Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,949 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on March 4th, 2010


I consider myself very fortunate in drawing this one, as I blogged the last Brendan. There’s the usual witty and clever cluing and enough cross-reference to add interest, without making it too easy. I enjoyed it a lot. [There’s one clue I haven’t solved and another I can’t explain. I’m sure help is at hand!


9 SONNETEER: anagram of TEN[ny]SON + E’ER [‘always in verse’]
10,3 IRISH SETTER: IRIS [flower / girl] + anagram of TETHERS
11  ROOSTER: O [ring] in ROSTER [schedule]
12  SPOONER: SPOON [as I know from crosswords, an old-fashioned golf club] + ER [queen].
13 COMER: I haven’t been able to parse this fully: Help, please!
16  SELF-DESCRIPTION: self-explanatory, with the cross-references
19  DICTATORY: DICTA [authoritative sayings] + TORY [politician]
21  STORM: TOR [high ground] in S[ergeant] M[ajor] [NCO]
22  BRENDAN:  B[ishop] + END [object] in RAN [managed]. Brendan was a 6th century Irish saint, as well as the esteemed Irish setter!
24 REATA: hidden in gREAT Abundance: a new one on me – it’s a lariat.
25  CONQUEROR: ref. to William, Duke of Normandy, 1066.


1 OSTRACISED:  CISE [I’s breaking keys] in O[ld] STRAD[ivarius]
2   INFORMAL: IN FORM [during class] = A L[earner]
4   SEER: homophone of sere
5   CROSS-PARTY: CROSS [put-out] + PARTY [person]
6   MISO SOUP: MI [reversal of I’m] + SO-SO [average] + UP [at university]
7   WINNER: W[ith] + INNER [in archery, the part of the target next to the bull’s-eye]
CHAR: hidden in pilCHARds
15  MONTMARTRE: cryptic definition
17 DEAR, DEAR: double definition
18  ISOTHERM: OTHER [alternative] in ISM [ideology]
20  CAESAR: cryptic definition – and great clue!: ref to VENI VIDI VICI [‘I came, I saw, I conquered’] the inscription carried, according to Suetonius, in Julius Caesar’s triumphal procession, after his victory against Pharnaces of Pontus at the Battle of Zela in 47BC.
21  SIT OUT: I [one] in STOUT [drink]
22,23 BIRDWATCHER: double / cryptic definition – and I think I’ll leave it there!
23  W?N?: I haven’t an answer for this, I’m afraid. ‘Wand’ would fit fit ‘twig’ – but ‘bush’?

65 Responses to “Guardian 24,949 / Brendan”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    13ac is COM[put]ER (PC, perhaps, put out)
    23dn is W (Bush) AND (with) – a referance to George W Bush, commonly refered to as ‘dubya’

  2. Eileen says:

    Re 23dn: I think I’ve got there: ‘W’ = ‘Dubya’ [Bush]! + AND [with]

  3. Eileen says:

    Just pipped me, Gaufrid – but thanks for 13ac!

  4. sidey says:

    Thoroughly enjoyed this, Caesar and the Spooner reference are excellent.

  5. James Gilchrist says:

    I loved this one. Is Brendan the same as Cyclops in Private Eye? there seemed to be some similarities.

  6. James Gilchrist says:

    And the Spooner reference is magnificent with word-botcher being a spoonerism of bird-watcher being a spooner. I’m sure this is BLINDINGLY obvious to all you genii crossworders, but I think it’s fabbydoo!

  7. Ian says:

    Thanks you Eileen. A fine blog indeed.

    Brendan does it again! Yet another fiendishly constructed challenge which had me struggling for just over 90 minutes to complete.

    Clearly the southern segment was easier with 25ac, 22dn/23ac, 21dn and 15dn relatively simple to solve.

    For the rest I started looking for anagrams in desperation and alighted on 14ac. MARRED GOP an obvious candidate. ‘Deprogram’ looked ideal but I baulked at the US-style spelling. Nevertheless, it went in.

    The northern half has three very fine clues with superb wordplay. Namely ‘MISO SOUP’, ‘OSTRACISED’ and ‘ROOSTER’.

    Last to go in was ‘COMER’. A horrible word!

  8. Ian says:

    James #5.

    No, Cyclops is Eddie James aka ‘Brummie’ in The Guardian.

    Brendan makes welcome appearances in The Independent as ‘Virgilius’.

  9. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen – another great one from Brendan. “Technical problems” meant that it was late appearing on the website, but it was worth waiting for.

    I always thought “veni, vidi, vici” referred to the conquest of Britain, but it turns out I learned that from 1066 and All That : “The Britons, however, who of course still used the old pronunciation, understanding him to have called them ‘Weeny, Weedy, and Weaky’, lost heart and gave up the struggle, thinking that he had already divided them All into Three Parts.”

  10. Martin H says:

    Some very nice stuff here, including the miso soup, but what’s cryptic about the clue for MONTMARTRE?

    One niggle about the setter who some seem to think is the best thing since sliced bread with double Nutella – he does include himself, his name, his opinions etc, pretty frequently in his puzzles. Others do it too, but he does it more than most. Am I the only one to find this tiresome?

  11. Mick H says:

    Nothing tiresome about this for me – is is true that obsessives (like us?) who know that Brendan is Irish have an advantage over the majority of solvers who, I’d assume, don’t. But the answers can still all be worked out, and I’d hope that a casual solver completing the puzzle would at that point twig the ‘Irish setter’ reference (which I’ve a feeling Brendan/Virgilius has used before).
    The ‘word botcher’ spoonerism’s a pure delight.
    I can see Bush=W becoming a crossword convention (like president=Ike)long after people have largely forgotten the man himself.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    I managed to resist coming over all school-marmish and pointing out that Julius Caesar did not conquer Britain [the conquest didn’t begin until 43 AD, under the Emperor Claudius! :-)

    Martin H

    Montmartre is a hill – indicated by ‘loftily’] in Paris, where a number of artists had their studios. Not terribly cryptic, I agree, but there was no other way to describe it. And I guess Brendan is, like Araucaria, a ‘Marmite’ setter – They’re both great favourites of mine!

    Mick H

    You’re right – we’ve seen the Bush clue fairly recently, which is why I’m annoyed at not seeing it before publishing!

  13. IanN14 says:

    I’m with Mick, here.
    I’ve never found the (Irish) setter tiresome…
    I think the “Irishness” of the name Brendan is enough of a clue to those who don’t know.
    And the spoonerism… Brilliant.

  14. Andrew says:

    Sorry, Miss, I meant “invasion” ;)

  15. IanN14 says:

    …and I’d rather have Marmite than Nutella any day.

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen. STORM was the last one I got, but didn’t see the wordplay, or at 7dn.

    Lovely puzzle, especially all the linked ones. My only niggle was 15dn. The fact that Montmartre is a hill didn’t seem enough to make the clue cryptic. But I’m not a great fan of cds anyway.

    That didn’t detract from the overall enjoyment though!

  17. liz says:

    Eileen — I haven’t got the paper yet, but I’m assuming the clue for 15dn is slightly different there than it is in the PDF, where it reads: ‘Where many Parisian painters are highly visible.’

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi Liz: sorry, I don’t know what I was thinking of – the paper version is the same!

  19. John Appleton says:

    Cheers Eileen, 23d has me stumped for ages too. I loved this one though, exactly the sort of puzzle that cause me to defect from the Times; they’d never allow this sort of fun!

  20. gurmukh says:

    I came (COMER) 13A
    I saw (SEER) 4D
    I conquered (CONQUERED) 25A
    Typical Brendan brilliance. Thanks!

  21. gurmukh says:

    Sorry for the typo …. It should read ‘CONQUEROR’

  22. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you for blogging, Eileen. Couldn’t get 23dn either, but now I feel in good company at least. Don’t normally get on too well with these cross-referenced puzzles, but I stuck at this one and really enjoyed it. You can sit back with a deep breath when you’ve finished and admire the construction and the themes. The spoonerism was priceless and the Caesar reference also excellent.

    Trivia (or since you’re in schoolmistress mode you’re probably going to tell me it’s trivium, so I’ll get the naughty step ready) for today is the sentence that contains all the spellings of the long ‘e’ sounds in our wonderfully phonetic language: ‘Did he believe that Caesar could see the people seize the seas?’

  23. Dave Ellison says:

    Enjoyed this today, almost done on the bus on the way in.

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen – I missed the reasoning for 7d and 1d. Am I being slow – I don’t see the KEYS in 1d – CSE? ?

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    Oh I see, it’s IS in the keys of C and E

  25. John says:

    Excellent crossword, with just one quibble. In darts at least, and I think archery as well, an “inner” is the bulls eye, i.e. the perfect shot, not “almost perfect”, which is an outer. At least it is where I come from.

  26. Eileen says:


    I’m not a toxophilite – the definiton I gave came from Chambers. I now see Collins gives ‘the red innermost ring on a target; a shot which hits this ring’. Confusing!

  27. sidey says:

    The inner is the ring round the bull [gold in archery] which is a circle. Similar in rifle and pistol shooting too.

  28. Richard says:

    Excellent. I do like Brendan’s crosswords.
    I’ve never heard of SERE, REATA or MISO SOUP, but that’s probably because of my polytechnic education. This would also explain why I didn’t work out that ‘at University’ = ‘UP’ – an archiac term from the days when England had only two universities and students were always referred to as undergraduates!

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hard work for the class dummy, had some questions but I eventually figured them. Too much need for gadgets again.

  30. Richard says:

    I forgot to mention – I notice that yesterday B stood for billion and today B is for bishop. I wonder what it will stand for tomorrow!

  31. Neil Walker says:

    Brilliant crossword. I don’t understand why “Person with a hobby who’s happy to see one” is BIRDWATCHER though.

  32. Duggie says:

    Am I blind? Where is the spoonerism indicator in the 22/23 clue? Surely the ‘hobby’ in the clue refers to the bird, hence the ‘birdwatcher’ being happy to see one, as they’re not exactly common.

  33. Neil Walker says:

    Duggie – the Spoonerism for 22/23 is included in the clue for 16

  34. Eileen says:

    Duggie – and Neil

    James spelled out the Spoonerism ‘word-botcher’ in comment 6 – but well-spotted re the hobby! [I’m afraid I was associating – but carefully not mentioning – Spooner [‘someone behaving amorously’ with the famous Mae West ‘happy to see me’ quotation!!]

  35. Duggie says:

    Thanks Neil. Goes to show that it’s not always necessary to read ALL the clue before entering the answer! I still think 22/23 works fine without help from elsewhere.

  36. JimboNWUK says:

    MONTMARTRE = “Where many Parisian painters are highly visible” is NOT a cryptic clue it’s simply a description/definition and belongs in the Coffe-time puzzle. Pants that is. Rest of it was OK albeit somewhat narcissistic.

  37. IanN14 says:

    Blimey, Eileen (@34)….
    What exactly were you thinking?

  38. walruss says:

    That I might expect to see from Rufus, where ‘highly’ means ‘up high’ instead of ‘very’. Ho ho. The hobby too is a bit like that, so some good and some not so good clues in this puzzle.

  39. Eileen says:


    Please ignore it – I’m highly [or deeply] embarrassed. :-(

  40. IanN14 says:

    Don’t worry Eileen,
    It won’t go any further.
    Your secret’s safe with me….

  41. Tom Hutton says:

    I would like to see the end of w=Bush. It is a delightful joke once but tedious with repetition. It is also not quite right. He was Dubya it is true but that was as much a reference to his assumed accent as anything else. I have never seen a written reference to him as W by itself. I can’t think of any occasion when w could be used as a stand in for Bush. Let’s applaud it and let it go.

    I enjoyed the crossword today.

  42. Jobs says:

    As ever brilliantly explained — there has been a great run of Brendans recently.

  43. Jim says:

    Spooning 22/23: BirdWatcher -> Ward Bitcher

  44. Jerb says:

    More like Wad Bircher I reckon (people spoon by sound alone…)

  45. Gnomethang says:

    I think mickH is correct. I have seen ‘Me and my dog (5,6)’ before.
    Great puzzle from Brendan today.

  46. Derek Lazenby says:

    I’m with those that solved 22/23 on it’s merits. 16 is not part of it’s solution, just an amusing reference. If that were not so it would not be possible to do the freestanding solve.

  47. Colin says:

    ‘Meso Soup’ stumped me – I was looking for a Japanese golf course… :o

    Other than that, all very satisfying!

  48. Rob says:

    Sorry, I can’t agree with either Jim (#43) or Jerb (#44) regarding the Spoonerism (and what a brilliant clue 16ac is by the way.)

    To me:

    ‘Bird’ rhymes with ‘Word’ and ‘Watcher’ rhymes with ‘Botcher’

    So ‘Word-botcher’ as a Spoonerism for ‘Bird-watcher’ seems ferfectly pine (groan – perhaps if I’d had more than mive finutes I’d have thought of bumthing setter!)

  49. Carolyn says:

    I got the bird watcher clue before I got the Spooner one, so it can’t have been that hard!

    I’m having a catch up tutorial. My current method of learning how to do the ruddy things is to attempt it, fill it in from the answer the next day, figure out how the answer is constructed from the clue and then come on here for further explanation when I can’t see the logic behind it. I’ve already put a comment on an Orlando clue from Tuesday; my ‘I still don’t get it’ questions for today are 7d and 22a.

    7d – I’m not complaining about the inner business, I just want to know how you can tell that you are only supposed to take the w from with. I’m getting used to firsts and lasts and all their permutations, but I can’t spot one here. Is it just convention?
    22a – Why does object = end?

    Cheers in advance for your help. It’s obviously working – I managed to complete Saturday’s! On my own, in less than a day. I’m probably more proud of that than the achievement warrants…

  50. Mick H says:

    Rob – never mind the other one, bumthing setter I like!

  51. IanN14 says:

    Yes, the birdwatcher clue is perfectly doable on its own, but when seen with the Spooner answer and 16ac. it becomes even cleverer.
    W for with is, as you say, just an old convention.
    And object and end both mean the same as aim (nounally).

  52. Alberich says:

    I’m obviously less intelligent than the rest of you here as I STILL don’t understand the BIRD WATCHER clue. I’d really appreciate an explanation in terms that a slow three-year-old could understand…

    I’ll probably get it just after pressing “submit”!

  53. Lanson says:

    Carolyn, w as an abbreviation for with, crops up quite often, Chambers lists it along with – watt weak week Welsh west wife winter women won(Korean currency) and tungsten, but not Bush!
    Congratulations on Saturday’s solve, you know you deserve it!
    Alberich, a person with a hobby is the definition, and a bird watcher would be happy to see a hobby – type of bird

  54. Bullfrog says:

    Alberich — it’s a sort of double definition of ‘hobby’, meaning a bird (a type of falcon) and a pastime. So ‘person with a hobby’= bird watcher, who would be glad to see a hobby.

    Incidentally, there was once a chap who invented a table football game, which he originally wanted to call ‘The Hobby’. When the patents office objected that this was too general, he took his inspiration from the Latin name for the hobby — Falco Subbuteo.

  55. brendan says:

    As I am Brendan (not Brendan) I always get a little childish pleasure from the narcissism! However, as Brendan is Brian (Greer), I did not realise he was really Irish until checking his profile on the Guardian crossword link now. Greer is not a surname in my neck of the woods, but out of idle curiosity I checked the 1911 census to discover that there were 2463 Greers recorded, mainly in the northern half of the country–nearly 40% in Antrim alone. Finished the crossword without understanding comer and not seeing the veni, vidi allusion.

  56. brendan says:

    Total and utter coincidence! I see that my comment number 55 was left at 8.55 and I was recently 55 having been born in, you guessed it . . .

  57. Shaker says:

    But Dubya was frequently W – the Clinton staff stole every W they could find as they left the White House …

  58. Alberich says:

    Thanks Lanson ansd Bullfrog – all now clear.

  59. Ian Stark says:

    Without wishing to beat the subject to death, the (so so) Oliver Stone movie was called ‘W’.

    I’m not totally against it’s continuing use. Makes a change from ‘with’ or ‘west’.

    I thought this was a fantastic puzzle with very fair clueing overall. I only had to confirm REATA was a real word in the dictionary (Chambers for iPhone – fantastic!) and I loved the Comer, Seer, Conquerer connection. Brendan is high up on my list of faves these days.

  60. Carolyn says:

    Thanks for your help. I really appreciate it. I’m 8 solves from finishing todays (Friday’s) so I’m going to look at the across answers to see if they can help me with the downs…

  61. Huw Powell says:

    “W” is a *very* common way to refer to the 43rd President, in the US anyway. If one used W as the subject of a sentence in the States, almost anyone would know who was being referred to.

    Of course the trick with a lot of these tricks is 1. not to use them too much and 2. to use the cryptic half of the trick (ie “bush”) in other ways often enough to keep us on our toes.

  62. Neil says:

    ‘Well Sandy Sam was a reata man with his gut line coiled up neat.
    He shakes her out and he builds him a loop and he caught the Devil’s hind feet.”

    From “The Ballad of Rusty Jiggs and Sandy Sam” (or “Tying Knots in the Devil’s Tail), written by Jimmy Driftwood (except as I recall he spelt it “riata”). Sung by many, and notably by Ramblin Jack Elliott, my hero!

    I did finish the puzzle, but didn’t get round to starting it ’til today. Fun!

  63. Brad says:

    Very tentative commment regarding 7d as I am a Yank and take on the order of days to complete these :^). I think the relationships are “with almost” = “w” and “perfect shot” = inner.

  64. Eileen says:

    Hi Brad -it’s nice to hear from you.

    I think your interpretation is the same as I gave in the blog. Any further discussion, I think, [it’s a long time ago!] was about whether the inner was the perfect shot or the one next to it.

    Since it’s a couple of weeks now since the puzzle, I don’t think anyone else is likely to respond, so it’s between you and me! Have you still a problem with this clue?

  65. Brad says:

    Hi Eileen – I had the comments/questions of Carolyn and John in mind, who (it seemed to me) were parsing the clue as “with” and “almost perfect shot”. I think your blog is correct and accommodates both readings.

    In fact, being two weeks old, I was surprised to see that my comment was read at all – Thanks!

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