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Last week I left you this clue to solve:

Bird eggs made unpalatable starters (3)

I hope you realised that the word ‘starters’ suggested taking the first letter of certain words.  In this case the answer (meaning ‘bird’) is:


which is formed from the first letters of ‘eggs made unpalatable’.  An emu is a bird native to Australia which is notable for its large size and the fact that it cannot fly (the word to use is flightless).  You can read more about the emu here.

Mentioning the emu provides me with a chance to introduce you to the word segue (pronounced seg-way, or phonetically: /ˈsɛɡweɪ/) which is becoming increasingly used by broadcasters on radio and TV and is sometimes encountered in modern business-speak (the language of business executives).  It can be a verb or noun and means to make a smooth transition from one topic to another (see here). In this example I provide a segue from the emu to another clue related to Australia.  It comes from Daily Telegraph Puzzle No. 27,758 dated 25th March 2015 and reads:

Part of Australia unpopular with defender (7)

This is a relatively straightforward, classic cryptic clue. We have encountered in the past the use of the word OUT to mean unpopular (see Never a cross word – 17).  A defender in football (soccer) can also be called a BACK – and if you put the two words together you have the answer:


The outback, of course, is a well-known remote part of Australia and is also a term which can be applied to remote parts of other countries.

In a previous post I mentioned that specialist knowledge is sometimes required to tackle clues. The following, from the Daily Telegraph ‘Toughie’ Puzzle No. 1252 dated 4th September 2014, will not mean a lot to young people today who download music from the internet and are unfamiliar with gramophones or record players which were used in the past to play music on discs.

The clue reads:

45 and unmarried (6)

The answer (meaning both 45 and unmarried) is:


Single meaning unmarried is readily understandable, but what, you may ask, has the answer to do with the number 45?  The reason is that certain old vinyl records known as ‘singles’ (having a principal song or piece of music on the ‘A side’ and one of lesser commercial appeal on the ‘B side’) revolved on a turntable at 45 revolutions per minute and were also known as 45s. Successful records became ‘hit singles’, an expression still used today.

Nowadays ‘single’ has a rather broader meaning than defining marital status.  Single can be applied to any adult who is not in a stable relationship with a partner.  The many other meanings of this frequently used word are given here.

Next Friday is a public holiday in the UK and is known as Good Friday.  I will therefore take a short break and will be back on the air after Easter.

But first I will leave you with this clue from the same Toughie crossword:

Clear penalty (4)

Your task is to think of a word which can mean both clear and penalty. As usual, the answer is not obvious – and in this case the clue has nothing to do with soccer!

Happy puzzling – and Happy Easter.