EV 1454 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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EV 1454

Enigmatic Variations 1454

Ramjets by Eclogue

Setter’s Blog


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.


7 comments on “EV 1454

  1. There were times during the solving of this puzzle when I lost the technique for coming up with the answer and the additional letter. I found putting the grid to one side for a while enabled me to regain concentration and continue. I landed on the first of the 3 names fairly quickly and also the theme, but the connection to RAMJETS didn’t dawn on me until after I had completed the grid and identified the 2 other names. In fact I had decided I couldn’t possibly work out the definition – but then did! There were a lot of new words here for me, certainly all the Scottish ones: I just hope I remember some of them, if not all. A most enjoyable puzzle. I have managed to complete all 4 of the September ones, as a novice, so intend continuing with future EV puzzles. I like them. Your narrative above is very interesting and who would have thought such a puzzle could have resulted from seeing a buddleia on the way to the shop! Thank you for the mental and physical workout.

  2. Thanks, both of you, it’s interesting to hear about you and the creation of your puzzles.

    I got Wendy Craig from the extra letters, but from looking her up I didn’t spot that specific show as being the relevant link (and didn’t have enough letters for the other two). My only association with Butterflies is Carla Lane — maybe if she had been hidden, I would’ve got the connection!

    My guesses of the unclued ‘cardinal’ and ‘tortoiseshell’ (the latter computer-assisted) were correct; it just turns out I’m way more ignorant of butterfly breeds than the average solver. Though possibly having found that ‘pointedness’ would (at that time) fit down the left didn’t help matters …

    Thank you for the crossword, and I shall aspire to get to the level where I can solve one of your puzzles.

  3. Quick question to Eclogue please. Is 666 a repunit or a repdigit?

    With the help there has been over the last few weeks (from Chalicea/Numpties, Ifor, et al) I am making progress with these EVs. I still find I am having to work with a blank piece of paper to try to work through as many answers as I can get first before putting anything in the grid and see what “spare” letters develop, particularly here where the spare letters don’t go anywhere in the grid! I’m beginning to like EVs.!

    I progressed reasonably well with this one and thankfully got the theme before I got very delayed with some, for me, very obscure words but working out the actors names helped with these, and yet despite having all the butterflies around the edges and using Mr Google, the BRB and my very recent acquisition, Mrs Bradford, I was still beaten by four or five in the south east.

    Unlike Thatch I still didn’t understand Ramjets – which on first reading had led me down a train of thought of aircraft engines. I will look out for your “unconnected/slight connect/multi” themes next time!

    Many thanks to all.

    1. In response to the Repunit query, here is where Chambers and other sources may differ. Chambers (which is the crossworder’s gospel on such matters) defines a repunit as “a number consisting of two or more identical integers eg 22, 333.” Wikipedia (among others) constrains a Repunit to numbers only featuring “1” and a Repdigit as allowing other integers to be used. As it would be unfair to the majority of solvers to contradict the primary reference source, setters (checkers and editors) will always go with “the big red book”.

  4. Another one who is new to the EV and thoroughly enjoyed unpicking all the subtleties.
    Thanks Eclogue.

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