Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,967 – Orlando

Posted by Andrew on March 25th, 2010


Good fun from Orlando today with a theme of famous Belgians, and a few references to Belgium in some of the clues as well. Sound and inventive clueing throughout, with some trickily-concealed defintiions and wordplay. There was a Famous Belgians puzzle from Paul just over a year ago which I also blogged, and which has (not surprisingly) a few answers in common with this one.

8. MAGRITTE GRIT in MATE. Belgian surrealist artist René Magritte.
9. HERGE HER + GENT less NT (= New testamen = books). Hergé was the creator of Tintin, so I don’t see why a question mark is needed here, unless it’s because Hergé is a pseudonym.
10. FAME F[landers] A[chieve] + ME. Just to be thematic, Flanders is (roughly) part of Belgium.
11. LOADED DICE Anagram of L[ots] O[f] A[ctors] + DECIDED
12. TINTIN TINT (colour) IN
14. APOPLEXY POP in ALEX + [jul]Y
15. SIMENON EN (“in” in French) in SIMON. Georges Simenon, author of the Maigret detective stories.
17. REDOUBT RE (Royal Engineers) + DOUBT
20. APPEASER Homophone (sorry, Eileen) of A PISA
22. FAN OUT FAN (supported) + OUT
24. BLOT B[elgian] + LOT. “Dry piece of writing” is a nicely devious definition.
26. TUCKED IN Double definition
2. ERSE Hidden in flandERS Evidently
3. STOLEN LOST* + E + N (points), with “Hot” as the definition.
4. GET AWAY GET (=dig = understand) + A WAY
5. THRENODE (THE END OR)* I knew the word threnody, but not this variation.
7. MERCKX MERC[edes] + KX. I presumed this refered to Eddy Merckx, but his son Axel was also a professional cyclist.
18. BAUDOUIN AU (gold) for E in BEDOUIN. King of Belgium from 1930 to 1993.
19. PRELATE P (“hood” of Priest) + RELATE
21. POIROT RIO in TOP, all reversed. Agatha Christie’s Belgian detective.
22. FRANCK C in FRANCK. César Franck, Belgian composer.
24. BREL BR[uss]EL[s]. A Belgian singer to finish off.

25 Responses to “Guardian 24,967 – Orlando”

  1. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew.

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, as I did the Paul, which I remember well.
    I particularly liked 11,14,15 and 22ac and 5dn [like you, I’m more familiar with ‘threnody’] and laughed out loud at ‘one has a butcher’s’ in 16dn.

    [Re 20ac: in case you missed it, on 13th March, I promised not to mention [‘dodgy’] homophones again – and I haven’t.] :-)

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks Andrew. Could you please help me out on the parsing of 24dn. The answer was obvious enough but I can’t make the “two couples” out.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. Struggled in the SE corner despite recalling the ‘famous Belgians’ in the puzzle you refer to. Good clues for me were 11 and 23a, and 16 and 18d. Not so happy with 10a.

  4. Andrew says:

    NeilW – it’s just that BR and EL are consecutive pairs (= couples) of letters in BRussELs.

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Andrew. I’m sure you’re right but I can’t say I like it much though!

  6. Lanson says:

    Ah, I took 24d to be Brussels without ‘us’, a couple and ‘ss’ a couple of s’s !

  7. Martin H says:

    A nice crossword from Orlando; easy can be enjoyable. 16, 23, 26 particularly pleasing.

    Thanks for the neat blog Andrew, although I (marginally) prefer Lanson’s reading of 24d – neither makes it a really satisfactory clue. From your lack of surprise that Paul’s earlier Belgium-themed crossword and this one had a number of answers in common, I gather you’ve fallen for the myth that there are few famous Belgians. According to the Famous Belgians website, there are currently 263, although most are not household names in this country. Worth a look, and one entry certainly surprised me.

  8. Andrew says:

    Martin – I didn’t mean to imply a lack of famous Belgians, though I agree my comment could be taken that way. As I said in my blog of the Paul puzzle, “for its size Belgium in fact does pretty well.” What I was really trying to say was that setters would be likely to overlap in the names they choose, on grounds of familiarity to solvers and suitability for clueing.

    ( I guess Audrey Hepburn was your surprise entry!)

  9. Martin H says:

    Yes indeed – although no doubt the Hollywood buffs among us knew that one.

    Mind you, doesn’t ‘familiarity to solvers’ say something about our common perception of Belgians? (I’m not Belgian, by the way.)

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Finally finished one this week – rah! Seems like I’ve been getting worse rather than better recently. Took me some time, but enjoyable and the theme helped. Used to work in Belgium, although it was the friendliness, the beer and the Brussels restaurants that left a lasting impression rather than their famous compatriots (no slur intended).

    Thought all the theme-related clues were very cleverly put together. But not sure about what ‘writing’ contributes in 5dn – presume ‘writing about’ is just the anagrind and it makes the surface better?

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. This was good fun! We lived in Brussels for a short while on a street named after 18dn…I did need the famous Belgians website to get 7dn however.

    Like others, I wasn’t so keen on the wordplay for 24dn but otherwise really enjoyed this.

  12. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    An enjoyable crossword from Orlando.

    I didn’t get 5 as I’ve never heard of the word and I didn’t get 24ac as I failed to decode “Dry piece of writing”.

    I loved 16dn. As you haven’t mentioned it, and in case others don’t know, ‘butchers’ is cockney rhyming slang for ‘look’ as in ‘butcher’s hook’ rhymes with ‘look’.

    I can’t help but comment that it is interesting to compare people’s reaction to this crossword (with its unannounced theme) with the reaction to last Thursday’s Puck (with its cryptically announced theme). I have no problem with Belgians as a theme, but have to ask how many people under a certain age would ever have heard of Merckx, Brel, Herge, or Magritte? Where were Kim Clijsters, Justine Henin, & Jean-Claude Van Damme?
    To me, most of these Belgians were more osbscure names than those of Puck’s Rugby clubs…..

  13. Mr. Jim says:

    Well, I got slightly more than half the clues today, together with some workmates. We didn’t know many of the belgians, but they were all fairly clued. We particularly liked the &lits of CINDERELLA and PRELATE.

    Cheers to Orlando and Andrew for explaining.

  14. Bullfrog says:

    A nice, not too challenging puzzle with some pleasant surfaces — although my insertion of Threnody at 5 gave me a problem with 17 for a while. Karmic retribution for my smugness at knowing the word in the first place!

  15. William says:

    Thanks Andrew for decoding this one. Failed on BLOT but don’t mind when there’s a nice groan moment of realisation – very smooth clueing, I thought.

    I seem to be the only thickie who needs HARA KIRI parsing for me. I presume the drink is KIR but how does the rest of the clue work, please?

    Top crossword, Orlando.

  16. Andrew says:

    William – it’s RAH (cheer) “up”, i.e. reversed, + A + KIR (drink, as you surmised) + I (one), and HARA-KIRI is “ritual departure”.

  17. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Apart from 5 I don’t think there was any needless obscurity, so found this a mainly pleasant jaunt, even if I didn’t get 20 or 21.
    Thanks for explaining them.

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:

    William @ no 15 – I was trying to be clever at no 10 (and clearly failing) with the rah! comment – but it also took me a while to see what was going on in 1dn.

    But as I have discovered, there’s no such thing as a thickie question on this blog – someone out there in cyberspace will always be willing and able to help you.

  19. muck says:

    Thanks Orlando for a great puzzle, and thanks Andrew for the blog.
    Belgium is a much underrated country, despite the flemish and french speakers hating each other.
    I once left my laptop bag in a motorway service carpark just S of Brussels: a kind Belgian found it and couriered it back to me!

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    When I saw the Belgian theme, I, like you, Andrew [thank you for the blog), immediately had to think of that other one a year ago].
    To be honest, it made the crossword less exciting for me, because they were all there: BREL, MAGRITTE, SIMENON, POIROT, HERGE … And, of course, Belgians are/were my geographical neighbours, so Eddy MERCKX is very familiar (King of the Tour de France, although the French have a different view on that, as probably has Lance Armstrong), Cesar FRANCK is the obvious ‘composer’ and BAUDOUIN did ring many bells (although the Flemish called him Boudewijn (which in the UK would be Baldwin).

    As this theme is so specific (with such a limited database for a cryptic like this) and Paul did this before, I found it a bit odd that Orlando made this choice today.

    Despite all this, it wasn’t an extremely quick solve.
    And despite all this, there was a lot to admire.
    I’ve read all the posts (until #19) and 9 clues were mentioned as being nice.
    With me adding another 3, which means 12 out of 28 clues were hugely appreciated.
    That’s not bad!

    The ones I would like to add are 1d (HARA KIRI) [a typical example of Orlando’s gift of writing fantastic surfaces, as there are 11ac, 15ac and 16d], 3d (STOLEN) [lovely construction, concise, but everything’s there] and 7d (MERCKX) [with the fine use of ‘King’s Cross’, another feature of this setter].

    On the minus side, I wasn’t happy with 10ac (FAME), especially as there was no indicator to tell me in which order I should combine FA and ME.
    I didn’t like the surface of 9ac (HERGE) either, had a feeling that Orlando could have made more of it [BTW: Gent is the Flemish name for the town Ghent] – but then, there is no point in criticising a setter who week in week out opens a tin can full of cryptic miracles [Dear Friends, try some Cincinnus in the FT, too – there is hardly any response to these crosswords, which is a shame, I think].

    So, a nice puzzle, not completely up to Orlando’s standards (I found, for example, 4d (GET AWAY) and 22ac (FAN OUT) not so very good), but still.
    And you can’t fault him (well, hardly) on precision.

    PS, Andrew, in your blog you say Flanders is ‘roughly’ a part of Belgium. I don’t get that. There are two provinces called like that (East F and West F). Nowadays, basically, Flanders stands for the Dutch speaking part of the country (as opposed to Wallonia).

  21. don says:

    Failed on 24 down, my last one, so stuck in ‘beer’, which is mainly what I think about when I think of Belgium – and bags of chips with mayonnaise!

    King of Belgium from 1930 to 1993 – 63 years, is that right?

  22. Sil van den Hoek says:

    don (#21), Boudewijn (as I call him, and his real name) was born in 1930, so passed away rather young (62 years old), in Spain (he was married to Queen Fabiola – who was Spanish).
    Boudewijn was King of Belgium from 1951 (hey, that’s the year I was born) until his death.

  23. don says:

    Thanks, Sil. Just looked him up on Wikipedia and there’s a debate raging over his name, with some wanting to refer to him as King Baldwin!

  24. Daniel Miller says:

    But no Marouane Fellaini! :) Interesting clue that might have been

  25. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Andrew

    Just to set the record straight, Audrey Hepburn was born in Brussels but her dad was British and her ma was Dutch.

    Moreover, her birth was registered at the British Consulate.

    Both my children were born in the Netherlands but they are 100% British.

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