In the sample clues below, the links take you to explainers from our beginners’ series. The setter’s name often links to an interview with him or her, in case you feel like getting to know these people better.
The news in clues
Hello again, and a reminder that we have signposts for those who prefer their crosswords to be timeless – or at least an escape from the story we’re calling “This”. Not that the smaller stories are something to which you’d choose to escape. Here’s Brendan:
If you missed it, Knut has a puzzle themed on the subject of the REGRADE, from which I’d choose this clue …
… for ALGORITHM as the star pupil – and the Guardian setter we interviewed last month, Vlad, reminds us that Gavin Williamson has been embarrassing for much longer than we may be able to remember.
1/14ac Poor Joe B getting totally disheartened? Admiration often expressed for his opponent (2,5,1,5,3)
[ wordplay: anagram (‘poor’) of JOE & B & start and end letters of (‘disheartened’) TOTALLY & ADMIRATION ]
[ anagram of JOEBTYADMIRATION ]
[ definition: extract from Trump speeches (‘often expressed for his opponent’) ]
… is for a phrase – I’M DOING A GREAT JOB – which Trump has uttered many times, but never yet more bathetically than when, three weeks after telling Bob Woodward: “That’s a very delicate one,” he told CPAC, as recorded at whitehouse.gov:
You had a lot of really nice people running our country over the years. Perhaps I’m not nice, but I’m doing a great job for you. (Applause.) True. Well, it’s true.
Here’s a clue from Crosophile in the Independent:
5ac Non-white group embracing, totally, golf and tennis perhaps (4,4)
[ wordplay: abbrev. for ‘black, Asian and minority ethnic’ (‘non-white group’) surrounding (‘embracing’) synonym for ‘totally’ & ‘golf’ in Nato alphabet ]
[ BAME surrounding ALL & G ]
[ definition: tennis perhaps ]
While en route to the answer, BALL GAME, did you say “BAME” in your head as four letters, or to rhyme with “dame”, as we do with the Nato that gave us the alphabet that gave us the golf that gives us the G? (BTW, BAME, as far as I know, was first used for crossword purposes by Vulcan, last year.)
When BAME was first said in the Commons, it was spelled out: you can hear Lynne Featherstone doing so here in 2010. Last week, Theresa Villiers said it to rhyme with “same”. So, which way will it end up: initialism or acronym? We don’t seem as game for acronymming as the speakers of some languages, as in the case of the imported words you can hear around Europe such as “suvs”, “leds” and “vips”. (Does anyone know whether it’s true that the Faroese “vesi” for “toilet” comes from our “WC”?)
Now, it’s early days: some style guides (such as this one) require it to be spelled out in full at first mention. But even so, I can’t at the moment see BAME becoming “bame” all the time … but that may just be because I can take no pleasure in making the sound of that acronym version. Certain words are so pleasing to utter that they could have been designed to become acronyms. So it is with the subject of our next challenge, described by Fowler’s A Dictionary of Modern English Usage as:
A slogan that became an acronym that became a word that begat another word
Reader, how would you clue “nimby”?
Many thanks for your clues for PRUSSIAN BLUE. For the audacity award, Lizard acknowledges his own omission of “Peter” in the charming “Paul Rubens is mixing a colourful pigment”, but those laurels must surely go to Wellywearer2’s anti-clue “Blau”. (I think for the sake of GappyTooth, I’ll simply link to that clue’s surface imagery and pass on.)
The runners-up are Dunnart’s “Basic medicine for Serbian sick with lupus” and Montano’s “Dark tone of Buñuel’s Paris recreated”; I think our winner among various approaches has to be BethLacan’s “Doctor in lab pursues treatment for radioactive poisoning”.
I enormously enjoyed returning after a break and endeavouring to successfully untangle the various variants of similar approaches. I have also enjoyed a pause, with a few evenings in the Brecon Beacons by a charcoal and wood fire, listening to the haunting sounds of distanced orchestral musicians trying to applaud each other while still holding their instruments at the Proms. For our next instalment of Healing Music Recorded in 2020 to Accompany a Solve or Even Listen to, I cannot enough urge Anoushka Shankar’s Prom and would add this more embeddable and more poignant solo rendition:
I cheerfully acknowledge that four minutes and 48 seconds might be a speedy solve. Kludos to BethLacan and please leave entries for this fortnight’s competition – and your picks from the broadsheet cryptics – below. And I note with perhaps sadness that our musical interests are no longer being stalked by YouTube.
Clue of the Fortnight