Enigmatic Variations 1454
Ramjets by Eclogue
Extra letters give WENDY CRAIG, GEOFFREY PALMER and NICHOLAS LYNDHURST, actors in Butterflies, defining PURPLE EMPEROR, CARDINAL, COMMA, TORTOISESHELL, PAINTED LADY, SWALLOWTAIL, ADMIRAL and ARGUS.
Eclogue is a setting partnership of Eddie Looby and Keith Williams, who initially met over the internet in 2009. The perfect dovetailing of a grid compiler who wasn’t very good at clues and a clue writer who didn’t like setting grids enabled a prolific partnership to form. The pseudonym is derived from those of the compilers, which are Eclipse and Logogriph.
Since their first appearance, Eclogue have now had well over 100 puzzles published around the world, but primarily in the UK in the Sunday Telegraph (Enigmatic Variations), Independent and i newspapers (Inquisitor), 1 Across, Crossword Club, Magpie and the online Crossword Centre (where December will offer the twelfth edition of our annual Xmas puzzle there) among others. RAMJETS was our ninth outing in the Enigmatic Variations series, where we have appeared now under each of the three editors who have been in post.
More often than not bloggers and commentators have deemed Eclogue puzzles to be at the more difficult end of the scale, so it was a pleasant surprise when the EV Editor contacted us with a view to bringing forward our puzzle from its originally intended slot into the September “introductory” series. In hindsight, the explanation is fairly obvious, namely that a solver could either solve the puzzle fully and make all the associated connections, or simply spot the winged insects and think no more about Carla Lane’s sitcom, choosing to solve any remaining clues largely by definition only. We are rarely so generous!
One strand that is common to many Eclogue puzzles is the interweaving of two related or unrelated themes and that was the case here. Inspiration can come in many forms, but there is usually a real-world link, either a book read, a play attended or a film scene. Can we claim anything so deep-rooted for RAMJETS? No, I’m afraid not. The origins for this puzzle lie simply in the fact that Logogriph passed a buddleia festooned with butterflies on his way to get the morning paper. From there, it was a fairly small leap to recall the Butterflies sitcom which while not recent was probably watched on some Repeat Ad Nauseam Channel or similar several years ago (but well worth a watch if you do happen to come across it).
Back at the screen, a well-thumbed copy of Bradford’s Crossword Solver’s Dictionary to hand, a lepidopterist themed grid soon emerged. A requirement to find CARLA LANE in some shape or form was dropped early in the process with three of the four main actors instead being derived from an additional letter in the wordplay of each clued entry.
We have a penchant for some of the more obscure definitions in Chambers, often indicated by “local”, indicative places in Scotland or our old friend “Jonathan” who is a specimen of the United States. We’d like to think that the regular lifting and opening of a Chambers Dictionary enables solvers to gain a cardio-vascular work-out to accompany the cerebral one on offer.
The title is a portmanteau word of RAM, being “something that butts” (i.e. a BUTTER) and JETS indicating the verbal FLIES.
Thanks to all who solved and commented upon EV 1454.
A full review of this puzzle can be seen over on fifteensquared.