Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,696 – Rufus

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on May 11th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

A fairly straightforward puzzle, but with a few clues I wasn’t happy with – some very tortured defs in 12ac, 15ac, 18dn, for instance.  I did like some of the shorter simple clues, as it makes me feel really smart to be able to just wizz through them. I guess that’s how proper solvers feel the rest of the time! I wouldn’t want it this simple every day though.

d.d. = double definition
c.d. = cryptic definition
* = anagram
< = reversed
(X) = inserted
(x) = removed


9. CLANGOUR. A loud resonant noise, also ‘drop a brink’ and ‘drop a clanger’ are both phrases for making a faux pas.
10. AGATES. A(GATE)S.  Presumably AS is being used to mean ‘when’, but the phrase ‘as and when’ would seem to imply they’re slightly different.
12. FIDDLESTICKS. d.d. A fiddlestick is the bow, so violins are played with it – doesn’t quite fit the def.
15. PHONE BOXES. c.d.
17. LIE. L(I)E.
19. OFT. 0 + FT. ‘coming’ doesn’t seem to be doing much here.
20. BILLPOSTER. c.d.
28. SPOUSE. OP’S< + USE.
29. EFFECTS. d.d. Had me looking for an anagram of CARRIES.


1. SACK. d.d. means ‘to fire’ and also a type of wine.
2. AWAY. A + WAY.
3. NEGLIGEE. c.d. I think? The defining quality of a negligee is that it’s loose.
4. HOUND. d.d.
8. LOSES HEART. d.d.
11. CEREAL. C.E. + REAL.
16. OPIATE. PIETO+A*. I wondered for a while about a variant spelling of PEYOTE.
18. GOING OFF. d.d.
21. KNOCKS. d.d. When the bearings on a wheel/axel are going, it makes a distinctive knocking noise.
23. NITRE. INERT*. Old term for certain nitrates.
24. DISC. D.(1S)C.
25. LEGS. L + EG. + S(tate).

21 Responses to “Guardian 24,696 – Rufus”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ciaran.

    Perhaps you’re right about some of the clues but there’s the usual Rufus elegance of surface in clues such as 7, 14 and 24dn.

    26ac is a nice reference to Cyril Fletcher, [died 2005, aged 91] most famous for his ‘Odd Odes’, which he recited on ‘That’s life’.
    From the Guardian obituary:
    ‘There was a sharp difference between his delivery – plummily sonorous and insecurely “posh” – and the subject matter, which usually concerned the misadventures of inventions like the waitress Norah Gutt who let the serving hatch fall on her “nut”, and the overweight Bertram Bees who “couldn’t not never see his knees”.’
    When he had a rose named after him at the Chelsea Flower Show, he chose one with an unusual smell: as he said, ‘One odd ode-r choosing another’. Almost a Rufus clue :-)

  2. smutchin says:

    I can’t help thinking that 20a is a missed opportunity – there has to be potential for a pun relating to the old “bill posters is innocent” graffiti cliche. How about:

    “He’s often threatened with prosecution for stick-up job.”

  3. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    The clues may be easy but there is entertainment value in many clues.

    I solved this quickly, only a couple of clues holding me up for a while.

    For example, in India “places of call” are phone booths, never phone boxes. So I had to dredge the term out of my memory!

    Even these phone booths have now disappeared and phones themselves are ubiquitous in odd perches outside roadside shops.

    And who uses these phones? Everyone seems to have a cell phone.

  4. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Ciaran.

    I really enjoyed this – ARTICULATE is excellent and I liked OPIATE and MONTE CARLO as well. I had to check Chambers to find that “harvest” can mean the crops gathered as well as the festival.

    I thought FIDDLESTICKS was fine at the time, but see your point. One does talk about playing with the bow on the string or off the string, though.

    (Yet again, I wrote a post for this without checking the calendar and it turns out that it’s not my turn. I guess that the rotation has changed, but it always used to be the Friday blogger then does Monday as well…)

  5. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Mhl – I probably stuffed up the rotation because I was meant to be doing Monday and was unavailable so Geoff had to step in instead – very embarrassing for me.

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    yes, it is very easy today, so I had done a great part of it within 7 mins, and the rest took another 7 or so – good time for me.

    #3 CG Rishikesh – I too thought booth initially. Not a great clue, in any case. Off topic, but I don’t have a cell (mobile) phone, so I do use phone boxes occasionally – surely I am not the last to do so?

  7. mhl says:

    Sorry, Ciaran – it’s obviously entirely my own fault, I’m just annoyed with myself that I so often forget to check the calendar!

  8. Gaufrid says:

    Re comments # 4, 5 & 7.

    It is actually my fault because I had intended to notify all Guardian bloggers of a change to the rotation system last week but it appears that I had a ‘senior’ moment and forgot to do so.

    My apologies to Mhl for his wasted time and effort.

  9. liz says:

    I liked MONTE CARLO and OPIATE too. Easy, but enjoyable.

  10. Neil says:

    Agree about some dodgy definitions but (12a) “FIDDLESTICKS” is often found in old-time Appalachian music where the fiddler puts his bow aside and fingers the strings whilst another musician plays on them with two lightweight sticks, and that fits the clue perfectly. I wonder if Rufus knows about this though?

  11. Geoff says:

    Light but tasty. Enjoyed this one a lot more than many Rufus crosswords because the clues were more varied – not such a surfeit of cd and dd types. Not that there is ever much wrong with Rufus’s clues as such: always simple and elegant.

  12. C. G. Rishikesh says:

    Any opinions on Ciaran’s comment on our getting AS from ‘when’?

    I think this thing has been used by other setters as well, so we had better resolve the issue.

    I must confess that the first time I came across this use, I was a little surprised. But later I reconciled myself to it.

    Bradford’s lists ‘as’ under ‘when’.

    Chambers has ‘when’ as one of the meanings under ‘as’.

  13. smutchin says:

    Rishi – “as” and “when” both mean something like “at that time”. You could also equate either with “while”.

  14. JimboNWUK says:

    To C. G. Rishikesh…. having recently returned from Goa, I can confirm that there are still plenty of phone boxes, mainly used by tourists bcause it is cheaper than by mobile. Having said that, ‘er indoors rang our bank (First Direct) only to be told by the shop bloke that the time was spinning faster than the prices at the petrol pumps…. it seems that the call was being routed Goa -> UK -> Indian Call Centre -> UK -> Goa thus incurring 4 x the inter-operator charges.
    TO get back oon-topic, I thought FIDDLESTICKS was fine but have still to see a decent rationale for NEGLIGEE. Also the last one I filled in, 25D, what has ‘soveriegn to do with it? (I put PEGS)

  15. Gaufrid says:

    25d sovereign = pound (sterling) = L (or £)

  16. petero says:

    “As I was going to St. Ives”… it’s one of those close calls which dictionaries tend to sanction, but one has the feeling there is a slight shade of difference.
    The last time I tried to use a phone booth, near Carlyle, it turned out to be acting as a greenhouse for a fine crop of stinging nettles.

  17. Derek Lazenby says:

    Same comments as above.

    I got stuck on one. I’d got all the way to LOSES ?E?R? and couldn’t see it for looking! I have no idea why I should go quite so brain dead on something quite so obvious. But common though the phrase is, I hardly ever use it in the romantic sense, so maybe that is why. Perhaps I should wallow in some Mills and Boon for a while? Yuck, maybe not!

  18. sidey says:

    Who still use phone boxes?

    In the UK, drug dealers.

    Sorry, anyway, nice Monday puzzle after a hard weekend’s solving.

  19. ray says:

    I thought 25d was REGS – abbreviated ‘regulations’, which are often quoted to support something, and the R from the rex/regina abbreviation.

  20. muck says:

    24dn: D(IS)C. The Quick today has Direct Current as one of the answers. Probably a coincidence.

  21. Barnaby Page says:

    One quibble with this generally pleasing crossword: what are the words “Name for” adding to 10ac? Wouldn’t the clue work just as well reading “Stones, when placed round an entrance”?

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