Quick Cryptic No 2694 by Izetti


An approachable puzzle from Izetti. One piece of general knowledge that I didn’t have at all, but mostly fair and enjoyable, although there is one clue (I’m looking at you, 15 across) that I’m sure will generate some adverse comments. I thought of it like two unpleasant people getting married to each other: at least only two people are miserable instead of four.

I came in at just under 16:00, which I’ll take any day for an Izetti puzzle.

Definitions underlined, synonyms in round brackets, wordplay in square brackets and deletions in strikethrough.

1 Counterpart in game (5)
MATCH – A double definition.
4 Regret nasty comment being heard? Nonsense! (7)
RHUBARB – Aural wordplay [being heard] of ‘rue barb’.
8 Loving to make call after a party (7)
ADORING – RING (to make call) after A DO (a party).
9 No longer going to church, having left to thrive (5)
EXCEL – EX (no longer), CE (Church of England), L (left).
10 Discovers sectarians being troubled (10)
ASCERTAINS – anagram [troubled] of SECTARIANS.
14 Idea impracticable, I gathered (6)
NOTION – NOT ON (impracticable) with an I inserted [I gathered].
15 Woman, 21, in building added on (6)
ANNEXE – ANN (a woman) + EXE (the answer to clue 21d in this puzzle).

I foresee some harrumphing here as there are two of the tricks that elicit complaints in this one clue. Not only do we have a random name, we’ve also got a cross-reference.

When I got here, I jumped down to 21d. Fortunately, that came easily and so this one went in on the first pass.

17 Neither going up nor down? That’s fair (2,3,5)
ON THE LEVEL – Double definition? Definition plus a cryptic hint? I don’t think it matters.
20 What causes me to see rubbish! (2,3)
MY EYE – Another double definition.

I’d say that I doubt anyone has said “My eye!” for “Rubbish!” in 30 years, but then I worked with someone who routinely said “Great snakes!”, so I’ve learned not to generalise too much.

22 Mum in highest part of ship (7)
MAINTOP – MA (Mum), IN, TOP (highest).

Lift and separate “highest part of ship”.

23 Son in fairly good journey down mountain? (7)
DESCENT – S (Son) in DECENT (fairly good).
24 Some remembered something glowing (5)
EMBER – Hidden in [some] remEMBERed.
1 Grumble, as fellow possessing nothing (4)
MOAN – O (nothing) in MAN (fellow).
2 Overturned sack to find implement (4)
TOOL – LOOT (sack, as in ‘to sack a city’) reversed [overturned].
3 Greeting on street, one that is icy (9)
HAILSTONE – HAIL (greeting), ST (street), ONE.

I think “one” here is doing double duty, being both part of the wordplay and part of the answer. I don’t think just “that is icy” works as a definition of “hailstone”. But I look forward to being educated.

4 Fiddled, getting dressed (6)
RIGGED – Another double definition.

‘Rigged’ for ‘dressed’ makes me think of Flashman.

5 Element of housekeeper’s employment (3)
USE – Hidden in [element of] hoUSEkeeper.

Unusual to have two hidden words that are both contained within single longer words.

6 Cunning Burl once making records (8)
ARCHIVES – ARCH (cunning) + IVES (Burl once).

I had never heard of Burl Ives. Turns out he is responsible for the recordings of Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer and Holly Jolly Christmas that pollute all public spaces from about the end of October onwards. Bah humbug.

I wasn’t helped here by misremembering Aaron Burr as Aaron Burl and trying to make that into something useful.

7 Boastful talk securing a post (8)
BALUSTER – BLUSTER (boastful talk) securing [containing] A.

This was my LOI, dredged up from who-knows-where. A baluster is a “a short pillar or column, typically decorative in design, in a series supporting a rail or coping” (Oxford Languages – online). I knew it had something to do with staircases, but would have struggled to distinguish it from “banister”.

11 Unusual Argentine fruit (9)
TANGERINE – Anagram [unusual] of ARGENTINE.
12 Currently successful editor, one’s told (8)
INFORMED – IN FORM (currently successful, like a sports team), ED (editor).

I’m not sure what purpose “one” is serving in this clue.

13 Good person speaks — does so with hesitations (8)
STUTTERS – ST (saint, good person) UTTERS (speaks).

The definition refers back to “speaks” in the wordplay.

16 There’s wood in the strange piece of armour (6)
HELMET – ELM (wood) in an anagram [strange] of THE.
18 Attempt is crazy? The reverse (4)
STAB – BATS (crazy) reversed [um, the reverse].

As in “I’ll have a stab at this blogging malarkey.”

19 Pole in box (4)
SPAR – Another double definition, the second being the verb form.
21 Old lover given Eastern flower in Devon (3)
EXE – EX (old lover) with E (eastern).

The River Exe is, of course, something that flows in Devon. Is this the oldest trick in the setters’ handbook? Not that I’m complaining, you understand.

88 comments on “Quick Cryptic No 2694 by Izetti”

  1. You would think I’d be better at the rivers by now. But luckily for me, I had biffed ANNEXE and that helped me with EXE. So the crossreference worked in my favour!

    Alas no such favours for me for ARCHIVES or BALUSTER.

    I saw ‘Burl’ and just figured it must be an anagram because I couldn’t recall even vaguely anyone named Burl. I gave up as I was in a surgeon’s waiting room (I’m always having a good time with my health)

    Everything else was quite doable and was surprised to find it was an Izetti when I came to the blog!

  2. 12:50. NOTION, INFORMED, RHUBARB, and MY EYE were favourites. I’ve never heard the exclamation “Great snakes” but I had an uncle who would say “Goodness gracious snakes alive”.

  3. Oh i forgot. I had no idea Rhubarb was nonsense and I’ve never heard someone say ‘my eye’, it’s usually ‘my foot’, but in high school French lessons my textbook told me that the French often said ‘Mon oeil!’ accompanied with a comical tugging of the lower eyelid

    I have no idea if that is true or not

    1. All I can say, Tina, is that having travelled around France, for many years, on holiday, we decided to retire, here, in July 2020 – and I haven’t heard anyone use the expression, yet.

      1. Maybe you haven’t said anything rubbish around a French person to prompt the expression! 😁

  4. An insomniacal solve in which I was dragged into the SCC by several minutes of trying to work out my LOI,BALUSTER, which I didn’t know as a word. Having had B*L*S*** earlier in the solve I did a bit of a double take, but that form of boastful talk didn’t parse, so I left it to return to later. Bluster came to me eventually and fitted with the a introduced, so I assumed there must be such a thing.
    Liked RHUBARB. Didn’t hang about to fully parse ANNEXE so thanks for the explanation. The EXE is local-ish to me so no problems with that.
    Burl was very obscure, but somehow he rang a faint bell.

  5. 10 minutes. It’s unusual to have an instance of double duty in an Izetti puzzle but I can’t see any other explanation for the clue to HAILSTONE.

    Americans, at least of a certain vintage, would know Burl Ives of course as a singer of folk songs, and he was no mean actor, perhaps most notably playing ‘Big Daddy’ in the film of Tennessee Williams’s Cat On A Hot Tin Roof but he was also very well known in the UK.

    In the 1950s, 1960s and into the 1970s his recordings featured every week in Children’s Favourites a radio record request programme with a huge audience presented originally by ‘Uncle Mac’ then Ed ‘Stewpot’ Stewart, reflecting the songs popularity. Titles such as Big Rock Candy Mountain, I Know An Old Lady Who Swallowed A Fly, The Blue Tail Fly and Ugly Bug Ball come immediately to mind, but there were countless others.

    1. A programme not to be missed on Saturday morning! Some wonderful songs, probably some would be banned nowadays!

  6. Insomniac, so completed this at 5.30 a.m, in 5’52”. BALUSTER half-remembered – my school had balustrades.

    Thanks doofenschmurtz and setter.

  7. I upped stumps at 35 minutes with four clues unsolved. With 2 DNFs in the past two days and 4 pinkies on Monday this is proving to be a disappointingly poor week for me.
    Interestingly last week, whilst on holiday in a WiFi dead spot, I had to buy The Times each day to do the QCs and fair flew through them with 100% accuracy. Maybe it’s coincidence, but in the early days when I used to do them on paper I did much better than I do now and can think of no reason why that should be. Ho hum.
    Not much to write home about re today’s QC other than it was damned hard – for me at least.
    Thanks to Doofers and Izetti.

  8. Izetti is by far my favourite of all the setters we get here in the QC—because, to me, he is the master of creating a Times ‘lite’ crossword puzzle. When I am doing an Izetti, it always feels exactly as though I am doing the main crossword (which I have been doing on and off for many years) just a little smaller and easier than usual. It feels like I am doing the Times crossword just much faster than I usually do.

    And today was a perfect example, taking me 11 minutes (in contrast to my usual 30-45 for the main).

  9. I’ve definitely heard his work but Burl Ives was a complete unknown to me. Alpha trawl was on the second round before R going between A and C seemed feasible – and there was ARCHIVES. BLUSTER was hard too. Those were the last ones in. Only five on the first pass of acrosses on the way to being all green in 13.09.

  10. Paused for a minute to see how XXI fitted in ANNEXE, shrugged and scurried on. Thanks Doofers.
    After realising that an anagram of BURL wouldn’t work,
    assumed that IVES was required. Familiar, and I thought, forgettable. Fortunately, not completely. I shall once again return BURL Ives back into some distant crevice of memory.
    LOI BALUSTER. I had Balustrade in mind but it took a while to work through Bolster to Baluster.
    COD NOTION. 29:55 For a satisfying solve that could have easily gone awry.

  11. Romped through three quarters of this only to be slowed considerably by the NE corner. Eventually BALUSTER emerged (like RobR I had balustrade in my mind but I’m not sure I’ve ever met the singular baluster, and I am more familiar with the tern bannister), then the B gave me RHUBARB (until then I had expected it to start ROU-), and finally LOI ARCHIVES. I may or may not have heard of Burl Ives in the dim and distant past but if I have he certainly didn’t come to mind, so this was a tough one for me. Did anyone else start by thinking that the clue was an anagram of burl once?

    So all done in 11 minutes, but at least 3 of those minutes on the last 3 clues. A good puzzle, a good workout. Many thanks Doofers for the blog.

  12. I thought this was tricky in places – particularly the NE, which was pretty much blank until the end.
    Fortunately a semi-parsed ‘topmast’ didn’t hold me up for too long as SPAR was a bit of a gimme at 19d.
    Started with ADORING and finished with the unknown BALUSTER in 9.04 but needed the blog to fully understand ARCHIVES as it sounds as though Burl was in his heyday way before my time.
    Thanks to Doofers.

  13. I remember listening to Burl Ives on the radio on Saturday mornings in the 50s; the programme was Children’s Favourites and the same songs, more or less, were played every week. Ives’ most played songs were The Ugly Bug Ball, The Big Rock Candy Mountain and I Know An Old Lady (who swallowed a fly…). All on Spotify of course!

  14. Hard one, 20+ mins. Same traps and rat holes as many. Never heard of Burl, and it looked just like anagram fodder, probably with “once”. I never remember the cross reference indicator, and since the Anne’s I know spell it with an e, I was trying to get XE=21.

    Hard yards all the way.


  15. Oh boy that was a toughie, will blame tiredness from returning from Italy yesterday but 53.25 was a long slog, although satisfying to not give up on LOI baluster. We never really got any momentum dotting around all over the place picking off what we could. The NE also most difficult for us.

    Tomorrow’s another day.

    Thanks Izetti and Doofers

  16. I was surprised to find Burl Ives in a QC. I remember him chiefly for ‘The Foggy, Foggy Dew’ (from an English ballad), and as Jack noted, Big Daddy. I certainly never associated him with ‘Rudolf ‘ or ‘The Big Rock Candy Mountain’, neither of which he wrote. I forgot to look at 21d and like Merlin first tried to get XE=21. That helped lengthen my time to 8:10.

    1. I wasn’t aware that Burl Ives ever wrote any songs but he certainly researched and collected old ones and brought them to new audiences. He published a Burl Ives Song Book that I used to possess but disappeared somewhere over the years. It contained 115 songs.

  17. 8:00

    Tough first pass of acrosses – only three went in, so was thinking that this might be like pulling teeth. Slightly better on the downs which gave some footholds. I didn’t connect the 21 in 15a with the answer to 21d so wondered for longer than I should, how XE or EXE = 21. Not very good with parts of ships, so thankful to the checkers for making MAINTOP easy. BALUSTER was my LOI.

    For HAILSTONE, I wondered if the definition was ‘that’ i.e. the HAILSTONE.

    Thanks Doofers and Izetti

  18. I just finished in 8:02 with the either NHO or maybe vaguely-heard-of BALUSTER as LOI. I was fearing to come here and expose my ignorance so very relieved to see today’s blogger having the exact same issue 🙂

  19. “Approachable”, quoth Doofers, “MY EYE”, quoth Templar – I thought that was really tough. I was north of 15 mins by the time I DNFed, throwing the towel in on my trawls for the blanks in -N-O-MED at 12d. (What IS “one’s” doing in that clue?)

    By then I’d spent a glacial age in the NE. ARCHIVES had to be but I was born in 1965 and have never heard of Burl Ives (I see from the comments above that he was a children’s radio favourite in the 50s and 60s, so The Times is clearly targeting the youth market). I eventually remembered BALUSTER from a fine arts lecture at the British Institute in Florence, but that was another toughie. RIGGED also somewhat antiquated for “dressed”. And so on.

    Big fat DNF today. Anyone who completed this one is definitely ready to have a go at the 15 because I found both Monday’s and yesterday’s 15 considerably easier than this. Many thanks Izetti and Doofers.


    1. I think one’s is there just to help with the surface, or confuse the reader, depending on your point of view 😉

    2. I understood it as the party who is (one’s) told is the INFORMED, equally one’s not told could be UNINFORMED. If you squint it works, but IN FORM ED left me little alternative.

    3. I have 18 years on you, and well remember Derek McCulloch (Uncle Mac) playing Burl Ives frequently on Children’s Favourites (the old BBC Light Programme).

  20. Struggled up top (in both senses) after the Moan and Tool write-ins, so jumped to the bottom of the grid and fortunately had more success. By the time I returned, I was more in tune with Izetti’s very particular style and Match, Rhubarb and Baluster suddenly seemed a lot easier. I was very surprised to see a reference to Burl Ives, even with the ‘once’ hint, but I can still remember listening to him, so Archives went in without a problem once I had the starting letter. Loi 12d Informed finally fell via an alpha-trawl, with the 30min post in plain sight. CoD to Notion, a nose ahead of Stutters. Invariant

  21. 9:18 with a struggle or two in the bottom half but the longish yet easy TANGERINE and ON THE LEVEL came to the rescue with lots of crossers. Loi STUTTERER. As for HAILSTONE it was a ‘had to be’ and I was happy to shrug and accept ‘that is icy’ as the definition. As has been said above ‘one’ does look like double duty.

  22. I enjoyed this so thanks all. Sorry to be a stuck needle but I do wish the setters would make these puzzles more accessible to younger solvers. Panda cars yesterday , Burl Ives today – a bit much I feel!

  23. Was using the Cheating Machine for 6d ARCHIVES with anagrist “Burl once”, but the CM froze and then I had enough crossers for ARCHIVES to be a write-in, so I looked Burl up. I am old enough to remember the songs but I don’t think I ever knew the name. I remember Cat on a hot tin roof, but remembered only Elizabeth Taylor out of the cast TBH. I can’t think why I remember her… except that she was known as “most beautiful woman in the world”.

  24. OK for me now, especially now that I’m back on a big screen with a keyboard.

    Ashamed to say I didn’t spot the cross reference for ANNEXE. STAB was LOI after I finally lifted and separated to get MAINTOP. NHO Mr Ives, but didn’t hesitate to assume there was such a person.


  25. A tough 16 minutes for me with LOI BALUSTER where I was looking for a word meaning Boastful.
    I wasted time trying an anagram of BURL ONCE. I had thought of Burl Ives immediately but assumed, wrongly, that even Izetti would not expect us to know that.
    Also biffed ANNEXE having tried the obvious XXI.
    Overall what you expect from Izetti, a high quality challenging puzzle with some fun clues.

  26. To finish, I had to look up Post in the CCD for LOI BALUSTER – sigh.
    Otherwise enjoyable. Liked RHUBARB, ARCHIVES (knew of Burl), HELMET, HAILSTONE (COD).
    Very puzzled about biffed ANNEXE as surely Izetti knows his Roman numerals! Needed blog to parse that one.
    Biffed MAINTOP. Does anyone say ‘MY EYE’ these days?
    Sometimes I am surprised about NHOs on here but my younger offspring don’t seem to know as much as one might expect either, despite extensive education. Maybe IT stopped them from reading.
    Thank so much, Doofers.

  27. Well I was doing fairly well on this with about nine minutes elapsed before I got to my LOI the elusive 7dn. I had to stop myself from writing in BULLS**T, but I nevertheless thought the word had at least to begin with BULL. After rechecking the crossers BALUSTER finally came to me and I crossed the line in 12.16. Baluster is a word well known to me as I’ve written a description of it into many a specification for a staircase, so I really should have got it sooner.

  28. I was going reasonably well and at 17 minutes had just 4 to go, all in the NE. Unfortunately these 4 took a further 9 minutes, making a rather unsatisfactory 26 minutes in all. As far as I’m concerned anything under 20 minutes, which looked a possibility at one point, for an Izetti is OK. Fell into all the traps which have already been mentioned and wrote out ‘Burl once’ as an anagrist at 6dn, but ASCERTAINS soon put paid to that. NHO MAINTOP but the crossers were friendly so it didn’t cause an undue hold-up.

    FOI – 8ac ADORING
    LOI – 6dn ARCHIVES (entered with a shrug but a PDM as I was actually writing it in and saw the barely remembered Mr Ives)
    COD – loved the surfaces for EXCEL, INFORMED and HELMET

    Thanks to Izetti and Doofers

  29. Had all the checkers but then went for Maintip not MAINTOP. DNK MAINTOP and my answer seemed reasonable to me at least! Otherwise LOI BALUSTER in just under 15 minutes.

  30. 12:17(English beat French army at battle of Lincoln, and French fleet at battle of Sandwich. Llewelyn invades South Wales and conquers Swansea)

    I’m not sure it counts as biffing, but my thought processes in 15a were “ANNEXE fits the definition and starts with a girl’s name, clearly not ANNXXI, so put in ANNEXE and see if 21d is the river EXE”

    NHO Burl Ives.
    Heard of BALUSTRADE, but no idea that it meant a series of BALUSTERs.

    Thanks Doofers and Izetti

    1. The Battle of Lincoln (more usually known as the Battle of Lincoln Fair) is a great favourite of mine (indeed I was lecturing on it just this very morning!) and – despite being very little known – is a real turning point in England’s history. It took place on 20 May 1217 and saw the remaining few barons loyal to King Henry III take on Louis, Dauphin of France and self-proclaimed rival King of England. Louis had the support of 2/3 of England’s barons, held London, had taken the English treasury, and led an army 4 times the size of Henry’s, but the English were victorious, and chased Louis from Lincoln all the way to Dover where he and the remnant of his army fled for home. One of the least known but most decisive battles of the medieval era.

      Which is why England remained English and this crossword is not in French!

  31. About 13 mins.
    Archives and informed both poor clues imo. Keep it simple:
    Vicar, she smashes records.
    Playing well, editor told.

    COD stutters.

  32. 16:39

    Bit of a struggle. Took too long to untangle ASCERTAINS before I could see BALUSTER and HAILSTONE and finally LOI MATCH.

    Not a puzzle with a particularly COD for me.

    Thanks all.

  33. Dnf…

    Perhaps I’m out of step, but I found this really hard and struggled with the NE corner in particular.

    Apart from 7dn “Baluster”, which I didn’t know, the rest seemed reasonable upon reviewing the blog. But, I just couldn’t see them, especially when they were all grouped together.

    Never heard of 20ac “My Eye” with regards to “rubbish”.

    FOI – 1dn “Moan”
    LOI – Dnf
    COD – 21dn “Exe” – lovely surface.

    Thanks as usual!

  34. By far the most enjoyable QC this week for me. Tricky in places, and I needed His Orangeness’ help with 7d. I had no idea what a baluster is, but Pumpa says he’s used one or two as a scratching post in his time.

    Never heard anybody say “my eye”. Using it’s “my foot” or “my a…”. I better not finish that one.


    My verdict: 👍
    Pumpa’s verdict: scratch scratch scratch.

    1. I’m delighted to see you nominate an Izetti puzzle as your favourite – you used to hate them! Definite progress my friend.

  35. A steady and enjoyable solve despite the sneaky cross-reference.

    TIME 4:24

  36. I found this one tricky but fair. I was taken over my target by last 2 in, ASCERTAINS and BALUSTER. Never got any rhythm going and had to wander around the grid again. MOAN and TOOL were first 2 in. I thought of Ives as soon as I saw Burl, but didn’t solve the clue until late in the solve after RHUBARB and EXCEL made ARCH likely for cunning. 10:13. Thanks Izetti and Doofers.

  37. Finished correctly in 55 minutes.
    I though that this was quite tough.

    I remember Burl Ives singing the song “there was an old lady who swallowed a spider”
    – appalling but memorable.
    He also played the part of “Big Daddy” in the 1958 film “Cat On a Hot Tin Roof”. Paul Newman played his son Brick and Elizabeth Taylor played his daughter in law.

      1. Yes. Sorry.

        I have only just read your original post.
        You seem to know all of this already.

        Cat on a hot tin roof – was a very strange film . Paul Newman’s character (Brick) gay or not ?
        We never really got to know.

        1. Thanks. Actually it’s fair enough not to have read or taken in every comment that’s been made 11-12 hours after the blog has gone up, and I’ve done it myself, but my cage had been rattled by someone virtually reposting a whole chunk of my observations about Burl earlier in the day when there had only been a few other comments on the board.

  38. Drat, drat and double-drat! I forgot to check my answer to 6d (which I had previously question-marked) before downing tools and coming here. I’d NHO Burl Ives, but had got as far as ARCHIVEr and I would like to think a re-examination of the clue would have yielded the final S. But I didn’t and today’s outcome has to go down as a 42-minute DNF in my records.

    RHUBARB was my FOI (and CoD) and TOOL, MATCH and HAILSTONE were my final three. Along the way I spent ages struggling over O_ M__ LEVEL before realising that STammERS was incorrect at 13d. Overall, not a particularly enjoyable experience, I’m afraid.

    Many thanks to Izetti and Doofers.

  39. I’m sure someone has posted this above but the wording of the clue makes me suspect the answer was originally going to be INFORMER. I hesitated for quite awhile before submitting because I thought INFORMED might have been a trap. Thankfully, there was no other choice for the crossing last letter.

  40. Well, I’m not so sure about approachable! In fact, quite amazingly, I finished the biggie more quickly than this one, by two minutes. So if anyone is thinking about tackling the 15×15, today might be the day to give it a go.
    I know numbers in numerical form usually relate to another clue, but for some reason, that piece of knowledge escaped and I couldn’t get to grips with ANNEXE at all. Not helped by the fact that I would
    normally spell the name ANNE. I also had a lot of trouble with 7d because, with just these letters – B.L.S…, I too couldn’t see past something that, unlike MY EYE, I could not imagine passing Izetti’s lips 😅
    I mostly remember Burl Ives from The Ugly Bug Ball. I have seen IVES clued by US composer on the other side – that would be Charles Ives, who is probably mostly known to modern music buffs and their wives / mothers! Very esoteric.
    I thought this was a very neat crossword though – almost as terse as a Mara!
    16:00 or thereabouts FOI Adoring LOI Baluster COD Notion
    Thanks Izetti and Doofers

  41. 12.44 I found this quite chewy with a fair bit of hopping about. LOI ARCHIVES was biffed but Burl Ives is starting to ring a faint bell. I do know many of the songs mentioned above. Thanks Doofers and Izetti.

  42. Way too hard with 7 unsolved when I threw in the towel. NHO MAINTOP or BALUSTER accounting for two of them. I did know Burl Ives (I’m the wrong side of 70) but ARCH for cunning? Not in my thesaurus. And EXCEL for thrive was also a stretch for me (could have referenced spreadsheets??)

    1. Gary, you have a typo in your comment: it’s either the 14 or OK-ish. I hope it’s the latter, but surely you can see they can’t both be true for an Izetti 🤔

      1. Fair point. I found the QC straightforward today and was cross because I saw IVES immediately but lacked the confidence to put it in. That and BALUSTER cost me a few minutes, spoiling slightly what would have been a very good day. As with IVES, I saw BALUSTER instantly but then doubted myself. I would have come close to 10 mins had I been more confident.

  43. 23:00

    Actually DNF. Got carried away at unravelling the SE corner and overlooked that I hadn’t solved LOI INFORMED. Quickly unraveled it once I saw the pink squares but what a stupid mistake!

  44. This one really made my head ache. I didn’t get BALUSTER and thought that was it only to find when I checked here that eve was wrong for EXE. I should have known as I couldn’t parse it.

  45. DNF, thwarted by RIGGED, RHUBARB and BALUSTER.

    I got the Burl Ives reference, though. When I was very small someone gave me a record which contained (among others) the song Horace the Horse on the Merry-go-round. The gist of the song is that Horace is depressed because he believes himself to be the very last horse on the merry-go-round. One day, after further analysis, he recontextualises his situation and decides that he is actually leading all of the other horses, greatly improving his self-esteem and establishing a healthy mental equilibrium.

    Thank you for the blog!

  46. Just spent 75 mins on the proper crossword. A chastening experience. About 2/3 completed but a bit disappointed when I checked the answers. It was meant to be straightforward!


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