(the circled answers are those we cheated on)
It was another miserable Melbourne Sunday, another that remains staunchly attached to a meandering drizzle that takes until well into the afternoon to drift away. I often wonder if I would have ever attempted cryptics if Melbourne Sundays took on the complexion of Brisbane Sundays. The drizzle, the cryptic and Melbourne seem inextricably linked to one another, and considering that I doubt the sun could ever brighten up my day like a fine DA, the climes to the north never seem as cheery as they are made out to be.
And because of the drizzle, I (AS) drove round to pick up TH. Dino’s Deli on Chapel Street was our destination, and, despite the cold, we settled on the round tables outside that allow for more commodious two-person cryptic-solving arrangements. It boded well that the beautiful woman to our right who was studying for her accounting exam was a cryptic crossword aficionado, but, sadly, especially given her supposed field of expertise, she knew not who George Soros is, nor did she seem particularly impressed that his name is a palindrome. I chose not to mention anything about Esperanto, fearing further disappointment.
TH got the ball rolling with:
25, 23 down: Vaccine inventor accepts 1999 boxer as alleged match fixer (5, 5)
TH tied together two independent bits of trivia to solve the clue when he recalled Salk as the inventor of the polio vaccine and noticed that the letters of his name make for Salim Malik, the renowned match-fixing cricketer. And indeed, that is the answer when IMM for 1999 and Ali for boxer are added into the mix, although the more astute readers would have noticed DA’s error: the Roman numeral for 1999 is MIM, not IMM!
A highlight was getting out the curious:
1 down: Professor of Ornithology? (9)
2 down: Professor of Ornithology? (7)
1 down’s referring to birdbrain brought out a chuckle, but the solution for 2 down, egghead, was cleverer (o is at the head of ornithology).
From there, we fumbled and stumbled and eked out a respectable effort before conceding that we were happy enough to walk away from this one after having given it a fair shot. We checked the answers in Saturday’s paper, and I must admit feeling somewhat saddened upon coming across the answer for:
28 across: Tree hook over point in 4-across (currawong), we hear (9)
The answer is kurrajong, which was definitely a missed opportunity for further progress that reminded us of our missing brother-in-arms so far away. RC is often the go-to man for Australiana, but he was conspicuously absent that Sunday morning. RC was (and is) in Katherine, many miles away from Melbourne Sundays and many miles away from blazing a trail through cryptic impasses, though I was consoled in knowing that his trip to the far-flung reaches of Australia would only make his future cryptic input that much more valuable.