The scullery. Enter Charmaine, carrying a mop.

Oh, woe is me, boys and girls! So much to do! Cleaning, sweeping, polishing, ironing, mending, scrubbing … I’ll tell you what: when I applied to be Mr Batarde’s maid of all work, I didn’t think it was meant literally. But here I am, all alone, with just a mangy old cat for company on New Year’s Eve. And I so wanted to go the ball, but I’ve nothing to wear – look at me: a thing of rags and tatters! Alas!

All right then, it’s not really like that, (although the cat is a bit moth eaten). Messrs B and O are off partying somewhere or other leaving me with the run of the place. Feet up, box of truffles within easy reach: one contented Charmaine. I spent the blog fee on a great big tandoori chicken pizza with extra cheese, and a boxed set of Werner Herzog films. Balls are over-rated if you ask me, so any fairy godmothers can just push off elsewhere: I’m stopping in with Klaus Kinski.

Suppose I’d better get this crossword thing out of the way, though. Quite a gentle end to the year, and not the stinker Mr B led me to expect. Oodles of anagrams today, including a couple of very apt ones: 2d and 24ac.  Be honest: how many of you got 15d wrong, eh?  7d was clever too, but my Awesome Clue of the Day is 1ac:

“Devices to produce races at the speed of sound (12)”

The Fifteensquared blog from January 2011 provides all the answers, and there’s a little discussion towards the end of the comments about the original team of Independent setters which will interest old timers – way before my time, obviously.

All that remains before Aguirre, the Wrath of God is to wish everybody a very Happy New Year.  🙂


i Cryptic Crossword 1525 Dac

December 30, 2015

Hallo again. I can’t get quite so enthusiastic about todays offering as they did on the other side but that’s probably because I don’t like football and don’t speak French, The cats tongue, really. 2dn was a write in for me but then I am old enough to remember the black and white television show and I really don’t think a Cockney would say playing like that.

Apart from those quibbles I though the rest was pretty good stuff especially liked

18ac   Ruse to save two pennies and spend one?  (6)

Back to January 5th 2011  here



i Cryptic Crossword 1524 Math

December 29, 2015

A puzzle with a theme that I totally missed, a few tricky bits here and there. Peter Pan, apparently, and look, there’s his name hidden in 1 and 6ac. Doh. Enjoyable, anyway, despite the ongoing demands of the festive season meaning I was a little short of time.

COD? 27ac – ‘Elected, Hillary’s first meeting with Gore and Milliband did what Bill didn’t (7)’.

Back to March 2011…

i Cryptic Crossword 1523 Eimi

December 28, 2015

Did everyone have a merry Christmas? I hope that you’re warm and dry, at least. An interesting selection of presents this year, including a book on 17th century French philosophy from Onions. A bit heavy, but a thoughtful gift nonetheless. Reckoned I was making some headway with that “I am therefore I think” business, but Onions said that I’m putting Descartes before the horse. Early days.

I have been invited to a New Year’s Eve shindig in the back of beyond, but once again Charmaine has kindly offered to step into the breach and supply the last blog of the year on Thursday in return for a modest pecuniary inducement.

I doubt she’ll have as easy a time of it as I did today. All those linked clues looked daunting, but as it turned out the puzzle was done and dusted in near record time with just the one read-through of the clues. A seasonal theme prevails and there was a good deal to enjoy, so congratulations to Eimi for supplying such a clever puzzle without breaking the tradition of taking it easy on the punters on a Monday. Since the crossword was so anagram heavy, I’m just going to pick the longest one as Clue of the Day:

14/18A/29/5A “He has Battle of Britain confused with VE Day story (3,4,3,3,5,7)

The puzzle first appeared on New Year’s Eve 2010 and went down well with the good folks of Fifteensquared.

Saturday 19th December 2015

Having been at a reunion all day last Saturday I completely failed to obtain a newspaper until, at 3am in the Exeter service station, I illegally excised the corner of page 52 from a returns bundle under the very noses of what looked like a police convention.  Is that where our taxes go, I wonder?

Anyhow this was pretty much the enjoyable, standard fare we’ve come to expect from Phi on a Saturday – a bit of astronomy and classical music, a neologism or two and some nice clues, of course. My last one in was 16d ‘kettling’, which was quite topical back in 2011 but has subsequently been abandoned as a police practice, what with all the service station crime to monitor, presumably.

COD: 4d  A new sport is ignored by a broadcaster (7)

For the Fifteensquared blog with all the answers click here.

An unexpected return of Don Quixote for a Christmas themed puzzle, and if your idea of a perfect crossword is lots of easy clues, half the answers being anagrams and a smattering of obscurities (seneschal, elemi, sans doute, exegesis, oread), then this will have been right up your street.  As for me, well I might just pop out for the Grauniad now and see if they’ve got a Christmas special to get my teeth into!

COD   10a    Number classically involved in excesses (6)

Back to 2010 for the original blog with all the answers here.

And a very happy Christmas to all who blog, comment or simply read on idothei. 🙂


i Cryptic Crossword 1520 Dac

December 23, 2015

A fairly easy going puzzle from Dac to ease us towards the trials and tribulations of the big day. Some problems with 1ac, 24ac and 21d, but the rest went in quite rapidly.

COD? 25ac – ‘Wife rings? Oh dear! (6)’.

Here’s the original blog:

A crossword with a Beatles theme. Fab, not for me though. Not keen on themes, but being of a certain age I do know something of the Beatles which certainly helped here. I did (strangely for me) actually spot the theme quite early. I don’t think I would have got 12ac without knowing the theme, this to me is a dreadfully convoluted clue with an incorrect answer. I wouldn’t be pleased to order a sandwich and get a baguette. Apart from that little whinge and not having heard of a band called The La’s  it all proved tough but solvable.

COD a couple to choose from but I think

18d Classical character firstly enters using ambient stage-effect (director shifts) (8)

Back to May 2011 where I seem to agree with the lonely voice @12

Christmas time again, by golly, and the idothei schedule is a little different over the next fortnight. Of course I expected to get a Quixote today, his departure from the Monday slot having been prematurely announced a couple of times now, but no – he really has passed on the baton, or so it seems. Is that a respectful nod at bottom right, though?

Today’s puzzle was set by Crosophile, a compiler about whom I’ve been a little lukewarm: happily this time I have no reservations and give this one an unequivocal thumbs up. Plenty of sly, witty clues to keep us amused: 11, 17, 21 and 19d all raised smiles for instance, and the overall quality was pleasing. There was some discussion on the other blog about 20, a tricky little number which was my last one in. Clue of the day was also really rather devious (and includes a variant spelling which I’m perfectly happy to overlook under the circumstances):

8d: “Dry and more solid around waterfall? (9)”

The puzzle came from the Independent on Sunday in May 2011, and it’s worth a look at the comments after the Fifteensquared entry for an engagingly self-deprecating note on 23 from Crosophile himself.

Saturday 12th December 2015

Here are all the answers from 2011:

 Fond of neologisms,  Phi is, and in 2011 ‘Crowdsourcing’ threw a few of the commenters at Fifteensquared, whilst ‘Webisode’ caused me a bit of a problem in 2015, despite the recent discussion on these pages about the meaning of  ‘bis’.    In truth,  I was doing this on the sofa whilst my beloved family were subjecting me to the final of X Factor (it’s a television programme) which slowed me up considerably.  What a chap needs to complete a crossword with both speed and enjoyment,  is to enter into a kind of Sherlockian mind palace, unfortunately denied me by the efforts of Louisa Johnson and a couple of jolly fellows called,  if memory serves, Reggie & Bollie.

Back to things that matter,  here’s my COD:     1d Freudian idea – pseudo one apparently (7,7)