Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,740 – Brendan

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on July 1st, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

I’d like to dedicate this blog to the beginners who sometimes comment about their dismay at how easy us bloggers say certain puzzles are.

This one is, on paper, not too bad but I found it an uphill slog that took a fair chunk of the morning.  As my dad likes to say, they’re only easy if you know the answers.

I’m still in the dark about 8dn.


6. IRONED. DI(ON)RE*.  ‘Case’ is redundant but probably allowable.
9. GEORGE.  Double definition.  St George is the ‘red cross hero’, and it’s apparently also an affectionate term for an Autopilot.
10. NEVADANS. N(EVA + DAN)S.  N&S are a bridge ‘partnership’.
11. HERO. HER + O.  Triple def.  A Greek princess from the story of Hero and Leander, and a word for Idol.
13. CLIMACTERIC.  CL(1M + ACT)ERIC.  One of those satisfying clues where you solve it from the wordplay/checked letters and then know etymologically that it must be right, even though you don’t know the word.
21. SEND. S(outhern) E(ngland) + (norther)N (irelan)D.
22. PRACTISE.  PR(ACT)ISE.  Odd to see ‘act’ again after 13ac.  Had trouble seeing the wordplay at first as I incorrectly thought PRACTICE.
24. VILLAS. V(ery) + ILL + AS.
25. SENTRY. S(econd) + ENTRY.


1. MOORFOWL. M(ale) + O(=duck) + OR + F(emale) + OWL.  Apparently a type of grouse.
2. SCREAM. S(econd) + CREAM.
5. ELEVEN. This took a while to click.  The clues before and after are 4 and 7dn, 4+7=11.
7. DYNAMO. D(MANY<)O.  I found ‘machine’ a bit of a vague def!
8. INNER CITIES?.  No idea on the wordplay but must be right for ‘areas with social problems’.
14. MILLINER.  The Miller is a character from Canterbury Tales (wherein a group of travellers all take turns to tell stories).  Presumably a milliner is a ‘female shopkeeper’ because men don’t wear hats any more, rather than the milliner actually being female.
15. INSULATE. SEALUNIT* and semi-&lit.  I took ages over this one too, after being convinced the solution would be a plural so end in -S.
16. BORROW. double def, George Henry Borrow (1803-1881).  Never heard of him.
17. UNEASY. If something’s hard it’s Un-Easy.
19. TUCSON. NO.S + CUT<<
20. SOVIET.  (al)SO VIET(nam).

37 Responses to “Guardian 24,740 – Brendan”

  1. Crypticnut says:

    Hi Ciaran
    I found this pretty easy but, like you, can’t reconcile 8d. I got INNER CITIES by default because it’s the only thing that fits but I can’t work out why. I know it’s right because I went to the on-line version and used the check facility.
    Hopefully one of the others can enlighten us because it’s driving me nuts!

  2. Chunter says:

    Thanks, Ciaran.

    24ac: is ‘drivers’ a reference to golf clubs?

  3. John says:

    Ciaran: you’ve missed out 23 ac and misnumbered 24 ac. Brendan’s obviously no golfer. ALL drivers nowadays are made of metal.
    I too await with bated breath an explanation for 8 dn.

  4. David says:

    Thanks, Ciaran.
    A milliner is one who makes or sells women’s hats, rather than a woman who makes hats.

    And I, too can’t parse Inner Cities!

  5. John says:

    Is millinery an exclusively female preserve? I think not.

  6. IanN14 says:

    Each across row contains a city.
    Cairo, Geneva, etc.

  7. David says:

    Wow! Well spotted Ian N14!

  8. Crypticnut says:

    Thank you IanN14. Obvious now you point it out…

  9. Eileen says:

    Bravo, IanN14 – now I can settle to the tennis!

    [Brendan, as Virgilius, used pretty much the same device in yesterday’s great Indy puzzle – very impressive.]

  10. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Ian N14 – very good spot! Explains everything.

  11. Chunter says:

    The 18/21 row has two cities – TULA and ESSEN.

  12. Neil says:

    Thanks Ciaran, especially for explaining 5dn which I got from ‘team’ and checking letters but didn’t see why.
    Little things:
    5ac – EROICA I think!
    3dn – EVER reversed around ASS?
    8dn – Me too! I’ve been googling without enlightenment. I even wondered about something to do with inner lights in crossword puzzles. And is EVERY inner city an area with social problems? Seems very generalised and maybe unfair on those whose social problems may be few or not particularly significant.
    14dn – Of course! Thanks again; and I was mucking about with MILER LIE and IN which, being ten letters, can’t be made to work (though did get me the answer!).

  13. Neil says:

    Wow IanN14! Clever of you and Brendan both.

  14. IanP says:

    Inner Cities was clearly the answer but I couldn’t see why until I rmembered that Brendan always seems to have a motif in there somewhere, and I couldn’t spot one. Until I looked at the across clues…

    George Borrow is remembered for Lavengro and Romany Rye. Like the author, they only come up in crosswords. Rarely do you meet anyone who has read them (I know I haven’t).

  15. Mike says:

    olD IDOl at 11 didn’t help!

  16. petero says:

    I think 11a. would be better described as a double definition and wordplay

  17. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, and thanks IanN14 for spotting the hidden cities! (I didn’t.) A lovely puzzle. 13ac held me up for a while. V minor niggle — I would agree with John that there are many well-known male milliners, eg Stephen Jones.

    I have never heard of George Borrow, but thanks to recent crosswords, spotted the autopilot ref in 9ac.

  18. sidey says:

    The ghastly grid pointed to a ‘Nina’ [or Jeremy or whatever they’re called], not that I spotted it. They used to turn up fairly frequently on Wednesdays iirc.

  19. Martin Searle says:

    Well spotted indeed, IanN14. I thought the ‘of people’ in 8D was rather superfluous, but it didn’t affect the solving. As far as socio-economic assessments are concerned,my local city, Bath, has outer-city problems rather than inner-city ones, but I don’t think one can argue overall.

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yeah, as said in the blog, hard work, but finished! Glad I’m late on parade, saved me having to ask about 8 and few others.

  21. Dave Ellison says:

    I don’t like this grid, and it was only after I got 8d and spotted the connection that I could complete most of the shorties round the outside.

    Enjoyed it though.

  22. Dagnabit says:

    Missed 9 and 17, and couldn’t see the rationale for 8 – which to my mind means I missed not just three but the whole point of today’s exercise. Oh – and I had the wrong spelling at 22 as well. Thanks to Ciaran and IanN14 for the explanations!

  23. IanN14 says:

    Thanks for all your compliments (shucks, it was nothing really…)

    It’s always worth looking for something extra in a Brendan/Virgilius; he’s so clever.

    Sorry message 6 was so short; I was desperately trying to write it on my phone, using a very slow wi-fi signal in the garden of my local (The Cherry Tree, Mike Laws. What’s yours? The Ranelagh? Pint sometime?)

  24. Paul B says:

    To anyone interested, the ‘part of solutions put across’ are various parts of down solutions (the cities are all provided via down unches) ‘put across’ to make the words (of various cities).

    Obviously, cities in the crossword are only ‘inner’ due to their position(s) as (grid-) hidden words, while the definition for the key clue (to INNER CITIES) has a question mark to allow for the fact, or possibility, that some cities do not – or do not always – have problems within their inner parts.

    Similar, as someone has said, to yesterday’s Indy offering but not the same, and both are very fine puzzles.

  25. Neil says:

    Paul B [#24] – Yeah, I’m interested, but perhaps handicapped in not quite understanding exactly what you’re telling us by not knowing what an “unch” is. Your comment reads perfectly reasonably (and i’m quite sure it is) until I try to understand it. The word “obviously” always makes me a bit suspicious. Ah well, it’s late. Perhaps I’ll understand if I return here, come the (later) morning.

    RANT: Speaking of ”- unch” -as an aside -does anyone else get as incensed as I do by the misuse of ‘Lunch’, as in ‘Sunday Lunch’ to mean the main meal of the day? Even ‘Christmas Lunch’, for heaven’s sake!
    It drives me incandescent. It’s DINNER if it’s the main meal!! Do these people not have dictionaries? Sunday Roast, Christmas Roast – or even ‘Carvery’ might do the job better. But they might need to add the times available to help the poorly educated middle classes.

  26. Colin Blackburn says:

    Neil [#25] An unch is an unchecked letter. Just a bit of crosswordese like wordplay or anagrind.

    Unfortunately, as with most pedantic rants, you are on unstable ground. As a working class northerner dinner is that meal I have around 1pm while the main meal of the day is my tea which I eat around 6pm.

  27. jetdoc says:

    I thought the ‘female’ in 14d was redundant. Chambers defines milliner as ‘a person who makes or sells women’s headgear, trimmings, etc’. However, this doesn’t make the shopkeeper female, and the kept shop is ‘for women’ or ‘women’s’ rather than having a gender of its own.

  28. Neil says:

    Thanks for that Colin B. But I still don’t follow #24, above.

    Apologies to all for going so wildly off topic: second para, #25.

  29. Dagnabit says:

    Neil, I may be missing something but comment 24 sounds exactly backward to me. As IanN14 pointed out, the names of several cities appear horizontally among the across entries, especially where the first entry in a row ends and the second begins – such as CAIRO in row 2, GENEVA in row 4, etc. – whereas Paul B seems to be saying that the city names appear vertically among the down entries, made up of various unchecked letters. But I can’t see a single city name rendered this way in the grid.

  30. Shed says:

    In case anyone’s still reading:

    I’d nearly finished this (but still not got INNER CITIES) and was thinking ‘Finally, a Brendan without a theme – and none the worse for that’ – when the penny dropped. Very satisfyingly. With Brendan, I sometimes think ‘could do better if he didn’t try so hard’, but I do think this was quite brilliant.

    No one has pointed out that two of the ‘inner cities’ (Roma and Sevilla) are spelled as their natives spell them, not as anglophones normally do. But he understandably drew the line at entering Cairo in Arabic.

    I also don’t understand what unches have got to do with anything. The cities are sequences of both checked and unchecked letters as you read across the completed grid.

  31. Neil says:

    Ahah Dagnabit and Shed! (if you’re still there).

    So, as I now understand it, according to Paul B, the cities are to be found in: MSCS; LORIEIY; VFANAEA; NWRSO; BIINU; RULIOUE; OSNSIAS; and NRTE – obviously. All in east Europe or Africa I suppose. I must say I prefer the CAIRO, GENEVA, ROMA etc. sequence.

  32. Dagnabit says:

    Neil, I think you’ve got it. :)

  33. Paul B says:

    Well, yes those cities are indeed present in the unches, but that’s not what I meant. Sorry!

    I was hoping to explain the cryptic relationship between the key answer and the hidden words (as the blogger hadn’t at the time understood it) but unintentionally I made things much worse. It was a mistake, and I apologise for it.

  34. Derek Lazenby says:

    well one of of us was up to speed!

  35. Neil says:

    So, what do we do this for, fellow saddos? To get our heads sorted? Thank you all for helping me to sort mine. I was struggling to understand, but now I do. And thank you Paul B for getting us wondering. I appreciate your apology, but your contribution made my mind work (and others’ too it seems). It all contributes to staving off senile decay. Or exacerbates it.

  36. Neil says:

    #34 – Oh dear! I’m lost again, already. Excuse me Derek, but which one of ‘us’ was “up to speed”, about what?

    As my younger son once told me: “for a quite intelligent man, father, you can be really thick, sometimes. (Most of the time, I conclude, since I grew up). But I still resent that “quite”. Always watch out for “Father” instead of “Dad”.

  37. Paul B says:

    I’m afraid I’m stumped too by Derek’s follow-up, but many thanks Neil for hearing me. Having received email once again from a certain source, I don’t know whether it’s as obvious as it seems to me, but I’d meant to say ‘lights’ and not ‘unches’.

    And before I get another missive, I shall dumb it down:

    ‘Unches’ = unchecked (non-intersecting) white squares. ‘Lights’ = the bits you write your answer words into. Opposite of ‘darks’. Probably.

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