Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,036 / Rufus

Posted by mhl on June 14th, 2010


As usual, good stuff from Rufus – smooth surface readings, clever constructions and plenty of smiles from the cryptic definitions. (Apologies for any errors – I’ve had to do this post very fast today due to transport problems.)

7. BOUNDLESS Double definition
8. CREAM CRAM = “stuff” around E = “East”
10. ACTOR [f]ACTOR = “Agent”
12. DEPOTS DE = “of the French”, which I read as “of (the French)” + POTS + “vessels”
13. ENMESHED END = “the outcome” around ME + SHE = “a girl”
14. LANYARD Cryptic definition: a lanyard is a rope (line) that you’d wear around your neck and might be tied to a whistle. (I had to look up this word, but it did make me laugh when I did…)
17. BINDING Double definition
20. MALADIES MA = “Mother” + LADIES = “other females”
22. MISHAP M = “Many” (as in 1000) + (A SHIP)*; Roman numerals for “many” are noted as “regarded as unsound by some Ximeneans” in the wording of Don Manley’s abbreviations list, if I remember right
24. QUIET (QUITE)*: a strong candidate for easiest anagram ever :)
26. ASIDE Double definition: an “aside” is spoken to the house (audience) in a play, and “A SIDE” is “one of the parties”
27. BELLICOSE Cryptic definition
1. BOTTLE Double definition: referring to a bottle bank, of course
3. CLOUTS Double definition: not sure about “patches” – perhaps someone with a dictionary could help out?
4. USHERED USED = “Nothing new” around HER
5. PRECIS Very nice: PRE Commonwealth of Independent States
6. JACOBEAN JEAN = “girl” around A COB = “a horse”
11. IMPI I’M PI = “Self-righteous declaration”; “pi” as in “pious”, an abbreviation now only seen in crosswords
15. AT A GUESS T = “time” in (SAUSAGE)*
16. RUIN I in RUN = “race”
18. DISTANCE DI = “I’d take up” + STANCE = “position”
19. PSALTER SALT = “A seaman” in PER = “by”
21. AGENDA A + G = “note” + END = “finish” + A
22. MODULE U = “university” + L = “student” in MODE = “form”
23. AROUSE A + R = “king” + OUSE = “river”

25 Responses to “Guardian 25,036 / Rufus”

  1. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks mhl. For CLOUTS @ 3dn Chambers online gives: 3. (dialect) a piece of clothing. Another online dictionary gives: Now Chiefly Dial. a piece of cloth or leather for patching.

    New to me, not my dialect I suppose.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl. I believe the clothing sense of “clout” is as in the saying “ne’er cast a clout till May be out”.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, this was very enjoyable and a wonderful start to the week.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Rufus

    A bit harder than I expected to run along the same mental tracks as Rufus this morning.

    ‘Champion’ and ‘encourage’ as defs for 25a and 23d seemed slightly unconvincing, but it wasn’t too difficult to get them.

    Re 3d. The OD gives ‘A piece of cloth, leather, metal, etc., set on to mend anything; a patch. arch. and dial.

    Until recently I had understood May in the saying Andrew quotes to mean the month (which always seemed a bit like planning in the pre-CIS command economy), but a friend recently assured me it is hawthorn blossom that is meant.

    I kept playing with the idea of ‘dream’ for 8a as in ‘dream team’ but it was difficult to make ‘dram’ = ‘stuff’ without adding ‘a drop of the hard…’.

    Several answers were pleasantly surprising inc. bellicose, psalter, and at a guess.

  5. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, mhl. 3dn I found this which made me laugh:


    A dirty, greasy woman. He has made a napkin of his dishclout; a saying of one who has married his cook maid. To pin a dishclout to a man’s tail; a punishment often threatened by the female servants in a kitchen, to a man who pries too minutely into the secrets of that place.

    Definition taken from The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, originally by Francis Grose. “

  6. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. Like tupu, I also found this harder to get into than I expected, but plenty of nice Rufus touches to enjoy once I did. I didn’t know ‘clout’ as a patch, so thanks to all those who elucidated that meaning. LANYARD was my last.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks mhl and Rufus.

    This took a little longer than usual but I’m not really sure why.

    I, too, wondered about gladiator = champion but Collins has: ‘gladiator: a person who supports and fights publicly for a cause’.

    I was also a bit puzzled by the clue to 4dn: isn’t ‘usher’ usually followed by ‘in’ rather than ‘out’? – and the need for ‘shall’ in 16dn. Only minor quibbles, though.

    [I knew LANYARD from wearing one as a teenage Sea Ranger.]

  8. Coffee says:

    My Yorkshire gran used to say “Ne’er cast a clout..” etc & swore that May meant the month of May. Mind you, she used to say “Well, I’ll go to our house” when she was surprised, so who knows?
    I suppose in t’olden days Yorkshire was cold till the end of May- global warming may have rendered that one obsolete.
    Still have some blanks in the NW corner, trying not to peek. Spent a long time trying to make GUTTED fit 1D, but couldn’t get the bank part to fit. Now I know why.

  9. Tokyo Colin says:

    Eileen, it hadn’t occurred to me until you mentioned it but there is something not quite right about 4dn. I don’t think it is so much because ‘usher’ is usually followed by ‘in’. Both uses (directions?) are valid, but precisely because it can be used in both senses the word ‘usher’ by itself is neutral with regards to the direction. So ‘usher’ by itself is just the ‘shown’ portion of ‘shown out’. But would I have solved it quite so easily if the clue had ended in ‘…being shown’? Questionable. My yardstick for validity of clues has always been that whatever gets me to the solution is valid. The 15squared community is beginning to nibble away at that position but for the moment I still think the clue is OK as it stands.

  10. cholecyst says:

    Eileen – the need for “shall” in 16dn. After a lot of thought, we could parse it as: I (= 1st p pronoun) shall (= must, as in You shall come immediately) enter race (run). A bit too cryptic for Rufus?

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Coffee

    Thanks. I’ve not heard your gran’s comment in a long time! I’m sure it’s northern generally. I imagine it is more or less equivalent to the Liverpool etc. saying ‘Well, I’ll go to Bootle’ in which what it isn’t saying is a bit more obvious.

    Re May: I have just explored
    and it plumps for the month after considerable discussion.

  12. Martin H says:

    Apart from the usual crop of cd’s, this was generally an enjoyable puzzle. I share tupu’s misgivings about certain definitions, and don’t like ‘nothing new’ = ‘used’ in 4d: ‘nothing new’ = ‘something used ‘; ‘new’ qualifies ‘nothing’, not the other way round, unlike, for example, ‘nearly’ in ‘nearly new’.

    ‘Aside’ was very nicely clued.

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi cholecyst

    It’s come to me now: ‘shall’ is, of course, necessary for the grammar of the cryptic clue to work – otherwise it would have to be ‘I enters’. I wasn’t thinking straight – and should have known that Rufus would not make such a slip! [Oh for a ‘delete’ button!]

    [My Leicestershire grandma also used to say, along with lots of other weird things, ‘I’ll go to our house’.]

  14. Eileen says:

    I meant ‘the grammar of the wordplay’, not ‘the cryptic clue’.

  15. tupu says:

    A more localised version of the expression in N. Manchester was ‘Well, I’ll go to Bogart Hole Clough!’.

  16. Bryan says:

    Tupu @15

    Coming as I do from Owdam (Oldham), I never expected to see Bogart Hole or any other Clough on this site.

  17. walruss says:

    Nice contrasts with today’s Independent by Morph, and a satisfying solve overall.

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Didn’t get to this one today, but I will de-lurk to say that I did have a colleague once from the north-west who introduced me to the expression: ‘I’ll go to the foot of our stairs!’ – roughly equivalent to the Derbyshire expression ‘Chuffing Nora!’, I think. Where does this stuff come from, for goodness’ sake?

  19. Derek Lazenby says:

    The only new word for me was impi for which I had to cheat. Gosh, and in a Rufus too.

  20. duncandisorderly says:

    struggled a bit today- migrained. “clouts” as a DD presented me no problems, though. perhaps rufus is from the north?
    I spent time in the north-west after being brought up in the north-east & many times heard “well, I’ll go to the top of our stairs!” as an exclamatory.

    oh, & I’m reasonably sure that the “may” in “ne’er cast a clout..” alludes to the floral rather than the temporal variety. again, a yorkshire thing.


  21. judy bentley says:

    In Wolverhampton it was ‘Well, I go to Brierley Hill’ and instead of ‘All around the houses’ we said ‘All around the Wrekin’.

  22. Rufus says:

    Many thanks to mhl for the comprehensive blog.

    The last posting by Judy brought back memories. I was born in Tettenhall, Wolverhampton and now live in sight of the Wrekin hill in Shropshire, and I recall both expressions despite being away in the Navy from age 15 to 31.

    An old favourite of mine was used when a dark rain-cloud was seen approaching – “It ain’t half black over Bill’s Mother’s”.

    Our house name – it is Victorian – is The Hawthorns, and the May in the clout saying is defintely the tree flower!

  23. Kathryn's Dad says:

    One of the (inevitable) problems about these threads is that they quickly go cold once everyone’s moved on to the next cruciverbal challenge, so most likely no-one will read this. But just wanted to say that Rufus’s old favourite is also heard in these parts – many times at a cricket match in Derbyshire when rain’s approaching you get ‘It’s a bit black over Bill’s mother’s house.’ I’m sure I’ve also heard Bumble on Test Match Special use the same phrase.

    And as I said at no 18, and being a lover of language, I just wonder where on earth this stuff comes from? Somebody, somewhere, must have said it for the first time. Bill’s Mum, where are you?

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Kathryn’s Dad [and Rufus]

    Here in Leicestershire, too – but, like Rufus, we omit the ‘house’!

    As to where it comes from, I’ve just found this in Wikipedia:

    “A bit black over Bill’s mother’s:
    Likely to rain soon (now widespread). Commonly attributed to Black Country dialect: “Bill’s mothers” features in a variety of forms – such as the reference to any obscure location being “the back of Bill’s mothers” ” – not a lot of help, really, as to who Bill is / was.

    [I must buy a copy of ‘Ey up mi duck’. :-) ]

  25. Coffee says:

    Hi Kathryn’s dad,

    yes, have moved on but came back to see what discussion may have arisen- “go to t’foot of our stairs” was another of my gran’s (“our” gran’s) – never heard of Bill’s mother though. When my gran’s watch stopped once she said “Ooh, this watch is running on teacakes and stopping at every currant” – she was surprised when we fell about laughing & had never heard of it.

    @Tupu- thanks, I shall look at, sounds like on to distract me from washing up….

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