As you know, an
anagram is a word or phrase created by rearranging the letters of other
words and phrases, provided that all letters of the original appear in the
new formation (hyphens and apostrophes are ignored). Originally discovered
by the ancient Greeks, anagrams were used in the Middle Ages for mystical
purposes — to reveal significant information about a person's character or
future. No wonder then that in due course anagrams became known as "Ars
Magna", a Latin rearrangement meaning "The Great Art".
In 17th century France the power of
anagrams still held sway over people's minds, Louis XIII going so far as
to appoint his own Royal Anagrammatist. Some brave contemporaries
actually poured scorn on the superstition, and a century later Jonathan
Swift in Gulliver's Travels would be ridiculing the natives of
Tribnia (= Britain) for uncovering plots using anagrams.
A recent echo of that book (made into
the successful TV series our Back Verandah columnist Fizzgig
referred to so glowingly in Bikwil No. 2) is Oliver's Travels.
This time anagrams are not despised, but revered — for the challenges
they offer the trivia-driven hero as he solves cryptic crosswords by the
dozen. For it is in the modern crossword that the anagram now chiefly
If perchance you're new to anagrams,
start by rearranging the letters of your own name. Surprises may well
await. My appellation Harlish Goop, for example, generates "is
holograph", "high rap solo" and "hog hair
slop", while the name of our editor Tony Rogers may be
anagrammatized into "gory tenors", "negro story" and
"go snort rye".
(Indeed, I have it on the editor’s
word that at least three contributors to this very Wagner issue in your
hands have signed their pieces with anagrams. Can you pick ‘em?)
Not often possible, but always worth
aiming for, is to achieve a anagram that somehow relates to the meaning
of the original phrase — like "moon starers" (i.e.
astronomers). Others of this ideal anagrammatic ilk I've seen on my own
trivia travels include:
a telephone girl = repeating "hello"
Clint Eastwood = Old West action
Ronald Reagan = a darn long era
slot machines = cash lost in 'em
sweetheart = there we sat
the Morse code = here come dots
Tom Cruise = so I'm cuter,
not forgetting my all-time favourite
"the best things in life are free", which spawns the
hard-to-be-believed, but magnificently genuine "nail-biting
refreshes the feet".
Enough of this preparatory stuff,
fellow Wagnerians. On to our main game here, which is anagrams for an
embryonic Ring crossword to test yourselves on. But first a few
The numbers in brackets behave in the standard
cryptic crossword manner. Thus, clue 7 generates a phrase consisting
of three words of ten, five and seven letters, respectively.
All answers are spelt the English way, though you
might want to quibble about one of them if you were follow some
old-time Anglo authors on Wagner. Nevertheless, according to both the OED
and Macquarie Dictionary, even that one, despite its German
look, is now also the preferred English spelling.
A bias towards the Decca Ring recording is
One or two clues manage to be quite apposite, in
the sense discussed above.
If you're any sort of Ring Cyclist, most clues are
childishly simple to pedal through. Who needs interlocking words,
Cruel theme echoes “Here come the clues”:
Gross couple make ardent offal fans. (6,3,6)
Satan's power? (6,5)
A nudge is single-minded when it comes to incest.
Morse turfs rum for whispering grove. (6,7)
Vote limit on signature tune. (9)
John Culshaw's unerring doings. (4,10)
Eerie red furnishings joy for river cruise hero.
Confused hat buyer puts it on the map. (8)
I bring tonsils for soprano. (6,7)
Battle birds in the saddle derisively ko father.
Will audio vigil bar waif in lunatic kingdom?
Magyar with tiger's logo. (5,5)
Does an ugly Nibelung ever belch air? (8)
Rug tune creates false bride. (7)
Blame the whole bloody lot on this rewarding arch.