Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,604 / Enigmatist

Posted by Eileen on January 23rd, 2009


I really enjoyed this one and learned a couple of new words, which is always good. Getting most of the long clues early on gave me a good start but there are one or two places where I need help, which I have no doubt will be forthcoming.

cd = cryptic definition
dd = double definition
<  = reversed
[ ]* = anagram


5   TRAMCAR: [cram tar, Spooner]: cunningly placed comma here!
9   KEMPT: K +  EMPT[y]; this is one of those words that are more usually seen prefixed by ‘un’.
10  MYSTIC MEG: [MISTY +  ME + C[lubs] + G {force}]*: whatever happened to her?  The ‘for’, though necessary for the [excellent] surface, is superfluous. I didn’t understand the ‘in future’.
11  SPEAK IN TONGUES: the grammar here seems wrong. Surely it should be ‘speaking in tongues’?
13  FROG: dd
14  ABSENTEE: a ‘no-shower’. SENT [directed] in A BEE i.e. the opposite of the clue. I liked this one a lot.

18  I SEE: definition ‘it’s clear’ and ‘i’ is the ‘heart’ of ‘Mystic Meg’ but I don’t really understand it.
21  SHOPPING CENTRE: cd: PP is the centre of SHOPPING
23  APRIL FOOL: I’d never heard of a gowk, so had to look it up – and there was the answer in Chambers, so didn’t need the anagram of POLO and FLAIR
24  INTRO: the Iliad was set IN TRO[y]
25  DRESSER: dd
26  ROUGH IT: means to squat but the rest eludes me


1,12 TAKE A FIRM STAND: dd, cd
2     DAMP-PROOF COURSE: dd, cd
3     OUTLAY: dd
4     SUMMIT: MM in a suit!
6     ALIENEES: another new word for me and another cleverly used comma. An alienee is a person to whom property is transferred, so the definition is ‘property’s coming our way': A + LIE + [SEEN] <
7     COME UP TO SCRATCH: dd, cd
8,22 REGISTERED POST: a rather clever charade, I thought: RE + GIST + ERE + D + POST
16    BARN DOOR: [RONDO]* in BAR
19    OCULAR: [LUCk] < in OAR
20    IN SITU: [UNIT IS]*

51 Responses to “Guardian 24,604 / Enigmatist”

  1. Stakhanovite says:

    18A: It’s ‘I C’ at the heart, not just ‘I’.

  2. Geoff Moss says:

    Morning Eileen

    18a I C is near the centre of 10

    26a *(TROUGH I)

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen.

    10ac I thought “broadcaster in future” was the definition.

    18ac: IC (=”I see”) is almost the middle of [MYST]IC[MEG]

    I had the same qualms about 11ac and don’t understand 26ac.

    Loved 1ac and 21ac.

  4. Andrew says:

    Pipped to the post again!
    Thanks for 26ac Geoff – I suppose it’s not just an anagram, but a “rotation” of the letters, hence “in the round”. Otherwise it would be a rather unfair indirect anagram.

  5. Stakhanovite says:

    Wasn’t too impressed with 3D -something like ‘Chicken of the year’ would have been better, I feel.

  6. brisbanegirl says:

    Good morning all,

    Can someone please explain the masonic part of 2dn, I just don’t get it.

    I’d never heard of a “gowk” but got the solution and checked the definition later, and was surprised to see it was a real word.

    Mystic Meg also held me up, but I got enough of the grid to work it out … but iit took me til tonight to see the working between the cuew, because I just knew that 18ac was “i see”.

  7. brisbanegirl says:

    cuew = clues

  8. JamieC says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. The long clues fell into place fairly easily, but some of the shorter ones were very hard.

    Brisbanegirl – a damp proof course goes at the bottom of a wall, so it’s a bed for the masonry or … a masonic bed!

    I’m not wild about 4d. “properly attired” should be SUITED, not SUIT

  9. smutchin says:

    Masonic is a reference to stone-workers rather than members of secretive organisations.

    I got 23a without knowing what gowk meant or having to look it up – the checking letters resolved the anagram for me.

    Agree with the various complaints so far, and there are various other things I could nitpick about, but it’s all redeemed by a sense of fun, as embodied by the thoroughly groansome 21a. And after all, if a crossword isn’t meant to be a bit of fun, what is it meant to be?

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks, everyone: I knew I could rely on you. [I could really kick myself re 18ac but it would have taken me a long time to get 26ac.]

    Jamie: there’s been some discussion lately about clues like 4dn, where MM is ‘in a suit’, ie ‘suited’! You either love ’em or hate ’em: I did like this one.

  11. brisbanegirl says:

    Thanks for the explanation JamieC and Smutchin,

    Being a lapsed Catholic I was stuck with the secret society version. (with the christian names of Monica Therese, I can never get awat from it). I’m sure my mother would like me to 11ac … and call me Bernadette.

  12. Ian Stark says:

    I blew a bit hot and cold with this one, but some great clues made up for any misgivings (14a, 2d, 3d, 7d in particular). Not so keen on 26a and I was writing in REGISTERED POST before I had finished reading the clue!

    I had FOOT for 13a and was all ready to complain about the clue – I took the first letters of Fiddle Or On The to give me a ‘hoof’, and was going to moan about the lack of any indication!

    I wasn’t happy with 10d either, until I found that OCULAR can also be a noun (The eyepiece of a microscope, telescope, or other optical instrument).

    Mystic Meg would have been broadcasting on the subject of the future. She’s still at it: where you will find that “her trusted psychics are waiting for you” (for a mere £1.50 a minute).

    Masonic = of masons or masonry, i.e. brickwork etc.

    My new words for the day: GOWK and ALIENEES.

    Thanks Eileen and setter.

  13. JamieC says:

    Eileen – I’m probably being over pedantic, but if the clue was “military medal properly attired” then I’d be happy with it meaning ‘MM in a suit’. But “military medal properly attired to receive it” to me means “MM in a word meaning ‘properly attired'” which could only be MM in SUITED.

    If the clue had been “Achieved top military medal – and properly attired to receive it” (8) I would have no complaints.

    I’ll go away and try and learn how to have fun now…

  14. Andrew says:

    > “[Mystic Meg’s] trusted psychics are waiting for you” (for a mere £1.50 a minute).

    Trusted to rake in the money for her by deceiving vulnerable people, that is. Or so some might think: I couldn’t possibly comment.

  15. Eileen says:


    re 19dn: I took this as ‘viewer’s = ‘of the eye’ = ocular, so was quite happy with it.

    Jamie: I think perhaps the ‘and’ makes it work for me.

  16. smutchin says:

    Jamie – it’s easier to enjoy clues when they’re perfectly formed, and this puzzle might have irritated me more on another day, but all my ire is reserved for SouthEastern Trains today so I’m feeling benevolent towards the crossword setters of the world.

  17. Ian Stark says:

    Quite, Andrew . . . perhaps it should read “Mystic Meg’s trusted psychics are circling for you”?!

  18. Ian Stark says:

    Thanks, Eileen, I see that now (no pun intended, honestly). In fact OCULAR as both adjective (clued by ‘viewer’s’ = of the viewer) and noun (clued by ‘viewer’s’ = viewer is) work here.

  19. Andrew says:

    “Gowk” should be familiar (usually in the phrase “ye daft gowk!”) to anyone who’s read “Oor Wullie” or “The Broons”. (Apologies to those who’ve never heard of them – Google is your friend.)

  20. brisbanegirl says:


    Good grief …. I live in brisbane … Oor Wullie, sounds like a sheep in need of shearing …. But I might use “ye daft gowk” at work … so much more sophisticated than “you bluddy idiot”

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Thanks for the explanations. Even though I finished this I had no idea how I did it because it was a mixture of seeing things that fitted the grid and seeing only one half of a clue. Oh OK, that was only about half the clues, the rest were OK.

    That in itself was amazing because the biggest difficulty I have is remembering phrases. For some reason I go brain dead despite knowing the phrase. But today the mind block wasn’t there. I have no idea why, but it was just as well, ‘cos I would have been seriously stuck otherwise.

    Again, I do find it reassuring when other people say they don’t fully understand. It’s nice to know one is not alone in a sea of geniuses! LOL & TA.

    I only looked up Gowk after seeing it had been found in Chambers. I used Wictionary. It’s there too! I was sort of expecting it not to be.

    People were muttering about fun. Some of it was fun yes, othe bits were more an agonised, Oh No (in the same sense of “Oh no” with reference to bad puns and shaggy dog stories).

  22. smutchin says:

    For Ian S and anyone else who might be interested, here are links to printable pdfs of a couple of my own cruciverbal creations – you won’t be complaining about Enigmatist or Araucaria or anyone else any more…


  23. Andrew says:

    Thanks for that Smutchin – I’ll be spending a lot of time on trains over the weekend so I’ll print off these and Ian’s puzzles to compare and contrast (but not complain, even though it also begins with C).

  24. Chris says:

    Eileen, am I right in thinking you are Scottish? If so, I’m amazed that you haven’t come across enough Broons and Oor Wullie comic strips in your time to be familiar with “gowk”. It’s also where I learned “eejit”.

  25. Eileen says:

    Hi Chris

    No, I’m not Scottish: my husband was [from Dundee, the home of the Broons, in fact] but we never lived together in Scotland and therefore I never saw the Sunday Post. [I know you can get it down here, if you want it badly enough!]

    Gowk is one word I didn’t pick up from him, though I did learn a fair few, ‘peelie-wally’ being my favourite, I think. [I learned ‘eejit’ earlier, in Northern Ireland.]

  26. John says:

    Solved but too many grammatical inexactitudes, e.g 11 ac, plus clumsy cluing, e.g. 15 dn, (what are “literature” and “spent” there for?) and 10 ac which I thought was awful. The “in” is necessary for the surface, but makes the clue inaccurate. In the solution, the C is in the “play” of MISTY and ME. You can’t put MISTYME in C, as implied.
    Can somebody please explain how the dd works in 13 ac?
    About half the clues were brilliant, the rest very laboured.

  27. John says:

    Plus – a tee is a support for a ball not a driver. Even if it means the person using the driver, it’s still not support for him.

  28. Chris says:

    Ah, sorry, Eileen. Although I certainly don’t recommend you go searching for the Sunday Post; comic strips apart, it’s an appalling rag.

  29. Will Mc says:

    As Tom Nairn said: “As far as I’m concerned, Scotland will be reborn when the last minister is strangled with the last copy of the Sunday Post.”
    (I still like The Broons and Oor Wullie, though.)

  30. Eileen says:


    13ac: Chambers: frog: the block by which the hair is attached to the heel of a violin etc bow; a v-shaped band of horn on the underside of a horse’s hoof.

    I’m no golfer but could ‘driver’ refer to the person doing the driving?

    After all the comments, I’m feeling rather less embarrassed that I couldn’t explain everything!

  31. nick jones says:

    IMHO, ‘Come Up To Scratch’ does not actually mean to fulfil an obligation.

  32. Eileen says:

    I tend to agree with you, Nick, but Chambers has it – in those very words.

  33. John says:

    Eileen: Thanks for the frog clarification. I was aware of the violin connection but not the hoof.
    On drivers, as I said, the setter may mean the person driving the ball, but it’s still not a support for him, except in the rather stretched sense of describing a piece of equipment as a support. I don’t think anyone would think of a golf club as a support, so why a golf tee?

  34. Andrew says:

    Golfer 1: “I’m just going to drive off, but I’ve got nothing to rest my ball on.”
    Golfer 2: “Here’s a tee for you.”

    So TEE=”support for driver” seems fine to me.

  35. Tyro says:

    Someone has suggested in yesterday’s blog that Araucaria is the Marmite of compilers. Can we suggest foodstuffs for the others? I’d like to propose Enigmatist as a Curly Wurly. Not really like the others, lots to chew over, but full of holes too. Generally satisfying though.

  36. Ian Stark says:

    Thanks, Smutchin – just completed #3 – lots of fun. Especially enjoyed 15a, 18a, 25a. 14d was marvellous and some great surfaces (4a being my favourite). 24a should win an award . . . oh, hang on . . .

    Just short of a twenty-minuter I think.

    Couldn’t quite grasp *how* the frothy head reference in 10a works (I’m trying not to give anything away to spoil it for Andrew etc).

    I’m saving #4 for later!

    Great puzzle, look forward to seeeing more.

  37. Ian Stark says:

    Ref post #35:

    Edward Powys Mathers (setter at The Observer under the pseudonym “Torquemada”). I suggest ‘toast’, for no reason other than he’s been brown bread for seventy years.

    Or is that overstepping the good taste mark?

  38. John says:

    Andrew: The second golfer meant “Here’s a tee to rest your ball on” and should have said so.

  39. Eileen says:


    I like it! I think a gap of 7o years is long enough for it to be acceptable. [I haven’t got round to any more of your puzzles yet – and now we’ve delights in store from Smutchin, too!]

    I’d say Araucaria is more single cream, because he can’t be beaten – but then I would say that, wouldn’t I?

  40. smutchin says:

    Paul is a bag of Space Dust – too strange for some people’s tastes but lots of fun.

    Thanks, Ian. You’re too kind. It’s interesting that your favourites aren’t the same as mine – I wasn’t at all satisfied with 14d. Just goes to show… something or other. Probably how useful it is to get another person’s opinion on one’s own work – though I do wonder if the setters who look at fifteensquared (Rufus, Pasquale, Shed – others?) feel that way about it.

  41. Brian Harris says:

    Some nice clues today. I smiled at 14 down, and the misdirection of shower(rain) and shower(one who is present). 11ac did seem wrong somewhere along the line – not quite the right tense. Also liked 7dn – simple enough, but effective and fun.

    I’d have been here all day and never got ALIENEES without looking it up. Learnt a new word.

    Liked 10ac when I finally got it, but not entirely convinced by “broadcaster in future” – seems like it needs another word or two, as I got the reference to her being someone who predicts the future, or rather pretends to, but that didn’t quite seem to match the wording.

    Oh well, the good clues more than made up for the quibbles.

  42. Brian Harris says:

    Err, 14ac I mean. I was reading Smutchin’s post!

  43. noel says:

    Generally agree with comments – enjoyable but flawed, especially 11ac – I rejected my wife’s suggestion of the correct solution for quite a while.

  44. Eileen says:

    Well, Ian, your suggestion of Wednesday seems to be taking off…

    Smutchin, between various other activities, I have just finished your puzzle 3 [is there a 1 and 2?] and want to add my congratulations to Ian’s. [I’m really impressed by the beautifully clear format when printed out.] I agree with him about 14dn but think my overall favourite is 15ac – lovely surface. I really look forward to trying 4 – and Ian’s other ones – over the weekend.

    Many thanks again, everyone, for your comments. It’s been quite frustrating not being able, between us, to come up with a satisfying explanation in all cases, especially for 11ac, but, in a way, I suppose, reassuring to find that it’s not just me!

  45. Ian Stark says:

    Re 11ac, I suspect that ‘say’ gives us the form of ‘speak’, i.e. ‘say inspired unintelligibility’. Hmmm, on re-reading this I don’t know that it makes much sense, but I know what I mean! Goodnight all, and thanks again, Eileen.

    (Still no joy with the print quality in the Guardian’s pdf version, I note . . .)

  46. Eileen says:


    I’m inclined to think it’s an & lit…

  47. Gary Howe says:

    13 ac


    This is an example of a clue that is impossible to get unless you already know at least one of the relatively obscure definitions and cannot be ‘worked out’ at all. As such it’s the worst sort of clue there is.

    There’s been quite a few clues like that recently too. Frankly I don’t think they should be allowed in puzzles.

  48. C & J says:

    6d was the last we got, having gone off at a tangent with “asignees” – a perfectly acceptable answer to the clue (GIS = Geographical Information System) until we realised there was a missing “s”.

  49. mark says:

    Did anyone explain 25A? I’m still at a loss – watering animals?

    Oh and I agree with others that 10A is awful; spent ages trying to put something inside two “c”s.

  50. Geoff Moss says:

    I assume you mean 26a. See comment #2 (in which I should have said *(I TROUGH).

  51. mark says:

    Many thanks Geoff.

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