Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24520 / Paul

Posted by mhl on October 15th, 2008


Apologies for the late posting today – I’m stuck on a train, so internet access is a bit frustrating, and I’m afraid that as a result some of these explanations aren’t as well researched as I would like them to be… Anyway, this is great stuff, as usual, from Paul. I do hope he’ll still be contributing crosswords from [the country we shouldn’t reveal until Saturday] …

1 BEDLAM: BED (“bottom”, e.g. of the sea) + LAM
4 HAIRCUT: HAIR is a musical and CUT is “rent” in the old sense of tearing
10 DEFER: This one made me smile: “effin’ Bambi!” is “F in DEER”
11 MILAN KUNDERA: AN in MILK = “use” + UNDER + A, assuming “fradulently hidden” is UNDER, as in underhand, etc.? Thanks to everyone in the comments who explained this: the consensus seems to be that it should be AN in MILK = “use fraudulently” + UNDER = “hidden” + A
12 GUARANTEE: (ARGUE)* around ANTE (the small initial stake in Poker)
13 SURGEON: SURGE = “rush” + ON = “over”. Are doctors in the navy always referred to as surgeons?
15 EMBERS: ME reversed, and then “Berber” is two BERS. A rather difficult clue, I thought…
17 FLATUS: FLAT + US, the definition being “wind”
19 MUDLARK: LAD* in MURK; mudlarks, apparently, were people who scavenged for items on the river bed of the Thames at low tide
22 FAIRY RING: FARING = “managing” (e.g. “how are you faring?”) around I RY = “single track” – presumably meant to be read as “1 railway”?
24 IOWAN: IO + WAN; a very misleading definition, “statesman” being “someone from the state of Iowa”
26 EAGLE: I think the hunter is a BEAGLE, decapitated to give the bird
27 DEBUTANTE: TUBE reversed in DANTE
28 HANGDOG: HANG = “execute” + DOG = “wicked type”. I think I’ve only ever heard “hangdog” as in “hangdog expression”, and didn’t really understand that it meant “guilty”…
1 BETIMES: BET = “venture” + SEMI reversed
3 ALIGMENT: (GIANT ELM)* around N; I suppose ALIGNMENT is “evening” in the sense of “evening something up”
4 HOSTAGE: TAG = “name” in HOSE = “socks”
5 INDIA: INDIRA (“Gandhi”) without R
7 TURKEY: Christmas traditionally isn’t a great time for turkeys…
14 ROLLING IN THE AISLES: “creased up” in the sense of “laughing”
16 BEDSITTER: ED = “journalist” + S =”second” in BITTER
19 MUGABE: MUG + ABE (Abraham Lincoln), although I spent a while trying to make this AMBUSH :/
21 AFRESH: SERF reversed in AH!
23 YIELD: Double definition
25 WINCH: W = “bearing” + INCH

19 Responses to “Guardian 24520 / Paul”

  1. Tom Hutton says:

    I thought this was an excellent crossword.

    11ac: I thought “use fraudulently” might be “milk” and “under” might be “hidden” by itself.

    I liked “berber” being two “bers” when I had worked it out finally.

  2. Andrew says:

    Now that I’ve seen your explanation of 11/20 (I was totally baffled before, though I found the name with a bit of lucky guessing+googling), I think it must be MILK = “use fraudulently”, UNDER = “hidden”.

  3. Mort says:

    Brill today. Loads of fun.

    I read 11ac as: AN in MILK (use fraudulently) + UNDER A (hidden by ‘a’)

    I suspect most would have had 15ac as their last. A typically mischievous Paul clue at which I can’t help but chuckle. :)

  4. JimboNWUK says:

    I was extremely hacked off with 11/20 — hardly a well-known novelist a la Charles Dickens or somebody and the cryptic part was appalling as it was so convoluted as to stop a guess even given access to Google.

    I think the whines about EMBERS and IOWAN were unjustified as I went “ah-ha!” when I got them which is an indication of a good clue to me.

    Wasn’t happy with the clueing for the ON part of SURGEON — I still don’t get it.

    I will agree 10A made me grin as did 7D.

    The grudging acceptance of 3dn was also unjustified as “alignment” is a perfectly valid word for “evening” and is SOP for cryptic setters, the same as the 2 meanings for “entrance” and “doctor” as an anagram indicator and all the rest.

    Worst clue: 11/20
    Best Clue: 15A (for the “a-ha” over the doubled BER’s — I was looking up Tuaregs and all kinds for a while!

  5. Mort says:

    Jimbo: What’s wrong with on for over? Seems perfectly acceptable to me…

    I have to disagree about my mate Milan though. The Unbearable Lightness of Being is famous enough to have been adapted for film, and we have had far more obscure personalities in Monday and Tuesday crosswords recently. Besides, I have to defend any clue where we get something as subtle as ‘hidden by a’ leading to ‘undera’.

  6. mhl says:

    JimboNWUK: I don’t think there have been any “whines” about EMBERS or IOWAN – “a very misleading definition” is a positive quality in a crossword clue, in my book :)

    Similarly, my explanation of 3 down wasn’t meant to be grudging in the slightest, although I can see you might read it that way – I just wasn’t totally sure, on the basis that “evening” suggests “aligning” rather than “alignment” to me.

    I think Milan Kundera is certainly well known enough for the daily crossword – surely most people have heard of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, at least?

    ON was just “over”, in a spatial sense, I think.

  7. Mort says:

    Forgot to include an example: how about Fenelon? (5d:

  8. Rich says:

    I couldn’t agree more Mhl!

    I thought both puzzle and blog were excellent today!

  9. mhl says:

    As a more general point, I hope that commenters generally understand that getting the tone of these postings right is quite tricky – the Guardian setters (particularly Araucaria, Paul and Rufus) are genuinely heroes of mine, and it’s easy to drift into sycophancy if you’re trying to stamp out any possible ambiguity in every comment.

  10. Bannsider says:

    The first time I’ve done a Guardian puzzle in ages and it was well worth it. “Effin’ deer” is a great example of how one can toss Ximenes’ handbook out of the window but create an effect which hopefully even most hardened Ximeneans (such as myself mainly) can appreciate.

    EMBERS was a joy.

    Not sure about Paul emigrating to mysterious countries(!) but he may find setting more of a struggle once he commences my strict London Marathon training regime :-)

  11. Mort says:


    I think a general tone of respect for the setters is a good thing and I think the bloggers here (yourself included) generally get it right. I suspect (and know in my own case) that yesterday’s robust criticisms of the Guardian puzzle stemmed mainly from extremely high expectations set by the Guardian daily. Since a disappointing puzzle is such an exception, I would hope that any concerns about tone be tempered by that fact. :)

  12. Peter says:

    13 across: Can N be naval?

    ie Surgeon = SURGE + O(ver) + N(aval)

    Ah! was my exact reaction to 21 down. Brilliant.

  13. Mick h says:

    Milan Kundera was also helpfully in the news yesterday over allegations that he betrayed a dissident to the Czech secret police in the 60s.

  14. John says:

    After yesterday, what a pleasure to experience a proper battle of wits, be challenged and come up with solutions that were both elegant and satisfyingly comprehensible.
    This is how it should be.

    As far as tone is concerned, I don’t think it was anybody’s intention, certainly not mine, to be disrespectful to setters, but merely to highlight the fact that sometimes they advertently fall below their own high stndards.

    What’s this about Paul emigrating?

  15. John says:

    Of course I meant inadvertently.

  16. Geoff Moss says:


    “What’s this about Paul emigrating?”

    The preamble to last Saturday’s prize crossword in the Guardian set by Paul:

    “Paul needs sponsorship to work as a volunteer in a deprived community in 16 down in December. Cheques marked HALP14274W on the back made out to Cross-Cultural Solutions and sent to Payment Processing Centre, Tower Point 44, North Road, Brighton BN1 1YR will be gratefully received.”

    The answer to 16d is overseas.

  17. Eileen says:

    I’ve been wanting to say this since Saturday: hurrah for Paul volunteering to work where Charley’s Aunt and the nuts come from.

    Is it possible for him to register on so that

    a: we can learn more about what he’s going to do
    b: it could be more widely publicised
    c: we could Giftaid any contributions?

    Thank you for a great puzzle today, Paul, and for a great blog, mhl, labouring under difficulties.

  18. don says:

    “I think Milan Kundera is certainly well known enough for the daily crossword – surely most people have heard of “The Unbearable Lightness of Being”, at least?” Most people? I don’t think so!

    The clues for ‘Fenelon’ and ‘Kundera’ don’t really bear comparison. One was simple, the other over contrived – I bet those who solved 11/20 got the answer and then worked out the clue: with Fenelon I’d bet it was the reverse.

  19. John says:

    Geoff: Thanks for the info on Paul. I was away at the weekend and missed it. Does this mean he won’t be setting for a while?

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