Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,150 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on October 25th, 2010


I’m not sure whether the fact that we had a Brendan puzzle four weeks ago made me more or less surprised to see his appearance again on a Monday.

I always enjoy his puzzles but, when blogging, there’s the underlying anxiety of failing to recognise the theme and I was getting worried this time. The clues themselves were straightforward enough [for Brendan!] but it seemed that the more answers I put in, the less connection they seemed to have with each other – and, three-quarters of the way through, I still hadn’t got 13ac. Pondering LOCO STATION … I suddenly saw COSTA and then things fell into place. Many thanks, Brendan, for a very entertaining start to the week.

5   CHAPEL: CH[urch] + APE [primate] + L[eft]: a nice surface, with the double meaning of ‘primate’.
6   VISITS: V[ery] + T[ime] in ISIS [‘academic stream’ – the name given to the River Thames as it flows through Oxford]
9   EARFUL: double / cryptic definition.  This is puzzling and I think there may be a mistake: the reference must be to the Claudius in ‘Hamlet’ [rather than the Emperor, who may have been murdered by his wife with poisoned mushrooms – but not through his ear!] but it is he who puts poison in the ear of his brother, King Hamlet, as related by the latter’s ghost in Act I Scene v, so it was not fatal for him [except that he was ultimately killed by Prince Hamlet, in revenge, but that’s too far-fetched, I think].
10  NAIL FILE: NAIL [secure] + FILE [collection of data]
11  LOCO: double definition
13  BROKEN BONES: the beautifully positioned key to the puzzle and a lovely clue, with its alternative meaning of ‘setter’! Each row contains a ‘broken’ bone: PELVIS, ULNA, COSTA, TALUS, ANVIL, ANKLE.
18  ORNAMENTAL: NAME [identify] + NT [sacred books] in ORAL [exam]
21  USED: the final letters of yoU aS wE diD
22  BERMUDAN: D[500] in [dividing] an anagram of A NUMBER
23 VILEST: VI [half dozen] + LEST [in case]. [I tried for a minute or two to make ‘valise’ [case] work!]
24  SHRANK: SH [call for quiet] + RANK [row]
25  LETTER: double definition, referring to the expressions ‘the letter of the law’ or ‘to the letter’


1   HALF-HOUR: HAL [Henry] + H[orse] in FOUR [IV]: I liked this one a lot.
2   WELLES: American director Orson, homophone of English writer H G Wells
3   FILIPINO: FIL[l]Ip [‘half-hearted boost’] + I[sland] + NO [not so]
4   TIFFIN: hidden in porT IF FINished
5   CRAYON: C[arbon] + RAYON [material]
7   SALARY: reversal of YR [your] + ALAS [statement of misfortune]
8   INCARNATING: INCA [South American people] + N[ew] in RATING [classification]
14  KNEADING: homophone of ‘needing’
15  EQUALITY: E[nglish] + QUALITY [characteristic]
16  GREENS: double definition, depending on double definition of ‘putting': it made me smile.
17  TEASER: EASE [no difficulty] in last letters of tesT papeR
19  ADMIRE: anagram of DREAM I
20  LEVIED: [voic]E + V[erse] in LIED [song]

25 Responses to “Guardian 25,150 / Brendan”

  1. rrc says:

    thank you for explaining the theme – I looked but did not see.

  2. Ian W. says:

    “Proved fatal for Claudius” does not necessarily mean it was Claudius that died.

    What a delight to have a cryptic crossword on a Monday instead of a Rufus!

  3. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen, needed you for 16d which I failed to get.

    It was late in the day for me to get the theme, too. Before I did, I had VALISE at 23a thinking some Brendan trickery would explain it, but once I got 20d LEVIED, I spotted ANKLE or ANKLET in 24-25 ac, and then COSTA in 11-12a. I was toying with madness for a while (12a LOCO and MENTAL 18a) but it didn’t seem very PC, or convincing.

    I agree with both of Ian W.’s comments, but 9a remains a little unconvincing.

  4. Eileen says:

    Re ‘fatal': I realise that being involved in a fatal accident doesn’t necessarily mean being killed but,in this case, I struggle to read ‘proved fatal for Claudius’ as anything other than ‘brought death / ruin to Claudius’. [‘Fateful’ might just about do.]

  5. walruss says:

    I agree. You can explain it away in that it was a fatal or death-dealing action performed by Claudius, but why bother doing it that way around? Not a good clue really, but it’s a really good puzzle overall!

  6. jvh says:

    Thanks Eileen. An excellent crossword.

    Does anyone else feel that the clue to 7ac should (in English English) refer to “a rise in pay”? Or am I just showing how old I am?

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi jvh

    Re 7dn [sic :-)]

    I was going to make a similar comment but, on second thoughts, I concluded that the wordplay needed ‘raise’, since we had to raise the answer.

  8. Jim says:

    Saw the theme early on and it helped with the across clues

  9. malc95 says:

    I seem to remember that part of the inner ear contains Claudius’ cells. Does this help with 9a or further confuse the issue?

  10. malc95 says:

    re 9a
    On second thoughts I think Claudius’ cells are coincidental – I can’t see a link. Sorry about the red he[a}rring.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen.

    I did manage this, but found it hard. One of those ones where the gateway clue is just about the last to go in (for me at least), so you don’t get any assistance from the theme. That said, there were a number of straightforward ones to get you going, and the ‘aha!’ moment was a pleasure.

    A super puzzle and very cleverly constructed as always from Brendan.

  12. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I was pleasantly surprised to see Brendan on a Monday again. Really enjoyable puzzle, even tho I didn’t see the theme — I knew it must be something to do with broken bones, but just didn’t see it. I really liked the surface of 5ac.

  13. Tokyocolin says:

    I don’t usually bother if I have nothing to add but today I feel obliged. Thank you to Eileen for an excellent blog, as always. Thank you to Brendan for a very entertaining Monday puzzle. And thank you to K’s D @11 for accurately describing my solving experience.

  14. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen. I was feeling a bit dumb today, probably because I had to go out and leave this till the afternoon, so at one point when I got stuck I decided to visit the blog, and your preamble helped me straighten out my thoughts – though by that time, I already had 13ac.

    On rereading the puzzle, I find it well clued and constructed, and it would have been entertaining had I done it with a clear head :).

    However, I found it hard to see the Claudius reference. It didn’t help that I’d forgotten his role in Hamlet, and apparently that wasn’t exactly it, anyway. All of which does little to explain why I put in ‘earful’ without doubting, once I had the crossing letters!

    BTW, does anyone know what’s happened with the Quiptic blog?

  15. cholecyst says:

    Thanks,Eileen. Pity Brendan couldn’t have woven Henry V into 1 dn, since today is St Crispin’s day!

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi cholecyst

    Indeed, yes – but I liked the nod to Richard III!

  17. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Brendan

    A good puzzle and a bad solving day for me having spent much of it looking in vain for a lost mobile phone!

    I missed visits (I tried but could not parse ‘limits’ with an idea of lits = academic stream). I had thought of Isis earlier but forgot about it.

    Earful puzzled me as others.

    Re the theme: I got broken bones but partly perhaps because I missed ‘visits’ I did not find it.
    Another reason was that I saw that
    ‘acrOSS Answers’ contains broken OSSA. I suspect this is part of the theme too but I was too easily satisfied with it and wondered if Brendan was trying to be different on a Monday.

    I liked LOCO – misleading with ’round’, and ‘VILEST’ – wanted to try ‘valise’.

    1ac had a very smooth surface and 1d was clever.

  18. Eileen says:

    Oh well done, tupu, for spotting OSSA!

    [And I’m glad that at least two other people toyed with ‘valise’ :-)

  19. JS says:

    Thanks Eileen for an excellent blog and to Brendan for a superb crossword (IMO.)

    My theory re 9ac for what it’s worth:
    Claudius kills King Hamlet by pouring poison in his ear; Prince Hamlet finds out and wants revenge; he stages a play showing how his father was killed; it’s Claudius’ reaction to this that seals his fate (proves fatal?) as Pr Hamlet now knows the truth. So maybe it’s the ‘earful’ in the play-within-a-play that Brendan is referring to.

  20. liz says:

    Eileen — make it three — for ages, I couldn’t see past the ‘case’ in the clue, or the fact that ‘vile’ is also in ‘valise’.

  21. cholecyst says:

    JS – ingenious, but no cigar!

  22. Mr Beaver says:

    We had to give up on 2d and 9a, and could not see the theme, even after getting 13a.
    So thanks for the explanations.

    I was surprised that there were no grumbles about ISIS=Academic steam in 6a. I knew it, having lived in Oxford, but complaints about parochialism would be justified, I feel.

  23. Carrots says:

    One of the most enjoyable (and clever!) Monday puzzles for a long time. After I`d finished it I was still gazing at BROKEN BONES, trying to work out the clue`s rationale. I can now, thanks to Eileen`s excellent blog, sleep peacefully!

  24. Paul (not Paul) says:

    too hard. Can I Rufus back please? I haven’t got time for this kind of convoluted nonsense on a Monday.

  25. maarvarq says:

    First Brendan in a long time that I didn’t manage to finish. Knowing the theme proved no use whatsoever to solving.

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