Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,981 (Sat 10 April)/Shed – China faff

Posted by rightback on April 17th, 2010


Solving time: 25 mins, 2 missing (11ac, 2dn)

After blitzing the bottom half of this I thought I was on for a very fast time but then came to a grinding halt. ROACH and the ‘try’ of TRYSTING held me up in the top right but the top left corner was the hardest with several difficult clues, two of which (MEISSEN and TITICACA) I couldn’t spot in the time I had available.

Music of the Day (6dn) – Englishman in New York by Sting.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

9 RAISE HELL; (HEELS)* in RAIL – wasted time trying to fit ‘raise Cain’ in here.
10 ROACH (2 defS) – had to look this up to see why: it can mean ‘the butt of a marijuana cigarette’.
11 MEISSEN – as in The best laid schemes o’ Mice an’ Men/Gang aft agley. I considered this homophone but didn’t recognise the answer (a German town making china) and abandoned the idea because of the ‘almost’ in the clue which I still don’t understand.
12 GO SLING – a reference to Sesame Street, I think.
13 E PACT – ‘discrepancy between calendars’ meant nothing to me but I eventually deduced this word which I recognised (it means ‘the excess of the calendar month over the lunar month’).
16 PRAETORIAN GUARD; (DO EG RA-RA-RASPUTIN – S[tate])* – might have solved this faster if I hadn’t missed the word ‘minders’ to start with.
19 RENCONTRE; ([empero]R [traja]N + NERO + ETC)* – the cryptic reading is ungrammatical here.
21 CORFU (hidden backwards) – Prufrock is a poem by T S Eliot.
22 PHOEBUS; P[arty] + HOE (= ‘weed’) + BUS – another name for Apollo, the Greek sun-god.
24 PALIN; PALIN[g] – Sarah Palin.
1 GRIM REAPER; GRIPER around (MARE)* – cunning definition (‘death’) but doesn’t it need a capital letter?
2 TITICACA; TIT + rev. of ACACI[a] – a big lake between Peru and Bolivia. I almost got there but for the wrong reasons, thinking ‘a lot of water’ might be ‘cana[l]’. The word ‘needing’ in the clue has to be read as meaning ‘lacking’.
4 LEAN (2 defs) – ‘slight’ in the sense of ‘thin’.
5 FLAGELLATE; FELLATE around LAG – in Private Eye I’d have laughed at this, but not in the Guardian.
7 TAHITI; rev. of THAT around I (= ‘another’), + I (= ‘one’) – for this to make sense, ‘upholding’ has to be split into ‘up holding’.
8 T + HUG
14 CURATE’S EGG; U RATES replacing L[iberal] in [Nick] CLEGG
15 MEDIUM RARE; ME (= ‘compiler’), + DIRE (= ‘lousy’) around (U[nion] + rev. of ARM)
20 [ca]NOODLE – I couldn’t fathom this when solving.
21 CAN + DID
22 PUP + A
23 M(E)AD

22 Responses to “Guardian 24,981 (Sat 10 April)/Shed – China faff”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback, I really enjoyed this but – like you – I wasn’t able to complete.

    The NW corner was also my undoing and, as well as the two that scuppered you, I was also bewildered by BEDSIT and ECAPT.

    But what a naughty Shed: my sense of decency precludes me from even mentioning 5d!

    I’d like to bet that Shed will be too embarrassed to make an appearance here.

  2. Biggles A says:

    The last one that I got was 19 and I still can’t see what “sticky” has to do with it.

  3. Bryan says:

    Oops: for ECAPT read EPACT!

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. This had a hard top half and a soft bottom, but what was really pleasing was that it was not a 14d: that term is a blogger’s favourite and Shed, laughing at us, laughed at himself with 15d coming next. I confess to needing a device (TEAS) to get his naughty 5d, but that didn’t help me with the last – 6d – which was (with 2d) one of the best. Really good fun.

  5. molonglo says:

    On the MEISSEN, Burns had “and” so it’s almost a homophone. Canoodle and spoon both mean cuddle, and the ca/circa is dropped.

  6. Tokyo Colin says:

    I too got stuck on that NW corner. Very annoyed that I didn’t get 2dn. I have been to (Lake) Titicaca and had TIT pencilled in, not sure why the penny didn’t drop. I considered BEDSIT but couldn’t relate it to a dwelling. Also annoyed I didn’t get 11ac.

    I had TRYSTING but wasn’t sure why, just now realised that Try = Have up for…

    Biggles A – I think “sticky” is the anagram indicator for the ends of emperoR, trajaN, NERO and ETC.

  7. Another Andrew says:

    Six left for me, and another enjoyable one – it’s been a good week, I think. All the usual suspects mentioned above, plus 7dn and 19ac.

    I stared for hours at 11ac, even resorting to Wikipedia’s lists of towns in China (that final ‘n’ seemed to make it a possibility) searching for anything relating to mice. Didn’t occur to me it might be another type of china.

    Could someone tell me why I = ‘another’ in 7dn ?

  8. Tokyo Colin says:

    I for “another island”.

  9. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Colin for your explanation of “sticky”. I’m sure you are right but it draws rather a long bow.

  10. Shed says:

    Thanks all. Re Bryan’s comment #1; no, I’m not embarrassed, though I was rather surprised that the editor let me get away with 5dn.

    Molonglo #5: it depends which edition you use. My 1975 Penguin Selected Poems gives “o’ Mice an’ Men”, but, rightback, I was bearing in mind that a) some may know it as “of mice and men” and b) “mice an'” in a Scottish accent is not a homophone of “Meissen” in a German accent, but does sound pretty much like how most anglophones pronounce it – hence the “almost”.

  11. Martin H says:

    Nice blog, rb. A good hard puzzle, which I too failed to complete, missing Meissen and Bedsit – the latter perhaps because it had a whiff of cryptic definition about it. The other – I missed the significance of the apostrophe. Small details!

    I didn’t like ‘orthodoxy’ as the definition for ‘Calvinism'; the two words have no necessary connection, although the structure of the clue led easily enough to the answer; nor ‘high’ as the anagram indicator in 9 ac.

    Rencontre, Palin, Tahiti and Canoodle were particularly good.

  12. Neil says:

    Liked this enough to be quite disappointed when I’d finished it, like reading a particularly good book.

  13. Bill Taylor says:

    14d just about sums up this puzzle — very much a curate’s egg.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Rightback. I didn’t finish this unaided — needed help to get 2dn and 22ac. I liked 24ac and 16ac.

  15. Another Andrew says:

    Thanks for the explanation, Colin. I’ll probably have forgotten again the next time it comes up.

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks rightback, I needed you for the explanation of 2d and 7d. I did finish but the last few took ages and many revisits.

    I pencilled in PUTIN for 24a (but, of course couldn’t see an explanation), until the penny dropped.

  17. Squeakle says:

    Could somebody help me with 24a, please? I can see that “palin'” = “fencin'”, but where does “huntin’ ‘n'” come into it?

  18. sidey says:

    One of Palin’s hobbies is shootin’ wolves. It’s a reference to huntin’, shootin’ ‘n’ fishin’ much loved by toffs.

  19. Huw Powell says:

    More fun as ever, and nice to have this resource, since the gaurniad’s “annotation” leaves much to be desired. Got all but six, hilariously one I missed was Titicaca – I guessed the word from .I…A.A, but I was on the wrong “track” to the clue’s structure and when I looked it up and it was a lake not a bird I struck through it! How embarrassing.

    Had a lot of fun with the ones I did solve over the course of the week, no real complaints over the clues, except for the ones I still don’t understand ;)

    I got 5d but I still don’t see where LAG came from.

  20. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Huw
    In 5dn prisoner = LAG

  21. Ponticello says:

    One of the best! MEISSEN and BEDSIT particular delights!

  22. Fluff says:

    Enjoyed this, but still don’t get why in 12 down Little Bird is capitalised. Got the answer but the capitalisation in the clue seems wrong as it suggests the answer is a name/proper noun???

    If it is a reference to Sesame Street as rightback suggested, then still doesn’t make sense to me, as that character wasn’t a gosling.

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