AZED CROSSWORD 2324
1. R. Jacks: Festivities seen in church or in stable originally (CE + anag.).
2. M. Hodgkin: Time to get ebriose with clan gathered round for Christmas and New Year? (t in anag.).
3. Dr J. Burscough: Mars bar selection? (anag. & lit.; ref. Mars Inc. chocolate collection).
VHC (extra prizes)
D. K. Arnott: Term for festive plays with cribs at Noel? (anag. incl. e, & lit.).
M. Barker: Beanos etc I left right smashed? (anag. incl. l, r, & lit.).
R. C. Bell: Aged ales, bottled beer, cola tins (anag.; see ale).
N. Connaughton (Ireland): Boozy olés in bar, etc (anag. & lit.).
R. J. Heald: Dissolution of Eastern bloc brought about independence and joyous festivities (i in anag.).
J. Liddle: Prepare a nice lobster for festivities – or maybe a box of chocs (anag. & 2 defs.).
T. J. Moorey: Blokes certain to show no end of pluck at sea? Jollies perhaps (anag. less k).
C. Ogilvie: Fun and games in select bar, nothing outrageous (anag. incl. 0).
M. Owen: An initially unwelcome baby in eastern local could give rise to annual —— (comp. anag. incl, u, b, & lit.).
J. Vincent & Ms R. Porter: The primary elements of Christmas entertainment: laughter, extra booze and food for parties! (first letters + rations).
Dr S. J. Shaw: What Jesu essentially gives rise to when associated with improvised crib at Noel (anag. incl. es, & lit.).
P. L. Stone: Blasts from rebel action shaking Syria’s capital (anag. + S).
P. Taylor: Disruptive child kept in perplexed silence – o, joyful times! (brat in anag.).
P. Tharby: Babe finally placed in rough crib at Noel, centrepiece of Christian festivities (e in anag. + s).
J. R. Tozer: ER’s lit beacon starting ——? (anag. & lit.; ref. HM’s 90th birthday c.; start = jerk).
L. Ward (USA): Masses possibly lacking any recollection of beanos? Certainly! (anag. less any).
A. J. Wardrop: When Trump’s lead vanishes and Democrat comes in, these could be considerable (anag. with D for T, & lit.).
R. J. Whale: These could involve a ‘Noel set’ with crib – or perhaps a bristlecone lit up (2 anags. & lit.).
A. Whittaker: You have drunk beer a lot in between start and end of Christmas, and old ales too (anag. in C, s; see ale).
P. B. Alldred, T. Anderson, D. Appleton, D. & N. Aspland, M. Barley, Ms K. Bolton, J. G. Booth, T. C. Borland, G. Borooah (USA), R. Bowden, A. Brash, Mrs S. Brown, Ms M. F. Browne (USA), P. Cargill, D. Carter, P. A. Cash, A. Chamberlain, C. A. Clarke, V. Dixon (Ireland), J. Doylend, W. Drever, P. J. Edwards, C. D. S. & E. A. Field, P. Finan, Dr I. S. Fletcher, J. Forsyth, R. Gilbert, J. P. B. Hall, A. H. Harker, D. V. Harry, R. J. Hooper, G. Johnstone, Ms R. Kimbell, D. Lambert, E. C. Lance, J. P. Lester, M. A. Macdonald-Cooper, K. Manley, P. W. Marlow, R. A. Norton, D. J. R. Ogilvie (USA), R. J. Palmer, M. L. Perkins, A. Plumb, Dr T. G. Powell, Ms D. Probert, S. Randall, W. Ransome, P. Shenkin, J. Smailes, M. Taylor, R. C. Teuton, K. Thomas, Ms S. Wallace, Dr M. C. Whelan, G. H. Willett, Dr E. Young.
234 entries, virtually no mistakes (one regular unable to find the unlikely-looking B(R)ANSLES). Favourite clue (of 20 nominees): ‘Regular feature of R. Stein restaurant in sink he redesigned’ for FISH KNIFE (still a non-U term?).
As a Christmas diversion this was clearly much enjoyed, to judge from the many appreciative comments. As many of you also surmised it was a tough grid to construct, and I was forced to restart my first attempt from scrtach when I found I couldn’t complete it. I have actually used this idea three times before (always at Christmas). Previous code phrases have been XWORD YULE GIFT, A TRICKY BOXFUL and XMAS QUIZ BLOCK; it may be difficult to think of any more that are appropriate and don’t repeat words already used. This time I made it extra-tough for myself by having all the vowels in the code phrase, i.e. with all the ‘difficult’ letters in the down words. As most of you realized, I had to omit Q from the Playfair square because the code phrase included both I and J, It certainly wasn’t the first time this has happened, in both Azed and Ximenes series. As for AH JOYFUL TIMES (which one competitor suggested might have been chosen with a touch of irony – what, moi?), I was interested to be told that the phrase occurs in Handley Cross, or The Spa Hunt by R. S. Surtees: ‘Ah, joyful times that the recollection of that ceremony must awaken! It will rewive the wision of our buoyish [sic] days, and make us fancy ourselves young again!’, referring not to Christmas but to the blooding of a youngster at a fox hunt.
CELEBRATIONS proved a highly productive word to clue, offering for one thing an almost limitless number of possible anagrams, many of them naturally suitable at Christmas-time, and I was truly delighted by the range of your ingenuity. If there was one (quite popular) idea I was less than enthusiastic about it was including wordplay leading to CELEB(S), too close etymologically, I thought, to the target word and therefore a little weak in cluing terms.
To end on a sad note, I have just heard of the death of Mrs D. B. (Dot) Jenkinson, after quite a long illness. She had been a keen solver and competitor for many years, a regular at Azed gatherings, and latterly a good friend of me and my family. The comments she included with her entries were always witty and not a little quirky. She had an encyclopedic knowledge of films, especially those pre-dating the computer-assisted era, and was something of an authority on the life and works of R. L. Stevenson. A delightful person, whom I shall miss greatly.