Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,650 – Shed

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on March 18th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

(x) = removed
(X) = inserted
* = anagram
< = reversed


9. LYRICAL. (ju)LI(an)CLARY*.  Fantastic.
10. DEBAUCH. (H CUBED + A)*.  I liked the use of H3 here! I stupidly started thinking about Tritium which is H3.
11. MANSE. MAN(S)E. A minister’s home, related to ‘mansion’.
12. EXCREMENT. EX C(R.E.M.)ENT.  REM are a bit too modern for the Guardian surely? They’ve only been going 20-odd years!
13. NERVE CELL. ‘SERVE NELL’ spoonerised.
14. BASIS. BAS(1)S.
15. LOSER. (c)LOSER.
17. DUMBARTON. DUMB + ART + ON. Only got this with all the checked letters, it’s apparently a royal burgh.
20. THERMIDOR. TH(MIRED*)OR. One of the French revolutionary months.  I went down a dead end involving MONTH* making THEO-something.
22. KNISH. Starting letters of the first few words,&lit.
23. ORIGAMI. R.I. in IMAGO.  An imago is the final state of an insect after metamorphosis.


2. MARINER. MAR(I)NER. Guessed it from the crossed letters and had to look up Silas Marner. Subject of a novel by George Eliot.
3. RACKETEER. RACKE(TEE)R. A racker would be someone who uses The Rack.
5. NODICAL. ANDLOCI. A node is an intersection.
6. IMBUE. I.(MB + U)E.  ‘thats’ is I.E. and an MB is a medical degree.
8. PHOTOSYNTHESIS.  P(HOT)OSY + (ligh)TSHINES*.  I initially thought ‘flowers’ shouldn’t be a plural here, before I remembered posy can mean ‘bouquet’ as well.
18. MARTINU. (UNIT+RAM)< Never heard of him, but got it from the letters.
19. TRIREME. TRI(R.E.)M + E.
21. MIAMI. MI(A)MI.  Mimi is a character in La Bohème.

32 Responses to “Guardian 24,650 – Shed”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ciaran. I really enjoyed this one – some tough clues, but all gettable (for me) without “cheating”. Luckily I did know about Martinu, and also Dumbarton, which is (or perhaps was) confusingly part of Dunbartonshire.

    A very welcome return by Shed, who we haven’t seen (except for one Genius puzzle) since 2nd October last year.

  2. JamieC says:

    Thanks for the blog. Enjoyable and fairly straightforward.

    My only gripe is with 13ac – Spoonerism based clues should be banned unless they are very clever/funny. The only truly brilliant one I can remember was from the Times years ago: “Of which bird-watching would be an example?” To which the answer is SPOONERISM! (It takes some thought…)

  3. Mick h says:

    Well I spike lunar-type clues! The only problem is the lack of a more subtle way to indicate them than “Spooner’s”, so you do know immediately what you’re looking for.

  4. JamieC says:

    Well food for goo then! I don’t mind them as clues per se. But they’re often very lazy as you can turn lots of two word phrases into spoonerisms. And – as you say – the indicator is far too obvious.

  5. smutchin says:

    I didn’t mind the Spoonerism clue – just knowing that’s the device being used doesn’t automatically give you the phrase you need, and I needed a good few of the checking letters before I could decipher this one.

    There were several other clues today for which I couldn’t decipher the wordplay (eg 21d) or didn’t need to bother because the checking letters and definition gave me enough to work with (eg 1a, 8d).

    21d – I think “Bohemian” is just a little bit of a stretch to indicate “a character from La Boheme” and I would never have guessed the right answer without the checking letters. Thanks for the blog, Ciaran, which has cleared up this and all my other queries.

  6. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Smutchin – the title of the opera uses Bohemia to mean a conceptual artistic place that the cast inhabit, which really is the same sense that we’d use ‘Bohemian’ in today. I actually thought it was quite clever.

  7. Tom Hutton says:

    I enjoyed this. It was testing (for me)but solvable. I didn’t like ‘racker’ for torturer at all. What an ugly word. Is it ever used? Although I got the answer from crossing letters, I thought 11ac was a little abstruse in the cluing. I liked 8dn a lot. I had to look up nodical as I thought it might be nodilac as I had never heard of the word.

    Can you still get Calamine lotion. I seemed to spend a lot of my childhood smeared in it.

    I don’t agree with Smutchin on 21dn as I think, as far as I know at least, that Mimi is the La Boheme of the title and thus a bohemian.

  8. Dawn says:

    Thanks for the blog. I usually dread patterns with long clues because if you can’t get them then it makes lots of crossing clues harder. However, today I got all the long ones but struggled with many of the shorter ones. I thought I had made knish up so thanks for confirming my guess.

  9. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Tom – ‘La Boheme’ is the place, but Mimi is from there so it works.

  10. smutchin says:

    Sorry, I wasn’t really complaining about 21d. I agree it is quite clever – I only think it’s a slight stretch because it requires you to know what the title “La Boheme” refers to. But the fact that I would never have got it is more to do with my duncery than anything else.

  11. smutchin says:

    Just to explain my comment further… Normally, clues that make cultural references don’t actually require you to know anything about the work referred to – eg 2d, I made the necessary association because I’ve heard of Silas Marner, even though I haven’t read it. Of course I’ve heard of La Boheme too, but that wasn’t enough knowledge to help me solve 21d.

  12. smutchin says:

    Apologies for all these comments but I just remembered that there was in fact one clue I really wasn’t happy with, which is 10a – very clever, maybe, but strictly “unfair” by virtue of being an indirect anagram. Not to mention that the surface is nonsensical. Again, I got it from the definition and the checking letters without being able to make any sense of the wordplay.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. I got three of the long ones quite quickly, which helped, but not as much as I thought it would. Sloppiness on my part meant I didn’t stand a chance of getting 13ac (I misread the word break as 4,5). I thought this was enjoyable and fair — even managed to understand most of the wordplay, which I never would have done before I discovered this site!

    Smutchin –It can work both ways. I only know Mimi from doing crosswords and have seen pretty similar clues before. I thought ‘coastal’ gave a helping hand here.

  14. Sidey says:

    10a appeared as “Corrupt H3 taking a turn?” which was a bit ‘head scratching’.

  15. Sidey says:

    re 14 Ha, not like that at all…

  16. JamieC says:

    In the online version 10a appeared as “Corrupt H3 taking a turn?” which really did take some working out…

  17. JamieC says:

    I expect Sidey and I both just typed exactly the same thing and are a bit surprised at how it appears on the screen!

  18. Ciaran McNulty says:

    The problems with the online version appear to be fixed, it now says ‘Corrupt H3 taking a turn?’ and in the special instructions it says ‘In 10 across the number 3 should be in superscript’

    As an aside, this is why I use the PDF version!

  19. Dave Ellison says:

    I found this quite straight forward today; actually pleased to finish it on the bus trip in, which is unusual.

    The First Point of Aries is a node, the origin of the longitude for planetary elements etc.

  20. mhl says:

    Smutchin / Ciaran: 10 across (DEBAUCH) isn’t an indirect anagram – it’s just A in HCUBED all reversed

    I really enjoyed this today – a good level of difficulty, I thought. I had to guess at a few (e.g. THERMIDOR and “imago”) but it was all quite fair.

  21. mhl says:

    Martinu’s music is excellent, incidentally, for those who don’t know him…

  22. John McDonald says:

    The opera “La Boheme” is based on the book entitled “Scenes de la Vie de Boheme” meaning “Scenes of the Bohemian (Artistic) Life”. This is also the full title of the opera. Hence the protagonists of the opera are all (starving) artists, including Mimi.

    So I thought the clue at 21 down was entirely allowable.

    John M

  23. Mick h says:

    Smutchin, it’s not actually an indirect anagram, because HCUBED is all there, but in reverse order. Very clever.
    Loved the calamine lotion anag, and you could certainly still get it 10 years ago when I was applying it to the (chicken) poxy kids.

  24. smutchin says:

    OK, fair point about 10a. I withdraw my complaint.

  25. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yeah listen to Martinu and enjoy.

    There was another problem with the on-line version. It wanted TEBAUCH and NOTICAL. Come on guys, it’s just using your eyes!

    A deceptive puzzle I thought, in so far as I thought I’d never get it at first, but I did eventually. I suppose that is a good thing.

  26. Fletch says:

    Delighted to see Shed today after Taupi yesterday. Two of my favourites, we’re being spoilt this week!

  27. Andrew says:

    Re #22 – just to be picky, Mimi is a starving (and frozen-tiny-handed) seamstress, not an artist.

  28. steven says:

    I found this very difficult and gave up half way through. Had to do it on screen today, which didn’t help as I normally get the rag. If it wasn’t for the blog and comments , I’d still be none the wiser as to how several clues were solved. Lessons have been learnt!!!

    I really liked 9a.

  29. John says:

    Just one point re 16 ac “High quality drinks on the rocks served up”.
    Is it fair to use one slang term (rocks) to indicate another (ice), both of which I take to refer to diamonds?
    And are the LAPS strictly speaking ON the ICE, or are they not rather AROUND or OVER them?

  30. Agentzero says:


    I think the clue is not only fair but clever. Shed is making use of the fact that the phrase “on the rocks” means “with ICE in it.”

    So, he’s using ICE in the literal sense, i.e., cubes of frozen H2O (I can’t do superscript any better than the Grauniad can).

  31. Brendan says:

    Perhaps the group in 12A is not REM but CREME, the supergroup which featured Aric Clepton.

  32. Shed says:

    Thanks to Mick H and Agentzero for figuring out the intended working of SPECIAL and DEBAUCH, and to Ciaran for the blog. I rather regret ‘Bohemian’ for ‘Mimi’ on reflection – perhaps a bit too much general knowledge. But I’m pleased to see there are other Martinu enthusiasts among the readership.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

× 5 = five