Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,175 Gordius – Blogging in Brrritain

Posted by Uncle Yap on November 23rd, 2010

Uncle Yap.

It was 3am in London when I started to write this blog and the temperature outside was zero. The call of the blog duty must be very strong; hence this surreal scene of a shivering Uncle Yap cracking another Gordius known for some good clues but almost always containing a slight oddity.

10 ZILLION Ins of ILL (suffering) in the holy city of ZION aka Jerusalem
11 NEIGHBOUR *(Be in rough) Those who wish to bone up on neighbourliness can read The Parable of the Good Samaritan in the Gospel of Luke (10:25-37)
12 TILDE ha for the diacritical sign used in Iberian languages
13 ASHE When written as A She, could be feminine
14 INTERVENER Cha of INTER (bury) VENERABLE (honorific for archdeacon) minus ABLE
16 NATIONWIDE *(Tide now in a)
19 STAG Rev of GATS (US slang for guns or revolvers)
20 TONGA Cha of TON (heavyweight) GA (Georgia state)
21 SOFT FRUIT SOFT (piano or P) FRUIT (plum)
23 ORIFICE O (round) Ins of IF in RICE (staple food)
24 CREATOR *(English CARROT)
25 GRANDMOTHER Ins of *(the random) in GR (George Rex)

2 TEACH T (time) EACH (every individual)
3 CONJOIN CON (Conservative, Tory) JOIN (associate)
4 BIZARRE Sounds like BAZAAR (Eastern marketplace or exchange clued as sale as in “We’re having a sale/bazaar to raise money for charity”)
5 ABLATIVE *(viable at)
6 DRILL INSTRUCTOR Another tichy cd, still poking fun at BP’s role in the US oil spill
7 REINCARNATION Cha of REIN (check) CAR (automobile) NATION (state)
15 FORAMINA FOR (in favour of) AMINA (rev of ANIMA, the soul, the innermost part of the personality; in Jungian psychology, the female component of the male personality) for small openings in zoology and botany; a new word which I had to look up
17 WEST END Ins of *(NEST) in WED (marry)
18 DE FACTO DE F (rev of FED) ACT (drama) O (nothing)
22 FRESH FR (father or friar, priest) +*(SHE)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

35 Responses to “Guardian 25,175 Gordius – Blogging in Brrritain”

  1. Dr.G says:

    A really great blog,considering the time… and the grey weather … in an alien environment. Were you wearing thermals when blogging? I suspect that it might have sent some blood to your grey matter. Regards

  2. Bryan says:

    Very many thanks Uncle Yap

    15d was new for me, too, but I guessed it correctly which is how it should be.

    Otherwise perfectly straightforward even though somewhat overloaded with anagrams.

  3. rrc says:

    I particularly liked 21a,

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, and welcome (back) to cold Britain. This seemed a lot easier than usual for Gordius, with, as you say, a few niggles. I don’t really get the point of “it may be all up for you!” in 1ac, or “in flight” in 1dn, neither of which seems to add anything to the clue. 7dn was very much a giveaway definition, and “terror” in 8d led straight to interrog-something.

    I look forward to meeting you again at “meet the setters” and/or Sloggers & Betters next week.

  5. sidey says:

    Shall we all ignore the bazaar homophone?

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap.

    I’m glad you mentioned it, sidey, because now I don’t need to.

    Very little to add, really, except to echo every one of Andrew’s niggles – I can’t make head or tail of 1dn – [and the fact that 'join' and 'conjoin' [3dn] are synonymous].

    I quite liked the story in 14ac!

  7. Pommers says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap – good review.
    I’m new to Guardian Xwords so don’t really know what expect but I enjoyed this one.
    Didn’t help that, at first, I had Cash for 13a – Pat Cash, could be Patricia Cash – Doh!
    Anyway got there in the end.
    Thanks to Gordius for a nice puzzle.

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    I don’t quite understand the 1s either. However I did see:

    1a If you are given your NOTICE your job is gone, so “it may all be up for you”?

    1d NO TWIT H STANDING???? Could the FLIGHT mean IN has been removed? But from what?

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    You’ll need your woolly jumper, Uncle Yap, ‘cos it ain’t getting any warmer, apparently! Super blog, thank you.

    This was Gordius back on good form. I did enjoy this one: yes, there were one or two question marks, but I liked SOFT FRUIT, ASHE, TEACH and 22dn for its nice surface (Gordius being a man of the cloth and all that).

    I took the BP clue to be just a cryptic definition rather than referring to the US environmental disaster, although I was tempted to put SPILL as the first part initially.

    Sidey at no 5: yes.

  10. Dave Ellison says:


  11. tupu says:

    Many thanks for your efforts UY and thanks Gordius for a mostly straightforward and, for me, quite enjoyable puzzle.

    Like UY I guessed and checked ‘foramina’.

    I was at first suspicious of the ‘with’ in 8d but it will do I think e.g. ‘it was an interrogatory session’.

    I also liked 21a, 25a and, to my own surprise, 14a. This was my last to go in. I kept trying to make sense simply of ven (the all too common crossword abbreviation re archdeacons) and also wondering if it was somehow connected with John Venn. Then the penny dropped.

    tilde also appears in other languages inc. Estonian where with ‘o’ (õ) it represents a very difficult vowel for me and many other foreigners ( :) until I realised it was a little like locals pronounce ‘pool’ in ‘Liverpool’ or Insp. Clouseau pronounces ‘room’).

    re 1d. After trying to make sense of ‘in flight’, and looking for a cryptic reference, I suspect it is just there for the surface. I wonder if some construction with ‘While’ or ‘in spite of’ might have helped instead of ‘although’ (like the answer, the latter demands ‘that’ or ‘the fact that’). Or perhaps it might have been possible to make use of ‘standing’ = ‘reputation’. All this notwithstanding, it remains a nice word to try to find a decent clue for.

  12. Carrots says:

    Thanks Gordius and Uncle Yap for an enjoyable enough puzzle, with only one (new to me) word.
    We`re parked at the foot of another pile of rock (called Gibralta) pending a last dash homeward to horrid weather.

  13. Manu says:

    Quick and enjoyable, although I had to cheat on 15d. I had never heard of foramina before.

    What’s wrong with 1 down? I don’t see any insertion or anagram in it. For me, it’s a pure cd. I agree that “the flight” could be replaced by “the bus” or “the coach”, as long as the means of transport chosen allows no standing passengers (not with standing).

  14. Manu says:

    Well, obviously a bus allows standing passengers. I’m quite well versed on the subject :)

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. Not much to add that hasn’t already been said. This was mostly quite easy, except for 15dn, which I got by a combination of checking and guessing, only working out the wordplay later. My favourite, for both surface and wordplay, was 14ac.

  16. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Encouraged by Tupu, (12ac tilde) I tuned to Wikepedia and almost wished I hadn’t. What an incredibly useful little squiggle! Even used in juggling notation!

  17. Robi says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for a nice blog. 15d also used in anatomy; most people are probably familiar with the foramen (ovale) on the head of a baby; foramina is the plural.

  18. William says:

    Thanks for the blog, Nunc, and welcome back. Most people would choose the leave the UK in November, not arrive!

    Held up by thinking of SNUG instead of STAG but otherwise romped through this. However there are still a few I don’t fully understand.

    Re 1d, I tend to agree with Manu at #14 but don’t think it really works.

    Also, UY, could you explain 2d, please? T+EACH is fair enough but where’s the definition?

    Many thanks.

  19. Dave Ellison says:

    Robi @17. Yes, that’s the way I arrived at foramina, the plural of foramen which word I already knew. I also thought it referred to the indentations in a babies skull, but on googling I see that is fontanelles – are they the same thing?

  20. Mr. Jim says:

    This is why I don’t normally do Gordius. Half the clues are so loosely constructed that I don’t bother trying to parse those I put in an answer for. As a result I had SNUG instead of STAG, VATICAN instead of ZILLION, and INTERLOPER instead of INTERVENER. I know there are good reasons that these are wrong, but the number of times I’ve run round in circles trying to understand Gordius’ clues… (and surely STALL is a theoretically correct answer for 2d, if a little odd. Mercifully I didn’t stumble into that).

  21. Robi says:

    Dave @ 19. Mea culpa, must be going senile – fontanelle is what I was thinking of. Foramen is the hole at the base of the skull.

  22. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for the yeoman effort. 15D was new to me although I had heard of foramen. Liked 21A. My reading of 1A was that one had to look up at the board to see the posted notices. Probably a stretch.


  23. muz says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for the blog

    Some ah-ha moments, though I had no trouble getting through it. Somewhat unspectacular, IMHO

    I had BORG at 13a – Boy OR Girl. It worked for me, but, unfortunately, not in the grid.


  24. tupu says:

    Re 1a
    I didn’t have much trouble with this – as wtih 1d, liberty seems to be taken for the sake of the surface especially with the ‘all’. The ‘up’ itself seems pretty straightforward. e.g ‘I’ll put it up on the notice board’ is a pretty standard expression.

  25. kloot says:

    A relatively gentle puzzle save for 15dn.

  26. M-me says:

    Re 21A – Plums usually are placed in the category of hard fruits; strawberries and raspberries are typical soft fruits. If in any doubt try some of the supermarket plums.

  27. Sil van den Hoek says:

    In fact, we all seem to like the same (good) clues!

    But I’m afraid 1ac, 1d and 6d are exactly the reason why, in general, I don’t like cryptic definitions [of course, sometimes they can be fine (but mainly when Rufus is at the wheel)].
    And tupu, “I’ll put it up on the notice board’ is a pretty standard expression”, I’ll agree, but “it may be all up for you [with an exclamation mark]” – what’s thát?

    One may assume there’s a hidden answer indicator in 12ac (TILDE) – where?
    Or is “some letters” doing double duty? If so, that’s surely not enough.

    Nonetheless, enough OK clues to make it an enjoyable though undemanding solve.

    And of course, Uncle Yap: a warm (???) welcome back in England!

  28. tupu says:

    Hi Sil
    We are not in disagreement. Perhaps I should have specified that I had grandpuzzler’s comment re looking upwards in mind. I thought I made it clear that the ‘all’ was much more puzzling and that IMO liberties had been taken here as in 1a for the sake of surface.

    Re tilde. You are right that ‘some letters’ is doing double duty – though in a slightly complicated way – firstly alone (as where Tilde sits) and then with ‘some’ referring to the whole phrase ‘letters until December’. :) I am sure we will disagree about how acceptable this is, but it seems reasonably clever to me.

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi, tupu, not sure whether we disagree.
    I see the hidden answer indicator now after your explanation, but to call something ‘doing double duty’ as it is here, clever – well, indeed not my cup of tea.

  30. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks UY.

    Re 1a, Sil, Tupu and others, I read this as a play on ‘notice’ as in to be given one’s notice, that is fired or sacked from a job. In such a situation, as yesterday’s posts about redundancy suggest, it can feel as if it is ‘all up for you.’

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK, Dad’s Lad, that’s fine by me.
    And if your ideas are right, it took 30 posts to parse 1ac – ah well.
    But forgive me that I just haven’t got the right ‘feel’ for these kinds of clues.

  32. tupu says:

    Hi dad’s Lad
    Re 1a. I’m sure you have got this one right – it does have evocations of yesterday’s redundancies (which I saw yesterday and for some reason did not pay much attention to today). Perhaps we can expect more such clues as the weeks go by. Incidentally Dave Ellison @8 also deserves credit here.

  33. Roger says:

    Thanks UY. Nothing too taxing here apart from 15, a new word for me also.
    Thought de facto was rather clever and smiled at soft fruit (see your point M-me @26, but I guess that’s why the clue has a ‘?’ ).
    Had hoped that 19 was going to be gnus (a gnu and a g-nother gnu !) but sadly no.

  34. Judith says:

    William @ 18 I can’t see that anyone has answered your query re 2dn teach. The whole thing is the definition.

  35. maarvarq says:

    I’m bemused by Mr Jim’s (@20) three examples of erroneous answers to clues he hadn’t bothered to read, when in every case the clue was perfectly sound for the answer, and in a particularly easy Gordius to boot.

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