Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,170 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on November 17th, 2010


This was a real treat – a beautifully constructed puzzle with a clever theme, the musical part of which was right up my street. [If this were an Araucaria or a Gordius puzzle, I’d be ready to field criticisms to the effect that it was all somewhat passé – but Paul’s a youngster himself!] I’ve seen the double definition of 20dn exploited before in individual clues but I don’t remember seeing it further developed, as here.


: straight in with the theme – and the Pauline humour: putz and schmuck [as we always say, you learn a lot doing crosswords] are both Yiddish words for the male organ, so it’s TIN [metal] + N[itrogen] in OTHER [different] + IT in PUTZ: and a song by Irving Berlin, rendered here by the man who “Can’t Sing, Can’t Act. Balding. Can Dance a Little”:
4,23,26,2 TOP HAT, WHITE TIE AND TAILS: a superb anagram of ADAPTATIONS WITH TITLE HE: here’s more to enjoy:
ASTI: the middle [stomach] of CAST IRON [15,25]; ASTI is a pretty common crossword answer but this is one of the best clues I’ve seen: [it certainly beats ASTI[gmatism] :-)
10, 18  CHECKPOINT CHARLIE: CHECK {regular pattern] + POINT [reason] + CHARLIE [fool]: a very straightforward clue to  the name given by the Western Allies to the best-known Berlin Wall crossing point between East Berlin and West Berlin during the Cold War.
11   MISSUS: MISS [girl] + hUS[band] [ring] – lovely surface
12  CLERIHEW: CLERI[c] [‘short’ man of the cloth] + HEW [cut]: I blogged this clue not long ago and gave this example:
E. C. Bentley
Mused while he ought to have studied intently;
It was this muse
That inspired clerihews.

Here’s another:
Sir Humphrey Davy
Abominated gravy.
He lived in the odium
Of having discovered sodium.
15,25  CAST IRON: A STIR [a prison] in CON [prisoner]
16  SWAG: W[omen] in SAG [drop down]
17  REICHSTAG: anagram of RIGHT CASE – which took me a minute or two to see.
21  ILL-SPENT: anagram of SELL PINT
22 ALWAYS: reversal of YAWL [sailing boat capsizing – lovely!] in [w]AS[h]l; another lovely Irving Berlin song: [If there had just been ‘Cheek to cheek’, my cup would surely have run over!]
24  SCHOOL MEAL: S[tudents] + ME in anagram of ALCOHOL – another superb surface
27  HERESY: here’s [this is] + Y [why, say]. This made me laugh.


1   PASSION: I [one] in PASS ON [become stiff] – typical Paul humour!
3   INCISOR: IN CANINE minus A NINE [figure’s lost] + IS OR [gold] – a very clever clue
5   ORKNEY: OR + KEY [island] around N[orth]
6   HOOLIGANS: reversal of GI [soldier] + LOO [John] in HANS [German]. I’m not sure why ‘number of’.
7   TINIEST: reversal of SEIN[e] [endless European river]in TIT [bird]
8   PEACE TREATIES: CE [church] in PEAT [fuel] + anagram of ARE [new] + TIES [relationships]
14  HEADSTONE: anagram of DEATHS + ONE [person]
19   ANYBODY: NY [Empire State] in A BOY [a son] round D[aughter]
20 BERLIN: RL [characters in opposition] in BE[n]IN [African country]: the key to the puzzle right at the end. Many thanks, Paul – I loved it!

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,170 / Paul”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen – I thought you would like this one! There’s a theme of a rather similar vintage in today’s Cinephile puzzle in the FT: it’s another one where getting the theme makes the long answers very (perhaps too) easy. Maybe it’s a case of “Anything you can do, I can do better” (shame Paul couldn’t have fitted that one in too!).

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks Eileen. I agree that 3dn was clever but it seemed a very clunky surface to me.

    As you say in 9ac, “stomach” to me, too, means “middle”: I spent ages trying to work out the relevance of “stir” to the answer! Cocktails etc. went through my mind…

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi Neil

    You’ve made me realise that, of course, ASTI is not the middle of CAST IRON: it’s ‘stomach’ in the sense of ‘bear’ – but I’ll leave the blog as it is.

    [And you’re right that the surface of 3dn is not the best.]

  4. molonglo says:

    Having got the theme I checked IB’s oeuvre once early on to get 4a, again midway through to confirm 22a and right at the end, before working out REICHSTAG. There was a lot of clever stuff here as always with Paul, including 11a, 16a and 1d, all with slick surfaces. Very nice.

  5. molonglo says:

    And thanks, Eileen, of course.

  6. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    In 19dn you indicate that the parsing is NY in A BOY round D but there is no insertion indicator for NY in the clue. I read this as D (daughter) in A NY BOY (a son of the Empire State).

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid – quite right!

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    A teaser and a treat!

    12a went in last – tried to use ‘rev’ and then in vain to make sense of ‘crevices’ (sharp lines) but the penny dropped eventually.

    Masses of pleasing clues – 4,10,11,15,1, 14, and 20 itself plus nice double use of theme word. I began to look for Isiah at one point!

    I took 9 as simply referring to the interior (stomach) of cast iron (plus the idiom itself of ‘he must have a c-i st…).

    re 6, I read ‘number of’ as simply indicating plural but it is, strictly speaking, redundant.

    Very satisfying to complete with no googles except to check putz.

  9. tupu says:

    Whoops! for Isiah sc isaiah!!

  10. tupu says:

    Whoops again. The well-known Freudian ‘battlesscared/bottlescarred syndrome – I meant Isaiah! (capital I)

  11. Eileen says:

    Apologies – another careless error: I should have added that schmuck and putz both mean a stupid person.

  12. Stella says:

    Nothing much to add, except that I enjoyed this, too.

    Thanks, Eileen, for explaining the wordplay in 1/13. As you say, one of the joys of crosswords is what you can learn from them.

    In fact, I spent more time looking up on Mr. Berlin than doing the puzzle :)

  13. Roger says:

    Thank you Eileen. As you say, this was a joy.

    Alfred, Lord Tennyson
    Loved to eat venison …
    But not often, I fear
    Because venison is deer.

    [Apologies if this is considered straying from the straight and narrow but I couldn’d help sharing one of my favourite 12a’s :) ]

  14. Eileen says:

    It really doesn’t seem to be my day today. Please disregard my comment 3 re ‘stomach': I didn’t refer back to the clue. Substitute instead tupu’s comment 8. :-)

  15. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen
    :) As you can see from 8 through 10, it’s not quite my day either!

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I thought we had had a Berlin song theme before, and indeed it was Araucaria, Saturday 5th December 2009.

    tupu @8, I had CREVICES for 12a, too, but left it at that, without seeing why it would be this.

    1d PASSION, my favourite clue, 3d the worst – too contrived and the surface – well!

    65′ today, but completed on the first sitting.

  17. NeilW says:

    Hi Eileen and Tupu. Since everyone’s at it, I should say that in my initial comment I should have said “meant” not “means”! The penny dropped in the end and no criticism of the wording of the clue was implied.

  18. NeilW says:

    6dn is still bugging me. Why “number of..” as Eileen points out? Any suggestions? Very unlike Paul to have superfluous words especially when unnecessary for the surface. I suppose he felt that “Thugs, german etc.” would be too obvious but still…

  19. NeilW says:

    Sorry to any German readers – should be German of course.

  20. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Eileen. Great Blog.

    Not that familiar with Irving Berlin songs so I resorted to Wiki which helped.

    Surprised no one has highlighted the sauciness, e.g. at 16a and 1d, although perhaps it is so typically Paul that others think it is not worth mentioning. Suspect in previous incarnations Paul may have been creating seaside postcards or scripting the ‘Carry On’ films.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen. This took me absolutely ages to get into, but I enjoyed it a lot once I did. 1dn made me smile and 16ac was classic Paul, I thought!

    I also wondered about ‘number’ in 6dn and decided it was a slightly redundant indication of the plural. And I agree with others that 3dn was clunky. More than made up for by the clever use of the Berlin theme. I was hoping for White Christmas!

  22. Roger says:

    Quite so, Dad’sLad (20). Surely not to have any ‘ooh err, 11a’ moments would be a-PAULing !

  23. Robi says:

    Thanks Eileen for the explanations – too difficult for a beginner like me. I note, however, that Hooligan can refer to an Irish family in a music hall song [number?] of the 1890s.

  24. Carrots says:

    Thanxamillion Eileen. My brain hurts, but managed all but one (REICHSTAG), which after two hours (as opposed to your two minutes) stubbornly refused to appear. Good puzzle though!

  25. walruss says:

    What a pleasure to see such a goodie in the Guardian!

  26. Mick H says:

    My brain hurts too. This took almost all the way from Herb Hating to Prerecord Hanky via Queerer Elastic (cf the wonderful )
    It helped my hangover in the same way that banging your head on the wall can help dull pain elsewhere.

  27. PeterO says:


    Thanks for the blog. I envy you drawing this splendid crossword! Schmuck is an interesting word – in German it has the somewhat improbable meaning of jewellery; then in Yiddish it followed a course not too far from ‘the family jewels’, and, along with putz and a few other similar words, became a general term of abuse. At some stage it was adopted into American slang.

  28. TeviotMoose says:

    Thanks Eileen for a great blog.

    I also enjoyed this crossword, although missed Checkpoint Charlie and Reichstag, having been too hung up on Irving Berlin to think of any other meaning of Berlin, but since I set myself a time-limit of Bank – Clapham Junction + Bus home, I don’t feel too bad!

    Also as a “youngster” I knew the two long clues, and checked “Always” and was suitably enlightened!

    Really enjoying this website in pointing out what I have missed – definitely improving my crosswording skills :)


  29. John says:

    Re 9 ac, no one’s actually spelled it out, but of course you have to have a cast-iron stomach to drink the stuff.

  30. Eileen says:

    Hi John

    I think tupu did that at comment 8.

  31. Gerry says:

    Once 20d was solved I got through it quickly, though I had to look up the song-titles, and kept the city in mind to get the non-songs. Had to get 5d…as that’s where I am.

  32. paul8hours says:

    Thanks for the blog & to Paul for another good one.
    I did this late last night but still I can’t believe I didn’t get peace having worked out the treaties bit. Worse still I mispelt tineist which gave me no chance of getting clerihew. Must cut out the errors when I go to Buckingham !

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

two + = 6