Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,265, Paul: Why do anarchists drink Earl Grey?

Posted by michod on December 20th, 2007


A good number of long phrases, with quite a few cryptic definitions and some subtle wordplay. Explanations of 20 ac welcomed.



9. OB(VIA T)E. Complex wordplay here – OBE is squeezing VIA and T(unnels).

11. DEATH RATE. I thought at first this might be a scatological reference, but it’s the speed at which we drop off our perches.

12. DEER, E. Ref well-known (?) make of tractors, John Deere.

14. PER SE, CUTE, S. I like the construction here, with ‘essentially like fluffy bunnies’ giving ‘per se cute’.


20. MOLLY, I think – it is a fish, but not sure why it’s a pussy. I was thinking it might mean pus-filled, but can’t see the second meaning wither way.

23. L(O OK)OUT.

24. ACH(A)E, AN. I’m not great on classics, but this seems clear from the wordplay.



1. HAVE A SCREW LOOSE. CD – i.e. it’ll make the hinge fall off. No coincidence, I suppose, that both phrases link physical and mental disrepair.

2, 5. RE A CHAV ERDICT. Not sure I’ve seen ‘chav’ in worsplay before, but I suppose it was only a matter of time.

3. TEE NAG E. I almost gave up on this, thinking it was an unfamiliar equestrian term, the I remembered support can mean TEE.

6. PROPER, TY IS THE, FT. (YET THIS*). A phrase originally coined by French 19th century anarchist philosopher Pierre-Joseph Proudhon. Probably better known now as the punchline to jokes along the lines of the one in my title.

 7. CON(DENSE)D MILK. Quite hard, because it’s not an obvious sweet food, and ‘dense’ and ‘milk’ don’t come instantly to mind for ‘stupid’ and ‘use’.

15. P(LAY GO)ER. Took me a while to figure out the wordplay, with another clever containment indicator – LAY GO ‘opens’ PER (for each).

18. EYE BALL. (Hom ‘I’).

22. A SHE’S.

4 Responses to “Guardian 24,265, Paul: Why do anarchists drink Earl Grey?”

  1. conradcork says:

    20ac – a molly is a fish and a milksop, and one use of pussy is ‘a man considered as weak or ineffectual’, which I think covers it.

  2. George Foot says:

    20ac – molly is not defined as a fish in my Chambers!

  3. Dave Ellison says:

    Typing molly fish into Google quickly leads you to a picture and description

  4. Geoff says:

    3dn and 20ac were the last two clues that I solved, for the same reasons as michod – thinking too hard about ‘colt’ and ‘purulent’ respectively!

    Thanks for the explanation of the wordplay to 15dn – I had PLAYGOER as the likely solution because it seemed an obvious fit with (what I presumed was) the definition, but I couldn’t work out why.

    Good crossword, with great variety and imagination in the clueing.

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