Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25128 / Pasquale

Posted by mhl on September 29th, 2010


This was a very high quality puzzle from Pasquale, but unfortunately too tough for me complete in the time I have available on a weekday. There are several new words or phrases for me here (e.g. 18a, 23a, 5d, 19d, 22d) so this was quite educational :)

1. BLOW IT LOW = “Depressed” in BIT = “scrap”; I was hampered here by immediately thinking of ruder variants of “I can’t be bothered”…
5. VAPORISE A very nice clue: (VIA PORES)*
9. FLETCHER F = “Loud” + LECHER = “luster after women” with T = “time” inside; FLETCHER was Ronnie Barker’s character in the sitcom Porridge; “time inside” is very neat here
10. RATIFY [g]RATIFY = “please”
11. AMAZING GRACE ZING = “Enthusiasm” in A MAG = “a periodical” + RACE = “contest”
13. HOPI HI = “greeting” around OP = “work”
14. INNOCENT INN = “pub” + O = “old” + CENT = “money”
17. BALLETIC BALL = “the Globe?” + CITE = “call” reversed
18. ORRA Hidden answer ([sp]ORRA[n]) for the Scots word; fortunately easily guessable from the clue
20. ADHESIVE TAPE Cryptic definition; I guessed this early on but didn’t put it because of not being sure about ADHESIVE TAPE being paper
23. ARRACK [b]ARRACK = “jeer”; this drink was new to me
24. PORPOISE POOR = “sorry”, and the heart of POOR is OO, so “sorry to be half-hearted” is P[o]OR + POISE = “self-confidence”
25. EYELINER EYE = “look at” + LINER = “aeroplane”; I guess the “Maybe” is to suggest that LINER for “aeroplane” would be rare except in “airliner”
26. MANTEL MAN = “bloke” on TEL = “phone”; Hilary Mantel is best known as the author of “Wolf Hall”
2. LULU LUL[l] = “endlessly calm” + U = “nobby” (as in U and non-U); I don’t get the “Impressive person” reference… Thanks to all those who explained this, kpbw just getting there first: “Chambers defines ‘Lulu’ as a slang term for an outstandingly bad or impressive thing or person.”
3. WITH A WILL WIT = “Comedian” + HAW = “fruity type” + ILL = “out of sorts”
4. TEHRAN [investmen]T + EH = “what” + RAN = “managed”
6. PARAGONS P = “Quiet” + ARAGON‘S = “region of Spain’s”
7. ROTOR Reversible indicating a palindrome
8. SOFT CENTRE The definition is “Feature of sweet”, and P = “soft” is the centre of gyPsy
12. LOCAL DERBY LO-CAL (low-calorie) = “Not energy-packed” + DERBY = “City!”; a nice clue
15. CLOSE DOWN SE = “Home Counties” + DO = “party” all in CLOWN = “comedian”
16. STRICKEN RICK = “strain” in NETS = “cricket practice” reversed
19. BAY RUM AY = “always” in BRUM (Birmingham) = “our second city”
21. EMAIL [th]EM = “half of them” + AIL = “trouble”
22. ASKE ASKE[w] = “out of line, destroyed ultimately”; Robert Aske was the leader of the Pilgrimage of Grace

29 Responses to “Guardian 25128 / Pasquale”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl this was too tough for me, never having heard of Hilary Mantel, Robert Aske or Orra.

    We can usually rely on Pasquale to produce some obscurities.

    There’s a typo in your 6d which should read ARAGON.

  2. mhl says:

    Thanks for the correction, Bryan – fixed now.

  3. kpbw says:

    Chambers defines ‘Lulu’ as a slang term for an outstandingly bad or impressive thing or person.

  4. Conrad Cork says:

    Lulu “an oustandingly bad or impressive thing or person” (Chambers)

  5. jmac says:

    Thanks for the blog. Chambers gives lulu as an impressive person. Fitting for a very impressive puzzle – thougt SOFT CENTRE and PORPOISE particularly ingenious.

  6. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for a great blog, mhl, and Pasquale for an enjoyable puzzle.

    Hi Bryan

    Sorry to remind you of this – comments 3 and 5

    You’ll remember her next time! ;-)

  7. Martin H says:

    A pretty solid offering from Pasquale, easier than his last one, I think.

    The clue to 23 includes ‘one’, which holds the surface together but has no bearing on the solution. Nor am I keen on ‘destroyed ultimately’ in 22. Like you. mhl, I find ‘tape’= ‘paper’ (20) a bit tenuous.

    ‘Lo-cal’ is nice in 12, and so is the soft centred gypsy, but 15 has two mouldy old chestnuts in ‘Home Counties’ and ‘party’. At least ‘U’ gets novel treatment in 2.

    Good to see Hilary Mantel getting a mention. Her ‘Beyond Black’ is a wonderfully sinister story.

  8. mhl says:

    Thanks for the explanations of LULU, kpbw, Conrad Cork and jmac. I’ve updated the post now. I was sadly Chambers-less by the time I was writing the post. [Insert usual grumble here about not being able to renew the online subscription, there not being a Kindle version, Chambers Harrap never responding to emails, etc. etc.]

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Well I managed to complete this in one sitting without too much hardship, which is very unusual for me, Pasquale being one of the harder setters.

    However, I didn’t think it was a very exciting Xword, run of the mill.

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl et al and Pasquale

    I completed this with some difficulty and one mistake.

    I did not know ‘lulu’, thought of it but thoughtlessly dismissed it in favour of ‘lily’ as a person of special whiteness or purity. But of course I could not make sense of the rest of the clue which was a pretty clever one.

    Most pleasing clues for me were 11a, 24a, 5d (I first thought this might be headless chicken!) and 8d. Otherwise the solutions seemed to involve more ‘ratification’ than ‘gratification’ on the whole.

    22a was hard but guessed and checked. I had heard of and forgotten Aske. I also had to guess and check orra.

    Like mhl I balked at first at ‘adhesive tape’ since it is not usually paper these days.

  11. Stella Heath says:

    That was tough, but fair. I had to resort to Wiki on a couple of answers, where I got the gist but didn’t know the person/plant in question.

    I don’t think it’s the first time ‘Virginia creeper’ has come up. Having now seen the photo in Wiki, I may remember it next time. And I shall have to brush up on Booker prize winners and English history. I’m now going back to Wiki to read up on the Pilgrimage of Grace :)

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Stella

    My front garden is at present partially covered in leaves from my neighbour’s Virginia creeper but it looks so beautiful at this time of year that I’m not really complaining.

    It was rather unfortunate that Hlary Mantel crossed with Robert Aske [whom I was fortunate to know from A Level History] but interesting that ‘Wolf Hall’, her Man Booker prize-winning novel – on my list of books still to be read – is about Thomas Cromwell, who oversaw the Dissolution of the Monasteries, which, among other things, gave rise to the Pilgrimage of Grace.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl. I found this quite tough and failed on LULU and ASKE. Not really on Pasquale’s wavelength today, which made it a bit of a slog.

    Eileen — I hope you enjoy Wolf Hall. I did, very much :-)

  14. Kate says:

    Rats! There I was feeling smug that I’d finished it without recourse to any reference books/google etc, but I got Royal Derby (without knowing why!) not Local Derby. :(

  15. Roger says:

    Thanks mhl and Pasquale ~ a sprinkling of new words for me also today but that’s how it should be, I think. Also went chasing headless chickens in 5d (tupu @ 10 … great minds or something … probably something !) and loved the soft-hearted gypsy at 8d. The clue for 22d reads like Robert Aske’s final years. So a sort of &lit, maybe ?

  16. Stella Heath says:

    Just a slight lapse, Kate, compared with my efforts :)

    Hi Eileen,

    That’s probably not entirely a coincidence, don’t you think?

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi Stella

    Yes, you’re probably right. I just meant that, if both were unfamiliar, there was less help with crossing letters.

    Thanks, liz – that’s what everyone tells me. I must spend less time doing crosswords and catch up! :-)

  18. Geoff Anderson says:

    8d – Isn’t ‘inside’ redundant? ‘Feature of sweet thing that gypsy has.’ What does ‘gypsy’ have? Soft centre. That makes perfect sense.

    Eileen, you must live further south than me (Worcester) for our 5d is only just tinged with red on a couple of leaves.

  19. walruss says:

    It was nice to see fewer very difficult words this time from Pasquale, but as Dave at 9 says, it seemed a bit of a chore, maybe trying too hard. Not the best Guardian setter by a good way.

  20. Eileen says:

    No, Geoff, [Leicester] but the 5dn here is at its peak, I would say – a glorious combination of all the colours it can be.

    I had the same thoughts as you about’inside’.

  21. AJK says:

    Too tough for me. Many thanks to Pasquale for organising the fabulous AZED lunch last Saturday. Work comittments have meant that this slow solver hasn’t a chance of finishing AZED 2000 before Saturday.

    To find out more about Robert Aske, I recommend CJ Sansome’s excellent ‘Sovereign’ thriller (and indeed the whole Shardlake series.

  22. Jim says:

    Like others, failed to solve clues for ASKE and MANTEL.

    Did not realise Birmingham= “second city”. Other Nickname(s): “Brummagem”, “City of a thousand trades”, “Workshop of the World”


  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    A typical Pasquale puzzle [99-100% fair, bit serious, some new words], which we ultimately couldn’t finish – missing out on two couples (STRICKEN & ARRACK and PORPOISE & ASKE).
    Some nice touches, but not as sparkling as this week’s Paul or Brendan.

    Stand-out clues perhaps LOCAL DERBY and SOFT CENTRE.
    Although, in the latter as others said ‘inside’ is probably superfluous. Moreover, I do not completely understand why Pasquale chose the word ‘gypsy’ for his device – I have a feeling that there must be words with a P in the centre that make a much better surface.

    In 4d we tried every single capital starting with a T [which is 3 …], initially opting for TALLIN (T+ALL-IN) which didn’t make sense for the second part of the clue [but an idea for a clue anyway].
    I presume ‘must’ is there for the surface, just like ‘one’ in 23’s ARRACK?
    Pasquale was a little bit wordier than usual anyway, the clue of 6d (PARAGONS) being another example as we eventually can do without ‘suitable for’, but it reads well of course.

    In the clue of 21d I had to think of my students (under 20’s): EMAIL ‘one of our modern messages’? Well, perhaps for me, not for them!

    In 26ac (MANTEL) Pasquale showed us that the (in)famous ‘on’-rule (as applied by The Times) is a flexible one in the eyes of the Guardian editor – btw, no problems with that.

    When we found FLETCHER (9ac) my PinC asked herself whether this was fairly clued. Not everyone will know this character [eg outside the UK] and there’s not really an indication that the solution will be a proper noun. The definition is rather general (one doing porridge). There is the allusion to the tv series Porrdige, but then ‘porridge’ should have been capitalised. Maybe Pasquale used the ‘ie’ to make clear that we had to look for a certain character. Of course the clue is cleverly worded, but as I said we were not sure whether it was 100% fair.

    Finally, 5d.
    I think, mhl [many many thanks], your parsing (I CAREERING)* in VIPER is not completely right.
    Even though it doesn’t that much difference, I think it has to be:
    ((CAREERING)* around I) inside VIPER
    “One that’s careering madly around” = “One that has careering madly around”, so I (one) has (CAREERING)* [anagrind: madly] around – and then of course inside VIPER.

    I didn’t want to write a long comment, but unfortunately I did.
    For us an OK crossword, but, as Dave Ellison said in #9, not very exciting.

  24. Davy says:

    Thanks mhl,

    I enjoyed this puzzle and wore it down bit by bit, but in the end, I failed on STRICKEN, ARRACK and ASKE.
    The answers are there right before your eyes but sometimes you just can’t see them.
    Lots of good, precise clues from Pasquale, my favourites being 9a (FLETCHER) and 12d (LOCAL DERBY).
    Thanks Pasquale.

  25. FumbleFingers says:

    Thanks for blog mhl – definitely a toughie, this one.

    In the end I just couldn’t come up with ASKE to finish. Having been exhausted by the strain of having to invent MANTEL, ARRACK, BAY-RUM, and ORRA (all of which gratifyingly turned up trumps when looked up).

    Another day, another failure to complete.

  26. Daniel Miller says:

    A couple short of completing a pretty tough set – hard but fair – and some tremendous clues (at least once the answer was found).

  27. Daniel Miller says:

    It is crosswords like today’s that lend themselves to ask the question of what is the purpose of a Crossword? Certainly to entertain and educate, to amuse and to challenge and ultimately, we all hope, to complete and feel a sense of achievement – whether on a regular or occasional basis. For my money the completion of any crossword is satisfying but the understanding of each clue (and verification of this) is essential. To crack the code and then be amused by an excellent piece of wordplay is all part of the ‘game’. Sometimes we will be defeated – or partly defeated in our understanding of the answer (whether found or checked on sites such as this). In the case of today’s crossword there certainly were some excellent – and also it should be said tough – clues. I particularly admit Lulu (LUL(l) plus U (‘nobby’), Porpoise (the use of half-hearted Sorry to indicate Po(o)r) and the Lo-cal Derby (ha ha)! Sadly I slightly missed the superb derivation of P for Soft (centre) – which is a tremendous clue – in that I cracked the answer but missed the Gypsy element (centre letter). Aske and Mantel were beyond me. I could go on waxing lyrical but I’ll just say what a great challenge The Guardian offer us every day – I wonder how people compare it to the other papers. I often find an occasional tilt at The DT to be a little easier and the Times on a par – or, with irregularity, a little tough.

  28. walruss says:

    Inconsistency seems to be a bit of a probbie for the Guardian, Daniel. The Times and The Independent tend to be a bit more together on that front! The DT used to be awful, with some dreadful clues if I recall, and is now a bit better. Big Dave has a good site for that one.

  29. Pasquale says:

    Belated thanks for the feedback. I agree that I’m not always playing to the gallery for laughs, but hope that amidst the more seriously challenging stuff I put out there is sometimes an element of humour. I don’t want my puzzles to be a boring grind, honest! On the Guardian’s own website I was likened to John Arlott rather than Brian Johnston. As a JA impersonator and southern country boy, I liked that (no suave Etonian me!).

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