Ode to Joy
The Guardian Prize puzzle's solution was published yesterday and now I can talk about it.
It's not as though the entire cryptic crossword puzzling world is hanging on every word of mine, but many people do 'Google' for crossword clues, so it would have been unethical to blog about this before the solutions came out.
Araucaria loves me. I have been dying to tell the world about it.
He knows I exist and blog; he said so (very much like the Beatles, yeah, yeah, yeah!) when he compiled a clue that featured me.
Oh, oh, oh. I hugged myself and spent a delirious minute revelling in it, before I let reality intrude.
I know Araucaria doesn't know me, of course, and that clue certainly didn't have anything to do with me. But, still and all, one is allowed to fantasise.
The twenty-second of July this year is etched bright in my list of special days. I solved the Guardian Prize puzzle in half an hour. I wasn't timing myself as such. You can't do that, with Araucaria, or any of the compilers in the Guardian crossword stable, not with the Saturday puzzles and certainly not on any day with some of them. Oh, you may do so, at your own peril and at the risk of feeling silly later.
I knew how long it took me to solve the puzzle because I had to answer the door once. While it disturbed and broke my concentration, the break enabled me to crack the last two that seemed impossible.
Over the years, I have become rather attuned to Araucaria, Bunthorne, and Paul. and I solve them quicker than I can solve Taupi, Enigmatist, Brummie or Shed. Don't let's talk about them. Not just now, okay? This is an Araucaria moment.
As is usual in Prize puzzles, there was a clue that ran to most of the grid.
6,7,8,2,18,1: Funny thing afoot- shy vernal youths go contemplating girls: Thus (in catalectic trochees) poem by 19 unfurls (2,3,6,1,5,4,5,7,5,2,8,2,4)
19 across, by the way, was: Poet and boxer Benn not initially included (8) Tennyson
Tyson with Benn, without the b inside Tyson.
I solved it by serendipity: even if one doesn't know one's Tennyson, but is well up one's Wooster and Wodehouse, it leaps out at you. And the old dear actually made it easy, so far as the big clue is concerned. It's a huge anagram, of course. And the kicker is that 'unfurls' is the anagram indicator, not 'funny.'
The thing to do when faced with a huge quotation the compiler is inviting you to figure out is to sweat the small stuff. Figure out the small two or three letter words in between, or assign an arbitrary 'it' or 'the' or 'and'; then see what transpires.
But I didn't have to do all that, because vernal youths and Bertie Wooster more or less hammered the solution into my subconscious already, Tennyson notwithstanding.
"In the spring a young man's fancy lightly turns to thoughts of love."
But there were other little gems to solve and fill in before I could say "Yes!" and pump my fists and celebrate.
11 across: Leave bird, understood? (3,2) Got it
Go tit, heh!
15 down: No charge for accommodation for Yeats? (9) Innisfree
20 down: New as new as new city (7) Swansea.
It is easy, just break it down.
Hey, Lahar, listen up. You will like this one.
4 down: What stops one making Close bat? (8) Obstacle
5down: 4 to listener makes spike get bigger (6) Earwax
This took me sometime to figure out- obstacle to listener or ear? Is it a homophone or a homograph?
27 across: Left like godmother at christening? (7, 3, 4) Holding the baby
No need for explanation, once you get it.
12 across: Greek leader soon holds willing number (9) Agamemnon
The second m is the joke, game in anon, but you have to add a number.
21 down: Heard pair preserve bird (6) Toucan
This is a homophone; the sound of two with can, as in preserving.
24 across: Administration taking notes (5) Staff
This is a homograph.
26 across: Posh gear for prisoner outside a capital (9) Caparison
Complicated but simple really, as Captain Haddock says. Con outside a + Paris.
26 across: V is for volunteers in prospect (5) Vista
This requires some practice. TA is crossword shorthand for Territorial Army.
13 across: Vibrating outside line in tiresome style (8) Tryingly
And here is the clue Araucaria compiled for me.
22 Across: Bird needs a fight to have fun (4,5) Lark about.
Araucaria knows about me and reads my blog. He said so!
In your dreams, Lali.