Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,973 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on April 1st, 2010


I was rather apprehensive at being down to blog today, especially when I saw Paul’s name on the puzzle. After completing the grid, I stared at it but, apart from CLOT leaping out at me in 10ac, I could see no reference to the date. [I’m waiting to be told of something I’ve missed …]
However, that’s not to say that Paul didn’t have me almost fooled in a couple of cases, until the penny dropped.


1   PIRACY: I[nland] R[evenue] [old tax men] in PACY [quick]
4   TAILOR:  anagram of RIALTO [11ac.]
9   VERY:  double definition
10  CLOTHES PEG:  THESP[ian] + [lac]E in CLOG [shoe]
11  RIALTO: RIAL [currency of Iran] + TO: the oldest bridge over the Grand Canal, taking its name from the mediaeval and Renaissance business centre of Venice, where Shylock had his stall.
12 HISPANIC:  the first of four of this kind of contrasting clue: her composure but HIS PANIC
13  BREAKDOWN:  BREAK [opportunity] + DOWN [discouraged] – not a very Pauline clue
15  IMAM: this second clue of the four was the first I saw – but the least successful, I thought, as the surface makes little sense: you’re PM but I’M AM
16  WAIT:  double definition
17  ROCHESTER:  anagram of HER ESCORT: lovely & lit for Jane Eyre’s employer and eventual husband
21  INUNDATE: no. 3: you monk but I NUN + DATE [time]
22  PLIERS: sounds like ‘players’ in Australian pronunciation. [One for Monica, on both counts! :-) ]
24  ROGER MOORE:  ROGER [‘understood’ in signalling and radio-communication] + M + OO + RE [chemical symbol for Rhenium  – 7dn].  Roger Moore played James Bond in seven films. I loved this – a superbly-constructed clue, with a brilliant surface!
25,18 AS IT HAPPENS:  a very neat double definition
26 EXTORT:  EX [old + TORT[e]
27  ASKING: SKIN [covering] in AG [silver]:  ‘Every cloud has a silver lining.’  I had to think about this for a minute or two! On second thoughts, surely a lining goes on the inside? Then again, we talk of crowds ‘lining the route’ …


1   PREMIER:  R.E.M. [group – 1980s American rock band] in PIER [seaside feature]
ROYAL:  ROY + AL: AS KING [27dn separated]
3   CUCKOLD:  [d]UCK in COLD [biting]: I smiled at the ‘man cheated on’ definition – and the fact that we had a tailless bird here, too.
5   AGHAST:  H[ot] in AGAS [old {?} ovens] + T[emperature]
6   LAS PALMAS:  reversal of LAPS [drinks] in LAMAS [priests]
RHENIUM: NI [chemical symbol for nickel] in RHEUM [cold]
8   GO THE WHOLE HOG : GOT + HEW [cut] + HOLE [gash] + HOG [swine]
14  ALIGNMENT : anagram of LAMENTING
16  WINSOME:  no.4: lose many but WIN SOME
19  EARNING:  [l]EARNING – I seem to have seen variations of this more than once recently.
20  HAMMER:  reference to the Communist emblems of the hammer and sickle,  symbolically representing the unity between industrial and agricultural workers.
23  IMARI:  I MAR I: I hadn’t heard of this Japanese porcelain but the wordplay couldn’t be clearer.

33 Responses to “Guardian 24,973 / Paul”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen, especially for explaining two that I got but puzzled over: the last letters of 24a and the silver lining of 27a. Some splendid clues, among them 22a (the Afferbeck Lauder-ish ‘Spin plier nuppagennerbit’) and 3d. The but-dash ones were fun but easy, to make up for some harder ones. I toyed with regal as well as royal for two boys as king. Paul likes Thesp (10a) – he used it a year ago in Guardian 24,645 which also had ‘aghast’ (it was 5d then, too).

  2. Ian says:

    Good morning Eileen and thanks for the explanation on 27ac.

    I too was looking for some AFD mischief!

    Found it rather hard to get into at first but found solace, like molonglo, in the dashed clues. 10ac was a cracker as was 24ac to arrive at Roger Moore.

    My only carp was the homophone at 22ac. I’d venture it sounds more South African than Aussie.

    Solving time 70′

  3. Maskelyne says:

    I really enjoyed this. It made me smile. Also took a while for the penny to drop on the dashed clues, but when it did I wanted more. Simple, but novel. And yes, I agree with Eileen – 24a was superb.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen. Another great one from Paul, raising lots of smiles.

    I don’t agree with you about the surface of 15ac: I thought it was rather good – it seems to suggest Prime Minister, linking nicely to “religious leader”, as opposed to the AM/PM sense of the cryptic reading.

  5. Grumpy Andrew says:

    I glanced here before getting to the newsagents, saw that the setter was Paul and bought the Telegraph instead.
    Very glad I did too, I managed all but two solutions on my morning commute and arrived at work for once feeling elated, rather than the usual feeling of glum resignation I’m getting from the Guardian.
    Heartily recommend the Telegraph today because the crossword has no theme, no crappy homophones, no shoddy spoonerisms, no words so obscure that they effectively don’t exist (with the exception of “yestereve”, assuming that’s the right answer), no clues that rely on answers to other clues that I can’t get. In short, no self-indulgent tortuous obscurity. Which didn’t make it unimaginative. There was, for instance, this: CHHHCHHOH – hic (7).
    Yours not feeling grumpy in the least.

  6. jvh says:

    Thanks Eileen. In 27A, surely the silver lining seen on a cloud is on the outside.

  7. Mick Hodgkin says:

    Good point about the cloud, jvh – ‘lining’ always causes anguish about whether it should be inside or outside, but in this case it’s unequivocal.
    I enjoyed this – the clutch of ‘xy, but z_’ clues felt a bit like a Victorian parlour game or something, but were satisfying.

  8. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and for clearing up some of the wordplay that I missed, 24ac included. I really enjoyed the ‘but-dash’ clues. I had JUST at 9ac for a while which held me up in that corner. Also spent time looking for an April Fool reference…

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Liz

    I pondered on JUST for a minute or two, too.

    jvh and Mick H

    Perhaps I thought too deeply about the linings – I’m relieved that I don’t appear to have missed any April tomfoolery, at any rate!

    Thinking about it yet again, though, I could argue that the silver lining is underneath the cloud – but I won’t. I thought it was a great clue, anyway, and it’s just an excuse to show this nice picture:

  10. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen.
    Some nicely constructed clues, I thought, and some easy anagrams.
    The homophone in 22ac didn’t work for me, I’m afraid.
    I’d never heard of Rhenium (though I worked out the solution) so did not know that it’s symbol is RE for the purposes of 24.
    I don’t understand how I was supposed to know to drop the ‘ian’ from ‘Thespian’ in 10.
    I can’t recall ever seeing ‘t’ as an abbreviation of temperature before, as in 5.

  11. Richard says:

    Oops. Please forgive my incorrect use of the apostrophe in my fourth sentence. I hang my head in shame….

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Richard

    I’d never heard of RHENIUM either but got it from the checking letters and wordplay. [It sounded feasible – discovered in Germany, apparently.] As for its symbol, that was a sudden hunch, when I was searching for an explanation of RE – a real aha moment when I found it in Chambers!

    It seems I perhaps shouldn’t have indicated THESP as an abbreviation [though it obviously is] as Chambers gives it as a word in its own right. As molonglo points out, Paul seems rather fond of it.

    I have seen T = temperature before but not nearly so often as ‘time’.

  13. Mr. Jim says:

    A thoroughly enjoyable crossword from paul. Thanks to Eileen for explaining the finer points. My only quibble is that the clue for VERY was a bit vague – I think it could have clued JUST or THUS, and perhaps other words too. The “contradiction” clues were fun, although after solving the first one the others were all obvious.

    Re: Grumpy Andrew #5 – I think that can reasonably clue two words of that length. For me, that sort of clue is just

    CHHHCFBrCl – zzzz… (9).

  14. Mr. Jim says:

    Oops! It’s CFFFCHBrCl.

  15. Tokyo Colin says:

    My first post. For Richard – in scientific notation “t”is usually time but temperature is “T” as in PV=nRT, the gas equation. The distinction of course is lost in a crossword but T for temperature is certainly valid.

    I had SLEDGE (hammer) for 22A at first but could soon see that it would have to be PLIERS but as an Australian did not make the connection until much later and now feel insulted!

    Paul is my favourite Guardian setter. Always a challenge but I (nearly) always succeed.

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi Colin

    Welcome! Sorry that your first post should be on a puzzle that was less than polite to you – since it’s Paul, you’ll perhaps forgive him! :-)

  17. John says:

    Just to be pedantic, they’re not “but dashes”, but “but underscores”. Not that it makes them less gettable.
    And I too question “exact” = VERY. “Very” describes a high degree of something, but the degree is indefinite, thus it can’t mean exact.
    A refreshing and fair challenge after yesterday.

  18. John says:

    As soon as I pressed send I thought of the very thing.

  19. Eileen says:


    VERY also means ‘absolutely, quite, truly, eg ‘the very same’. I took the ‘so’ to be the ‘high degree’ meaning, eg, ‘this is so good’

  20. Eileen says:

    Sorry John!

  21. Jobs says:

    I haven’t failed quite so spectacularly in a while. Paul 1 Jobs 0.
    Many thanks Eileen for your explanations. At least I’ve gained a new word today (Imari).

  22. Daniel Miller says:

    Excellent.. another slow burner that you get once you swing into Paul’s way of thinking.

    Loved the Cricketer one.

    As for Roger Moore.. It makes sense once you crack 7 down (RE) – but I liked my first answer for it>..

    Understood (Ken) – To (go before) = Token
    M – 007 — M-OO-SE(ven)…

    Token Moose (being, perhaps.. (contrived) someone who might hide away in the woods (as Moose do and Spies presumably ought to!) – oh well, kind of realised this was a step too far and had a rethink!

  23. Speckled Jim says:

    Mr. Jim, does your clue refer to “halothane” or “fluothane” (its trademark)? Or more correctly 2-bromo-2-chloro-1,1,1-trifluoroethane?

    Perhaps crossword setters should steer clear of chemistry altogether!

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    Didn’t quite get there in the end. Like Liz, I had a tentative JUST at 7a for a while, and IMAN at 15a (brian still not recovered from cold bug), both of which hindered considerably. Also had REGAL at 2d, which put paid to a finish at 7ac.

    No one else seems to have commented thus, but I found the

  25. Dave Ellison says:

    second (top) half hard today. Otherwise an enjoyable Paul.

    (In case you are wondering, I must have hit a control key while typing – I do wish we could withdraw a post)

  26. don says:

    I was playing with Moose as the only thing that would fit in 24 across, SE for seven seeming as legitimate as THESP for thespian, although the cognoscenti would hammer all but the blessed few, which seems to include Paul, for arbitrarily truncating a word, in this case, without any indication of curtailment.

    Regarding temperature, most abbreviations are arbitrary, but the signs, symbols and abbreviations used in the SI system are agreed internationally and temperature, being a fundamental quantity, has the agreed symbol T. It’s likee saying one hadn’t heard of the author of Hamlet – Lord Byron, wasn’t it?.

  27. IanN14 says:

    I don’t think you’re right about Lord Byron writing Hamlet,
    Turns out it was some French bloke

  28. Mr Beaver says:

    I’d just like to say I thought this an example of the ideal crossword – fairly hard, but not too hard (for me!), fair and above all, plenty of laughs, or at least groans…
    I loved all the ‘but _’s, the link between 2d and 27a was very nice, and 22a was extremely groan-worthy. I thought Eileen might have more to say about this outrageous homophone… (Colin – I thought of ‘sledge’ too, but you have to admit PLIERS sounds like Players for at least some Australians !)

  29. stiofain says:

    I too was looking out for an April fool joke but alas none to be had. Great crossword but sadly a bit lacking in Paulite ( Paulish , Paulian, Pauline? )smut and scatology Im particularly disappointed that the talentless whiney band REM werent somehow associated with being the middle letters in excrement.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Today the mini-theme was cracked within seconds, starting off with IMAM (unlike Eileen, we liked it – this time not the usual “I am a Muslim leader”, even though basically the same device was used).
    My PinC: “Why does he make it so easy?”
    Referring, firstly, to these “but___” clues which were nice (except 21ac), but indeed too simple.
    [but when, tonight, I was thinking of being the cleverest boy in class and find another one giving a solution meaning ‘easy’ (or an equivalent of that), it wasn’t that easy, I can tell you]
    And secondly, there were too many giveaway clues, like 20d (HAMMER), 16ac (WAIT) and even 24ac (ROGER MOORE) and 8d (THATLONGONE).

    But how wrong she was.
    It took quite a while to fill the rest of the grid, 10ac and 17ac being the key clues.
    Both of them being very very good, especially ROCHESTER.

    Whether South African or Australian or another –an, we enjoyed PLIERS.
    Paul “ten voeten uit”.
    Just as 27ac (ASKING) shows us that he ‘can take more liberties’/’is more original’* than mainstream setters – we liked it.

    Like some of you, we had REGAL for 2d too, only to find out that 9ac would be VERY hard to find.
    The crossing E came from R.E.M., a ‘group’ (some people might criticise this definition, though apparently not today) that my PinC had never heard of. But in the World of (Pop)Music an extremely familiar name – I wouldn’t call them an 80’s band, they made their first record in 1983, and were miles away from Duran Duran and the likes, and had their major hit in 1991 with “Losing My Religion” (rightback’s Music of the Day, I guess).
    [stiofain, don’t agree with you at all :)]

    This post is another long one from Cambridge.
    I apologise if I’m boring, especially while I have nothing to add to all the others.
    But one can also say: we have to talk about sómething, because Paul is a setter that you can hardly fault on grammar & precision.

    There’s at least one who has a different view on his crosswords: Grumpy Andrew.
    After reading his #5, I think he should stop now.
    Either it’s a gimmick (wanting to criticise for the sake of being critical – but then, for me, the fun’s over) or he should try to find another platform, one that matches his ideas about ‘good’ crosswords.
    Or, even better:
    find out where he really stands, and take part in the survey of the University of Buckingham:

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re ‘grammar and precision’- I can be faulted …
    So, “because Paul is a setter that you can hardly BE FAULTED on grammar & precision.”

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    My God, talking about G&P, how embarrassing :(.
    Wish the word ‘you’ wouldn’t exist :).

  33. GMJH says:

    ‘asking to be separated’ was marvellous. A quite wonderful piece of lateral thinking. It’s the sort of clue you can ask people during journeys etc to while away a nice piece of puzzle time.

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