Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,651/Paul

Posted by Andrew on March 19th, 2009


Either this was a very difficult puzzle, or I just wasn’t on Paul’s wavelength today. It took me ages to get started, and things didn’t get much better even when I’d finally got a few answers. A real struggle, and as a result not as enjoyable as Paul usually is, but again maybe it’s just me.
dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

9. SCHEMATA HEM in SCAT. Scat singing (using meaningless syllables – “do be doo” etc) is used in jazz, but I don’t think “jazz” can really be used to define “scat”.
10. NAPPER dd – slang for the head, apparently, and one who takes a nap.
13. KAYO (O YAK)< An alternative version of KO=knock-out.
14. BIRDLIME BIRD (porridge as in a prison term) + LIME
20. RUBBER GLOVES RUB (polish) + (Alban) BERG + LOVES (is smitten)
23. INMATE IN + MATE. Cockney rhyming slang – “china plate” = “mate”.
24. HECTARES (CRETE HAS)* One of the easier clues..
25. CRONYISM NY IS in CROM(well). I liked the “Well-off Oliver” trick.
2,18. LOCH NESS CH (Companion of Honour) in LONE SS
4. ELAPSE E + (chance)L + APSE. I don’t see how E=”couple”. EL (“couple at end of chancEL”) + APSE Thanks to Monica for pointing this out.
5. STAR OF BETHLEHEM (BETTER HALF’S HOME)* “flour, say” = “flower”.
7. TAPER (boa)T + APER . An impressionist cold be one who “apes”.
19. AVOCET Middle letters of gAVe cOCk ninETeen. A clever trick.
22,21. LEFT BRAIN FT in (BERLIN A)*. The left half ide of the brain is the “logical” side. At first I thought “logistical” was a stretch, but Chambers gives “related to reasoning” as a definition.

51 Responses to “Guardian 24,651/Paul”

  1. Monica M says:

    Hi Andrew … thanks for the post.

    My reading of 4dn was … couple at the end of chancEL + APSE back of the church.

    I really liked 19 dn.

    And I’m starting to get my head around the use of the honours system abreviations.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Monica, I was thinking of EL being a longer end of CHANCEL but missed the “couple” connection. I think my brain (left and right) is on a go-slow today.

  3. Monica M says:

    No worries Andrew,

    It took me ages to work out the “aper” part of 7dn … when I figured aper = impressionist … D’Oh … perhaps I needed to engage my right brain.

  4. Uncle Yap says:

    Another enjoyable puzzle from Paul and thanks Andrew for the blog. What struck me as most entertaining was 5D which had an anagram fodder and a homophone fodder BUT no definition. Paul is not labelled “libertarian” for nothing :-)

  5. Monica M says:

    I missed that Uncle Yap … very true, but so well clued that a definition wasn’t necessary. I was always looking for a flower solution in an anagram.

  6. Ian Payn says:

    Yes, I think the flour homophone was clearly the definition, although the validity of doing this could be questioned.

    Also, it was a bit pointless, so obvious was it.

  7. Shirley says:

    5AC – we can work out why this is SEDATIVE but where is the definition?
    Can someone help please?

  8. Monica M says:


    A sedative makes you numb-er … I took a while to get this one too.

  9. smutchin says:

    Like Andrew, it took me a while to get started, and I’d only managed to complete about two thirds of it by the time I had to get off the train. Unlike Andrew, I really enjoyed it.

    I was going to comment that I thought Paul seems to be a lot less libertarian these days than he has been in the past, but as Uncle Yap points out, that’s not necessarily true. But libertarian or not, I thought 5d was a brilliant clue – great anagram and wonderful surface reading. (And I got the right answer despite never having heard of that flower.)

    I managed to get 10a wrong – I put FLOWER (possibly distracted by 5d?), thinking the clue was being even cleverer than it actually was. Doh!

    Didn’t get 13a but “Tibetan” for “yak” is amusing.

  10. Monica M says:

    Re: 10ac NAPPER … what is the derivation of the slang … the best I could get on google was: turban – wrapper – napper …. doesn’t quite work for me.

    This isn’t a term I’d heard before.

  11. Andrew says:

    Chambers doesn’t give any information about the origin of NAPPER=”head” – can anyone out there with an OED or slang dictionary shed some light?

  12. smutchin says:

    Monica – according to my dictionary, it’s derived from “nap” in the sense of “sleep”, so the clue is not so much a double definition as the same definition twice.

  13. smutchin says:

    My dictionary is Collins, by the way.

  14. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Andrew – and I agree that this was pretty tough. I also thought it might just have been me – not having done a crossword for a few days, for one reason and another, I thought I might have lost my edge. Particularly since it took me ages to spot the hidden solution in 8dn. Glad others found it difficult!

    But like Smutchin, I did enjoy this one – there are a lot of highly ingenious charades, although the surfaces aren’t all particularly plausible. For instance, 19 is quite a clever clue, but totally meaningless. I thought 5dn was a great clue, with a very good surface reading. Libertarianism is a matter of opinion; it isn’t normally considered libertarian for the definition part of a clue to be cryptic, and what is a homophone (particularly such an obvious one) but a cryptic definition? 17 for me is more libertarian – ‘wear this’ is hardly a strict definition for a noun (liked the clue though – clever that ‘Wear’ is also a river!).

    In fact, the commonest type of ‘libertarian’ clue to be found in Guardian crosswords is the bare cryptic def. In a strict sense, Rufus is far more libertarian than Paul!

  15. Monica M says:

    Ok … but there must be a reason that napper is known as head, surely … or is this something that is just “known” or faded into history.

    Keep looking!!! Please. (it could be interesting for me at least}

  16. Testy says:

    Perhaps from French: “napper” as a verb means to cover or put a topping on something, “nappe” being French for a table cloth. So maybe it is referring to the top of one’s body? Just a guess.

  17. Testy says:

    BTW the only reason I know that “napper” means “head” is from the song Any Old Iron which is also where I learnt that a “tile” can mean a hat.

  18. Geoff says:

    The Shorter Oxford Dictionary gives four meanings for NAPPER:

    Someone who takes a short sleep – late Middle English (from Old English ‘hnappian’, to slumber)

    Thief (cf ‘kidnapper) – mid 17th to early 18th century, now obsolete (etymology unknown; related to ‘nab’, which is also obscure)

    Person or machine that raises the nap on cloth – from early 18th century (from Middle English ‘nap’ – layer of projecting threads on surface of cloth, cf Middle Low German ‘nop’)

    The head – dialect or slang, from late 18th century (origin unknown!)

  19. Colin Blackburn says:

    The OED offer the helpful

    [Origin unknown.]

    The first use predates Any Old Iron though πŸ˜‰

    1724 Select Trials (1734) I. 473/2 Captain Towers..steps up towards me with his Quarter-staff, and said I must have one Knock at his Napper; but I clapping the Door too, prevented him.

  20. liz says:

    My Chambers gives napper as slang for head.

    I enjoyed this a lot. Didn’t get 13ac, but really enjoyed many of the clues, especially 25ac, 5ac and 14ac. I agree that 5dn has a lovely surface.

  21. Colin Blackburn says:

    I was impressed that VIETNAMESE could be hidden like that (though it’s obvious once you look at the word).

  22. Monica M says:

    I’m going to be a nuisance (or dense) … other than Testy #16 which seems a reasonable explanation … but … I’m still looking none the wiser.

  23. Peter says:

    5A – could someone help explain how the last part ‘DATIVE’ gets derived?

    I get the ‘SE’ part, and from the above I now see the Numb-er part of the clue, but I can’t see how ‘with such a case’ equates to DATIVE!?!?!?

  24. Colin Blackburn says:

    If the OED has “Origin Unknown”, as the current edition has, or “Of Obscure Formation”, as the last edition had, then I really don’t think you are going to get any wiser on this one. The etymologies of some words really are lost in the mists of time.

  25. Monica M says:

    Much has happened between #16 and now … We don’t need to know the derivation … for me it adds to the interest. Thanks for the responses, but I’m still feeling like there is more to the “Napper” mystery.

  26. Monica M says:

    Colin … Enough said … I’ll leave it alone … but I do enjoy learning the derivation of slang, as it is usually funny, if not clever.

  27. Geoff says:

    Peter: Many languages have word endings for nouns which are appropriate to their role in a sentence; these different forms are known as ‘cases’. For instance, the ‘nominative case’ is the form for the subject of a sentence and the ‘accusative case’ is the form for the direct object of a sentence. (In languages such as Latin, which have such a case system, a much freer word order is possible).

    The DATIVE case marks the indirect object – it would normally be expressed in English with the prepositions ‘to’ or ‘for’. Modern English has lost its case system for nouns, but still retains a bit of it in its pronouns. In an expression like ‘Give me the answer’, the ‘me’ is in the dative case.

  28. Andrew says:

    Peter, the Dative is a grammatical case, familiar to those who learned Latin at school as to denoting an indirect object. It also still exists in German and most of the Slavonic languages (Russian etc).

    Testy, thanks for the “Any old iron” ref – I’d been thinking NAPPER sounded like the sort of word that appeared in old music hall songs, but I’d forgotten the line in that particular song.

  29. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Andrew – I was completely stumped by “Well-off Oliver” and KAYO… There’s a small typo in your explanation of 17 across; TEES instead of TESS.

    I thought this was very enjoyable – lots of quite tough clues that came to me in the end. Too many nice clues to pick particular ones out, really.

    YAK for “Tibetan native” is quite fun, but I thought that clue overall was certainly the weakest in the puzzle.”

  30. Colin Blackburn says:

    Monica: Just for you I have used my napper and got off my backside. The Chambers Dictionary of Slang, kept downstairs, lumps NAPPER meaning head (later meaning nose and face) under NAPPER meaning hat and suggests the word NAB meaning hat/head might be the origin.

    The OED tentatively suggests that NAB meaning head might be related to NAB meaning a projecting rock. (There are plenty of Nabs in the UK. My favourite is Eston Nab in Cleveland because it is the home of a fell race called the Eston Nab Knee Knocker.) However, it also suggests that NAB may be from NOB or KNOB.

    All of NAB, NOB and KNOB mean sticky-out bits in various senses and so it’s not unlikely that NAB and then NAPPER came to mean head.

    So, there you go, no definite answer but lots of nice words.

  31. Monica M says:

    Thanks Colin,

    I’ll make sense of it tomorrow … past my bed time here…

  32. smutchin says:

    Mhl – I put NEPOTISM for 25a at first, without really understanding why, then I got 12d and 16d and realised it must be wrong. Then I had one of those penny-dropping moments – one of several while doing this puzzle, which I think explains why I enjoyed it so much.

    16d was another. Lovely clue.

  33. Dave Ellison says:

    I’m very ambivalent about Paul. It seems when others find him easy I find him hard and vice versa. Today’s was relatively easy for me, and not too exciting. I didn’t like 5d at all; I agree with Ian #6. 17a has no meaning. 16d was ok: I was looking for something starting ASURE which didn’t seem promising. 15d LANDS = GETS? As in fishing?

    Just two scatalogical ones to day: 14a and 9a!

  34. Geoff says:

    BIRDLIME is not scatological – it is a sticky preparation which used to be smeared on to twigs etc, fpr the purpose of catching birds.

    However, I know my own family used to use the term to refer to birds’ excreta – an incorrect usage (not listed in Chambers or SOD, unlike the sticky stuff!) but one which must be reasonably widespread.

  35. steven says:

    Seems like Napper has long been a hard word to define.This is from 1786:”after that they demanded my napp or napper, I will not be sure which, by which I concluded they meant my hat;but they said, d-n you I see your seals, so then I concluded they meant my watch, and I gave them my watch.”


  36. Derek Lazenby says:

    No surprises, I’m in the found it hard camp. Having read the blog there are no derivations I can’t follow, but some of the word associations are either plain wrong, or so far away from any phraseology I would ever use I can’t see why the word should be suggested from the clue. Nor, why given a million and one possibilities, one should be easy to spot, it surely takes an age to sift through a million? Clearly most of you did it without sifting a million, but how?

    The specifics….

    Plain wrong, as noted above scat is not jazz, just as aria is not opera, just as thumb is not human. Equating a part with a whole is clearly nonsense.

    Phraseology, why would anyone ever refer to dentures as fixtures? From what I remember from my parents, dentures spend more time falling out than being in any sense fixed. Indeed, there is a whole market out there of products for fixing dentures, which clearly indicates that they are not of themselves fixed, and hence not fixtures.

    Millions, Cromwell, OK, that Oliver, fair enough, but why and how do you get to that particular one from the mega number of possibles? What narrows the field to just that one? OK, if you solve the clue from the definition you can figure the word play retrospectively, but how do you solve the word play first and then see it fits the definition? The latter should be possible in a good clue.

    Same point, going back to dentures, given the plethora of items which are genuinely fixtures, what would make you think of one specific one, let alone one that strictly speaking might be misnamed as such?

    I have as much trouble with not seeing dentures as others seem to have with napper. I thought it was a normal word and not at all obscure or dialectical. So, we all have difficulties, they are just different.

  37. steven says:

    #19:CaptainTowers…..,see ref t17241204-69 at the Old Bailey

  38. Dave Ellison says:

    Geoff #34

    Well, all these years I have only know the birds’ excreta maeaning, and you are quite right, I can’t find it in a dictionary. I wonder if it is (Lancashire?) dialect. I didn’t know the official meaning.

  39. Geoff says:

    Dave E: My immediate antecedents are all from SW Lancs too, so you could be right there.

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Broaden it out a bit lads, make it the industrial north, because my otherside of the penines understanding of birdlime is the same.

  41. Geoff says:

    Wikipedia (if you believe that…) says that the usage BIRDLIME = faeces is erroneous.

  42. John says:

    Has “squash” for “being on top of” been seen before?
    And “visiting” for “in”?
    You can be “in” a place permanently, can’t you?

  43. steven says:

    I wouldn’t rule out the south lads. I just Old Baileyed ‘Birdlime’ and tho I’m a londoner I never knew Birdlime=time.What a fine day for words .It was also used in theiving.

  44. liz says:

    re 36 Derek — I don’t really think there are mega possibilities for an Oliver in a weekday crossword. Oliver Twist, Oliver Cromwell, Bath Oliver and…maybe a couple of others?

    I first thought the answer to 25ac was ‘nepotism’, realised that didn’t fit with the clue, wondered if ‘Oliver’ was anagram fodder, rejected that idea and then when I got the ‘r’ from 12dn, the penny dropped who the ‘well-off Oliver’ was. Something about the ‘well’ close to the ‘Oliver’, I expect.

    I don’t think it’s always possible to divide answers into ones where you do the wordplay first and ones where you work out the wordplay afterwards. Sometimes, with me at least, both things happen more or less together.

  45. Dave Ellison says:

    Liz: Oliver Reed, Oliver from the Archers, and also Hardy went through my mind when solving; Twist and Cromwell didn’t occur to me till I’d solved it.

    My wife is from Worcestershire, and she knows birdlime only as droppings. What a strange word; a widespread meaning that is not in the dictionary. I wonder if there are others such.

  46. liz says:

    Yes, of course, Reed and Hardy. I don’t listen to the Archers…. I too thought birdlime meant droppings!

  47. Derek Lazenby says:

    Given the OED did that Beeb 2 proggy “Balderdash & Piffle”, perhaps they may be interested?

  48. Testy says:

    Birdlime – I’ve been misguided all these years too. I wonder how widespread the mis-use of a word has to be before dictionaries officially adopt the meaning.

    Scat – Scat is jazz, just like jazz is music and music is an artform. They are not parts of something larger: they are specific types of the more general form.

  49. Smutchin says:

    Never heard of “birdlime” before today, and no idea what it means, but solved the clue anyway (cos it’s a good clue) which is surely all that matters.

    Liz – you’ve described almost exactly the process I went through to solve 25a.

    Testy – I think it has to be used in writing before dictionaries pick it up, so they can quote the source.

  50. Derek Lazenby says:

    If scat was a musical form I would agree, but it is not, it is merely a technique used by the vocalist, just as a riff is a technique used by blues and rock guitarists. The vocalist could be using scat within a song which was being performed in any of several styles of jazz.

  51. percy says:

    yes scat is much like this new r and b and those beat combos they shouldnt be allowed in any decent english dictionary

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