Last week I left you with this clue:
It’s audible although surprisingly I won’t hear this (6,7)
The first thing to check is whether the answer could be an anagram. You should do this in two ways:
(1) Count the number of letters in whole words in the clue. Here it is significant that the thirteen letters we need (in total) might be found (ignoring apostrophes) in:
I WON’T HEAR THIS
(2) Look for a word that hints at letters being jumbled up. Here, ‘surprisingly’ suggests that the letters immediately following it should be arranged in a surprise order.
Having concluded that an anagram is involved, I am afraid there is no magic formula other than writing the letters down in a different order and hoping for inspiration. Of course you should analyse the remainder of the clue to deduce the meaning of the solution. In this case, it seems quite clear that the answer means: ‘It’s audible’.
The answer is the idiom:
If something is within earshot it is close enough to be heard, or is audible; see here. The opposite is ‘out of earshot’.
The strange expression ‘earshot’ is thought to be a natural progression from the old word ‘bowshot’, being the range (distance) one could shoot an arrow from a bow.
A similar example of word derivation occurs in this clue from Daily Telegraph Crossword No. 27,884 dated 19th August 2015:
Fixer who’s corrupt to others protecting currency? (14)
Like the within earshot clue, this is an anagram but this time only a partial anagram, which makes it a little more tricky since it is not obvious how many of the 14 letters are involved.
The hint that an anagram is involved is the word ‘corrupt’, suggesting that something has gone bad. If you have a computer file which has become corrupted the information contained within it is ruined or unreliable and it may be impossible to access or read it.
What has become corrupt in this clue are the words:
If those letters are mixed up and used to protect (surround) some sort of currency then we should obtain a word meaning ‘fixer’.
The currency (money) is that used in Russia, namely the rouble (or ruble). There is nothing in the clue telling you that – you just have to mentally run through a list of possibilities, discounting Euro, dollar, pound, yen etc. until – in a split second (very quickly or in a flash) your brain spots the answer. The Russian ruble was, incidentally, the world’s first decimal currency; see here.
Putting ‘rouble‘ inside the anagram of ‘to others’ we arrive at the solution:
A troubleshooter is someone who traces and fixes (corrects, mends) faults; see the definition of the verb ‘troubleshoot’ here.
According to this link, the term originally arose when telegraph lines were being built in the USA in the mid to late 1800s. A troubleshooter threatened to shoot anyone who interfered!
If you have ever bought a piece of equipment you will have seen at the back of the instruction booklet a ‘troubleshooting guide’ telling you what steps to take if it does not work properly. If it is a piece of electronic equipment, usually the first thing is to check it is turned on!
That brings us to our next clue where the word ‘on’ is used as a synonym for ‘working’. The clue (from the same puzzle as above) reads:
Drunk restricts working when stars are out (7)
This looks like it might be an anagram (the word ‘out’ frequently acts as a hint). However, that idea can be quickly rejected because ‘stars are’ has the wrong number of letters.
There are many, many ways of saying that someone is drunk (has consumed too much alcohol). In fact there are hundreds – mostly slang expressions; see here!
A popular word for being slightly drunk is tipsy; but the word we are looking for is tight, which means being rather more inebriated (there are many other meanings of tight of course, one of which is being reluctant to pay for anything).
If the word ‘tight’ restricts (traps, prevents from moving) the word ‘on‘ (meaning ‘working’) one gets:
which is when stars are out (assuming it is a clear night)!
Being drunk normally results in confusion, so in some cryptic clues the word ‘drunk’ is a signal that an anagram is involved. With that strong hint, try this from Daily Telegraph Puzzle No. 27,890 dated 26th August 2015:
Pay close attention to verbose drunk (7)
You don’t even have to know what verbose means, although I will tell you next week.