Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,668/Paul

Posted by Andrew on April 8th, 2009


A very enjoyable puzzle from Paul, with (I think) nothing that could be regarded as obscure. (By the way, Hugh Stephenson’s latest newsletter discusses what counts as general knowledge – see the Guardian crossword page.) There does seem to be, in Paulian style, rather an obsession with bodily functions (21ac, 7dn), and my only niggle is with 4dn, partly because I don’t much like this type of clue (though I know others do), but mainly because I’m sure it';s been used before, quite possibly by Paul himself.

* = anagram
cd = cryptic definition
< = reverse

1. SHEEP DIP Sort of cd with a homophone – “get EWE cleaner”.
10. CINEMA (CAME IN)*. Using “reels” to indicate the anagram gives an appropriate surface reading.
12. KOOKY Even letters (i.e. ignoring the odds) in oK tO wOrK bY
13. EYE SHADOW (pip)E + YES + HAD + (n)OW, with the nicely-concealed cryptic definition of “Lid covering”
21. PERPETUAL MOTION (MU(m)* ON TOILET PAPER)*. I don’t see where “as such” fits in – it seems redundant in both wordplay and surface.
23. ERODE (h)’E RODE (was “up” on a horse)
2. EUSTON Hidden in “takE US TO Nearby”
4. I HAVEN’T A CLUE cd. I’m sure I’ve seen this before. Paul is fond of this type of trick: you either love them or hate them.
6. IRISH IRIS + (murdoc)H – the novelist was born in Dublin
7. SPEEDWAY PEED (=”went”) in SWAY
8. MIAOWING (I AM)* + OWING (bread=money)
11. GET-OUT CLAUSE “Get out claws”
15. PROSELYTE (POLYESTER)*. Technically a proselyte is a convert to Judaism. The word is more commonly seen as the root of “proselytise”, meaning to convert, or more generally to promote a cause.
17. HAIRGRIP IR (Irish, as in 6dn) in HAG + RIP. Another witty definition, of similar style to that in 13ac.
20,24. REGENT STREET (E GENTS TREE) in RET. “ret”=”soak” is common in Azed and other advanced cryptics, but I don’t think it’s often used in dailies.
22. EVENT EVEN + T. Another well-hidden definition – “something going on”.

25 Responses to “Guardian 24,668/Paul”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    Parts of this were quite tricky, but ultimately rewarding, with some great misdirection [eg 13ac, 17dn]. 1ac was the last to go in, because I was toying with PLUCKY for 1dn – with no explanation, of course – and, to make things even more difficult for myself, I’d enumerated 1ac as 3,5.

    I can’t see the need for ‘as such’, either – but what a typically Paul clue!

  2. Monica M says:

    G’day All,

    Thanks Andrew.

    I thought ‘as such’ referred to more Paul toilet humour, in that the motion was perpetual.

    1ac made me LOL and 4dn … I’m in the like ’em camp.

    I wonder, does Paul have a pussy cat.

  3. Monica M says:

    Re: 21 … mean’t to say ‘troubled as such” ie it is rather troubling :-) … enough said (is nearly dinner time here)

  4. JohnR says:

    Andrew –

    4dn is cited by Hugh Stephenson on p58 of his “Secrets of the Setters” – he attributes it to Orlando. Great clue!

  5. cholecyst says:

    4d. Although I love this type of clue, surely this particular one is paradoxical because it does have a clue i.e. a question mark!

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    I’m a much happier bunny – excellent crossword today, most enjoyable, and a huge contrast to yesterday’s (in my view).

    1ac, 17d and 4d my faves.

    I agree with Monica on 21, 19 – that’s the way I read it.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Cholecyst: Russell, barbers and Cretan liars would have liked it!

  8. Arthur says:

    Certainly not as hard as some recent Paul ones (often I find it very difficult to get going at all). Toilet humour is certainly his “thing” and he doesn’t disappoint (particularly with perpetual motion). At the end, I definitely lost quite a lot of the wordplay (particularly Regent Street and Party Wall), but both could be got from the definition. Overhead locker is great for hairgrip and Get out clause raised a smile. Cinema is a nice &lit. if a little obvious. Overall, perhaps less thrilling than yesterday, but more focused with very little, (if anything – I also think that 4dn shouldn’t even have a ?) to complain about.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. This was a lot of fun. I have seen 4dn or something similar before but that didn’t take away from the enjoyment of solving it. Lots of clues made me smile.

    Eileen — I was similarly held up by 1dn and was also trying to make PLUCKY work.

  10. Paul B says:

    Chestnuts should be roasted, even amid such excellence. An appalling inclusion!

  11. JimboNWUK says:

    A fun puzzle that raised several smiles and I learnt that RET means “soak” for flax or hemp in order to soften it (RE -GENTS- TREE – T). I hadn’t considered it but I reckon Cholecyst has a valid point about the question mark… the clue should have just been “4.” really… but I’ll let him off with that one for the hilarious (I guess this gives the game away regarding ,my humour level) 7D. I agonised quite a while over the justification for 13A even though I had all the checked letters and knew it had to be that… as the bloke peering down the wrong end of Dirty Harry’s Magnum in the opening scenes said, “I gots to know…”

    Mr Monkey Puzzle, THIS is how it’s done.

  12. JamieC says:

    A good puzzle. I wasn’t helped by the inclusion of a rogue “4” at the end of the online clue for 3d, but I was having a stupid day and wouldn’t have got it anyway. Still, dear Grauniad, how difficult can it be to get these things right?

    I also thought the “as such” in 21ac was a bit of bonus smut.

    I’m pretty sure 4d was a winning submission to Paul’s cryptica website (thought I think the original was I’M SORRY I HAVEN’T A CLUE), but the archive is unobtainable at the moment so I can’t check (suspicious, or coincidence?)

  13. petero says:

    I wonder if the ‘as such’ in 21/19 could be justified as part of the definition, bridging the adjectival ‘always going’ to the nounal ‘perpetual motion’?

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    Gets boring when there’s nowt much to say. Scratches head and tries to think of something. Maybe secretes 6 letters was a bit woolly as it gives 5!/3! = 120/6 = 20 possibilities (allowing for either order for the two letters). Not that many I know, but tedious if you need to work it out. Just as well I din’t need to work it out then. Jeez, that was scraping the barrel, but I have my reputation to consider!

    I wonder why he used 4dn? I once put “1 See 1 (9)” in to his weekly comp and never got mentioned. The basic type of the clue is very similar, maybe someone beat me to it, wouldn’t surprise me, I’m good at second :(

  15. mhl says:

    JamieC: looking in my archive, you’re quite right – it was a “Commended” clue from the week ending 1st March 2009:

    “Barnaby Page, Harwich, for: Apologies (2,5,1,7,1,4) I’M SORRY, I HAVEN’T A CLUE”

    Brilliant stuff today. My only worry was that “obscured” suggests to me blocking out by putting in the middle rather than around the outside, but I can quite see that both make sense.

  16. Uncle Yap says:

    I quite enjoyed 4D. If I am not mistaken, there was a clue, simply
    for the answer CLUELESS
    These are what I call fun clues and every once in a while, their inclusion makes for a more interesting world

    Angkooler play (4,4,2,5)
    Dhu adherent (5)

    In a proper world of correct and balanced diet, it is fun once in a while to eat pork scratchings washed down with some Guinness Stout :-)

  17. MartinR says:

    Great improvement on yesterday, and that from a non-Paul adherent. Just right for a mid-week daily.

    Only one general criticism: perhaps a few too many ‘sounds like’ clues (or clue elements) today.

    22d flummoxed me, as I forgot to read “tabletop” as “top of table”.

    Actually, I rather enjoyed the little nod to Azed et al with the use of ret in 20/24, but it could be argued it’s too obscure for a daily.

    12a was my favourite, which was odd! … but seriously, the exclamation surely has no purpose here.

  18. Arthur says:

    @ Derek Lazenby:

    I like your maths, but it’s not quite necessary here. “6” is Ir. which is apparently an abbreviation for Irish. “letters on grave” is then R.I.P. which is a much tidier wordplay.

  19. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #5 & #11 (and others):
    Not bothering about the fact that 4d probably has been done before, I do agree with Cholecyst that it has a clue: ?.
    But then this question mark is, as I see it, the definition, and a clue should have a definition.
    When you delete the question mark, there is no definition.
    Paradoxical is indeed the right qualification for it.
    Intriguing, but I do like it.

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yes I know Author, I was well aware if the RIP bit, but the clue didn’t specify which TWO letters of Irish to use. That was the rather feeble point I was making just for the sake of something to talk about. I was using 6 as intended to refer to clue 6, Irish, I thought that was so obvious as to not need explaining. The clue merely indicated using some letters at random from Irish, it did NOT specify that the letters should be an abbreviation for Irish.

  21. dagnabit says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I enjoyed reading your and others’ comments about the exotic nature of RET, because it is so common in (non-cryptic) U.S. crosswords that it’s become a cliche of the kind of word that is only seen in crosswords, never in real life. Yet that very aspect of it ensures that no one who does crosswords will ever forget what it means. (And it enabled me to get 20/24 with no problem, so I’m grateful for that arcane knowledge.)

    My only miss today was 3d – I had PARTY CALL because I temporarily forgot that compass directions can be referred to as quarters. Somewhere in my dim reckoning I thought that PARTY CALL had something to do with a party line, the old form of shared (i.e., “dividing”??) telephone line. And I still don’t know what a party wall is, so it’s off to Google for me…

  22. Fletch says:

    But the clue didn’t indicate using letters at random from Irish, it indicated using 6, which was Irish, plus letters from the grave, which was RIP. It still sounds to me like you don’t understand the clue, Derek.

  23. Derek Lazenby says:

    Now isn’t that typical of this place? That last sentence of post 22 could have been omitted, and we would have had a friendly explanation of which bit of the clue the word letters applies to. But he just couldn’t resist making it nasty by adding a put down.

  24. Arthur says:

    Now, now, Derek – Fletch’s response was really only continuing tone you set in your previous one. The error in the parsing is where you have grouped the word “letters” – it goes with “from the grave”, NOT with “6”.

    When read like this, you are looking for a synonym of the whole word “Irish”, which in this case took the form of an abbreviation of the word (which happens to be two letters of that word, but this has nothing to do with the word “letters” in the clue).

    “Letters” then refers to three letters R I P on a gravestone.

    Not sure if you did yesterday’s, but there was one clue where some random letters had to be dropped from Milton Keynes, without any indication as to which ones or how many. In that case, I agree it’s pretty wooly.

  25. Barnaby Page says:

    JamieC – I submitted a similar “haven’t a clue” clue to Cryptica a few weeks ago, but I see from earlier in the thread that Orlando beat me to it. I guess it’s a pretty obvious trick, really!

    Generally one of the best Guardians in a while, which we finished pretty quickly, though toward the end I lost the will to work out the genesis of a few obvious solutions (PERPETUAL MOTION, HAIRGRIP, REGENT STREET) – that might have been to do with an unaccustomed very early morning, though.

    And I too was fixated on PLUCKY for a long, long time.

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