Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,184 / Brummie

Posted by Eileen on December 3rd, 2010


I never quite know what to expect from Brummie, so was a bit 9ac when I started this puzzle. I needn’t have worried – it turned out to be quite straightforward and a lot of fun, with a strangely non-topical theme word at 20dn, which I didn’t get until near the end: a real penny-dropping moment. Thanks, Brummie, for an entertaining start to the day.


8   FLAMBEAU: F[emale] + LAM [hit] + BEAU [old name for an admirer]
9   LEERY: homophone of ‘Leary’ [‘as a Shakespearean king’ – oh dear!]
10,26 MOONBEAM: MOO [low] + N[ew] + BEAM [support]
11  TEST FLIGHT: TEST [Hampshire river] + L[ost] in FIGHT [battle]: reference to the ill-fated attempt of Daedalus and his son, Icarus, to escape from Crete.
12  RAPIER: R [king] + APIER [more like a primate] – another like 9ac.
14  AIRBRUSH:  double / cryptic definition
16  FOGHORN: FO [OF ‘capsized’] + G[rand] + HO[use] + RN [sailors]
18  EXACTLY: EX [once] + T[ease] in anagram of LACY – another clever use of  ‘just’ as the definition, cf Loroso’s ETHICAL in yesterday’s FT puzzle.
21 CAMBODIA: anagram of MOB in AD [publicity] all inside CIA [spies]
23  AD-LIBS: cryptic definition
24  ABSTINENCE: ABS [certain muscles] + TIN [can] + EN [measure] + C[arbon] + E[nergy]: a few moments wasted here trying to justify ‘abstaining’.
27  DEVON: DE [French ‘of’] + VON [German ‘of’]
28  NONJUROR: N[ew] start for conjuror [magician]. My A Level History to the rescue once more: I’ve only come across this word as applied to the Anglican clergymen who refused to swear allegiance to William and Mary in 1689, after the deposition of James II. I thought it was hyphenated but it appears thus in both Collins and Chambers.


1   EL DORADO: A in anagram of OLD DEAR Edit: no, it isn’t: please see comments 15 and 16.
2   EMIN: sEMINar minus reversal of RAS [artists]: Tracey Emin has been something of a gift to crossword setters but I liked this treatment.
3   SETTER: TT [temperature doubled] in SEER [Sibyl]: the spelling of Sibyl told us we were not looking for Basil’s wife!
4   RUSSIAN: [t]RUSS + IAN [Paisley]: is this the first time that IAN has been clued as anything other than ‘Scotsman’? [whose spelling, incidentally, is very  often ‘Iain’!]
5   CLEF: cryptic definition – for once, nothing to do with cricket!
6   RECIPROCAL: P[arking] in anagram of CIRCLE OR
7   TYPHUS: T[r]Y [test not right] + anagram of PUSH
13  INHIBITIVE: IN + H[ospital] + I BIT [one part] + I’VE [Brummie has]
15  REX: homophone of wrecks: the suave film actor perhaps best known for ‘My Fair Lady’.
17  RED: RE[a]D: reference to the red ball in snooker
19  LABRADOR: L[ive] + anagram of ABROAD + R[ight]
20 RAINING: I must admit I largely ignored this theme word and its cross-references,  while solving, because the clues were falling nicely into place without it. I had initially thought that ‘not spitting’ might mean ‘not identical’. I had half registered ‘Russian Blue’ along the way and thought it was a parrot, then realised that was Norwegian Blue [John Cleese peering over my shoulder again!]. Devon Rex didn’t mean anything either but then the Labrador clinched it. A lovely clue – referring, of course, to the expression ‘raining cats and dogs’, as opposed to ‘spitting’, both expressions which may be unfamiliar to non UK residents.
22  AUBADE: AU [gold] + BADE [requested] – a sunrise song
23  AGEING: IN [popular] in anagram of EGG
25  NINE: I can’t quite see this: is it just an anagram of iN EINstein’s?
26  BLUE: double definition

39 Responses to “Guardian 25,184 / Brummie”

  1. rob says:

    I think 25 dn is just the anagram of a Germanic ‘no’ ie nein thus being a negative

  2. Uncle Yap says:

    Thank you Eileen … delightful blog for an equally delightful puzzle. My last in was RAINING as I tried vainly to form an anagram of the first letters. Only when I wrote the clued answers in full did I see the light.

    I parsed NINE as an annie of IN E (first letter of Einstein) i (in maths, negative figure or as Chambers have it, the imaginary square root of -1)with shift as anagrin

  3. Uncle Yap says:

    oops, I got my knickers in a twist
    Right answer, wrong route and reasoning

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks, both. :-)

  5. Martin H says:

    Thanks for pointing out the thinking behind ‘raining’, Eileen; not knowing ‘Russian Blue’, I though they were probably all dogs, so was a bit mystified. I think 14 is a dd, not a cd, with one half cryptic – and weak, as was 23.

    How about IN + E (Einstein’s original) + N for negative altered by ‘slight shift’ (as you only have to move one letter) for 25?

  6. jim says:

    I think NINE is an anagram of IN E (first of Einstein) and N for negative.
    Thanks for excellent blog.

  7. RichardSmyth says:

    Great puzzle, great blog, thanks all. Some beautifully precise clueing by Brummie.

    Not quite up to the standard set by Arachne yesterday, though, which inspired me to pen a crossword-themed blog of my own at:

  8. Ian W. says:

    I thought “nine” was a slight anagram of “nein”, i.e., “no” in Einstein’s native tongue.

  9. Ian W. says:

    Sorry — somehow missed comment 1. I agree.

  10. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Martin H: of course 14ac is a dd – a careless slip, corrected now.

  11. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen – my views exactly. I got raining early but didn;t quite put the elements together, never having heard of 27,15 e.g. 25d and 26d were the two last. The latter I verified after assuming it had to be a dd. 25d is untidy however you parse it.

  12. Stella says:

    Having got to Cambodia with nary an answer in the grid, I was afraid this was going to be a tough one, but I plodded on, and things started falling nicely into place.

    My clue to 20d was Devon rex, which I discovered was a cat, not a dog – and a very pretty one, judging by the photo in Wiki.

    Last in was Emin, who I’ve never heard of, and entered as a guess :)

  13. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I had to do this in two sittings. Like you I solved without relying on the theme clue. If being honest, I probably enjoyed your blog more than the puzzle!

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for the usual great blog and thanks Brummie.

    Very entertaining. At one stage I thought there was a pangram but WKQZ are missing. I enjoyed the boom-boom humour esp. rapier.

    It seems to be take your pick with 25d! Anagram of nein (german neg) seems to me to fit the surface better.

    20d was last to go in. A nice sort of connection. It looked like ‘raining’ but it was only when I discovered the two cats that the penny (from heaven?) dropped (rained?).
    I also like 14 and 22d.

  15. John Appleton says:

    Thanks, Eileen – but are we (or is Brummie) missing something? “El Dorado” can’t be an anagram of OLD DEAR around A – There are two As and only one O there to work with. I hadn’t noticed it until I saw the blog, I must admit.

  16. Gaufrid says:

    1dn is *(OLD DEAR) O (round). The ‘a’ is part of the definition.

  17. Eileen says:

    You’re absolutely right, John, of course. It’s one of those ‘anagrams’ that look so obvious that I didn’t think to check. [And no one else noticed!]

    [These editorial slips -if that’s what they are – are getting beyond a joke.]

  18. Eileen says:

    Thanks Gaufrid – and apologies, Mr Stephenson!

  19. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I have to admit that RAPIER and LEERY both made me groan! re the theme, I knew which were cats and which were dogs, but it took a while before 20dn occurred to me. V enjoyable.

  20. Simon Harris says:

    Thanks Eileen. I made a rare excursion into Guardian territory today, and thought it was very good. Not too hard, not too easy, with some humourous moments – not least the ones Liz mentions. I picked up the theme very late too, but it was a big help when spotted. It was slightly unsatisfying to have to guess the last one – AUBADE – but I guessed it correctly, so can’t complain.

  21. Eileen says:

    Nice to see you over here, Simon. :-)

    I see from the archive that AUBADE[S] has made three previous appearances – two of them in Azeds!

  22. Carrots says:

    I deliberately saved this puzzle to enjoy over a pint at lunchtime, but when I got there (all of fifty yards) our village local resembled a refugee camp, with hoardes of shrieking brats and a log-jam of their life-support buggies.
    But, much to the amusement of the Parish Magazine deliverer, I brought my pinta back home, cradled like a Meissen

    Apart from AUBADE, which I had to look up, I finished Brummie`s puzzle correctly, although without quite fully understanding a few of the clues. I was fixated for some time searching for the lost “P” in Prussian Blue (a pigment) and it wasn`t until the penny dropped about the themic device of cats & dogs that I realised I was looking for a moggie.

    Thanks Brummie….and Auntie E….you`ve helped to make my day.

    (Incidentally Tupu, I am able to log-in to to the new on-line OED (using an old Library Card!) via my County Library, so grateful thanks for your suggestion yesterday!)

  23. William says:

    Thank you Auntie Eileen for an enjoyable blog, as usual.

    I wonder if you agree that the LEERY clue really needs a question mark? Rather like the excellent “Cream like a Welshman?” = IVORY that appeared not long ago.

    Kind regards, William.

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi William

    Perhaps you’re right – although it hadn’t bothered me. The one I remember is Paul’s ‘Use as a fruit, perhaps?’ for APPLY – and, sure enough, it has a question mark!

  25. FumbleFingers says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    Better hope they really are “editorial slips”, and not early onset Alzheimer’s.

    Personally, I’m putting my faith in the proposition that FLAMBEAU, INHIBITIVE, and AUBADE are rare words which I may never have encountered, rather than words I can no longer recall.

    But at least I managed to get them via the wordplay. Unlike NONJUROR, which if I’d accepted as a valid word at all, I’d have expected to be hyphenated. In consequence of which I couldn’t fill in RAINING to finish. Grrr!

  26. Jan says:

    Thank you for the blog, Eileen, and for the puzzle, Brummie – both very enjoyable.

    Having recognised 2 cats and 1 dog I got RAINING – only then did I get LABRADOR! With the B and A in, I was fixated with the Iberian peninsular having discounted the Wirral.

  27. Headteacher says:

    Carrots: hordes, please, not hoards

  28. Eileen says:


    Actually, Carrots had ‘hoardes’, which I accepted as a typo. Pedant that I am, I would not question a fellow contributor’s comment – we all make typing mistakes and I’d be among the first to hold my hands up. As for setters, as regular readers will know, that’s a different story!

    However, Carrots:

    Whence this ‘Auntie’ nomenclature? [I’ve ignored it so far.] It feels too cosy for me. :-)

  29. Paul B says:

    I’d prefer ‘use as a fruit perhaps’ to ‘cream like a Welshman’ any day of the week, due to surface sense. ‘Fey’ for ‘irony’ is another popular one.

  30. Eileen says:

    Hi Paul B

    I agree.

    ‘Fey’ for ‘irony’ sounds like rich pickings but after a desultory [I’m tired] trawl of the archives, I can’t find it. One of yours? – if so, congratulations. I really like this kind of clue! :-)

  31. FumbleFingers says:

    Oh lawks! use as a fruit perhaps=APPLY, fey=IRONY?!

    I’m still struggling to come to terms with not being used to mean ‘remove the letter t from preceding/following word’. Stop the world, I need to get off!

  32. Carrots says:

    Thanks Auntie E for trying to save my skin, but I`ll have to report to the Headteacher`s office for forgetting how to spell “hordes”.

    “Auntie” is a term of endearment, which I applied to all benevolent matriarchs in the “two-up/two down” houses in industrial East Lancashire where I was born….and lived until Art School transformed me into something of a wild child. (Which, alas, at sixty-something, I fear I still am). Your blogs and comments are always kind, warm and encouraging, which all of both my real and surrogate “Aunties” were. (i.e. they spoiled me rotten…and were wonderfully “cosy”).

    I guess I`ve invented outrageous personas for a lot of 15sqd. contributors, almost without being aware of it, because I need something more than a pseudonym to (hopefully) entertain and spark with. If you don`t like being called “Auntie” I can always demote you to “The Duchess”, “The Dowager” or “The Lady E”! Just lemmeknow!

    Incidentally, I don`t think anyone on 15sqd needs those little yellow space-hoppers to signal “no offence meant”, which should be taken “as read” on a site like this. As most contributors, to me, seem very well-read indeed, they offer only a sanitized apology for finely-honed comment. I use a kiss (XX) in personal correspondence, but would be roasted alive if I dared to use such a device on 15sqd!

  33. William says:

    Eileen, I do hope I gave no offence. Like Carrots, my use of ‘Auntie’ was pure endearment. You seem always to encourage rather than criticise, an essentially materteral quality.

    With thanks.

  34. Eileen says:

    Hi Carrots and William

    Bless you both! ‘Auntie’, on those terms, is fine by me [xx Carrots] – but, these days, for me, ‘Grandma’ seems more appropriate :-)

    Many thanks, everyone, as always, for the comments. I’m glad other solvers seem to have had problems, as I did, with 25dn. It threatened to have mathematical connnotations, which is why I was happy to leave it to others. It’s a pity that, for me, at least, none of the solutions seems wholly satisfying – but I’m sure that’s just me being dim.

    I’d just love to know how many others, as I did took El DORADO at face value, without checking?

  35. Davy says:

    Hi Auntie Eileen,

    What a lovely post from Carrots, quite heartwarming really and we need some warmth in these cold times. Yes, I coundn’t quite get EL DORADO to work as an anagram but knew it was the correct answer. I didn’t see the importance of ’round’ which was clever.

    Like Carrots, I spent most of my life in Lancashire (in and around Manchester) before moving to North Yorkshire. Strangely (or maybe not), we call our local taxi driver Auntie Val and she, in turn, calls my wife Auntie Di and so it’s certainly a term of endearment. You can probably guess what age bracket we are in but we won’t go into that. Despite my aged exterior, I’m only 22 really.

  36. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Davy.

    Decades ago, when I heard ‘old ladies’ saying something similar to your last remark, I would think, ‘Silly old bat!’. Not any more :-(

    Lucky you, to live in North Yorkshire!

  37. mismanager says:


    Whilst I’d generally agree with you that we are lucky to live in North Yorkshire, this is not the week to suggest it. The general view seems to be that “it’s grim up North”. We’ve had a stream of refugees unable to move to the countryside beyond York.

    It is a shame that we don’t have the range of words that our Gujarati friends use for female friends and relatives. Father’s older sister, father’s younger sister, mother’s sister, father’s brother’s wife, etc. are all addressed differently and there is a general term used for female friends that implies respect. All are translated as “Auntie”. Perhaps you’d prefer to be called “Masi”?

  38. Eileen says:

    Hi mismanager

    Apologies for the insensitivity – I hope it gets better for you soon.

    In view of recent comments, as I said, I don’t mind ‘Auntie’ at all.

    You’ve reminded me of my former students, of Indian origin, who would talk about their ‘cousin sister’.

    Even more off-topic – you probably know this, too: in Denmark, grandparents are designated as ‘father’s father’ [Farfar] ‘father’s mother [ Farmor] ‘mother’s father’ [Morfar] and ‘mother’s mother’ [Mormor], Simple!

  39. Roger says:

    Auntie = BBC = Benign Blogger of Crosswords.

    … I’ll be off, then.

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