3995 Past Times by MynoT

This week, Mynot gave us a cut-down circular grid, with only a loose indication of where answers had to be entered. A further complication was that clued radial answers had to be jumbled before entry, and quite a number of unclued answers had to be discovered. This put the puzzle towards the harder end of the Listener range.

The title, the circular grid, and the numbering of the radial groups as 1-12, immediately suggested a horological theme. However, as it turned out, it was months and not hours which provided the key to unlock the puzzle.

The unclued Radial answers were (Autumn) VENDÉMIAIRE, BRUMAIRE, FRIMAIRE, (Winter) NIVÔSE, PLUVIÔSE, VENTÔSE, (Spring) GERMINAL, FLORÉAL, PRAIRIAL, (Summer) MESSIDOR, THERMIDOR and FRUCTIDOR. These are the twelve months of the French Revolutionary calendar, each containing 30 days. There were 5 days left over in the year, which were called the sansculottides, and these were dedicated to Virtue, Genius, Work, Opinion and Rewards, qualities which seem to go hand-in-hand with Listener solving.

The unclued Ring answers were LIBERTÉ, ÉGALITÉ, FRATERNITÉ, which make up the famous slogan of the French Revolution.

Upon completing the puzzle, Gregson was pleased to be reminded of the following English “translation” for the names of the months: Autumn: wheezy, sneezy, freezy. Winter: slippy, drippy, nippy. Spring: showery, flowery, bowery. Summer: hoppy, croppy, poppy.

Breaks between clues are indicated by /.


1 Resting place of ashes could be rare one - mixed with ground cumin. / Putting endless small fish into diaries creates mischiefs
CINERARIUM Anagram of RARE + I (one), inside anagram of CUMIN
DIABLERIES BLE(Y) ie small fish, minus last letter, inside DIARIES

2 Angle fresh bream first and horse mackerel. / Soul caught in network to return to life
AMBER-FISH FISH (Angle) preceded by anagram of BREAM
REANIMATE ANIMA (Soul) inside RETE (network)

3 Sign of disease has curtailed space at University, reflecting publicity. / Thingumabob has dance with active evil spirit with energy
HAEMATURIA HA (first two letters of HAS) + EM (space) + AT + U (University) + AIR (publicity), reversed
JIGAMAREE JIG (dance) + A (active) + MARE (evil spirit) + E (energy)

4 Power to make oneself comfortable in sticky / vehicle returning graduate that's almost egg-shaped
VISCOSE VIS (Power) + COSE (to make oneself comfortable)
SUBOVATE BUS (vehicle), reversed + OVATE (graduate)

5 Stamp one on cat with fish tail: / more than one cat could be noiseless
SEA LION SEAL (Stamp) + I (one) + ON

6 After endless study three notes make dreary / composition for six players: let it remain in group with Oscar
DESOLATE DE(N) ie study minus last letter + SO + LA + TE (three notes)
SESTETTO STET (let it remain) in SET (group), + O (Oscar)

7 Aircraft design in black. English / flower gets insects in turbans
JETPLANE PLAN (design) in JET (black) + E (English)
TULIPANTS TULIP (flower) + ANTS (insects)

8 Youngster having two drinks? / Fine as way back for one in compassion
ALEVIN ALE (drink) + VIN (drink)
PENALTY ENAL (LANE ie way, reversed) for I (one) in PITY (compassion)

9 Get in touch with Elisabeth about first class / marble in Gabon and establishing co-operation
LIAISE LISE (Elisabeth, see the Names section of Chambers) containing AI ie A1 (first class)
ALLYING ALLY (marble) + IN + G (Gabon)

10 Mostly damped earth in communes causes ailments - / rumour about recurrent bowel complaint for tart's youngster
MISORDERS SORD(O) or SORD(A) (ie damped, minus last letter) + E (earth), inside MIRS (communes)
WOSBIRD WORD (rumour) containing IBS (recurrent bowel complaint), reversed

11 Actor and medic fall out at this type of party / (one is going about mostly loaded, starting to mock peculiarity of dialect)
DORICISM DO (party) + IS containing RIC(H) (ie loaded, minus last letter) + M (first letter of MOCK)
Treating “one” as I leads to IRICISM (see Chambers under IRISH), which held Gregson up for a while. Instead, solvers are required to interpret “one” as referring back to “party” in the first clue

12 Gradation could be changed for researcher. / Horseman shoots back to Italy in retreat
STRADIOT DARTS (shoots), reversed, followed by TO + I (Italy), reversed


2 Pot in prison / room from tropical tree
JUG Two meanings
BEN Two meanings

3 At length soft mountain / Berber, not active, on tower / in Hammamet encountered / god and varied diet: unknown / young cook / supplies rumps stuffed with a bit of nettle
ALP A (at, see a- in Chambers) + L (length) + P (soft)
TUG TUAREG (Berber), less A (active) and RE (on) (tower = something which tows)
MET Hidden in HammaMET
DEITY Anagram of DIET, + Y (unknown)
FRY Two meanings
FUNDS FUDS (rumps), containing N (first letter of NETTLE)

4 Point creditor to silver / tree a student's given to his union. / Note: loud American, Henry, / opening church in East End, has money / to show First Lady after Prince / declined English baron's plot
CRAG CR (creditor) + AG (silver)
ALNUS A + L (learner ie student) + NUS (student’s union)
FAH F (loud) + A (American) + H (Henry)
CHASM CH (church) + ‘AS (has, “in East End” indicating removal of initial H, as typically found in Cockney accent) + M (money)
PREVE EVE (First Lady) after PR (Prince)
EBBED E (English) + B (Baron) + BED (plot)

5 Sunrise at sea makes certain / among us unfortunate seamen having avoided European rips in the past / end poetically in green void
UNSEAMS US containing anagram of SEAMEN, less E European)
ENVOI Hidden in greEN VOId