XIMENES CROSSWORD No. 261
1. C. Allen Baker (Milnathort): The cause of somewhat unintelligible talk in a stag-party? (cant1 in deer, & lit.).
2. S. B. Green (NW10): What’s tilted does perhaps get passed round! (cant2 in deer, & lit.).
3. Mrs N. Fisher (Stroud): To fill the pen up you have to tilt the bottle (cant2 in reed (rev.); reed = pen).
T. E. Bell (Gainsborough): A “dead centre” could be a repository for the departed spirits of dead men! (anag. incl. d. (= dead); d. m. = empty bottles).
D. L. L. Clarke (Oxford): Soak up and you could get pretty well canned before you’ve got it all down! (anag. of can(n)ed + ret (rev.), & lit.).
P. M. Coombs (Burgess Hill): This must be put a stop to when one gets in half canned (can(ned) in deter, & lit.).
W. J. Duffin (Hull): The liquor bottle renounced? Not quite—doctor’s order does not allow it to be! (i.e. recanted with Dr exchanged).
L. E. Eyres (Bath): Flagon calling (not in vain!) for a Horatian Ode (decanter (L.) = let me be sung, & lit.).
C. E. Gates (Kettering): Not necessarily a bottle of whisky, but does (as often as not) hold Scotch with a high content of spirit (cant4 in deer, & lit. [see comments]).
Rev A. D. Hodgson (Bromley): Decorative home for the Scotch—ten-acred—restored throughout (anag.).
D. E. Hodgson (Manchester): The easy going at Camptown ensures a clean finish in the last lap (‘de’ canter; ref. song ‘Camptown Races’).
W. I. N. Kessel (N1): This month’s so short—aren’t presents a vexation? People get liquor out of me (Dec + anag.; presents vb.).
C. Koop (Ferring): In me you see that drawn, down-trodden expression after losing the deposit (cryptic def.; ref. wine-making, lees).
D. P. M. Michael (Whitchurch): Drunk from nectared bumbling among summer-tide Canterbury-bells (anag., hidden).
J. E. Povey (Leeds): Jolly decent, R. A. Butler, but not when his duties touch our silver (anag.; jolly vb.; butler = one who decants; ref. R. A. B., Chancellor).
Mrs E. Shackleton (Basingstoke): Tip for tots—put a list in a drawer for Santa! (cant2 in deer; i.e. reindeer).
H. S. Tribe (Sutton): Take—as the doctor ordered—a decent change: what about Madeira, for example? (anag. incl. r. (= take)).
E. S. Ainley, F. D. H. Atkinson, G. F. Bamford, A. J. Barnard, Dr R. L. H. Barnard, J. W. Bates, J. A. Blair, Mrs Caithness, Cdr H. H. L. Dickson, P. A. Drillien, Brig W. E. Duncan, J. A. Fincken, P. G. W. Glare, H. J. Godwin, E. Gomersall, R. M. Grace, C. R. Haigh, R. J. Hall, F. H. W. Hawes, B. J. Iliffe, F. G. Illingworth, W. Islip, L. Johnson, E. L. Mellersh, A. R. Meredith, P. H. Morgan, C. J. Morse, K. Perry, E. G. Phillips, Maj J. N. Purdon, E. J. Rackham, G. E. Rice, A. Rivlin, W. K. M. Slimmings, O. Carlton Smith, E. B. Stevens, L. T. Stokes, H. G. Tattersall, L. E. Thomas, J. Thompson, C. T. Tulloch, M. A. Vernon, J. A. Watson (Hoylake), T. G. Wellman.
COMMENTS—235 entries, 190 correct. Of the 45 incorrect. 13 had TECMESSA right but wrote “amateurs” for ACATOURS. 12 had ACATOURS right but guessed “Tecmussa” or “Tecmissa,” 7 failed at both, 13 had both right, but failed in various other places. Tecmessa was the mistress of Ajax, who, when mad, slaughtered sheep under the impression that they were his enemies. I think occasional mythological references are fair game: perhaps it would have been kinder to make it clearer that this was one. And it was unfortunate that “muss” means “trouble” too: “miss,” I suppose, is also just possible in that sense. In short, my conclusion is that the clue was rather a harsh one. “Amateurs” on the other hand, seems to me to have nothing to commend it as an answer to 8 down: perhaps I have missed a connection. l’m afraid those who haven’t yet got the New Mid-Century Version of Chambers’s are bound to be handicapped from time to time, unless they always fathom the subsidiary clues: in this case I should say that “a-cat-ours” was pretty clearly indicated.
The entry was on the whole a very good one in quality, but a few points emerge. “Does,” without the addition of “perhaps” or some similar help, is not a definition of “deer,” any more than “potato” is a definition of the word “vegetable.” The converse is true, but that doesn’t help. The name of a class may define its various members, but one member does not define a class. Not all deer are does. Simillarly deer in its sense of “any kind of animal” cannot he defined by “cats and dogs,” unless something like “e.g.” is added. Unfamiliar Scottish words, like “cant” = “brisk,” should be given some indication of their nature (as should obsolete words), unless the clue is for other reasons an exceptionally easy one. Incidentally Mr. Gates’s clue skilfully gets over both these two difficulties at once. Another point is the use of “I.” “I” can be the word required personified: this is a conventional legacy from the old acrostic and in this use “am” is quite in order. “I” can also be the letter or (less agreeably, I think) the figure one: in these cases “am” is not in order, because “I” is third person. But “I” cannot he an imaginary person who takes no part in the answer, as in “It’s richt lively in ‘The Stag’—I don’t mind if it pours!”: “one doesn’t mind” would make this a sound clue. “You,” on the other hand, may, I think, legitimately be used when the setter wants to address his solvers in a clue. “You wouldn’t mind if it poured” would be sound enough. Finally, on occasions which rarely arise, I see no reason why “I” shouldn’t be the setter, when there is some real point in its being so: there isn’t in this case, unless the setter wants to suggest that he, especially, is fond of the decanter!
A happy Christmas to you all!