Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,783 – Shed

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on August 20th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

This is just the level of difficulty I like on a Thursday – hard to crack into, but ultimately yielding its solutions with some persistence and nothing feeling ‘unfair’.


9. GASTROPUB. BUG< around A STROP.  Def is very vague?
11. ORION. (m)OR(1)ON.
17. SUSAN. S. U.S. + N.A.<
19. MAR. RAM<
20. CHANT. CHA((sire)N)T.
21. RAMADAN. R(A MAD)AN.  Nice to see ‘fast’ not being confined to LENT for a change.
22. RETURNS. RET(URN)’S. RET = SOAK is new for me.


1. IGBO. G.I.< + B.O.
2. OSSIAN. OASIS* + N.  Took a few tries before I found a valid anagram!
8. HERE. H.E. + R.E.
13. POSER. double def.
16. LOTUS. double def.
19. MINCE PIE. d.d. Cockney rhyming slang for ‘eye’.
22. REEBOK. K.O. + BEER <.  I hadn’t realised this was an animal as well as a shoe.
24. MANY. MA(N)Y.  May of course has 31 days.
25. APEX. APE + X.
27. YO-YO. YO(u) + YO(u)

38 Responses to “Guardian 24,783 – Shed”

  1. The trafites says:

    I thought this was tough, and was held up for ages with GASTROP?? until I found it in Chambers (is it now in Collins? I only have an old version).

    11ac also had me beat for a bit until I sussed the (m)ORON bit and then got the def. hunter.

    19dn was clever, but pretty easy for an Englishman – I wonder if foreign solvers understood this?

    Very tough.


  2. NeilW says:

    No idea why, but I found this very easy – moreover, I normally find Shed a challenge.

    21ac is very topical – starts tomorrow (or the day after, depending on who you listen to, the astrologers or the astronomists.)

  3. Chunter says:

    9ac: GASTROPUB is in the 9th edition of Chambers.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ciaran.

    Like Neil, I found this easier than usual for Shed.

    I liked the surfaces of 27ac [I remembered ‘ret’ from learning that it’s what you do to flax] and 27 dn – and 19dn made me laugh. [Nick, I think it’s been acknowledged that access to Cockney rhyming slang is essential for foreign solvers!]

    Re 24dn: presumably N [born] is an abbreviation of ‘né[e]’ but I can;’t find it anywhere – or maybe I didn’t look hard enough.

  5. Gaufrid says:

    The on-line Collins gives N as an abbreviation for natus (Latin: born).

  6. smutchin says:

    I thought this seemed not-too-tough for Shed, although my brain wasn’t working and I couldn’t remember simple words like MANGE and BEER so struggled with some clues even when I’d sussed the wordplay.

    I agree about 1a, Ciaran – the def is very vague. But it’s still a solvable clue, so fair enough.

    re 12a – I guess this is one of those cases where you’re supposed to read the apostrophe+s as standing for “has”, but then “vet [has] partner gets clincher” doesn’t seem to make an awful lot of sense. Surely it should be “vet [has] partner to get clincher”?

  7. liz says:

    Thanks, Ciaran. I found this a bit of both — some clues quite easy for Shed and others gave me a lot more trouble.

    For once, I was pretty confident about which way round to enter the reversal in 19ac. As Ciaran says, I thought these clues were all pretty fair.

    ESCUTCHEON was the last one I got, even though I guessed our old friend Che would be in there somewhere.

    I don’t think the def in 9ac is that vague. I loved the surface of 16dn. Also 19dn was funny.

  8. cholecyst says:

    21 ac. RAMADAN. I understand the fast only lasts between dawn and dusk. I’ve often wondered how Muslims manage to stay alive if they live north of the Arctic circle in our summer or south of the Antarctic circle in the antipodean summer!

  9. Radler says:

    Smutchin re 12ac – I think it’s just a case of the surface reading being different to the interpretation needed to parse and solve it. Misleading (which is often a good thing) rather than wrong

    Yet another of those ambiguous clues at 19ac. I’m beginning to suspect this is a deliberate ploy to make simple reversals and homonyms more difficult. Any setters care to comment?

  10. John H says:

    Many Happy Returns who? Susan Marchant?

  11. Jake says:

    Another great puzzle from Shed. Fantastic entertainment, I like the level of difficulty here.

    Nice one…..

  12. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid – I obviously didn’t look hard enough! But, to be fair, when I have an up-to-date Chambers and Collins, it would never occur to me that I needed to consult an on-line dictionary, as the only source. I don’t want to make heavy weather of this, as the answer was easily gettable, but the usual abbreviation for ‘born’ is B and there are plenty of other ways of cluing N.

    liz, re the reversal: I think if I’d gone initially wrong again today I’d have given up – as I said on Tuesday, I was quite confident then! This one was totally fair.

  13. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Ciaran.

    This was a good mix of difficulties, I thought – I didn’t finish on my own initially, but the two of us managed to clear up the rest (apart from IGBO) pretty quickly with more concentration :)

    Just one thing I wasn’t sure about – surely CRINOLINED for “dated dress” is the wrong part of speech?

  14. Eileen says:

    Radler – I’m sorry, I hadn’t seen your comment re 19ac.

  15. Eileen says:

    mhl: I think the definition is ‘in dated dress’.

  16. Henry says:

    Hi all,

    slow learner here.

    24dn: I’m a bit lost, where on earth has this N come from? Natus?

    I managed two thirds of this one before coming here. Which I suspect is extrememly poor for most of you. But brilliant for me!


  17. liz says:

    re 10 — Aha! (There’s also a Mark in the puzzle…) Perhaps the celebrations might take place in a gastropub?

  18. IanN14 says:

    John H @10,
    Well spotted.
    I totally missed that…
    I bet you’re right about the name, but it could equally be Mark Escutcheon (or even, erm, Specky Mince-Pie…).

  19. smutchin says:

    Radler – I have no objection to the surface reading being misleading. The problem here is that the cryptic reading of the clue jars a bit – it’s grammatically awkward. But if you changed “gets” to “to get”, that would resolve the matter without affecting the surface reading.

    It’s not a big deal though – I’m just being picky for the sake of it. The clue is OK as it is.

  20. smutchin says:

    re comments #10 & #18 – Oh yes! Well spotted, John!

  21. IanN14 says:

    Not to mention comment 17.
    I was typing as this one was sent…

  22. Radler says:

    Eileen, 19ac does read more naturally as “batterer coming back” rather than “coming back to do damage”, but it could be either. I too plumped correctly today (especially since M was more likely as a start letter than an end to the down solution)

  23. Colin Blackburn says:

    Re #12. Eileen, n = natus is in the current print edition of Collins. However, the fact that the abbreviation is not in the current Chambers or COD suggests it’s not that common an abbreviation.

  24. Eileen says:

    Thanks Colin. My Collins is the 2006 edition.

  25. mhl says:

    Eileen: of course, thanks – silly me…

  26. don says:

    Thank you , Eileen/The Trafites – if your not English you’re a foreigner? Duw, Duw!

    Easier than most Shed puzzles, but just as enjoyable as as usual for Shed.

  27. Dave Ellison says:

    I found this one as Ciaran decribes in his summary.

    19a I too wondered which was the reversal. However, I think there was a hint or two in 5d (even before I got the answer) that it would end in “er” or “or”: “One taking …”; and also “alternative” was possibly (and indeed turned out to be) “or”.

    “Many happy returns” – surely just a coincidence. Remember the D-Day landings and the Telegraph Crossword

  28. Eileen says:


    Apologies: my remark was ‘tongue in cheek’. I was echoing Nick’s phrase and should have used quotation marks! [‘God, God’? – {I’ve been googling!}]


    I don’t think so, this time!

  29. tuck says:

    Cholecyst, I asked a friend from the Emirates recently what happens in the cases you mentioned. Apparently it the times for such circumstances used to be determined in Cairo and now it is possibly Riyadh. So muslims in these areas don’t have to fast for a month as might be expected.

    I really enjoyed this puzzle – I sometimes find Shed’s clueing a bit unfair, but not today.

  30. The trafites says:


    if your not English you’re a foreigner? Duw, Duw!

    To me yes if you are not English!


  31. cholecyst says:

    RAMADAN: Thanks Tuck.. As I expected, common sense rules.. I believe small children and nursing mothers are exempt from the fast as well.

  32. don says:


    ” … if your not English you’re a foreigner?

    To me, yes, if you are not English!”

    Poor Ian and his ilk have been DUPed for years, then.

  33. Shed says:

    Thanks to Ciaran for a succinct and accurate blog, except 10ac was supposed to be AN/ELK< rather than just an anagram (though it works that way too).

    NeilW #2: I hadn’t actually realised we’re on the brink of Ramadan, that was pure coincidence. But best wishes to any Muslims reading this.

    Liz #7: thanks on all counts, especially 19ac: I thought it was pretty clear which way round it should go, though I can see that reversals are confusing for solvers because so many ambiguous or downright wrong ones do get through.

    JohnH #10: very astute. She’s 70 today, had the schoolgirl nickname Specky (4dn), used to be a nurse (28ac), and still bakes a marvellous mince pie (19dn)).

    Passim (at the risk of sounding like Lynn Truss): if you’re English and literate enough to solve crosswords, you should know better than to write ‘if your English’.

  34. liz says:

    Thanks, Shed. It’s always great to hear from setters! After some v ambiguous reversals lately, 19ac seemed v clear.

    And I’m glad that JohnH got it right (clever clogs), spotting the hidden message. Many happy returns to Susan Marchant!

  35. stiofain says:

    Nice one Shed what a brilliant birthday present for Susan and I am so glad it wasnt flagged up with a preamble revealing the subtle theme.

  36. IanN14 says:

    Ah, but stiofain,
    If it had been, wouldn’t that have confused a lot of us?
    I, for one, have never tried Specky’s mince pies, and I didn’t even know she used to be a nurse.

    But seriously, happy birthday Susan.
    (Has she ever driven a Lotus? …Wearing Reeboks?).

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #1.
    I am a Foreigner …
    And did I understand 19dn?
    Well, the only thing that I could see would fit in was MINCE PIE.
    As to the explanation: I didn’t know that it was slang for ‘eye’.
    When I tried to explain it to myself, I came up with the idea that there is a (Mulled wine and) Mince Pies capsule in the London Eye that you can hire to have a party-like thing.
    So I thought, that must be it then.
    No, it wasn’t, but even so, as a non-Brit, I can solve crosswords nowadays (which is after just over a year), not being put off by any slang. I agree with Eileen that access to slang is necessary, but in most cases I verify it afterwards (in some dictionary or whatever).

    Oh and by the way, I liked this puzzle (including its very nice theme).

  38. karlpopper says:

    missed one:
    26A. HA(P+Poppy)Y = Snow White Dwarf Name

    v. cool that Shed posted here!

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