Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24435/Gordius – Bristol city

Posted by ilancaron on July 8th, 2008


Ran into several problems here with unfamiliar definitions requiring a bit of research, 10A still available… Also feels like a theme here but I can’t quite put my finger on it: e.g. several clues refer to “little creature”, boat pushing and two adjacent clues have boob in the clue and answer. In light of comments below, I guess there is a theme after all, namely, obscure Brit politicians.

5 T(ELF)O,RD – Had to look (Thomas) TELFORD up to learn he was a ‘famous engineer’ (not that famous I guess :).
9 IMP,OT=rev(to) – vaguely remembered this from prep school: it’s a punishment, e.g. “lines” as in “I will not solve crosswords during class”.
10 D?R?S?E?M – a mystery: “Sporty types in pub of South Devon railway?”
11 F(ARMH)O,USE – harm* in of*: the insertion operator (“in”) is post-fix, i.e. follows its fodder.
12 FLING – I suspect that the wordplay “pushing the boat out” wants us to take a word meaning ‘pushing’ and remove a word meaning boat to produce FLING — but I don’t see it.
13 L[a]UNCH – another “push the boat”.
15 MERCI=crime*,LESS – presumably MERCILESS ‘treatment’ of crime leads to its reduction — thus an &lit.
18 BOOB,YTRAP=rev(party) – Labour is an example of a party. Our first BOOB.
19 HAG,UE=rev(EU) – ref. William HAGUE, former Tory leader (and “old woman” perhaps).
25 TRISKELIA=(astir like)* – it’s the 3-legged emblem of the Isle of Man (gleaned incidentally from another cryptic).
26 BLEAR[s] – ref. Hazel BLEARS — a (well-known?) UK politician — had me running to wikipedia to look up hazel.


3 NOT,CH – I guess NOT CH[urch] can whimsically be “ungodly”. Nice devilish surface touch.
4 MIDSU(MM)ER – wordplay in the answer: the middle of summer is MM for ‘military medal’ and the definition is just “time”.
5 THROE=”throw”
7 OB,ELI – I think OB is short for obituary, thus “characters for a departed”.
8 DAM,AGES – ref. 20 which is ELDERLY.
16 RE,PUD,I,ATE – PUD[ding] for ‘duff’ and RE for ‘over’.
17 ENGELBERT=(green belt)* – can’t be ref. ENGELBERT Humperdinck can it?
18 BRISTOL – another type of ‘boob': it’s rhyming slang: BRISTOL city rhymes with titty which… also, BRISTOL fashion is a phrase meaning in good order. Yes, I looked this up.
20 EL(DER,L)Y – three cryptic idioms in a single clue: ELY is an example of a religious ‘see’ and L for ‘student’ and German for ‘the’ is DER.
23 RU,LED – ref. Rugby Union.
24 CABLE – “Liberal means of communication?” — two meanings perhaps? it’s a telegram and it’s a high-bandwidth wired system (thus ‘liberal’??)

20 Responses to “Guardian 24435/Gordius – Bristol city”

  1. JohnR says:

    24dn – Vince Cable is a well-known Lib Dem.

    10ac – I didn’t see this at all, so cheated. The wordplay seems to be DART (S. Devon) and STEAM (railway). But surely it should be (5,4)?

  2. Octofem says:

    I agree, John – I was thrown by this clue but with a two-word answer it might have been more solvable.
    I think the ‘fling’ answer is a combination of the two colloquialisms – ‘having a fling’, and ‘pushing the boat out’, both of which could mean a wild, drunken occasion.

  3. Peter Chambers says:

    10 ac is 5,4 in the paper.

    It is Engelbert Humperdinck, but presumably it’s the composer, not the pop star – I don’t know whether he wrote his own songs. However, his (EH#2) Wikipedia entry reports that “he’s known in Germany and Austria merely as Engelbert”, so perhaps it is him after all.

  4. harry says:

    12 – i think its cast meaning throw, as in cast aside

  5. Shirley says:

    17D Engelbert Humperdink’s best known work is the opera “Hansel & Gretel”. The pop star changed his name to that of the composer becasue it was apparently more arresting than his real name which was Arnold George Dorsey!

  6. David says:

    10ac: Darts Team?

  7. Andrew says:

    7dn – Ob. is a standard abbreviation for “died”: short for Latin “obiit” . “Obituary” is from the same root.

  8. Tom Hutton says:

    Telford not famous? It’s a sorry situation when the most famous engineer of his time and founder of the Royal Society is not even known to intelligent crossword solvers. A sad reflection of the bias towards the classical and arts that is led by journalists almost never having studied something interesting in their youth. Sorry about the rant.

  9. Paul says:

    I’m pretty sure 17d refers to the opera composer – ‘private address’ in the clue is an oblique way of asking for his first name.

  10. Eileen says:

    Tom, in defence of us Classicists: I most definitely have heard of Thomas Telford and marvelled at a number of his works, including the Caledonian Canal, the Menai Suspension Bridge and the amazing Pontcysyllte aqueduct. The clever thing about the clue is that he actually was a ‘road engineer’ and nicknamed ‘The Colossus of Roads’ by the poet Robert Southey.

  11. ilancaron says:

    I plead Americanism in defense of my Telfordlessness.

  12. muck says:

    My last answer was 5dn THROE. Funnily enough, I had already seen this misspelt as THROW elsewhere in the paper – some of us do read it – but couldn’t remember where.

  13. clare says:

    10A = Darts Team. Dartmoor is in South DEvon – Dart for short? Steam = railway.

    Impot = imposition = lines.

    Farmhouse is just anagram of “Harm of” (indicated by “harm of changing”) followed by use. No need to complicate matters with the postfix use of in.

    7D – does OB not indicate obsolete?

  14. clare says:

    PS Amazed at not having heard of Telford or Hazel Blears but I guess that’s only cos I happen to have heard of them. People are often amazed at people I haven’t heard of, too. Bit like wossisface off Who Wants to be a Millionaire always says… the qus are only easy if you know the answers…

  15. Chunter says:

    Dart is the name of a river in South Devon.

    The Royal Society was founded in 1660, long before Telford’s time. However he was the first president of the Institution of Civil Engineers (as well as being an FRS).

    I don’t see how there can be any objection to the use of the names of politicians as prominent as Blears, Cable and Hague.

  16. Shed says:

    10ac: there really is such a thing as the Dart Valley Steam Railway which I guess is what Gordius was thinking of. The word count was given correctly as 5,4 in the print edition.

  17. ilancaron says:

    I’ve already pleaded Americanism to explain my Telfordlessness, to that I’ll have to add Blearilessness and Cablelessness. However I do admit to Haguehoodness.

    My “obscure Brit politicians” was supposed to be tongue-in-cheek. Obviously a British paper is going to have local references… no complaints. I have self-impoted the following lines 100 times: “Must read more widely”.

  18. Tom Hutton says:

    Yes, sorry about Royal Society error, I meant Institution of Civil Engineers. That’s the worst of computers, the stuff is off before you really have time to look it over.

    Living within cycling distance of Telford’s birthplace makes one defensive about his place in history.

  19. abu bilal says:

    One of the best i’ve seen in the guardian (though am only a recent convert). I liked the parliamentarians in the bottom-right, and the boobs. Thanks for the explanations, I got all of the left-hand side but needed help elswhere. I got 4D as MIDSUMMER = time, but couldn’t work out why. MM being middle of the word summer is great. What do you call that when the clue is in the answer as well as the, er, clue?

  20. Ron says:

    I know I’ve joined the discussion very late, but 10a does refer to the South Devon Railway, the official name for the heritage line running along the River Dart. While talking of steam trains, can I plug the West Somerset Railway (, running between Bishops Lydeard (near Taunton) and Minehead.

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