Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,056 / Paul

Posted by mhl on July 7th, 2010


I found this tough compared to most of Paul’s puzzles – fun to solve, though. I’m afraid I don’t understand how 6 down works and I’m not sure about my explanation for 26, 21, but I’m sure someone will be able to help…

1. AMBUSH [h]AM BUSH; an entertaining idea :)
4. UPSHOT Cryptic definition
9. DEMO Hidden answer: [pan]DEMO[nium]
10. CARLA BRUNI CAR = “Model driven” followed by I = “one” after LAB = “party” + RUN = “rule”
11. QUANGO QUA = “As” + NG = “no good” + O = “nothing”, for a QUasi-Autonomous Non-Governmental Organization
12. FRENETIC [y]ETI = “hairy monster lacking leadership” in FRENC[h] = “as Sarkozy, short”
13. SLOW TRAIN LOW = “Reduced” in STRAIN = “pressure”
18. SWORDPLAY [pretentiousnes]S + WORDPLAY = “crossword setter’s art”
22,23. HOW’S YOUR FATHER Cryptic definition: referring to the expression “a bit of the other” as slang for sex.
25. MOTHERWELL Very nice: instead of “HOW’S YOUR FATHER?” on the other “side” of the family it might be “MOTHER WELL?” Update: MartinLp points out that “side” here refers to Motherwell being a football team
26,21. GOLF COURSE GO = “Crack” [?] (have a go / have a crack – thanks, Shuchi!) + (CLUES FOR)*
27. TITFER FT = “Paper” reversed in TIER = “row”; TITFER, apparently, is rhyming slang for “hat”, from “tit-for-tat”. (Rhyming slang, or obscure slang, seems to be a mini-theme of this puzzle.)
28. USURER If it’s “me who’s less certain?” then perhaps U SURER?
1. ASEXUAL EX = “Old lover” in CASUAL = “informal” (inclusion indicated by “clothes”); “topless” then removes the first C – an unusual ordering, perhaps
2,16. BROWN BREAD Double definition: more rhyming slang BROWN BREAD = “dead”
3. SUCCOUR Sounds like “sucker” (“dope”)
5,15. PRAYER WHEEL PR = “Concern with image” + (WEARY)* + HEEL = “scoundrel”: I like the definition: “revolver in Tibet”
6. HORSEWHIP I don’t get this: “Possession of rider, whose charger finally beaten with it” – it’d be HIP around (WHOSE [charge]R)*, but I don’t see how to get HIP Thanks to Shuchi for pointing out that HIP = “with it”, so it’s: (WHOSE [charge]R)* + HIP = “with it”
7. TONTINE IT reversed in TONNE = “metric weight”; a TONTINE is “A form of investment in which, on the death of an investor, his share is divided amongst the other investors.” (wiktionary)
8. TRAFFIC WARDEN Took me ages to work out the wordplay here: TEN = “Figure” around F F = “fines” in (CAR I)* + DRAW reversed = “park up” Update: I’m not very happy with the lattermost part – there’s some discussion in the coments
14. WHAT’S WHAT W = “wife” followed by S[a]W = “saw, article disappearing” between HAT and HAT (“[TITFER]s”)
17. ROOT OUT ROO = “Aussie bouncer” + TOUT = “one dealing with aggression?” (dealing as in “trading”)
19. RUFFLES FUR = “hair” reversed + SELF = “nature” reversed
20. AREOLAR AR[m] + (OR A LE[g])*
24. TIGER Double definition, the latter referring to Tiger Woods

45 Responses to “Guardian 25,056 / Paul”

  1. shuchi says:

    Hi mhl

    6d: with it = trendy, hip

  2. shuchi says:

    26,21: go = crack, as in try. “took a go at skiing”

  3. Max says:

    re 6d HIP is ‘with it’.

    9ac – typo, your brackets are misplaced.

  4. mhl says:

    shuchi: thanks! I’ve updated the post. Should have seen both of those, really…

    Max: thanks, I’ve corrected that now.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl and shuchi. The two phases of solving – getting the answer and working out why – are often spaced well out for Paul-solvers. I didn’t find this too hard overall, but I needed you both to explain 12 and 13a, and 6d for me. Some nice clues here, like 4a, and the father/mother double. Paul had areolar in June 09, too.

  6. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for a great blog, mhl.

    I think this is Paul back on top form. I loved 22,23 and 25.

    I came across TONTINE in an Agatha Christie’s ‘4,50 from Paddington’, many years ago – at last it’s come in useful. And I only learned that BROWN BREAD = dead when we did ‘Me and my girl’ a couple of years ago.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, at last I now know who Carla Bruni is.

    Previously, the only models that I had ever heard of were the Ford ‘T’ and Twiggy.

  8. duncandisorderly says:

    odd that there’s nothing in the clues to link 10ac & 12ac, no? :-)

  9. mhl says:

    Eileen: ah! Thanks for jogging my memory – I knew I’d heard of a tontine from somewhere outside crossword-land, and that’s exactly it.

    Bryan: I think “model” when it doesn’t mean T is nice misdirection, even if in this case it was essentially the same :)

    duncandisorderly: Yes, I thought there might be another theme there, but I couldn’t spot anything else linked…

  10. Ian says:

    Thanks to Paul for a fiendishly constructed puzzle that took me 63′ to complete. Thanks to mhl also for the detailed blog.

    13ac epitomized this setters ability to define something (Stopping Service) that has the ability to lead the solver in the wrong direction. 27ac was yet another excellent use of the FT. Very clever. 4ac ‘Upshot’ another gem.

    re 1dn I was unable to see any ins. ref to getting ‘ex’ into ‘asual’ . Thanks for clearing that up!

    All in all, an exceedingly enjoyable challenge

  11. IanP says:

    The Wrong Box, the film (based on an RLS novel) revolves around a tontine. Never used to be off the telly but you rarely see it now.

  12. MartinLp says:

    25ac – Surely ‘side’ in this clue refers to football club (Motherwell is a Scottish club).

    Had never heard of tontine, but the rest kept me happy!

  13. Martin H says:

    Tough but very enjoyable. (1ac dropped with a groan, ‘Tiger’ was a bit feeble, and 28 doesn’t hang together at all for me.) I don’t get ‘park up’ = ‘ward’ (draw reversed) in 28. Are ‘draw’ and ‘park’ somehow synonymous?

    Otherwise some characteristically nifty clueing. The wordplay in 13 is very nice.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. This took me a little longer than usual and I missed 20dn. Also failed to see the wordplay at 26,21, although it was the first one I got.

    This was very entertaining and I particularly liked 25ac and 1ac.

    TONTINE rang a distant bell — as I’ve read the Christie Eileen mentioned (a long time ago) that may be where I’ve come across it!

  15. Eileen says:

    Martin H

    I read WARD as ‘draw up’ = ‘park’.

  16. Eileen says:

    Sorry, that’s not quite right, is it? ‘Up’ is already there in the clue. :-(

  17. Martin H says:

    I thought of that when I read mhl’s blog, Eileen. Maybe it’s ‘park up’ (meaning simply ‘park’) = ‘draw up’, but I don’t like it.

  18. FumbleFingers says:

    Thanks, mhl – tricky one to blog as well as to solve, eh?

    I don’t quite get how “park up” leads to WARD either. Maybe Paul’s making wrongly do “double-duty” to acknowledge that the clue is slightly malformed (no, I don’t really believe that).

    Excellent puzzle though. I thought the HOWS YOUR FATHER / MOTHERWELL pairing was truly inspired as well as amusing.

  19. Tom Hutton says:

    Where is the definition for Carla Bruni?

  20. FumbleFingers says:

    @Tom Hutton
    I think Paul isn’t a strict “ximenean” in terms of structural “rules” for clues – so far as I’m concerned, Carla Bruni is “defined” by “she” at the end of the clue, supported by “model” at the beginning.

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Paul

    Solving interrupted by chores and visits so am late here. I managed to complete this with difficulty – the parsing of some answers proving particularly hard for me as for others.

    Re 10a I think FumbleFingers is right. Carla Bruni was a model and the word seems to do double service in the clue. I suspect there may be other bits of French political micro-history referred to, including the timing of her link to Sarkozy, but I haven’t explored this.

    I found 6d and 8d difficult. Suchi’s answer to the ‘hip’ question seems dead right. I began to think it might be one of these house purchase documents added as a ‘rider’ to a purchase contract! Too complicated and stretched of course.

    I am still puzzled by ward/draw and park (up).
    Draw and park don’t seem a happy couple (yet).

    I missed MartinLp’s surely correct point re ‘football’ side 25.

    Lots of amusement including the outrageous 1a, and 3,16, 13a, 14d, 22 and 23 , 27 etc.

    I knew about tontines, having at one time been (academically) interested in forms of property transmission. There is a wikipedia article on

    They seem to have been invented by an Italian banker Tonti, and were used by governments to raise funds for various public projects – Mr Osborne please note!

    As for others, generally hard but enjoyable.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Carla who? Not sure why I should be expected to pay attention to the most superficial, irrelevant and totally pointless of human activities.

  23. Bryan says:

    Derek Lazenby @ 22

    Carla Who? may be superficial and irrelevant but, according to my research, she is evidently not pointless.

  24. Jake says:

    A fairly easy Paul – for me – Favorite clue(s) 2,16 + 22,23. Thanks Paul.
    A nice bedroom solve – once the paper boy dropped around.

    3dn ? Although clue solved, I still didn’t understand the wordplay???

    Thanks for blog (^_^)

  25. Martin H says:

    Tom @19 – I see 10 and 8 as each being something of an &lit. In the case of Carla Bruni I think it works; nobody’s come up with a satisfactory reading of the traffic warden, so perhaps that one has to be judged a bit forced.

  26. Scarpia says:

    Thanks mhl.
    An excellent puzzle from a setter back on top form.Too many brilliant clues to highlight favourites – the only uninspired one for me being 9 across.Like every one else,I can’t quite equate draw with park,but Paul has always been a “libertarian” and it does make for a great surface.
    Tontine was new to me,an interesting concept,a sort of winner takes all life insurance!

  27. stiofain says:

    A great puzzle with Paul back on top form after a few patchy ones with a nice smattering of his trademark schoolboy smut HOWS YOUR FATHER and MOTHERWELL were great. Speaking of smut I wonder what Paul would make of Jakes comment at #24 “A nice bedroom solve – once the paper boy dropped around”.
    Ooh er missus!!

  28. Mr Beaver says:

    We were pleased to finish this – a first for a few days – even though unable to parse those that others have highlighted.
    1a was truly guffaw-worthy – Paul should be ashamed of himself, though he has long demonstrated that he is incapable of shame! So were 22,23 and 25.

    Jake (@24) – surely ‘Relief’ as in ‘relieve from need or pain’ is the definition, and SUCCOUR sounds (as mhl said) like ‘sucker’

  29. Dave Ellison says:

    Managed none first time through, but then they fell steadily with the LHS being completed in 32′. Thereafter a bit of a struggle with about five visits in all. 22d had me chuckling on the way in (oops!).
    6d I had just read this as a rider posseses a whip, and he/she would use it on his/her horse at the end of the race – glad to read there was more to it, so making it a (double?) &lit.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Maybe it’s because Germany lost or the fact that Holland won, but I didn’t like this crossword. Nor did my PinC.

    A minority thought it was easy [well, well, with words like QUANGO, TONTINE, TITFER and AREOLAR? – and even though we filled in the southern part of the grid rather quickly], a majority found that this was Paul on top form again.
    We, though, missed the Lightness – it was all (from a construction POV) very clever, but so heavy-handed.

    22,23+25ac, yes, that was fine.
    Clues of the Day.
    Just like GOLF COURSE [but then the related TIGER was awful].

    But we:
    – didn’t see why in 10ac it reads ‘was she?’. ‘Was’? She’s still alive, while the way Paul puts it here suggests it’s about someone from the past. And although the car link is nice (as is ultimately the clue, I admit), she’s more an activist and a singer/songwriter [who not so very long ago appeared on Jools Holland’s ‘Later’] than a model.
    -didn’t like ‘as Sarkozy’ for ‘French’ (12ac), and a missed opportunity to link it with Carla Bruni
    -understand ‘reduced’ (13ac) being the definition for ‘low’, though we think its meaning is more like ‘lower’
    -would have left out the word ‘crossword’ in 18ac: it is superfluous and has too much in common with the solution
    -didn’t like ‘U surer’ in 28ac. We have no problems with U for ‘you’ as such, but we have when using it in a (kind of) sentence
    -(finally) were not enthralled by the use of ‘clothes’ in 1d, ‘reckless’ as an anagrind in 5,15d and ‘nature’ being equalish to ‘self’ (19d)

    I am sure, a lot of you are standing in line now to dismantle these critical notes.
    But even so, if you do, you can’t take away the fact that this crossword didn’t feel right for us.

    Sorry folks, we are all different, aren’t we?

  31. Alan says:

    Tontines were a key part of the plot in a book I read recently, “The Butt” by Will Self. I enjoyed the book, unfortunately didn’t get the clue though, or any of the rest of the top right corner for that matter.

  32. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    Two small hesitant points re 10a and 12a.

    As I noted earlier I suspect there is a link somewhere in 10a to CB’s entry into Sarkozy’s private and political life, or it may be that there is another link (in a song?). I do not know enough to state this with confidence, but the clue makes little sense inc. the ‘was’ without some such such link. So I think you are right to query the ‘was’ but not to dismiss it when it possibly holds the hidden key to the clue.

    Re Sarkozy – I guess Paul may be also referring to Sarkozy’s not being the tallest of French men.

  33. FumbleFingers says:

    Hi Sil
    I (hesitantly, natch!) agree with tupu above, esp that Sarko’s shortness is one of the features he’s commonly known for. I’d also venture that I think Bruni was a model in days gone by, though I kinda doubt she does any of that stuff nowadays!

    Re 13a I think reduced is a perfectly good indicator for [s]LOW. But then again I’d be quite happy for it to lead us to LOWER if Paul or any other compiler used it in a suitable context.

  34. Scarpia says:

    Re 13 across – I thought of it as in the phrase “reduced(low) fat”.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, tupu and FF for ‘trying to persuade me’ [which is not that hard :)].

    I didn’t know Sarkozy was that short [I know, Wesley Sneijder and David Villa are – see who’s the shortest this Sunday], and I am not quite sure Paul refers to that [always easy to consider a thing like that afterwards].

    In the end, I have no real trouble with LOW for ‘reduced’, but it is nót [s]LOW – the construction says that LOW is cutting STRAIN.

    Hope you still al LOW me to dislike this crossword [which, for me, as you would guess, is quite unusual for a Paul].

  36. FumbleFingers says:

    I suspect it’s not so much that Sarko really is short in an absolute sense. Just that his partner is taller than he, which isn’t exactly the norm. Mind you, he’s only 6″ shorter, whereas Bernie Ecclestone is 10″ below par[tner].

  37. mhl says:

    Thanks for all the comments – I wasn’t very happy with WARD = “park up” myself, but forgot to note that in the rush of doing the post. I’ve added a few more notes to the post now.

  38. Jake says:

    stiofain, Nice one. I didn’t see the double entendre – when I posted my blog!

    Mr Beaver, thanks for the info on that clue – I think cryptic wise it’s still ‘a bit out there’ though. However I solved it and that was yesterday, so I’ll let it lay.

  39. otter says:

    I struggled with this for quite a while yesterday, and in the end it defeated me. Just came back to it and got another couple, but then gave up with nine clues from the top half of the grid still uncompleted.

    Having now been given the solution for one of those, 10a CARLA BRUNI, I think I can give the reason for the parsing: CAR (model driven) + LAB (party) + RUN (rule) + I, but Carla Bruni was a top model (perhaps driven [to succeed in the profession]?), who married the leader of a political party (perhaps she was ‘after party rule’?), and thus is an &lit of sorts. I think.

    Sarkozy is famous for being insecure about his low stature, and has been caught wearing shoes with built-up heels to increase his height, and even standing on a box during a photo-call of (I think) EU leaders.

    I don’t get draw = park either. I wonder whether it could be ward = park, as park as a verb can have the sense of ‘to enclose’. Not sure, though.

    A lot of fun in struggling with this one, and a lot of joy in getting the surface senses and how they related to solutions. Paul really seems to have come into his own over the past year – or perhaps it’s just that I now appreciate his style more. I think he now rivals Araucaria, who seems recently to have been setting some puzzles which seem slightly less inspired. I hope that’s just a temporary blip, and he’s soon back on top form, but in the meantime Paul’s puzzles are definitely a highlight.

    Thanks for the blog, and the solutions.

  40. otter says:

    Oh, I did think that 12a – (headless [y]ETI in short FRENC[h] was a bit tortuous, but can’t really complain.

  41. tupu says:

    Otter and mhl

    I think otter is getting there. The Oxford Dictionary has old uses of ward and park as enclosed areas for keeping deer, cattle and the like e.g.under Ward – ‘A small piece of pasture ground, inclosed on all sides, generally appropriated to young quadrupeds’. How the ‘up’ fits in would still seem to be slightly mysterious, since it goes with ‘park’ as a verb.

  42. TokyoColin says:

    This is long after closing time but I am just back from vacation and can’t resist. I assumed in 10ac that “model” was the definition and the “one after party etc.” was ‘by’ CAR, i.e. Driven.

  43. tupu says:

    ps re 8d
    It looks as if F = fine here relates to the quality of lead in pencils!

  44. Gail says:

    carla who? Is she someone I should know? Up here outskirts of M’bro The Tontine is a pub/restaurant of great renown run by the MaCoy brothers.Not a patch on Paul’s latest Genius crossword particularly if you have a favourite pastime like mine

  45. TokyoColin says:

    Gail @44 – I had never heard of her as a model but in 2008 Carla Bruni married Nicolas Sarkozy and so became France’s ‘first lady’. So yes, I think she is someone that you should know of.

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