Friday, June 4, 2021

Chip Off The Old Chip


I wanted to make a wish-you-were-here post for Chip Ahoy, but I don't know a damn thing about hieroglyphics, or pop-up books, or food, or et cetera. But Chip would periodically post a list of unusual words he had encountered, along with definitions. I can do that.

One of my favorite time-wasters is doing London Times Cryptic Crosswords. Any sort of cryptic crossword is difficult. The Times Cryptics are both very difficult, and very British, which makes them real beasts for Americans to solve. These days I can successfully complete maybe two out of three, but almost never without heavy use of the internet -- particularly the indispensable Crossword Solver.

Every single puzzle has answers that are words and names and phrases I've never seen before. Plants, animals, minerals, names of British and European places and people. Terms from soccer and cricket, of course. And Indian food: apparently Times readers are presumed to know all about Indian food. Also phrases. Most Americans would recognize "Oi, mate!" or "Pull the other one!" But how about "Yah boo sucks" or "Tace is latin for candle"? Both of those showed up as answers in Times cryptics.

I'm currently halfway through a book of 50 Jumbo (23x23) Times cryptics, and I've already found several dozen new-to-me words as answers. I'll exercise self-control, and list only seven of them (all from the same puzzle!):

goldcrest: a small bird

teapoy: a three-legged table, sometimes with a tea-chest

Wee Free: slang for the Free Church of Scotland (as opposed to the much larger United Free Church)

leaf curl: a plant disease

raita: a yogurt-based Indian dish

pay and display: a ticket-vending machine used in parking lots -- sorry, in car parks

ragged staff: a symbol used in heraldry -- a staff with knobs, or a tree-trunk with stumps of branches

Books of Times cryptics can be found only sporadically on US sites; the best place to buy them is the excellent English online bookseller Wordery.


Evi L. Bloggerlady said...

I am sad about Chip.

edutcher said...

I'm sure he appreciates the effort.

Calypso Facto said...

The wife and I have become pretty adept US cryptic solvers (Cox & Rathvon puzzles being the gold standard, in our minds). But we too found the British versions to be extremely challenging when we were in London for a few days, because of the completely unknown references you talk about. To the point I'm not really interested in trying to figure them out. But good on you for learning the new idioms of the mother tongue. Crack on! And I'll tip a pint to Chip with the next puzzle.

Sixty Grit said...

Did Trooper's sepoy have a teapoy?

Mumpsimus said...

Don't ask mepoy.

ampersand said...

The Nation has or had good cryptic crosswords. I use to be good at solving cryptogram puzzles.
How? I don't know.

Some Seppo said...

I'm sure the average Brit would have no knowledge of chalupas and chimichangas. But for myself, I always have raita with my papadum but don't use it otherwise as a condiment.