Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,161 (Sat 6 Nov)/Paul – Forsyth Saga

Posted by rightback on November 13th, 2010


Solving time: 9 mins

The second appearance in a couple of weeks for Paul (the last as part of Biggles) and I really enjoyed it – there were loads of inventive clues in this that were tricky to solve even with several checking letters. I struggled at the start before getting a foothold with EMOTICON at 10ac and then managed to open up a bit more with HINDI and UNMENTIONABLES, but at no stage did it feel like the floodgates had opened.

Music of the day (8ac): Underwear by Pulp.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 BELCH (2 defs) – my least confident answer as I didn’t know the character Sir Toby Belch from Twelfth Night.
4 TABULATE; TABU (= ‘not allowed’) + LATE – spent too long trying to make ‘listless’ fit here (with ‘catalogue’ giving ‘list’), but ‘not allowed’ = ‘less’ didn’t seem to work.
8 UNMENTIONABLES (2 defs) – apparently slang for underwear, Chambers tells me, although when solving I thought it was referring to something rather ruder.
10 EMOTICON; (COME ON IT)* – excellent. The question mark in this clue is needed because a smiley ( :) ) is only one type of emoticon…
12 ORGAN STOP; ORGAN (= ‘heart’) + STOP (= ‘break’) – …and this one is because ‘heartbreak’ has to be split into two words (and also because ‘heart’ = ‘organ’ is another ‘definition by example’).
15 IAMBS; I AM (= ‘this compiler [is]’) + B[u]S[h] – metrical feet.
17 SEDAN (hidden)
18 PLANE TREE; PLANET (= ‘earth, perhaps’) + REE[d] (= ‘short grass’, i.e. word for ‘grass’ missing the last letter) – another well-worded clue.
19 TROUPE; R[avioli] in TOUPEE (= ‘syrup’) – I had a vague recollection that ‘syrup’ was a word for a wig but couldn’t remember why. A bit of Googling reminds me that ‘syrup of fig(s)’ is rhyming slang for ‘wig’.
21 KERCHING; [u]RCHIN in KEG – a lovely word which misled me down the avenue of gerunds (‘-ing’ words).
24 PHANTASMAGORIA; (ANAGRAM PATHOS I)* – sometimes I remember crosswords most fondly for the nonsense answers I come up with during the solving process. This anagram yielded ‘animatographas’ and ‘amagraphations’ before I got the right answer and reminded me of a Listener puzzle from a few years ago where I turned what should have been ‘kinetic energy’ into ‘genetic inkery’ and the golfing term ‘explosion shot’ into ‘Holspoon’s exit’. Just another good reason not to use electronic solving aids.
25 FREEBOOT; FOOT (= ‘pay’) around rev. of BEER – nearly held up by a hasty ‘freeload’ here. The grammar is a bit questionable, with a sentence break in the middle of the indication for ‘reverse of a word for ale’.
26 ROSES; RO[u]SES – I don’t think I’ll ever accept ‘you’ on it’s own to indicate the letter U in a crossword, probably because of my innate revulsion of ‘txt spk’. Must be getting old.
1 BRUCE FORSYTH; rev. of CURB, + (HE’S FORTY)* – lovely clue which I eventually guessed from the definition before dissecting the wordplay. I sometimes wonder how names like this get into the grid. Did Paul see the name somewhere, see that it could generate an amusing clue and build a grid around it? Or did the grid come first, with either Paul or a computer filling aid noticing at some stage that this name would work nicely at 1dn?
2 LAMB OF GOD; B[orn] + M[essiahs], all in rev. of (DOG + FOAL) – the two animals in the wordplay make for a nice breakdown, but I thought this intended semi-&lit was a bit forced.
3 [s]HINDI[g] – a simple clue in hindsight, but not at all easy.
4 THIN ON TOP; T[yre], + ON (= ‘attached’) in HINT (= ‘suggestion’), + OP (= ‘work’)
5,11 BONKBUSTER; BONKER[s] (= ‘not entirely nuts’) around BUST (= ‘breasts’) – a much better semi-&lit.
7 TWEET; “TO EAT” said quickly – an outrageous homophone.
9 FROSTED GLASS; (FORGETS)* around D[aughter], + LASS (= ‘young lady’)
13 NINEPENCE; NICE (= ‘agreeable’) around N.E. PEN (= ‘Gateshead writer’) – I was inwardly fuming at ‘Gateshead’ = G when I spotted the answer and had to eat my thoughts. In the circumstances I’ll forgive the unindicated definition by example here (Gateshead = N[orth]E[ast])! I will however take the opportunity to link to this story about Gateshead’s prodigal son, which might be funny if it weren’t so serious/sad, and makes this feel like a lifetime ago.
14 PRAYER MAT; PERM[utation] (= ‘Possible arrangement’) around RAY (= ‘fish’), + AT
16 MARDI GRAS; DIG (= ‘like’) + R.A. (= Royal Artillery = ‘gunmen’), all in MARS (= ‘war’)
20 [m]OTHER – ‘native’ as in ‘mother tongue’.
22 CIGAR; rev. of RAG + I + C (= ‘see’, the phonetic spelling for the letter C)
23 MAYO – because ‘May 0′ might come before ‘May 1′, i.e. be equivalent to April 30.

18 Responses to “Guardian 25,161 (Sat 6 Nov)/Paul – Forsyth Saga”

  1. Biggles A says:

    I struggled with this one and the floodgates never really opened. I spent much longer on my last, 19, than rightback did on the whole puzzle before, like him, Google came to my assistance with the rhyming slang.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. Got going with 24a and the SE corner, although 21a had to wait until the very end. That was one of several outré answers, including 5,11 which I’d not heard of nor 19a’s toupee-syrup connection: both these I google-confirmed after getting. Didn’t much like 13d’s Gateshead=NE and had quibbles with 2,3 and 4d. But 4a was typical of an overall excellent puzzle. Goodonya Paul.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, rightback, for explaining 3dn. The answer was obvious from the crossing letters but the wordplay completely eluded me.

    KERCHING was my first one in because words like this are so much part of Paul’s style that somehow they always seem to flag themselves.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Rightback.

    I was on target for beating your time except for BONKBUSTER and KERCHING which I’d never heard of. Nevertheless I did guess them correctly eventually.

    I entered TROUPE in the belief that it just had to be without ever fathoming syrup.

    Very enjoyable now made all the tastier by your analyses.

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks rightback and Paul

    A really satisfying puzzle, full of nice quips and moments of revelation.
    The text is full of ticks for clues thoroughly enjoyed.

    Particularly liked 4a (also tempted by listless),8a, 21a!, 1d, 2d, 3d, 23d.

    I missed the homophone in ‘tweet’ – thought it must be reference to letter limits.

    Did not know about ‘syrup’ till I checked after solving.

    I thought you = u and see = c were similar devices but apparently not. Thanks for that.

    A ‘feel good’ puzzle!!

  6. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Rightback.

    I enjoyed this and your blog. Like Bryan I got TROUPE without knowing the rhyming slang. Really liked 21a and 3, 5,11 and 14d. But pick for ingenuity was 23d.

    Can’t fathom how you did this in 9 mins, it took me well over half an hour and I thought I was doing well given the trickiness of half a dozen or so of the clues. Still practice makes perfect, so on to today’s Araucaria

  7. Davy says:

    Thanks rightback,

    How you did this in 9 minutes is beyond me. I found it very difficult but just kept chipping away until I solved the final clue (MAYO which I thought some people might complain about) on Tuesday morning (yes Tuesday). All in all, it was an enjoyable puzzle full of Paul’s humour. Could the collective noun for a group of Pauls be a bonkbuster – sounds good to me. Thanks Paul for all the fun that you bring.

  8. Handel says:

    Really enjoyed this one, which was the perfect mixture of spots of tough wordplay and witty, fair definitions. Enjoyed your discussion of alternative anagrams at 24ac, rightback, very entertaining. Thanks to you both.

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks, Rightback and Paul. I fully agree with the comments above.

    My last in was 5/11, which was evidently invented by Ms. Limb after I left England, and my brain was tired by then after working out wierd things like 21ac., which doesn’t come in my Chambers, but seemed an acceptable onomatopoeia; so I didn’t actually finish until this morning . when I took one look at the clue (very funny image) and thought “it can only be that.”

    My idea of ‘unmentionables’ was the same as yours :)

    Thanks for the explanation of ‘syrup’. I hadn’t heard that one.

  10. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This was top-notch Paul.

    A lot of smiling clues – including some for which we all appreciate him so much (8ac, 5+11d and the use of ‘wind-up’ in 1ac).
    We especially liked the sound effects of KERCHING and TWEET.

    Yet, a few quibbles.
    NE for Gateshead is, we thought, a bit cheapish.
    And THIN ON TOP isn’t really ‘Bald’.
    The last one for us to go in was FREEBOOT, and although the wordplay was clear enough (with Paul jumping over the question mark), the definition was a bit loose (is it just “don’t pay”? – or is the clue as a whole an allusion to the answer?). Funny to see that FREEBOOT is not in Chambers, the origin of this verb coming from the Dutch word “vrijbuiter” – someone who roves about in a lawless way.

    But this is all of non-importance when there are so many great clues around to compensate, like BRUCE FORSYTH and the invaluable MAYO [probably our Clue of the Day].

    Excellent crossword by John Halpern, who BTW is currently working on giving his Cryptica site a rebirth.

  11. PeterO says:

    Thanks Rightback.

    Definitely an enjoyable puzzle. I guessed 19A TROUPE, but never got around to finding out why. In 8A, unmentionables ‘something rather ruder’? Back when this word was used, one would not even consider unmentioning them.

  12. Dynamic says:

    Thanks rightback (don’t know how you do them so quickly!) and Paul for a very enjoyable puzzle and some words like Freeboot that I wasn’t aware of.

    Bruce Forsyth and Mayo were also highlights for me, with Bonkbuster and Emoticon also enjoyable. I’m willing to accept that a NE Pen could be a Gateshead (more specific) writer (less specific) for the enjoyable misdirection around the typical Gateshead=G. I think people jokingly say “he’s not bald, he’s just thin on top” by way of humorous understatement. Yes, I thought, “as thin on top as a coot!”.

    While not thin on top, I’m thick around the middle. It’s my metabolism, don’t you know! [tongue-in-cheek] :^d

    What a treat to relive this today having also completed today’s excellent Araucaria prize puzzle with an interesting twist, though I’ll have to wait til next Sat to confirm the one ending in I that I can’t find in an English dictionary and fully understand the wordplay on another.

  13. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Dynamic, it should be about Paul here, yet I just want to tell you [being off-topic and being at risk of gauufrid warning me (and probably rightly so)] that – after what you said about today’s puzzle – your I-entry cannot be right.

  14. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Paul and rightback. I entered LISTLESS at 4A until I saw the light. This caused my solving time to be 9′ plus three days.


  15. rightback says:

    Thanks to all commenters (and especially for ‘vrijbuiter’!) – but please, no more references to live puzzles and certainly not to specific clues therein.

  16. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, rightback, you’re right about that, but I couldn’t resist it.
    My answer to Dynamic, though, was so specific and non-revealing that I thought I could tell him.

    More important, another Big Thank You for the blog.
    Liked your MotD [but it could have been Curved Air, who made (in 1972) an album called ‘Phantasmagoria’].

  17. Dynamic says:

    Don’t worry Sil, it was me who revealed an etymological clue in a now-deleted comment. I apologise & thank the moderators for spotting it, yet letting my very oblique earlier reference pass. My last word on the subject, I promise!

    On topic, Paul’s playful use of ‘syrup’ was a laugh out loud moment for me.

  18. Ell says:

    Dynamic #17

    “…..Paul’s playful use of ‘syrup’ was a laugh out loud moment for me.”

    My biggest laugh out loud moment was seeing 1d Bruce Forsyth crossed with 19ac Troupe whose clue referred to toupee/syrup of figs/wigs.
    I wondered if Paul considered cross-referencing these clues and then thought the better ot it ~ probably(?) not.

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