex clues work better and show that this setter is more than capable of writing a good clue. I particularly liked 8a, 9a, 3d & 6d.

    Thanks Gonzo, and a gold star for indicating that the answers to 5d & 24d are American words.

  8. Have to confess that I gave up the unequal fight with a little over half completed and revealed a lot of letters in the hope of finding out who shook the Wirral. None the wiser, I then turned to Mr G who had at least heard of the band in question!
    Sorry, Gonzo, but the somewhat bizarre surface reads coupled with those obscurities and specialised theme didn’t make for a particularly enjoyable solve for me. More clues like 8,9&13a would have been greatly appreciated.

  9. Same as Jane – a rather strange puzzle which was hard to enjoy. Don’t understand several references or what the title/theme is about so I did lose interest to a degree. As others have said, the less wacky clues worked best for me
    Well done for putting it together and thanks for the challenge Gonzo

  10. In 1a, should the anagram include “beginning to look” i.e. “L” to make up the eleven letters?

  11. Thanks to Prolixic for the write-up.
    I took ‘over Dallas’ in 5d to be an indication that the answer is the North American spelling of the word.

  12. Thanks Gonzo and Prolixic
    I thought the puzzle felt a bit unbalanced because all references to the theme seemed to appear in the clues rather than the solutions. Having said that, I certainly do love that theme, so I enjoyed it.

    1. Welcome to the blog

      There’s a person called Penfold who comments on both Times for the Times and Fifteen Squared – I don’t think he’s ever commented on BD’s blog so you are probably OK to call yourself Penfold here without leading to confusion

  13. Thanks crypticsue
    I comment as Penfold (I have been told that I resemble Danger Mouse’s assistant) on Fifteen Squared, from where I was directed here by Gonzo who picked up that there are a few of us who particularly like the theme of this puzzle. The Times person must be a distant relation.

  14. Many thanks for the review, Prolixic, although I have to say that it didn’t make me appreciate the puzzle any more than I did at the time of attempting to solve it.
    Apologies yet again to Gonzo – horses for courses and all that!

  15. Thanks Prolixic for the fair review – slight typo, in 27 the T is to be removed. The intended meaning in 25 is the ‘seel’ one, but I know it is a stretch either way. In 12, can’t ‘good’ be a noun – ‘on the side of good’?
    The only way to get 18 song titles into the puzzle ( all from Half Man Half Biscuit’s Back in the DHHS/ Trumpton Riots CD) was going to be in the clues, which inevitably leads to long clues and lots of single-letter indicators and anagrams. So I was letting the clues decide the solutions, the opposite to my normal approach with a themed puzzle. Some of the clues seemed to write themselves :)
    Then I had to fit as many of the resulting words in a grid as possible, and then for the songs that didn’t fit, try to make a clue for one of the filler words.
    Thanks for playing, and if you aren’t easily offended you might find the band amusing.
    For the record, references:
    1 I love you because (you look like Jim Reeves)
    12 Architecture and Morality Ted and Alice
    16 F**** ‘ell it’s Fred Titmus
    20 I left my heart in Papworth General
    27 99% of gargoyles look like Bob Todd
    28 1996 and all that
    4 The Len Ganley Stance
    5 Reflections in a flat
    7 The Trumpton Riots
    10 Time flies by
    11 I hate Nerys Hughes
    15 God gave us life
    21 Albert Hammond bootleg
    25 Sealclubbing

    1. Now I know why Trumpton Riots rang a bell, but it was a long time ago that John Peel introduced me to them on the release of their No Regrets EP, which I still have on vinyl somewhere. I’d forgotten all about writing on the soles of slippers with a biro, so thanks for that too, Gonzo

  16. I had tried long and hard to get to grips with this puzzle on a theme about which I know nothing. I finally gave up with six clues unsolved, which is as much as I could do without resorting to any help. My most appreciative thanks to Prolixic for unravelling these and also for his excellent analysis.

    I did manage to parse the clues I solved correctly, but did not enjoy the rather wordy style.

    But well done for all your effort, Gonzo. Follow Prolixic’s expert advice and I’m sure your puzzles will improve. Maybe learn to walk before you can run…

  17. I thought Gonzo was Maskerade’s other name but that may Gozo.Maybe a name change is in order.

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