Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,787 – Brendan

Posted by Uncle Yap on August 25th, 2009

Uncle Yap.

dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

Thank you, Brendan for yet another of your eagerly-awaited themed puzzles. I stumbled upon the theme rather early when a group of lions showed themselves. This was helped by a similarly-themed puzzle I compiled years ago. Many lovely word-plays and creative devices.

9 EXCULPATE Ins of PA (old man) in EX (former) + CULT (sect) + E (firest letter of east)
10 PRIDE dd allusion to Proverbs 16:18 which warns that Pride goeth before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall.
11 COUNTED I think this is a triple definition
12 PICTURE *(epic tru)
13 MARK dd
14 SLEEPYHEAD Ins of E (energy) in *(he’s played)
16 ABSTAIN A B (bishop) + *(saint)
17 MAHATMA Ins of HAT (cover) in MAMA (mother)
19 DEBAUCHERY *(rued by each)
22 FALL dd
24 ESSENES Deletion of C (head of church) from ESSENCES (concentrates) Essene n one of a small religious fraternity among the ancient Jews leading retired ascetic lives and holding property in common. Is there an unexplained S?
26 TENSE TEN (part of solution to 1Down) SE (first two letters from solution to 8Down)
27 OVEREATEN Cha of OVER (finished) EATEN (sounds like Eton College, famous public school)

TEN COMMANDMENTS dd allusion to the 10th Commandment found in Exodus 20:17  Thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s house, thou shalt not covet thy neighbour’s wife, nor his manservant, nor his maidservant, nor his ox, nor his ass, nor any thing that is thy neighbour’s
2 ACQUIRES Sounds like A choir’s
3 SLOTH Cha of SLOT (opening) H (hospital)
4 MAGDALEN Both Oxford and Cambridge have a college thus named after Mary (recently made famous again by Dan Brown and/or Tom Hanks) and yes, an alternative pronunciation makes this a homophone for maudlin (sentimental) Another triple? (can we coin a term for such a clue with three definition or three distinct parts? triplot?)
6 APOCRYPHA *(pray chap)
7 FIGURE *(if urge)
8 SEVEN DEADLY SINS cd Some years ago, I clued this for a Malaysian paper as Envy and idleness, sad combination with pride, covetousness, lust, gluttony & anger (5,6,4). This is an anagram of envy, idleness & sad with combination as the indicator. Most standard list would have sloth for idleness, which is a good synonym for this almost &lit clue
15 CALUMNIES Ins of ALUMNI (former students) in CE’S (church’s)
17 MURDERER Reversal of RE (on) RED RUM (that famous steeple-chaser which won the Grand National three times in the 70’s … Thanks, Derek Lazenby for the input) Exodux 20:13 Thou shalt not kill, one of the Ten Commandments
18 TRAVESTY Ins of A V E ST (a very English saint) in TRY (essay)
20 BASING Ins of A SIN (envy, say) in B & G (first letters of Begruding Guy)
21 HESTON *(honest) who played MOSES in The Ten Commandments
23 MOSES cd for the leader who never entered the Pomised Land although he was allowed to see it… God’s punishment for some infractions

45 Responses to “Guardian 24,787 – Brendan”

  1. Bryan says:


    Many thanks Brendan & Uncle Yap.

    Actually 6d also requires an ‘O’ for old.

    I couldn’t decide between FALL or FAIL for 22a but guessed correctly.

    I also struggled with 21d before getting Charlton HESTON.

    One of the very best!

  2. RichardSmyth says:

    Great puzzle, great blog – thanks.

    Re. the missing ‘S’ in 24 – I think an ‘essene’ is a sect member, rather than the sect itself, so several ‘essenes’ in plural would constitute a sect.

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Uncle Yap. I found this one quite easy, especially after seeing the theme, but it was very enjoyable all the same.

    Just to be picky, MAGDALEN is only an Oxford college; the one at Cambridge is MAGDALENE.

  4. Monica M says:

    Hi All,

    What a terrific puzzle!!!

    Brendan’s fast becomng my favourites. I don’t always get them out or know why I’ve arrived at answers (15sq helps there), but I always know I’m up for a delicious challenge.

    Thanks for the explanation of 17dn, my knowledge of steeple chase is limited to say the least.

  5. Derek Lazenby says:

    Actually, Red Rum won the national THREE times and was second twice. The sequence was 11221, 1973 to 77.

    This must have been a well designed puzzle as I got it despite being an exercise in the bits I usually struggle with.

  6. Monica M says:

    Now for my “I’m not a clever-clogs” question…

    How does imperfect = tense ?

  7. Derek Lazenby says:

    conjugation of verbs

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    Enjoyed this, and I found it easier than Brendan’s usual, as I finished on the bus on the way in to work (30 minutes or so).

    Monica, imperfect is a tense in the sense of verbs: present (I am), future (I will be), past (I was), aorist (?) etc

  9. Monica M says:

    Ok … I’m standing in the corner with my pointy hat on feeling like an Aussie cricket player … I can’t believe it was so obvious.

  10. liz says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. I saw the theme and got the two long ones early, which helped. This was really enjoyable, all the more so for not having the theme flagged up. I’m amazed at how Brendan managed to link so many clues, directly or indirectly, to the theme!

  11. Gareth Rees says:

    A “perfect” tense indicates a completed action (Latin perfectus, done thoroughly or completely), and an “imperfect” tense indicates an action that is (was, will be) ongoing or incomplete.

    I wondered if 23D also hinted at runner Ed Moses (though the surface reading doesn’t seem to refer to any event in Moses’ career).

  12. Chris says:

    The homophone for ‘maudlin’ isn’t an ‘alternative’ pronunciation for ‘Magdalen’ – it’s the only correct pronunciation.

  13. Chris says:

    Also, I wonder if for 23d there’s an intended cryptic indication there?

    In the Wikipedia entry for ‘Fell’, we find the following:

    “In Sámi the concept fell indicates something yet more narrow: Highland plains covered in moss, shrubbery etc.”

    So could it be fell=moss, around ‘the finish’, ie ‘e’, to give us Moses?

    That may be a stretch, but I don’t have Chambers to hand to see if ‘fell’ and ‘moss’ are at all synonymous in the way indicated by the Wiki entry.

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    Chris? What’s wrong with fell as in died? You trying to see too much?

  15. Colin Blackburn says:

    I don’t read either 11ac or 4dn as triples.

    In 11ac I read “Reckoned 1 or 8, for example” as one definition and “was important” as the second.

    In 4dn the I saw the definition is “College named after a sinner” with the rest making up the homophone.

    Oxford is unusual in that, as Chris says, “maudlin” is the correct pronunciation of the college, bridge, associated school and all things Magdalen in that bit of Oxford. However elsewhere in Oxford around the church of St Mary Magdalen, Magdalen Street has its more usual (to the rest of the world) pronunciation.

  16. Colin Blackburn says:

    Re: #13 Fell isn’t moss. Fell is an upland area covered in moss, shrubbery, etc. The word has found its way into Northern English referring to the uplands of the Lake District and Pennines.

  17. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Uncle Yap.

    This was a great crossword, I thought – Brendan’s always rising in mental chart of favourite setters :) We got through this fast, just missing out (frustratingly) on ESSENES – I’m sure I’ve missed “concentrates = essences” before in crosswords.

  18. Langfield says:

    From the clue to 8dn I expected to see all seven somewhere or other. There’s lust, envy and gluttony in the clues, and sloth and pride in the answers. But where are greed (or avarice) and wrath?

  19. Jake says:

    Ah the church makes me giggle….. 4dn- Magdalen as a ‘sinner’ ? Brendan have you actually read the gospel of Mary ?

    I don’t know about the Daniel Brown story but she sure as hell was no sinner, but a very important lady, VERY important.

  20. Bryan says:

    Sorry, Jake, but there were are a LOT of sinners around in those early days.

    Like, for instance Adam and Eve …

    I have never seen any evidence that they ever went to church or even got married.

    Of course, Chambers or Collins may say otherwise but I don’t have copies.

  21. Uncle Yap says:

    # Chris says:
    The homophone for ‘maudlin’ isn’t an ‘alternative’ pronunciation for ‘Magdalen’ – it’s the only correct pronunciation.

    As a non-native, Uncle Yap depends on Chambers to guide me. Chambers gave two pronunciations(including one that is identical to the pronunciation for maudlin and another that isn’t) so who am I to argue?

    Colin Blackburn says:
    I don’t read either 11ac or 4dn as triples.
    In 11ac I read “Reckoned 1 or 8, for example” as one definition and “was important” as the second.

    I read it as
    reckoned = 1
    1 or 8, for example = 2
    was important = 3

    >In 4dn the I saw the definition is “College named after a sinner” with the rest making up the homophone.

    You are right; I was too anxious to identify College and sinner as def’s

  22. Jake says:

    Bryan was LOT a pun ? Lot ( Abraham’s brother) being at the gates of Sodom when God rained sulphur to rid the sinners. An entire age before Jesus’ birth.

    Seriously though Magdalen gospels is worth looking up if one’s unaware of the knowledge. Jesus had a wife Mary and a daughter Sarah. It’s all hidden through the scriptures, if you are looking in the right place.

  23. NeilW says:


    Wrath = anger 25ac

    Greed, though… maybe 1dn covetousness?

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    Langfield, if you stretch rather more than a point or two then 17 indirectly supplies them, as in racehorse -> gamble -> greed, and murder the result of wrath.

  25. Jake says:

    Bryan. yes Collins concise Mary = sinful woman.

    The word play correct but in life not literary true.

  26. stiofain says:

    lighten up the bible is a fairytale not life or literature Santa Claus also has a wife called Mary dont know if she is a sinner though

  27. Speckled Jim says:

    Good fun!

    Got so close to finishing this one, but ESSENES was a leap too far into the unknown…

    Thanks Brendan.

  28. Brian Harris says:

    Ploughed through this pretty quickly today. ESSENES was the last clue we got – probably the most obscure answer. Also, we were slightly put off by a lack of THE in 1 down, as the film title was three words. All that said, though, a typically fun Brendan.

  29. Cathy says:

    Langfield, how about overeaten for your greed reference? It took me forever to get on the same wavelength as Brendan this morning (CDT)…but got there eventually…of course, I’d do better if I were fully concentrating on the crossword and not trying to write pharmaceutical method validations at the same time…:)

  30. Brendan says:

    Don’t you folks read the bible? I mean Chambers, of course. The seven deadly sins there (at least in my edition) are listed (under “seven”) as: pride, covetousness, lust, anger, gluttony, envy, and sloth (see Uncle Yap’s comment on 8 down)

  31. The trafites says:

    Wasn’t Magdalen a prosistute? I don’t know either (not being religious), but I got 4dn quite early on once I sussed the theme and for some reason ‘sinner’ and her came to mind.

    And as Langfield, comment #18 says, I too agree this clue was a bit stretched (but solvable once the theme was sussed).

    Where was ‘Life of Brian’ too? ;)


  32. The trafites says:

    Bloody keyboard (prosistute?). PROSTITUTE.


  33. Jake says:

    the line of Christ. Mary. Any who believe as you will. No matter what the dictionary, catholic bible says, the wrong path has been set. believe what you will………….

  34. Jake says:


    you are a wise man.

  35. Jake says:


    Read further.

  36. Jake says:


    Yes I know the Bible. New and Old.

    Luke, John and Mark in certain verses. and. the Quar’an provide what’s correct.

    No more from me.

  37. Colin Blackburn says:

    Re #21 I still don’t follow how “1 or 8, for example ” = counted.

  38. Brendan says:


    I made no reference to the Bible. See definition of bible in Chambers (commonly regarded as the bible for crosswords): “a comprehensive book regarded as the ultimate authority on its subject”.

    Various people

    In the same work, see magdalen (without capital) defined as “a repentant prostitute”


    In 11 across: Reckoned 1 or 8, for example, was important (7) is a double definition clue (at least that’s how I interpret it)
    The first definition is “Reckoned 1 or 8, for example”
    1 = Ten commandments, 8 = Seven deadly sins

  39. Uncle Yap says:

    # Colin Blackburn says:
    Re #21 I still don’t follow how “1 or 8, for example ” = counted.

    Green grass and red herring are coloured
    So ten boys and seven girls are counted (notwithstanding original intention of compiler)

    This is a cryptic puzzle clue where Thames is a flower and Man United is a married man.

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hey Uncle, ya still ain’t edited the blog see my post 5.

  41. percy says:

    Im surprised at the heretical atmosphere here.
    As all has been revealed at 36

    Jake says:
    August 25th, 2009 at 10:59 pm

    Yes I know the Bible. New and Old.

    Luke, John and Mark in certain verses. and. the Quar’an provide what’s correct.

    They say Jonah made his home in
    a fishes abdomen

    Anyone who is interested in a package set of The Bible, Quaran, and Tom Hanks the early years
    check my ebay book sales.

  42. RB says:

    Lovely crossword. Enjoyed it immensely. The first Brendan I’ve tried (I’m new to The Guardian).

    One slight puzzle for me: 14A: It seems that “without energy” really means “with energy” i.e. add an “e”. I guess that “without” can mean “on the outside” so if “e” had been added on the outside (i.e. at the end or the beginning) then I wouldn’t have quibbled. Can someone please explain?

  43. Gaufrid says:

    Hi RB

    Ignoring the anagram in 14a, ‘poet without energy’ could give the answer BEARD, i.e. BARD (poet) on the outside of (without) E (energy).

    But to add to the confusion it could also give POT, without in this case indicating removal. The correct answer would of course be determined by the definition and enumeration.

  44. RB says:

    Of course! Thanks Gaufrid. I obviously had a blind spot there. I figured that “without” was probably being used to denote “on the outside of”, but got it the wrong way round! To use your example, all I could see was E on the outside of BARD, not (the more obvious) BARD on the outside of E.

  45. rfb says:

    My copy of Brewer’s lists the seven deadly sins as: pride, covetousness, lust, envy, gluttony, anger, and sloth. So maybe Brendan was using Brewer’s?

    Sorry for the belated post – this crossword just turned up in the latest Guardian Weekly.

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