Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,564 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on December 5th, 2008


The usual entertainment value from this Brendan puzzle, with its elegant surfaces, clever anagrams and cunningly hidden answers. It included four reiterative phrases neatly placed around the perimeter, plus another one at 13ac, which made some of the solving that bit easier. Nothing too tricky [apart from a minor query at 10ac]

cd: cryptic definition

dd: double definition

[ ]*: anagram


1 FORD MADOX FORD: [President Gerald] FORD MAD OXFORD: Ford Madox Ford [1873-1939] was a novelist and poet

10 OSCILLATE: O [ ring, as in wedding band? ] + [A CELLIST]*

11 RADII: cd: R ADII: the radius is one of the lateral bones in the forearm; King Herod’s Massacre of the Innocents, following the birth of Jesus, was allegedly carried out in AD 9 and so ‘two years after’ is AD 11. The first of my two favourite clues, I think.

12 NYALA: hidden in keNYA LArge

13 TETE A TETE: TET: Vietnamese New Year [which I remember from a similar clue for this phrase some time ago] + EAT + ETE [summer in France]

14 FLAPPER: dd

16 PAID OFF: P[er] A[nnum] I’D OFF: ‘let go': the modern euphemism for ‘fire’.



21 OUT AND OUT: dd


24 NORMA: hidden in miNOR MA sterpieces – her third appearance in eight days and each time as the opera, rather than NORMA [l] or similar familiar devices

25 HARMONIUM: H’M around ARM [member] ON [playing] I

26 HOME SWEET HOME: [ME THEE SOMEHOW]*: ‘composed’ is a nice anagram indicator here.



3 DELTA: dd: DELTA is the fourth Greek letter, therefore a low mark, and, because of its triangular shape, gives its name to eg the Nile Delta [big mouth]


5 ONE-STEP: cd: Neil Armstrong’s famous ‘one [small] step for mankind’

6 FORMALISE: FOR [supporting] MALI’S E

7 RIDGE: [f] RIDGE: quite cool, I thought!


9 TIME AFTER TIME: and another

15 PLAIN JANE: rhymes with Verlaine [1873-1939], French poet. [I’ve never thought of a Plain Jane as necessarily ugly.]

17 OSTRACISM: [m]OST RACISM: my other favourite clue. In ancient Greece, people could be banished by popular vote, their names having been written on an ostrakon [ a potsherd or tile] and put into an urn.

19 KNOW-HOW: WHO [World Health Organisation] inside K NOW

20 SET FREE: dd

22 TORSO: hidden in docTOR’S Orders

23 BOOTH: dd: John Wilkes Booth, who assassinated Abraham Lincoln and [General] William Booth, founder of the Salvation Army – or it could be his daughter, Evangeline, who became General in 1934.

16 Responses to “Guardian 24,564 / Brendan”

  1. Geoff says:

    Well blogged, Eileen.

    Unusually for one of Brendan’s, I raced through this one. Spookily, I had been thinking only a few days ago about how FORD MADOX FORD would make a good crossword light, with several charade options to clue it (I’d have gone for MAD OX and a BSE reference, with ‘cross’ for at least one of the FORDs). Consequently I got 1ac straight off, and spotted the [word]…{word] theme from the letter breakdown in the clues. For those who have never read it, FMF’s novel ‘The Good Soldier’ is excellent.

    The last solution I put in was 8dn. There are a lot of expressions of the form [word] FOR [word] which mean ‘exactly (matching)’ in some sense of another (including WORD FOR WORD!). I saw two others which fit with the connecting letters: POUND FOR POUND and ROUND FOR ROUND – so it took me a while to spot the right one.

    Some splendid clues in this puzzle – I think my favourites are 7dn, 11ac, 26ac. Just one little quibble: the (proper) French pronunciation of ‘Verlaine’ doesn’t rhyme with PLAIN and JANE – it would come out more like PLEN JEN!

  2. Kate Wild says:

    Yea, finished in record time whilst having Chinese take away.

  3. Phaedrus says:

    Thanks for the pearl of wisdom about ostracism Eileen – I feel smarter now than I did 5 minutes ago (or more knowledgeable, anyway).

    Good puzzle; fairly straightforward; a few fun clues. Always like Brendan.

  4. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Eileen, and particularly for the story of the origin of ostracism – an excellent clue, I’d agree. This was a lot of fun, and I thought it was fairly easy for a Friday puzzle. (Although, that said, we did it when the puzzle was available at midnight last night, and I do seem to find the crossword easier in the evening than the morning.)

    A couple of small things: I think there’s a typo in 26a it’s HUM instead of H’M, and I think a few of those you’ve described as double definitions are (slightly) more complicated, e.g. OUT AND OUT being OUT = “mistaken”, AND = “also”, OUT = “exhausted”. I may well be misunderstanding the terminology, though.

  5. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, quite easy today, but enjoyable. I got 13ac and 9d early on and thought maybe all the other reiterative phrases fitted the pattern T… A… T…

  6. stiofain_x says:

    Yea nice one filling in (dd?) Eileen.
    I thought this was a great puzzle 7dn was brilliant.
    I like the puzzles where the theme doesnt become apparent til u have solved some rather than the “6 clues are of a type kind”.
    Eileen i read 10ac as band=ring=O and an anagram of a cellist and loved the surface reading for it.

  7. Peter Owen says:


    10d: Why do you think the Massacre of the Innocents was in AD 9? It took place at or shortly after the birth of Jesus which was long before then (probably a few years BC). Years AD are nominally counted from the birth of Jesus, so if the Massacre of the Innocents took place at much the same time, then two years later was AD 2, or in Roman numerals AD II, and that’s how I explained the ADII in this answer.

  8. Andrew says:

    Hi Eileen, thanks for stepping in. Like others, I found this a lot easier than some of Brendan’s puzzles, especially for a Friday, and the “repeated word” theme helped a lot. By the way, you seem to have missed OUR AND OUT as another example.

    Like Peter I read the “Massacre of the Innocents” answer as AD 2, on the traditional assumption that the Magi visited Jesus in the stable in Bethlehem. After all, Herod ordered the killing of boys up to the age of two.

    And of course Neil Armstrong’s “small step” was for “[a] man”, not mankind.

  9. Jake says:

    Hi people,

    I didn’t do this puzzle today, but I’ve a question to ask about dictionaries.

    I own the Chambers 11th edition, but I’d like to buy the latest Collins Concise for my collection. Are there different Collins dictionaries, i.e – Concise and a general one? If so could anyone please recommend the better of the two?


  10. mhl says:

    Jake: there’s a big Collins as well, which is probably more useful than the concise one for a second opinion on crossword clues.

  11. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, everyone, for your helpful responses. [I’ve been out in between, so apologies for the delay.] This was done in rather a rush, so some slips did get through, I’m afraid.

    Geoff: I think you should enter Paul’s clue-writing competition. One of our number has already been mentioned in dispatches – see yesterday’s blog and comment below.
    Quite right about the homophone, of course!!

    Mhl: quite right about the ‘hum’. I’d read it that way when I solved it in the morning, then misread it later.
    Re OUT AND OUT: I read it as OUT AND OUT = completely [though I’d be more happy with ‘complete’], then, as you say, OUT = “mistaken”, AND = “also”, OUT = “exhausted” – so a triple definition, perhaps?

    Stiofain: congratulations on your honourable mention on I’m glad you agreed with my [eventual] reading of 10ac. I had been asking my grandson if there was a band called ‘O’!

    Peter: re the date of the Massacre of the Innocents: I hold my hands up. I was trying to be far too clever. I thought it was generally accepted that Jesus was not born in the year 0, so AD 2 seemed too simple. I googled it quickly, saw a couple of references to the Massacre of the Innocents, with the date AD 9, and didn’t follow them through. However, I hope you’ll agree that whether the II was represented by 2 or 11, it was still a cracking good clue.

    Andrew: how could I have messed up the Armstrong quotation – I actually stayed up to hear him say it!

    Anyway, we all seem to have enjoyed it, thank goodness.

  12. Jake says:

    Re: Mhl,

    Thank you for the info, and link.

    It’s very much appreciated.

    Thank you Sir.

  13. Ian says:

    Excellent blog Eileen.

    As has been mentioned already, Brendan today was uncharacteristically charitable to solvers. Very much
    at the easier end of his range – though enjoyable nevertheless.

  14. Eileen says:

    PS: thank you, Brendan, for another excellent puzzle – which seems to have gone down well with everyone [hurrah!] and proved that a relatively easy [for a Friday] puzzle can still provide so much enjoyment and satisfaction.

  15. Barnaby says:

    A further reiterative phrase at 21ac, of course.

    I agree wholeheartedly with Stiofain that these themes are much more fun when unflagged!

  16. smutchin says:

    After struggling with Araucaria on Thursday, I found this Brendan puzzle rather easy by comparison – but to echo what others have said, it was no less enjoyable for that, thanks to some delightful surfaces and clever wordplay. Great stuff, Brendan!

    Re Paul’s clue competition, Qaos also got a namecheck under the general “thanks” as – excuse my lack of modesty – did I (with my “real life” name). Funnily enough, Ford Madox Ford also got me thinking about possible clues – I came up with: “Writer, president and car-maker kept apart by enraged bull.” It’s a great name for crossword setters.

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