Sunday, November 10, 2013

Three Cheers for our Queer Old Dean!

Cryptic Crosswords
Part Fourteen

Never let it be said that I pass up an opportunity for a thoroughly rude blog title. In this post we continue our exploration of Cryptic Crosswords with a look at one of the more light hearted and entertaining crossword clues.

If you haven't worked it out yet, for today's cryptic crossword clue we are entering the whacky world of Reverend William Archibald Spooner, the man after which Spoonerisms are named.

A spoonerism is a phrase where the initial sounds or letters of some of the words has been confused, usually to comic effect. An example is the title of todays post, 'Three Cheers for our Queer Old Dean!', which should of course be cheering our dear old Queen, although in this case it would have been a queen from a different era, Victoria, as that spoonerism is from Spooner himself. I find it impressive that it's as amusing now as it was then.

It's worth remembering that in a spoonerism crossword clue, there is often an element of 'sounds like' at play as well. That is to say that you may be transposing the sounds of words, but the letters may also change so that the sounds you make are legitimate words. Essentially, if it works when you say it out loud, it's probably right.

If you're still unsure how it all works, this this fantastic video from The Two Ronnies should help explain it all.

In all honestly these clues are usually more fun, than challenging, and they are the type of clue that gives you a little chuckle when you get to the bottom of them. They're also one of only a couple of clues where crossword setters get to display a bit of humour. Here's an example to get us started on this type of clue.

Spooner's screaming with agony just because it's wet. (7,4,4)

Spoonerism clues almost always have the man himself as the indicator word, although watch out for references to his title or other names. Here we need a phrase which means 'screaming with agony' and that has a spoonerism meaning wet. If it's wet there's probably rain afoot and rain could have it's first letter changed to 'P' to give pain, which fits agony.

 If we presume that the 'with' remains untouched in the answer, that gives us 'blank with rain', if screaming can be solved as roaring, then we get 'roaring with pain' which becomes a spoonerism in our final solution 'pouring with rain'.

Spooner says there's limited pastries, but it's all fibs. (4,2,4)

Spooner is at it again and this time we need a phrase that fits 'limited pastries' which can have it's initial letters transposed to give an answer meaning 'all fibs'. If something is limited there is a 'lack of' it, and another word for fibs is 'lies'. These both start with 'L' so one must be the first word in it's phrase, the other must be the third.

 So, we have 'lack of blank' and 'blank of lies'. Our 'pastries' need to rhyme with lies, and that leads us to pies and we can now solve the clue by creating the spoonerism, 'lack of pies' becomes 'pack of lies'. So here it is then, the single spoonerism clue in our first cryptic crossword, good luck!

One Small Step


13. Spooner's rosy cheeked birds suffered defeats. (8, 5)

So we just have one more type of clue to tackle, and it is the very essence of cryptic crosswords - the pure cryptic. We're getting very close to finishing the grid, by my calculation there are just two clues left, just four letters to fill, then you can say that you have done it!

Until next time, keep puzzling.

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