Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24084/Gordius – middle-aged

Posted by ilancaron on May 23rd, 2007


Solving time: 25’

Some very slick wordplay here – in many cases I had to think hard and laterally to identify the setter’s devices. In others, I’m still wondering. A few middle-aged complaints surfaced as well – at it were (FLATULENCE, PHLEGM, PROSTATE GLAND as well as ANGST!).


1 B(LESS)ED – slick: wordplay in the answer: i.e. LESS in BED is “up and about more”!
5 MAC,DUFF=”McDuff” – Macbeth called to him to “lay on” and “Mc’ifying” is a way to belittle via association with McDonald’s (e.g. McJob). As I said, slick!
10 O(NY)X – A late clue for me: it seemed quite opaque until I realized that “neat” is our cryptic OX.
11 PERMA,FROST – well, it’s “everlasting cool” I suppose. And David FROST is (was?) a TV celebrity. Offers for PERMA in the wordplay?
12 PUSHTU – (“Shut up”)*: one of the spellings of the PUSHTU language spoken in Afghanistan. “as” is the rather mild anagrind.
16 A[r]GUED – I’m guessing that AGUED is the past participle of AGUE, as in “he was agued” analogous to “he was fevered”. Note how “outright” indicates R removal. Not going to step into any Ximenean minefields here…
17 A[mo]NGST – another slick subtraction clue: MO’s our “doctor”.
19 AEROD,ROME – (E, road)*. It’s where Brit planes land and take off. And all roads lead to ROME. Another slick clue.
23 D(OVET)AIL – it’s a “joint” and vote* in DAIL (which I think is an Irish political assembly).
24 PH,LEG,M – with P???G? it’s clear that PHLEGM is what we cough up. I don’t see the wordplay though: LEG for support? M for many? IanW notes it’s PH for Public House=”local”, so my instincts were right as far as they went!
26 FLATULENCE – (t, clean flue)* — out of curiosity: is “perhaps” the anagrind here or “about” or both?
27 RUN,T – more slickness: wordplay describes the clue: i.e. trains seldom RUN on T[ime].
29 [f]ESTIVAL – it means the “summer” season – at first I wasn’t sure what the USA allusion indicated. It’s just the Brit aestival vs. US estival spelling thing.


2 LANGU(O)R – the definition I suppose is “pining” though I thought that LANGUOUR meant comfortable laziness. Other meanings? (LANGUR is a type of monkey).
3 SIXTH – this is the only clue that troubles me: “Top form”. OK, in Brit grammar schools it’s indeed the top (last) form. So is this just a straight definition masquerading as a double definition?
6 AWA=”away”,KEN – AWA must be a “Scots cry to dismiss” (i.e. away!) and KEN Livingstone is the Mayor of London.
7 DER,RINGER – almost the same clue in Sunday’s Everyman (it’s an American revolver). And DER is German “the”.
8 FISSURE=”Fisher”/”Fischer” – must have been an archbishop thus named.
9 PROSTAT,E[n]GLAND – (at sport)* and another removal: this time “nameless” means N removal.
15 GAS H,EATER – it “warms” but don’t see the wordplay? “It warms one, getting extra lunch”. Paul notes that GASH also means “extra”, I can’t find a reference for this, but I’ll take it on faith!
20 ORPHEUS – (shore up)* — ref. ORPHEUS and Eurydice with whom he was reunited “underground”. Slick as well.
21 M(AGENT)A – note how “X Y taken in” indicates “Y in X”. Ref. Battle of MAGENTA.
25 LURGI – hidden in “metalLURGIst”. Had no idea what this meant but with L?R?? I looked for something hidden. It’s a fictitious infection used by Brit schoolchildren (?). Also, note how “occupational” also serves to indicate containment.

8 Responses to “Guardian 24084/Gordius – middle-aged”

  1. says:

    Some slick wordplay indeed, with several clues relying on a cryptic reading of the answer (BLESSED, RUNT). I didn’t get PUSHTU (partly, I now realise, a result of misspelling LANGUOR), but I read it as a homonym, not anagram – sounds like ‘push to’. The fact that it’s also an anagram, in that case, is a missed opportunity!
    With 5 Across, ‘duff’ is a pudding, so ‘Macduff’ is a fanciful Mcdonalds product, like a Mcmuffin rather than mcjob I suppose. Not sure they use the ‘a’ in Mac, though.
    I agree that SIXTH is pretty weak, but AWA’ KEN is a gem.

  2. says:

    Lurgi, or more properly ‘The Dreaded Lurgi’ was an invention of The Goon Show.

  3. says:

    Sorry if that was a bit terse. I should have said that the Goon Show called ‘Lurgi Strikes Britain’ was originally broadcast on 9 November 1954.

    As Spike used to say ‘I must watch these things’.

  4. says:

    It warms one, getting extra lunch

    GASH (adj, mng ‘spare, extra’) plus EATER.

    ‘One getting extra lunch’ is Gordius’s gash eater.

  5. says:

    I too wondered about Macduff vs. McDuff but decided to give the setter the benefit of the doubt and assume he meant a homophone with “calling” doing double-duty — absolved by the trailing questionmark.

    I still see PUSHTU as an anag, indicating an Afghan language (defined by “voiced in Afghanistan”) otherwise the def would have to be just “in Afghanistan”… and I don’t see how that would work.

  6. says:

    re 24A (Phlegm) — Local = pub = public house = PH

  7. says:

    When pushtu comes to shovetu, I think you’re right, Ilan – despite the lack of proper anagrind. The definition has to be ‘voiced in Afghanistan’, and while ‘Shut up’ could define ‘push to’, I don’t suppose ‘Shut up!’ can.
    Still, it must be pretty unusual to have a homonym and anagram indicator in one. So how about:
    ‘Shut up’ translated or spoken in Asian language.

  8. says:

    ‘Shut up’, as voiced in Afghanistan.

    I can’t see how this is a homonym, since ‘push to’ does not mean ‘shut up’ according to Chambs 9 at least, even when you look for synonyms of the two words separately (worth noting at this point that ‘pushto’ is among the many variant spellings of this word).

    So it must be … an anagram clue with a post-modern indicator.

    I like Mick’s translation idea.

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