QC League Table of difficulty by Setter...

Back by popular demand  (i.e. one person asked for it yesterday) I bring you an update of my analysis of QC difficulty levels by Setter. It's based entirely on my own solving times and whether or not I achieved my target 10 minutes on any particular day. It's intended as a bit of fun and I am not suggesting for a moment that it would stand up to an objective statistical examination other than of my own failure rate, but when I published previously (in July 2016 and September 2017) it proved to be of some interest.

Setters are once again rated 1 - 10 (easiest to hardest) despite a protest last time that it would make more sense the other way round. I have excluded a handful of setters who gave us fewer than 4 puzzles in the current period (1 September 2017 to 30 June 2019).

Positional indicator protocol

posted by Nila Palin 6/1/2018
Further to a brief discussion at Times for the Times, I'm hoping that someone in the know will be able to clarify whether the old Times tradition of A on B = BA in an across clue is still in use. It's a minor point, but probably one of interest to cryptic crossword enthusiasts.
The convention seems to apply uniquely to the Times (as cited in former Times crossword editor Brian Greer's book 'How To Do The Times Crossword' [2001], but I see the setter David McLean (aka Hoskins) also advocates it on his website.
The trigger for the discussion is the clue "Cappuccino maker is putting chocolate on it — cheers!" for BARISTA in yesterday's paper.
I'd be interested to know whether the other traditions peculiar to The Times that Mr Greer mentions (pp 50-51) still apply too.
____________________________________________
Richard Rogan 5 hours ago
Yes the convention still applies
RR Crossword editor
__________________________________________________________
jackkt 4 hours ago
@Richard Rogan Thanks for responding, Richard, but if the rule still applies then how do you account for the clue quoted by Nila (17ac in #26954)? Is it an error that slipped through the net , or have we misunderstood the parsing?
Richard Rogan 3 hours ago
Having now double checked the clue you refer to (for BARISTA) it does indeed infringe the rule. Not sure I'd call it an "error" as such as it is only "wrong" by our convention, but I would normally change the wording to reflect the normal way we do things!

Further discussion on the ON ‘rule’  re this clue in ST 4799 by Jeff Pearce blogged 27/5/2018:
14ac: Trainee carer working on bottom (10) TENDERFOOT
jackkt
May. 27th, 2018 01:10 am
…Also puzzled by TENDERFOOT. I suppose 'carer working' could cover TENDER, leaving 'bottom' for FOOT, but that breaks the rule about 'on' in an Across clue that A on B = BA.
kevingregg
May. 27th, 2018 04:06 am
…I certainly wasn't slowed down by TENDERFOOT, as I never bothered to parse it. (Does the 'ON' rule obtain in the Sunday puzzles too
jackkt
May. 27th, 2018 06:19 am
ON 'rule'
Having checked back on previous discussions about this it was confirmed in Februrary by Richard Rogan (Crossword Editor, The Times) that the convention still exists for the daily puzzles but if there's a clue where it's not applied it's not "an 'error' as such as it is only 'wrong' by our convention".
Back in 2008 Peter B (now Crossword Editor, The Sunday Times, but then in charge of TftT which was his baby) stated that he was unaware of such a convention but it was then pointed out that the 'rule' was in the published guide to the Times Clue Setting competition and other sources - a book by Brian Greer, for example. Reverting again to the discussions in February, an anonymous contributor stated "I know Peter Biddlecombe allows it either way in Sunday Times puzzles".
Clearly it's a convention that can't be relied on even where it is agreed that it's supposed to be in force, which takes us back to 14ac where 'carer working' = TENDER now seems to be the most likely parsing, but it's awkward to say the least and might suggest that the clue should have been rethought and amended.
kevingregg
May. 27th, 2018 06:51 am
Re: ON 'rule'
Thanks for this, Jack. I suppose that where a carer is not necessarily doing it for a job, a tender more likely is, hence 'carer working'. Or it may just be filler to give grammatical structure to the clue. I'd be curious to hear from Peter on this. In any case, I'm glad that I didn't stop to notice the oddity of the phrasing here.
peterbiddlecombe
May. 27th, 2018 12:51 pm
Re: ON 'rule'
The rule, if there is one, that A on B has to mean B,A is not one I ever noticed as a Times solver, until people told me about it. In an across clue, "on" has to mean "next to" as in Southend-on-Sea. But in a down answer divided into two parts, the first part is "on" the second in the much more obvious way that the screen I'm watching as I type this is on my desk.
I'm pleased to see that my copy of the guide for Times setters (not supplied in that expectation that I would enforce all the rules therein) confirms that the "B,A" idea only applies to across clues, and in down clues, "A on B" can only mean "A,B". It also says "This is a Times convention". (The) Times conventions do not apply in current Sunday Times crosswords, and as far as I know, any past ones. And although I guess I have to take a bit of blame as I have in the past stated what various Times rules are (or were), I very strongly believe that solvers should not learn them all and expect them to be followed all the time. One reason is that an editor could forget to apply their own rule. In one long-ago Times championship puzzle there were two pure hidden words, breaking the Times rule that there is no more than one. As far as I know, none of the contestants delayed entering the second of the two obviously correct answers in the belief that there couldn't possibly be another hidden word clue. Another reason is that rules like this may change, and if they are, there will not be an announcement in the paper to tell you. The biggest reason is that crossword solving should be an exercise in using your wits, not remembering arcane rules. As usual, the people who just buy the paper and happen to do the crossword, without discussing it on public forums, have said nothing about this clue in puzzle feedback.
"carer working" is for me quite simply a possible alternative to "carer" as the indication for "tender".
jackkt
May. 27th, 2018 01:48 pm
Re: ON 'rule'
Thanks for your input, Peter. It's vary rare that any of the 'rules' or 'conventions' make any difference to arriving at the correct answer, only to discussions about parsing which surely don't matter much, if at all, to the vast majority of solvers. It's mildly ironic that the forum you created is the principle source of such discussions, but I'm sure we are all forever grateful to you for creating it.
Tags: ,
Cat_1

Crossword clues that are fit for young and old by Rose Wild

Ian Baird from Framlingham, Suffolk, is worried that some seismic shift may be occurring in our cryptic crossword traditions. “Some years ago,” he writes, “I pointed out to you the difficulties young people would have solving The Times crosswords, owing to the fact that the setters were stuck in a time warp of about 70 years ago.” As evidence, Mr Baird referred to the setters’ convention of using slang from the 1940s, or earlier — like “SA” or “it” to mean sex appeal.

Now he’s got a different problem. “Old folks like me are used to the style, and so when I saw a clue about sexual appeal last week, I tried ‘SA’ and ‘it’. In fact the answer required us to know that to say someone is ‘fit’ means he or she has sex appeal, which as far as I am aware is a coinage from about three years ago.” What was more, he wrote, “In the same crossword, the word ‘moon’ was used to mean expose one’s bottom. If the crossword setters are going to use 21st-century slang, how are old buffers like me expected to finish them?”

Oh dear, what a worry. I asked Richard Rogan, The Times crossword editor, if the crosswords were having a midlife crisis. “It” and “SA”, he concedes, may well have outstayed their welcome. “The excuse offered is that they are so useful to the setter and in any case are part of ‘crossword convention’. Indeed the meaning of ‘moon’ (another useful one for us) goes back further than imagined, and ‘fit’ has meant more than just ‘highly trained’ for longer than one might think.”

To find out just how long, I went to Jonathon Green, whose majestic three-volume Green’s Dictionary of Slang must surely have the answer among its 100,000 or so entries. Under “fit” for good-looking, Green gives recent citations including Victor Headley’s 1992 novel, Yardie — “Dat girl yah fit, you know” — along with an example from San Francisco University High School from 2005. Further back, though, is a citation from 1884, in a novel by Henry Hawley Smart, From Post to Finish, A Racing Romance.

Smart was a military sort who, having served in the Crimean War and during the Indian Mutiny, lost all his money on the horses and made a second career writing “popular” fiction, largely drawing on his knowledge of racing, hunting and the Army. The particular citation for “fit” — “Blame me, I do know whether they’re turned out all right when I see ’em, and mean my girl to look as fit as any of ’em” — sounds to me as if it could equally apply to a horse as a woman, but if Green says it’s a human filly I’ll believe him.

Either way, I think “fit” passes muster as both ancient and modern slang for crossword purposes. “The dictionaries are our guide,” Richard Rogan says. “When they decide that a term is either archaic, or to be dispensed with, then we would probably reflect that. Similarly once a newer meaning has made it into the latest edition, then it is probably a signal that we can adopt it. Having said that, both ‘bling’ and ‘selfie’ have made it into our crossword in recent times before their debut in the ‘paper’ dictionaries.”

PB on Times Crossword House style

This is a list of points about the Times puzzle that differ from at least some other cryptic xwds. (Posts with information like this that should be good advice for ever will be stored under the new "tips&tricks" tag.) Occasionally setters seem to take rules like this as a challenge and try to get rule-breaking clues accepted, and mistakes can be made, so you should ultimately rely on common sense and general principles of cryptic cluemanship, rather than strict application of this list of house rules derived partly from observation.

Some of these points are taken from a list on pp. 50-52 of Brian Greer's "How to solve the Times Crossword" - if setters know of changes to these since Brian's spell as editor (1995-2000), they are welcome to tell me by comment or e-mail. I'll update this posting with any points that I realise I've omitted as a result of future discussions.

Rules about clues

Hidden words
No more than one 'pure' hidden word clue per puzzle. (Reversed hidden words aren't 'pure' in this context.) (Limits like this are for 15x15 puzzles - if there are limits for jumbos, I don't know what the numbers are.)

Homophones
The exact rules are hard to determine by observation, but it seems to be that if the pronunciations in the reference dictionaries match, that's good enough. This allows post-vocalic R's to be ignored, as in RP - in an example from 17/1/2008, gutta-percha = "gutter percher".

Anagrams
No more than 5 pure anagrams.

One-way link words
"Link words" are ones between def. and wordplay - e.g. "in" or "as". These two can be used regardless of the order of def. and wordplay. The following two must be used with one order only:
{wordplay} for {def}
{def} from {wordplay}

Capital letters
Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them. However, 'deceptive capitalisation' is permitted. In other words, a word with a capital letter in the clue doesn't necessarily have a wordplay meaning requiring a capital letter - so Joanna Strong's instrument (10) could be PIANO,FORTE. This example shows why I'm not a Times setter and probably never will be - Times setters avoid cheesy fictional names which are usually a dead giveaway, and even more so, clashes of word-meanings between the def. and wordplay.

One
"one" in a clue can indicate I in an answer, but not A.

Definition by example
To use "bay" in a clue to mean "horse" in an answer used to require a word like "perhaps" to indicate definition by example. Under Richard Browne, this is not always required.

Infinitives
'to' in the infinitive in a clue can be ignored in the answer - e.g. It's trendy to like old colour for IN,DIG,O

Numbers in digits
In clues, these point to answers to other clues. But only in print - for reasons I don't understand, the web-site version of the puzzle often uses (e.g.) "three" for "3".

Reference dictionaries
The vast majority of answers other than proper nouns are in Collins English Dictionary and/or the Concise Oxford. My estimate is that 'vast majority' here means at least 95%. Occasionally, words or meanings outside these are used. A recent example is 'homer' = biased referee/umpire. The weird stuff found in Chambers - taghairm, kilfud-yoking, wagger-pagger-bagger, etc. etc. ad infinitum - is never used. (Exception: the 'Club Monthly Special' on the Times Crossword Club site). [Note, Sept. 2008: "99.5%" above replaced by "95" after a few recent words that seem to be in Chambers only.]

Abbreviations
The Times puzzle does not let setters use all the abbreviations in any dictionary. For one-letter abbrev's in particular, there is believed to be a fairly short list of acceptable ones.


Rules about answers

Living people
Names of individual living people are not used as answers (or clue content), unless they mean something else, like 'John Dory'. But names of (well-known) pop groups (e.g. ABBA in the 4/1/2008 puzzle) are apparently allowed. Sole exception: the reigning monarch can be referred to, usually as a way of indicating ER in the answer.

Drawing room conversation
Things like serious illnesses or derogatory terms are not used as answers. All answers and clue content used to be suitable for "polite drawing room conversation" but some risqué references are permitted now that would not have been allowed in the past. (No. 23652 has an example, for those with access to archived puzzles).

Brand names
As far as I know these are not allowed.

Endings and beginnings
Few -S plurals (limit of three?), minimal repetition of common prefixes and suffixes - you're unlikely to get two UN- words in the same puzzle for instance. This includes derived word-forms like -ING and -LY.

Rules about grids

Setters choose grids from a set managed by the xwd editor. Since about 1965, all grids in this set have followed three significant rules:

  • No more than half the letters in any answer are unchecked


  • There are never more than two unchecked letters in succession in any answer


  • Double unches are never the first or last two letters of an answer



Added based on comments on 23691: no two plural nouns or third person singular verb forms should intersect at their final S - e.g. CROSSWORDS and SOLVES. Setters are also advised to avoid filling the east vertical or south horizontal with "easy" letters as in e.g. SETTERS.

Themes and Ninas


Themes are rare in Times puzzles but are seen occasionally - maybe twice a year in the 15x15 cryptic. "Ninas" (messages in the grid, or subtle themes that don't have to be spotted to help solve the puzzle) appear more often - maybe twice a month

PB on single letter abbreviations (at 25 October 2015)

Abbrevs
The Mephisto rule isn't "anything goes", but "anything in Chambers goes" - as for the rest of the puzzle. All cryptic crosswords use single-letter and other abbreviations, but their rules about what's allowed vary. The Times crossword has had a fairly short list for one-letter ones (and AFAIK still does), which is mostly the ones in both Collins and the Concise Oxford. I'm currently prepared to use anything from Collins or the Oxford Dictionary of English (preferably not obscure ones from both in the same puzzle), plus a few from real life - N for no and Y for yes, and the card suit ones - I was surprised to notice that H=Hearts needs Chambers, and with a bridge column on the same page it seems daft to disallow them.

Times Crossword House Style


  • Jan. 4th, 2008 at 4:31 PM

This is a list of points about the Times puzzle that differ from at least some other cryptic xwds. (Posts with information like this that should be good advice for ever will be stored under the new "tips&tricks" tag.) Occasionally setters seem to take rules like this as a challenge and try to get rule-breaking clues accepted, and mistakes can be made, so you should ultimately rely on common sense and general principles of cryptic cluemanship, rather than strict application of this list of house rules derived partly from observation.

Some of these points are taken from a list on pp. 50-52 of Brian Greer's "How to solve the Times Crossword" - if setters know of changes to these since Brian's spell as editor (1995-2000), they are welcome to tell me by comment or e-mail. I'll update this posting with any points that I realise I've omitted as a result of future discussions.

Rules about clues

Hidden words
No more than one 'pure' hidden word clue per puzzle. (Reversed hidden words aren't 'pure' in this context.) (Limits like this are for 15x15 puzzles - if there are limits for jumbos, I don't know what the numbers are.)

Homophones
The exact rules are hard to determine by observation, but it seems to be that if the pronunciations in the reference dictionaries match, that's good enough. This allows post-vocalic R's to be ignored, as in RP - in an example from 17/1/2008, gutta-percha = "gutter percher".

Anagrams
No more than 5 pure anagrams.

One-way link words
"Link words" are ones between def. and wordplay - e.g. "in" or "as". These two can be used regardless of the order of def. and wordplay. The following two must be used with one order only:
{wordplay} for {def}
{def} from {wordplay}

Capital letters
Words that require capital letters in the cryptic reading must have them. However, 'deceptive capitalisation' is permitted. In other words, a word with a capital letter in the clue doesn't necessarily have a wordplay meaning requiring a capital letter - so Joanna Strong's instrument (10) could be PIANO,FORTE. This example shows why I'm not a Times setter and probably never will be - Times setters avoid cheesy fictional names which are usually a dead giveaway, and even more so, clashes of word-meanings between the def. and wordplay.

One
"one" in a clue can indicate I in an answer, but not A.

Definition by example
To use "bay" in a clue to mean "horse" in an answer used to require a word like "perhaps" to indicate definition by example. Under Richard Browne, this is not always required.

Infinitives
'to' in the infinitive in a clue can be ignored in the answer - e.g. It's trendy to like old colour for IN,DIG,O

Numbers in digits
In clues, these point to answers to other clues. But only in print - for reasons I don't understand, the web-site version of the puzzle often uses (e.g.) "three" for "3".

Reference dictionaries
The vast majority of answers other than proper nouns are in Collins English Dictionary and/or the Concise Oxford. My estimate is that 'vast majority' here means at least 95%. Occasionally, words or meanings outside these are used. A recent example is 'homer' = biased referee/umpire. The weird stuff found in Chambers - taghairm, kilfud-yoking, wagger-pagger-bagger, etc. etc. ad infinitum - is never used. (Exception: the 'Club Monthly Special' on the Times Crossword Club site). [Note, Sept. 2008: "99.5%" above replaced by "95" after a few recent words that seem to be in Chambers only.]

Abbreviations
The Times puzzle does not let setters use all the abbreviations in any dictionary. For one-letter abbrev's in particular, there is believed to be a fairly short list of acceptable ones.


Rules about answers

Living people
Names of individual living people are not used as answers (or clue content), unless they mean something else, like 'John Dory'. But names of (well-known) pop groups (e.g. ABBA in the 4/1/2008 puzzle) are apparently allowed. Sole exception: the reigning monarch can be referred to, usually as a way of indicating ER in the answer.

Drawing room conversation
Things like serious illnesses or derogatory terms are not used as answers. All answers and clue content used to be suitable for "polite drawing room conversation" but some risqué references are permitted now that would not have been allowed in the past. (No. 23652 has an example, for those with access to archived puzzles).

Brand names
As far as I know these are not allowed.

Endings and beginnings
Few -S plurals (limit of three?), minimal repetition of common prefixes and suffixes - you're unlikely to get two UN- words in the same puzzle for instance. This includes derived word-forms like -ING and -LY.

Rules about grids

Setters choose grids from a set managed by the xwd editor. Since about 1965, all grids in this set have followed three significant rules:

  • No more than half the letters in any answer are unchecked

  • There are never more than two unchecked letters in succession in any answer

  • Double unches are never the first or last two letters of an answer



Added based on comments on 23691: no two plural nouns or third person singular verb forms should intersect at their final S - e.g. CROSSWORDS and SOLVES. Setters are also advised to avoid filling the east vertical or south horizontal with "easy" letters as in e.g. SETTERS.

Themes and Ninas


Themes are rare in Times puzzles but are seen occasionally - maybe twice a year in the 15x15 cryptic. "Ninas" (messages in the grid, or subtle themes that don't have to be spotted to help solve the puzzle) appear more often - maybe twice a month.
Cat_1

Times Xword Editor on the launch of the new Quick Cryptic

Richard Rogan
Last updated at 11:17AM, March 10 2014

The Quick Cryptic aims to introduce a new audience to cryptic crosswords and offer a step to solving the main puzzle

Today marks the latest in a series of landmarks in the history of The Times crossword. It all started on February 1, 1930, with Times Cryptic Crossword Number One. For 40 years this was the only cryptic puzzle appearing in the paper. Then, on December 19 1970, a new and larger cousin to the main daily cryptic was born: a square puzzle aptly named the Jumbo.

The Jumbo quickly became popular with solvers, appearing on Bank Holidays. On September 6, 1997, while the attention of the country was focused on the funeral of the Princess of Wales, the Jumbo went weekly, and has appeared on Saturdays and most Bank Holidays ever since. The Times2 crossword, a non-cryptic “concise”, first appeared in 1993 and is still going strong.

What we are introducing today, however, is effectively the opposite of the Jumbo: the Times Quick Cryptic will be a downsized version of our famous daily cryptic (which remains unchanged).

Appearing Monday to Friday on the puzzles pages of Times2, it will be reduced in size and hopefully in difficulty too, the intention being to introduce new people to cryptic crosswords, and to encourage those solvers who’d like to have a go at the main puzzle but feel daunted by it, or who can perhaps only solve a handful of clues.

One other difference you will notice is that, while the other Times crosswords are, and will continue to be, anonymous, the Quick Cryptic will be only semi-anonymous. A pseudonym will appear above the puzzle, masking in most cases the identity of a regular Times crossword compiler.

Will people come to regard Dazzler as dazzlingly witty? Joker as having a sense of humour? Grumpy not? Is Orpheus musical? Will Teazel tease?

As with any new venture, it will be difficult to please everyone. Inevitably some may find it too Quick, but my main concern is that some will still find it too Cryptic: for Quick and Cryptic are strange bedfellows. Any cryptic crossword must necessarily carry an element of mystique and obscurity about it: the word after all comes from the Greek for hidden.

However, I bear good tidings for anyone who feels that a cryptic crossword must be impossibly difficult: namely that nearly all cryptic clues are in many ways fairer than simple Times2 crossword-style clues: they actually give you two chances to arrive at the answer.

Consider the clue: Feline animal (4). Without checking letters we don’t know if the answer is going to be “Lion”, “Puma”, “Lynx”.

However, consider the following three clues: Feline animal’s connections, we hear (4); Feline animal seen in Mali once (4); Feline animal chewed up a mat initially (4).

They are all cryptic but you should hopefully, even if you have never solved a cryptic crossword before, now be able to hazard a reasonable guess in each case as to which answer goes with which clue.

The first clue “we hear” suggests that the answer sounds like a word for connections (or “links”), the second actually contains the answer (“seen in”) hidden somewhere along its length, and in the third “chewed” suggests an anagram of “up”, “a” and the first letter of “mat”.

Or, imagine that you have rattled through a puzzle such as the Times2 and are faced with the following, final clue: Prickly shrub (4). And the letters _A_K. You rack your brains for ages trying to think of the answer.

An ordinary dictionary is little help, so you give up in frustration. However, here is a cryptic clue for the same word: “Prickly shrub from bank, wild (4). Knowing that cryptic crosswords feature anagrams often, and given the A and the K and the fact that there’s a word of four letters containing A and K in the clue, could the answer possibly be an anagram of BANK?

If so, the answer must be NABK. If this obscurity still does not ring a bell you can look in Chambers Dictionary and there it is. An answer you might never have arrived at from the first quick clue.

Of course, I would rarely, if ever, allow a word such as NABK to appear even in the main Times Crossword. And I cannot promise that the clues in the new crossword will all be as comparatively straightforward as the clues for LYNX , LION and PUMA above, but the principle is the same. A cryptic puzzle will usually give you two goes at arriving at an answer.

I will divulge another little secret to those who feel daunted by the main Times Crossword: those puzzles do vary in difficulty. Yes, there are days when even the experts struggle to finish it before they’ve got off the train — on the journey home — but there are also days where the puzzle may be scarcely harder than the Quick Cryptic.

To echo a point I made earlier: when you are struggling with today’s puzzle don’t forget that it is supposed to be Cryptic. And to those of you who may polish it off in a couple of minutes and say, “That was a bit disappointing: what do I do now?” I will point out the word Quick.

Because, like the cryptic clue itself, we are offering two routes to the goal of grid completion: a path which is shorter than that offered by the Times Crossword, but also one with some more interesting obstacles along the way than the much-loved T2 Crossword.

Either way, I hope it will bring some measure of satisfaction to all.


Ten tips for solving a cryptic crossword, by Paul Dunn


1. How clues work
Most consist of two parts, a definition and wordplay, so in “Such a holy person in church room (6)” the definition is “church room”; “holy person” equals Saint — ST — and “Such a” is a synonym for “very”: so insert the letters ST in VERY and you get VESTRY.


2. Playful clues?
Some clues are more jokey, such as this famous example: “HIJKLMNO? (5)”. The answer is “water” (ie H to O, or H TWO O). These are often indicated by a question mark.


3. Anagrams
Words such as “moved”, “scrambled” “let loose”, etc, mean that the letters of other words must be moved around to get the answer. For example, this elegant clue: “Mixed-up Presbyterian’s a singer (7,6)”. Mix up the letters of presbyterians and you get “Britney Spears”.


4. Starter’s order
Look out for phrases such as “initially” or “for starters”, which show that the first letters of the clue words spell the answer, eg, “Initially indolent dosser likes endless rest (5)”, which gives IDLER.


5. In hiding
Some answers lurk inside the clue. So “Some dull academic a bit of a brain (6)” conceals MEDULLA — but beware: hidden words can run backwards (look out for “climbing” or “in reverse”). Sometimes you must look at alternate letters (indicated, perhaps, by “odds” “evens” or “in turn”).


6. Learn the language
Certain words are used to indicate letters in an answer. Some are obvious, such as S for small (check the label in your pullover). Others are less so. “Books” often mean OT or NT (for Old or New Testament), “men” can mean OR (for “other ranks”, men as opposed to officers) king can be R or K and knight K or N (from the honours list or chess notation).


7. Puns
Words such as “broadcast” or “audience” can indicate a pun. So “Audience’s wrecked corner (8)”, would be RECTANGLE.


8. Brush up your Shakespeare . . .
. . . and your classical mythology, books of the Bible, kings and queens, etc. Keep abreast of slang, ancient and modern: “rhino”, “tin”, “bread” and “brass” all mean money; “jolly” is slang for Royal Marine or the letters RM; and “drug” can mean the letter E (for Ecstasy).


9. Breaking up isn’t hard
Think about how words are made up: often they break down into separate unrelated words, thus rearrange consists of “rear” and “range”.


10. Stuck?
Put the puzzle aside for a while; often the solution is blindingly obvious when you return to it.

Three Ha'pence a Foot by Marriott Edgar

I'll tell you an old-fashioned story
That Grandfather used to relate,
Of a joiner and building contractor;
'Is name, it were Sam Oglethwaite.

In a shop on the banks of the Irwell,
Old Sam used to follow 'is trade,
In a place you'll have 'eard of, called Bury;
You know, where black puddings is made.

One day, Sam were filling a knot 'ole
Wi' putty, when in thro' the door
Came an old feller fair wreathed wi' whiskers;
T'ould chap said 'Good morning, I'm Noah.'

Sam asked Noah what was 'is business,
And t'ould chap went on to remark,
That not liking the look of the weather,
'E were thinking of building an Ark.

'E'd gotten the wood for the bulwarks,
And all t'other shipbuilding junk,
And wanted some nice Bird's Eye Maple
To panel the side of 'is bunk.

Now Maple were Sam's Monopoly;
That means it were all 'is to cut,
And nobody else 'adn't got none;
So 'e asked Noah three ha'pence a foot.

'A ha'penny too much,' replied Noah
'A Penny a foot's more the mark;
A penny a foot, and when t'rain comes,
I'll give you a ride in me Ark.'

But neither would budge in the bargain;
The whole daft thing were kind of a jam,
So Sam put 'is tongue out at Noah,
And Noah made Long Bacon* at Sam

In wrath and ill-feeling they parted,
Not knowing when they'd meet again,
And Sam had forgot all about it,
'Til one day it started to rain.

It rained and it rained for a fortni't,
And flooded the 'ole countryside.
It rained and it kept' on raining,
'Til the Irwell were fifty mile wide.

The 'ouses were soon under water,
And folks to the roof 'ad to climb.
They said 'twas the rottenest summer
That Bury 'ad 'ad for some time.

The rain showed no sign of abating,
And water rose hour by hour,
'Til the only dry land were at Blackpool,
And that were on top of the Tower.

So Sam started swimming to Blackpool;
It took 'im best part of a week.
'Is clothes were wet through when 'e got there,
And 'is boots were beginning to leak.

'E stood to 'is watch-chain in water,
On Tower top, just before dark,
When who should come sailing towards 'im
But old Noah, steering 'is Ark.

They stared at each other in silence,
'Til Ark were alongside, all but,
Then Noah said: 'What price yer Maple?'
Sam answered 'Three ha'pence a foot.'

Noah said 'Nay; I'll make thee an offer,
The same as I did t'other day.
A penny a foot and a free ride.
Now, come on, lad, what does tha say?'

'Three ha'pence a foot,' came the answer.
So Noah 'is sail 'ad to hoist,
And sailed off again in a dudgeon,
While Sam stood determined, but moist.

Noah cruised around, flying 'is pigeons,
'Til fortieth day of the wet,
And on 'is way back, passing Blackpool,
'E saw old Sam standing there yet.

'Is chin just stuck out of the water;
A comical figure 'e cut,
Noah said: 'Now what's the price of yer Maple?'
Sam answered: 'Three ha'pence a foot.'

Said Noah: 'Ye'd best take my offer;
It's last time I'll be hereabout;
And if water comes half an inch higher,
I'll happen get Maple for nowt.'

'Three ha'pence a foot it'll cost yer,
And as fer me,' Sam said, 'don't fret.
The sky's took a turn since this morning;
I think it'll brighten up yet.'

The Lion and Albert by Marriott Edgar

There's a famous seaside place called Blackpool,
That's noted for fresh air and fun,
And Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom
Went there with young Albert, their son.

A grand little lad was young Albert,
All dressed in his best; quite a swell
With a stick with an 'orse's 'ead 'andle,
The finest that Woolworth's could sell.

They didn't think much of the Ocean:
The waves, they were fiddlin' and small,
There was no wrecks and nobody drownded,
Fact, nothing to laugh at at all.

So, seeking for further amusement,
They paid and went into the Zoo,
Where they'd Lions and Tigers and Camels,
And old ale and sandwiches too.

There were one great big Lion called Wallace;
His nose were all covered with scars -
He lay in a somnolent posture,
With the side of his face on the bars.

Now Albert had heard about Lions,
How they was ferocious and wild -
To see Wallace lying so peaceful,
Well, it didn't seem right to the child.

So straightway the brave little feller,
Not showing a morsel of fear,
Took his stick with its 'orse's 'ead 'andle
And pushed it in Wallace's ear.

You could see that the Lion didn't like it,
For giving a kind of a roll,
He pulled Albert inside the cage with 'im,
And swallowed the little lad 'ole.

Then Pa, who had seen the occurrence,
And didn't know what to do next,
Said 'Mother! Yon Lion's 'et Albert',
And Mother said 'Well, I am vexed!'

Then Mr and Mrs Ramsbottom -
Quite rightly, when all's said and done -
Complained to the Animal Keeper,
That the Lion had eaten their son.

The keeper was quite nice about it;
He said 'What a nasty mishap.
Are you sure that it's your boy he's eaten?'
Pa said "Am I sure? There's his cap!'

The manager had to be sent for.
He came and he said 'What's to do?'
Pa said 'Yon Lion's 'et Albert,
'And 'im in his Sunday clothes, too.'

Then Mother said, 'Right's right, young feller;
I think it's a shame and a sin,
For a lion to go and eat Albert,
And after we've paid to come in.'

The manager wanted no trouble,
He took out his purse right away,
Saying 'How much to settle the matter?'
And Pa said "What do you usually pay?'

But Mother had turned a bit awkward
When she thought where her Albert had gone.
She said 'No! someone's got to be summonsed' -
So that was decided upon.

Then off they went to the P'lice Station,
In front of the Magistrate chap;
They told 'im what happened to Albert,
And proved it by showing his cap.

The Magistrate gave his opinion
That no one was really to blame
And he said that he hoped the Ramsbottoms
Would have further sons to their name.

At that Mother got proper blazing,
'And thank you, sir, kindly,' said she.
'What waste all our lives raising children
To feed ruddy Lions? Not me!'

LET HIM GO LET HIM TARRY

LET HIM GO, LET HIM TARRY
(Traditional Irish)
Gracie Fields - 1942


CHORUS:
Let him go, let him tarry, let him sink or let him swim
He doesn't care for me and I don't care for him
He can go and get another that I hope he will enjoy
For I'm going to marry a far nicer boy

Fare well to cold winter, summers come at last.
Nothing have I gained but my true love I have lost.
I'll sing and I'll be happy like the birds up in the trees.
Since he deceived me I care no more for he.

CHORUS

He wrote to me a letter saying he was very bad
I sent him back an answer saying I was awful glad
He wrote to me another saying he was well and strong
But I care no more about him than the ground he walks upon.

CHORUS

Some of his friends had a good kind wish for me,
Others of his friends, they could hang me from a tree
But soon I'll let them see my love, and soon I'll let them know
That I can get a new sweetheart on any ground I go.

CHORUS

He can go to his old mother now and set her mind at ease
For she's a mean old woman and very hard to please
It's slighting me and talking ill is what she's always done
Because I was courting her great big ugly son.

CHORUS x 2