Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,677 (Sat 18 Apr)/Paul – Marathon battle

Posted by rightback on April 25th, 2009


Solving time: 6 minutes for most of the puzzle and the same again on 19dn.

Paul is running the London Marathon tomorrow in support of the deafblind charity Sense. There’s more information at his website, and donations can be made at

Music of the day: Sense by The Lightning Seeds.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

9 BURNT; B.T. (= ‘Phone people’) around URN – a cautionary tale into the dangers of hoovering.
11 FLATULENCE; (ALL)* around T.U., all inside FENCE – good surface reading.
12 PSST – one of the few four-letter words not to contain a vowel or a ‘Y’. ‘Brrr’ is another, and I think you can pluralise the Welsh word ‘cwm’ (valley).
14 HOSPITALISE; (ISOLATES HIP)* – nice anagram.
18 IMPROVIDENT; IMP, + VI (= ‘six’) in RODENT – being picky, ‘rat’ = RODENT requires a ‘perhaps’ or similar indication, since a rodent is not necessarily a rat.
21 TORT; rev. of TROT
22 MISCELLANY; (IS CELL) in MANY – I think this word came up clued similarly in The Times recently. I struggled then but it came much faster this time.
26 OWLET; O, + L in WET – ‘the rain’ = ‘the wet’, I suppose.
27 THEREAT; HERE in TAT – ‘adverb’ is a bit of a cop-out as a definition!
2/19 NORMAN MAILER – this is the one that stumped me, as I didn’t know the name; NORMAN was obvious but I spent several minutes looking at ?A?L?R for a word meaning ‘someone who might deliver’ before plumping for ‘Mailer’ without much optimism. Wikipedia tells me that Norman Mailer won two Pulitzer Prizes, helped to free a murderer, had six wives, eight children and thought women should be kept in cages.
3 NOT MUCH COP (2 defs, 1 cryptic)
4 OBO(T)E – Milton Obote was twice President of Uganda.
5 FRANCHISE; HIS in FRANCE (i.e. having crossed the Channel) – ‘franchise’ in French actually means ‘candour or frankness’, presumably from the same root of Old French franc (‘free’) as this answer word, though Chambers doesn’t seem to think these are cognate with ‘France’.
6 RAGA; rev. of AGAR
7 ARTISTIC; ARTIC around (I + ST)
13 PANTALOONS; PAN, + O in TALONS (= ‘the grip of birds?’) – lovely wordplay. The definition is ‘Old bags’ as in ‘old trousers’.
15 SPIT IT OUT – I guess when you’re wine-tasting you must spit out each sample?
16/24 DI + STRICT + LINE – Temple is on the District Line and the answer to the quiz question “What is the only name shared by stations of the Paris Métro and the London Underground?”.
20 MYRTLE; rev. of (TRY in ELM)
23 CAMEO (2 defs)

7 Responses to “Guardian 24,677 (Sat 18 Apr)/Paul – Marathon battle”

  1. cholecyst says:

    Thanks for blog, Rightback.

    12 ac. Psst – your observation on the supposedly vowel deficient cwm. In fact it has a vowel – w. Welsh has two additional vowels compared with English: w and y. (Yes I know Y is often called a semi-vowel in English)

  2. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, rightback and in particular that excellent bit of Paris Métro / London Underground trivia :) I’ll try to restrain my usual Paul fanboyism, but will just say that we very much enjoyed this.

    23d: The meaning of “cameo” to mean “a piece of jewelery carved in relief” was new to me and rather interesting:

    15d: This depends on one’s attitude to wine-tastings events, but generally if you want to (a) leave upright and (b) be able to be able to make sensible decisions about which wines you like after the first couple, it’s probably best to use the spittoons :)

  3. smutchin says:

    Thanks for the blog, rightback. As Mhl says, that’s a nice bit of trivia about Temple. I thought this was a bit of a mixed bag from Paul – some great clues and a couple of real stinkers…

    2/19 – I know the name Norman Mailer, though I’ve never read any of his stuff, and that clue made me smile. Lovely cryptic definition.

    9a is excellent in every respect – phone people=BT is great, and the Cutty Sark reference for the definition is pleasingly different.

    11a is fun. I showed that one to my 10yo son and he laughed.

    Also agree that 14a is a nice anagram and well-constructed surface.

    But on the other hand, I don’t like 27a at all – agree with you that “adverb” is unsatisfying as a definition. And the surface is weak – it’s utter nonsense, which makes the clue far too easy to break down. (As a slight aside, I don’t like the solution word either – it’s semantically redundant since it adds no useful additional meaning to the simpler “there” to indicate position.)

    Re 5d – I believe France is named after the Frankish people so it wouldn’t be cognate with franc=free. I had it in mind to complain about this clue because “France” and “having crossed the Channel” aren’t synonymous, but now I see that it’s one of those devious Paul tricks… “in France” indeed! Doh!

    Mhl – I only know of that meaning of cameo from reading a bit of 19th century literature. They figure heavily.

  4. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. I enjoyed this but I agree with others that 27ac wasn’t very satisfying.

    It took me a while to get CAMEO even though my mother had a treasured cameo pin and cameo earrings.

  5. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog from me too. I thought the puzzle was pretty fair, while sharing others’ reservations about 27ac.

  6. Ken says:

    Thanks. I got stuck after mis-solving 17D as ‘overture’ after deciding that “overturn” was a natural “worry in Accident”, so then endless overturn + e seemed just right. Anyone have any sympathy here :-> ?

  7. Ralph G says:

    5d FRANCHISE and #3 above. (On return from away).
    Petit Robert (typically) derives ‘franc’ etc. from the Latin ‘Francus’, which is well attested from 730 AD. Chambers Etymological has the same derivation under ‘franc’ but under ‘Frank’ derives the word from Old High German ‘Franko’ via Frankish, the language of the Frankish invaders. . I incline to the view that the Latin form is secondary here. It was common in mediaeval times for French/English terms derived from a Germanic source to be current alongside a Latin equivalent, often quite clearly coined from the English/French usage.
    The original meaning of OHG ‘Franko’ is debated. Petit Robert says it means ‘warlike’; Chambers Etymological mentions as “a supposition” that it derives from the Franks’ favourite weapon, the javelin or ‘franca’.
    As early as the 10c there was a belief that ‘France’ derived from ‘franc’ – free, but the reverse is true. The Frankish incursions into Roman Gaul 3c-5c resulted in post-Roman Frankish domination West of the Rhine and for a long time only the Franks, and those under their protection, enjoyed the full status of freemen. Consequently ‘Franc’ (Frankish) came to mean ‘franc’ (free).
    The coin ‘franc’ derives from the inscription ‘Francorum Rex’ on the original coin minted in the reign of Jean le Bon 1350-1364.
    ‘Franchise’ in modern French has the meaning mentioned by rightback in the blog. The earlier (12c) meaning was ‘right, privilege, immunity’. That sense is now restricted to ‘exemption. exoneration’ from taxes, postage charges et sim.

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