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Poll #2083786 testing123

what about?


with better half, of course:

I got nina'd

Many thanks to setter Myrtilus for unexpectedly immortalising me (or at least my blogging handle) in TLS puzzle 1182.

I'm engraved across the middle:

Read more...Collapse )


1 BUTLIN(s). Ron Butlin was for a few years the Edinburgh 'Makar', or laureate
4 TEASDALE is TEAS and ALE opened by D(uke)
Sarah Teasdale, who died by her own hand in 1933, might be best known for giving Ray Bradbury the title and idea for his unforgettable short story There Will Come Soft Rains
10 ON THE ROAD Kerouac, for reasons best known to himself and his dealer, typed the original on a continuous roll of tracing paper known as "the scroll" which he then had to cut into pages. Bonkers but brilliant.
14 ODE is hidden and reversed in "PiecE DOnne .."
Sir Stephen Spender's self-reflecting novel was The Temple
21 MAESTRO Anagram of "Some art"
23 ARP 'head ' of PAR (normal) moved to the right to give Jean Arp, who also called himself Hans Arp if he happened to be speaking German. Bonkers but brilliant again.
27 THE READER Anagram of "deer heart" for Bernhard Schlink's 1995 novel
29 MISCHIEF The 45th of Ed McBain's 55 87th Precinct crime novels sounds like 'Miss' plus chief (principal)


3 ICE is vice minus the versus
6 SARAH WATERS Anagram of "has .. a Satre"
7 AMY DORRIT was the Little Dorrit herself in Dickens' tale of systemic societal injustice. Thank heavens we don't have that any more
8 EXETER Sounds like 'exiter'
13 Anagram of "hated by calm" to give LADY MACBETH. As Gil Grissom would say, you can't get rid of trace
16 EURIPIDES Anagram of "I preside" + U (summit or head of Ugandan)
18 DOGBERRY Head-spinning clue.
It's fruit+to follow ordered differently, ie DOG(to follow) + BERRY (fruit)
20 DRAFTEE is D(note)+RAF(service)+TEE
Time O'Brien was best known for his short stories about the Vietnam War, into which he was drafted in '68
21 MILLER, Henry was effectively the narrator and a character in T of C
22 HARLEM is L inside HAREM. Coffin Ed was a character in Chester Himes' Harlem Detective novels. Himes was a terrific writer who should be read, as should his often shocking life story (which ended with happiness found in France and Spain)
25 Lonne ELDER III takes the W(ife) out of welder


first line of
text and blah blah

second line of stuff
and nonsense

third line of exciting
So who are we?  We're a nice lot, a bit given to showing off but generally honest. Collectively, we quite like a drink. Or two.

There were 91 participants in the survey. Most completed all the multiple-choice questions and a good many went the extra mile with the open-ended questions. I'm going to publish pretty much everything that was written (I zapped a couple of spam entries and a few duplicates but otherwise all is as you wrote it). I had to do quite a lot of copy/pasting to get the results organised - apologies if anything got mangled in the process. I know one or two lines went astray.

I've included the list of names as given but this list and all the lists of responses to the long answer questions have been randomized. You'll have to guess who said what (it's not always that hard!). After some reflection I made an executive decision that broad anonymity, or at least vague attribution, was the wisest path.

Thank you especially for suggesting (towards the end) several questions which only someone hopelessly unsuited to the task of conducting surveys would have left out. That would be me, then. So anyone wishing to volunteer for the job of running the 2012 Festive Survey....

Another proof of my incompetence was an intractable SNAFU on one of the questions (see Q2). I tried thinking of someone else to blame but even failed at that. Thanks again for taking part.

The Results:

1. Who are you?

    • JerryW
    • hydrochoos
    • Wil Ransome
    • Z8b8d8k, though I'd prefer it with a's instead of 8s if only TFTT allowed it. Real name Ian Richardson
    • piquet47, a.k.a. philippe
    • Steve Williams
    • RichardS
    • Paul McLellan
    • john_from_lancs
    • jackkt
    • Ann Looker
    • Andy Borrows
    • Tony Sever
    • Anon
    • Regular visitor to the site post-solve but not a member and only very occasionally leave an anonymous comment.
    • Nunu
    • John Boden
    • cluckfever
    • 7dPenguin,Ken,Elusive Louis (International Lock Smuggler),
    • Kevin R. Gregg
    • Andrew Leggatt
    • Charlie the puppy
    • George Heard
    • Sue the Lurker
    • joekobi (joekobi@gmail.com) Joe Winter
    • anon
    • griller
    • Roger Nichols
    • vinyl1
    • JB
    • Simonsil
    • Richard North/richnorth
    • Anon
    • Val Horsler (real name)
    • vallaw, otherwise Val Law (unimaginative I know)
    • TunnylaneTom
    • Fred da Word
    • David_ch
    • forgotten my login name
    • chindit
    • Linxit (Andy Wallace)
    • Grestyman
    • AndrewMR (as in Andrew M Rochford)
    • bb
    • Martin Pecheur
    • Ulaca
    • OliviaRhinebeck
    • crypticsue
    • Geoffrey Atkinson
    • Ann Hall
    • Docjd
    • pete
    • anonofkent
    • BillW
    • Barry Wouldham
    • Anthony Douglas
    • kevin_from_ny
    • Dave Perry
    • aphis99 (aka Andrew Fisher)
    • Penfold_61
    • Tillac
    • anon
    • chris
    • ross elliot
    • just one I made up earlier
    • Hattoff
    • martinfred
    • Anon
    • mctext
    • Anon on line as found blog about 18 months ago and don't read every day except when not working. Sign in my few comments as JFR.
    • james.p in Austria
    • fathippy2 - marcos fernandes
    • eleanormcn [Eleanor McNicholas, Dublin]
    • DD
    • Real Name: Michael Hornsby Times for The Times Name: Melrosemike
    • Peter Yates
    • keriothe
    • Phil Navin
    • Anon
    • joe casey
    • Carole Howell
    • Dorset Jimbo (known to Interpol as Jim Biggin)
    • Barry J
    • keithdoyle
    • 1234
    • Heaton_Daniel
    • Roger
    • janie_l_b
    • John Riordan.
    • Felicity TT
    • My actual name is Kevin Marrinan, and I'm in the Hudson Valley, in Poughkeepsie NY. Yes, Poughkeepsie.

2. Your age

Here Sotira messed up. 1000 apologies. I think I altered the range of responses after launching the survey which irreparably damaged that database table. Let's call it 32.

3. Sex?

3. * Sex?

4. How long have you been solving The Times daily crossword?

4. * How long have you been solving The Times daily crossword?

5. Your usual solving medium?

5. * Your usual solving medium?

6. Which would you estimate represents your average solving time?

6. *Which would you estimate represents your average solving time?

7. Which best describes your approach to solving a puzzle?

7. * Which best describes your approach to solving a puzzle?

8. As a child, which did you favour (more than one if applicable)?

8. * As a child, which did you favour (more than one if applicable)?

9. What is the ideal solving position? (any and all interpretations of this question are acceptable, including smarty-pants postmodern Italo Calvino-type stuff)

  • Sitting in a chair
  • Sitting at a table with no noise around me.
  • usually involves coffee
  • in the bath with a cup of tea or coffee and a cigar and a lot of hot water.
  • Sitting outdoors in the evening (in the US) with a cocktail and a smoke. More than one of each in the case of a difficult puzzle. Much more enjoyable in the warm weather.
  • Comfortable chair, soft pencil.
  • computer room
  • table, at lunch, to distract me from the TV news
  • Couch or chair with a drink of some sort depending on time of day with all jobs done - except, perhaps, cooking evening meal
  • Not sure what you mean but either at my desk at work or the kitchen table at home
  • Seated with drink to hand. (What's Calvino-type stuff?)
  • In bed with a cup of coffee and an open mind.
  • Over more than one cup of coffee
  • Sitting at my desktop. ie: no real choice!
  • Sitting in a comfortable armchair with plenty of natural light. I used to hate exams so wouldn't relish trying to solve them at an actual championship, although I almost always successfully solve them without reference to aids.
  • Sitting in an armchair with a cup of coffee
  • sitting in the porch with favourite pipe smouldering smoothly
  • Recumbent, with a cup of tea and Radio 3.
  • Sitting in an armchair with a mug of tea
  • Seated before log-burning stove, with glass of wine within reach and opera within earshot...
  • As sprawled out on the sofa as I can get
  • A location somewhat distant from my young (and noisy) kids
  • Too private to state!
  • Sitting with a coffee at the kitchen table.
  • Crossword on clipboard on knee on sofa
  • On the loo
  • recumbent
  • In an armchair with a cup of coffee and if things get difficult a cigarette [or two].
  • At kitchen island, with cup of tea, while trying to get kids ready to get to school...
  • Alone.
  • Sitting at my desk in my massive leather swivel chair
  • Sitting at a table with glass of red to hand. (I do the crossword in the evening!)
  • Pretty
  • In a good pub.
  • On the sofa
  • Sitting in a pub drinking ale.
  • I generally solve the daily puzzle at work during my lunch-hour while sat at my desk. If I'm solving at home, generally for blogging purposes, I'll sit at the kitchen table with my laptop, a dictionary, a pad to scribble on, and a can of Red Bull (since I'm generally solving post-midnight!)
  • Armchair
  • Coffee shop
  • sitting at a desk with my lunch
  • Sitting at the breakfast table
  • That gets me started.
  • Reclining on my sofa.
  • Sitting in an armchair with printed copy of crossword backed by magazine
  • In reclining chair, gentle music (usually Bach) and a warming glass of a single malt.
  • Sitting at a desk
  • Morning
  • preferably with eyes open but lately I keep dozing off, it must be age or partying or both
  • Armchair by fire in Winter, on patio in shade in Summer (SW France has real summers)
  • In bed before breakfast
  • Near-horizontal with glass of red within reach.
  • I'd be happy to give a smarty-pants answer, but I don't understand the question.
  • On sofa listening to music
  • Sitting at home. Unfortunately I usually solve on the train, and the layout of the crossword from Monday to Friday makes this tricky.
  • On the sofa with a glass of wine after work (I live in California so that puzzle goes live at the end of the afternoon).
  • Seated, smoking.
  • In a cafe at work during my lunch break, with a bowl of pasta at hand. On tricky days I also have to buy a coffee to justify my continued occupancy of a table.
  • I am quite adaptable
  • Taking a comfortable seat in a small room with a lock.
  • At home, sat on the toilet - it's the only way I have any chance of remaining undisturbed, though this is not guaranteed
  • Then, a nice walk in blustery conditions to finish.
  • anything with no distractions, although in reality it is on the tube or train or in front of sport on the TV
  • On a cold winter evening sitting by the fire in a good quiet pub with a pint or two of fine ale
  • Seated at my desk with no-one else in the room.
  • sitting in the car waiting for children to appear
  • In the pub with a pint (or three)
  • Head higher than feet
  • In bed, semi-recumbent - aim to solve puzzle before getting up -''the best laid plans....!!'
  • On a comfortable settee with a glass of single malt
  • Sat on the couch
  • On the dining table at lunchtime.
  • Sitting at my PC.
  • In bed with morning cuppa
  • Sitting at my computer (or at the kitchen table if I'm solving on paper).
  • Aeroplane and alone
  • Sat near some beer
  • Over breakfast.
  • Smuggly completed. Otherwise on the loo, or sitting in bed.
  • Sitting up in bed with a cup of tea.
  • Lying in bed
  • After a break doing something completely different.
  • I'll resist the missionary though... Hunched at a small table with a mug of tea and no-one else around.
  • In bed
  • If working, evening solve with glass of red instead of coffee ( or 2 or 3 if in difficulty and sometimes this produces improved performance!)
  • Comfortable armchair looking into the garden with a strong black coffee to hand if not at work and doing in the morning.
  • Sitting in favourite chair with cup of tea at elbow.
  • Seated, with a glass of wine.
  • a) Times daily - sitting at my desk b) Saturday/Sunday Times - on a sofa in the conservatory with a coffee c) Christmas specials - Christmas Eve, in front of the fire with a glass of port and a good stilton

10. Have you noticed any changes in the puzzle over the last couple of years? If so, what are they?

  • more use of 21st century "street english" Americanisms and the like. Move with the times I s'pose
  • The Sunday puzzles have improved beyond all recognition. Well done Pete!
  • Not really noticed any.
  • Probably no, but perhaps more dbe
  • The Saturday prize crossword has been harder of late which is to be welcomed.
  • No
  • I think that over the last five years or so we have entered something of a golden age for the daily cryptic.
  • The Sunday Times cryptic has recently become more challenging and interesting.
  • No changes in the last couple of years
  • A little harder, maybe.
  • No.
  • No, except the web site has at last got more reliable, touch wood. It still doesn't like Firefox.
  • I obviously haven't been paying attention!
  • No
  • Nothing I can specify.
  • Fewer classical references - probably a good thing in general but not for me!
  • The Sunday puzzle has certainly become less error-strewn since PB took over from BH. I've noticed a wider range of difficulties since then as well. Under BH, I could normally expect it to take me 20-35 mins, whereas now it can be anything from 10-60, or even more on occasion. That's probably a good thing.
  • Much more lateral (i.e. sneaky) wordplay. Good for the little grey cells but not necessarily for my disposition...
  • hate contrived homophones
  • purer and harder
  • too short an experience for me to comment
  • Well, the Sunday ones are quite different, and better, since Mr. B. went over to the dark side.
  • No real changes, though the number of cutesy cryptic definitions seems to be increasing. That may be just my irritation with them - see others and "definition by example".
  • Slang terms
  • No.
  • It seems to be getting less obscure (or maybe finally it's starting to make sense)
  • No
  • The big change is from, say, 20-30 years ago. (I gave up because I did not have the prerequisite literary/cultural/musical/classical background of the presumed Times crossword solver: there was far too much arty-farty stuff.) The modern crossword is both more accessible and rigorously Ximenean. Aided by what I've learned from TftT, I'm now disappointed if I don't complete the crossword: e.g. today PABULUM and GAMBOGE were both unknown but very gettable from the wordplay.
  • Perhaps slightly more formulaic - maybe a stricter application of the Ximenean (sp?) rules that I see referred to from time to time. Not sure though and no views on whether it is good or bad.
  • Less Ximinean or generally looser clueing.
  • I have not really noticed any changes.
  • No
  • No, I've recently been training for the National Chumps and have daily printed out the puzzle for the nearest date in 2010,2009 and 2008. There was no discernible difference in quality or difference
  • More clues depending on knowledge of IT which I am weak on!
  • The ST cryptic has improved markedly in 2011, for known reasons..
  • Main change was the new website. After the teething troubles I'd say it's pretty good and the Forum is excellent.
  • Getting harder (or, possibly, I am getting more stupid). I now find a greater proportion of puzzles are unenjoyable. The crosswords seem increasingly targeted at an elitist group of enthusiasts, rather than the general readership of The Times. I feel this is an unwelcome development.
  • No.
  • Were there some?
  • I've been dipping into the puzzles from before I became a regular solver (mainly, but not only, Saturday puzzles from 2009) and they seem a wee bit easier. So, if anything, I think the average puzzle is getting a tad harder.
  • Slight increase in science based knowledge - good / Slight reduction in literary stuff - good / Much more DBE - awful / Mephisto has got easier - not so good
  • no
  • I'm too dozy to notice changes until decades have passed! The occasional archive puzzle is usually an eye-opener but I rarely see the changes as they happen.
  • No
  • Not really. I still have good days and perhaps fewer bad days. I miss the easy literary quotations we used to get and I generally struggle with any science based clues.
  • No, I think the standard is remarkably consistent.
  • Seems to me they are moving with the times - which is a good thing
  • Fewer witty clues that make me chuckle out loud: some puzzles are a bit solemn. On the positive side, some recent clues have caused me to pause and say to myself "Now that IS clever."
  • The Sunday Times is generally harder since the change of management.
  • Not really. I think the general standard of the crossword is amazingly good.
  • No really. A slight whiff of creeping DBEs perhaps. See Q13.
  • Not really in the time I've been solving (say 1996-now, since it became available online)
  • Some unnecessary prolixity from some setters. Solvers seem to be dividing into those who really enjoy this, and those (including me) who find it irritating.
  • I have slight concerns that the scrutiny of sites like TfTT may be inhibiting setters and making them wary of taking chances. Understandable, but something for the Ed to watch. The best Times puzzles have a kind of eccentric genius about them.
  • Not particularly.
  • No
  • Doing more frequently but not getting much better but this could mean puzzle getting easier in parallel with my cerebral deterioration
  • not that i can think of
  • Possibly a slightly riskier approach to word or phrase association, that probably relfects a freeing-up of the language in general. Or indeed helps to register and even create such a change, such in my view is the place the Times puzzle occupies in the perceived state of English language use.
  • Not over the last two years, although wordplay does seem to be gradually getting more and more convoluted.
  • Not really.
  • Nothing specific
  • Sometimes a few Americanisms creep in but largely UK-orientated, so I admire those Americans who cope with some very UK-type clues!
  • Changing position in the paper makes for less doodling room
  • Sorry, I wasn't concentrating...
  • Perhaps the inclusion of more modern street-wise expressions.
  • They are becoming more challenging.
  • No
  • In the puzzle? No. But I seem to be getting better at them (very slowly).
  • Slightly more difficult
  • There seem to be fewer gratuitously and willfully elitist literary references in the daily puzzle. Hurrah!
  • No
  • Clues have got more inventive, less formulaic. Good.
  • No but I have not been doing it all that long
  • The Sunday cryptic's vastly improved.
  • No
  • Not really. Standard appears good and consistent this last 5 years or so. Still paucity of science related clues though...
  • more original clues very recently

11. Do you regularly solve daily crosswords other than The Times? If so, please indicate which.

  • Guardian
  • daily, no.. only ST cryptic & mephisto, and The week. Telegraph once a month, on way up to a lunch in london
  • No.
  • None others
  • No
  • Guardian (though I pick and choose setters)
  • FT, Guardian
  • Guardian Concise (to make me feel better after struggling with the Times cryptic!)
  • No
  • No
  • no
  • No.
  • Mephisto, Listener
  • Guardian. Sunday Times. Everyman and any else I can lay my hands on.
  • Are there any others (?)
  • no
  • No
  • No.
  • Independent (ditto)
  • No
  • No.
  • No
  • no
  • No. I used to do the Telegraph back in the 60s when I commuted by train
  • The Independent
  • No
  • No
  • Occasionally I do Araucaria's puzzles in the Guardian.
  • Intermittently The Guardian
  • No
  • No
  • The Daily Telegraph, but only occasionally not regularly
  • Occasionally the Guardian.
  • No - my addiction is specific
  • Not regularly (oh to have the time!) but I occasionally have a crack at the Guardian.
  • Guardian / Independent - Both solved on-line and they make a nice change of pace because of the looser editorial rules, even if I do sometimes scratch my head post-solve and wonder how the editor let certain clues through, particularly the odd one from John Henderson and the good ex-Reverend.
  • I generally hustle through the Times 2.
  • The Guardian
  • No.
  • telegraph(i'm learning and it's easier)
  • No, just the Times. I do the daily every day when I'm at work (or due to blog it, obviously). I do the ST every week, and Jumbos generally only if I'm on blog duty. I subscribe to BrainBashers.com and do a variety of logic-type puzzles on there - Sudoku, Kakuro, Hitori, etc.
  • no
  • No
  • No
  • No, this one's enough, thanks.
  • Guardian. (But I ignore those with esoteric themes and those which are overwhelmingly dependent on a single clue - usually with a multi-word answer spread around the grid. When stuck, I also prefer to go to Guardian website for resolution: bloggers on FifteenSquared have become far too verbose/self indulgent. TftT must avoid this.)
  • Globe and Mail
  • Only this one and the daily Times Concise.
  • No.
  • Guardian
  • no
  • Guardian sometimes.
  • FT, Guardian Cryptic, both online but printed off.
  • No
  • No
  • Guardian plus occasional Indy and FT
  • No.
  • T2
  • I used to do the Guardian, but couldn't keep spending the time. I do the Sunday NY Times (and the Saturday NYT when I have a free block of time).
  • Yes, the Guardian
  • Occassionally guardian or independent
  • Sunday Times
  • No
  • No, not now. Used to do the Groan a lot.
  • No
  • Dundee Courier, The Guardian.
  • Over 40 years of theDaily Telegraph (back page and Toughie) ; Independent, Guardian and FT.
  • Often do the Guardian
  • No
  • Times Concise
  • No. That way lies the divorce courts.
  • Only other crossword I attempt is Sunday Times cryptic - OK not a daily, but I won a pen once! Submitted under my London-dwelling daughter's name, who has a Times online subscription, but the solution was mine, all mine! Did I ever see the pen? Hah!
  • no
  • Guardian occasionally.
  • Guardian and Indie
  • Not regularly.
  • Not really
  • Guardian; Telegraph
  • Weekend New York Times.
  • No. Only the Times (not even Sunday Times)
  • No
  • I occasionally do the Guardian and the Telegraph if they are lying about in a coffee shop.
  • Sunday Times
  • no
  • No
  • Guardian
  • Independent

12. Have you ever lied about your solving time or pretended that you finished a puzzle when you didn't (it's not too late to go back and change your name at the top of this survey)?

12. Have you ever lied about your solving time or pretended that you finished a puzzle when you didn't (it's not too late to go back and change your name at the top of this survey)?

13. Are you often annoyed by instances of DBE?

13. Are you often annoyed by instances of DBE?

14. Do you regard yourself as pedantic?

14. Do you regard yourself as pedantic?

15. Do other people regard you as pedantic?

15. Do other people regard you as pedantic?

16. Have you ever done any of the following? (check all that apply)

Ostentatiously solved a crossword, making sure that others around you can see what you're doing
Made a point of leaving a completed puzzle on the table as you left the train or in a similarly conspicuous position
Publicly 'solved' a crossword you had already seen and completed

16. Have you ever done any of the following? (check all that apply)

17. Is there anything else you would like to confess to while we're about it?

  • No
  • No
  • Too frequently having to solve with a bad hangover.
  • Well...one or two of the above answers (certainly to the pedantic enquiries) are a bit marginal.
  • I sometimes start writing the blog without understanding how the cryptics work.....sometimes I still don't know when I'm done.
  • I've been tempted to the above (1 and 3) but have thus far not succumbed.
  • No
  • I have an affection for owls. But you have to find a nice one.
  • Nothing you could safely publish
  • I wish I could improve!
  • Let's not go there.
  • Why would I want to do that?
  • I am quite humble about crosswords, I would love to solve them all in 5mins but i can't, so I make the best of a bad job by savouring the experience and pretending I get more out of it that way..
  • yes, see 1st additional question below
  • 1. I've never been in a position to do any of 16 . 2. If I had I might have done all three
  • No
  • using computers to help solve clues
  • Use a solver if cannot progress without. Often use aids to finish as finishing is my weakness even in puzzles which for the experts are nothing but leafy perambulations.
  • I know this site's called 'Times for the Times', but I think that for me a time constraint would remove the enjoyment, and I'd probably seize up anyway!
  • Don't think so
  • Whoops of joy over a clever clue, to the mystified irritation of family members.
  • Occasionally use website 'crossword solver' when stuck for words that fit checking letters
  • No, that's quite enough. And re: Question 16, nobody here in the US would know whether they should be impressed or not by the London Times xword being solved, so I've never been tempted.
  • I get irrationally angry with references to Inspector Morse and will stop, swear and tear up the crossword when I see his name or Lewis or anything that relates to these third rate books and second rate tv series. I don't know why - I am a placid and genial man, loving husband and doting father. Tolerant to the world and its foibles - but Morse in a crossword fills me with rage. I think it is because there are so many better writers of detective fiction and the mere fact that Morse does crosswords is not enough. I realise I am being stupid about this.
  • The occasional googled LOI.
  • There are some setters I would like to meet in a dark alley - when I am suitably armed, of course.
  • I can't stop myself lying in online surveys
  • No
  • I do leave the paper in the pub because I don't read it, I can't stand the Murdoch filth. Perhaps I should just throw it away?
  • Since I solve at the PC, 16 would be impossible. Can't say I wouldn't be tempted if I were doing the paper puzzle!
  • No
  • I've been known to google when stuck. Did it with Anax's Christmas beauty on Sunday.
  • Nothing crossword related!
  • Guilt about time spent on crosswords when there probably isn't too much of it remaining!
  • Not with respect to crosswords (!), except that, where my time goes over 30 minutes, that's exactly how I'm inclined to report it.
  • None of the above but when I was a junior doctor, a few of us would do it together in the tea break and the most senior member was known to go the pub on his own each evening with a virgin copy which he would fill in rapidly to the admiration of other habitues
  • Like many others (how many?) I read the blog daily but rarely contribute. When I do I appear as 'anonymous' but always give my name as above. I am not interested in times (except to admire Mark Goodliffe -a young'un - and Tony Sever who I suspect is more my vintage!) but I hugely enjoy the comments of the regulars.
  • It's probably kind of an Oedipal thing. Dad introduced me to crosswords and I have been keen to surpass him.
  • I feel genuinely sorry for those who finish the puzzle in less than 10 minutes - I get a good 30 minutes pleasure from a puzzle. Or perhaps I am just envious!
  • Is there going to be a special award for shallowness?
  • Re 16, I'm normally very discreet but I recall one occasion when somebody diagonally opposite me was attempting the same Times crossword, and clearly frantic to know how I was getting on (it happened to be a difficult one). I finished it in 20 minutes and made sure that he knew.
  • No
  • No.
  • I may have ignored this enjoyable survey if today's blog had already been posted ...
  • I really detest Rangers Football Club.
  • I never do it in anything other than pencil - and solve best using my beloved silver Yard-o-led.
  • I had a reason for each of the above... I was doing a seminar on crosswords and thought I'd be a real smartypants and do it with one I hadn't seen. I don't know if the words "um" or "we'll come back to that" have been uttered as much in half an hour. So the next time I did the seminar I made sure, like all good cooking shows, that there was "one we had prepared before".
  • Non-disclosure of the use of aids to get that stubbornly intractable final answer.
  • How long do you have?
  • Writing the time taken on the printout (but only if under 40 minutes).
  • Nope!
  • That's quite enough, thank you.
  • Back in the 70s, I owned, and actually wore, a pair of plaid trousers.
  • I sometimes do it with my feet above my head
  • I cannot do the crossword in front of people
  • Um, I haven't actually lied, but I do sometimes forget to post an entry when my time is conspicuously slower than anybody else's.
  • I much prefer to do my crossword at a gentle pace with no pressure. I'm amazed by the ability of those who can knock a Times crossword off in 10 minutes or so.

18. Why do you solve crosswords?

  • because they're there (of course)
  • I find them both relaxing and challenging as well as being good for the brain cells. Saturday's Cryptic followed by the Jumbo iks my idea of bliss!
  • They keep my brain active, and I enjoy them.
  • Hooked by my aunt into Telegraph when 12 to distract me from kissing my (female) cousin. Found I am good at it (puzzles and kissing) and very quickly became addicted (yes to both) and now need my daily fix(.....). Keeps Altzheimers at bay hopefully
  • endomorphin production
  • Allegedly helps prevent Alzheimers, enjoy the mental exercise and leaarning new words occasionally
  • For the fun and the challenge
  • I'm no good at team games, chess or cards, but found I was reasonably competent at crosswords; perhaps because I've always enjoyed the absurdities of language through an early appreciation The Marx Bothers and The Goon Show.
  • Challenge and enjoyment with some degree of competition.
  • I swore a mighty oath on 1 Jan 2000 to complete the times cryptic every day to stave off senility, and so far I have. Completed it, that is..
  • Enjoy the challenge and like a well constructed clue. My wife still is puzzled when I laugh while doing it.
  • I solved my first Times clue at about 16, 46 years ago, and enjoyed it.. on and off, done it ever since.
  • I don't think we choose to solve crosswords. It deterministic, you will end up doing them or not, and there's nothing you can do about it. And nothing you can do to stop...
  • Because I enjoy the challenge and hope desperately that it will keep my brain ticking over
  • challenge, personal satisfaction
  • God knows. My family thinks I am bats but as it's a harmless occupation and keeps me off the streets, they indulge me.
  • Fun and the challenge of it.
  • Fun, habit and to get the old grey cells exercised.
  • Used to be a good way of shifting mental gear on the tube home from work. Now (retired) : use it or lose it.
  • It kick-starts my brain, I enjoy it and I like people thinking that I'm a smart-arse
  • I love playing with words, puns, anagrams, Doh! moments. The amusement and cleverness of some clues. Looking at words from different angles. Learning new definitions of familiar words. The length of time is about right too. On holidays you can pick them up/put them down/share
  • I enjoy them and like the feeling of satisfaction I get if/when I solve them.
  • Sado-masochism. Supposed to keep the brain active.
  • For pleasure, particularly the wittier cryptic definitions
  • as a reliable method of checking that the brain is still in one piece and functioning
  • Fun.
  • I enjoy them
  • I like words and mental gymnastics and like to pit my wits against the setter's.
  • Pleasure and intellectual stimulation
  • Because they're there. Enjoy the challenge and would like to get faster.
  • To exercise the brain, really. And it's fun.
  • Because it's something I can do, a little "win" at the beginning of the day (usually), something I know I'm actually quite good at - though not quite good enough to judge by my repeated failure (by one place!) to get into the elite top 25, or whatever measure gets you into the final/free entry places.
  • To prove to myself I am not losing my marbles, and to learn new words.
  • The challenge and enjoyment.
  • To stave off alzeihmers
  • I love the pleasure that words give. Surprising ways of expressing familiar ideas can be aesthetically delightful; the clue surfaces in The Times are generally excellent. I am good at word puzzles of all types and that is probably also part of the enjoyment.
  • Because I can.
  • No idea.
  • Because they're there.
  • It fills in the time between waking and getting up and helps to get the brain in gear.
  • Hell, it beats work.
  • I love words and the cleverness of the clues. I get enormous satisfaction solving them.
  • Enjoy them
  • I like problem solving - my job (before I retired) was designing software
  • The challenge; learning not just new words, but of new fields of knowledge
  • I enjoy one-on-one confrontations where the other party cannot answer back - or worse assault me.
  • So that I can quietly exercise my general knowledge while hoping to stave off the Alzheimer's. It's also less exhibitionistic than my other vice of giving out sometimes wrong answers during University Challenge!
  • I enjoy the wit, word play and brain exercise.
  • Probably the same reason I read endless mysteries and whodunnits. I'm obsessively curious about anything 'unsolved'. An uncompleted crossword grid glares at me like an accusation. And I love words.
  • For fun & relaxation
  • just retired. always wanted to finish times xword
  • Clears the mind before sleep
  • For the challenge
  • To stimulate my ageing brain and fill in some time.
  • systems which consisted of a fair amount of logical problem solving.
  • A good and enjoyable a way of keeping senility at bay.
  • Mental exercise - satisfaction when you complete without using aids
  • Always have done. Not sure why, but once you start they're addictive. My habit has been reinforced by the TFTT site, which makes me realise that I'm not alone in my addiction, and there are people out there who are an awful lot better at it than I am. And I'm competitive so I want to be as good as they are.
  • Purely for enjoyment.
  • Daily therapy. Distraction from thinking about all that other stuff.
  • I love both the logic and the intuitive flashes
  • Sense of accomplishment probably moreso than if I finished them sub-30 minutes. Also because I am pretty much entirely autodidactic which is something of a handicap.
  • Amusement and mental challenge
  • Initially just to see if I could, now I really enjoy them. Every one is different and some are real works of art. I also hope to show some signs of getting faster one day, although I think I may have reached my terminal velocity.
  • Oh gawd. Look, I'm a word-person...a poet (kobi is Bengali for poet - I lived in Calcutta for a goodly time). It's a challenge - I'm competitive. It wakes me up in the morning. I love what I call the verbarium - the collection of words/phrases to a puzzle, with the brilliant cross-section of language it often comprises. I like the humour behind a good clue. The win-win struggle between setter and solver (not entirely distinct from the relationship between poets and their unseen readers, or any artists). It's a gas.
  • 1. Its fun 2. My wife does them too, so it is something we can talk about now that we have run out of most things to talk about to each other.
  • improve my partners GK
  • Why would you not? Good for the brain, the memory, the soul and to make friends via various blogs
  • For enjoyment and to keep my brain active - mens sana and all that.
  • Do show to myself I can do something very few people can do. I often think that Tiger Woods couldn't get a single clue in one of these, while I at least am an 8-handicapper in puzzles.
  • To keep the old brain active
  • They're fun, they're relaxing, I'm addicted and I'm still amazed that I can.
  • Because I enjoy it. If I didn't, I wouldn't do the crossword, join in TFTT, or do this survey. Would I !!!
  • enjoyment, progress
  • I enjoy the challenge, and I get a lot of satisfaction from the way I have seen my solving times improve over the years, although the downside of that is that it will really annoy me when my times start to deteriorate as I get older and senility starts to kick in.
  • Mental stimulation in my mid- seventies and the pleasure derived from finishing in less than an hour
  • 1) Enjoyment 2) Exercising the old grey matter as my dotage comes hurtling over horizon
  • Originally because my older brother and sister used to solve them. Nowadays because I'm pretty good at them (still, though sadly not as good as I once was).
  • Why not?
  • It's fun... all puzzles are fun, but crosswords are my favorite.
  • 1) I like it. 2) I'm (relatively) good at it. 3) It provides an excellent way of making me feel that the years I've spent increasing my general knowledge and vocabulary were not wasted. 4) It keeps my mind sharp. 5) It appeals to the masochist in me and is less messy than cutting myself.
  • Fun; keep the brain alive; learn (there's masses that I don't know which seems to come up in crosswords)
  • Because I can

19. Are there any puzzles, clues or blog(ger)s you feel deserve special mention as 2011 draws to a close?
  • All the bloggers deserve a drink on the house for what they do.
  • I tend to read dorsetjimbo first as we seem to agree on a lot of things.
  • All the Times' setters, Paul and of course The Master.
  • The site's regular contributors, for their diligence and for their amusing comments and side references.
  • Peter, Andy, McText, well all of them really. And Dave Perry for sheer stamina, Despite the fact he's a bit of a curmudgeon! Talking of curmudgeons, Jimbo when he gets a puzzle with a poet, a Classicist and a sculptor, with nary a scientist in sight - and a DBE. I live for such moments.
  • "Struggled with this puzzle which I completed on the train in 8 minutes 35 seconds without a pen, whilst standing up, in the dark, during a zombie attack and whilst suffering from a coronary brought on by yet another reference to Inspector bollocking Morse."
  • I appreciate any blogger or setter who doesn't take crossword puzzles too seriously: they are, after all, a bloody waste of time!
  • No
  • All the regular bloggers - what would we silent majority do without them?
  • I think we should give Alec a big cheer as the only single-handed daily blogger - Andy doesn't count, he has a week to solve the puzzle.
  • All the bloggers on TFTT. I love reading all the banter.
  • All TfTT bloggers deserve special mention
  • The entire blogging team at TfTT are a marvel - tireless and dedicated and always making an effort to do more than just go through the motions. A mention for Pete B, too, for whom it must have been a wrench to leave his baby behind - he's doing fine work now as editor of the ST, which gets better almost by the week.
  • I was pretty impressed by the William and Kate themed puzzle.
  • I'm impressed with virtually all the Times bloggers. Clues: see below
  • All the Times for the Times bloggers of course!
  • Azed had a key anniversary. Mike Laws passed away. Your blogs make me laugh.
  • The Championship puzzles were excellent.
  • Too many to mention
  • Bloggers: your good self for the wit and carefree spontaneity. Old jimbo for always solving in multiples of 5 minutes. The whole team of blog-headers who unlock the mysteries. No particular puzzles or clues that remain however much appreciated at the time.
  • Clue: ''Bob sure to be heading for the border'' (5) for quadruple definition in 'bound'.
  • Don Manley for extraordinary longevity
  • never seen the point of blogging
  • Excellent puzzles throughout the year. I find the blog extremely helpful, clever and articulate. As an average solver I sometimes feel a little inadequate when I see things like:
  • Don't like the Sunday Times as much.
  • I think the Saturday Jumbo puzzle is consistently good and doesn't get the praise it deserves. On the other hand I've made several attempts to learn to love the Mephisto, but still it leaves me cold.
  • My compliments to all the bloggers whose contributions I always find both enlightening and entertaining.
  • All the bloggers on the TFTT deserve a special mention - I rely on them to explain the frequent parsing problems I have.
  • Good Friday 2010 is still the benchmark for me. I've forgotten all the others. I don't keep records - at least, not for long.
  • Haven't seen Barry blog lately and I always had a sense of fellow-feeling with his puzzlements and triumphs. Jimbo is always good to read for the curmudgeonly angle.
  • Not in the Times. My favourite clues are usually compiled by either
  • Easy one. Paul in the Guardian who makes me laugh and Sotira from TfTT who does the same so elegantly.
  • I like Jimbo - as he sees every puzzle as a walk in the park or the golf course
  • All bloggers have interesting characteristics and I enjoy the community. I especially like it when some get shirty about homonyms or too much cricket or not knowing flowers.... hang on, I think you all pretty much do that.
  • It was a happy day for me when I found this site. The Times is not a big seller in Wales and I've always been a solitary solver. My admiration for all the bloggers is boundless. I also admire the solvers who have never lived in Britain and can still cope with all the Britishisms. (I was living in Germany during the Times closure in 1979 and had a daily struggle with the Herald Tribune - and that wasn't even cryptic!)
  • The whole lot of them (the TFTT bloggers, that is); they're performing a work of supererogation, as they say in the RC, for which I'm really grateful.
  • Away from the Times special mention should go to Tramp in the Guardian, who has emerged this year as a setter of exceptional wit and inventiveness.
  • I take my hat off to all the bloggers.
  • All the bloggers! Masses of great clues most of which, because of age, I've forgotten!
  • Two puzzles stick in the mind (and it just so happened I blogged them)... 24985 was notable for being extremely fun, and the clue where EIGHTSOME became LIGHTSOME by losing some bars had me in awe. http://times-xwd-times.livejournal.com/759093.html ... But then hot on the heels of it came 25021 which has one brilliant clue (clueing BIBLE by the ends of IDIOT and SAVANT), but about 15 clues that I really didn't like.
  • I can't recall any particular puzzles or clues this year that I felt I should make special note of. (Sorry for ending that sentence with a preposition). I always enjoy Topical Tim's blogs and always look forward to reading your comments, dear Sotira.
  • Araucaria or Paul in the Guardian.
  • Times, Independent, Tfor theT, 15^2
  • Always read dorsetjimbo's comments first, but I really enjoy all the blog. There were some very clever clues but I can't remember them - I keep meaning to write them down, but procrastination is a recognised feature of pedants like me.
  • All the bloggers I'm very grateful for the time they put in. Love Jimbo for his no nonsense attitude and regular hobby horses (lack of scientists)
  • I admire all the regular bloggers on this site and enjoy most but not all of the contributors (naming no names). There was a great clue about 6 or 7 months ago having to do with the female head of a House of Congress (answer - madam and apologies for mangling it, it was much funnier than that).
  • Love reading all the contributions. Love the fact that we are such a diverse bunch (or maybe not...this is what this survey may reveal...)
  • No but I am now a regular solver having found this blog over a year ago. I was intermittent before at best. So special thanks to the bloggers who always explain the inexplicable. I shall raise a glass to you all at Xmas.
  • None in particular. But a big THANK YOU to ALL bloggers. Greatly appreciated.
  • I like the grumbling from Dorset.
  • No
  • Sorry, there were lots that were wonderful at the time but I have forgotten them already.
  • All the Times for The Times bloggers are excellent. My thanks for much pleasure given and compliments of the season to them. I read somewhere of a clue that appeared in the early years of The Times cryptic: Clue - Die of cold (3,4). Solution - ice cube. I don't think I've recently seen anything better than that.
  • no
  • Tony Sever
  • There should be, but I forget about them so fast these days. (Deep sigh!)
  • Should keep better records of which puzzles and clues I found inspiring!
  • Only the lovely Sotira.
  • and Tony Sever - who finishes evertime in less than 10 minutes and always says I bet the speed merchants finished quicker!!
  • All the bloggers on TftT - I especially enjoy Uncle Yap's blogs.
  • He for whom crosswords are always a breeze and invariably completed in under 25 minutes.
  • Me!
  • I am in awe of you all. I love this site and it has really helped me to learn and have the confidence to have a go.
  • no
  • Blogger: dorsetjimbo for consistency in almost always finishing puzzle in 20 minutes!!!!
  • No, I find it rather worrying but I find I seem to forget all about any puzzle I complete within a couple of days.
  • As a (non-English) lurker, I am seriously envious of all the bloggers' skills.
  • All excellent thank you.
  • All bloggers are worthy of thanks.
  • the DJIBOUTI one from a few days ago!
  • Dean Mayer, aka Anax, for the wonderful surfaces and brevity of his clues. One wonders how long he can keep it up.
  • There have been many terrific clues recently which make me smile when done, but can't remember specifics (maybe it doesn't prevent Alzheimers...)
  • Yes
  • No one special to mention. Enjoy the variety of blogging comments. The puzzles I've most enjoyed are the ones others have probably commented on. The less corn the better.

20. Is there a question you wish I had included in this survey but didn't? If so, what is it, and what's your answer?

  • What differences do you find between solving on paper and solving online? - In the latter, I am more likely to make typo mistakes, and less likely to spot them, never having mastered the art of watching the screen as I type. Typical example, from last Saturday (which I sometimes do online as a prize entry) where fat fingers on the last entry rendered 3 clues incorrect. Wouldn't have happened on paper.
  • 42
  • My answer- Quite possibly, but it provides me with an excuse when I take a long time, which I usually do. I am referring of course to completing crosswords.
  • 1. The name 'Times for The Times' or even TFTT is a bit of a mouthful. What nickname to you use to refer to this website? - My answer - 'The Nerds' I typically say 'Shall we see what The Nerds have to say about today's puzzle?' /// 2. My impression is that the majority of solvers are male. Do you think that this results in undue emphasis being placed on completing the puzzle as quickly as possible at the expense of enjoying the wit and skill in the construction of the clues - and if so, is there a Freudian explanation?
  • Two: 1, is English your native language? (my answer: yes, one of them) /// 2, what is your occupation? (I was a university professor of mathematics, before retirement).
  • No, but I have found the blogs extremely useful as I have improved my solving skills. When I first started I was rarely able to complete the puzzles, but now I normally manage to complete within the hour. Still some way to go, but congratulations and thanks to all the bloggers.
  • Q: Why do bloggers skip so-called easy answers? - A: Please don't
  • Where did you learn and who from and at what age? - My mother (who now has dementia) used to knock off the puzzle every day in her 10 minute coffee break! It was not until I had left home that I started to ask her to show me how to do it. I think it would be intriguing to learn if there is a correllation between age learned and ability. A bit like sport maybe? Also - is there a higher instance of dementia in cerebral types?
  • Are you available? Yes.
  • Q. Do you think that solving crosswords keeps dementia at bay? - A. I bl**** well hope so!
  • No.
  • No questions thank you maam....but I do enjoy the blog/banter and thanks to all who contribute.
  • With regret, conceding 'victory' of sorts to the DDoS louts, should we switch from LiveJournal? Yes. (I know linxit has this in hand anyhow - switching indeed to WordPress which is hosting this survey.)
  • Am sure I should think of something witty to write here... Let me think...
  • Stirs myrrh, stirs mace, producing something to swap for pudding (5,9). Not the strongest clue in the world, but it's meant in a festive spirit!
  • How did it all start? A: Everyman 50+years ago
  • Q. Which regular blogger on tftt is the most punchable (in a figurative, hippy-type non-violent way) A. most of them
  • Do you do the puzzle every day? - no, only when I get the paper from reception at work, about twice a week (what a cheapskate!) /// Do you usually finish no matter how long it takes or give up after a certain point is reached? - always finish, even if it takes days (some have taken weeks!) /// Who introduced you to which puzzles and what did you progress to? - my mother introduced me to the Telegraph, then I preferred the Independent, before finally reaching the acme of the genre
  • Q. Where do you live? A. New York City most of the year, otherwise upstate NY. Thanks Sotira!
  • Would you like to send me one of your poems? Well, yes - it's called 'Orpheus in Kolkata', written on a visit back to my home of many years this summer.
  • Do you contribute to the TFTT blog less now that you solve online? - YES. Probably because I no longer have a hard copy to refer to. PS. You missed out the "Yes please" box in the Sex? section.
  • How important is the blog to you? - Very - it is almost as much a daily ritual as the crossword itself.
  • Nationality, academic background, current job or job before retirement. I am English, have a B.Ed which I did after having 3 children and I taught infants for years in a small school in an area of high social need. I really like your blogs and other contributions by the way. Thanks. You bloggers taught me how to do this crossword and now I usually finish but often need the blog to understand some clues
  • Occupation? Computer analyst/programmer.
  • Whose comments do you most look forward to? Answer: Tony Sever
  • The only one I can think of is "How would you categorize yourself?" - * Setter * Blogger * Blog commenter * Blog lurker * Other? (I'm a blogger.)
  • How long do you allow yourself before accepting a DNF A: 1 hour
  • Do you do/ enjoy the Jumbo crossword as much as the regular one? - No; if easy and therefore quick it is boring, if more testing it takes just a bit too long.
  • does it count if you solve a clue using google?
  • Do the answers have to be in what all reasonable users will acknowledge to be English: maybe recondite, but not Welsh, for instance? Yes.
  • Do you wish you could give them up? - Answer: No; though I should like to have the resolve to put a puzzle down and forget about it if I cannot finish it in half an hour. I do take the damned things so personally.
  • Which blogger would you most like to go out on the town and get trashed with? I've already done it with linxit, so you must be next! Woohooo!
  • No
  • When are you best at / when do you usually tackle the puzzle? - I am much better in the mornings... used to do it on redeye flights daily when I was employed / employable.
  • Do you like LiveJournal, or would you prefer another platform? - I think we should keep the LiveJournal software, but install it on a separate server so we don't get DDOS'd.
  • Have you ever turned down sex in order to get those last few clues? - No
  • Occupation: Minister. It makes me almost like Araucaria.
  • What country are you in, or do you come from? Obviously, I'm in the US. It's fascinating how widespread the group appears to be. Merry Christmas to you, Sotira.
  • Q: Who farted? A: Koro.
  • Is the use of crossword solvers cheating or an invaluable aid? They preserve my sanity if there's just one clue I really can't get after hours of thought! Who says I'm obsessive?
  • Something about fellow bloggers/commenters? Uncle Yap deserves a mention for his unassuming, invariably sunny outlook on life.. though underneath he is evidently as sharp as a whip
  • I can't think of anything TFTT related so we'll go for this: Q. If Max Clifford is so good at PR why does everyone think he's a knob? A. I don't know PS Merry Christmas to you too. x
  • Q: What was your favourite clue of 2011? /// A: The one whose answer was 'threw a wobbly'
  • Attitude to entering competetitons
  • Do you think Araucaria ia vastly overrated? Yes!
  • No
  • Would you prefer the puzzle to be more/less Ximenean? No/more/less/what's Ximinean? My answer would be no.
  • Question - What would make you stop doing the Times Crossword? Answer - If it became too easy and not enough of a challenge.
  • What else could you have done with the 400+ hours you spent doing crosswords last year? - Hmm. Talked to people?
  • no
  • happy christmas and thank you
  • Why do you want to remain anonymous? Because I do!
  • Have the puzzles become more enjoyable over the past 50 years? - Answer - No. The Ximenean rules make solving easier, but can sometimes be over rigid and stifle the sort of creativity that a setter like Araucaria can display in the Grauniad.
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Sponsors & Twitterismus

I limited the number of free text questions this time to just two, mainly to save myself a lot of work.

The request for suggestions of suitable sponsors for the Crossword Championships was prompted by a conversation I had with someone last year about the grand old days when the competition was typically held in the ballroom of a swanky hotel (and I'm a fool for a swanky hotel).

We didn't get too many suggestions. Among the ones we did receive, Chambers, distilleries and hotels seemed to do best. Though I take my hat off to whoever suggested Prince Harry.
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Slang Origins

by Woody Allen

How many of you have ever wondered where certain slang expressions come from? Like "She's the cat's pajamas," or to "take it on the lam." Neither have I. And yet for those who are interested in this sort of thing I have provided a brief guide to a few of the more interesting origins.

Unfortunately, time did not permit consulting any of the established works on the subject, and I was forced to either get the information from friends or fill in certain gaps by using my own common sense.

Take, for instance, the expression "to eat humble pie." During the reign of Louis the Fat, the culinary arts flourished in France to a degree unequaled anywhere. So fat was the French king that he had to be lowered onto the throne with a winch and packed into the seat itself with a large spatula. A typical dinner (according to DeRochet) consisted of a thin crepe appetizer, some parsley, an ox, and custard. Food became the court obsession, and no other subject could be discussed under penalty of death. Members of a decadent aristocracy consumed incredible meals and even dressed as foods. DeRochet tells us that M. Monsant showed up at the coronation as a weiner, and Etienne Tisserant received papal dispensation to wed his favorite codfish. Desserts grew more and more complex and pies grew larger and larger until the minister of justice died trying to eat a seven-foot "Jumbo Pie." "Jumbo" pie soon became "jumble" pie and "to eat a jumble pie" referred to any kind of humiliating act. When the Spanish seamen heard the word "jumble," they pronounced it "humble," although many preferred to say nothing and simply smile.

Now, while "humble pie" goes back to the French, "take it on the lam" is English in origin. Years ago, in England, "lamming" was a game played with dice and a large tube of ointment. Each player in turn threw dice and then jumped around the room until he started bleeding. If a person threw seven or under he would say the word "quintz" and proceed to spin quickly. If he threw over seven, he was forced to give every player a part of his feathers and was given a good "lamming." Three "lammings" and a player was "kwirled" or declared immoral. Gradually any game with feathers was called "lamming" and feathers became "lams." To "take it on the lame" meant to put on feathers and later, to escape, although the transition is unclear.

Incidentally, if two of the players disagreed on the rules, we might say they "got into a beef." This term goes back to the Renaissance when a man would chase a woman by rubbing the side of her head with a piece of meat. If she pulled away, it meant she was spoken for. If, however, she assisted by holding the meat to her face and pushing it all over her head, it meant she would marry him. The meat was kept by the bride's parents and worn as a hat on special occasions. If, however, the husband took another lover, the wife could end the marriage by running with the meat to the town square and yelling, "With thine own beef, I do reject thee. Aroo! Aroo!" If a couple "took to the beef" or "had a beef" it meant they were arguing.

Another marriage custom gives us that beautiful expression of dislike, "to look down one's nose." In Persia it was considered a mark of great beauty for a woman to have a long nose. In fact, the longer the nose, the more desirable the female, up to a certain point. Then it became funny. When a man proposed to a beautiful woman he awaited her decision on his knees as she "looked down her nose at him." If her nose itched, he was accepted, but if she sharpened her nose with a rock and began poking him on the neck and shoulders, it meant she loved another.


Well, I hope you've enjoyed some of these slang origins and that they make you investigate some on your own. And in case you were wondering about the term used to open this study, "the cat's pajamas," it goes back to an old burlesque show of Chase and Rowe's, the two crazy German professors. Dressed in big coats, Bill Rowe stole some poor victim's pajamas. Dave Chase, who had "poor hearing”, would ask him:

CHASE: Ach, Herr Professor. Vot is dot bulge under your pocket?
ROWE: Dot? Dot's de chap pajamas.
CHASE: The cat's pajamas? Ut mein Gott?

Audiences were angered by this sort of act and only a premature death of the team by strangulation kept them from being stars.