The Stickler Weekly 129 Solution

I’ve talked before about the dangers of offending people through the content and clues of a cryptic crossword. A cryptic clue isn’t meant to be taken as a whole phrase, as it’s generally a two-part puzzle, usually presented in a seamless way. However, a clue can still impart something that people might not like even if the answer isn’t related at all to the meaning of the entire clue. Regular solvers usually look past this, but casual readers may not understand the workings of a clue and take it the wrong way. Similarly some words trigger negative responses in their own right, in both clues and as answers, so setters try to steer clear of obvious sensitive words. Setters often write their crosswords weeks, sometimes months, ahead and don’t have control over unforeseen events like deaths or disasters, and so can fall foul of readers through unlucky timing.
Last Friday, David Astle included a number of detention centres in his cryptic, what we setters would call a theme crossword. In this case, one answer is referred to by a number of others. There are lots of other types of theme crosswords, but this style is a common one and can be applied to everything from movie characters to former PMs to ingredients in a recipe. A letter appeared in The Age the following day (“No basis for a game”) criticising David Astle for his theme, especially considering the related events that were reported in the news that week. I think it’s important to note that apart from a reference in the main clue (for DETENTION CENTRE) which had the definition “grim shelter” (which personally I think is a perfect summation), there’s no attempt by the setter to state any opinion and make any judgements – the crossword simply contains a related collection of facts. It would have been possible to include other entries and/or define answers in such a way that the reader would know exactly how the setter feels about the situation – effectively writing an opinion piece – but this wasn’t done. He could have included a hidden message, but that wasn’t done either.
Of course the use of this theme is a statement in its own right – read into that what you will. Also the theme was presumably sanctioned by the newspaper since they published it, so they saw nothing wrong with its use. As mentioned before, it’s likely the crossword was constructed and teed up for publication a long time before the publication date, so David Astle would have had no idea of what might happen during the preceding weeks, which you might say was a potentially risky approach.
A second letter appeared the next day (“Full Marks to DA”) applauding David Astle for using the detention centre theme, so I guess the use of the theme can be viewed in different ways. We will never know how many letters to the editor were for or against in this case, as newspapers print according to their own agenda, but I’m guessing most people wouldn’t consider David Astle’s use of this theme offensive. What about you?

Across Answers and Clues Explanations
1 SECEDE
Withdraw witness bagging criminal’s primary education (6) SEE outside [(C)RIMINAL +ED]
4 BORDERED
Framed degree accepted by foundation (8) ORDER inside BED
10 ALIEN
False information admitted by an outsider (5) AN outside LIE
11 EXECRABLE
Board member runs competent offensive (9) EXEC + R + ABLE
12 DEBILITATED
Considered opening up for one literally weak (11) DEBATED outside (I + LIT)
13 ILL
Sick contents of blackmail letters (3) blackmaIL Letters
14 DIRECTED
Awful court journalist should be provided guidance (8) DIRE + CT + ED
15 SHOO
Leave photographic assignment ahead of time (4) (SHOO)T
18 REST
Take a break, or not, in holiday centre (4) RESORT minus OR
20 ALCOHOLS
Lab supplies a large school undergoing refurbishment (8) A + L + anagram of SCHOOL
24 AXE
Remove unlimited compulsory financial contributions? (3) T(AXE)S
25 OSTENTATION
Ring broadcaster about return of web show (11) (O + STATION) outside (NET reversed)
26 FLAGSTONE
Paving material falls off one behind back of outlet (9) FLAGS + [ONE after OUTLE(T)]
27 SCORE
Orchestrate opening of shopping centre (5) (S)HOPPING + CORE
28 LEGALISM
Support reformation of Islam’s strict adherence to law (8) LEG + anagram of ISLAM
29 TARTAN
Sharp one checked material (6) TART + AN
 Down  Answers and Clues Explanations
1 SHANDY
Nitrogen discovered in cool drink (6) N inside SHADY
2 CLIMBED
Claim all but a garden plot for rose (7) CLAIM minus A + BED
3 DANGLERS
One third of rod fishermen, perhaps? (8) RO(D) + ANGELRS
5 OVER-THE-COUNTER
Manifest male opposed is legally sold directly to customers (4-3-7) OVERT + HE + COUNTER
6 DERIDE
Laugh at line-up in murder identification? (6) murDER IDEntification
7 RUBBISH
Put down bib getting loose in race (7) Anagram of BIB inside RUSH
8 DWELLS ON
Thinks about oil suppliers owned by crime boss (6,2) WELLS inside DON
9 GESTICULATIONS
Signals, for example, upset one copper left inside police premises (14) EG reversed + [(I + CU + L} inside STATIONS]
16 DREADFUL
Doctors initially study outbreak of flu causing fear? (8) (D)OCTORS + READ + anagram of FLU
17 CORAL SEA
Leader in carcinology tests each part of the Pacific (5,3) (C)ARCINOLOGY + ORALS + EA
19 SHEBANG
Violent strike ending any ship’s business (7) BANG after SHE
21 SHIP OUT
Transport military personnel hit mostly in jet (4,3) (HI)T inside SPOUT
22 MORSEL
Coder left a bit (6) MORSE + L
23 UNSEEN
Agitated nun outside bishop’s office is not noticed (6) Anagram of NUN outside SEE

 

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One Response to The Stickler Weekly 129 Solution

  1. Richard Sternes says:

    so David, as well as politics, far too much of that right now
    there’s political correctness, often far too much of that as well,
    a setters lot is not an easy one – – – – add a few notes, we’ll get some G & S going here!!!