Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24077/Rover – whimsical

Posted by ilancaron on May 15th, 2007


Solving time: 30’

Quite a few whimsical and cryptic allusions. I didn’t really enjoy this puzzle but probably because I’m a bit burnt out having just done The Times as well (“it’s not you, it’s me!”). I found myself being lazy on decoding all the wordplay – we’ll see if I manage while writing this up. Upon rereading, there are some good clues here – so it really is me after all.


1 SADDLE,RY – I assume that a “groom’s gear” can be described as SADDLERY.
5 S(CR)EEN – CR must be an acceptable abbrev of “crown”.
9 UN,STEADY – Dicky isn’t a name (certainly not French!), just the definition: UN is “a [in] French”.
10 A,RREST=”rest” – a “spider” is a Brit for a snooker “rest” or bridge (wordplay decoded as we speak).
12 EARTHENWARE – (near the Wear)* — I wonder if this is an &lit: are “clay pots” produced in particular near the River Wear?
15 FLATS – two definitions: both of which seem cryptic. The second (“not natural”) must refer to stage scenery. No, Barbara notes below that it’s musical: ref. sharps and FLATS.
17 SPECTACLE[s] – double/cryptic def: spectacles come in pairs usually thus “Well, one of them!” to cryptically make singular – likewise, “A sight for sore eyes?” defines a singular SPECTACLE.
18 LIGHTSHIP – cryptic def of what is the marine equivalent of a lighthouse (thus “offshore” and “heavy weather”).
20 SHOPLIFTING – groan: cryptic def: “Is a crane needed for this theft?”
24 LARKIN[g] – Ref. Philip LARKIN the poet – almost invariably when a dropped “g” is encountered in a clue it indicates a dropped “g” in the wordplay (here, “foolin[g]” around and LARKIN[g] around).
25 BACTRIAN – not sure if this isn’t just a straight definition: because a BACTRIAN camel is in fact from Afghanistan and has (two) humps (yes, a BACTRIAN also describes part of Afghanistan). Anything else going on?
26 BOARDS – elegant double definition: “Stage directors”.


1 SAUCERFULS – “Cats love these results of unexpectedly severe storms”. The definition is clear (what cats love) but what about the wordplay? Noted below that it’s ref. “a storm in a teacup” which must overflow and fill the saucer.
2 DIS(ARRAN)GE – ARRAN (our Scottish island) in (Gide’s)*. Nice clue since the definition “reorganise” is almost always an anagrind. Too bad Andre Gide didn’t write about Scotland…
3 LEE,CH – Ref. Laurie LEE the writer. I’m betting that once upon a time, when leeching was considered a good thing medically, doctors were referred to as leeches (?).
4 RIDING SCHOOL – nice clue: “get on up” refers to mounting a horse to go RIDING. And of course ref. West and East RIDING in Yorkshire.
6 CARPENTER – Ref. The (worst group ever in the history of pop music) CARPENTERs and what a CARPENTER does: namely, joining furniture.
11 CATERPILLARS – can be interpreted as a clever &lit: CATERPILLARS don’t do your vegetables (“greens”) much good nor do the Greens like them much (since they tear up the landscape).
14 NEWSAGENTS – cryptic def for which I would have expected some acknowledgement by the setter (e.g. a question-mark): the surface “rag trade” misleads towards the garment industry.
21 FAT,SO – “Podge: very good word for obese fellow”. Def is “obese fellow”. I think the wordplay is FAT for “podge” and SO for “very good word”, i.e. a word that is used to indicate superior quality (as in, “this clue is SO clever”).

6 Responses to “Guardian 24077/Rover – whimsical”

  1. says:

    re: 1D Is the reference to ‘storm in a teacup’? ie. An unexpectedly severe storm would fill a saucer????


  2. says:

    15. Flats. This is a double def. The second one is flats as musical notes,as opposed to sharps or naturals.

  3. says:

    Thanks for the explanation of flats, Barbara. It was one of too many clues that I got, but couldn’t quite explain. Saucerfuls was another, and I hope there’s a better explanation than the ‘storm in a teacup’ one (no offence, Jon!)
    As for Bactrian, I agree that it seems to be a straight def.

  4. says:

    Actually I rather like the overflowing saucerful explanation… unless there are better offers I’m going to canonize it.

  5. says:

    I think for 21d, the definition is “good word for obese fellow” and SO is indicated simply by “very”.

    I could swear that ” raining saucerfuls” is a slang expression akin to “raining cats and dogs” but I can’t for the life of me find any verification of this online.

  6. says:

    Not very cryptic in terms of word split though. In Chambers PODGE has two meanings, one a name for a fat person (and therefore a synonym for FATSO) or thing, and the other a noun for excess body fat – i.e. what makes a fatso fat.

    Rover apears to be going with the former, and with SO defined (in one Chambers entry) as ‘very good’, the clue almost seems to say FATSO + SO = FATSO.

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