Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,986 – Brendan

Posted by Andrew on April 16th, 2010


My limited knowledge of a certain group of people and the works of one its members was exercised by Brendan today in a typically clever and enjoyable puzzle, with just one slight weakness at 2dn. I’ve marked the thematic answers with an asterisk below, but there may well be other references that I’ve missed.

8,9. * VIRGINIA WOOLF VIRGINA (state) + WOOLF (sounds like “wolf”). A leading member of the Bloomsbury Group.
10. * EMMY E.M (Forster – writer, and “peripheral” member of the Bloomsbury Group, according to Wikipedia) + MY (“this writer’s”)
15,19. * A ROOM OF ONE’S OWN Double defintion – title of an essay by Virginia Woolf
17. SEXISTS EXIST in S.S. (“on board” often means this; on a ship is “in” an “S.S.”). The glass ceiling is a supposed unstated and invisible barrier to women’s progress in business etc.
20. SLIM DOWN MILD* in SOWN (broadcast)
22. * KEYNES KEY NES[S]. John Maynard Keynes was a member of the Bloomsbury Group
23. STABILISER I in (A BIT LESS)* + R &lit. Very nice!
24. BRAY R in BAY
25. OGRES Hidden in prOGRESsives
26. WEEKLIES WEE (short) + [boo]K + LIES (is placed)
1. DIAMETER I AM (“the writer is”) in DETER. I spent a while trying to justihy ME in DIATER here…
2. UGLY Double definition (rather a weak one, I think)
3. KNOTTY Hidden in worK NOT Typically. It took me ages to spot this, partly because it went across a line break in the clue.
4,24. * VANESSA BELL V (see) AN ESSA[y] + BELL (call, as in “give me a bell”). Artist of the Bloomsbury Group.
5. TWO HORSE Double definition, referring to the Citroen 2CV or”deux chevaux”.
13. * BLOOMSBURY BLOOMS + BURY (put in ground)
16. ODORLESS (OLD ROSES)*. “In New York” indicates the American spelling.
18. * THE WAVES Double definition – a novel by Virginia Woolf and an alternative power source..
21,14. * LYTTON STRACHEY (TRY ACT HONESTLY)*. Writer and member of the Bloomsbury Group

36 Responses to “Guardian 24,986 – Brendan”

  1. Ian says:

    Well done Andrew. I cannot see anymore than those asterisked.

    For once Brendan provides solvers with a much easier puzzle with a theme that must have been recognazable to the average Guardian reader very quickly. I was even solving this with a Penguin espresso mug designed by Edward Young with the Woolf essay emblazoned on it.

    The hiddens were cleverly hidden and all the rest were ideally put together (apart from 2dn – the 2nd of the dd’s was indeed weak) for a rapid finish of 22′.

    Very enjoyable!

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Andrew.

    A lovely puzzle – favourite clues: 17, 23, 24 ac and 3, 21,14 dn.

    I couldn’t see any more references, either, but you just never know with Brendan!

  3. Tokyo Colin says:

    This one defeated me I am afraid. Shows up the limits to my knowledge – I got Keynes, Lytton Strachey and Virginia Woolf and even Bloomsbury but never made the connection. Not your average Guardian reader I suppose.

  4. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Andrew – it cleared up a couple of questions for me.

    I regarded the (excellent!) 17 across as being part of the theme as well, since “A Room Of One’s Own” is very much about breaking through the glass ceiling in literature.

    Another brilliant puzzle from Brendan, I thought – 23a (STABILISER) was my other favourite.

  5. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I enjoyed this very much and found it relatively easy for a Brendan, but the theme is very familiar to me. 15,19 was my route in.

    I agree that UGLY is weak, but the rest of the clues were really good. 3dn was incredibly well hidden! My favourite was 17ac. I’m sure it wasn’t intentional but I think it’s funny that the middle line of the grid reads ‘A ROOM OF SEXISTS’.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, this was very enjoyable and, as it contained no obscure words, it was solveable offline – as I prefer them.

    Well done, Brendan, more of the same please.

  7. Andrew says:

    Liz – I didn’t notice the room of sexists, but now you mention it, underneath it is “SLIM DOWN KEYNES”. An appeal to the parties in the election, maybe?

  8. sidey says:

    “as it contained no obscure words”

    What about COMPACTIFY? I don’t believe it exists apart from in GWB’s vocabulary ;^)

  9. Bryan says:

    Sidey @8

    My case rests.

  10. rrc says:

    At least the theme became evident very quickly in this crossword!

  11. Another Andrew says:

    Only four left today (11ac, 17ac, 3dn, 6dn) mainly because, having read the last blog for Brendan, I was at least looking for a theme this time. As I know nothing about the Bloomsbury Group I had to cheat a bit on Wikipedia.

    But I really enjoyed it, even if I had to rely on Andrew’s blog (thanks!) to explain some of the ones I got, and most of the ones I didn’t.

    I think 3dn is my favourite as I was totally fooled by it.

  12. Bill Taylor says:

    Interesting but disappointingly easy. I got A ROOM OF ONES OWN first and then went looking for VIRGINIA WOOLF. It all fell into place very quickly after that, though 17a stumped me for a while. That was a genuine “ah-ha!” moment and a great clue.

    Re 16d: Is using American spellings legitimate?

  13. Martin H says:

    Excellent puzzle, which I found harder than some of you, even after twigging the theme. Nice use of ‘initially’ in 3, and 10 and 23 also particularly good.
    Bill @12, I think American spellings are acceptable if they are flagged up as such, as here.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    Thanks, Martin. I was curious because I don’t recall seeing it before. But fair enough.

    I thought, incidentally, that VIRGINIA WOOLF was very weakly clued.

  15. Mr. Jim says:

    Re: Bryan #9

    Mathematical “compactification” is indeed a word, but it doesn’t correspond with the definition if Brendan’s using that. A mathematical object will typically be “larger” after compactification, whereas the definition was all about squashing, so presumably refers to real-world objects.

    thanks to Andrew for clearing up a few things – I haven’t come across the s…s = “on board” device before, and I’m not sure I like it.

    Also thanks to Brendan as ever – not knowing about the 2CV, I thought it might be a tichy reference to the fact that some Citroens don’t have very much power (perhaps only two horsepower!)

  16. Uncle Yap says:

    Re-16D, isn’t it a remarkable co-incidence that the FT by Viking today also featured
    Old fashion house hasn’t a single perfume in North America (4)

    Thanks Andrew for the very comprehensive blog

  17. Jim says:

    Colin (#3), you are not alone, it would seem by Ian (#1)’s definition, I am not an average Guardian reader either. I found this very tough indeed, and I just did not get the Bloomsbury connection at all. Thanks for the blog Andrew, I certainly learnt a lot about The Bloomsbury Group after seeing the answers (and explanations) here :)


  18. JimboNWUK says:

    Bloomsbury Schloomsbury ….. once again a puzzle aimed at the public school set…. some of us “typical Guardian readers” are Northern working class and proud of it so all the references to an “upper class writers exclusive” are lost on us (with no regrets)… give us PLAIN ENGLISH WORDS….NOT blimmin names of upper-class twonks that wrote a few obscurely-titled books and the titles of the same…. Grumpy Andrew where are you!!!

    The only saving grace was STABILISER which was a very clever mix of anagrind and &lit.

  19. Tokyo Colin says:

    JimboNWUK, I didn’t get the Bloomsbury theme and I didn’t go to public school. (Well I did but you wouldn’t call it that.) But I don’t blame anyone but myself for not picking up on the theme. We each have our areas of knowledge and expertise, some of it acquired during our school days, but I would assume for most people contributing here, far more that we have elected to seek out as freethinking adults. I was smug a few days ago when others grumbled about HIGGS BOSON or STRATONIC, both well within my domain. Cryptic Crosswords are aimed at people who enjoy words and if you have been around a while you must know lots of them. Your turn will come.

  20. Jim says:

    I agree with Colin, and had the exact same feeling with HIGGS BOSON. A lovely part of the whole crossword experience is learning new words and ‘stuff’ – The Blooomsbury Group today being a prime example for me of the latter.

    I have to say that the comment about the ‘average Guardian reader’ got my back up a little, I found it a little superior and mug. As Colin put it, we all have our individual areas of general knowledge and expertise.

    Cheers, Jim.

  21. Bill Taylor says:

    I’m northern working class, too, and was kicked out of school with two O-Levels when I was 16. That’s where my formal education ended. And, except when I’m visiting England, I’m not a Guardian-reader at all, average or otherwise. Still, I know enough about Bloomsbury (and Higgs Boson) to get me through a crossword. My overall area of knowledge is a mile wide and an inch deep — pretty much perfect for solving cryptics — but when I can’t finish one, I don’t blame the setter for not choosing simpler words.

  22. Martin H says:

    I’m with Colin and Jim – Jimbo, come off your low horse. What’s a ‘plain English word’ anyway?

  23. DavidM says:

    Hello – this is a sort of unlurk [first posting on the publication day – I’m usually several days behind]. Whatever – thanks to all for much entertainment and education over the last few months. Sometimes I think I’ve improved, but not today.

    I worked out 7 down from the check letters, but I don’t understand the wordplay. Is it a part anagram of the pronunciation of FT? If so, I fear I’d never work that out directly. :-(

    I also struggle with the concept of spelling words the American way, flagged by “New York” !!



  24. Richard - Strasbourg says:

    Somewhat late as I did it after coming home from work. I’m really beginning to look forward to anything by Brendan and this didn’t disappoint. I’m kicking myself over sexists, the only one I gave up on, especially after seeing the s…..s construction, but yes a good clue. Also thanks to all the bloggers. Keep it up. Retirement approaches so hope to get in earlier in the not too distant future. Just a little afterthought – I am glad the Guardian contributors don’t tell us how long they took, which is my only slight objection to the otherwise excellent Times site. After struggling for some time, I don’t need my nose to be so put out of joint!

  25. jackahuahua says:

    are you the same jimboNWUK who didnt care for”filth” as areference to police

  26. Paul (not Paul) says:

    If the perfect knowledge for cryptics is a mile wide and an inch deep (#21), then I fear mine goes a mere 2 cm down. I always seem to be lacking a piece of the jigsaw. today it was Vanessa Bell and The Waves.

    And I would argue that neither were gettable easily from wordplay. Why does see = V, please. And whilst I’d got waves I was spending fruitless time searching my mile wide knowledge for another form of wave power.

    And for what its worth, compactify is an obscure word in my book…as witnessed by the red underlining in my browser’s spell checker.

  27. Bill Taylor says:

    V is short for the Latin “vide,” which the Shorter Oxford defines as “verb see; consult (used as an instruction in a text to refer the reader elsewhere)”

    Compactify is indeed an obscure word. I’d never come across it. But it was straightforward enough to figure out.

  28. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Vene vide comprende.

    I had compacti_y and still couldn’t get the last letter. Somedays it won’t come!

  29. Brendan says:

    I am puzzled by the comments about “compactify”. Granted that in trying to accommodate a theme I may have recourse to more obscure words, I apply a range of criteria, including dictionary coverage and whether the meaning of the word is clear from its construction (as in this case – see Bill’s comment at #27).

    Likewise, in the service of the theme, I don’t think it’s a particularly major offence to use American spelling as long as it is clearly flagged.

    “Compactify” is in my (old) Chambers as a straightforward derivation from “compact” and in my (new) Collins as “to make compact”, with the specific mathematical meaning qualified by “esp.”

  30. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Brendan, for nn excellent puzzle and also for putting in an appearance.

    One thing that is for sure is that there’s no pleasing everybody but, most importantly, you did please me.

  31. xanthomam says:

    Brendan, a word of advice: NEVER explain, NEVER excuse. There’s no clear way of being obscure.

  32. Daniel Miller says:

    Got the better of me on about 6. So, well done to anyone who completed this. Insufficient knowledge of The Bloomsbury Group didn’t help for “Vanessa Bell and The Waves” – can’t quite remember any of their hits :)

  33. Martin H says:

    DavidM @23 – the clue at 16d gives us the word as it would be ‘in New York’. It’s not uncommon to clue, say, a French word as ‘in Paris’. (‘NY’ is often clued by ‘New York’, so this was also a neat bit of misdirection.)

  34. tupu says:

    Most of this puzzle came fairly quickly but there were sticking points. I realised that 7d must be ‘effete’ but could not readily see why. The word has some linkage to ‘affected’ (one finds ‘effete and affected’ as a phrase) but my Chambers and Concise Oxford only give meanings such as exhausted, feeble and inacapable. Perhaps the meaning has been changing.

    I found ‘sexists’ very hard to get, though it was obvious as soon as I eventually saw it. Once I had it, then The Waves followed from the clue but I did not know it was V W’s most experimental novel till I checked.

  35. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    It’s a bit late to comment but I found this easier than previous Brendans. I don’t usually finish Brendan and today failed on TREEHOPPER (should have got this as the clue is fairly straightforward) and SEXISTS. The theme emerged very quickly and made a good starting point into this interesting puzzle.

  36. Mr Beaver says:

    Mr Jim (@15)
    I believe that if you pronounce 2CV the French way, you get deux che-veux, ie ‘two horses’. Rumours that the original 2CV engines were only 2 horse-power are probably exaggerated.

    I think any Guardian reader (especially of the Review sections) would find it hard to avoid mention of the Bloomsbury group, even if (like me) you’d never picked up any of their works.

    Finished this apart from 6d and 7d, which I couldn’t get due to having carelessly misspelled Woolf. Doh!

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