Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,094 / Pasquale

Posted by mhl on August 20th, 2010

mhl.

I’m a big fan of Pasquale’s puzzles, but today was just one of those days when I was completely hopeless – I found this very difficult, ran out of time and so had to cheat on lots of these before writing the post. The cryptic readings of all the clues are quite clear and they’re fairly clued, just with plenty of references (and a few words) that I didn’t know. Some very nice clues in here, anyway – I hope others found this less challenging!

Four of the clues refer to Janet Street-Porter’s description of television management as being made up of the dreaded Four M’s: male, middle class, middle-aged and mediocre.

Across
5. BLIGHT “A particular Christian” is Fletcher Christian, whose superior on the Bounty was Captain BLIGH + [admi]T
6. CARIES I = “one” in CARES = “worries”
9. ESCROW WORSE reversed = “in poorer health, about” around C = “cold”
10. INCIDENT INDENT = “Official order” around CI = [Channel] “islands”; I wasn’t familiar with this sense of INDENT, but it’s in all the dictionaries
11. MALE Sounds like “mail” = “post for the audience” – the first of the themed clues
12. SACRAMENTO (ACT OARSMEN)*
13. MIDDLE CLASS MIDDLE C = “Note” (not sure about “as the answer here” – it’s in the middle columns, I suppose, but it would be nicer if it were a down clue so it could be read as “middle column”) + LASS = “female”. The second of the themed clues.
18. FORGETTING GETTING = “winning?” with FOR = “In favour of” first; the definition is “Thinking no more of”
22. MEDIOCRE ME = “First person” + DIRE = “terrible” around CO reversed = “company back”. The third of the Ms.
23. MINUTE Rather than IN = “at home” around MUTE = “keeping silent”, it’s the other way around (“On the contrary”); the definition is “Baby”
24,25. STREET-PORTER STREET = “The way” + PORTER = “beer”
Down
1. DISRAELI DIS = “Be impertinent to” (slang for “to show disrespect for” – nice to see a change from the usual “hell” / “city of the dead” for DIS!) + RA = “artist” + ELI = “priest”; the (very difficult) definition is Beaconsfield: Benjamin DISRAELI was the 1st Earl of Beaconsfield
2. SHAWMS SHAW = “Bearded author” + MS = “script”. I thought of many bearded authors while trying to solve this clue, but not George Bernard Shaw…
3. CATCH-ALL H = “Henry” (abbreviation for the SI unit of inductance) in CATCALL = “expression of disapproval”
4,21. MIDDLE-AGED AGED is in the middle of trAGEDian, so a “Core feature”. The fourth M of Janet Street-Porter’s quotation.
5. BUSBAR Double defintion: “conductor” (in the electical sense) and a cryptic allusion that a BUS BAR might offer drinks to travellers. A lovely clue, but tough because of the obscure word.
7. SANITY A nice &lit: SAY around NIT
8. DISCREDITED DISC = “record” + RED = “embarrassed” + I = “one” + TED [Heath] = “ex-Tory PM”
14. DETACHED DEED + “Act” around (CHAT)*
15. STAGNATE NAT = “natural” (as in NatSci for Natural Sciences, I suppose?) in STAGE = “step”
16. COZENS C followed by ZEN = “religious school” in OS = “very big”; ZEN is “a school of of Mahāyāna Buddhism”
17. BETTER BEER = “booze” around TT (teetotal) = “not wanting any”
19. GRI-GRI The definition is “Charm” – AR (Anne Regina) was the predecessor of GRI (George I)
20. GAMMON G = “good” + AMMON = “pagan god” – apparently the Greek spelling of Amun

79 Responses to “Guardian 25,094 / Pasquale”

  1. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. This has to be the worst crossword published in the Guardian for some time. The obscure solutions made me decide not to bother trying to finish it. Gri-Gri, Cozens, and all that Street-Porter nonsense….

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl

    I didn’t like this even one little bit.

    I suspect that The Grauniad is feeling the Credit Crunch and puzzles that had previously been rejected are now being released.

    I blame Gordon Brown.

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Mark – congratulations on a superb blog: I certainly didn’t envy you this one, although I thought yesterday I’d have liked a Pasquale!

    I’ve a busy day today [that's my excuse!], so cheated on quite a lot of this. Not being a fan of the woman in question, I didn’t know the key quotation, which didn’t help. It’s [mostly] clear now.

  4. Eileen says:

    PS

    Apologies for absent-mindedly blowing your cover – but I think you’ve done it yourself before now. ;-)

  5. mhl says:

    Eileen: don’t worry, I’m not trying to be anonymous – my full name is on the “bloggers” page linked from my initials  :) (My login is just “mhl” for consistency with my earliest comments on this site.)

  6. Myrvin says:

    Thank you mhl and Good God to Pasquale.
    Had to cheat on 11. Haven’t had to do that for a while.
    I didn’t know what the hell was going on with this.
    Didn’t know the quote. Don’t like the woman.
    GRI-GRI looks like desperation to fit in. Not in my Chambers.
    I know it’s part of the quote, but I wasted ages with MIDDLE AGED because I couldn’t believe there would be two answers with the same word in them.
    Sigh!

  7. Steve and Claire says:

    We found this one hard going too, but there were some good clues albeit with rather obscure solutions. It certainly tested our general knowledge! Thanks for your clear explanations mhl.

  8. sidey says:

    I didn’t get any answers. What a dreadful thing.

    Actually I don’t understand most of it even with the answers.

  9. Brigadier Carruthers says:

    Quite a toughie, had to cheat on 16d because I got hopelessly hung up on religious schools and haddrassahs when it was staring me in the face.

    Being a fan of Dr. John & The Neville Brothers and several other New Orleans musicians 19d was not as opaque to me as to many.

    As for the journalist and quote. Took me a while to get the name but had to laugh at how many times 24 had occurred to me (without 25) even when I knew it was a journo name. The quote itself still eludes me but I thought the contributary elements were quite strong so the absence of further definition didn’t trouble me.

    Wouldn’t like them to be this hard too often, the whinging on the G X blog is awful fierce.

  10. Myrvin says:

    tupu. After your posts yester-evening. I think there could be a movie in this. I see a boys’ school; and a maverick teacher played by – oh – someone like Robbie Williams. We could call it “Dead Setters Society”.
    “Oh Ximenes! My Ximenes!”

  11. mhl says:

    Yes, just so that the conversation doesn’t turn that way, perhaps I could just add a (hopefully unnecessary!) reminder that setters do read the commentary on fifteensquared, and that although this was certainly a difficult puzzle, the cluing was of very high quality and the Guardian does aim to have a variety of difficulty levels throughout the week. (I just say this because sometimes there’s an unfortunate effect where one or two people express very personal outrage about a puzzle, and succeeding comments seem to try to outdo them…)

  12. Myrvin says:

    Sadly, Quantum and Rover will not be reading their comments.

  13. Gaufrid says:

    Myrvin @10
    Please keep your comments on-topic, ie relevant to the puzzle being discussed. I don’t what to have to start deleting comments or moving them elswhere.

    There is a separate section on this site for general chat which was specifically introduced to stop puzzle related posts from getting cluttered up with off-topic banter.

  14. Myrvin says:

    Gosh! Will do!

  15. Stella Heath says:

    I hadn’t heard of Ms. Street-Porter, but managed to work out her name from the clue. Then went to Wiki wondering what on earth a street porter had to do with journalism. The article was very informative and, though it didn’t include the quote, gave me enough info to be able to guess the associated answers from the crossing letters.

    Other words – 2,6,18 and 19 down – were completely obscure, though I’ve a feeling I’ve come across 19 before, as it came to mind quite easily, with no idea what it is. I cheated for the last letter on 18 (z), and half-cheated (used an on-line solver) for the other two.

    As you say though, msn, the clues were strictly fair and though I felt daunted at first, I actually quite enjoyed this in the end.

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. This was a real toughie! I needed google for the Street-Porter quote and the check button (many times) to finish. Even so, didn’t get BUSBAR.

    Like the Brigadier @9, I’m also a fan of Dr John, which helped with GRI-GRI, and I also knew SHAWMS. But I was imagining the protests as I solved them!

    I liked 17dn and 18ac, both of which raised smiles.

  17. tupu says:

    Many thanks mhl and thanks grudgingly to Pasquale

    This is the first puizzle in several months of daily assiduity that I have failed to complete. I didn’t cheat but I did have to look up several words to check e.g. shawms.

    I sat for some time before getting anything, then Disraeli appeared again, but I had to guess the modern meaning of ‘dis’. I got Street-Porter OK and then Middle-Class ( a good clue and one of the view that raised a smile) and eventually the rest of that set.

    Only one answer escaped me. This was 5d. I’m sure that mhl is right about this. It was my last and I plumped for BUSMAN. Chambers gives this as a conductor. While checking this I also saw ‘bus’ with the idea of helping replenish in a restaurant and assumed a ‘busman’ might be fancifully thought of as offering drinks to his passengers. Not far off really and it might have done, if Busbar (darn it!) did not happen to exist!

    As I once remarked before, it is very easy to set an impossible examination! This wasn’t a million miles away from that.

    I liked caries, the S-P set, 18a, 23a, and 19 (once I’d seen what it must be and checked it).

    One small quibble. Isn’t Aged the middle of ‘a tragedian’.

    I suppose there is some sense of satisfaction in (almost) getting it all right, and I am ‘glad’ that some of the ‘experts’ found it tough, but what a grind!

  18. Matt says:

    Afraid I didn’t enjoy this at all and failed to complete half of it. Obscure answers are OK when fairly clued, but for me there’s too many of them and I think some of the terms in the cluing parts were hard as well. I think it relied too much on general knowledge too – personally I love Janet Street Porter but have never heard the quote (I use another one of her’s a lot though about male members on the table in meetings). Unfortunatley I’ve never heard of Fletcher Christian, I assume Cozens is a person? Gri-Gri huh?, Caries? Busbar? Disraeli’s link to Beaconfield? Shawm? Indent? AR meaning Anne Regina – true I know, but GRI to mean George Rex I?

    However, I think it’s only fair to have really tough ones sometimes for the really expert solvers. I also think that it would be sad day if the Grauniad rang me to check my general knowledge for each crossword!

    I guess I’ll do the Quiptic today.

  19. walruss says:

    Plainly a failure by Pasquale, who has included many obscure words in his recent puzzles, if memory serves. Incredible really how someone who is supposed to know so much about The Craft can alienate his solvers! I mean if we are struggling here at 15 Squared, what must it be like for everyday punters?! Dear, oh dear.

  20. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. This was tough, but that doesn’t mean it wasn’t good. I broke through with MEDIOCRE, cheated with the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations and found the Street-Porter name and quote. But there were other trials. I needed the dictionary to confirm BUSBAR and Google to explain Beaconsfield in 1d. Even then I was left with 16d unresolved. Thanks Pasquale for material for a wet afternoon.

  21. Mr. Jim says:

    This is probably the toughest crossword we’ve ever attempted. After nearly an hour, we only had SACRAMENTO and a knowledgable friend had given us GAMMON.

    Admittedly the crosswords from earlier this week have been a bit on the easy side, but this was brutal.

    Also fwiw, I have only ever seen DISS for disrespect, never with one S.

    Cheers mhl for explaining the (many) things I didn’t understand.

  22. tupu says:

    The differences between us in the things we severally know and don’t know are interesting – as I suppose one sees from TV programmes like Mastermind and U. Challenge. Only a few competitors know all of it (or nearly so). Today I had no idea about Gri-Gri and Dr John or shawms and had to work them out from scratch (as mhl remarks, the fairness of the cluing really matters here). On the other hand caries, the mutiny on the Bounty, and Disraeli and Beaconsfield are part of my mental kit, and some other words like escrow and cozens are on the edge of it. A puzzle like this brings out that we ourselves (and not just we and the US) are ‘divided by a common language’, age, experience and culture (in a general sense so no need to ‘reach for a gun’!).

  23. Shirley says:

    Before Don shoots himself over all these negative comments we loved this one and it’s taken us all morning to solve with only a bit of help. We’d never heard Janet Street Porter’s comments either but we worked them out eventually.
    I’m surprised most readers of these blogs have not heard of Beaconsfield and shawms and Fletcher Christian but we were stumped by Queen Anne and thought AR might refer to Alan Rusbridger and wondered if he’d been fired!
    Thanks Don for a very entertaining morning

  24. Barbara says:

    I was unable to find the Street-Porter quote which was the theme of this puzzle. Could somebody please enlighten me?
    Barbara

  25. snigger says:

    @19 “Dear, oh dear” indeed. Printed off, looked at, binned.

    I doubt i shall ever use, or ever have need of many of the answers –err not least of all one Ms Street Porter.

  26. rrc says:

    The first time Ive abandoned a guardian crossword 75% complete having lost interest and then failing to understand a range of clues.

  27. Pasquale says:

    Too many mediocre middle-aged male solvers here, obviously!

  28. Shirley says:

    Barbara – see attached
    “But there are still backwaters of the BBC where the M people – male, middle-class, middle-aged and mediocre – reign supreme”.

    Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/femail/article-1262959/Women-skinned-present-Radio-4s-Today-What-mediocre-middle-aged-male-BBC-said-that.html#ixzz0x9Tg16tO

  29. Gaufrid says:

    Barbara

    The full quote is from the MacTaggart Lecture, Edinburgh Television Festival, 25 August 1995 (so perhaps this puzzle should have been scheduled for next Wednesday).

    “A terminal blight has hit the TV industry nipping fun in the bud and and stunting our growth. This blight is management – the dreaded Four M’s: male, middle class, middle-aged and mediocre.”

    mhl only included the last (relevant) part in his preamble, though the full quote indicates that 5ac could be considered thematic.

  30. Chris says:

    Challenging, unsolvable? no! to me this was difficult initially but with time 4 hours doable. well done!

  31. Derek Lazenby says:

    Being at the lower end of the solvers here, it will come as no surprise to any one that I managed two and gave up. But it is reassuring that I was not alone in this, so all the negative comments actually do serve some positive purpose!

    And I can’t resort to the Quiptic ‘cos I did that on Wednesday as research for the shall we blog it thread.

    Maybe it’s a day for just sloping off to the bookies! Before you all think I’m an inveterate gambler, can I just explain that in order to get out of the house to relieve the boredom of recovery, I was spending around £3 a day on afternoon snacks or ciders. So now I spend exactly £3 at the bookies instead. Six 50p bets keeps me occupied for a while and gives some random company. And the returns mean I’m now spending a lot less than £3 a day overall. There is method in the miserable old git’s madness! LOL.

  32. Will Mc says:

    A typically humble response from Mr Manley.

  33. cholecyst says:

    Thanks mhl and Pasquale. I, too, found this difficult but ultimately satisfying. Why do people take against the setter just because they can’t finish the puzzle? Or sometimes, because they can? I’d never heard of busbar (which I notice is not in my spell-checker) – thought it might be barman (as in bars of music.

  34. Bryan says:

    Decidedly Ungentle Manley.

  35. muck says:

    I thought this puzzle tough (didn’t get 5a, 5d, guessed 9a, didn’t get 11a or the theme, stupidly didn’t get 16d). But all the clues were fair. So thanks mhl & 15sqd commenters

  36. JamieC says:

    I got very stuck on this, but I didn’t think any of the clues were bad or unfair, and some of them were very good. Where this puzzle differed from the approach taken by many, including in notionally more difficult puzzles, is that obscure words were clued with obscure wordplay (viz. 19d particularly). That doesn’t make it a bad puzzle, it just makes it difficult. If we could all solve every puzzle every day in 5 minutes it would be rather boring and we would learn nothing. I learned a lot today, so thank you Mr Manley. That said, I’m looking forward to Rufus on Monday…

  37. tupu says:

    Thanks Pasquale for what I trust is a good-natured jab.

    :) I took solace for a moment that it might leave me off the hook at least on one score – I’m no longer middle-aged! But then gloom returned. :)

    As I implied earlier, it seems likely to be easier to set an impossible puzzle than a really tough one, and I should have added that I appreciate the careful aim and judgment needed to position this one on the right side of that line.

  38. tupu says:

    Hi Gaufrid

    Thanks for that extra bit of light. Not that it would have helped as I worked out Charles Laughton and the 4ms from the clues – sounds a bit like a Grim(m) fairytale!

  39. Carrots says:

    Strewth mhl, this was a parker-and-a-half! After initially solving at a rate of 3 clues a pinta, I thought this was good enough to justify playing truant for the rest of the day. Not difficult when volunteering one`s services, but it makes me wonder how many in gainful employment have shared my example and triggered a double-dip recession.

    Even armed with magic box and reference works I have struggled to get within 7 clues of completion and finally thrown in the towel at 4.50pm. Your liberating blog was as savoured as a rare wine, sipped and sniffed at in slow, measured sips. I shall open a bottle of Condrieu tonight with my Turbot and toast your remarkably early victory.

    Meanwhile, I shall retire hurt to the pub and massacre today`s Times puzzle whatever its complexity…just for the hell of it.

  40. johnb says:

    As a middle aged solver (or nearly – I entered busman) who worked it all out from the clues (in three 20 minute settings) I have to say I sympathise with Don P’s comment. This was a hard (but impeccably clued) daily cryptic – but far from the hardest we’ve had, for me at any rate.

    And that’s the point: for the individual. All of us have general commonplace language at our disposal, all of us have some kind of special interests, and all of us great murky pools of reference out of which we may be lucky to find less immediate answers. Shawms, cozens, Gri-Gri and escrow came from such pools for me, but I’ve been stuck on other cryptic crosswords. There’s a random element to what we know, so if the clues are fair, and there’s a sufficient scattering of general usage, what’s obscure is a matter of subjectivity. I do think suggesting the crossword is flawed because we all have different ‘pools’ of knowledge is sad: the joy of the whole thing includes these limits being challenged and extended.

  41. tupu says:

    Hi johnb

    I take your point and hope that I did not give an impression that I myself felt the puzzle was flawed because we all have our own stores of knowledge and experience. I was simply commenting on that as it emerged from the various comments. As I also pointed out, the fact that one could work out answers from the clues themselves was particularly important.

    Having just missed the bus(bar) myself, I am glad to have a fellow sufferer on that one. It wouldn’t have been a bad answer in a less rigourously designed puzzle!

    You did well to get that far in 3 X 20 min spells. I certainly took longer than that, and thought I wasn’t going to get anywhere at first.

    Let’s see what tomorrow brings. I’m looking forward to the blog on last week’s Saturday puzzle.

  42. xanthomam says:

    Re: the whole sorry thing. Why don’t some of the regular geniuses write a set of clues for Street-Porter that lead to the solutions: Whingeing. Wailing. Woefully. Witless. Woman.

  43. johnb says:

    Dear Tupu

    How good of you to respond! It wasn’t your postings that prompted my unwonted contribution, but the frank negativity of some of the earlier ones. I sympathised with Pasquale, wouldn’t want him to stop setting puzzles like this, and was amused by his provocative, and possibly not entirely untrue, comment.

    Thanks for the compliment on time – I’d be embarrassed to say how long crosswords that have been treated here as far easier have sometimes taken me! But that was also part of my point – my 3 x 20 would suggest, if some people here are right, that I am a man of superb (if obscure) erudition, that what I know from current affairs is comprehensive (if trivial/recondite), etc, etc. My rate on other crosswords would suggest someone more at the idiot end of the spectrum. The mediocre truth is somewhere in between – and the best setters are constantly teasing me about that, and pushing me steadily away from idiocy, or ‘infra-mediocrity’ towards the (often hugely entertaining) ‘ultra-mediocre’ part of the spectrum!

    Like you, I’m looking to the future!

  44. muck says:

    tupu said “I’m looking forward to the blog on last week’s Saturday puzzle.” me too

  45. stiofain says:

    Pasquale @27 are you dissing us Don?

  46. Pasquale says:

    Nay, but I tell you what — there’s a fab dot-to-dot on p 15 of G2!

  47. Dave Ellison says:

    Do you regard the comment @27 on topic, Gaufrid? I am trying to be charitable but I find it insulting.

  48. KB Pike says:

    To Pasquale (Nr.27)
    Ignore the whingers. How daft to dislike a puzzle just because you find it difficult! Tells me more about the would-be solver than the puzzle. I enjoyed this puzzle immensely, even though I abhor the SP woman and had never heard of her rant. More of the same standard, please.

    Btw, I understand you have many guises as a setter – where do your very best (= hardest) puzzles appear and under what alias?

  49. Eileen says:

    Dave E.

    I really hope you’re not being serious!

    Pasquale #46 Nice one – but we have to remember that not everyone here actually buys the paper! Reminds me of the joke about the Essex blondes who congratulated themselves on finishing, in three hours, a jigsaw puzzle which said on the box ’2-4 years’.

    Visitors gone – busy day over – having read the comments, I wish I’d left it until later, without cheating, But even more in awe of mhl for blogging so early.

    I think I missed a treat – but [sneakingly] still quite thankful, I think, that I didn’t have to blog it ! :-)

  50. Gaufrid says:

    Dave Ellison @47
    Pasquale is entitled to respond to those who have criticised and/or complained about his puzzle so, no, I don’t think it is off-topic.

    The fact that he has done so in (what I perceive as) a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek manner indicates to me that he has risen above the barbed comments that some have posted.

    However, I do accept that there could be an alternative way of reading the comment but I do not think that it would have been Pasquale’s intented meaning (though I’m sure he will correct me if I’m wrong).

  51. Mick H says:

    Never having heard of a BUSBAR I had BUSMAN for 1dn, with ‘conductor’ as the def, and I guessed maybe a busman was a grown-up busboy who’s therefore allowed to serve drinks as well as clear tables!

  52. tupu says:

    Hi Mick H

    Me too! And same logic. See 17 (middle).
    See also Johnb. A decent try but not good enough I’m afraid (see 41) for a puzzle of this quality.

  53. Dynamic says:

    Derek @31, I’ve posted here on the Quiptic thread some easy ways to find a few hundred excellent Quiptic crosswords on days when the cryptic is too tough or you want to train your cryptic abilities in ‘gettable’ puzzles.

    This was appropriately tough for a Friday, and I don’t mind the deliberate variation in difficulty and obscurity. I guess I’m not the most gifted solver, so often resort at least to checking something deduced from worplay and usually learn something, which is part of the pleasure. I’m the opposite of a few commenters. Busbar and some of the others were words I know well, while Disraeli’s title and some of the others many of you knew were beyond my ken. Nice to learn something.

    Thanks Pasquale, from an appreciative male, near-enough middle-class, mediocre solver who will soon tick off the fourth M.

  54. Daniel Miller says:

    Wow!!!!
    Where do I begin. If you read my comment yesterday I said I was aiming to complete the full set this week. So determined was I that I simply refused to give in to today’s offering – which I really have to say is one of the toughest weekday offerings I can remember in a long time. Now I’ve done it I can stand back and admire some EXCEPTIONALLY good and tough, teasing, clues. To wit:
    BLIGHT – throwing me off – thinking of Dior and religious connections
    ESCROW – a word we can barely recognise but one I had the misfortune to encounter when some of my money was held in Escrow when I was in The States last year – not funny!
    STREET-PORTER – totally throwing me for a long time
    SHAWMS – clearly a very old word.
    and as for GRI-GRI well – I salute you Pasquale…

  55. tupu says:

    kb pike @48
    There’s a list of Pasquale’s other guises and locations on the setters’ page of this site.

  56. Daniel Miller says:

    HMM – I stand corrected, dejected, beaten
    Busbar – I tried Busman (thinking it was some obscure Americanism – perhaps someone in the USA serves drinks!)
    Cozens – I went for Co-ven-s – assuming some relationship between TRICKERY and witches.. being (as I assumed) C (Conservative) – O (VEN) S

    Still – one hell of a tough set and I would definitely have called it a day 99 times in 100.

  57. Sil van den Hoek says:

    After reading all the comments (even twice), I started thinking.
    Thinking about why these comments were generally so unfavourable, even hostile.
    “What’s wrong with this crossword?”, was another thing I was thinking.

    It took us about an hour to complete the bottom half (although ‘Sacramento’ was the first one to go in – always thought it was a town (remember that mediocre, nowadays middle aged 70s band called Middle of the Road?)).
    The NE was eventually solved with the help of Mrs Chambers, but the corner to the left of that was a bridge too far (we only found MALE and DISRAELI).
    Tough? Yes. Too hard? Maybe. Fairly clued? Absolutely.

    So what’s wrong with this crossword?
    Everything’s well-clued [and well-blogged, mhl!] – and isn’t that what we want?
    Too many strange words that weren’t guessible/gettable perhaps? Not sure.
    Yes, a few, but too many?
    And would that be enough to bin this crossword? Don’t think so.
    There are nice clues too, like FORGETTING, BETTER, SANITY, MINUTE and so on.

    We always have some problems solving Pasquale’s puzzles and this was no exception, but getting as far as you can (which was far enough for us) can be rewarding too if it’s so well-written like it is here.

    Although I don’t like the way Pasquale replies in two posts above, I can understand his reaction after so much hostility from solvers.
    It looks like most of the criticasters show an attitude like “if I can’t solve the crossword completely, without aides and quickly enough, then it’s a bad crossword with the setter to blame”. If so, I think that’s not on.

    It was, technically seen, an immaculate crossword – very very tough, but fair.
    Some crosswords are harder than others, and this wasn’t one of the others.

  58. stumper says:

    having the n and t in 7d, I entered “finite” (fie around nit) which seems plausible both in terms of “fie” = “say” and in terms of what may be not within the bounds of the fool. Not as good as “sanity”, but surely it’s inelegant for the clue to copy out a word which will then encircle another?

  59. tupu says:

    Hi Sil

    Pretty fair comment. I like an intellectual challenge and this provided one. It was scrupulously constructed and fair.

    There were good moments – e.g. seeing the SP set – and others I have listed. And it felt good to get c. 97.5% right. I criticise myself if anyone re busbar – it was guessable and I was seduced by the meaning of bus I mentioned.

    I think one problem was that for the likes of me it took a bit too much time and in the end I felt a little ‘aesthetically under-rewarded’ ( :)late night pompous-ese for not enough aha!) for the effort.

  60. Scarpia says:

    Thanks mhl.
    I thought this was a super puzzle,tough and perhaps obscure in parts,but certainly not unsolvable(though I see I was wrong at 5 down,having but BUSMAN,thinking it was a variant of BUSBOY).The other “obscurities” were known to me(though GRI GRI is more familiar as GRIS GRIS) and made a pleasant change from references to the Simpsons or obscure TV comedy shows.
    I didn’t know the JS-P quote but managed to get the answers from the wordplay.
    I remember writng here some time back that the Don was not one of my favourite setters,his last few puzzles have totally changed that opinion – more power to your elbow sir!
    BLIGHT,SANITY and MEDIOCRE were brilliant.
    All in all a very satisfying solve.

  61. Colin Greenland says:

    I too found this very tough, and had to guess and Google a lot. So what? I’d always rather one of those than a pushover.

    Still didn’t understand 11a or 19d, so thanks very much for explaining those.

    17d is brilliant, isn’t it?

  62. Scarpia says:

    Hi Colin.
    You’re right 17 down is brilliant,so many super clues that I forgot to mention that one.

  63. Stan says:

    I thought I’d had a stroke and forgot how to do crosswords.

    It’s not me – right ?

  64. MikeS says:

    Thanks Pasquale you definitely made me feel male, middle aged and mediocre today. I will solve your next puzzle lying on a bed of nails to enhance the experience.

  65. Gerry says:

    I managed some of the tough ones, shawms, escrow, blight, gri-gri (though puzzled by it), but not 15d, 23ac or 17d.

    Not a Street-Porter fan either, which made getting those clues a chore.

  66. PeeDee says:

    Great crossword, but only just finished one day later! Wouldn’t like to see one like this every day though. After half an hour with only one solution I began to question my sanity, but it was all there to be found.

  67. Alex says:

    Now I’ve read the blog I can see that this was fairly clued, with a sprinkling of obscure words. Thanks for that mhl.

    But we couldn’t get started on this at all. Absolutely nowhere.

    Solving is as much about getting on the setter’s wavelength as anything else. I wasn’t so much on the wrong wavelength as failed to turn on the radio. But, given that it was clear that it was fairly set, that’s my failure rather than the setter’s.

    I’ll just have to take some comfort from having looked that the answers to last week’s prize crossword and seeing that we managed to wrestle Paul’s rebus into submission. So haven’t lost it completely!

  68. lonny2 says:

    I ‘clean’ solved the puzzle in 18 minutes, it is tough,which is fair, but it is also centred on the dumb musings of tv celeb of the direst order. If the setter thinks that repeating her drivel as self-defence proves some sort of point he is clearly a member of a very small fan club.

  69. Uncle Yap says:

    I am so glad I did not have time to do this yesterday. Today, after finishing the delightful prized crossword from the good Reverend, I took this up and like many, found the going tough at first until I decided to take the bull (oops, cow) by the horn and looked up Street-Porter (never heard of her but name is very obvious from the wordplay). After that, the penny dropped and it was a difficult but scrupulously fair puzzle.

    Thank you, Don for a most challenging puzzle and mhl for a most enlightening blog.

  70. tupu says:

    Hi Pasquale
    Thanks for the reference to the dot to dot. I looked this morning and I’m afraid it was too difficult for me.

  71. don says:

    Managed – eventually – all but 5 and 9 across and 5 down in the top left and 16 and 19 down and 22 across in the bottom left (still don’t understand 19 down, anybody?)

    I’m pleased to be described a MEDIOCRE, which I guess has the meaning of AVERAGE and NORMAL, something in crossword terms that Pasquake never has and never will understand.

    I don’t understand why Pasquale is rated of medium difficulty on the setters’ page.

  72. tupu says:

    Hi Don

    RE 19d. Charm is the definition. Grisgris or Gri-Gri (as here) is a kind of African charm. The word is in my Chambers under Grisgris. The route to the answer is that AR = Queen Anne and her successor was George I here shortened to GRI. Repeatedly evident tells you it is seen twice. Hope that helps.

    However P is rated generally this was clearly a very hard puzzle that few bloggers got completely right.

  73. Martin H says:

    Late again.

    Fair if the clue is fair? I suppose so, through gritted teeth (at the Street-Porter references). Are we in journalism territory here or celebrity culture? It’s not always easy to disentangle the two.

    Shouldn’t George the First be GIR and not GRI?

  74. Paul B says:

    Georgius Rex I would offer the G, the R, then the Roman numeral for 1, which is a capital I.

    I’d have to concede, as others have quite possibly delighted in doing, that this was a pretty tricky puzzle. But there we are: Friday puzzles can be almost as tricky as Saturday, or – perish the thought – Bank Holiday ones. And if we also say there’s no such thing as bad publicity …

  75. Martin H says:

    It’s not the letters that are wrong Paul, it’s their order. Traditionally, I think, you see GVIR or EIIR, for example, on coins, letterboxes etc – George the Sixth, King with the title coming last. I think use of the conventional form is certainly fair; variations on this I’m a bit dubious about. If Pasquale has simply invented GRI as an abbreviation for George I, it’s a bit weak, giving us George King the First or something. Perhaps he has a precedent, and I’ve nothing to complain about, but I’ve never seen it

  76. Big Dave says:

    According to both Chambers and Chambers XWD GRI stands for Georgius Rex Imperator (George, King and Emperor). Since the title, as Imperatrix, was first adopted by Victoria (VRI), it could not have been applied to George I, only to George V and George VI.

  77. Paul B says:

    Well, you’re both right, and superbly so, but according to the Blattant (don’t blame me, blame Spenser), Beastly Book of Crosswordese, your learnedness means nat an hen.

    There wouldn’t be anything unfair in using the constructions you give in your excellent posts (and I wish people would use them: it’s just finding any appropriate words!), but unfortunately, along with such abhorrations as Ulster = NI, we have to lump it when some fellow goes for the old George the First = GRI convention.

    I know you say you haven’t seen it, but believe me it’s out there. Lock your doors.

  78. maarvarq says:

    Tougher than I’d like, but still not as bad as some of the vicious offerings from “The Master” recently.

  79. ernie says:

    Picked this up again after several weeks. Interesting comments. I only filled in half a dozen clues initially: 6a 12a 1d 2d 3d 8d

    In industry, eg the electrolytic manufacture of aluminium, a BUSBAR conducts a high current (thousands of amperes) so has to be very thick. But the voltage needed per cell is small (less than for a toy electric train or scalectrix) so you would not get a shock if all the cells were in parallel (though the busbar might be very hot)

    GOITRE would have fitted instead of GRI-GRI, for a more familiar word. And I did not need a spellcheck to think up that one.

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