Azed No 2006 ‘Spoonerisms’ (7 Nov 2010)

reviewed by Dr Watson for & lit. – The Azed Slip Archive

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HIS is Azed’s thirteenth Spoonerisms competition puzzle. They are reputedly very popular with regular and long-standing solvers. New solvers may find them, well, shall we say, somewhat quaint and old-fashioned, and this review is intended primarily for their benefit. All clues consist of two distinct parts, a subsidiary (cryptic) part, and a Spoonerism of a word or phrase. The latter may be the solution itself (type A), or else the true definition of the solution (Type B). In both cases the subsidiary leads to the solution to be entered in the diagram. It should be clear that identifying type B clues early is the best way of proceeding at the outset. Azed has made many of these blindingly obvious, ‘mocks jobs’, ‘Stash cake’, ‘Sapid Rex’ etc.

Notes to the clues:


1.       Low prison succeeded with register limiting wild mayhem (year forgotten)  SLEDGEHAMMER (A; Hedge slammer; s + anag. less y in ledger)  Doctor Watson is an habitual frequenter of hedgerows and regrets the accepted connotation (low) used here to define ‘hedge’ (qv).

10.     Doctor after operation returned trim, humourless. PO-MO (A; mow po; op (rev.) +MO).  The solution is an informal abbreviation of ‘post-modern’. In the Spoonerism ‘po’ is a shortened form of ‘po-faced’. An amusing and intriguing clue, lending the possibility (false) that ‘trim’ is part of the subsidiary and thus qualifying ‘operation’.

11.     Bird chime millions observed in poetic honesty. REALTIME (A; teal rhyme; m in realtie). Doctor Watson believes that bird chimes should be heard and not seen. ‘Realtie’ is Milton’s term for ‘honesty’.

12.     Oblique blow with old jemmy’s end to bend spade. LOWBOY (A; bow loy; anag. + o + (jemm)y).  A loy is a long, narrow spade with a footrest useful in trenching work.

14.     Spill’s what marks ale being mishandled. MEAL (B; Will’s spot; m + anag.)  Meal3 is used by Shakespeare to mean to stain or to spot, thus explaining the Spoonerism in the definition. m’ is a standard abbreviation for mark(s).

17.     South-East consumed by heat - it glows in fall (these days) . ISÈRE (B; it flows in Gaul (these days); SE in ire).  Azed often introduces place-names, especially those associated with popular holiday destinations. Here we have the River Isère which flows from Val d’Isère in the French Alps. ‘Heat’ is used figuratively to suggest ‘ire’.

26.     Once robbed, I concealed wages document (formal). REFIT (A; fee writ; I in reft).  ‘Once’ is used here to indicate an old or disused word - as it turns out, ‘reft’, which is the past participle of ‘reave’. Regular solvers will have remembered ‘fee’ as meaning ‘wages’ from a clue in Azed No. 1999, of a type which inexperienced solvers find perplexing. 13 Down is another in this puzzle, more anon.

27.     Woke, mild start of headache on me, i.e. out of sorts. HEMIONE (B; moke, wild; h(eadache) +anag.).  A very obvious ‘B’-type clue, with a simple subsidiary, but solvers will have been hampered by having to spot the entry in Chambers amongst many listed under ‘hemi-’.

29.     Halt about one after less than half of party? We’ll join doze in tux. PALAMAE (B; we’ll join toes in ducks; pa(rty) + A in lame). Doctor Watson’s first thought was of John Tozer partying in Duxford, demob happy. No, the key to solving this lies in the meaning of halt2 (lame), given as Biblical or archaic in Chambers, but not flagged as such in this clue, a rare oversight. The solution is the plural (yes!) of ‘palama’, meaning ‘the webbing of a duck’s foot’. If only they could speak...


2.       All right. he’s immersed in learning to trap tragic monarch. LOOK HERE (A; hook Lear; OK + he in lore).  Doctor Watson is expected to assume that not all solvers will have heard of Shakespeare’s great tragic hero, King Lear.

5.       Knots skipper maybe has spliced with him at sea. HAMISH (B; Scots nipper maybe; anag. of has, him).  Another B-type screamer. ‘At sea’ tells us to look for an anagram involving ‘him’ and ‘has’ who may be a nipper, maybe not. Hamish obliges.

6.       Fishy dish of mountains bordering Spain. ALEPINE (A; eely pan; E in alpine).  This clue subtly leads us to think of The Pyrenees, but it is the adjectival ‘of mountains’ which leads to the correct ‘alpine’ border.

13.     Choice of quarters displaying wines of Cers. WORN (B; displaying signs of wear; W or N).  An obvious B-type Spoonerism provided one’s pronunciation of ‘Cers’ is correct, but how to interpret the rest? Doctor Watson suspected that cardinal points of the compass would figure in the solution - ‘wens’ seemed a possibility (wen1, meaning ‘a sebaceous cyst’) - but wisely left it for cross-checking to reveal the obvious ‘worn’. This at least had the merit of explaining the otherwise redundant ‘displaying’.  When all else fails, look for the explanation not in the clue, but in the solution. There is found just two ‘quarters’ and a link-word - it is most often a conjuction or a preposition. The ‘choice’ is thus explained.

18.     Damaged drain aggravated stoop rot. RAINDATE (A; deign rate3; anag. + ate).  Here the solver may be confused by two anagram indicators and be undecided as to which phrase is the Spoonerism. ‘Aggravated’ is the spoiler, and is used as a synonym for ‘ate’ in the subsidiary. ‘Rate’ is an alternative spelling of ‘ret’.

21.     Arrange stage curtain mechanically to align woman in Shakespeare.  TRIMTAB (A; tram4 Tib; trim + tab).  The A-type Spoonerism is from ‘mechanically to align’ (tram4) and ‘woman in Shakespeare’ (Tib - a generic name used by him).

23.     Burg bicker? Church trouble over Rector. CHADOR (B; big burka/burkha; Ch + ado + R).  A simple clue and a stand-out B-type. Doctor Watson’s only concern was which veil is really the bigger.

Other solutions:

Across: 15. BIPEDAL (A; pi beadle; anag. inc. p);  16. THRANGS (B; Jock’s mob; hr in tangs);  19. TENSOR (A; centre; s in tenor);  24. TERBIC (A; burr tic; hidden);  31. APOD (B; one lacking feet; a + pod2);  32. RATTAT (B; rapping sound; t in Tatar (rev.));  33.NAMESONS  (A; same nuns; E in n + anag.);  34. ANTE (B; cash stake; n in anag.);  35. KNEETREMBLER  (B; rapid sex; anag. + remble in TR).  Down: 1. SPLATTERPUNK (A; platter spunk; anag. less a in sunk);  3. DOBHASH (A; beau dash; h in do + bash);  4. GROAN (B; the competition word);  7. MILDEW (A; dill mew3; mild + we(rev.));  8. EMMA (B; letter name; maremma less (Mar)y);  9. RED LEICESTER (A; led rester; red + Leicester);  20. OUTMOST (A; Mao toast; U in anag.);  22. AFLAME (B; set alight; a + l in fame);  25. BOUT (B; big punch may have finished it; 0 in but (butt2));   28. MIASM (B; foul air; m(ouse) + as in I’m); 30. AZAN  (B; prayer call heard devoutly; hidden).

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