23585 – Any old iron duke

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic

Solving time: 14:25

Thanks to Magoo for filling in the last three Thursdays while I was away. Now we are back to double-digit solving times.

Lord of the Flies at 14A was the first one I solved, and I was very impressed when I eventually worked out that the other 14-letter answer was The Coral Island, the novel which sort of inspired Golding’s book. Other literary references involve Joe Orton, JK Rowling and Margaret Mitchell.

I was surprised by the spelling of Eid ul-Fitr at 26A. This spelling does not appear in the 2003 Chambers, but it does seem to be one of the more popular transliterations nowadays.


1 T(rade) + WOW + AY
4 EUROLAND = (RU loaned)* – clever long definition keeping to the rugby surface
18 WAFER-THIN = (Warn thief)* – this was obviously an anagram, but I needed crossing letters before I cracked it. I suppose “much pinched” works as a definition. I am afraid that “wafer-thin” always makes me think of Mr Creosote’s mint
21 THE CORAL ISLAND, being {E(nglish) + C (circa = roughly) + ORAL (= spoken)} all in THIS LAND
25 HO(P I)T – cleverly misleadingly phrased. PI meaning “pious” or “very good, seemingly” is now confined to crosswords I think.
26 EID UL FITR, being FLUID* in RITE*


2 OWNER, being W(ife) in RENO (rev). Reno was a popular location for divorces for a couple of decades while Nevada’s divorce laws were more liberal than those of other states.
5 (a)UNTIE – I think it is only the BBC itself that thinks it is known as “auntie”
6 ORTO(LA)N – though the ortolan is better known for being eaten than for its singing or flying
9 FOR(TIE)TH – “hamper” for “tie” seems a bit of a stretch to me, and it is a rather old-fashioned sense of “for” that means “since”. Or at least those are my excuses for taking so long to work this one out
13 ANY OLD IRON – the definition is “number” in the sense of “song”
17 L AND LAD + Y – unusual to find the word “youth” indicating LAD, and being used to provide the Y
19 (af)RIC(OTT)A(ns) – a purist might wince at “Africans heartily” indicating RICA. I thought it was funny.
22 RHETT – last letters of “murdeR witH …”
23 AD(I)OS – I think surface and cryptic readings might be better without the apostrophe in “Trouble’s”, but I suppose it works either way. And a real purist could argue that without the apostrophe the cryptic reading would require “Troubles besets one…”

10 comments on “23585 – Any old iron duke”

  1. I thought this was a model crossword, not particularly difficult but full of wit. 10ac (the minor poet one) is one of the nicest, neatest clues I have seen all year. Only 26ac Eid ul-fitr jarred somewhat.
  2. 8:44 for me – so moderate difficulty. Liked seeing Eid, even if the spelling was a bit unexpected. Kicked myself for not getting 18A quicker, and enjoeyed the Hogwarts clue.
  3. Enjoyed this but found it pretty hard. Got 18A quite quickly and found myself laughing about Mr Creosote while I solved the rest. I also enjoyed Hogwarts, but got bored and stopped reading during the 5th book – I wonder if that’ll hinder me with future puzzles.
    Didn’t know about Reno – I’ll try to remember that.
    Eid ul-Fitr is not in Chambers 2006 either.
    1. Harry P: I haven’t read a single one of ’em. As with many Times xwd lit references these days, you only need a passing acquaintance with the book – knowing of Hermione, Dumbledore, Quidditch, muggles, Ron Weasley and the Dursleys are probably all you need. The “ul” in Eid is in both Collins and COD – more confirmation that Chambers doesn’t count for much at the Times.
  4. 6:42 for me which felt quickish, despite a bad start on 1ac, which I felt I should be able to get but couldn’t, and tentative entries of ‘cop it’ at 25ac and ‘adieu’ at 23dn. I loved 12ac (LORD: OFT HE FLIES). RHETT Butler would have been a stumbling block but for the helpful clue.

    Slightly longer, at 6:52, is the Mr Creosote sketch available here (not for the faint-hearted…).

  5. Slow again (14:40) today. I think I’ve probably come across EID UL-FITR, but like others (and no doubt influenced by Chambers) I’m more familiar with the AL spelling. I wasn’t terribly keen on 9d (FORTIETH) – too unspecific, or perhaps because it seems too long ago (Sigh!) – but I thought some of the other clues were very good, including 12a, which I hadn’t “got” until I read talbinho’s comment above!
  6. I like puzzles with a theme, so this was very welcome, and there were some wonderfully witty clues inducing many chuckles on the way. I felt that 9 down should have had a question mark or a “perhaps” to indicate exemplification. And I’m not all that keen on “his” in 17 down; in the cryptic reading “youth” is just a word without gender, making “his” inappropriate. It might work better in French! I’ve jettisoned clues of my own for that reason, but that’s me being pernickety.
    1. I have always thought of “a youth” as referring to a male and believe there is a specific meaning that justifies this. I don’t have my favourite reference books to hand at the moment but Longman lists it as “sometimes derog, a young male adolescent”.


      1. That wasn’t my point. In the cryptic reading the meaning of YOUTH is irrelevant as far as the generation of Y is concerned. Y is the first letter of the word “youth” or the string of letters YOUTH. Neither words nor strings of letters have gender in English, so to say “his first” to refer to the first letter of the word, “youth” is, strictly speaking, inaccurate. I’m not making a big issue of it – after all, it’s not uncommon to see this formulation in clues – but I do see it as a slight weakness.
  7. A fun puzzle with literary references from two tales of shipwreck (12a, 21a) via the deep south (22d) to the school of witchcraft and wizardry (27a). Also an allusion to the status of post Hillsborough football grounds (7d). Despite this – at Hereford FC – the Meadow End is still all standing.
    “I was born under the meadow end …” to the tune of Wandering Star. The rest is regrettably unprintable.

    11a A floozie from the right part of Oklahoma (5)
    TULSA. Or A SLUT backwards. Pleased to report I got there in under 24 hours.

    12a Novel peer: he clocks up the air miles? (4,2,3,5)
    LORD OF THE FLIES. Frequent flier?

    14a Legal right to accomplish something without resistance? (5)
    D R O IT

    20a Shipment that chauffeur can make?(5)
    CAR GO

    27a The “keep all the ugly bits” school of fiction? (8)

    28a Rum issue: more or less given (4-2)
    ODD SON. No grog involved.

    3d Charles de Gaulle maybe left on boat after broadcast (7)

    7d (Earl least)* adaptable, having no standing (3-6)

    8d Bind diamonds with piece of cloth (4)
    D RAG

    15d Not fancying article on girl that’s untailored (3-3-3)
    OFF THE PEG. Maybe 22d’s Margaret?

    20d Players under direction made defensive move (7)

    24d Old king’s quiet word of sympathy (4)
    SH AH. Anything’s got to be better than the Shah? Be careful what you wish for.

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