Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25199 Paul … Flying Alitalia

Posted by Uncle Yap on December 21st, 2010

Uncle Yap.

Thank you, Duncan for filling in so well for me during my brief sojourn in Sri Lanka for a Hashing event. Thankfully, I am done travelling for the rest of the year and my heart goes out to the many travellers stuck in European airports in the lead-up to Christmas.

Today, Paul gave us quite an easy but entertaining puzzle which took me less than half an hour to solve, helped very much by the biggie in 28Across which I got just by looking at the enumeration. I had to go on-line to to find the Italian equivalent of flight. Well, you learn something new everyday, don’t you?

1 MIDRIFF In the middle of a riff (a phrase or figure played repeatedly) is when a guitarist may well pause and is also where the navel is situated.
9 AORTA Alternate letters in fAvOuR a TeAm for the main arterial vessel that carries blood from the heart (hence which is close to one’s heart)
10 LASSITUDE As a non-native, I always try to steer clear of homophones which appear to be one of the most contentious areas in cryptic crossword. I await edification from a native. Thanks to NeilW … sounds like Lassie chewed
12 SEAL dd
14 VOLCANIC ASH Cha of VOL (VOLO, Italian for flight minus O) CAN I CASH (change) Last night I was watching a BBC programme on the huge financial costs of the closure of Heathrow Airport due to heavy snowfall and comparison was made to the closure in May 2010 of European airports caused by dangerous volcanic ashes from Iceland.
18 COTONEASTER Ins of TONE (shade) in COASTER (vessel) shrub or small tree of the genus Cotoneaster, related to hawthorn.
21 OKRA ha also known as gumbo and lady’s fingers
22 MENTAL NOTE MEN (workers) ins of A LN (a LiNk) in TOTE (carry)
25 GREENHORN GREEN (politician) HORN (wind instrument cleverly clued as one blasted)
26 GRAVE dd
27 DISUSED Ins of U (university) in DISSED (treated with contempt)
28,11,24,5 PUT ONE’S MONEY WHERE ONE’S MOUTH IS This is quite self-explanatory. I spotted this right away

1 MIASMA Ins of S (south) in MIAM (US City Miami minus I) + A
2 DARING DARLING (loved one) minus middle letter, L
3 IN ANY EVENT Ins of NY (New York state) in *(VENETIAN)
4 FILTH Ins of L (line) in FIT (attack) + H (first letter of Home)
6 UNIT U (you) NIT (fool)
7 HOUSEMAN Ins of E (English) in Alfred Edward HOUSMAN (1859–1936),  an English classical scholar and poet, best known to the general public for his cycle of poems A Shropshire Lad.
8 STEALTHY STEAL (pilfer) THY (your)
13 MICROLIGHT Ins of CR (CAR, vehicle minus A) + *(OIL) in MIGHT (power) for a very light, usually single-seat, aircraft having either fixed or flexible wings.
15 LEASEHOLD *(SALE) EH (rev of HE, man) OLD (crumbling)
16 ACT OF GOD Ins of TO FG (FroG) in A COD (fish)
17 STARKERS Ins of K (king) in STARERS (those looking) What a creative surface ! My COD
19 DOMAIN DO (get on) MAIN (leading)
20 RECESS dd
23 TON-UP Ins of O in TNUP (rev of PUNT, boat) travelling or having travelled at more than 100mph

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

37 Responses to “Guardian 25199 Paul … Flying Alitalia”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Glad you’re back safe and sound.

    10 is “Lassie chewed”.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Read the clues nearly to the end before breaking through: 23d gave the initial P for 28a etc, which – as it did wityh you even earlier – jumped out in its entirety. Apart from the outlandish 10a there wasn’t as much to enthuse over as usual with Paul. The answers seemed clear enough for both 9a and 27a, but the clueing looked laboured.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap, it’s great to have you back safe and sound even though you failed in your mission to meet Paul.

    I was disappointed that Paul did not acknowledge his own disappointment at not meeting you in this puzzle but maybe he’s saving this for a Prize?

    There was a lack of smuttiness in this one but I suppose he more than compensated by specifying FILTH?

    A remarkably quick solve.

  4. Uncle Yap says:

    Paul did expressed some very thoughtful words which I reproduce below :

    # Paul says:
    November 30th, 2010 at 11:25 pm Edit

    Uncle Yap, I am so sad to have missed you, as I was really looking forward to saying hello. Thank you so much for the extraordinary effort you made to be here tonight. Thank you, and do take care. There will be another time soon. And do drop me a line and say hello via my website at

    Thank you also to all those who were there.

  5. Duncan Shiell says:

    I thought this was towards the easier end of Paul’s spectrum. The long answer fell once the initial P was in place and the rest followed steadily thereafter.

    ‘Lassie chewed’ produced a groan when I realised what was going on. DOMAIN was the last in, and COTONEASTER needed a lot of crossing letters as my horticultural knowledge is low.

    Overall, a surpisingly gentle start to the day.

  6. Dad'sLad says:

    THanks Uncle Yap,

    Paul is getting decidedly less saucy. 17d is the only classic. Perhaps there is to be a ration of one signature clue per puzzle?

  7. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I’m persevering with Paul and this is the second in a row that I’ve managed. There was some clever stuff around, but I didn’t like LASSITUDE or VOLCANIC ASH. When you’ve got to find an Italian word that won’t be in most people’s vocabulary, then modify it before using it as part of the answer … great surface, indifferent clue imho.

    Your headline about flying Alitalia reminds me of the acronymn created because of their poor timekeeping: Always Late In Taking-off; Always Late In Arriving. And of course BA as Bloody Awful is particularly apposite at the minute.

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    I found this quite enjoyable eventually, albeit after a very slow start. I was just about to give up for a break, when I got TON-UP , and, as with others, the P gave the long clue, and the rest followed fairly quickly, so just one session in the end.

    Thanks, I think, for the explanation of LASSITUDE. I didn’t like this one either, as I spotted LASSIE but could make nothing of TUDE; not a homophone in my book.

  9. Martin H says:

    Not one of Paul’s best – the long answer was, as has been said, pretty obvious – mid-riff would be an odd moment for a guitarist to choose to pause – and there were one or two rather forced constructions, but some very nice clues as well: 13; 15; 18 stand out.

    To be fair to Paul, he did say ‘roughly speaking’ in 10a. – Paul goes in for pushing boundaries, and this was just another example. I think it works. Whether you like it or not is a matter of taste. Unfortunately, though, he seems to have painted himself into a corner with frequent attempts in earlier puzzles to push another sort of boundary, and we can’t have a Paul without somebody talking about ‘signature’, or even ‘obligatory’ smuttiness. His ‘signature’, surely, is his wit and determined inventiveness, coupled with a certain acerbity. Can’t we just take it at that?

  10. Rob says:

    With reference to post 7 does anyone remember SABENA, the not much late lamented airline of Belgium – ‘Such A Bloody Experience Never Again’?

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. The long answer sprang out at me straight away, too. Not convinced by 10ac and I really struggled to see DOMAIN, for some reason.

    re airlines: BA in the old days was BOAC — ‘Better On A Camel’.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Yes, Rob, I do remember! I was going to mention that one as well; having worked in Belgium when the airline was still going strong (if that’s the word), I can vouch for its accuracy.

  13. Stella Heath says:

    Unlike others, I’ve never used the expression ‘ton-up’, quite beside the fact that 100kmh is not exactly a raring speed :)

    So I didn’t have the entry into the long answer, which took me a little longer, and a few crossing letters, to get, and then I used the wrong possessives, so had the ‘r’ of ‘your’ rather than the ‘s’ of ‘one’s’ in 27ac., which held me up until I realised.

    Last two in were ‘lassitude’, which I had to come here to understand, and of course the four-letter ‘seal’.

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap, I’m glad you got home safely.

    I’ll save my season’s greetings till a little closer to the date – this is getting repetitive :D

  14. John Appleton says:

    VOLO is perhaps stretching expectations of general knowledge, but the clue was otherwise straightforward enough. First one I had in, in fact.

  15. tupu says:

    Thanks uncle yap and Paul

    I completed this eventually and understood all the clues, but feel a bit thick in the company of so many fast solvers! I’m never very fast but must be especially sluggish today.

    In retrospect I enjoyed the puzzle quite a lot, finding amusement in many clues and especially 28 etc (for the surface which I rather like), 10 (MartinH is right here), and 17.

    I was not much taken initially by 8d since the two senses (tr. and intr.) of ‘steal’ seem quite close to each other, but it seems acceptable enough.

    I was also a bit suspicious of old = crumbling but that is probably just amour propre! :)

  16. Robi says:

    Thanks Paul for a very enjoyable puzzle, to Uncle Yap and to NeilW for explaining ‘Lassie chewed;’ I quite like that, despite the groans. For Stella @13, ton-up in the UK refers to 100 miles per hour, which is quite fast! Needed UY to explain ‘horn’ as one blasted; do you think ‘green’ is the political party or a Mr Green??

  17. Robi says:

    P.S. (Damian) Green was arrested by the Metropolitan Police at his constituency home on 27 November 2008 on suspicion of “aiding and abetting misconduct in public office” and “conspiring to commit misconduct in a public office.”

  18. MikeC says:

    Thanks to Paul and Uncle Yap. I enjoyed this, completed eventually despite two wrong turnings. One I shared with Stella @13; the other was 21a REED insead of OKRA. The first is contra-indicated in the clue; any reason why re the second? To answer my own question, maybe “book” is otherwise redundant. Any thoughts, anyone?

  19. Stella Heath says:

    Hi MikeC, I don’t know what reeds are edible, unless you mean bamboo, and ‘okra’ was hidden in ‘boOK RAre’.

    To Robi@16, I do realise that, but haven’t lived there for over 30 years, and the expression was new to me. Also, considering the number of cars clogging up the roads every time I visit, it must be in pretty rare usage – although my husband had to brake very hard to avoid a tail-end collision last time we were over, as he was doing 160 (kmh) on the outside lane of a four-lane motorway!

  20. SeB says:

    @Stella – assuming your last visit was later than 1965 then your husband was extremely foolish to be driving at that speed 30mph/50kmph over the legal limit. Lucky no one was hurt, if he’d been caught he would have been in deep trouble!

  21. Robi says:

    @ Stella,you might be interested in The phrase has been used more for motorbikes, and as SeB says, the legal motorway limit is 113kmh. Back to the crossword – I also took some time to get the 28,11,24,5, but I thought ‘volo’ was fair enough – especially as ‘vol’ is also French for flight. ‘Volplane’ is at out of interest……..

  22. Stella Heath says:

    I quite agree, and was actually very annoyed with him. Driving in Spain is so much easier, but the limit here is only 120 – I hope he’s learned his lesson :)

  23. retired pleb says:

    Not a great offering, but enjoyable. Mental note (22a) last to go in.

  24. Mr Beaver says:

    We fairly raced through this, until the SE corner when it slowed right down. Eventually I gave up with 13d and 22a unsolved – the former particularly galling as I used to fly one of the contraptions, so I’ve no excuse.
    Re 1a, I guess a guitarist wouldn’t really pause there, but it was still a great clue and gave us a laugh. I liked 8d too.

  25. molonglo says:

    re Alitalia etc, in the very old days the slogan was Take A Chance, Fly Air France. In these snowbound times travellers might be happy to.

  26. Carrots says:

    Too late really to make any meaningful post, but although this was a fairly straightforward puzzle from a highly accomplished setter, there were several clues and definitions which I had to think twice about. LASSITUDE & VOLCANIC ASH I could just about live with, but DO for “get on” and the central parsing of MICROLIGHT & MENTAL NOTE I felt were not up to Paul`s usual meticulous standards. Perhaps I`m just tired: I`ll shut up and go to bed.

  27. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots
    For what it’s worth, I think ‘do’ is ‘for get on with’ as in ‘get on with the job’.

  28. g larsen says:

    Very enjoyable, and I’m afraid I found Lassitude a laugh-out-loud moment.

    Sabena was the most aptly initialled airline, as I remember from bitter personal experience, but two more are:
    TAP : take another plane; and
    ALITALIA : aircraft landed in Turin, all luggage in America.

    I’m going for a walk now.

  29. Carrots says:

    Many thanks, Tupu….I`m sure you are right, but why doesn`t the clue read “Get on with the job”? See what I mean about perfunctory clues?

    As you are a knowledgeable fellow, do you know what Uncle Yap means by “hashing event”? It`s a new term to me and I`ve googled it, but am none the wiser. It could be a Corned Beef Stew Competition for all I know. In which case my imfamous offering of Devilled Hash (made with the secret ingredients of minced salt-beef, Worcester Sauce and Tobasco) has to be in with a chance.

    I`ve got a touch of Cabin Fever at the moment which always gets me into mischief and I`m just bored waiting for the local pub to open.

  30. Gaufrid says:


  31. tupu says:

    Many Thanks Gaufrid and seasonal best wishes while I have the chance.

    I too was puzzled.

  32. Daniel Miller says:

    I take it Wednesday’s thread isn’t up because it was ridiculously easy!! :)

  33. Bryan says:

    Daniel Miller @ 32

    It was YOUR turn to do Wednesday’s blog.

    I do hope that you haven’t forgotten!

  34. malc95 says:

    Daniel @32

    Ridiculously easy apart from 15a. Can anyone explain it? Surely not just a hidden answer. If so, why the children and why the transport?

  35. Gaufrid says:

    Please leave discussion of today’s puzzle until the appropriate post appears, which it will (if the scheduled blogger doesn’t turn up shortly I will cover it myself).

  36. Carrots says:

    Well…well, I never! Thanks very much Gaufrid for directing me to the Hash House Harriers web-site. It seems a most excellent organization and one which, were it not for the running, I could see myself belonging to. How on earth can one reach three score years being completely oblivious of it? I wonder if Groucho Marx was aware of these zanies when he made his famous remark about club membership? I suspeect not or there would have been another Marx Bros. film!

  37. Sylvia says:

    Just catching up on this week’s crosswords. For Paul’s 1a I at first tried to validate ‘no strum’ before getting other crossing letters! And I also had ‘your’ instead of ‘one’s’ for 28,11,24,5 but eventually sorted myself out.

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