Gilbert and Sullivan Archive



David Duffey: I thought it would come sooner or later! One of today's crossword clues co-incidental to OOTW:

"Fairy upsets oil over two articles (8)".

What is the best way forward here? No prizes for the answer: an 8 letter fairy must be obvious to us all, but some people on SavoyNet (well, most of them actually) don't like UK cryptic crossword clues.

I'll pause for two days for private explanations, then post the result.

Robert Jones: David, it's just too easy! The cryptics in our daily papers are very similar to British ones, but I know that they make no sense whatever to anyone who hasn't tried them and discovered the tricks.

David Duffey: I know. What if I try to make up similar clues for all the operas?

Robert Jones: Haven't you done this already? If not, then it MUST be done! If only to annoy the Americans! But you'll have to be exceedingly crafty because the titles are so much easier to guess than, for example, those wonderful quotes you encrypted last December. Perhaps you could include all the subtitles as well. 26 clues would be more of a challenge than 14. And, being 26, each clue would start with a different letter of the alphabet. And, of course, they should be in rhyming couplets...

Sorry, I'm getting quite carried away. Yes, I think it's an excellent idea!

Henry A. Stephens Jr.: Let's see, I'm an American, and I think I have the answer.

"Fairy upsets oil over two articles" (8)


The two articles are "AN" and "THE"

And "IOL" would be upset oil.

But I can't imagine an entire crossword puzzle full of clues like this. Stateside, we'd just have a clue like "Gilbert's fairy mother."

David Duffey: Well done Henry.

The trouble I find with the 'general knowledge' type of crossword is that either you know it or you don't, whereas with cryptics you can work on them. I sometimes found the answer to the over breakfast clue springing into my mind in the middle of a difficult meeting, and that had its pros and cons.

Best wishes

Updated 28 November 1997