Independent 1159 solution

The solution grid has the Nina helpfully highlighted – that’s not readily possible in the daily.  It’s the name of my partner (you will go off and look at her page and shops, won’t you?), and the way I chose to split her name very much dictated the words that went in.  You want an 8-letter word starting MARJ-?  MARJORAM is pretty well it.  ORIE__ (6)? Well, you can try ORIELS, but ORIENT was easier to get past the editor, and the list of possibles stops there.  There isn’t even that much of a familiar kind of thing around DAW___ (6).

That left SON_____ (8), and I chose Sondheim for the ‘hedonism’ anagram – something of an old chestnut, but it is worth recalling that someone finds an old chestnut new and interesting every time it’s used.  (He is, or, rather, was a crossword setter – this site suggests that his book of puzzles may be republished in due course, and it looks like you can try three of them here.)  Only subsequently did I think about him being alive (come to think of it, ‘Being Alive’ is a song from Company).  Crossword editors worry about living people – other than the Queen, where the absolute usefulness of ER overrides any other consideration – and whether the inclusion of them could lead to an embarrassing clue or, more awkwardly, that the puzzle with the name in might appear on the day said living person dies, or is discovered to be a Bulgarian mole, or a wife-beater, or an associate of Jimmy Savile.

It’s hard to see that ‘Playwright to finish notebook around end of year’ is going to be a problem even if Sir Tom kicks the bucket or runs naked down Haverfordwest High Street just as it appears, and these days there is a greater relaxation around the issue.  But, at the time, living people in The Independent crossword were verboten.

So how did Sondheim slip through?  “Ah,” said the editor, when I asked, “I wasn’t sure whether he was alive or dead, and it’s such a nice anagram”.  22 years later, Stephen Sondheim is still with us – I guess that uncertainty of that nature is one of the sources of untimely obituaries, a topic of current interest to me as I’ve just completed a puzzle based on a writer who read his own obituary.  (No, not Twain.)

What, you thought there’s be a solution here?  Oh, all right, then…



1             MARJORAM; o,r in mar jam

5             ORIENT; or i.e. NT

10           PRESTIDIGITATOR; I dig it in anag.

11           SUMMONS; mon in sums

12           TRIREME; R in E merit (rev.)

13           STAKE NET; taken in set

15           KAPPA; hidden

18           INCUS; hidden

20           GADARENE; anag. + e & lit.

23           TITOIST; tit + is in o t

25           ANCHORS; an chor(e)s

26           PARTNERS IN CRIME; part + anag. + rim in CE

27           DAWNED; d awned

28           SONDHEIM; anag.


1             MOPISH; m op is h

2             RHEUMATIC; he in rum + a tic

3             OUTLOOK; out look

4             ANDES; an DES

6             RATFINK; anag. in rank

7             EYTIE; ‘I tie’

8             TARPEIAN; initial letters + I + an

9             AGITATED; a + it in gated

14           NUGATORY; a gun (rev.) + Tory

16           PANTOMIME; tom I’m in pane

17           MISTYPED; misty PE d

19           SCIENCE; s.c. + anag.

21           ROCK-COD; rock + cod

22           ESTEEM; E ‘steam’

24           THROW; anag.

25           AMIGO; a.m. I go
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