VAT Evasion

Here’s an unpublished puzzle from the fairly distant past.  I’ve always been meticulous (and, yes, I do know ‘anal’ has fewer letters) about dating my completed puzzles, and if I straighten out the yellowing paper on this one I see the date 19 April 1983.  For all that, I’ve rewritten only six clues, and one of those was to remove a dated topical reference, rather than because the clue was poor.  Admittedly the other five were pretty ropey…

How did this puzzle come about?  Well, back then I was what now seems bumptiously confident, and thought you could just submit a puzzle anywhere.  So I took a standard Spectator grid, produced what you see below (bar six clues) and sent it off to the editor of the magazine.  What followed was what Wodehouse memorably likened to ‘dropping a feather down the Grand Canyon, and waiting for the echo’.  And in that limbo it has remained, until I found it in my files.

See what you make of it, and please let me know if you have any comments.


VAT Evasion by Phi

6 19 describes each of the lights clued by a number, including 44 where no number is relevant.  There are alternatives for some of the numbers. 10 across, though common enough, is not in Chambers.


1             Old miscreant, see, twirling rattle round (8)

5             Friend has marvellous house (6)

10           Nothing initially caught in hook in hand? Try this! (10, 2 words)

12           Keep student in class (6)

13           One who switches sheets of paper in series (8)

16           2 (5)

17           Musical instrument firm backing singer’s performance, including short number (7)

18           Covering up, we hear, is a feature of séances (7)

20           Feet throughout will take peculiar steps (8)

25           Sudden shout (volume reduced) (3)

26           See his pert jiving? (7)

28           Local pastures – very nearly the smallest to include plant (7)

29           Woman always without right (3)

31           7 (8)

34           Develops rug with sure weaving (7)

36           A revolving index, a broken dial, and bits of direction-finding equipment (7)

39           There’s energy in every star (5)

40           5 (8)

41           Where some Scots are displaying a curling stroke (6)

42           Dodgy counsellor, vaguely ethical about work with Henry (10)

43           Beginning to savour a course that’s salty (6)

44           (8)


1             4 (6)

2             “Allert” is incorrectly written – it shows one of these (8)

3             Something in the cuppa – an article that is wrapped around end of spoon (6)

4             Occasional congregation member is close to church, right?… (5)

7             …unlike one who’s this – that is Alice, being devilish (11)

8             One helping to make quiche (French)? (4)

9             Worries about actors stopping short – results of corpsing? (8)

11           8 (7)

14           Revolting, in the manner of a poisonous plant (4)

15           Famous athlete with internal poise is to contend (4)

16           Supporter’s not quite total discernment I very nearly call ridiculous (11)

21           Indifferent pair of bones turned up (2-2)

22           Therefore he will enter Tunisia (4)

23           10 (8)

24           3 (7)

25           Pork, perhaps? But the supply of food is cut short (4)

27           Tailed fish – outstanding (8)

30           The matter’s hard to press forward (4)

31           See black wing – I often share my home with bats (4)

32           Butter-tree that is containing the reverse of something disagreeable (6)

33           Check letters (but not all letters) for question at election time? (6)

35           Chap restricted by highway tax (5)

37           Singer’s taken up help, restricting volume (4)

38           23 (4)





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