Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,144, Chifonie: Multi-skilling

Posted by michod on August 1st, 2007


A pretty straightforward puzzle, by and large, which took me about 15 minutes. The long answer at 1, 26 across was vaguely familiar, but felt a tad obscure – is it a common enough phrase? 


1. CHIEF COOK AND BOTTLE-WASHER (anag of first five words). Not sure about the origin, but the phrase means someone who has to do everything. In my line of work this is called multi-skilling, and apparently it’s very good for one’s career development, as well as saving one’s employer money.  There also seems to be a rude meaning, but company web access policy won’t let me explore it, so I’ll have to use my imagination.

8. CHIC AGO. Nice clue, more satisfying than using IN, as I expected.

9.  A(MATE U)R. As said before, I think U is now non-U, but never mind.

12. TRIP LET. (?) Not absolutely sure about this one, as inaccuracy = trip seems an imprecise fit.

14. P(OSTH)ASTE. Should it be two words?

16. OR CHEST RA. OR = ordinary ranks.

23. OPT I MUM. I like this one – good surface, reflecting what kids do when trying to get round you.

25. (D)ELUSION. Empty-headed as an alternative to headless.


1. CLIP PIE. Old word for a bus conductor. For younger readers, that’s the person who sold you tickets before the advent of multi-skilling (see 1ac).

3. FLOWERPOT. Again, I’m not sure of this, as I don’t quite see the wordplay. You pick a flower, and to pocket a snooker ball is to pot it, but how does ‘used by pickpocket’ give ‘flowerpot’?


6. NEED LES. Sewers = things that sew.

7. OCEANOLOGIST.  A lone cryptic definition – ‘main’ referring to the sea.

10. RE(TRENCH ME)NT. ME being a mining engineer, I gather.

 15. SO(A)POP ERA.


22. SATI(r)E. Ref French composer Erik Satie.

7 Responses to “Guardian 24,144, Chifonie: Multi-skilling”

  1. robin says:

    just a tad curious as to the 5 clues not mentioned – by coincidence the same 5 that I couldn’t get and the reason I did the search that led me to this posting in the first place.
    (11, 21 & 24 ac. 17 & 18 d.)

    Pip pip!

  2. jetdoc says:

    Chambers gives POSTHASTE only as one word, sans hyphen.

    It doesn’t give any unexpected definitions of FLOWERPOT to shed light on the mysterious pickpocket connection.

  3. Rufus says:

    Re PICKPOCKET. Chambers includes, for “flower”: “The best of anything”, which would seem to be equivalent to the “pick” of anything. Hence Pick-pocket could = flower-pot.

  4. Mick Hodgkin says:

    Robin, sorry my choice of which answers to leave out was unhelpful – we never give all the answers, but my selection tends to go on how much I have to say about them. I actually skipped ten, but here are the ones you mention:
    11 ac: A(PP)RISE.
    21 ac: ILL NESS (ill=bad, ness=head, +lit).
    24 ac:T(E MP)EST (screen= test as a verb).
    17 dn: C(O L)OMBO.
    18 dn: LUM PIER. Lum”s an old word for chimney, and support is quite often pier (when it isn’t bra).
    As for PICKPOCKET, I suspect Rufus has the correct explanation, in which case ‘used by’ is just linkage.

  5. robin says:

    thanx – luckily life in the office has slowed down so I managed most of the rest. Pickpocket is a good example of the drawbacks of having an internet connection when solving a crossword – I picked up on the ‘used by’ and was deep into research into criminal slang before realising, as you say, that it’s just a link. What did you make of 18 down, which still has me beat? (‘lumpier’ is 20 dn).

  6. robin says:

    Okay – ‘element’ – just figured it out – E=LE(MEN)T – these early starts are playing havoc with my brain!

  7. Paul B says:

    Depends on your point of view, but {answer ‘used by’ subsidiary parts} would possibly excite me rather less than some other options.

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