Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25210 Puck … A Midwinter Day’s Reality

Posted by Uncle Yap on January 4th, 2011

Uncle Yap.

After the recent twisted knickers on the Guardian crossword web pages, things seem to be coming back to normal … the dates and the puzzle numbers all seem to be right … after the Christmas / New Year revelries, reality returns

Today’s puzzle has a mini theme based on one of my favourite folk songs by a fabulous 60’s group whose collective name was introduced through other namesake singers. Two are not as well-known but compensated by easier anagram clues. Very entertaining stuff

1 DUBIOUS DUB (a genre of music which grew out of reggae music in the 1960s, and is commonly considered a subgenre) IO (one of the moons of Jupiter) US (American)
5 EXHUMED Cha of EX (former) HUM (stink) ED (editor, journalist)
10 MEMORISES Ins of EMOR (rev of ROME, city) in *(MESSI)
12,4 PAUL SIMON PAUL’S (Paul, Guardian setter, moniker of John Halpern) I’M (Puck’s) ON (working) for the other half of Simon and Garfunkel of Bridge Over Troubled Water fame
14,1 PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON Ins of FF (fellows) in PUT (place) HEM (border) A GI (a soldier) C (caught) DRAG ON (wearing women’s clothing) “Puff, the Magic Dragon” is a song written by Leonard Lipton and Peter Yarrow, and made popular by Yarrow’s group Peter, Paul and Mary in a 1963 recording. By some perverted reasoning, the Malaysian Government interpreted the song as Puff, the magic DRAG IN and banned it as an undesirable song said to promote the smoking of drugs.
18 STONEWALLING Ins of O (nothing) NEW in STALLING (synonym for the answer) Brilliant construction, my COD
21 HEAR (S) hear
22 HOSPITABLE HO (corruption of whore, prostitute) + ins of PIT (mine) in SABLE (black)
25 WALKABOUT (?) The erudite NeilW has a very plausible explanation in comment #1. However, jvh in #4 parsed  this as a kind of reversal clue  (when the answer is the clue) whereby WALKABOUT (defined as pedestrian appearance by Queen) leads to rev of WALK or K (king) LAW (rule). This wordplay seems a better explanation for this outstanding clue.
26 OPIUM O (ring) PI (Private Investigator, detective) UM (hesitation)
27 DOE-EYED Sounds like DOH (stupid) I’D (This setter would)
28 RESPECT dd “Respect” is a song written and originally released by Stax recording artist Otis Redding in 1965. “Respect” became a 1967 hit and signature song for R&B singer Aretha Franklin.

2 BIDETS Ins od D & E (lower classes) in BITS (some money)
3 OVERHAULED *(a rude hovel)
5 EMMENTHAL EMMA (novel) minus A plus *(PLANT HE minus P)
6 HERO With H?R?, this can only be Hero of Leander fame but I do not see the wordplay … anyone?
7 MUSTANGS Ins of S (second) TAN (beat) in MUGS (faces)
8 DISPLACE Detective Inspector’s place is the home of a plain-clothes policeman
15 FLAVONOID Ins of River AVON in FLOID (FLOOD with Iodine substituted for Oxygen)
16 ESCHEWED *(W CHEESE) + D (daughter)
Puff, the magic dragon lived by the sea
And frolicked in the autumn mist in a land called Honah Lee

20 KERMIT Ins of ER (hesitant expression) M (married) in KIT (one of the many shortened forms for Catherine)
23,9 PETER ANDRE *(NEED PART) + R (right) E (key) Peter James Andre (born 27 February 1973) is a singer-songwriter, television personality and businessman. He was born in the United Kingdom to Greek Cypriot parents and raised in Australia. From the 2000s he has been a resident of the United Kingdom. He had a successful career in music, achieving four top 10 UK albums and ten top 10 singles.
24,19 MARY J BLIGE *(GIRL MAY BE + Jazz) Mary Jane Blige (born January 11, 1971) is an American singer, producer, songwriter, actress, and rapper. A recipient of 9 Grammy Awards and 4 American Music Awards. Blige has recorded eight multi-platinum albums.

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

45 Responses to “Guardian 25210 Puck … A Midwinter Day’s Reality”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks UY.

    I think you might add that 11 is also a sort of double definition. Strange to see Io making two appearances in the same crossword, by the way.

    I’m fairly sure that 25 refers to the triumph of Billie Jean King over Evonne Goolagong who was known for occasionally “losing the plot” in a match which, given her origins, was described as going on WALKABOUT. (Obscure or what?) The definition is of course a reference to the royal walkabouts the queen and the rest of the royal family do.

    6 had me stumped too.

  2. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks, UY. Loved the mini-theme. They were a college favorite of mine. Could 6D be HERA? Or, if HERO, could it refer to the Greek sandwich (gyro)?


  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. Re 6d, Hero was a priestess of Aphrodite – but if that’s the answer it’s not a good clue. I thought 8d was also pretty feeble, and like you was stumped by the king-walkabout connection, although I suppose NeilW gets it right. Never heard of Ms Blige or the 15d antioxidant, but they were gettable.

  4. jvh says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I think the cryptic part of 25a is k law (“walk” about), king to rule.

  5. aloo2 says:

    6dn I surmised that as the middle letter of Aphrodite is ‘o’, it was simply ‘her(o)’. Not entirely plausible maybe, but possible. Agree with jvh re 25.

  6. rrc says:

    came unstuck with 24 19 even after getting Mary otherwise some very obscure words but still enjoyable

  7. Andrew says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, and Happy New Year to you. I really enjoyed this. I wonder if 11ac’s vague connection to today’s partial eclipse of the sun is just a happy coincidence?

    Well spotted, jvh – though I think NeilW’s interpretation is still valid as a misleading (albeit rather obscure) surface reading.

  8. Martin H says:

    18 and 25 (in jvh’s reading) both outstanding clues, and 20,21 both very nicely done, (and aloo2’s reading of 6 is plausible and attractive), but otherwise, for me, disappointing from Puck, usually one of my favourite setters. Some forced constructions (11, 13, 15 etc), throwaway definitions (‘song’ = ‘respect’?) – and I suppose people of my age can be expected to remember PP&M, but I for one don’t thank anyone for reminding me, particularly with that maddening ditty which will no doubt circulate in my head for the rest of the day.

  9. John Doe says:

    For 6d I had ‘O’ as Aphrodite’s heart, O being the middle letter, and ‘HER’ for Aphrodite’s, as in personal possessive pronoun, giving HER O.

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Puck

    Re Hero 6d – I noted that hro was in ApHROdite and that the character ‘e’ was in that. Is this an appreviation of ‘ever’?
    I also saw ‘her O’ but couldn’t make much senbse of it.

    re 26a I took PI to be POlice Inspector.

    re 25a I am sure this is k law about.

    I solved this puzzle with some difficulty as many of the music references and some others were unknown to me though solvable from the cluing. I had to hunt quite hard for Mary J Blige as I missed hte ‘little jazz’ part of the clue.

    Some very clever cluing – enjoyed 18 and amused by 27 among others.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    I enjoyed this Puck, but only completed with my wife’s help on Mary J B.

    I too had Hera for 6d without explanation – but, of course, she was a goddess rather than a character. Having seen your explanation UY, I thought along the lines of tupu at #10, but HRO is not the middle of Aphrodite. The other explanations seem to not place any relevance on ALWAYS.

  12. tupu says:

    Further straw-clutching re 6d

    O = love. Aphrodite = goddess of love. Her O = her love??

    Further searching reveals nothing about e= always except a version of ‘Always and forever’ sung by the rapper Mr Capone-E!

    Hi Dave @11 Definition can be simply ‘mythical Greek’ in my first tentative suggestion but I’m afraid I still can’t see how this helps Hera which I also pondered over.

    :) Nuff’s nuff!

  13. Robi says:

    Thanks, Puck and Uncle Yap.

    Got WALKABOUT but didn’t understand it until I saw jvh@4’s explanation, which seems to work.

    Although I got the parsing of 14,1, I couldn’t see any definition. Is this not needed because it is part of the theme, or have I missed something?

    Re. HERO, I think John Doe and tupu’s explanations are the most probable. I wondered whether ‘Greek character always’ could refer to ‘Rho'(all ways) but that still leaves an ‘e’ that doesn’t seem to be at the heart of anything.

  14. malc95 says:


    14,1 – I suppose the definition is “Number”.

  15. Robi says:

    malc95; thanks, that looks right. 27 missed it!

  16. MikeS says:

    Hi UY

    My guess for 6d is that Puck considered Aphrodite to be a bit of a Ho, as in 22 across. In which case, the insertion of the poetic er for ever would lead to Hero

  17. Puck says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for the blog, and to others for comments.

    25ac and 6dn seem to need some clarification, given various possibilities have been suggested for the wordplay in each case.

    So just to confirm my own intentions….

    25ac: jvh (comment 4) was spot on with his comment: King to rule = k law = wal k about
    6dn: John Doe (comment 9) hit the nail on the head with this one: Aphrodite’s middle letter, ie the character always in her heart, is her ‘o’.

  18. tupu says:

    Many thanks for your help Puck! And thanks for a testing but entertaining puzzle. Happy 2011!

    I saw 25a clearly enough but 6d did escape me though ‘her love (O)’ (@12) wasn’t too far off after all. Once said the explanation is quite clear!

  19. Uncle Yap says:

    It is now way past my midnight and soon I must go to sleep. I really must thank Puck, the magic dragon for so graciously coming to our rescue. If only other setters are so forthcoming, this site will be so wonderful and enlightening.

    So long, farewell, I hate to say goodbye

  20. Qaos says:

    Thanks Puck – a most enjoyable crossword with a nice range of devices. I too was fooled into writing HERA quickly without double-checking the cryptic part carefully enough.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Seriously hard work for me. Thank heavens for gadgets!

  22. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks for the blog Uncle Yap.

    Found this one hard going. A lot of the clues were not very intuitive for me. For 8d I initially put DISPATCH, ie Detective Inspectors “patch” which seemed more like a police term. One I realised it was DISPLACED I sussed out Peter, Paul & Mary, & things got a bit easier.

    Afraid to say I have never heard of Mary J Blige so that was the one that beat me.

  23. Carrots says:

    Amazingly, I got to within one (MARY J BLIGE) without assistance, or quite knowing WHY regarding a numder of clues/answers already debated above. In spite of Uncle Yap`s astute and well-researched blog, I`m afraid that I`ve never heard of Mary J.B. This isn`t Puck`s fault (BTW Puck, thanks for stopping by…I wish more setters would!) but entirely due to the fact that I am a musical moron. I almost relished becoming “hard of hearing” so piped “muzak” in pubs became less intrusive during crossword sessions in pubs.

  24. malc95 says:

    Apologies Gaufrid, I know this is slightly off the subject, but I notice that the title of Uncle Yap’s blog on 7th September re. Puck’s puzzle no. 25109 was –
    “Puck the Magic Dragon”!

  25. Paul B says:

    Mythical Greek character always in Aphrodite’s heart (4)

    Some writers might have ditched ‘always’ and added a question mark.

  26. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, Paul (#25), you’re quite right. There’s no need for ‘always’ here.
    My ‘problem’ with Puck is … er, always … the fact that he is too wordy to my taste.
    I know, one could say of my posts as well, but …
    In a way I find his style ‘exciting’ – I got MARY J BLIGE rightaway and seeing all these musical references thought: this is my cup of tea.
    But although I was raised in the 60s [and know a bit about it], 14/1 didn’t ring any bell (but PP&M did, of course – first song I really liked was ‘I Dig Rock ‘n’ Roll Music’, but they’re most famous for ‘Leaving On A Jetplane’).

    7d is a good musical clue, too, but what a pity that “Wild Horses” is not a song by the Faces [it’s made famous by the Stones, but originally a Gram Parsons tune].

    A few more critical notes (and I’m sure someone will stand up (& deliver?):
    10ac: normally I don’t mind capitalisation in clues, but I felt uncomfortable with ‘City’ here
    22ac: what is ‘if’ doing in this clue?
    2d: D and E for ‘classes’? As a teacher I would think of grades, but perhaps Puck was referring to council tax?
    13d: “One has stamina broken”? Probably, there’s nothing wrong with it, but “One with stamina broken” would suit me more. “One has stamina broken” feels like ONE + (STAMINA)*, if you see what I mean.

    Nevertheless, some magnificent clues too.
    18ac (STONEWALLING), 25ac (WALKABOUT) and 24/19 (MARY J BLIGE) made my day.

    BTW, did anyone notice that PETER ANDRE is an anagram of ‘a pretender’?

    So, some plusses, some minuses for me.
    But never boring – that’s Puck!

  27. Tuck says:

    For 2d: D and E refer to the two lowest social classes in the UK.

  28. Derek Lazenby says:

    Amazed how many hadn’t heard of Mary J Blige, when nobody mentioned not knowing Peter Andre, whoever he is!

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    “D and E refer to the two lowest social classes in the UK” (#27).
    Thank you very much.
    What kind of society is this?
    I don’t think this is what Puck’s referring to.
    Or is he?

    Sad to hear Gerry Rafferty died today.
    “Late Again”? Yes, late again.

  30. Paul B says:

    It’s marketing speak, Sil. The reference is to social groups viz income, esp disposable, and Puck has possibly stepped out a bit far in trying to make them ‘classes’.

  31. Martin H says:

    Sil – you thought this was a classless society? See the interestingly titled

  32. Scarpia says:

    Always preferred Mary J.’s sister Sheila.

  33. don says:

    “Shelia Blige” BRILLIANT!

  34. paul8hours says:

    Ref Derek L at #28, I consider myself quite musically informed but I have never heard of MJB so thanks to 225 for explaining. I certainly have heard of Peter Andre due to his ‘celebrity’ status rather than his musical abilities. This crossword would have been very difficult for anyone of my childrens’ age.

  35. tupu says:

    Thanks MartinH
    A very useful site (in this and other contexts) which I had not seen before.
    The definition of ‘class’ is of course notoriously contested, but – despite significant change – British society remains highly ‘class stratified’ and ‘class conscious’ whether one looks at wealth, income, life chances, cultural tastes, or linguistic usage.

  36. Stella says:

    I didn’t feel like adding anything yesterday, having read the first few comments without further enlightenment, but I would like to pop in a moment, if belatedly, to thank Puck for reminding me of one of my childhood favourites. I knew it by heart, but had never seen it written down, so only understood 17d once I’d written it in.

    Ms. Blige was out of my musical sphere, too, as was Mr. Andre, though at least his surname was guessable.

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Puck

  37. Huw Powell says:

    Overall a fun puzzle, finished with some “help”, mostly in verifying a couple singers’ names and the cheese.

    Thanks Puck for dropping by and verifying 6 (which I caught) and 25 (which I did not really understand)

    I think anyone who caught HONAH LEE early on could have moved through this very quickly, since this was one of those puzzles with themed and interlocking clues all over the place, making the development of checked squares slow going. I kept bumbling even having the song title and the three singers by reading the clue with their last names, instead of just the referenced words.

    I enjoyed the large amount of trickery and wide variety of cluing. My favorite, and last one in, was 18. Delightful.

    Oh, and Sil, not only is “Wild Horses” a Rolling Stones song first and foremost, I can’t even find evidence of Gram Parsons covering it. No big deal.

    So anyway, thanks one more to Puck and Uncle Yap!

  38. Huw Powell says:

    PS, sorry, Sil, I finally found the Parsons/FBB thing, although ’twas a J/R Stones song, their version was released first. Mea culpa!

  39. maxine says:

    Have just managed to plough through this enjoyable puzzle. (We get them about a week and a half later in Australia.)

    Very much enjoy everyone’s comments and paricularly the many comments for 6d.

    So far no one mentioned ‘herb’ for an answer. (Basil perhaps with her heart -Sybil -b.)

  40. OzLiz says:

    If anyone is still there – we get the printed version of these puzzles in Australia in our local paper two weeks after publication in the UK, and the clue to 6d here reads “Basil possibly has (the key to) Sybil’s heart” which seems to translate to ‘her’ B (Sybil’s heart), ie “herb” (Basil possibly). Aphrodite is not mentioned.
    Also the 26 across clue reads “Hate to see piano fall off platform” which seems to translate to (p)odium, ie odium, which seems quite straightforward.
    Perhaps the clues in the on-line version were different, which was why everyone seems so puzzled trying to work out explanations?

  41. Gaufrid says:

    Hi OzLiz
    It would appear that these two clues were changed before the puzzle appeared in your paper. You can see the original clues here:

  42. Puck says:

    Hi maxine, OzLiz & Gaufrid,

    If you happen back here to read this…

    The version that seems to have been published in Australia is an earlier version of the puzzle prior to edits that appeared in the Guardian version (which was the same version in the paper and online). HERB and ODIUM were indeed changed to HERO and OPIUM during the final edit stages, the former at the request of the crossword editor and the latter as I saw the chance to include OPIUM as part of the PUFF THE MAGIC DRAGON theme.

    I hope that clarifies what happened – something I only knew of through your comments here (thanks Uncle Yap for drawing my attention to same).

  43. Maxine says:

    Thank you for responding to my reply and for the clarifications. Lovely to hear from you too, Puck.

    I was unaware that we occasionally get different versions of the clue in Australia. Difficult to check on this as well from here, as for example this crossword is numbered 25,554 in our Canberra Times of 15th January. (This crossword is 25,210 in the Guardian.)

  44. OzLiz says:

    Thank you Gaufrid and Puck for clarifying all that. It really was puzzling. I love the challenge of the Guardian cryptic every day, and reading all the various explanations and comments afterwards.

  45. ernie says:

    Well, if one may be THAT late (antipodean friends)…..
    I thought 6d was HER indoors (always in) + O (A’s heart).
    Thanks, everyone. I just picked this up again, having left it to one side.

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 × 9 =