Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,901 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on January 7th, 2010


I’ve been very fortunate today – one of my favourite setters, who did not disappoint, giving us a pleasant literary theme, that was not too dominant, with some deft interlinking and flawless cluing, including some impressive anagrams, several &lit. A most enjoyable puzzle – thank you, Brendan.


: anagram of NATURE BE around X
10,21  CROSS CHANNEL: CROSS [bad-tempered] + CHANNEL [sound – as in Plymouth Sound]: the first of the works by Julian Barnes [2,4]
11  BLISS: cryptic definition: a reference to the Thomas Gray quotation:  ‘…where ignorance is bliss, ‘Tis folly to be wise.’ The composer is Sir Arthur Bliss, Master of the Queen’s Music from 1953 to 1975.
12  NIELS BOHR: anagram of HIS NOBEL [honou]R : Danish winner of the Nobel prize for Physics in 1922, so &lit.
13 CANVASS: CANVAS [piece of art] + S[on]
14  ENGLAND: ‘this country’ [for some of us!] and 50% of ‘ENGLAND, ENGLAND’ [1998 novel by 2,4, and Man Booker Prize nomination]
17  MUFTI: double definition
19 BOA: I don’t know whether to call this a cryptic definition, since, for once, we’re looking for the literal, rather than the metaphorical meaning.
20,26  [The] LEMON TABLE: a 2004 collection of stories by 2,4 and anagram of NOBLE METAL
24  LIBELLOUS: anagram of I’LL BE + [by] LOUS[e]
28  VERNE: hidden [repeatedly] in loVER NEVER NEglected


1   VERB: VER[y] B[ook]
2   JULIAN: Julian the Apostate, Roman emperor [331-363] and adjective relating to Julius Caesar [100-44 BC], as in Julian calendar
3   PERSUASION: anagram of USE A PRISON :[book by 22dn]
4   BARNES: B[ritish] ARNE [Thomas 1710-1778 – composer of ‘Rule Britannia’] ‘S: Barnes is a village on the Thames
5   ET CETERA: ‘way to shorten list briefly': ‘Love etc’ is a 2000 novel by 2,4.
6   ACTS: double definition
7   DO NO HARM: anagram &lit. of HARD ON MO: also known as ‘primum non nocere’, the precept that reminds physicians of the possible harm of intervention.
8   TSAR: hidden in measuremenTS ARguably
13  COMIC: cryptic definition – reference to stand-up comedian
15  GILBERTIAN: anagram of LIBERATING: reference to W.S Gilbert, who wrote the lyrics for the Savoy Operas. Some of us might call this &lit.
18  FLAUBERT: anagram &lit of BE ARTFUL: ‘Flaubert’s parrot’ is the 1984 novel by 2,4, also nominated for the Man Booker Prize. This is a very clever clue, with its double meaning of ‘in novel form’.
19 BALMORAL: BAL [French dance] MORAL [lesson]
22  AUSTEN [Jane]: as far as I can see, this is a straight definition: she influenced Julian Barnes and wrote ‘Persuasion’ and ‘Emma’. Am I missing some wordplay?
23 TABLAS: AB [sailor] in reverse of SALT [sailor]: a new word for me: a tabla is an Indian musical instrument consisting of a pair of drums.
24  LOVE: cryptic and double definition: to court as in to woo and the zero tennis score
25  LIED: German song, homophone of ‘lead’
27  EMMA: the eponymous heroine of Gustave Flaubert’s ‘Madame Bovary’ and of Jane Austen’s novel: another straightforward [double] definition?

46 Responses to “Guardian 24,901 / Brendan”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen – I thought you’d be pleased to get this one! A fun puzzle for those who are reasonably familiar with JB’s work, but perhaps a bit unfair to the non-fan on the Clapham omnibus. I agree with you about the non-crypticness of some of the clues: I suppose the fact that most of them involve cross-references makes up for that to some extent.

    I particularly liked 28ac – I can’t remember seeing a “double hidden” clue before.

    Homophone quibble – I think in German LIED is actually pronounced more like “leet”.

  2. matt says:

    Wikipedia came in handy for this one as I didn’t know any Julian Barnes novels but the clues were more than fair for all of them. Another quality puzzle!

  3. Bryan says:

    Very many thanks Eileen & Brendan.

    This was most enjoyable but, not being familiar with Julian Barnes except for Flaubert’s Parrot, rather difficult for me.

    That said, I was stumped by ARECA PALM, BOA and BALMORAL. The only French dance I could think of was the Can-Can.

    But No Complaints: all the Clues were perfectly fair.

    However, I do believe that this country now needs a Crossword Ombudsman and I shall only vote for a Party that includes this in its Election Manifesto with the strict understanding that I land this lucrative job with all the usual perks.

  4. Chunter says:

    I would have written in WALTON for 4dn had it not clashed with a crossing letter.

  5. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Eileen, enjoyed this Brendan as always, and managed most of it on the way in.

    I too wasn’t very familiar with JB’s works, but managed to get 10a, 14a, 20a, 18d without resorting to wikipedia.

    20a, as I am sure you saw, has a couple of definitions: yellow furniture, and the title of the novel.

    I too went briefly for WALTON in 4d.

  6. Ian says:

    Far more straightforward than the ususal Brendan fare for me as I’m a big fan of Julian Barnes.

    The SW corner did stop me in my tracks for a while, esp. 25dn.

    Eileen, Tablas were all the rage in the lates sixties, following the visit to Rishikesh by the Beatles to visit the ashram of Maharishi Maresh Yogi in 1968. The instrument became de rigeur soon afterwards amongst members of the rock fraternity – at least for a year or two.

  7. molonglo says:

    The light dawned re Julian Barnes with the 18d anagram. Last Feb Brendan confessed here that JB was one of his favourite authors, and in that blog quoted from 5d. Which was a neat clue, as was its mate 24d. January 7 is also the Orthodox Christmas, under the Julian calendar that Eileen mentioned.

  8. Andrew says:

    I can’t find the “confession” that molonglo refers to, but Brendan gave us another Julian-Barnes-themed puzzle almost exactly three years ago (blog here).

    (Gaufrid, if you’re reading – I notice the names of commenters are not showing on some old entries.)

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    Thanks for the research – I’d looked, too, and couldn’t find it.

    Re LIED: what irony! German not being one of my languages, I thought this one was OK – and nearly commented to that effect!

    Ian, thanks for the ‘enlightenment’ :-) – I recognise the drums but didn’t know the name.

  10. Tom_I says:

    A clever and enjoyable puzzle, I thought. I needed a bit of help with works of JB, but it was all fair and well-clued, with neat integration of Flaubert and Jane Austen, “Emma” doing double duty.

    Just one thing, though. Am I the only one to think that poor old Niels Bohr sits a bit uncomfortably among all the authors and composers? Having said that, I can’t think of anything better that would fit in the space.

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks. I have checked and commenters’ names do not appear on posts published before 23/7/2007. This was the time when the site moved from being hosted by WordPress to its own domain (official changeover date 1/7/2007 but some work will have been done before then) and I suspect that this information was lost during the transfer of the database from one domain to another.

  12. benington says:

    I found this relatively easy for a Brendan puzzle, even though I initially had Walton as the composer/Thames village in 4d. Nice theme but too many easier than usual clues (6d, 8d, 13a, 22a etc)to accomodate it?

  13. Jerb says:

    Indeed, LIED is pronounced something like “leet” in German but plenty of English musicians make it a homophone of “lead” in their sloppy moments. I don’t know if that makes it OK for them to do so, but for our solving pleasure, Brendan’s clue was perfectly fair and clear.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I thought you would like this one! I did, too. The double hidden was fun and I liked 15dn very much. All quite fair, I thought.

  15. Chunter says:

    I imagine that musicians make a greater effort to pronouce ‘lied’ correctly if it’s part of a title, such as ‘Das Lied von der Erde’.

    2dn: I’d always thought that the first emperor was Augustus, Julius Caesar’s great nephew. Eileen, please enlighten me!

    Today is JD 2455204, by the way.

  16. Eileen says:

    Oh Chunter, I wasn’t going to open that can of worms!

    You’re quite right – Julius Caesar was not a ‘Roman Emperor': he became dictator after the Civil War and, as you know, was assassinated for acting dictatorially. Since monarchy was essentially anathema to the Romans, when his great nephew Octavian [generally accepted as the first ’emperor’] became sole ruler, he was careful to call himself ‘Princeps Senatus’ [leader of the Senate] and, for the same reason, the Senate conferred the title Augustus on him: it had no monarchical ring but designated him as being rather greater than an ordinary citizen. The title was then assumed by subsequent emperors and became their official designation.

    The word ’emperor’ comes from the Latin ‘imperator’, originally, during the Republic, a military title given by acclamation to their general after a victory – as was given to Julius Caesar!

  17. Chunter says:


    Thank you. I was very reluctant to encourage you to go near the can, but I’m grateful for your clarification.

  18. muck says:

    25dn LIED. Chambers gives only the ‘leet’ pronunciation. The more common plural, lieder, is pronounced ‘leeder’ which may cause confusion to non-German speakers.

  19. sandra says:

    i really enjoyed this puzzle. though i thought it a bit easier than his normal standard i found it fun. i did have a couple of gripes but i don’t want to spoil the mood, and anyway they don’t seem to have affected anyone else, so it’s probably just me. i thought 15d was an excellent clue, and as i had no idea of the correct pronunciation of “lied” i had no problem with that. “boa gave me a smile.

    julian barnes, as i am sure you all know, is very popular over here. i wish my french was good enough to read the french versions.

  20. JamieC says:

    Thanks Eileen. I’m normally a big Brendan fan, but I’m afraid this was spoiled for me by the fact that – as others have pointed out – 4d could just as easily have been WALTON. In fact, I’d suggest WALTON was the more obvious answer, since I suspect he is better known than ARNE. Since I had no idea who Julian Walton was, I didn’t get very far with the themed clues.

    Even if you got the theme, 22d and 27d weren’t even slightly cryptic.

  21. rrc says:

    unfamliar with the author and his novels, or the physicist meant this was a thoroughly enjoyable learning experience. I am just glad that the net it available for research otherwise this would have been very difficult.

  22. Bryan says:

    Who is Julian Walton and what books has he written that have any of the titles listed?

    And how does WALTON manage to co-exist with the crossing letters that indicate BARNES?

    Sorry, but no compensation is allowed for WALTON.

    Bryan the Ombudsman

  23. sidey says:

    The answer to 4 couldn’t be Walton as the place is Walton-on-Thames.

    Even not knowing the author’s works I managed most of this. Very well clued.

  24. Brian Harris says:

    Like many others, found this very straightforward. Lots of obviously indicated anagrams makes the crossword a lot easier for me. Not a big fan of Julian Barnes, but I knew enough to remember Flaubert’s Parrot, and guessed the others. A smattering of nice clues.

  25. Mr DNA says:

    I was thrown for a while by 5d as you need to use the answer to 24d to construct one Barnes work – Love, etc. – but the clue to 24d refers to another: Something to Declare.

  26. Eileen says:

    Re Walton / Barnes

    Walton never occurred to me, as I already had Julian and no other authors with that name sprang to mind.

    Then there was the ‘British': I know Walton was a British composer but this is crossword land, where ‘British’ practically always indicates ‘B’.

    Well spotted, Mr DNA – I’d missed that one, which makes the clue even better. But there should be no confusion. This is how crosswords usually work: if there’s a cross-reference, it’s to the answer, rather than the clue.

  27. Mr DNA says:

    You’re quite right, there should be no confusion; it didn’t stop me being confused though!

  28. Shirley says:

    Walton-on-Thames is hardly a village!

  29. Bryan says:

    The only composer called Walton that I know of is Sir William who was an Oldham lad, like me.

    His brother, Charles, was my mew-sick teacher at school and, when the school orchestra lacked a cello, he tried to interest me.

  30. mark says:

    Enjoyed today’s(maybe because I belatedly got the Julian Barnes theme and have all his books)but please can I clarify something.

    8D – “..needed for..” as an indication of a hidden word in the text that follows. Is that often used? It was new to me and seemed a bit strange?

  31. molonglo says:

    Andrew et al: the ‘confession’ quote is this:
    Brendan says:
    February 21st, 2009
    I conjecture that Paul has been reading “Love etc.” by one of my favorite authors, Julian Barnes, where there is a conversation about a dinner-party challenge to name six famous Belgians (apart from Simenon). Says Oliver: “Six, apart from Simenon? Easy-peasy. Magritte, Cesar Franck, Maeterlinck, Jacques Brel, Delvaux and Herge, creator of Tintin. Plus fifty percent of Johnny Hallyday, I add as a pourboire”.

    Re Lied, the Oxford on-line gives the pronunciation as leed

  32. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, molonglo

    I remember that puzzle now. I was looking for a Brendan puzzle in February and I suspect Andrew was, too – and it turns out to one of his blogs!


    Hidden word indicators usually depend on the surface reading, as here. A ‘ruler’ [‘a straight-edged strip used as a guide to drawing straight lines or as a measuring rod’] is needed to take measurements and the letters of TSAR are needed to make up the phrase. I thought it was a neat clue – and I did wonder if Brendan chose ‘arguably’ because he had been taught, as I was, in primary school, that it was properly called a ‘rule’!

  33. Phil says:

    Really glad this was comparatively easy – cricket far too involving for me to get started in time to match all you early bird aficionados! I got Julian Barnes right at the beginning. This ought to have been helpful but Brendan with great precision included a full set of JB novels I hadn’t read with the exception of Flaubert whilst disappointingly excluding the parrot!

    On Walton/Barnes I am not sure eithercould properly be described as a village although I think part of Barnes may be knoen as Barnes village. Occasionally we have to suffer clues with an alternative answer that the compiler doesn’t think of – in this case the link with 2 throughout the crossword is a fairly clear indication Walton was wrong.

    Thanks Eileen for your explanations of some clues that I solved but didn’t get.

  34. Derek Lazenby says:

    Total waste of time for me, never heard of the bloke or his works. Don’t ask me which book it was, or who wrote it, because it was too long ago, but I once tried reading a Booker nomination. It was unreadable. I came to the conclusion that this sort of stuff was written for people who liked to give them selves airs and graces in the literary sense by claiming to understand such blatant garbage. No doubt I have missed a lot of good stuff by this one bad experience, but I assiduously avoid all such literature as a matter of course as a result. Hence waste of time crossword. Glad the rest of you found it fun though.

    My much more literary wife tells me she read one of JB’s books and didn’t understand it, so maybe it isn’t just me and my blind predjudices. But at least she knew enough to finish the puzzle, despite a few guesses. Said she didn’t really enjoy it though.

    Sorry to be the wet blanket yet again, but just think of it as adding balance.

  35. Andrew says:

    Derek, I find some of Barnes’s books a bit heavy going, but I would strongly recommend his A History of the World in 10½ Chapters. It’s basically a collection of very readable short stories, though with a common thread.

  36. Derek Lazenby says:

    When i’m next well enough to get out I shall try to remember that, ta Andrew.

  37. john goldthorpe says:

    I found this relatively easy for a Brendan – but excellent cluing, as usual. Pity, though, that he seems so hooked on Julian Barnes. I’m with Derek here.

  38. stiofain says:

    Pretty easy for a Brendan and with a much more flagged up ( dare I say clumsy? )theme than usual but some nice clues. Rarely I find myself agreeing with Derek but Ive battled my way through a few of his novels and dont see how he has gained the reputation he has.

  39. sandra says:

    just read derek’s comments at #34, and oops! i realise for the second time this week i appear to have said something i didn’t quite mean at 19. it is meant to be a reference to the fact that i miss going into book shops and browsing before choosing what to buy. not that i think you were referring to me derek! i have jb’s collection of essays “the land without brussels sprouts”, and i find some of them entertaining, but some are way over my head. so i have wondered how they would read in french. that will teach me to preview carefully in future!

    sorry. this post is way out of order i should think. enough.

  40. Carolyn says:

    Hi all. I am new to cryptic crosswords. I started my learning curve by back tracking and just filling in the answers to see how they fit. Some of them have really boggled my brain which is why I’m so glad to have found this website! This week I have managed to ‘complete’ Monday, Wednesday and Thursday’s crosswords with just a couple of gaps – but there are some clues that I just don’t recognise the abbreviations for. Abbreviations that seem to be ‘understood’ by the cryptic crossword community on here. Can anyone help me?!

    Today 23d I get salt as a sailor, but why is AB a sailor?
    Yesterday – the GOOP/GOON question. Why is energy GO? It may be my science teacher brain taking energy too literally but I don’t get it! Also why is ‘work’ OP? Again, science teacher brain goes off into the realm of Watts, kw/hours etc!

    Thanks for any help I get, and apologies in advance for asking asinine questions over the coming months. Hopefully, as I get better, it won’t take me 5 hours to get to almost completion!

  41. Eileen says:

    Hi Carolyn

    Welcome – and join the club! We all started from where you are! :-)
    No such thing as ‘asinine questions’ – I’ll get back to you!

  42. Andrew says:

    Hi Carolyn, and welcome.

    AB stands for Able-Bodied (Seaman) so is often used in crosswords for “sailor”.
    Go = energy as in “he’s got a lot of go”, or I suppose “get up and go”.
    OP = work is the abbreviation for Opus, used to identify musical works. (And it literally means “(a) work” in Latin.

    There are lots of abbreviations and other words like this that are used all the time in crosswords, some of them dated ones that are now pretty much ONLY used in crosswords: for example
    IT = SA (sex appeal)
    GEN = information (old RAF/Army slang?)
    CON = study

    See for example Peter Biddlecombe’s guide to cryptic crosswords for more information along these lines; but it’s mainly a case of learning by experience – keep at it!

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Carolyn, and as others said: Welcome to the Club (and a Club it is … :) )

    In my opinion the following site has a lot of useful information:

  44. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for that, you are a welcoming bunch!

    I’m aware of GEN for information but the others were new to me. Why is CON study? Out of curiosity. I was quite proud of myself for getting DEN to mean study in a previous crossword – but then I’m young enough to have been brought up with Americanisms!

    I’ve looked at Peter’s guide which is helpful in the abstract, but I think you need to get to know each setter’s personal style. Let’s just say that, from comments on this board, I seem to be doing ok with the crosswords everyone finds easy to the point of banality, but I don’t know where to begin when it comes to Auracuria (sp?). Our minds don’t work in the same way!

  45. IanN14 says:

    Con is an old verb meaning to learn or study.
    Used a lot in crosswords because it’s handy.
    I think you’ll find very few peoples’ minds work in exactly the same way as Araucaria…

  46. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    Thanks for the plug for my advice. There are a few things that only seem to be true in crossword land, but not as many as some people think – all of those “ancient” abbrev’s like SA and gen are still in your dictionary, and will turn up in real life if you keep watching out (like the revival of the 1920s/30s “it girl” a while back). With a bit of work(!) like first looking up “Op.” and then “opus”, the explanation is nearly always there. Likewise “go” = energy – look up go, noting that energy is only a noun and therefore looking at the noun meanings first. If dictionary-bashing is a new experience, read the instructions at the beginning carefully, especially if you’re using Chambers – their various space-saving tricks can make it tricky to find things if you don’t remember how the entries are structured for words like SEA with many related words.

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