The closest I get to finishing a cryptic crossword is by starting it. I pick up a cryptic, and in two hours, I've finished a grand total of one word (if I'm lucky), and probably got that one wrong (if I'm lucky). I find the damn things infuriating: I don't know how anyone can do them. Pretty much the only reason I published a cryptic crossword on this website a month ago was to infuriate my readers. If I can alienate one reader a day, I'm happy.
So anyway, I was walking along the street with my nose stuck in a Lovatt's cryptic book today, merrily causing the usual screeching cars and traffic collisions, and getting more and more incensed as I read the clues.
8. Brown boy included in study of plants.
That one turned out to be 'Botany'. Okay, so study of plants is 'Botany'. 'Brown' is 'Tan'. But 'Boy' is not to be found 'in' the word 'Botany', though you could possibly - if you were a pervert, a blackguard or a person who compiled cryptic crosswords for a living - say that the 'Boy' was 'around Brown'. It's a stupid clue, and doesn't make sense!
24. Drunken central European pedestrian becomes circus performer.
This is 'Tightrope Walker'. 'Rope' is at the centre of 'Europe', you see, and 'Walker' is pedestrian, but what pun or colloquialism am I missing out on that makes 'Tight' mean 'Drunk'?
These weren't the worst, either. 'Spooner conned Dee with beast of burden' was craptacular; the Spoonerism they were looking out for, it turned out, was 'Donkey'. 'Conned Dee' turns into 'Donkey'? Get it? Neither do I. It's the worst pun I've ever read; obviously the guys who wrote this thing couldn't get a job at Channel Ten's 'The Wedge'.
This clue, however, made me shout out loud at its stupidity:
26. Mass emigration from Biblical book.
Not that it was hard - it was easy. Mass emigration, that's 'exodus'. Biblical book, well, that's 'Exodus' too. But why bother jamming the two together? That's not a cryptic clue, it's two normal clues put together in an inelegant fashion to piss the reader off.
Grrr. Grrrr! Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr!!!!
By the way, twelve across: 'Manner of speaking during childbirth'. (As if any mother would be mannered during childbirth...) It's eight letters. Any suggestions?
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