"It's such a shame when friends fall out." Daphne sighed and folded the newspaper neatly into quarters. "Darling, why are you yelping?"

"Your chihuahua keeps nibbling my toes!" Nora waved a hand ineffectually as a black-and-tan shape darted out of the shadows towards her feet. "Ouch!"

"She probably thinks you're a horse, dear."


"Well Nora, you should shave your feet. The hobbits in that terribly long film had better personal hygiene than you." Daphne stood up. "I'm going to make a samovar of tea, dear. I assume you'll drink some."

As Daphne strode in the direction of the kitchen Nora picked up the paper. It had been folded to the cryptic crossword, but none of the clues had been filled in.


Clues are normal except for those intersecting the shaded cells in the grid where the wordplay omits the letters that would be in the shaded cells. The shaded cells all contain the same three letter word, which might PRESERVE METAL. Solvers should locate three words of equal length explaining Daphne's opening statement.

Crossword grid



1.Damage name(6)

4.Vegan jam contains hemp(5)

7.Graphic artist draws King and Queen together(5)

9.Prison, my good man, takes time!(4)

10.Skunk gutted -- there's a stench(5)

11.Tamper with centre I swap out for base(6)


1.Is unwilling to speak about...(6)

2....youth discriminating silver septuagenarian first(5)

3.Shout at length at scoundrel(4)

5.Pull Jane Eyre review ("Kill leads!")(4)

6.Rae is confused: how to stand up?(5)

8.Minor type(4)


Here's the solution to the crossword itself:


and feelinferrety notes in comments something I entirely missed, namely that we can treat

alternate rows of the crossword

as forming

the sentence MARTIN TINKER STINKS, and I suppose we could then suppose that someone called Martin Tinker is a (presumably former) friend of the crossword setter. (As Deusovi remarks in comments, in these things it's usually considered good form for the "extra" words not to be already answers in the grid, but I will not try to claim this as an excuse for not seeing them.)

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  • $\begingroup$ Perhaps this rotten thought? "CQHJYD JYDAUH IJYDAI!" $\endgroup$ – feelinferrety Sep 15 '17 at 17:29
  • $\begingroup$ @feelinferrety - you used rot-16? But yes, that's certainly possible (though it'd be a bit disappointing since two of the words are practically already words in the grid) $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Sep 15 '17 at 17:37
  • $\begingroup$ @deusovi Since we usually use 13 in which direction doesn't matter, I wasn't sure what the standard was otherwise and figured it was polite to tell which rot would DEcrypt it, but I could remedy that. $\endgroup$ – feelinferrety Sep 15 '17 at 17:40
  • $\begingroup$ The rotten thought is correct; if it's added to the answer I'll award the tick. @Deusovi -- I guess I'm making these too easy then? garethmccaughan -- that was fast! The puzzle wasn't intended to be too tricky, as I don't know what solvers here would expect $\endgroup$ – user40528 Sep 15 '17 at 18:02
  • $\begingroup$ OK, rotten thought added to answer. $\endgroup$ – Gareth McCaughan Sep 15 '17 at 18:18

I suppose technically this should be a comment, but it's much too long. Can anyone explain the clues?

"Clues are normal except for those intersecting the shaded cells in the grid where the wordplay omits the letters that would be in the shaded cells."

Apparently, some parts of the clue refers to the letters not shaded, while the other parts refers to all the letters. But this is quite confusing wording.


This wording conveys that "preserve" is a verb and "metal" is the object of the verb. Being cryptic is one thing, flat-out deceiving the reader is another.

"Vegan jam contains hemp"

Huh? I am not aware of any connection between vegan jam and the answer to this clue.

Furthermore, the term "hemp" refers to cannabis that is bred to be low in THC.

"Graphic artist draws King and Queen together" I'm lost.

"Prison, my good man, takes time!" Is there any relevance to any but the first word of this clue, or is the rest of the clue just there to mislead the reader?

"Skunk gutted -- there's a stench" I don't see what "skunk gutted" adds to the clue, or what the non-shaded letters are supposed to be.

"Tamper with centre I swap out for base" Again, I don't see what any but the first word has to do with the word.

"Is unwilling to speak about..." I don't see what this has to do with the unshaded letters, or why "about..." was included.

"youth discriminating silver septuagenarian first" Okay, so "discriminating" I get. "Youth" is a bit misleading. "Silver" perhaps refers to the first letters, but why just those? Is there anything that points to the nonshaded letters? What does "septuagenarian first" refer to?

"Shout at length at scoundrel" Is "scoundrel" just there to confuse?

"Pull Jane Eyre review ("Kill leads!")" Another clue where only the first word seems to be relevant.

"Rae is confused: how to stand up?" Only the last two words seem to be relevant.

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  • 2
    $\begingroup$ You should take a look here first: puzzling.stackexchange.com/questions/45984/cryptic-clue-guide Deusovi wrote an excellent guide to understanding these kinds of clues. That will probably explain most of these, then we'd be happy to help you understand the rest :) $\endgroup$ – user40528 Sep 24 '17 at 6:33
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ These are not regular crossword clues but cryptic clues, a type of crossword clue common in Great Britain. I wrote a guide on the basics of them that postmortes helpfully linked. If you still have any questions after reading that, I'd be happy to help explain them in chat - feel free to use our main chat room to ask for explanations. $\endgroup$ – Deusovi Sep 24 '17 at 7:39

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