23612 – I spy a mysterious smorgasbord of pandowdies and spam

Posted on Categories Daily Cryptic
Solving time: 41 minutes

Another Bank Holiday, another straightforward puzzle. There was nothing too tricky today: a few words I didn’t know but I wasn’t held up for too long.
There were quite a few really good clues and a good mixture of wordplay.

Off topic…
The editors of the American Heritage dictionaries have compiled a list of 100 words they recommend every high school graduate should know. It’s quite an interesting list – I wonder what we’d come up with in the UK.


1 UPSIDE DOWN; anagram of Pandowdies +U -A: it’s always slightly offputting for the first word in a crossword is unfamilar – a pandowdy is a fruit dessert. I did look for PIE/PIES to start with.
9 CHART,RE-USE: I remember Green Chartreuse from university days – haven’t touched it since.
12 SHORT(COMMMON)S: this one held me up a bit – I haven’t seen the phrase (meaning rations) before, but when I got the C the wordplay proved straightforward.
15 EUPHOR(B)IA: again an unfamiliar word (also known as spurges) but straightforward wordplay once I’d got enough of the letters.
17 SPOOR; reverse of [t]ROOPS
18 MINOR, hidden word – needed the first and last letters before I spotted it.
20 SMORGASBORDS (spelling corrected after BW’s amusing comment!) – anagram of ‘good beer – mere asses’ without any Es.
24 [w]I SPY – first game that comes to mind when faced with (1,3).
26 N,ODE – being a mathematician, this appealed to me – I guess nodes are more commonly associated with computer networks nowadays.
27 ASSEMBLAGE; anagram of ‘A glebe mass’ – I’ve recently got into the habit of looking for ‘bird’ clues in crosswords to start me off – I initially read glebe as grebe! A glebe is a plot of land belonging to the church, which makes the surface reading much more sensible.


1 U,NCO: as talbinho reminded us yesterday, unco is a Scottish word meaning unusual(ly) or remarkable!
3 DUTCH COURAGE – Mother Courage was a character in a Grimmelshausen novel and also a character in the more well known Brecht play.
11 SMASH-AND-GRAB; anagram of ‘Bash grandmas’ – is it wrong to smile at this clue?
13 PERM(I)S,SION – I correctly guessed that SION was an alternative spelling of Zion.
16 BULLS-EYES: refers to the sweets and the fact that bulls-eyes in darts etc. are in the centre and hard to hit, I guess.
21 OUTRE – first letters of ‘of unusual, truly religious experience’ – took a while, I was looking for some kind of religious experience!
22 SOFA; SO[l]-FA; as discussed last week notes have lots of different spellings – “do, re, mi, fa, sol, la, ti” is known as the sol-fa series. Luckily I knew what a Chesterfield was, so I checked this out afterwards.
23 ISLE=”aisle”

14 comments on “23612 – I spy a mysterious smorgasbord of pandowdies and spam”

  1. I believe that 7D is PHIL,O,SOPHY… but who’s SOPHY? isn’t she usually Sophie? (I’m sure someone will prove me wrong… but no one occurs to me). Is there some other way to parse this? “Girl following boy round in pursuit of knowledge”.


    1. I’ve never met a Sophy – I know one fictional one from Georgette Heyer’s novel The Grand Sophy.
      Sophy is in the list of names at the back of Chambers, so I guess it’s fair game.
  2. Dutch is Cockney slang for wife – I don’t think the true origin is known but is normally thought to be an abbrevition from rhyming slang – ‘Duchess of Fife.’
    It comes up quite a bit in crosswords.
  3. One correction: no second A in smorgasbords. Shame, or we might have had a clue about energy suppliers!


  4. This might have been a PB if I’d been able to bring CHARTREUSE to mind quickly, instead of needing all the checking letters; 4:17 as it was. If I’m honest I think I have seen this word before, which is a bit frustrating. Maybe I need to drink more.

    Someone asked me recently if I could name the two “common” words in the English language taken directly from Swedish. I got ‘smörgåsbord’ but not ‘ombudsman‘. (Other possible answers seem to include ‘fartlek‘, ‘gravlax‘ and ‘tungsten‘.) (Highlight the gaps to see the missing words.)

    1. I watched an episode of Columbo last night, in which he was offered a glass of chartreuse.

      Ikea has a special naming system for its product ranges – so perhaps some of us use other Swedish words; “Had a bit too much chartreuse? You can kip on my Klippan ’til morning…”

  5. 6A (“Plans for returning such unsolicited mail”): This leads equally to MAPS and SPAM, so far as I can see. If so, then in my opinion it just isn’t good enough to say that the checking letters tell you which. The clue should lead unequivocally to one or the other.

    In this case it is hard to construct a clue that gives SPAM alone. The surface here is so much better than anything I can come up with, so am I being pedantic?

  6. No, not pedantic, just wrong, on second thoughts. Without the word “such” yes it would be ambiguous. As it is it’s just about OK I suppose.
  7. I thought of ‘fartlek‘ and ‘ångström‘, though I’m not sure if the latter really counts (if it does, I suppose you could include ‘erbium‘, ‘yttrium‘ and ‘ytterbium‘ as well).

    (7:07 for me – should really have been faster with such an easy puzzle.)

    1. I think the last three are discounted because the words have to be actual Swedish words rather than derivatives. Hadn’t thought of your second one though – not sure if that’s in use in Swedish or not. I’ll ask my Swedish contact – watch this space…
    2. Apparently (and dispensing with invisible words),

      1) ‘fartlek’ (literally ‘speed-play’) is used in the same sense in Swedish as in English;

      2) ‘tungsten’ (‘heavy-stone’) is a Swedish word but doesn’t mean ‘tungsten’, it means a mineral containing tungsten, whereas the Swedish word for ‘tungsten’ is ‘wolfram’ (hence the chemical symbol W);

      3) the unit ‘ångström’ (‘steam-stream’), named after its inventor (Anders Jonas Ångström), is probably still a Swedish word but this unit is apparently rarely used these days.

  8. 4:58 on post-hol catch-up – the easiest of the bunch for me. Thought “shrub” was iffy for euphorbia – ours are a bit rampant, but plants rather than shrubs. Can’t offer you any more on Swedish words except that I’m sure fartlek as a training technique was borrowed from the Swededes along with the word.
  9. DNK the connection between mother and courage having never heard of Grimmelhausen nor seen a Brecht play. It had to be “courage” after we had a “smorGasbord of minoR euphOrbia” for the checkers though.

    Only the handful of omitted “easies” for the bunnies:

    6a Plans for returning such unsolicited mail (4)
    SPAM. MAPS returned – the “such” in the clue tells us the answer is SPAM and not MAPS – as discussed above.

    10a Call round (4)

    19a Willingly show partiality for spirits (4,1,4)
    LIKE A SHOT. Of Chartreuse perhaps?

    2d Health resort on river having a boom (4)
    SPA R. A nautical clue.

    14d (Noted Pope P)*arking battered convertible (4-6)
    OPEN-TOPPED. A different version of a Popemobile. Perhaps his Holiness uses it to go street-racing round the Colusseum? Maybe after a shot of Chartreuse??

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