Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,016 / Paul

Posted by Gaufrid on May 21st, 2010


When I agreed to stand in for Eileen today I was hoping for something pleasurable to cover and I have not been disappointed.

I found this a little easier than some of Paul’s puzzles but that may have been partly due to the fact that I started with 24dn and worked backwards thus having quite a few grid entries before I encountered the mini-theme. There was some excellent misdirection in 14ac, coming so soon after 10,27, where ‘composition’ as an anagram indicator could be easily missed, at least initially.

Philander was the answer to 2dn in FT 13,056 (21 April 2009) set by Armonie, with the wordplay giving Phil and ER, and remembering this made 26,5 somewhat easier than it might otherwise have been. It may well have appeared elsewhere (it seems like classic material for Private Eye) but a site search doesn’t reveal anything relevant other than the FT clue.

9 ALTAR  homophone of ‘alter’ (fix, as in mend)
11 TOILET ROLL  ELIOT (giant of literature) reversed TROLL (giant of fantasy) – Thomas Stearns Eliot.
12 ANAL  [b]ANAL (pedestrian losing head)
14 NARCOLEPTIC  *(ERIC CLAPTON) – how many people spent time looking for a Clapton song that would fit?
18 ERIC CLAPTON  IRE (passion) reversed CLAP (hand) T[remble] in CON (kid)
22 SPERM WHALE  RM (marines) in *(AS WE HELP)
25 POMPOSITY  O (old) MP (member) SO reversed in PITY (shame)
26,5 ROYAL WEDDING  cd – ‘philander’ needs to be separated into Phil and ER

1 WRAITH  I (one) in WRATH (rage)
2 NITWIT  NIT TWIT (two fools) sharing ‘T’ (overlapping)
3 SERGEANTCY  ANT (soldier) C (caught) in SERGEY (Russian)
4 ROWER  dd
5 WINKLE OUT  WINK (bat) LEO (lion) [h]UT (behead Shed) – a second appearance for this within a matter of days with the previous clue (4dn Gordius #25,013) being more Paul-like than Paul himself.
6 DEED  cd
7 INFINITE  IN (popular) IT in FINE (OK)
8 GOLD LACE  GO (green light) *(CALLED)
13 PENNYWORTH  NY (state)  in *(WON) in PERTH (Scottish town) – ‘invest’ as in clothe or cover though perhaps it should have been ‘investing’ rather than ‘invested in’.
15 REAPPOINT  REAP (get) POINT (reason)
16 WEAK SPOT  homophone of ‘week’ (some days) SPOT (find)
17 PILOTMAN  *(INTO LAMP) – a railway employee assigned to guide trains across a section of single-track line.
19 CANYON  CAN (could be) YON (that)
20 MEALIE  ME (setter) A LIE (a pork pie)
23 RHYME homophone of ‘rime’ (frost) and ‘sound’ rhymes with ‘found’
24 SONG  hidden in ‘tyreS ON Ghia’

42 Responses to “Guardian 25,016 / Paul”

  1. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you Gaufrid. First Paul I’ve ever finished, I think, so maybe it was a little gentler than usual. I do like his sense of humour and enjoyed ANAL, and ROYAL WEDDING now you’ve explained it.

    I just stuck in NARCOLEPTIC thinking it was a Clapton song. Ignorance is bliss …

  2. Stella Heath says:

    Thank you, Gaufrid, you’ve cleared up a couple of doubts I had. I foud this entertainin., Though I did indeed get side-tracked by 14, this made the satisfaction even greater when the penny dropped.

    Loved the clue for 23!

  3. Stella Heath says:

    Thank you, Gaufrid, you’ve cleared up a couple of doubts I had. I found this entertaining. Though I did indeed get side-tracked by 14, this made the satisfaction even greater when the penny dropped.

    Loved the clue for 23!

  4. Stella Heath says:

    I really should preview my comments to prevent typos!

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. A tremendously enjoyable puzzle from Paul, and not particularly difficult, even though I needed help for 10,27. The 14/18 anagram is a wonderful find.

  6. Colin says:

    Thanks Gaufrid for a letter-perfect blog. For me too, easier than usual but very enjoyable. Whenever I hear Eric Clapton in future I will always think of him nodding off midsong. And Windsor Knot and Canyon, both marvelous clues.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Gaufrid.

    Of course, 24s ‘tyreS IN Ghia’ does not = SONG

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Gaufrid for an immaculate account of this slightly restrained but enjoyable puzzle which only loosened up with 11 and 12a (almost paradoxically given 12’s connotation of ‘uptight’). It took me quite a time to understand 11a. and I got 14 from the definition and didn’t see the anagram until I checked to see if it was one of his pieces (I don’t know his work well and had also simply worked out 10, 27 from the letters). I suppose there was more info there than needed but nicely misleading none the less. 5d was rather cleverly clued, I thought.

  9. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks for pointing out my typo (finger error I’m afraid), now corrected.

  10. Bill Taylor says:

    I hadn’t come across “philander” in a clue before so 26, 5a was a laugh-out-loud moment which led beautifully to 1, 21a. I liked 16d and 23d, too, and, yes, I was duly bamboozled by NARCOLEPTIC. Lovely misdirection. Shame about 5d; obviously a coincidence and not clued as well as the Gordius version. But this was far and away the best puzzle of the week.

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Bill. I feel the problem with 5d (if any) was mainly that one remembered the phrase from the Gordius puzzle. But the clueing, while admittedly giving a straightforward definition and a simple accumulation of elements for the solution, did seem nicely thought provoking in its choice of them, and I suspect it would have been considerably more challenging without the recent encounter.

  12. crikey says:

    Agree with Bill at #10 – best puzzle of the week. However, I did have BLEAT instead of ALTAR at 9ac for quite some time, thinking that ‘fix’ was the anagrind, ‘table’ the fodder and ‘sound’ the definition. It just about works, but I should have known Paul to come up with something better!
    Especially liked 11 ac, as well as the brilliant NARCOLEPTIC. In terms of anagrams, that’s up there with PRESBYTERIANS (7,6). I’m sure that most people who regularly visit this site already know this one…

  13. Bill Taylor says:

    A fair point, tupu. And I must say I liked the wordplay of beheading Shed.

  14. Mr. Jim says:

    We finished this, though it was a bit of a comedy of errors…
    First, after getting WONDERFUL TONIGHT, we thought it had been composed by Phil Collins (4,7).
    Then, after realising it was really ERIC CLAPTON, we didn’t spot that NARCOLEPTIC was an anagram either.
    Put in BLEAT for 9ac (anagram of TABLE). Still at least the unchecked letters were correct, so after getting WRAITH, NITWIT and SERGEANTCY we didn’t need to change anything more.

    It was good fun – thanks to Paul and Gaufrid.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Gaufrid. Really enjoyable puzzle, perhaps a little easier than the usual Paul. I guessed 14ac from the def and only worked out the wordplay after I’d got 18ac.

    I remember something very similar to the PHILANDER clue and it can’t be the FT ref, because I don’t do FT puzzles. Without that distant bell ringing, I would have had real trouble with it — v funny when the penny dropped. And 5dn appearing so recently helped with that one too.

  16. carneddi says:

    I’ve always hated Eric Clapton’s music (and politics!) since Cream, Blind Faith and Delaney and Bonnie so I was delighted to find that narcoleptic was an anagram of EC…and is it coincidental that Wonderful Tonight is one of his most sleep inducing songs?

  17. Berny says:

    Nobody has mentioned the ‘winkle out’ clue of Gordius that was in Tuesday’s Guardian

  18. Bill Taylor says:

    Several people have!

  19. tupu says:

    I forgot to mention that ‘sergeantcy’ with a ‘t’ does not appear in (my) Chambers or in any form at all in Concise Oxford. OED online gives it as a less correct spelling which seems none the less to have been used by Sir Walter Scott (1814) and Thomas Carlyle (1865) – you’d have thought that such a seemingly respectable pair would have known better! :)

  20. Will Mc says:

    Liz, I think the one you’re thinking of predates Armonie’s. It was from the Guardian’s Prize crossword No 24,559 by Araucaria on Saturday 29 November 2008
    Royal couple are flirting (9)

  21. Bill Taylor says:

    Webster’s, without comment, gives both “sergeantcy” and “serjeantcy” as acceptable alternatives for “sergeancy.” It’s not a word I’m ever likely to use but I think I prefer it with the “t.” But not the “j.”

  22. Gaufrid says:

    As Bill says, “several people have!” including me in the original post.

    Thanks for your comment re ‘sergeantcy’. Collins also has only ‘sergeancy’ so the answer isn’t any of the three usual references.

    Will Mc
    Thanks for the Araucaria reference. I had a vague recollection of that clue when I was writing the post but a site search did not pick up that puzzle because, as I now find, the answer was given in the form PHIL AND E.R. rather than the actual word.

  23. nmsindy says:

    It could also be George ELIOT…

  24. Stewart Holden says:

    I too had BLEAT for 9 which totally threw me out for the top left corner, but otherwise pleased to have got through it (I’m still a novice!).

    Being a Scrabble player (and compiler of the Guardian puzzle in Weekend) I’d known the Clapton anagram for years, but nonetheless it was very nicely clued with the misleading double use of ‘composition’.

    Thanks to Gaufrid for helping to fill in the blanks.

  25. Carrots says:

    Wrongfooted twice in a single puzzle which cost me dear. BLEAT instead of ALTAR and GOLD RUSH (entered too precipitately) instead of GOLD LACE. (RUSH light under GO with LD supposedly woven (laid). Otherwise a cracking puzzle and a lot of fun! Thanks Paul.

  26. brr says:

    I had BLEAT too.

  27. JG says:

    So close today, just missed a few from the top left half(i too had bleat and didnt spot alter). The Philander clue really opened things up for me and was a nice surprise. I have to agree with the clapton comments, ‘wonderful tonight’, very ironic.

  28. FumbleFingers says:

    Nice blog, thank you Gaufrid.

    I didn’t bother consulting dictionaries for alternate spellings of ‘sergeancy’, but it may interest folk to know that Google returns 15,700 hits when spelt without the ‘t’, as against 14,700 when it’s included. Not much in it either way, whatever any particular dictionary says.

    Personally I don’t like either version – nor apparently does the world at large, given there were over 25,000 hits for “office of sergeant” in quotes. That aside I thought it was an excellent puzzle.

    I too did a double-take at the recurrence of WINKLE OUT. Particularly – as Gaufrid notes – because the earlier clue by Gordius was “more Paul-like than Paul himself”. So I was a bit shocked both by Gordius’s smuttiness on Tuesday, and Paul’s lack thereof today!

  29. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for standing in, Gaufrid – so glad you got a worthwhile puzzle to blog. I missed a treat, I think, but did the puzzle on the train to Stansted for a weekend in Copenhagen. Hugely enjoyable!

    NARCOLEPTIC was wonderful!

    Araucaria’s PHILANDER clue is one of my all-time favourites.

    (nmsindy. my thought was George. too.)

  30. liz says:

    Thanks Will Mc @ 20 for tracking down the Araucaria Philander clue! My memory was not up to remembering the source or wording.

    (And have a great weekend away, Eileen!)

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    The good news is: this was a nicely clued crossword [as ever, one might say].
    The other good news was: we finished it [without aides].

    We are getting a bit tired of solutions like ANAL [in the same row as TOILET ROLL]. Recently, someone else said something about it, but we think that this ‘gimmick’ is beginning to work against him. This obsession makes us wonder how Paul’s workplace looks like ….
    Luckily he missed a chance in CANYON (19d), where the CAN bit could have been clued very differently.
    Talking about CAN, can someone explain this non-Brit why, how or where ‘could be’ = ‘can’?

    For me personally, the puzzle was spoilt by some Cryptica related things. Long ago I sent in clues for NARCOLEPTIC (‘Drug problem of Eric Clapton’) and TOILET SEAT, in which I started with ‘Poet written up his initials’, so ELIOT backwards (+TS). Both of which were rejected by Paul. It makes one wonder.
    I liked the ROYAL WEDDING clue (although I remembered the ‘Philander’ trick the other way around), but as I was in a Grumpy Old Man mood, I had to think of my own clue ‘Royal affection for diplomat’ (HENRY KISSINGER) which went up in smoke [like the site itself].

    All this of no importance to you all, I know [and sorry for this POMPOSITY], but as I said it gave me a strange feeling while solving.
    Nonetheless – apart from the fact that we thought it was a shame that WINKLE OUT turned up again, only 3 crosswords later, ánd almost in the same position! – it was a good crossword, even though we saw ERIC CLAPTON from the starting E (without looking at the clue) and subsequently WONDERFUL TONIGHT (only having the F).

  32. Exscouse says:

    Alter doesn’t really mean fix as in mend, I think in the clue it means fix as in have your pet fixed, i.e neutered or altered

  33. Gerry says:

    No fan of Clapton either, certainly didn’t get ‘narcoleptic’ (among others).

    Perth folk will be annoyed…i’s a city, not a town.

  34. scarpia says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.
    Like everyone else I thoroughly enjoyed this.Made somewhat easier as I was already familiar with the Eric Clapton anagram and T.S Eliot for toilets I remember from my schooldays.
    As nmsindy says 11 across can refer to George as well as Thomas Stearns.In the printed version the clue reads ‘Giants of literature’ so no doubt refers to both.
    Re 5 down – I think the Guardian crossword editor must have spotted the coincidence of the same phrase in the 2 puzzles and switched the clues as some kind of perverse joke!

  35. stiofain says:

    yes scarpia the gordius clue was paulian and the paul clue gordian.
    A joke on all our houses?
    I dont know i loved this crossword

  36. Huw Powell says:

    I also had BLEAT inked in for a while, making life difficult. Loved! NARCOLEPTIC after a 15-minute search for Clapton songs ending in “tic” yielded nada and I suddenly realized “composition” could be an indicator. Brilliant. Also loved the “philander” clue, ironically I had thought, “hmm, maybe that’s “phil and er” but missed the refs to the Prince and Brenda.

    Did not get 3 or 5, and I don’t feel bad about it.

    Thanks to Gaufrid and Paul!

  37. Huw Powell says:

    “NARCOLEPTIC (‘Drug problem of Eric Clapton’)” Narcolepsy isn’t a drug, it’s a condition wherein one falls asleep involuntarily at odd times.

  38. brendan says:

    I feel a bit sheepish this morning as we, too, got misled by ‘bleat’ which slowed up completion of that corner. I did, however, think having solved Eric Clapton that ‘composition of’ signified another anagram rather than a song by him.

  39. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Huw, I don’t want to be the cleverest boy in class, but NARCOLEPTIC (as a noun) can also be “a soporific drug that produces an uncontrollable desire to sleep”.

    And yes, this anagram must have been done before (and probably – like scarpia says – the TS Eliot thing, too). Even so I “discovered” them myself [after only just rolling into cryptics at that time, and certainly not being familiar with English literature etc].

    The one and only thing I wanted to express is, the strange feeling that came over me solving the crossword [knowing that Paul did like a lot of my clues for his former competition]. It’s something purely personal and perhaps I should not have annoyed other people with it.
    But, when I send in a post, I am not just interested in the technical aspects of a crossword or the final result – I also like to share my thoughts during the process of solving with others [so what I encounter on the way to the end].

    Again, sorry for any misplaced POMPOSITY :).

  40. Fletch says:

    Sil, if I’m reading you correctly, you seem to be implying Paul is nicking your clues. The narcoleptic anagram of Eric Clapton is a bit of an old chestnut, likewise Eliot reversed in a clue for toilet. I don’t doubt you discovered them yourself, that’s what happens when you get into clueing.

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Before this becomes pathetic, grotesque or completely out of proportion, I do one last effort to ‘save my soul’ :) .
    [sorry, Gaufrid, to get off-topic, but I have to]

    (a) I am NOT saying that Paul is nicking my clues [why should I, and above all, why should he?]
    (b) I do see (as some posts above clarify, including mine) that both anagrams may be ‘old chestnuts’ to many solvers

    I am into crosswords [solving and, a bit later, clueing (as a hobby)] since only mid-2008, and at the time I sent in these clues to Paul’s competition I really thought I “discovered” them myself [special attention to the quotation marks!]. Indeed, it is exactly as you say in your last line (‘that’s what happens when you get into clueing’).

    Why did I mention these clues then?
    [as I said in #31: ‘All this of no importance to you all, I know’]
    Well, until some weeks ago [when the decay of Cryptica became clear – without any notice, which is unfair to the several visitors] I sent in some 240 clues, of which 95 got mentioned. Apparently, Paul did like a lot of them, which I appreciated.
    Some clues that I thought were good ones, were rejected [but that’s part of the game]. One of the rejected ones was a Paulish clue for ‘toilet seat’ [my effort to write a Paul clue].
    Every now and then, I had a déjà vu when solving (especially) Guardian crosswords – professional setters using one or two of the ideas/devices I had for Cryptica [I remember the great Rufus explaining ‘bumblebee’ for an anagram of BEE, I remember Araucaria using a dictionary device in his 2009 Christmas puzzle that was similar to something that Paul rewarded a Gold with the remark ‘a novel kind of clue’].
    These things happen, two people one idea.
    And I must say, I felt flattered to have some ideas in common with the Big Boys.

    Phew, a long story (again) [but I seem to like it :(].

    But maybe, you can imagine my feelings, when in one Paul crossword all at once there are 3 clues that had the same ideas/devices as some of the ones I sent in [and which were rejected, all three of them].
    Because clueing has become one of my favourite hobbies, I felt a bit uncanny.
    It affected my appreciation for the crossword [which was a good one, although I get tired of some types of Paulian clues].
    That and only that was what I tried to express.

    If someone’s not interested in what I feel while solving, I do understand that and please ignore it.
    [although I regard it as a value added to my posts ever since I discovered 15^2 – an invaluable enrichment to my life in Britain!]

    Hope I saved my soul :).

  42. ernie says:

    Thanks Gaufrid.


    philander/Phil and ER – Brilliant!

    TOILET ROLL also very good.

    WINDSOR KNOT commendable.

    Very satisfying overall.

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