lalita larking

An obsession with cryptic crosswords. Everything else falls in place.

Location: Kolkata, India

Monday, September 17, 2007

Being fruitful

A newcomer to station life in OZ, the girl needs a jumper (8)*

There is a silly ambition I hope to achieve someday. I'd like to start a crossword with 1 across, solve 1 down, and proceed to solve the rest of the clues in order. What happens is, some clues need thinking through, some need at least a letter or two from other clues in place before enlightenment strikes, some, alas, can't be solved at all.

I have said this many times before, that familiarity with the setter's style and way of thinking goes a long way into solving a cryptic crossword quickly. Araucaria and Paul, Rover and Rufus, even Gordius, I can solve in one sitting. They appear frequently on the Guardian pages, and so I am familiar with their quirks.

Auster is a rare setter. I don't know his style. So on Friday, when I saw his name against the crossword, I was sure it was going to be a struggle. And then there was the special instruction: Across clues are related and have no definition. Down clues are normal.

You'd think this made the task tougher. On the contrary. Not having a definition sometimes makes it easier to solve the clue. That all the across clues are related meant I had to solve just one for the theme to be revealed, and that is the definition for the rest of them. Simplicity itself.

But first I had a go at my ambition. 1 down was the clue I gave above. Research time, right away. I sighed and tackled the next clue. There were some lovely down clues, one of which was

Evening primrose once found on site of Taj Mahal (6)**

What a beautiful clue! I fell in love. Time to tackle the across clues. The first one I solved was

He's interfering, by the sound of it (6)

This is simple, and now I knew the theme. Fruits. An interfering sort is a busybody, buttinsky, nosy-parker, kibitzer and meddler. There we go. 'By the sound of it' indicates that the spelling will differ. Medlar, a crabapple like deciduous tree cultivated for its fruits, ditto a South African fruit with brown leathery skin and pithy flesh having a sweet-acid taste. So all the across clues will be fruit trees.

No scope (6)
A particular time (4)
Two of a kind, say (4)

These confirmed the theme. No scope is an old clue, and appears in various avatars regularly. Orange, date and pear, what a fruity crossword this was proving to be.

Include me in the game (6)

The fun part of this kind of theme is confirming the solutions. It leads to my learning things I'd not have come across otherwise. Why would I know that pomelo is a Southeast Asian tree with large grapefruit like fruits, and is also known as shaddock?

High spirits in the Oval (6)

See how educational crosswords are? I didn't even know that there was a fruit called melon pear, let alone that it was also known as pepino.

The fool has broken toe (6)

This is simple, and so let me educate you further. In Mexico and Central America grows a tree, called tzapotl. We also know it as zapota. Another avatar of this is sapote. The fool, sap with an anagram of toe. Wonderful word, that tzapotl. I can't wait to use it a Scrabble game.

Nevertheless, one is following Aries (8)

This crossword definitely took me all over the world, I tell you. This is a Malayan tree, with pleasantly acid bright red oval fruit covered in soft spines. Ram, for Aries, with but and an following.

Camus is sent out, then let back (8)

Camus makes a lot of appearances in crosswords. It is sumac spelt backwards, and anagram of campus less p. Here it is an anagram followed by let written backwards. Muscatel is a sweet and aromatic grape used for raisins and wine, if you didn't know.

Flaky IMF gets flakier (6,4)

I laughed as I solved this anagram. Makrut and magrood are other names of this citrus fruit, and it is South Asian native. Kaffir lime is another fruit I can boast I know now.

12 Chuck senior? (10)
13 Lad accompanying 12? (11)

These were connected, and made me smile. Thanks to crosswords, I have come across Chuck Berry before. The solutions are elderberry and boysenberry. But the clue I am really proud to have solved is the following.

That is shown back in FJ Holden's second article (6)

This I figured out by cruciverbal logic, and looked up. Back to South America this time. A shrub with greenish edible plumlike fruit with white flesh, used chiefly for jellies and preserves, Dear Reader, I give you feijoa.


* jillaroo ** onagra


Blogger dipali said...

Woof! What an amazing crossword, and how cleverly you managed to traipse across the globe solving it!

7:25 pm  
Blogger Lalita said...

Dipali- Pineapple guava is the other name for that fruit feijoa, isn't it wonderful?

9:32 pm  
Anonymous Ash said...

Feijoa? Pineapple guava? Cruciverbal logic? The mind certainly boggles Lali, that you solved it at all.

10:35 pm  
Anonymous Fruitcake said...

The guy musta been nuts@ fejioa.

But excellent job@ solving.

"nor kashtam stale her infinite variety".

: )

4:09 am  
Blogger Lalita said...

Ash- What's with the question marks?

Fruitcake- Sigh. Couldn't you find a better nickname? Next thing will you be saying 'rage cannot wither her'?

8:34 am  

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