Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24115/Gordius – Twins and tarring the bush

Posted by ilancaron on June 28th, 2007


1A was the best cryptic political comment I’ve seen in a long time. I had to look up 21A and 14A for being too esoteric. Found this overall rather hard but with many diamonds (well, they are hard, aren’t they?) in the rough.

Hurriedly writing this up I realized there’s a twin theme – many of the clues have a natural sibling. I’ve only identified several of them… please find the rest.


1 TAR,BUSH – it’s a “hat” and defining BUSH as a “political disaster” is as precise as can be.
5 PI,RATES – PI’s our “constant”.
9 INTERESTED PARTY – kind of a double negative cryptic def, and another political clue (twin with 1A?)
10 TATOU – Ref. the actress Audrey TATOU – not sure about the wordplay: U’s a turn but… “Edentate taking a turn from actress, Audrey”.
14 E,PACT – struggled a bit with this: turns out that EPACT is “nothing else than the number of days by which the common solar year of 365 days surpasses the common lunar year of 354 days”. “The Treaty of Rome” is where the 6 EEC starter nations bootstrapped (what became) the European Union (sans Britain it must be said), so I suppose it’s a E[uropean] PACT.
18 LICHFIELD – (child life)*. It’s another Brit cathedral town. I cheated and looked this up…
21 EU,PAD – another European clue (ref. Brussels as capital thereof). Turns out EUPAD is a kind of antiseptic indeed, for which I needed Google. (Twin is 14A).
23 RESPECT – wordplay a mystery to me: “Buzz word of government engineers with no children getting shock treatment”. Is the def “Buzz word of government”?
24 ARTISTS – another, and gratifyingly deceptive, cryptic def.


1 TWIN-TUB – what Tweedledum and Tweedledee’s mother needs to give them a bath: so just a cryptic def I think.
2 ROTATION OF CROPS – wordplay in the answer: with ROTATION OF being the anagrind and “corps” the fodder.
3 UNROUNDED – the twins from 1A again.
4 HOSE,A – ref. said book in the Bible.
5 P,SEUDONYM=(used on my)* – pretty nice semi-&lit alluding to our setter perhaps using Gordius on his very first puzzle… or not. Only he knows. “Maybe” is the anagrind… which is fine with me though I know some people would quibble.
6 R.I.P.,ON – another cathedral town showing up. (As I write this I wonder whether there is a “twin” theme in this puzzle… let’s wait and see). R.I.P is literally our “abbreviated prayer”. Twin is 18A.
7 TERMINAL REPORTS – I think just a cryptic def referring to what angry parents might do when encountering your end of term report card. At first I thought an anag &lit but the fodder just isn’t there.
13 RIFLE SHOT – (file short)*. Another “report” (see 7D – maybe my twin theme has legs…).
14 ENTRE(CH)AT – def is “spectacular leap” (ref. ballet) – I don’t see what “not unknown” is doing though??
15 BAL=rev(Lab),FOUR – another political clue: the “fateful declaration” is the 1917 Balfour Declaration affirming Britain’s support for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. Didn’t realize he was a Tory.
17 AN,DRESS – ref. Ursula ANDRESS (the very sexy Bond girl). I suppose I can’t avoid the twin theme (ref. 10A).
19 FEEZE=”fees”
20 DAGGA=”dagger” – it’s a kind of “hemp”

7 Responses to “Guardian 24115/Gordius – Twins and tarring the bush”

  1. Terry Levitt says:

    Re: 14Down – I think the “not unknown” refers to ENTREAT(Y).

  2. Mick Hodgkin says:

    I didn’t get the TATOU wordplay either.
    As for ‘respect’ as a buzzword, it’s a UK political allusion -‘the respect agenda’ is how the Blair government refers to things like anti-social behaviour orders (ASBOs) designed to stop people disrespecting authority/each other.
    I didn’t quite get the point of the Dum and Dee clues, particularly 3d, which was not very cryptic. And what happened to Tweedle anyway?

  3. Peter Owen says:

    Re: 14A – The actress is TAUTOU and the edentate is TATOU

    Re: 14D – In the word play begging is ENTREATY, so you need “not unknown” to get rid of the Y.

  4. Peter Owen says:

    Sorry, that should have been 10A and not 14A.

  5. Terry Levitt says:

    Re; 10Across – After a quick Google the actress’ name appears to be TAUTOU which would explain the wordplay.

  6. AP says:

    I thought 14ac, EPACT, was a terrible clue. An imprecise secondary indicator to an obscure definition doesn’t make a good clue.

  7. ilancaron says:

    10A: my lack of anteater knowledge coming back to bite me – in my defense I will note that TATOU is a common (mis)spelling of her surname.
    14D: once I saw ENTREAT I didn’t think too hard about the part of speech of “begging” not matching. Thanks!
    14A: agree not a great clue — though I did learn a new word.

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