Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,732 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on June 22nd, 2009



A particularly gentle, I thought, start to the week from Rufus, with the typical sprinkling of cryptic and double definitions, but more than the usual number of simple charades.


1   PARAMOUNT: reversal of RAP [strike] + A + MOUNT
10  USAGE: U[niversity] SAGE [man of learning]
11  COD WARS: cryptic definition, referring to the fishing disputes of the 1950s and 1970s
12  LOBELIA: OBELI [daggers] in reversal of AL [Capone] I liked this one
13  LATER: anagram of ALERT
14  FIG LEAVES: a witty cryptic definition [not quite ‘first-day’, if we want to be picky!]
16  TERRITORIAL ARMY: cryptic definition
19  REINFORCE: REIN [check] + FORCE [power]
21  SEPIA: I [one] in reversal of APES [copies]
22  HUMERUS: HUM [throbbing] + reversal of SURE
23  DUNKIRK: DUN [dingy] + KIRK [church]: I thought ‘place in British history’ was a rather loose definition
24  LOTTO: LOT [a great deal] + TO: I didn’t think there was a great deal to this clue but I suppose we were intended to suspect it was a card game
25  EYE STRAIN: EYES [monitors] + TRAIN [public transport]


  SPECULATOR: double definition
2   CREDITOR: anagram of DIRECTOR
3   IMPAIR: I [one] + MP [member] + AIR [bearing]
4   JUTS: anagram of JUST; [the ‘only’ is superfluous]
  STALAGMITE: STALAG [prison camp] + MITE [child]: I think some might object to ‘growing up’ as a definition
6   DUMB-BELL: DUMB [lacking?] + BELL [ring]: I think I’m perhaps missing something here
7   PAVLOV: PAVLOV[a] [ballerina]
  BETA: BE + TA [thanks]
14  FLOURISHES: double definition
15  SKYLARKING: cryptic[?] definition: Chambers gives this as ‘running about the rigging of a ship in sport’, a meaning  which I didn’t know. Googling produced 
“SKYLARKING: Originally, skylarking described the antics of sailors who climbed and slid down the backstays for fun. Since the Old English word “lac” means to play, and the game started high in the masts, the term was known as skylacing.  Later, corruption of the word changed it to “skylarking’.” [I wonder if Rufus did this during his nautical career?]
17  INFERIOR: INFER [gather] around RIO [port]
18  REPLICAS: anagram of ALEC RIPS
20  INMATE: IN [at home] + MATE [wife]
21  SONATA: anagram of NOT AS A: I can’t see the significance of ‘as composed’
22  HULK: double definition
23  DUET: double [/cryptic?] definition

27 Responses to “Guardian 24,732 / Rufus”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Definitely an easy one, even for Rufus.

    In 6dn I think the idea is just that a “dumb bell” is “lacking ring”.

    In 21dn, I think “as composed” is just to improve the surface reading; but it isn’t actually wrong.

    I had the same biblical quibble as you about 14ac!

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I think I was being a bit dumb re 6dn!

    Re 21dn, I wasn’t meaning it was wrong – just thinking I was maybe missing something again.

  3. Conrad Cork says:

    Re 6 down. With another hat on, Rufus uses the same clue today in the FT at 1 down.

  4. Jon says:

    Thanks, Eileen,

    Re 21dn – I’m not certain, but aren’t sonatas composed in the playing, by which I mean Beethoven (for example) would sit down at the piano to play an improvisation and this “sonata” would then be transposed onto a score? I may be wrong. If this isn’t the definition, though, surely “that’s played as composed” is all superfluous?

  5. Dave Ellison says:

    Very easy, I thought, except for the last four: 17d (I had spelled 16a Terratorial, thinking of Latin ground as I went along), which held up 19ac and then 14d and 14 ac.

  6. JimboNWUK says:

    Not worth the argy-bargy about 21D….. couldn’t figure out the DUMB part of 6D but completed nevertheless…. other than that the usual Monday mundanity… thank gawd for the copy of Paul from the weekend to ‘fill in the gap’.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    13ac Alter is also an anagram, which would have been nice to link in with change.

  8. Derek Lazenby says:

    Has that internet source got it right? I would have thought it more likely that lac changed to lark in general and skylarking merely followed rather than it being specifically corrupted

    Anyone know how lac was pronounced? Was there ever a single pronunciation or were there always regional variations? I’m thinking of the word laik here which presumably also comes from lac as I was wondering if lac was always pronounced lark or laik or both or neither.

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Derek

    I can’t do links but if you google GenBosunColloquialisms2 you’ll see where I got it from – I can’t vouch for its authenticity!

    I didn’t know ‘laik’ [which can, apparently, also be ‘lake’] but I found it in Chambers, as a Northern word, from the Old English ‘lacan’. QED!

  10. Derek Lazenby says:

    Eileen, I’m amazed, we come from the same area and as a kid we always used laik.

    Was that QED as in Questionable English Dictionary? Sorry couldn’t resist it!

    If anyone knows the pronunciation history of lac I’d still like to know. Please nicely.

  11. Eileen says:

    Derek, aren’t you a Yorkshireman? I’m from the Midlands [but consider the Yorkshire Dales my spiritual home!]

  12. shirley says:

    It was nice to see Rufus return to some kind of form with this Monday’s Guardian offering. I didn’t really like last week’s, ansd although this was rather easy for my taste, it was certainly an improvement upon that!

    Re comment 3, yes Conrad – I was somewhat surprised to see that too. I’m told that Rufus does rather a lot of clue recycling, probably due to his self-imposede workload, and I assume this is an unwanted side-effect.

  13. Rufus says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.
    Similar clues do happen as I work six months ahead in the Gdn, FT and DT to cover holidays and ill-health. Although the DT tends to use them in order, the other two do vary so an occasional clue may appear at the same time although sent in months apart. Apologies!
    Yes, Eileen, as a Boy Seaman aged 15 I joined HMS Ganges, the notorious boys’ training establishment in Suffolk. The mizzen mast, which was the smallest (4 feet taller than Nelson’s column) of the original sailing ship was in pride of place on the parade ground. Classes of ratings took turns to go over the mast every morning. Unfortunately my class equalled the record for completing the climb and descent, and it was decided that we would go over every morning to try and beat the record. I started near the front but finished near the last. The worst part was the devils elbow where the ratlines went out at 45 degrees, so all the weight was on one’s arms until you clambered onto the first platform about two houses high. There was a safety net but all the boys were told not to fall or they would come through as chips. However, by the time I went to sea I was cured of my fear of heights. Before leaving I managed to shin up the last twelve feet of bare pole to touch the lightning conductor on the top – once! When the mast was dressed, i.e. when ratings were dispersed to cover all the spars, for ceremonial occasions, the “button boy” actually stood on the button with knees holding the conductor. I still shiver at the thought. Ganges was notorious for its punishments – lashes were still given in my time. One punishment for the whole class was to run up and down the nearly vertical three flights of steps down to the sea. These steps were known as Faith, Hope and Charity to the boys as you started off with faith, then hope but then found no charity as you had to repeat the whole exercise again and again until the instructor was appeased. This was stopped some years after I left when one boy on Charity swallowed his tongue and died. Another penalty was to run up and down Laundry Hill, very steep, hauling a field gun similar to that used in the old Royal Tournaments. That came in useful when I represented Devonport in the Field Gun race in the 1952 Tournament at the new (then) Earl’s Court.

  14. Brian Harris says:

    Some nice stuff today. I thought STALAGMITES was a nice construction, if perhaps ever so slightly stretching the rules. And I really liked 14ac – beautiful cryptic definition, and it was the “first day” for those wearing the fig leaves, so no quibbles there. “Sixth day covers” would have broken the nice misleading postal reference!

  15. NeilW says:

    Gosh! Thank you, Rufus, for responding. I’m one of your fans – I really like your wordplays, unlike most others on this site, I really enjoyed the “incredible hulk” today. I have no problem with Mondays being “easy” – I wish the rest of my life were the same!

  16. Neil says:

    15dn This is hardly worth saying following Rufus’s fascinating bit of real history, but:
    “All hands to dance and skylark” was historically a command for a ship’s crew to take exercise, to dance and to be generally vigorous, particularly amongst the rigging (hence skylark); an early form of fitness training. Also taken as a book title by Cornish author, Charles Causley (without the ‘and’}.

    5dn: I recall “Mites grow up; tites come down” or something similar as aide memoire.

  17. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Rufus. Your contributions are always very much appreciated – and what an amazing life you’ve had! I was hoping we might get a story out of you.

  18. Rufus says:

    I know from reading that there used to be a “pipe”: “Hands to dance and skylark” on long voyages when tedium of boring days with little else to do meant jumping around was a relief. A “pipe” incidentally is using a “bosun’s pipe” to get attention. By moving one’s hands the piper can get simple tunes which, even if the crew don’t hear any words, they could recognise the order from the high-pitched note the pipe gives.

  19. Dagnabit says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. And thank you, Rufus, for the powerful anecdotes.

    I missed 23d today, trying DEED (“An act”) on the vague chance that “duplicity” referred either to the word reading the same way backward and forward or to the double use of D and E.

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well in that case try Yorkshire Dialect by John Waddington-Feather from Dalesman Books. Then sit and earwig in your nearest farmer’s pub.

    My area were not dialect speakers but the vernacular was full of dialect words.

  21. Mr Beaver says:

    I also thought 23d ill-defined. The only definitions I can find (not including Chambers!) refer to double-dealing not ‘double-voicing’

  22. Tim says:

    Found this much tougher than the ‘easy peasy’ commenters above. Couldn’t make any headway at all once I’d got ‘hula-hoop’ into my head for 6 down as it threw out territorial and then everything ground to a halt!

  23. Neil says:

    Sorry re #16 above: not ‘without the “and”‘ of course, but ‘without the “all”‘. Silly me!

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Mr Beaver

    Re duplicity: I think the most common meaning is some kind of underhandedness or double-dealing but, just for the record, Chambers does give ‘doubleness’ as its primary meaning [and my SOED has it as the literal meaning] [cf triplicity, ‘tripleness’]. And, to be fair, there was a question mark in the clue.

  25. Rufus says:

    Re “stalagmites” and “stalactites”. I always remember which is which by the sixth letter, “c” or “g”. “g” is for ground, hence stalagmites come up from the ground; “c” is for ceiling, and stalactites come down from the roof.

  26. sandra coleman says:

    sorry for the late post- i get the paper a day late as i live in france.
    my chambers does not define “hum” as throb but i can’t get my coolins down at present.
    also, “duel” sounds like “dual”. i may have missed the point.

  27. sandra coleman says:

    meant to say – good to hear from you rufus.

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