Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24143: Paul — multiformity

Posted by jetdoc on July 31st, 2007


Some very characteristic Paulian clues today — 26ac, 8d and (especially) 23d are the sort we have learnt to expect from him and no-one else!

1 LAID BACK — ‘Dial’ (face) is ‘laid’ backwards.
5 SHADOW — As in parliamentary opposition. HAD in SOW
9 See 7d
10 ZIDANE — ZI (centre of ‘oozing’) followed by DANE (a European). I guessed this from the wordplay, and Wikipedia confirmed that ‘Zidane’s career ended in controversy as he was dismissed in extra-time of the 2006 Final for headbutting Italian defender Marco Materazzi’. But I’m sure you all knew that already.
12,13 SPONTANEOUS COMBUSTION — I got this first from checking letters, then worked backwards. For some reason, the puzzle as printed from the website featured a row of four empty squares (as shown when a character is missing from a font) followed by a hyphen in front of ‘amount’, and I thought maybe this was one of those mystery clues (like the phenomenon itself, perhaps). However, I checked on-screen, and they weren’t there (though, Guardian compositors please note, the hyphen should be an em dash!). Anyway, the wordplay is *(is on cost’s up amount no be).
17 MULTIFORM — O = old, RM = Royal Marines, following *(mufti). And ‘mufti’ means ‘non-uniform’ (sort of).
18 OIL TANKER — LTA = Lawn Tennis Association, in OINKER.
19 TIBIA — ‘I bit’ reversed, followed by A.
20 BANGLADESHI — *(Had Belgians) or *(Had Bengalis).
24 CRAVAT — *(car), VAT. And cravats tend to look ludicrous.
25 INACTION — ‘Action’ = ‘deed’.
26 MALADY — ‘Ma’ and ‘lady’, two females, next to each other.
27 ESTRANGE — *(set), RANGE = one meaning of compass. ‘Distance’ is used as a verb here.
1 LEGISLATOR — LEG = stage, IS L[eft] A TO R[ussian].
2 INVIOLABLE — VIOLA in *(bin), LE (the even-numbered letters of ‘glue’).
3 BEAST — ‘Lick’ used here in the sense of ‘defeat’.
4 CHAIN SMOKING — If one were to cycle frantically enough, perhaps the chain would smoke.
6 HAIR SHIRT — *(Irish hat r).
7,9 DEAD GIVEAWAY — Double meaning.
8 WEED — Past tense of ‘wee’; also cannabis.
11 ROLLER BLIND — A Silver Shadow is a Rolls Royce. BINDS, about L = 50.
14 IMPATIENCE — Ref. the G&S opera, Patience.
16 HEADBOARD — Mild double entendre. HEAD, BARD about O = love.
22 SCAM — Letters from ‘Tosca mainly’.
23 FALL — ‘F___ all’. I can’t imagine any setter other than Paul even trying to get away with this one.

15 Responses to “Guardian 24143: Paul — multiformity”

  1. muck says:

    23dn: The correct (ie proper) answer is PAUL, which Chambers says derives from ‘little’. A drop is a little: little or nothing?

  2. linxit says:

    I disagree with Muck – I’m pretty sure the correct answer is FALL. It fits the clue better (where does “little” come into it?), and I’m sure Paul would clue PAUL some other self-referential way.

  3. jetdoc says:

    How do you get the ‘nothing’ if that’s the answer?

  4. muck says:

    I know F ALL. I liked the PAUL answer though.

  5. mark says:

    I managed to finish a Paul crossword for the first time but confess I used online aid to get 7D/9A (which means I didn’t really do it….)

    I still don’t get that clue/answer though.
    how does free meat = DEAD GIVEAWAY ? Are we saying that meat =DEAD?

  6. jetdoc says:

    Well I don’t eat meat myself, but I’m sure I’d prefer it to be pre-killed if I did. I certainly prefer fish that way.

    With Paul, one should not expect fastidiousness over meaning.

  7. jetdoc says:

    I should also apologise to the Guardian compositors (who, I am sure, were quite devastated by my slight) — having finally looked at the print version, I see that they have not misused a hyphen.

  8. mark says:

    That’s ridiculous Jetdoc.

    Of course meat ‘is’ dead but that doesn’t mean that dead ‘means’ meat or visa versa! (ripe)Bananas are all yellow but it doesn’t make banana and yellow interchangeable.

    I give up. And why would you have the expression/word dead meat if they already meant the same thing.

    Arghhhh. I don’t understand how anyone who sets crosswords and therefore (let’s be honest) has to have a slightly pedantic mind, or precise if you prefer, can then be happy with such (seems to me but I’m happy to be corrected if someone has a better explanation than Jetdoc)loose definitions.

    Rant over.

  9. jetdoc says:

    Mark, if you get upset about this sort of thing, it’s best for your blood pressure that you avoid Paul’s crosswords. You would not be alone in doing so.

    I don’t think it was a very good clue either, as it happens.

  10. petebiddlecombe says:

    Mark: an alternative to avoiding Paul’s puzzles: try him as Punk in the Indie (a less frequent slot) or anonymously in the Times. In both cases, he seems to be edited more strictly than in the Guardian, so you get less of this imprecise stuff.

  11. Paul B says:

    I agree with t’other PB – that everwise fellow – but I’m still happier to see Paul in The Grauniad than any other paper (which is not to disparage those other, and in a very good way tumescent organs in which he appears, which have their own style) simply because in The Anagruid he is allowed to get away with so much.

    Yes, yes there are one or two grammaticals, but so many gems too. Like F/ ALL: quite outstanding.

  12. Paul says:

    I think ‘dead giveaway’ = ‘free meat’ is fair enough – a dead giveaway could be a giveaway of the dead, and the dead are – depending on the species, or the cannibalism of the definer – meat. Of course it is somewhat tenuous but as others have said I think that is to be expected of Paul.

    Oh, in case it isn’t clear, I’m not *that* Paul. Paul is just my name. Perhaps I should post here under the name ‘John’…

    I agree with yet another Paul – B – that Paul’s Guardian crosswords are always a treat. Along with Brendan, Brummie and sometimes (is that sacrilege?) Araucaria, the sight of ‘set by Paul’ under the grid is the cue for me skipping straight to that page and reading the paper later!

  13. Paul B says:

    Well Paul, the Paul=John, John=Paul thing is a tidy tease, and I’m glad to see you adding to it.

    Of course, when John (who was Paul) set alongside Paul (who was John) on a now apparently defunct website, it was as clear as Mudd: around that time, the fact that a lot of Bull (Vatican theme) under the name John Paul failed to reveal is a minor miracle.

    As there are plenty of Johns already on the Guardian panel, I guess they don’t want any more no matter what’s on offer, and this helps to avoid confusion … even while Biggles is four Johns (only one among whom is Paul) all setting together.

  14. Paul says:

    Heh, I must finish reading Jonathan Crowther’s book (A-Z of Crosswords) at some point, then I might understand more than half of that (nevertheless entertaining) comment :-)

  15. mark says:


    Thanks for agreeing it’s not a good clue – that assists my blood pressure.

    The point I was trying to make – quite calmly now – is this. I love the sublime stuff and the irreverent, jokey, punning whatever. I love that some of Paul’s and other setters come up with great and difficult wordplay. I accept as well that most of the time I’m nowhere near well read/educated enough to ‘get’ half the clues/answers. But what I can’t excuse is when such a setter is then lazy/loose in one definition – it’s not “somewhat tenuous ” as Paul (the other one) says – it’s just a poor clue and there would have been many wittier/more elegant wordplays that a man of Paul’s talents could surely have employed.

    When you’re struggling to do these things there’s nothing worse than thinking of an answer and then thinking ‘no that can’t be right – it doesn’t really work’ and then finding it was ‘right’.
    I think a great crossword (whether I can do it or not) is when you have a lightbulb moment when you finally see or are given the answer.

    I’m sure you Paul devotees will say that he’s just a flawed genius. Let’s agree to disagree.

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