Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24575 / Puck

Posted by mhl on December 18th, 2008


Apologies for any errors here – I’m rather beset by work and illness at the moment. My partner did about half of these, so thanks to her for the help…

9,19,7 and 19,29,18,19,16 THE RULE IS JAM TO-MORROW AND JAM YESTERDAY BUT NEVER JAM TO-DAY The anagrinds in this clue are “Crazy”, “dancing” and “broadcast” to give (SUE HITLER)* + (MAJOR TOM ON WARD)* + JAM = “Unprogressive Traffic” + YESTERDAY = “song” + (A BRAVE DJ MY TUNE TO)*. The definition is “as the White Queen spoke” from Through the Looking-glass.
10. EMOTE E = “electronic” (as in “email”) + MOTE = “speck”
13. LAMBING LAM = “hit” + BING = “crooner”
17. RABAT TABAR(D) reversed
20. UNWED regular characters taken out of gUy NoW rEaDy
21. CATECHU Hidden answer
22. TOLSTOY SLOT reversed + TO (PLA)Y
26. GOING Something that’s “On” is GOING or working, and to be “off” is to be GOING
28. NEEPS “Tyneside” = NE + EPS, to give turnip (as in “neeps and tatties”)
1. STOP S + (jam) POT reversed – “it may be full!” as in “full stop”
2. RED RUM MURDER reversed
5. ESCAPISM (PISCEANS with M for N)*
6. MESH ME (a note in the solfa) SH = “keep quiet”
8. DEAD Double definition: “Possibly 1 so”, since one might come to a dead stop
13. LYRIC Hidden answer: the Lyric Theatre
24,22. THRUSH SONG = “a small sum paid” + TUSH = “US bum” carrying H(AMPE)R; a Mavis is a song thrush
25. TASS T = “model” + ASS = “US bum”: the Telegraph Agency of the Soviet Union
27. GUYS Double definition

45 Responses to “Guardian 24575 / Puck”

  1. Andrew says:

    Hi mhl, thanks for explaining the wordplay for the “jam” quotation – as usual with clues like this I didn’t bother working out the details once I’d got the answer (I assumed it was just a long anagram). As a geordie-by-birth I’m not keen on the inaccuracy of North-East=Tyneside, but it’s such a regular trick that I suppose I shouldn’t complain too much.

    Apart from those niggles, I found this good fun: 26ac was very nice indeed.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl, and particularly for explaining all the ramifications of 9ac etc. I’m afraid I just couldn’t be bothered, once I’d got the answer [in spite of 'today' and 'tomorrow' being hyphenated in the clue; why not 'yester-day', to be consistent?] I think someone commented not long ago that these very long answers are probably more satisfying for the setter than the solver.

    However, I did like the clever anagram in 12ac., the almost &lit hidden answer in 13dn and I thought 27dn was brilliant.

  3. Eileen says:

    PS: I hope you’re better for Christmas!

  4. Andrew says:

    Eileen, I think “to-day” and “to-morrow” are Lewis Carroll’s typically fussy spellings of the words – he also used to write things like “sha’n’t”; though even he seems to have balked at “yester-day”.

  5. mhl says:

    Thanks, Eileen, I’m sure I will be.

    Like both of you, I probably wouldn’t bother to check anything that looks like a huge anagram once I was sure of the answer. I suppose it’s a good discipline of doing a weekly post that I do sometimes. :)

  6. Geoff says:

    Congrats from me too, mhl, for ploughing through the anagram, which I certainly didn’t either. I find long anagrams are only really impressive when the clue is &lit – Araucaria has had some classics over the years, but even he doesn’t always manage it.

    ‘Tyneside’ = NE may be inexact, but it is interpretable in two ways (just): NE = north east (England), and NE is the right hand side of the word TYNE.

    15dn was my favourite clue – succinct, with excellent surface misdirecting to a football theme.

  7. Richard says:

    15d: why ‘wolves’ rather than any other four-legged creature?

  8. Tyro says:

    Some nice clues, but I really, really, really hate those long anagrams – also I remember seeing 13dn’s idea before, and thanks to the brilliant 15squared search function I was able to find it:

  9. Tom Hutton says:

    Eileen, it might have been me who complained about the long anagrams as I certainly have done so before. This one didn’t change my mind about them. You might as well clue it as: “Something the White Queen said” and leave it at that. Nobody is going to use the anagram to solve the clue and very few are going to even try to work out the word play.

    I agree with Richard’s reservation about 15dn but, having said that, this was a most enjoyable crossword with some top rate clues in it.

  10. Eileen says:

    Tyro: how do you do that?

  11. Tyro says:

    Just below the calendar on the right hand side there’s a search box: I typed in ‘Joely Richardson’ and hey presto. I’m v. impressed

  12. Eileen says:

    Wow – so am I! Many thanks, Tyro!

  13. Testy says:

    It’s just a shame it doesn’t search the comments too.

  14. mhl says:

    :) I’d never noticed that box before either – I tend to search for things here with Google by adding “” as an extra search term.

  15. John says:

    Like most I couldn’t be bothered with working out the anagram either, but I did notice a numbering error in the paper version at least. There’s a 3 letter word (any) in the wrong place, before 29 ac (yesterday)instead of after 18 dn (but never).
    Is “advanced” standing for “a” in 4 dn. If so it’s another case of indiscriminate initial letter use, unless there’s an explanation I can’t see.
    And I’m sure good old Chambers must have an explanation for PERDU = “concealed”, rather than “lost”?

  16. smutchin says:

    Richard: re 15d, think Wolves the football team rather than wolves the animals. I didn’t get the reference immediately and it took a moment of thinking about it to realise that was Puck’s intention. Not a great clue, especially since wolves is a noun while four-legged is an adjective.

    I might also point out that perdu (11a) means lost, not hidden.

  17. mhl says:

    (Obviously using Google does hit the comments.)

    Another random tip is that you can use to see all the posts by particular bloggers, e.g. Andrew, Eileen, Uncle Yap, etc.

    John, A is “advanced” in A-level, so I think that’s OK. The entry for “perdu” in Chambers begins “adj lost to view; concealed; …”

  18. John says:

    As you were. When I looked up the quote I found a version with “….jam today, jam yesterday but never any jam today.” I now see the “and” in the clue and have found another version which reads as the clue does.

  19. smutchin says:

    John, you posted your comment while I was writing mine… I’d hazard a guess that Puck interpreted “out of sight” (a given definition of perdu that I’ve found online) the wrong way.

  20. John says:

    Smutchin: If it’s Wolves as in Wanderers, where does the FOUR LEGGED come in? They should have 22.

  21. smutchin says:

    Cross-posted with Mhl this time… that sounds like a weird bit of lexicography to me. I used to live in France but I’ve never heard perdre used to mean conceal. Still, if it’s in Chambers, it’s not Puck’s fault if it’s wrong.

  22. smutchin says:

    John, it’s Wolves the football team for the benefit of the surface reading only. In its role as the definition part of the clue, it means the four-legged animal.

    But I agree with your complaint that it is nonsense.

  23. smutchin says:

    Of course, I’d be happy to admit I’m wrong if someone can provide an example of perdu meaning concealed in a quotation (English of French).

  24. smutchin says:

    English or French

  25. Geoff says:

    I’m surprised there are so many grumbles about 15dn, which was one of my favourites in this puzzle. ‘Wolves’ as Wolverhampton Wanderers is part of the surface meaning, which I spotted immediately (this is not always the case!). And the caesura in the clue is after the word ‘are’:

    Wolves are (FOUR LEGGED)/confused about new rule (FO *(RULE) GGED)

    What’s not to like?

  26. smutchin says:

    Dammit, Geoff, you’re right – I overlooked the all-important “are”. I have no complaint about words being used with different senses for the surface and definition.

  27. JimboNWUK says:

    OK get ready to pass round the smelling salts, but I thought today’s offering was pretty good… however as an ex TV engineer I got TRIODE fairly quickly as a type of valve but then I do go back a-ways… surprised none of you non-lecky people aren’t a bit miffed though!

    Along with everyone else, I didn’t bother checking the anagrind in 1ac was all a-ok, I got the qoute from the interlocks, word-counts and “white queen” reference.

    And I do NOT consider a lack of knowledge or interest in jazz to be synonymous with a lack of knowledge or interest of the world at large. This is a typical attidute of nerdy fanatics such as train-spotters and trekkies who invert the non-sharers in their pastimes as being the oddbods rather than vice versa.

  28. Geoff says:

    11ac: I also thought that PERDU as ‘concealed’ rather than ‘lost’ was a bit of a stretch, but I have found these two quotations in the Shorter Oxford Dictionary for the meaning ‘concealed, hidden; out of sight; disguised’:

    ‘Honest, good-fellow qualities… which had lain perdue’ (Washington Irving)

    ‘This untenanted cottage… lay perdu, off both the main and secondary roads’ (Baroness Orczy)

    The SOD finds the earliest usage of the word with this meaning in the first half of the 18th century.

  29. Paul B says:

    Well, since Geoff asks, what’s not to like is that it wasn’t ‘As Wolves are’ for example. So there. Agree about the anagram.

  30. don says:

    I thought this was a great crossword and am amused a non-foreign word (albeit derived from the French) should cause consternation. Ban foreign words I say [again :-)]!

    Not knowing the first part of the quotation, I did need to sort out the letters of the anagram to get ‘The rule is’.

    ‘Sue, Hitler/Major Tom on ward’ give ‘The rule is, jam to-morrow and’ but where does the ‘and’ go in the solution?

  31. don says:

    I’m not surprised that wendyball followers are confused if they think in terms of football teams at the slightest hint in a clue.

    If you forget wendyball, there’s nothing wrong with 15 down.

    Wolves are four legged.
    Dogs are four legged.
    Horses are four legged.

    Where’s the problem?

    I assume the word ‘wolves’ was used because it has six letters, which means ‘wolves are’ is nine letters and ‘wolves are confused’ sounds like it might be an anagram concerning a ‘new rule’.

    I thought it was a good clue and a fair solution.

  32. Harley26 says:

    I agree with Don, 15dn was a good clue I thought – I was looking for the anagram for a while, but once I got it it makes perfect sense. Struggled with 4dn but got it in the end.

  33. Brian Harris says:

    The long anagram was impressive but once I’d got the quotation, I didn’t bother working out the details. I know that’s lazy, but with such a lengthy construction, I was keen to just get on and solve the rest of the crossword. 15 down foxed me (not a pun!) completely… I had to look up the solution here. I think it’s rather weak, with “Wolves are…” as the straight, presumably.

  34. mhl says:

    Don: the “and” just joins the first two anagrams, if I recall correctly.

  35. don says:

    Yes, Mhl, but it’s enumerated as part of the solution, but doesn’t appear anywhere in the grid — or have I got a bland spot?

    Hope you feel better for the festive season.

  36. Geoff says:

    The ‘and’ appears in bold in the enumeration at the top of the clue, which presumably means it is not to be entered in the grid. Haven’t seen this done before.

    I’m intrigued to know what a bland spot is, Don. Is the rest of you more strongly flavoured?

    Typos are a curse in these blogs – we all do it from time to time.

  37. Ian says:

    Probably one of the most irritatingly clued puzzles in ages.

    The lengthy ones I have a particular dislike for.

    The clues to 11a and 15d were dubious to say the least.

  38. don says:

    Of course — I should have put it in quotation marks!

    There seems to be a discrepancy between two enumerations:

    9,19,7 and 19,29,18,19,16 (as above)


    9,19,7 3, 3, 19,29,18,19,16 (as on the version I printed out)

    No matter: I enjoyed this crosword.

  39. mark says:

    John, then Don and then Geoff mention the missing ‘and’. Geoff, I’m impressed by your phlegmatic “haven’t seen this done before”. Neither have I and it’s not on. As one of the few who tried to work the blessed thing out bit by bit it threw me completely.

  40. don says:

    Sorry, the enumeration for 9,19,7 and 19,29,18,19,16 as printed out was:

    (3,4,2),3,(2-6) then 3, 3 and then (9), (3,5), 3, (2-3)

    One of those threes in the middle seems superfluous?

  41. stiofain_x says:

    I also dislike these overly long anagrams (megagrams anyone?) they are perhaps forgivable if an &lit or an excellent surface reading as in a few Araucarian ones, but otherwise self-indulgent. This surface reading maybe refers to a mental ward linking to the madness in Alice In Wonderland but is tenuous to say the least. Puck would have been better referring back to Pauls Queen epic “Never play casually with queen” (3,2,4 blah blah etc)would have done me.
    A few decent clues but another disadvantage of megagrams is it cuts down the number of other clues.
    (ps congrats Phaedrus on another hon. mention in Pauls clue comp)

  42. Dave Ellison says:

    9ac etc. Yes, the extra 3 lettered word threw me for a while (and I started blocking off 19d as a consequence). However, I think it is reasonable, in that the “and” was in bold; but I thought Puck could have included Dan in the list of anagram characters somewhere.

  43. Geoff Anderson says:

    In the olden days, this would have been clued “Wolves, for example, are confused etc” and I’ve noticed this strict application of logic being diluted over the decades, until nowadays it is not uncommon to have a specific clued by a generic, if I can put it like that. The other way round is fine, eg “Quadruped upsets flow”, since ‘wolf’ is a specific example of the general category which is ‘quadruped’.
    Rules do gradually change. There was a time when every individual letter of an anagram was always to be found in the clue. Nowadays, one of the letters may be a whole word (such as ‘advanced’ for ‘a’) which is commonly abbreviated to a single letter. I’m not saying it’s wrong, whereas I do think it’s wrong to have a generic clued by a specific.
    One way of putting it is to say that ‘wolves’ doesn’t describe/define ‘four-legged’ whereas ‘four-legged’ describes/defines ‘wolves’.
    Thinking of ludicrously extreme examples also helps: if wolves can define four-legged, then ‘city’ could define ‘big’, since cities are big, as wolves are four-legged. The whole can’t define a part, whereas a part can define the whole.

  44. Paul B says:

    Absolutely. It’s just slack clueing (on this occasion, for this solver: I’m not suggesting for a minute that Puck is a slack clueist, and I too gained enjoyment through solving this puzzle). But ‘four-legged’ is adjectival, ‘Wolves are’ isn’t.

  45. KG says:

    Journeys -> jam (?) + white queen: the rest was redundant. “Going” didn’t have a spare letter. Having said that, I approve of quotes and phrases as solutions.

    Perdu as concealed? I am now back in Catalunya and up north from here we have the Monte Perdido region. The mountain was never lost (as in misplaced) I guess, but obscured. These latin roots travel and change. One of my favourites in Castillian Spanish is the use of the same verb – esperar – for ‘to wait’ and also ‘to hope’. Fluent English-speaking Spanish friends still don’t really understand how to ‘wait in hope’ as to them its the same thing.

    Don – ban foreign words? How far back do you want to go. Pre-Roman?

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