Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,087 – Brummie

Posted by Andrew on August 12th, 2010


I always feel a little nervous when I see Brummie’s name on a puzzle, and indeed it took me a while to get going with it, but it was not too hard overall, with the downs seeming a little easier than the acrosses. There seems to be a bit of a theme going on – to avoid giving the game away I’ll mention it at the end of the blog.

1. TRAFFIC Double definition
9. GUCCI Homophone of “Goochie
10. COMPETENT COMPETE + N[ational] T[rust] – a “preserving body”
11. TOOTH FAIRY I think this is just a cryptic definition, the “discarded item of dinner equipment” being a child’s lost tooth.
12. BLUR [shou]L[ders] in RUB<
18. THE SCAFFOLD (SCOFF AT DELHI)* less I[ndependent]
21. PULP L in PUP
22. BLACKTHORN LACK + T + H in BORN (given a life)
25. ACETYLENE E[nergy] in (L + EYE CANT)*
26. ARIES Hidden in mARIE Stopes
27. DETROIT O in DETRIT[US] – so the definition is just “city”
1. TIGHTS TIGHT (drnk, legless) + S
3. FLIGHT DECK L in FIGHT + DECK (which may be cut, as in a deck of cards)
4. COCOA CO[mpany] twice + A (top grade)
6. FREE R[oof] in FEE
7. OVERLAID Double definition
8. FUTURIST (TUTU FIRST)* less one of the Ts
13. CREDIT CARD DIRECT* + CARD (comedian)
16. STOPPARD D RAP POTS) all reversed
17. HELLBENT HELL (underworld) + BENT (criminal). A bit weak, as HELL has the same meaning in answer and wordplay.
19. POLICE PO (river) + LICE – I presume rats=lice in the figurative sense of bad people
23. CREAM C (100) REAM(s) is 50,000 sheets. A ream is now 500 sheets, but was formerly 480, hence “in miodern terms”
24. GYRO Y[ea]R in GO (work)
The theme I mentioned above is that many of the answers are the names of well-known (what I call) pop groups. I can see ten, but there may well be others I’m not familiar with.

44 Responses to “Guardian 25,087 – Brummie”

  1. Brian (with an eye) says:

    Thanks – I had completely missed the theme. I think 11A is a good clue; well, it made me laugh.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew I really enjoyed this.

    For once, I felt confident that every one of my solutions was correct.

    I never noticed the theme until I had finished but I can’t find 10 but then I’m not into Pop.

  3. Bryan says:

    I wonder …

    Should I now change my Name to ‘Bryan (with Two Eyes)’?

  4. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew.

    I have the same qualms as you about Brummie but really enjoyed this. 14ac was the first one I got and thought I might be looking for songs, but was soon put right after getting a couple more.

    [I’m quite chuffed that I can see ten, too – without research!]

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks Andrew. I might have struggled with 19dn but, having spotted the theme early on, was thus guided to the solution.

  6. NeilW says:

    By the way, i think they would prefer the term “rock” to “pop”!

  7. NeilW says:

    Except perhaps The Scaffold – I don’t think “Lily the Pink” could really be classified as Rock!

  8. Mark H says:

    I found 9 bands – Traffic, Blur, Dire Straits, The Scaffold, Pulp, Madness, Free, Cream and Police.

  9. Max says:

    Mark @8, Detroit is also a band.

  10. Andrew says:

    yes, Detroit was my tenth too, though I think they’re more obscure than the rest.

  11. Eileen says:

    They were my ten, too, but a litte googling reveals bands called Gnosis, Aries, Blackthorn, Hellbent and Acetylene. :-)

  12. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I really enjoyed this and for once spotted a theme while I was solving. I had my suspicions when I got BLUR but it was 14ac that confirmed it.

    I made it 9 — haven’t heard of DETROIT. And thanks to Eileen for uncovering a further 5!

    My only tiny quibble was the ‘an’ in 2dn…but it is a minor one!

  13. Brian (with an eye) says:

    Bryan – if you have an enquiring mind – as I’m sure you have – you can be “Bryan with a ‘why?'”.

  14. MikeS says:

    Many thanks for the blog Andrew. I really enjoyed Brummie’s puzzle today although I wasn’t too keen on the ‘an’ in 2d.

    I found the same 10 band names, but I was convinced that there must a heavy metal band called “Acetylene”, so I googled a bit and discovered the ones that Eileen listed along with a Canadian Indie-pop band called the “Russian Futurists”. Admittedly that’s a bit of a stretch but they are famous enough to have made it into Wikipedia!

  15. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the extras, Eileen. I was careful to describe the thematic answers as well-known groups, as probably almost any word you can think of is the name of some obscure band somewhere ;). I look forward to inviting you all to the début of my band Competent Gucci at the Albert Hall (with support by Futurist Gyro and the Tooth Fairies).

    (added) For more band name fun see

  16. Andrew says:

    Regarding 2dn – I can see why people don’t like the AN, but I think it’s OK if you look at as being in two separate parts: A = AN, and job = chore (as opposed to “a job” being “an chore”).

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    “probably almost any word you can think of is the name of some obscure band somewhere ;)”

    Absolutely, as I found! I was only including the ones who’d actually produced records / cds but have just found this!

    [I’m going to stop now!]

  18. Mark H says:

    Max,thanks for pointing out Detroit, they were indeed a band but the Wikipedia entry only runs to one brief paragraph with no discography, so not exactly household names. Does the selection reflect Brummies tastes in music, a bit varied I think?

  19. NeilW says:

    Before the interweb made it all unnecessary, living overseas, I subscribed to the International Herald Tribune, which carried a syndicated column by the humorist Dave Barry one of whose trademarks was to add to any unlikely phrase the remark that it would make a wonderful name for a rock band – he was there long before you all! Coming further back on topic, I searched for a nina to acknowledge the rather random scattering of bands through the puzzle, which would have made for a neater construction but I can’t see anything…

  20. Stella Heath says:


    I saw the theme early on, ‘blur’ and ‘dire straits’ being two of my first words in, but convinced myself it must be 80’s-90’s Brit-pop, and was on the look-out for Oasis.

    I did recognise other names – ‘Cream’ threw me off track, as I know they were much earlier, and a few others were vaguely familiar but, as I’ve mentioned before, I´ve been away for too long :)

    It seems this puzzle was scrupulously fair, since I’ve rarely seen so few qualms on this site. The only one that’s come up is 2d, and I agree with Andrew; we often see ‘a’ as a clue for ‘an’, regardless of the following word.

  21. rrc says:

    Never too keen on Brummie’s puzzles, so approached this hesitantly

    Spotted the theme quite early on, so that actually helped solve a number of clues

    I actually enjoyed this one and that is unusual for me and brummie

  22. Rishi says:

    I am uncomfortable in having to get AN from ‘a’.

    one = A or AN (straight)

    Similarly, no stretch is involved in a = A or an = AN. In fact, we get the latter for free.

    But in the case of a = an, I think it’s a = one = AN.

    I don’t like this stretch.

  23. cyniccure says:

    Could I just point out the neat use of the word ‘nutty’ in 28a? Madness were/are frequently referred to as the nutty boys.

  24. Bryan says:

    Brian (with an eye) @13

    Good one!

    Bryan (with a why)

  25. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew for an excellent blog and Brummie for a fun puzzle tough in places

    I solved this intermittently around a number of (welcome) interruptions from young g-children and meeting an old friend. I did not notice the theme till Andrew hinted at it and then I didn’t know many of the groups – my children are already too old for me to have known them as part of their young culture when at home.

    But Andrew’s hint helped me immediately better understand The Scaffold which had rather troubled me as pretty ‘nasty’ if just on its own.

    I thought many clues were excellent, and it says something for the puzzle that it was quite solvable without the theme. In some ways I am happier to have done this.

    I briefly tried ‘tables’ for one down but didn’t like it, naturally enough. I also kept wanting to fit ‘top’ into 24d. I missed the ‘modern terms’ meaning in 23 but the answer is itself unmissable.

    Best clues include 9 (I imagine this might worry some as too obscure?), 11 (really good cd), 13, 17 (tried to fit in ‘Dis’ at first), and 24.

    2d. is a bit of a stretch any way round but fits within my conception of the ‘accessibly poetic’ – though I realise that’s much too grand a term for such a mundane little shift.

  26. Myrvin says:

    Late to this today.
    Has anyone mentioned that TOOTH FAIRY has two cryptic defs? So not as one-sided as Rufus.
    Didn’t spot the theme until I was looking over the finished puzzle.
    Thanks for Goochie. I don’t like rats = lice, nor AN in anchor. It would be OK if CHORe began with a vowel.

  27. Maureenis60 says:

    Thanks for the blog,Andrew and the hint about a theme. I do not usually get on at all well with Brummie, so was pleased with my effort today after I spotted the theme. I have to agree that ANCHOR is clumsy and doesn’t quite work but I liked TOOTH FAIRY. Band names remain bizarre, my son has a band called Boxcar Aldous Huxley and is also in another band called I Know I Have No Collar!! (Watch out for them if you live in the Bristol area!)

  28. Brigadier Carruthers says:

    Gnosis is a band too. Much less famous than the others in here.

  29. Claire says:

    I can’t believe we didn’t spot the theme, even after finishing it, all bar one (didn’t get Police – probably would have done if we’d twigged). The Scaffold should have been a dead giveaway – Lily The Pink was my dad’s favourite record.

    Thanks Brummie, and everyone else for the further elucidations

  30. Myrvin says:

    I’ve gone off the idea of a DD for the TOOTH FAIRY. The clue seems to go on forever (at least Rufus is fairly brief) and I thought ‘night visitor’ would do for the whole clue. ‘Dining equipment’ would be another clue for TOOTH. but I can’t find the FAIRY. Story of my life!
    Tooth Fairy was the nickname of the killer in Silence of the Lambs.

  31. slipstream says:

    Well, Gnosis is . . . sort of a secret.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We thought a very good puzzle.
    The second one today, so to those who didn’t do the Alberich in the FT: take your chances while you can!

    Only a pity [well, in fact a real miss] of 2d.
    I think the editor should have seen this, moreover since it could be amended very easily (“Secure a new job, almost”).
    And in 5ac (although a nice clue): ‘life’ = ‘biography’?
    On the other hand, splendid use of the slash in 25ac, which had a magnificent surface anyway.

    What I like about the theme is, that there’s is no real reference to it in the crossword – so you can solve the puzzle without knowing any of these bands.
    I think Brummie intended to have 9 of them (ok, Detroit, ah well).
    It was a tough puzzle and the NW was our last bit.
    Because we saw the theme earlier on, we thought there had to be at least one more band apart from Traffic in that section of the grid. Alas.
    BTW, we (and in particular, my PinC) found 1d (TIGHTS) a very good clue.

    Very impressive, Eileen, that you found five more bands :).
    As bands are calling themselves Anything That’s Passable nowadays, I thought maybe every single word wóuld possibly refer to a band.
    That would have been fun, well, kind of.
    Only ANCHOR is a real band too, produced some albums.
    And TOOTHFAIRY (one word), GYRO and FUTURIST made dance/electronic records in the last decade.
    But that’s not really what we think of when we talk about ‘bands’, is it?

  33. Myrvin says:

    I enjoy the music of Anything That’s Passable. They’re a sort of new romantic house garage with rap.

  34. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    I don’t understand your problem re ‘life = biography’. All of my dictionaries [SOED, Collins and Chambers] give it.

    Just one example:

    And yes, I’m sure you [and Andrew] are right, that bands fitting all the clues could have been found but, as I said, I gave up. Just a bit of time-wasting fun!

  35. Little Dutch Girl says:

    How embarrassing – despite being children of the 60s we didn’t realise that there was a theme until we read the blog!!

    Thanks for pointing it out Andrew!

    Most groan-worthy clue was 1a. Lots of good clueing today.

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK, Eileen, no problem re ‘life’.
    But mainly because I feel that it’s right now, nót just because the dictionaries tell me [even if that’s the only criterium, in Crosswordland anyway].
    As you know I am not British and my ‘feel’ for words and language finds its origins in 50+ years on the other side of the North Sea.
    There are a lot of similarities in these ‘feelings’, but ‘life’=’life story’ wasn’t one of them.
    However, I do get it now.

  37. Eileen says:

    Hi again, Sil

    “But mainly because I feel that it’s right now, nót just because the dictionaries tell me”

    I would hope, if you have managed to read me over the last months, that you know of my thoughts re dictionaries! :-) I, too, always go by what I feel to be right but, on this site, there’s always the need to provide lexicographical evidence – even if I don’t always agree with it!

    As I said, I personally have no problem with ‘life = biography’, as in the example I quoted.

    Or, just a little bit more up to date, how about ?

  38. stiofain says:

    I enjoyed this one and see that there were a few music refs in todays quickie too, there was even a dead kennedy (california punk band dead kennedys)

  39. Gerry says:

    Amazed that I didn’t spot the bands theme.

    Surprised I got ‘refulgent’ without difficulty, it’s not a word I use a lot(!)

    I laughed, as others did, at 11ac (‘discarded item of dining equipment’). Very good.

    Didn’t care much for 19d. Would’ve been surer ‘police’ was correct if I’d cottoned onto the theme.

  40. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    Good puzzle from Brummie,with a few smiles along the way.
    I always take a while to get into his way of thinking but his clueing is usually fair.Spotted the theme after getting THE SCAFFOLD and even though I work in a record shop I must admit some of the bands dug out here were completely unknown to me.
    As cyniccure @23 says the “nutty” part of the clue for MADNESS was very apt.
    Probably unitentional but the wording of 27 across reminded me of the Gil Scott-Heron song

    Sil,I much prefer your version of 2 down,a very small change in wording for a much improved clue.

    My quibble is with the enumeration for 17 down.As far as I can see(Chambers and a couple of internet dictioary sites) HELL-BENT should be hyphenated.Whilst it is normal in barred puzzles to ignore hyphens in the enumeration,this is not usually the case in blocked puzzles(see 5 across in this puzzle).

  41. stiofain says:

    Well spotted Scarpia Gil is one of my faves

  42. Roger says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    I had originally thought of over or perhaps turn for 24d, both of which would have done rather nicely.
    But then along came the crossing letters and spoiled it all :(

  43. mhl says:

    Thanks for the helpful post, Anderew.

    Was it just me who didn’t know exactly how many sheets there are in a ream, and ended up with DREAM instead of CREAM? It doesn’t quite work (I was thinking “their dream house”, which couldn’t really be “their finest house”) but an easy mistake to make if you’re trying to solve fast…

  44. Gary says:

    OKAY, I get this is meant to be “reminisce with every body about our childhoods”, the location where the target group is a variety of twenty-year olds. Thus I won’t criticise the omission with all the different classics. But I am going to point out this really shows exactly how even in its best moments number has really slipped. None worth mentioning songs can assess to “I wanna often be like you” in addition to “The Bare Necessities” (Jungle book)

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