NTSPP 716 – Big Dave's Crossword Blog
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S&B 2023: Living Nightmares by Elgar

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The puzzle is available by clicking on the above grid.


The instructions read "Of the silvered answers, 18, 20, 11 9, 3, 14, 37, 24 21 33ac, 40 27 in a 42 9 form a sequence of 29 23ac 19ac 13 that some people today will find difficult to credit"

This puzzle was set by Elgar to be solved by people attending the S&B gathering in York this weekend. I actually didn't think it was as tough as many of his S&B Special crosswords, but I don't suppose anyone will agree with me, even if they spotted the theme

Many thanks to Elgar for sharing the crossword with us - I hope your birthday was well and truly celebrated by all who attended the S&B


1a    Chapter done with pen in 3D (5)
CUBIC The abbreviation for Chapter and the letter used to indicate socially-acceptable (done) with a brand of ballpoint pen

4/23a    Scots go off British politicos (4,2,4)
GANG OF FOUR The Scottish word for go, OFF (from the clue) and belonging to us (British)

7a    See 19

11/26 Appropriately attired for angling, priest recast spinners in lake (5,7)
WATER SPIDERS An anagram (recast) of PRIEST inserted into appropriate attire for angling

12a    See 20a Down

13a    See 30a

14a    Awful Hilton Hotel covers close to prohibitive for one drinks shout – mine? (4,2,3,6)
HOLE IN THE GROUND An anagram (awful) of HILTON H (Hotel in the NATO Phonetic Alphabet) 'covers' the end of prohibitivE, the abbreviation meaning for example (for one) and a 'drinks shout'

17a    What a fool I am here – square engagement rings! (6)
DOHYOS Rings for sumo wrestling (engagements) – an informal expression meaning 'what a fool' often used by both Homer Simpson and crossword solvers, a greeting calling for attention (I'm here), and the abbreviation for Square

19/7a    Northern polisher's foolish risk carrying "Welcome" plate around old city walls (9,4)
YORKSHIRE GRIT An anagram (foolish) of RISK 'carrying'

23a    See 4a

24a    Old woman with personal problem stays by little room (7)
SHOEBOX The abbreviation for Old inserted into (stays) the female third person pronoun, followed by an abbreviated personal 'problem' and the letter used to indicate by in a multiplication sum

25a    Light blast from behind (4)
STAR A reversal (from behind) of a slang interjection expressing annoyance (blast)

28d    Fold melting cheese over tops of the potatoes (9)
SHEEPCOTE This fold is an enclosure for a particular animal. An anagram (melting) of CHEESE, the cricket abbreviation for Over and the 'tops' of The and Potatoes

30/13 Shooters turned up with dish from Japan (9)
CAMERAMEN Turned up or arrived with a Japanese dish of noodles and vegetables in stock

33d    Where Republican briefly appears moderate (6-2-3-4)
MIDDLE-OF-THE-ROAD The abbreviation for Republication appears in the centre of the last two words of the solution

38d    See 21d

39d    Come back to uncertainty over priest's address? (7)
REVISIT An informal and abbreviated way of asking whether this is the address of priest

40/16 Animal instincts initially ignored, old transporters admit live on air (5,4)
BROWN BEAR An old railway company (old transports), a verb meaning to admit, a synonym of live and AiR (from the clue) without (ignored) the initial letter of Instincts

41a    See 37d

42a    Blurred TV picture requiring urgent attention in Casualty? (6)
SEPTIC An anagram (blurred) of a television and an abbreviated picture

43a    They're found centrally in gaggle and skein (5)
GEESE The letters found in the middle of gaGGle and skEin


1d    Hit on head, wife's put in barn (7)
COWSHED Insert the abbreviation for Wife into a way of saying hit on head

2d    Something plant has to chew over, Volkswagen announced (5)
BETEL A homophone (announced) of a type of Volkswagen car

3d    Soap's endless golden passage (8)
CORRIDOR A truncated informal name for a TV soap and a synonym for golden/made of gold

4d    Hats off to spice-master after my Indian-style beef and lamb? (6)
GOSHTS An informal interjection of surprise (my) and the 'hats' of To and Spice combine to give a word used in Indian cookery for meat (beef and lamb)

5d    When hell freezes over, rector lifts bottle (5)
NERVE Move the abbreviation for Rector further up when hell freezes over

6d    Basket-maker and stocking merchant in Whitechapel market? (5)
OSIER Willow used for basket making or how a resident of Whitechapel might refer to a merchant selling stockings

8d    The setter is causing the bank concern, apparently as Coleridge did? (5)
RIMED How Elgar would say 'the setter is' inserted into the colour you wouldn't want your bank balance to be in as it would cause the bank concern

9d    See 23

10d    It's left to happen on jury (7)
BEQUEST A simple way of saying happy and a jury (thank you BRB for the latter definition)

15d    No duke of repute, I'm very slimy (3)
GOO Of repute without (no) the abbreviation for Duke

16d    See 40

18d    See 29

19d    Barmy four-eyed duo despatched together out of the ark (5)
YFERE An anagram (barmy) of FouR EYEd, without the DUO (despatched) produces an obsolete adverb meaning together

20/12 I'll need more covers for bedding? Then order __ ____ (4,7)
ROOM SERVICE A hotel service that could supply, amongst other things, extra bedding. An anagram of MORE COVERS into which is inserted I (from the clue)

21d/38a He and I kept apart when boarding rickety train abroad (2,3,3)
IN THE AIR HE and I (kept apart meaning not next to each other) inserted (when boarding) into an anagram (rickety) of TRAIN

22d    After escalating, sounds of wonderment go away! (4)
SHOO A reversal (after escalating) of some sounds of wonderment

23/9d    "Wanda's Home" singer pens not a word that I appreciate (4,4)
FISH TANK A slang term for an informer (singer) 'pens' an instruction to be silent (not a word) and an informal word of thanks

26d    See 11

27d    Launched a black material inside space receptacle (5,3)
PAPER BAG A reversal (launched) of A (from the clue), the abbreviation for Black, a corded cloth (material) all inserted into a space

29/18 Hard on the heels of ambassador brought in to deploy politicians (3,5)
THE HOUSE The abbreviation for Hard goes after an abbreviated ambassador and then the result is inserted into a way of saying to deploy

31d    Moderately slow with payment (7)
ANDANTE A synonym for with and an advance payment

32d    Stable thus accommodates pony (6)
STATIC A synonym for thus used to show that the original is faithfully reproduced into which is inserted (accommodates) some worthless nonsense (pony in Cockney Rhyming Slang)

33d    Beltane interrupted by King and Queen (4,1)
MARY I The first day of the fifth month of the year (The Feast of Beltane) 'interrupted by the Latin abbreviation for king

34d    Early, early reception for American bank (5)
LEVEE A comparatively early morning reception of visitors or a river embankment, especially on the Mississippi

35d    Start working as 30 13? (5)
ONSET Split 2,3 this would describe working as 30/13

36d    Muppeteer given a bracer! (5)
OZONE The puppeteer who worked on the Muppets Show with a single thing (a)

37d/41a See what's essential to ski on frightening expanse (4,4)
LAKE ERIE The answer you'd give if asked what the 'essential' letter of sKi was, between an abbreviation meaning 'see' and an adjective meaning strangely frightening

Mr CS quite often reminisces about his childhood and, in order to divert him,  I've taken to uttering a Michael Palin-like "you were lucky, all we had was ..." and so once I'd solved 14a,  24a and 33a, I was fairly certain what I'd find in the other silvered solutions.

If you don't remember Monty Python's Flying Circus, then the video will explain how the 'silvered' words form a sequence in The Four Yorkshiremen sketch (parodying nostalgic conversations about humble beginnings or difficult childhoods) that some people today will find difficult to credit "And you try and tell the young people of today that ... they won't believe you."

11 comments on “NTSPP 716
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  1. This puzzle was set by Elgar for people attending the York S&B to solve, possibly in collaboration with other attendees.

    The ‘Living Nightmares’ isn’t a reflection on the difficulty of the crossword but a reference to the theme!

    Give it a go, you might surprise yourself by how far you get

  2. Indeed, I have solved this with the help of others I really enjoyed the theme with no more than three candidates for THE LIST

  3. Well, OK, as advised by CS I’ve given it a go! I still have 4 left to complete the grid, including 2 ‘silvered answers’. Even though I have most of the ‘silvered answers’ I am, as yet, unable to make any sense of it – nor the link to the title! As always with an Elgar puzzle, I have learned some new words/meanings along the way (e.g. 19d and 34d), and I still have some bits of wordplay/parsings to qualify. I’ll give it another go tomorrow, but that’s enough wracking of brains for one day, and we need to get dinner out of the way before the rugby kicks off…!

  4. Well I didn’t surprise myself. As expected way above my pay grade. 20 mins for just 8 answers – towel well & truly thrown in.
    Sorry Elgar.

  5. Very much enjoyed solving this up in York … it took me rather longer to spot the theme (and needed Googling to get/check all the elements) but what a great PDM. Many thanks for the blog CS – I agree this turned out to be less tough than some other Elgar specials (but still tougher than pretty much anything else!) One q – in 17a I had the answer as DOHYOS, with the DOH being all of “what a fool I am” and YO = “here” as a call for attention … that spelling surprised me but is the one given in Chambers for sumo wrestling (with DOJO for karate/judo). Many thanks to Elgar and many happy returns – and thanks also for a super S&B weekend!

    1. 17a – I just looked for a way of justifying the only ‘engagement rings’ I knew but will note the sumo one in case it turns up again!

    2. It was a great weekend and a great puzzle fortunately, I used to be such a Pythonesque geek I could (almost) recite the relevant sketch from memory
      17a was one of my candidates for THE LIST, but as Fez said a quick check with Chambers was helpful, 19d was another where the wordplay arrived at the fodder but you would have to “out of the ark” if the answer didn’t need checking first
      I was fooled by an alternative spelling of the spicy beef/lamb dish in 4d too when a plural would have sufficed
      Add my thanks to JH and Mrs JH (JT) for organising a great weekend

  6. I used my extra hour this morning very productively and managed to complete the grid. The 37/41 combo was my last one in, but once I paid proper attention to the punctuation in the preamble it suddenly dawned on me what was going on! I particularly recalled the 24 21 33a which set me on the right path but had to look up the script to find 37 which then helped me over the finish line. CS has helped me with the bits of wordplay I couldn’t resolve, although I can’t see where the insertion of ‘old’ in 24 is indicated? In 34 I took the first ‘early’ to mean ‘historically’ or perhaps ‘archaic’. I would never have twigged the useage of ‘pony’ in 32d or ‘done’ in 1a without CS’s help!
    Thanks to Elgar for a very good and ultimately enjoyable head-scratcher. I never pick out individual favourite clues in an Elgar puzzle as I always think the whole is greater than the parts, and anyway my page is so full of notes and workings there is no space left for ticks! And a big thank you to CS for dotting the ‘i’s and crossing the ‘t’s for me.

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