Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,040 / Bonxie

Posted by Eileen on June 18th, 2010


An entertaining puzzle from Bonxie, featuring references to Guardian crossword compilers, past and present. [I must admit to having forgotten some of them.] Lots of clever surfaces and wordplay.


8   GADABOUT: A DAB [a fish] in GOUT [complaint]
9   HINGE: IN in HG [chemical symbol for mercury] + swEet. Mercury appears in the Guardian’s [very long] list of compilers but there are none of his puzzles on the website or on 15².
10  HI-FI: cHIFonIe
11 CAPITULATE: C[rossword] + anagram of the very sadly missed TAUPI + LATE [deceased]
12  STAMEN: another chemical symbol: TAME [weak] in SN [tin]
14  NATTERED: alternate letters of NeAr To TeE fRiEnD. We seem to be seeing a lot of this type of clue.
15  GRISKIN: RISK [hazard] in GIN [trap]. I spent too long trying to justify bet = trap for BRISKET, as I’d never heard of this [dialect, Chambers says] word for lean meat from a loin of pork. Hazard is another setter who seems to have sunk without trace. I don’t remember the name and, like Mercury, s/he doesn’t appear in Jonathan Crowther’s A-Z of crosswords.
17  REDCOAT: RED [Rufus is a homophone of ‘rufous’] + COAT [film]: the Redcoats are the entertainments staff at Butlin’s holiday camps. I wonder if Bonxie knows that Roger Squires’ [aka Rufus] first job on leaving the Navy was as Entertainments Manager at the Bognor Regis Butlins? The clue works perfectly well without that but, with it, it’s brilliant!
20  MEA CULPA: anagram of PAUL CAME – and a lovely story-telling clue!  The wrong enumeration is given in both the paper and online version.
22  ENSIGN: double definition – but I don’t understand the reference to America, since it is/was both a flag and a ‘boatman’ in the UK, too.
23  ESTIMATING: anagram of Enigmatist
24  ARIA: Araucaria minus AU [gold – yet another chemical symbol] CAR [Roller – I think there should have been a ‘say’ here but otherwise it’s a super clue]
25 TITHE: hidden in beaT IT HEctence, whose name I do remember but, again, it’s not in either of the archives or the A-Z.
26  OPENCAST: OPEN [unlocked] + CAST [shed – as in casting clouts]


1   RADIATOR: double definition: a radiator heats a room but helps to cool a car engine.
2   SAKI: double definition: I think the drink is more usually spelt sake.
3   TOUCAN: anagram of OUT + CAN [vessel]
4   STIPEND: STI [‘raise it’s’] + P[asquale’s] + END [objective]
5   WHITE TIE: HITE [Shere Hite, feminist] + T [model] in WIE [Michelle Sung Wie, American golfer]
6   INFLUENCES: a double definition, I suppose, but I think the two meanings are too close; definitely the weakest clue, for me.
7   BEATLE: a very easy insertion of T[ime] in BEALE, another setter whom, alas, I don’t recall.
13  MASOCHISTS: anagram of SCOTS AMISH: as in 4dn [‘pay raise – it’s’] this is a clever use of ‘splinter / group’.
16  ILL-FATED: ILL [dicky] + FATED [certain]
18: ANGRIEST: anagram of INERT GASES
19  TALIPOT: anagram of TAIL + POT [pan]: I’ve only ever come across this word in crosswords: it’s an E. Asian palm with large leaves used for fans and thatching houses.
21 ERSATZ: ER [monarch] + homophone [oral] of SATS [Standard Attainment Tests]
22  EAGLET: A [one] in EG [say] + LET [permit]
24  ARCH: ARCH[e-type]: the E-Type Jag, icon of 1960’s motoring, was, in March 2008, ranked first in the Daily Telegraph’s list of the “100 most beautiful cars of all time”: a great clue to end with.

53 Responses to “Guardian 25,040 / Bonxie”

  1. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen. You changed my opinion of this crossword significantly. Many of the clues that I thought were weak or strained turn out to include names of setters that I had never heard of. This redeemed 17ac and 7dn in particular. But I still have a couple of objections:
    At 2dn, the Japanese wine is sake, pronounced sa-kay. Saki is flat wrong (even if it does happen to be in Chambers.) And an odd choice since author/writer would have served just as well and been correct.
    For 21dn, I have only ever heard SATs pronounced as Ess Ay Tees. Is ‘satz’ accepted pronunciation in your part of the world?
    And I still think GRISKIN is obscure. Are you sure he isn’t another defunct crossword setter?

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi TokyoColin

    Re Saki: I was surprised to find that spelling of the drink in Chambers, too. As you say, Munro could have been pressed into service again.

    Satz is the only pronunciation I’ve heard in the UK.

    [You’re not really saying you haven’t heard of Rufus?]

  3. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen – I thought you would like this one! Most of the non-current setters’ names were familiar to me from a (not-very-old) book of Guardian puzzles that I have. I presume this one was set before Rover’s recent death, and perhaps shortly after Taupi’s.

    I had the same trouble as you with BRISKET. I also agree with your assessment of 6dn; I also thought 16dn was rather weak for the same sort of reason.

    Thanks for your explanation of Rufus/rufous in 17ac – I thought “rufus” itself was a definition of red (as in William Rufus) so was puzzled by the “broadcast”.

  4. beermagnet says:

    Tip: To look at the compiler profiles on the Guardian crosswords site use, e.g.
    Where, for instance we find Mercury’s last puzzle was: 26 Jul 2002: No 22,582 and the information that Mercury (Ken Guy), died suddenly on 29 June, and had compiled for the paper for over 20 years.
    I didn’t recognise Hazard as a compiler – this method shows s/he compile Quiptics.
    However there is no entry for Beale, yet.

  5. TokyoColin says:

    Eileen @2. Sorry for the confusion. Of course I know and love Rufus, but never heard of Butlin’s etc. But now you have made the connection for me it makes all the difference.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    I thought the same about Rufus [and ‘broadcast’] – knew it was Latin for reddish and went to Chambers to check it was an ‘English’ word and found ‘rufous’, which I didn’t know!

    Re GRISKIN: Chambers doesn’t say which dialect and [my] Collins doesn’t have it at all.

    Thanks for all that information, beermagnet. I was just using the archive crossword search.

    I forgot to say in the blog that 18dn is the reverse of the anagram we had from Paul yesterday: ‘one’s stable, though angriest when unstable’.

  7. Daleswoman says:

    re GRISKIN: the Farm Shop at South Cerney (near Cirencester) sells griskin – skinned and boned pork loin joint…didn’t help me though, I too entered brisket and struggled to justify ‘bet’ for ‘trap’

  8. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen. I share your thoughts about a number of the clues. I was trying to make a case for BRISKIT being an alternate spelling for BRISKET once I’d got 16dn, and was subsquently surprised to find that GRISKIN is a word.

    Also took RUFUS to be ‘red’ and wondered why ‘broadcast’ was in there.

    Thanks for explaining 5dn, where I couldn’t see the wordplay. I missed 2dn and 6dn was my last — feel a little bit better about the time it took me to see this one, given you consider it to be the weakest!

    Overall, very enjoyable, though and I liked many of the surfaces.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I’ve been hunting for Beale – firstly in vain for Russell, and then finding ‘Beale’ as the source of three old eponymous cryptic texts relating to hidden treasure. Could this be him, or the origin of a later setter’s name?

    Little more if anything to be said after excellent blog and comments. I may be getting a bit stale after so much (for me) regular solving, but I did not much enjoy this – more of a slog than a smile-raiser.

    As a sometime classicist, mea culpa as one word surprised me, and as a no-time orientalist, saki with an i did the same. Similarly the ‘broadcast’ re Rufus eluded me. Griskin brought an ‘oh!’ rather than an ‘aha’, I’m afraid. I did not know Ms Wie but at least Shere Hite came to mind (I can’t help thinking she is very tall!). 6d disappointed.

    Best seemed 24d – the answer was clear enough but working out why was fun, and 17a (apart from my miss on ‘broadcast’. 8a gadabout was hard to get and worth seeing.

    Anyway, I’m having a week off next week – peace all round!

  10. Richard says:

    Eileen, Thanks for the blog – superbly thorough as always.

    An enjoyable Friday crossword.
    I had the same problem with GRISKIN and had not heard of TALIPOT.
    I didn’t get the feminist reference in 5dn – I couldn’t work out what Bonxie was Dworkin about because I didn’t have my brain in Greer.

  11. Frank says:

    re 2d:The OED has SAKI as a South American monkey.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi liz

    Yes, it was getting the unequivocal ILL-FATED that got me looking for ?I? = trap, too. From Google images for GRISKIN, it looks to me like what I call pork tenderloin or pork fillet.

    Hi [or Salve] tupu

    Good to get endorsement re 20ac from a fellow-classicist. :-) I can’t see how on earth that one got through. I haven’t got any further with research into Beale but your idea sounds good.

    Richard, please, please, not again! [Though I don’t think you’ll find such a plentiful supply as with rivers – but perhaps that’s giving a hostage to fortune.] I was tempted in the blog to say that 3dn reminded me of the old Guinness ad, ‘see what toucan do’, which, I think, was my introduction to puns.

    Frank, sorry I didn’t mention the monkey in the blog as one of the two definitions: it’s the spelling of the drink that’s causing the discussion.

  13. tupu says:

    Another example of your Shere determination to go off-track! I’m glad Sim-one as respected as Eileen has asked you to stop, and I certainly intend to stick in future to what is Germaine to the puzzle.

  14. crosser says:

    @Eileen and tupu and anyone else who might be interested.
    Beale was the setter of the Quiptic crossword on, I think, Monday 7th June.

  15. Eileen says:

    Thanks, crosser. I didn’t think to look for Quiptics – but Beale is on the list of cryptic setters, too.

  16. james g says:

    lovely to see so many positive comments! Very enjoyable puzzle, and I was very relieved to see that the explanation for 5 left me much wiser than I was (not difficult!). My only quibble would be with 21 (ersatz): satz in this word should have a voiced s at the beginning (“zats”), but I’ve only ever heard sats pronounced with an unvoiced s at the start. So it’s not really a homophone.
    I do hate my pedanry! Sorry!

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi james

    [I hate myself for doing this but tupu or Richard might have said the explanation for 5dn left you Wie-ser.]

    I think 21dn does work: ‘satz’ is one component of the clue and is a homophone of SATS: the pronunciation of ERSATZ isn’t relevant, is it?

  18. Mr. Jim says:

    Enjoyed this one, thanks to Eileen and to Bonxie.

    I hadn’t come across Shere Hite. I pray that if ever she is clued again, it is not as a spoonerism!

  19. Derek Lazenby says:

    Wierd puzzle. Mostly smile raising fun, then a handful that produced the Manuel word. Not sure why I should be familiar with those. As well as the rarities listed above, I’d also not heard of the monkeys.

  20. Roger says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Could there perhaps be shades of a triple definition in 2d where Saki (notwithstanding the spelling concerns mentioned above) also appears to be a Japanese given name {} ~ otherwise, what is the word doing in the clue ? ‘Monkey drink’ alone would work, surely.
    Maybe I’m trying to read too much into all this and had better go and do some gardening instead :)

    NATTERED tickled my fancy, if you’ll pardon the expression.

    PS. how does one create a hyperlink on this site ….

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi Roger

    Interesting thought!

    I took ‘given’ as being there purely for the surface: ‘monkey drink’ doesn’t make a lot of sense to me – and I’ve never come across ‘given’, by itself, for ‘given name’.

    I’ll let someone else answer your last question: I know what I do but haven’t the terminology to explain. Several people on this site have tried to tell me but I’m almost a complete autodidact as far as computers are concerned and I just don’t understand the language. :-(

    [However, if you’d omitted the brackets you’d have ]

  22. stiofain says:

    A good fun solve though I disliked INFLUENCES
    Roger type
    [a href=””]saki monkey[/a]
    replacing the square brackets with gives
    saki monkey

  23. stiofain says:

    wiped out my < because I closed the bracket
    replace square brackets with < and the matching closing one

  24. Wirricow says:

    I looked at WHITE TIE, on and off, for about an hour. It might as well have been a month. I would never have understood it without consulting the blog. I got the model T bit but my knowledge of notable US born ladies is obviously inadequate.

  25. FumbleFingers says:

    Thanks for a comprehensive blog, Eileen

    I didn’t like the aberrant spelling of SAKI (or if we’re supposed to interpret “given” as meaning “sounds like”, I don’t like that any better).

    I thought INFLUENCES was total crap – the two definition words have virtually identical meanings in this context, so it’s not really a cryptic clue at all.

    Not Bonxie’s fault, but like many here I taxed the old grey matter trying to reconcile “part” = BET, since I lacked the faith to look up GRISKIT until ILL-FATED forced me to accept Holmes’s dictum: “When you’ve eliminated the impossible, whatever remains – however improbable – must be the truth”. But it was still an unpalatable one for me.

    And (8) for MEA CULPA? I know the Grauniad has form for this, but they really ought to proof-read at least the crosswords a bit more carefully.

  26. walruss says:

    Yes, I too found this one a bit weird, and unnecessartily obscure in places. Again the contrast with the Indy comes to mind, which puzzle is much more consistent, in general. To be honest there wasn’t much zing in today’s, but still better than Bonxie’s flailings!

  27. Ian says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog of what I thought was quite an entertaining puzzle on my first day back. With the exception of Mea Culpa this was first class.

    I too entered ‘Brisket’ for a while without being able to justify the bet part. ‘Ersatz’ was an excellent clue IMHO.


  28. Eileen says:

    Hi All

    Can no one help me out with ‘in America’ in 22ac?

  29. Richard says:


    I think Ensign is an American naval rank. Sorry I didn’t respond to your earlier entry, but I was Pizzey.

  30. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    An ‘ensign’ is only a ‘Boatman’ in the US. In the UK it used to be a rank of a soldier or simply the title of one who carried the Colours.

    Chambers: a soldier who carries the Colours; until 1871, the officer of lowest commissioned rank in the British infantry; an officer of lowest commissioned rank in the US Navy.

    Collins has similar definitions.

  31. muck says:

    What a fun puzzle! Even though I had to get explanations for some of my answers from Eileen’s excellent blog and other comments.

    re- ‘America’ in 22ac. Chambers defines ENSIGN as “… the officer of the lowest commissioned rank in the British infantry; an officer of lowest commissioned rank in the US Navy…”. Does that help?

  32. Eileen says:

    You’ve obviously been very busy working on that one, Richard!

    Fair enough, but, as I said in the blog, it used to be a naval rank in the UK, too.

  33. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid and Muck – I got my armed forces mixed up!

  34. muck says:

    Gaufrid’s comment appeared while I was typing mine – too slow as ever.

  35. sidey says:

    I rather liked this.

    I’m sure in 2d ‘given’ is a (weak) homophone indicator, sorry TokyoColin, we tend to adopt erroneous pronunciations of foreign words 😉

    Eileen, American is in 22a as Ensign isn’t a Royal Navy rank.

    I’m sure Bonxie knows Rufus’ biography so ‘redcoat’ is indeed brilliant.

  36. sidey says:

    And me. By the way, Oxford Dictionaries Online have revamped their site, some nice new bits to it

  37. Derek Lazenby says:

    Thanks, for the link sidey. I’m impressed. They define the number pi correctly, without the linguistic slopiness that others indulge in! One for the Favourites methinks!

  38. Rufus says:

    Welcome to Bonxie! A real tour de force!

    And thanks to Eileen for the excellent blog.

  39. tupu says:

    crosser @14
    Thanks re Beale. I wonder if the ID is borrowed from the Beale of secret cyphers or just a coincidence. Cf

  40. Dave Ellison says:

    Thought I’d finished – had CANISTER for 1d, thinking it might refer to the innards of a thermos flask. I should have got RADIATOR, as I am sure this cropped up fairly recently – possibly Rover
    29 August 2008?

    I liked your spoonerism, Mr. Jim #18, much better than any that have appeared in the recent Xwords.

  41. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I thought this was a very entertaining puzzle and Bonxie continues to go up in my estimation. There were one or three clues that didn’t work very well such as 2d, 6d and 24d especially but the good clues more than made up for these with 23a being my favourite of today. Also, 13d was immediately obvious although the clue was good.

    I’m sure you will correct me Eileen but I would guess that the word CULPABLE derives from MEA CULPA (3,5).

  42. Roger says:

    A rather belated thanks Elieen (21) and stiofain (22). Will try it out another time.

  43. Eileen says:

    Hi Davy

    I agree on 2 and 6dn – but what’s wrong with 24dn? As I said, I thought it was a great clue.

    And re 13dn: the fact that it’s ‘obvious’ doesn’t detract from it being a perfectly crafted clue. I thought this one told a particularly intriguing story!

    As for culpable – I wouldn’t dream of correcting you :-): culpa [noun] blame; culpare [verb] to blame; culpable – blameworthy. QED! [see also ‘culprit’.]

  44. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    You are of course right re ‘culpa’ etc, but Davy’s query set me thinking. It is a slightly complicated word, that seems to have no straightforward equivalent in English. ‘Culpare’ is as you say ‘to blame’ (a trans. verb), and ‘culpable’ is ‘blameworthy’ but the noun ‘culpa’ itself is glossed not only as ‘blame’ (something a person places on another or possibly on themself) but also as ‘crime, fault or transgression’ that attracts blame. So it’s both the fault and the blame it attracts. And ‘mea culpa’ cannot be directly and idiomatically translated as ‘it’s my blame’ but rather as ‘my fault’ or less literally ‘I’m to blame’ or perhaps ‘I blame myself’. ‘Fault’ will do in this context, but it is a much broader concept (e.g as in electrical fault) going well beyond the intrinsic moral blameworthiness of ‘culpa’.

    I suppose that all this shows is that simple word for word translation is tricky, :) and possibly that it’s good we don’t have English cryptic crosswords with Latin clues or vice versa!

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Nice crossword from Bonxie.
    Must have been a joy for the setter to write these clues.
    At one point I thought: maybe Pan and Bogus are/were setters as well.
    Who knows, not me.

    A pity that 8ac (GADABOUT) comes from a clue that contains ‘about’.
    And HI-FI = player? Of course, I do understand what Bonxie means, but I’m not sure if this is a correct definition.

    My PinC had the same more-or-less-problems with the homophone of 21d as james g (#16), talking about voiced/unvoiced – where I, just like Eileen, was fine with it.

    Indeed funny to see ANGRIEST/’inert gas’ again, only after a day.
    MEA CULPA (3,5) was another déjà vu moment for me, as I sent a similar clue to Paul himself [but a bit naughtier: Paul came out, a confession]. My intuition tells me that Bonxie must have thought of using ‘out’ instead of ‘clean’, which he then probably found somewhat beyond good taste. Paul, though, did like it, wrote “I’d like to steal it, if I may, for The Guardian. I will, of course, put a note on the site to say you’ve given me permission to steal – if I may!!!”.
    Which [of course] didn’t happen.

    We thought 23ac (ESTIMATING) was a very fine anagram in a lovely surface.
    But Clue of the Day (for us) was surely 11ac (CAPITULATE).
    Sad, but very delicate.

    All in all, good puzzle [and good blog].

  46. Pandean says:

    Pan is one of the Quiptic setters. But there’s no Bogus setter on the Guardian list.

  47. Eileen says:

    After forty-odd years of Guardian solving, I’m rather ashamed of the number of setters it seems I’ve forgotten / don’t recognise.

    However, I’m immmensely grateful for the hours of pleasure you have given me.

    Thank you all. :-)

  48. Eileen says:

    Or, rather, immensely grateful. :-)

  49. Jonathan says:

    Thanks for putting me out of my misery on this one. Just couldnt see 1a and 1d at all – and I’ve still never heard of the fish in 1a!

    I had briskit for 15a – assuming it an alternate spelling for brisket. “Bit” sounded plausible for “trap”.

  50. Little Dutch Girl says:

    This is my first post although I have been reading the blog for some months and think it is wonderful. The House Elf and I often do the puzzle days after it has been printed so we are often too late to post comments. However, we find the explanations for clues we solve without any idea why really helpful and the bits of general knowledge we pick up on the way an added bonus.

    We enjoyed the Bonxie puzzle – especially clue 24d – despite some of the weaknesses which have been pointed out before. As someone who can’t spell the discussion related to 2d passed me by – I just accept this sort of thing – it is the Gruaniad afterall!

    17a was made unnecessarily complicated. In primary school, I learnt about William Rufus (William the Red) – the son of William the Conqueror of whom Wikipidi claims the most notable thing about his life was his death! He was shot by an arrow while out hunting in the New Forest and it remains a great mystery as to whether or not it was accidental or an assasination but get less attention than the Princes in the Tower.

    I notice that contributors to the site in the past have compalined about areas with specific jargon. Can I join in in relation to 15ac? Why should vegetarians have to know these words related to meat?

    Keep up the good work everyone!

  51. ernie says:

    Thanks, Eileen and Bonxie (spellchecker doesn’t like bonxie – it’s a skua (seabird), isn’t it?). I’m another who finishes these late, in my case because of slow intellect.

  52. Eileen says:

    Hi ‘Latecomers’

    Just for the record: although most commenters move on after a day or two, it’s never too late to make a comment. The blogger, at least, will see it, because s/he receives an email of all the comments.

    Welcome, Little Dutch Girl – hope to hear much more from you. Re ‘jargon': looking through, I can only find one commenter who’d heard of GRISKIN and even she’d entered ‘brisket’ – it’s obviously not widely known among carnivores, either!

    ernie, bonxie is indeed a seabird – as is the crossword-friendly ‘erne’!

    And Jonathan, DAB is quite common in crosswords, too. I’m not sure I’d have known it otherwise.

  53. maarvarq says:

    Re: “Talipot” being one of those crossword words, perhaps it is a favourite nesting place for smees and the fronds can be woven into reredos :-)

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