Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,131 (Sat 2 Oct)/Puck – Arrogate-gate

Posted by rightback on October 9th, 2010


Solving time: 10½ minutes.

The two central answers this week combined to yield ‘British resort’ (’15 19′ in several clues), and there were several such hidden in the grid. Usually when there’s a theme I look at the thematic clues first but this week was very unusual in that I actually managed to ‘cold solve’ them, which sped things up a lot. It also helped a lot that I’ve lived near all of Whitby, Harrogate and Pwllheli in the last couple of years and had heard of the other resorts apart from Saltburn, although the clue to ‘Sidmouth’ caused me some consternation and ARROGATE at 20ac was a real stumbling block.

Many thanks to Gaufrid for having stood in for me last week when I was disconnected from just about everything.

Music of the Day: I couldn’t think of anything mentioning Harrogate or Whitby so here are two other Yorkshire landmarks, Aire and Calder by Ultrasound.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

7 SIDMOUTH; rev. of MD, + OU (= Open University), all in (THIS)* – I had a mental blank here, initially thinking that ‘MO’ was the doctor and then wondering if ‘MD’ was a valid abbreviation, even considering ‘Sibmouth’ briefly although I was sure it had to be ‘Sidmouth’. MD actually stands for Medicinae Doctor, which is Latin for ‘Doctor of Medicine'; I suppose -MD- and -DM- are fairly unusual consonant pairs, which might explain why this abbreviation wasn’t familiar to me.
10 BEN[i]N – the lefty Tony Benn, whom I saw in a bizarre two-man act at the Cambridge Folk Festival a few years ago; he was awful, but the rest of the weekend was excellent.
11 CHARLADIES; CHARLES around A DI – virtually the same clue came up two weeks ago.
12 SCURRY; S[cream] + CURRY – ‘the best’ is ‘the cream’, hence the deletion.
14 THE TROTS; (HOTTER ST[ill])* – just about works with ‘done’ as the anagram indicator, although the ‘if’ and the question mark are dodgy.
15,17 BRITISH DISEASE; (IRISH SEA’S TIDE B[elatedly])* – ‘British disease’ is excessive use of industrial action or strikes, hence ‘going out too much’, with ‘sickeningly’ as a nod to the last word of the answer and perhaps to the concept.
20 ARROGATE, from HARROGATE – my last solve, and it took me nearly two minutes. Eventually I cottoned on to what ‘topping’ was doing, but it still took me a while to see the answer (via ‘arrogant’, curiously). This is, I think, the only non-seaside resort in the set, which may also have contributed to my slowness.
22 BUST LE[g]
23 INDIGENOUS; (I.E. + SOUNDING)* – excellent anagram and maybe my favourite clue; the anagram is slightly indirect but ‘that is’ is such a common abbreviation for IE that this didn’t worry me here.
24 HIBS (initial letters) – Hibs (Hibernian) are a football team, i.e. ‘side’, from Edinburgh, and (in today’s sporting trivia spot) were the first British club to play in Europe (in 1955-6).
25 BEMUSE, with EMU replacing A[dmin] in BASE – Emu was the much-missed Rod Hull‘s p(upp)et.
26 THIEVERY; THIERRY with V.E. replacing R[eputation] – this is a brilliant clue. Just in case you missed it, Thierry Henry’s blatant deliberate handball put France through to this summer’s World Cup Finals at the expense of Ireland in the European play-offs, badly damaging his reputation. Fortunately the French got what they deserved at the finals, prompting this excellent parody to the tune of Lady Gaga’s Bad Romance.
1 SILENCER; (RE[co]NCILES)* – ‘report’ as in a gun’s bang.
2 [w]OMAN
3 OUTCRY – I’m not keen on this kind of clue, where the question mark at the end refers to the first part (‘How’s that’ being a cricketing cry asking for a batsman to be given out).
4 PWLLHELI; (WILL HELP)* – well done if you could spell this first time, and a bonus point if you can say it.
5 WILDERLAND; WILDE + R[eview] + NESS – Eliot Ness being the leader of the Untouchables.
6 ABSENT; ANT around B.S.E. – for some reason I failed to think of BSE as a ‘disease affecting calves’ and left this until almost last.
8,19 HEALTH RESORT; (HOTELS RATHER)* – nicely disguised definition which ends at ‘better’.
18 SALTBURN; SALT + BURN – a seaside resort near Middlesbrough.
21 RUNNER; R[iot] + (NUN)* + E.R.
22 BOSNIA; BOS’N + rev. of A1 – the bos’n (or bosun, or boatswain, or any of various other alternatives) is sort of the equivalent of a sergeant-major on a naval ship.
24 HOVE (hidden) – as in Brighton and Hove Albion.

18 Responses to “Guardian 25,131 (Sat 2 Oct)/Puck – Arrogate-gate”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. You’ve left out 13 and 16d – I particularly liked RETROVIRUS with its thematic red herrings. The double-barrelled themes came quickly but after that many of the clues were good and challenging, 5 and 6 down both excellent. Never heard of 18d or the emu/puppet in 25a, but it didn’t matter. As for you, 20a was my last one in.

  2. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Rightback. 22 was my last and i still don’t like it much. An abbreviation of an abbreviation, bereft of its apostrophe, is a bit hard to recognise. Does Pithelly get me a bonus point?

    There’s a typo in 5.

  3. Biggles A says:

    I thought OU was Oxford University in 7.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, rightback. Agree with you that 26ac was superb. 1ac was my last ; I, too, was thrown by MD, which is common overseas but a relatively rare post-graduate qualification in the UK.

    I thought it was pronounced “Pthelli”?

  5. NeilW says:

    Biggles A – Chambers gives both Open and Oxford. Personally, I prefer the Open University derivation as, surely OU is generally only seen with P as in Oxford University Press.

  6. Knedlicek says:

    Did not get 16. SPACEMEN? I get the SPA and ME but not the rest.

  7. Tokyocolin says:

    Thanks rightback. I solved this OK but since I had not heard of any of the resorts it took a little more than 10 mins. But the answers were all gettable from the wordplay, crossing letters and Google to confirm. I was amazed when I got a hit on PWLLHELI, a most unlikely looking collection of letters.

  8. Tokyocolin says:

    Knedlicek@6, your comment reveals that rightback has omitted 16dn from the blog. An excellent clue I thought with ‘setter’ in this case being CEMENT rather than the worn out I or ME.

  9. Biggles A says:

    NeilW @ 5. Thanks, point taken.

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks rightback (welcome back) and Puck

    An excellent puzzle with lots of clever and interesting clues. I ticked at least half of them as I went along. Among favourites (based on sense of satisfaction after solving and seeing why) were Arrogate, thievery, retrovirus, spacemen and wilderness (NB error in Rb’s written answer ‘wilderland’ but not in parsing). I had to check Saltburn and spelling of Pwhlleli.

  11. tupu says:

    :) Oops! Which I misspelled after being misled by Google!

  12. Roger says:

    Thank you, rightback. There seems to be a mini theme going on in 12 & 14, hence the ‘if hotter still ?’ …

  13. Davy says:

    Thanks rightback,

    A tough but enjoyable puzzle and I was pleased to see Whitby as an answer, as I live near there. Finally had one answer to get which was 14a and I convinced the answer was THE TRUTH but couldn’t see why. Looked it up on the AnswerBank and was horrified to find that I was wrong although I suppose it serves me right for cheating without fully understanding the clue. I tried to get an anagram out of ‘if hotter’ but could only manage TIE FROTH which was obviously not the answer. Of course, all answers are usually straightforward once they are seen, but I didn’t see the significance of ‘no harm’. I should have persevered.

    There were some great clues also such 22a (BUSTLE) and 18d (SALTBURN which incidentally has the oldest water balanced cliff tramway in Britain that is still in operation, linking the town with the pier 120 feet below).
    The cleverest clue was definitely 26a (THIEVERY) which I got but didn’t understand.

    Thanks to Puck.

  14. Sil van den Hoek says:

    First of all, welcome back, rightback!
    [nice word in 5d: ‘wilderland’ :)]

    This was a rather tough, but very rewarding crossword – as a Saturday one should be, but not always is – from Puck, who sometimes takes his ingenious constructions a bit too far, but not here.

    Yes, we saw CHARLADIES recently, and HIBS a few times too.
    When Araucaria used the latter for this Scottish side not so very long ago (as he did in a recent Cinephile), someone commented that HIBS are the supporters of the club, not the players. Hope he doesn’t turn up again today :).

    Like Davy we got 26ac (THIEVERY) but didn’t understand it.
    Now that it has been explained it is indeed a brilliant clue (and ‘thievery’ it was …).

    Just like you, rightback, I think the anagrind in THE TROTS is just about right [although we did consider ‘Complaint’ to be the indicator, doing double duty (but then what to do with ‘if’)].

    Hard to choose the Clue of the Day, but I think 5d (WILDERNESS) is fantastic too, as ‘The Waste Land’ is really a poem by TS Eliot and both (title/poet) are merely used for the construction/definition (plus the appropriate ‘writer’ and ‘review’ adding to the fun).

  15. Bullfrog says:

    26 Ac is one of the best clues I’ve ever seen — elegant, pointed and funny. It occurred to me to wonder if Puck is Irish, and I see that, though born in Scarborough, he now lives in Cork.

  16. carneddi says:

    Just to be pedantic, 4d is wrong as Pwllheli only has 7 letters! Ll counts as one letter in Welsh along with Ch Dd Ff Ng Ph Rh and Th. In Welsh language crosswords you will see those letters in one square…and what’s the problem with pronouncing Pwllheli – it’s simple!!

  17. rightback says:

    Thanks for all comments and my apologies for having written this blog in a rush and therefore inadvertently having omitted two clues and coined the bizarre ‘wilderland’ (I think I had ‘hinterland’ floating around my rather tired brain).

    Carneddi is of course quite right about Pwllheli having only 7 letters in Welsh. I wonder whether it is a Welsh word here, though, or an English word representing a Welsh name which happens to have the same form, unlike (say) ‘Naples’ for ‘Napoli’. I think we had a similar discussion on ‘Eisteddfod’ a few weeks ago. Anyway, I don’t think it’s fair to say that 4dn here is ‘wrong’ (but I will certainly defer to your pronunciation!).

  18. carneddi says:

    Pwll – pool, heli – salt water therefore Cymraeg go iawn/real Welsh!

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