AZED CROSSWORD 1387
Dylan Thomas: A Child’s Christmas in Wales (Anagram)
1. C. R. Gumbrell: It has charm, this Swansea man’s cold idyll.
2. R. K. Lumsdon: It has Caitlin’s man’s old-Welsh-days’ charm.
3. H. Freeman: Rash Mandy – will scandal cost him his seat?
VHC (extra prizes)
Dr P. M. J. Bennett: Clinton hails clashes with Saddam’s army.
J. G. Booth: Chilly Mandelson admits his act was rash.
N. Connaughton: A Swansea lad’s idyllic charms this month.
E. Dawid: Mary’s small lad is in thatch and a cow’s shed.
N. C. Dexter: ‘Silly with cash a/c,’ admits rash Mandelson.
A. J. Dorn: MS which recalls a man’s distant holidays.
A. G. Fleming: A laddish, romantic Welshman’s classy hit.
M. Freeman: ‘Christians all, he’d command thy wassails.’.
P. Graystone: Saddam rashly has missile – watch Clinton!
R. Hesketh: I say Clinton’s hi-tech war’ll smash Saddam.
A. J. Knott: In chill snow’s midst, chaste Mary has a lad.
J. C. Leyland: Liar Clinton has a messy clash with Saddam.
H. W. Massingham: His star hallows a shed, and in mystic clam.
C. J. Morse: Did Santa charm this small Welsh scion? Ay.
S. J. O’Boyle: Mandelson claims drily that cash was his.
R. J. Palmer: A Swansea lad calls to mind his rich myths.
Mrs D. M. C. Prichard: A mad Welshman told this yarn – his classic.
D. R. Robinson: Mandy’s whimsical cash loan’s titled ‘rash’.
J. R. Tozer: Cash scam hit Mandelson hard. It was silly!
W. Wynne Willson: Clinton (with CIA) says shells harm Saddam.
R. Zara: Cash loan which rattles Mandy: dismissal!
D. Appleton, A. Barker, M. Bath, J. R. Beresford, R. E. Boot, Rev Canon C. M. Broun, Dr J. Burscough, B. Burton, D. Buxton, W. Chandler, C. A. Clarke, Ms S. C. Cockburn, D. B. Cross, P. Crozier, P. A. Davies, Ms N. Davis, R. V. Dearden, A. S. Everest, Mrs C. Firth, D. C. Fricker, V. G. Henderson, T. Jacobs, Mrs S. D. Johnson, G. Johnstone, F. P. N. Lake, Dr D. Lambert, S. M. Leather, P. Lloyd, C. Loving, D. F. Manley, P. W. Marlow, Rev M. Metcalf, I. Morgan, P. W. Nash, T. D. Nicholl, Ms S. M. Odber, M. C. Parfitt, G. & J. Parsons, J. Pearce, D. Price Jones, A. Roth, M. G. Rupp, R. G. Smith, P. L. Stone, R. S. Sullivan, J. Tebbutt, Mrs J. E. Townsend, L. Ward, G. H. Willett, M. A. L. Willey, Dr E. Young, M. P. Young.
About 380 entries, virtually no mistakes. Quite a number (over 30) missed the deadline, though I extended this to the Monday because of the erratic nature of postal deliveries around Christmas. I am sorry for those who ‘missed the cut’ but could not continue accepting entries indefinitely. The puzzle seems to have been much enjoyed and was, I think, about the right level of difficulty for a Christmas special. The idea for it came during a waking moment one night, when I realized that ‘And then the presents?’ has 18 letters, and it all grew from there. One competitor queried the name of the source, saying that it is an item entitled Conversation about Christmas first published in Picture Post in 1947 and then reprinted under the same title in A Prospect of the Sea (Stories and Prose Writings), published in 1955. The edition I have (with the title I used) is a small paperback booklet published by J. M. Dent in 1968, in which it says that the text was first published in the US in 1954 by New Directions. I dare say both accounts of its origin are true. Anyway, it’s long been a favourite of mine from the works of a writer I admire in a curate’s egg sort of way. Its non-appearance in the ODQ didn’t seem to me a major drawback, as all the information needed about it was available in the puzzle. Several of you mentioned that at least one reading of it was broadcast on BBC radio around Christmas, which was a nice coincidence. Part of it was also read by Judi Dench and her husband Michael Williams at a charity evening I attended at the Sheldonian Theatre in Oxford just before Christmas, but that may have been partly because my wife helped to choose the readings for the event and knew I’d used it for the Xmas comp.
The entry was large, enthusiastic and of a high standard. Long anagrams aren’t everyone’s cup of tea, and the selection of letters available this time wasn’t that friendly (with only one E, for example), but as always you rose to the challenge. Judging was especially difficult since virtually no entry could be immediately rejected. I tended to go for anagrams related to the theme’s source or to Christmas or to some topical event (which in practice usually meant the Mandelson affair or the Iraq bombing raids). I also preferred ones in which none of the words from the original phrase was repeated, though I was inclined to be lenient over ‘a’ and ‘in’. This still left me with a lot to sift through, and it came down in the end to choosing those that struck me as having the most felicitous and natural wording. It was a protracted but enjoyable task, and I do compliment you all, especially the authors quoted above, for your great ingenuity. And thank you again for the many appreciative comments. I’ve already got my thinking cap on for something special to mark the new millennium!
As an amusing footnote, Mr J. H. Russell recalls meeting Thomas: ‘I was in Swansea with UCL Engineers 1943-4 and occasionally encountered Dylan in his cups in the Uplands Hotel bar. I was also in Oxford 1946-9 when he ‘landed’ chez A. J. P. Taylor. He was invited three times to the OU Poetry Society and each time sent a messenger to cry off ‘unwell’ at about 8.15 p.m. having kept us all waiting.’ Not for nothing were his initials DT, it seems!