Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24139/Gordius – no letup for George…

Posted by linxit on July 26th, 2007


The last time I blogged a Gordius puzzle was just a couple of weeks ago (10th July anyway), and it was memorable for a few things. I had to rush my cat to the vets, I burnt my dinner, and the puzzle was really really hard! So, I approached this with a bit of trepidation, and with good reason. It had a lot of similarities to last time too – some difficult words (e.g. 4dn, 14ac, 15dn, 16dn, 17dn, 24ac), some brilliant clues (I really liked 1ac, 6dn and 20ac, plus 26ac for the scatological anagram!), and another swipe at George Bush (15dn). Last time (5dn) he was defined as a primitive primate.

1 SOME,LI(KEITH)OT – i.e. TOIL rev around KEITH. Penelope Keith is a very well-known British comedy actress, but I don’t know whether anybody’s heard of her anywhere else, so this may have been tricky for non-Brits.
11 TEACHER (the care)* – didn’t like this clue. Where’s the anagram indicator, and where’s the definition? I assume it’s supposed to be &lit, but it doesn’t work for me.
12 RATTY, ref. Wind in the Willows.
13 DURALUMIN – (in mud)* around URAL.
14 HANAP – hidden in “tHAN A Pound”, just as well as H?N?P didn’t look too promising and I was wondering if I’d made a mistake!
15 BRA,IN WASH – BRA=support, and ref. the phrase “it all comes out IN (the) WASH”
20 ARTILLERY – nice cryptic definition.
24 TR(i)ANGLE – pure guess, never heard of it, and it isn’t in any online dictionaries. Hopefully someone will confirm, or I’ll just check Chambers when I get home.
25 TERRIER – terror with I.E. replacing the O.
26 ESTABLISHMENT – easy anagram, but nice (or maybe not very nice) image.
3 ESSAY = “S.A.”
4 (l)IZARD – simple enough wordplay, and I knew it anyway from the Listener or Azed or the like.
6 TRAMLINES – another nice cryptic definition.
8 SCORCHED EARTH – and another…
9 FRENCH LETTERS – and another, although this one does have wordplay too.
15 PAR(ALOG)IA – goal* in this Caribbean gulf. A word meaning self-delusion and Gordius’ dig of the week at the US president. He really doesn’t seem to like him much!
16 BRIDEWELL – I got this from B?I?E?E?L, and checked it later. Originally Bridewell Palace, it became a generic name for a prison from the 16th-19th c.
17 A,CAR,IDIAN(India*) – I’ve heard of an acarid as a type of mite, so I suppose adding -ian is OK.
22 YATES – S.E. TAY all rev. I’ve managed to find 2 or 3 writers with the surname Yates, but none seems particularly well-known. Surely Gordius wasn’t thinking of W. B. Yeats? [ A couple of people have suggested Dornford Yates, and he was one of the few I found but had never heard of. ]
23 S.A.,RUM – the Roman name for Salisbury, the Wiltshire cathedral city.

10 Responses to “Guardian 24139/Gordius – no letup for George…”

  1. linxit says:

    24ac – trangle (heraldry) n a diminutive of the fesse.

    Well, that makes everything clear then!

  2. Kevin Ward says:

    Was 26 across the first clue to use a four-letter word in a quality newspaper cryptic? I can’t recall seeing one before. Cyclops in Private Eye is obviously in a scatological league of his own!

  3. linxit says:

    Well, I think Azed blazed the trail in The Observer with his clue to 20ac in Azed no. 1797:

    Teetotaller worried re ‘dirt’ imbibed by worthless fellow (12) – answer WATER-DRINKER.

  4. Kevin Ward says:

    Now you come to mention it linxit, I do remember that excellent, ‘naughty’ Azed clue. I was having yet another CRAFT moment – Can’t Remember A F***ing Thing!

  5. Barbara says:

    re clue #1: Having been born and lived in the US all my life, and never having spent any time in the UK, I had never been treated to the talents of Penelope Keith.
    As a general principle, I don’t think it’s fair game to use a person’s first name, and expect the solver to know who that person is, or was. Very few well known people are known by their first name only.
    I realize that Penelope isn’t as common a name as John, or William, but setters have used this device many times before. I object.

  6. linxit says:

    Barbara, I know exactly what you mean, having attempted the New York Times crossword occasionally. And that isn’t even cryptic! Believe it or not, the rest of the world have never heard of most of the famous baseball and American football players, TV comedians and other celebrities that seem to pepper that esteemed puzzle. Not to mention the “unconventional” spellings, but that works both ways too.

    However, in this case I got the answer from the clue and crossing letters, only working out the wordplay afterwards, so I don’t think it would have been impossible for you, just a bit perplexing. Having said that, I agree with you about using the first name only. Penelope Keith isn’t a “first name only” star like e.g. Madonna or Kylie. I think this was a clue where you had to get the answer first, then work backwards to figure out the wordplay, which isn’t hard if you’ve heard of her (as I’m fairly sure anybody over here who owns a TV has).

    BTW, what did you think of 15 down?

  7. Barbara says:

    re clue 15: paralogia
    While I’m not particularly fond of Prez George W. Bush, I think that clue was nasty and disrespectful, and a gross exaggeration of our leader’s shortcomings.

  8. Stan says:

    Re: 11a – isn’t the question-mark enough of an anagram indicator ? A minor irritation after Paul’s antics yesterday (e.g 1d “Frau”)
    Re: 22d – Dornford Yates is the one that springs to mind (not read him, but Tom Sharpe mentions him a lot)

    Re: Barbara’s comments above – if you look up George Bush in the dictionary, the definition is “disturbance of the reasoning faculty; marked by delusional or illogical speech” …

  9. Paul B says:

    Whatever Paul gets up to, I don’t think ? is an anagram indicator.

    If your definition for TORNADO is ‘twister’, I suppose you could word the clue to indicate an anagram without using an official anagind. Or: if the required word is something like ‘broken marriage’, then ‘grim area’ might suffice per se plus a definition. Or: some apposite anagrams are made to include as part of fodder a word that is, or is sufficiently like an indicator.

    There are probably quite a few ways around actual use of inicators of various sorts, but using ? alone as an anagind is not one on my list.

  10. Simply_simon says:

    Dornford Yates was born in Kent.

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