Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,249 – Orlando

Posted by Andrew on February 18th, 2011


A momentous and (mostly) excellent week ends with this enjoyable and reasonably straightforward puzzle from Orlando. It’s all of a pretty high standard, so I won’t pick out any particular clues, though I do purse my lips slightly at 26ac, clever though it is. The excitement doesn’t end here, as I’m going to the celebratory lunch for Araucaria’s 90th birthday tomorrow in King’s College, Cambridge (fortunately just down the road from me this time..): I’ll report back in my next blog, and try to take some photos.

1. BIG EARS A jokey reference to Marc Antony’s “Friends, Romans, countrymen, lend me your ears” from Julius Caesar; and going from the sublime to the ridiculous we get Noddy’s friend
5. BALDRIC BALDRIC[k], referring to the character in Blackadder who often claimed to have a “cunning plan”. BALDRIC is a new word for me – it’s a type of belt worn over the shoulder.
9. RHEAS R + [ot]HE[rs] + AS, and the rhea is a flightless bird
11. FLYCATCHER FLY (insect) + CAT (mammal) + CHER (singer)
12. OPEL Hidden reversed in unfavourabLE POsition
14. NOW AND AGAIN NO (turning “on”) + WANDA (fish) + GAIN (win)
18. COTONEASTER COT + ONE + ASTER. The name means “resembling (-aster) a quince (cotone)”, so fortunately for the clue there’s no etymological connection with the plant aster, meaning “star”
21. UNCO UN (French “a”) + CO (officer)
22. DISTRESSED Double definition
26. OWING Opinion = O+pinion = O+wing = OWING. I don’t approve of the device of arbitrarily joining up words, but fighting it may be a bit of a lost cause.
27. DIOCESE IOC (International Olympic Committee) in SEED*
28. MAFIOSO Odd letters of FAIR in MAO [Tse-Tung] + SO (like this)
1. BEREFT F in BERET. I didn’t know, or had forgotten, that the beret was of Basque origin, though the word itself isn’t, being probably Celtic.
2. GLENYS Y (last letter of Conwy) in GLENS. Though it’s not essential for the clue, Glenys is a Welsh name, with Glenys Kinnock being perhaps the best-known example.
3. ABSTAINING (SANTA IN BIG)*, and if you abstain you might not give any candidate your cross
5. BUTTERNUT BUTTER (spread) + NUT (fruitcake = crazy person)
7. REAPPEAR REAP + PEAR. A pleasing charade where (irrelevantly) the two parts are anagrams of each other
17. STACCATO CATS reversed + CATO
19. ESKIMO O (love) in MIKES*. “In a cold climate, one’s found” is the definition. Clever construction!
20. ADAGIO ADA (female) + GI (soldier) + [c]O[mmand]
23. TOTEM TOT + reverse of ME
24. IDLE Appropriately hidden in unpaID LEave

35 Responses to “Guardian 25,249 – Orlando”

  1. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew. A lovely puzzle, I thought, as usual from Orlando.

    There were a number of great surfaces [5, 27ac and 13, 19, 20 and 24dn] but I think my favourite was 1ac for the sheer incongruity of it. It started off the puzzle with a smile.

    Enjoy tomorrow [you lucky thing!] – of course you will. I look forward to the pictures.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew this was very enoyable!

    I’m now looking forward to your report on tomorrow’s shindig.

    Also, many thanks Orlando even though my thoughts on 2d first turned to the lovely Glynis Johns:

  3. Geoff says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Fun puzzle with some really good surfaces and amusingly misleading definitions. Interesting that Bryan should initially go for GLYNIS at 2d – I had GLADYS until I couldn’t fit in my flightless birds.

    Re 26a – I enjoy this device. For me, there is an important distinction between grammar and definitional accuracy, which need to be observed pretty strictly for fairness, and orthography, which I am always amused to see violated. Such things would be a step too far in the more challenging type of crosswords, certainly, but please, Guardian daily cryptic setters, keep on doing it!

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew for a very good blog and Orlando for a very enjoyable puzzle

    I much enjoyed the whimsical wit in this puzzle. I nearly got stuck with 25a – I thought it might be ‘sticks out’ at first, but that does not work as well, and in any case it doesn’t fit properly! Also first thought was Gladys in 2d, but soon corrected it.

    It took a little time for me to see the parsing of 9a even though the answer was clear.

    1a was very good as Eileen says, and I also enjoyed 5a, 14a, 26a (though I take Andrew’s point), 5d, 13d, 16d. Very nice surface in 24d.

    I was surprised by ‘buggy’ as an anagram indicator in 3d.

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Andrew, for your blog – and enjoy tomorrow!

    I really liked this – mainly straightforward, but the last few to go in took me some time. STANDS OUT stood out; as did GLENYS, FLYCATCHER and DISTRESSED. But overall a very pleasing puzzle.

    What is the definition for UNCO? Is it a Scottish term for remarkable or am I missing something?

    And 1ac is certainly sublime and ridiculous. My kids watched the sanitised TV version when they were little (although thankfully the sanitisation didn’t extend as far as renaming Big Ears as White Beard), so the tune for ‘Noddy, the little man in the red and yellow car, dum-dum-dum-dum’ is now fixed in my head and won’t go away. Thanks for that, Orlando … and also for an excellent crossword.

    Btw, in French, Noddy is called ‘Oui-Oui’. I’m sure you can work out why.

  6. Roger says:

    K’sD @5 … Re UNCO … yes it is and no you’re not !

  7. tupu says:

    Hi Kathryn’s Dad

    I have just been following up ‘unco’. I had glossed it mentally as ‘extremely’ but the meaning is ‘stange(ly)’, ‘remarkably’, and to my surprise it comes from the English word ‘uncouth’ (rather than ‘uncommon’- there seems to be clear evidence of the dropping of the final ‘uth’). I remember it from Burns’ Tam o’Shanter and the expression ‘fou and unco happy’ (drunk and remarkably happy). It is not altogether clear (acc. to Webster whether ‘fou’ = ‘drunk’ comes from French ‘fou’ or English ‘full’. Oxford Dictionaries Online say the latter.

  8. Andrew says:

    Orlando used “unco” (defined as “odd”) in some wordplay quite recently in his excellent Monday puzzle. For more Burnsian fun, see his wonderful Address To The Unco Guid, Or The Rigidly Righteous.

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, both. Learn a new thing every day and all that.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, all three, in fact.

  11. Stella Heath says:

    Many thanks Andrew for an excellent blog.

    Unfortunately I missed the Blackadder series, so only got 5ac. via Chambers Word Wizard. Also, I didn’t understand the Marc Antony reference in 1ac. until coming here – very funny :lol:

    There were a couple of others I couldn’t fully parse, but I did get Glenys straight off, having filled in 9ac. on my first run through.

    All in all, an excellent puzzle. Great entertainment, thanks Orlando

  12. John Appleton says:

    Loved 5ac – but being a Blackadder nut, I should have got it a lot earlier.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew, and enjoy the lunch tomorrow! I look forward to hearing all about it.

    I found this puzzle really enjoyable, with lots of great surfaces — 27ac, 13dn and 24dn stood out for me. My favourite was 1ac.

    I didn’t see the wordplay at 26ac, but I like this kind of construction. Thanks to tupu@7 for elucidating the derivation of ‘unco’ which I’ve only ever heard used as a short form of ‘uncoordinated’.

    For those who are interested, there’s an item on the BBC website about how ‘OK’ became such a prevalent word.

  14. Robi says:

    Thanks Orlando for an entertaining puzzle – I thought when I started it was going to be relatively easy, but I got stuck on some of the bottom (or should I say southern?) part.

    Thanks also to Andrew for explaining one or two things. I completely failed to spot WANDA for fish in 14, despite it being one of my favourite films (although not PC with respect to stutterers.)

    I thought ADAGIO was pleasingly (afterwards!) misleading and MAFIOSO was a nice clue. I got BIG EARS straight away without the Mark Antony reference – Noddy is etched somewhere in my brain. I am, however, being thick :? about Noddy’s French name, KD @5, (small? urination? yes?) so you better explain.

  15. liz says:

    Here’s the link to it:

  16. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks Andrew. I enjoyed this immensely. I loved the impertinence and whimsy of the cluing. I needed your help for 26ac, OWING, but am very annoyed because I enjoy this type of clue and should have had a clean sheet. Favourites were 1ac and 14ac. Seeing WANDA appear was a laugh-out-loud moment.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Robi at no 14. Good thinking (you obviously have a crossword mind) but neither stature nor number ones, I’m afraid. I’m sure you know what ‘oui’ means in French. If you say that twice and give the appropriate up-and-down gesture of the head to go with it, you can imagine what will happen to the little man’s bell on the top of his cap …

  18. Robi says:

    Thanks, KD; too cryptic for me………..

  19. crypticsue says:

    Very enjoyable. I too went for Gladys before I realised what the bird was. Nice to see the cunning planner back again. Thanks to Orlando for the lunchtime entertainment.

  20. bertandjoyce says:

    Thank heavens for FS! Without it we would never have laughed at 1ac.

    Thanks Andrew and Orlando – an enjoyable solve over lunch!

  21. Noddy says:

    I have to say that 1A set off my day nicely.
    Must go now.
    Nature calls.
    I am off for a wee wee-wee, oui?

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yes, a pleasing experience. I sometimes wonder about people finding clues amusing, when I’m sat here thinking “well yes but it wasn’t that funny”. Today however, the first two especially, raised a smile.

    As one who is more likely than most to say “new word on me”, I still find it a surprise when others say the same of what I think of as well known, today 5a.

    The other way round was unco. So now I know, but I rather think I will forget.

  23. ray says:

    Can someone please explain the ‘king is deposed’ bit in 5a. I had no trouble with the answer being Baldric from ‘belt for cunning planner’, so can’t see the relevance of the rest of the clue.

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    Cos the character was BALDRICK

  25. ray says:

    Thanks, not sure I’ve ever been aware of the spelling of the character. Obvious when you do.

  26. walruss says:

    Thanks Andrew, hope you have a good time at the weekend!

  27. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew
    I hadn’t quite understood 9ac RHEAS or 26ac OWING – which are strangely linked
    1ac BIG EARS was obvious but I don’t understand all the comments about oui-oui or OK-OK

  28. Robi says:

    Muck; KD just commented that Noddy was called oui-oui in France and I asked why. Apparently, because when he says it and nods his head in a ‘yes-yes’ gesture, his bell rings. The other reference by Liz @13 to an article about OK was unconnected, I think. Just a nice article about the derivation of the abbreviation.

  29. muck says:

    Thanks Robi.
    So, nothing to do with the clue then.
    Good to know that I’m not as stupid as I thought.

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Nice puzzle.
    That said, I haven’t seen any inferior Orlando/Cincinnus since my arrival in the UK.
    There is something very right about his clueing.

    This wasn’t the hardest of crosswords [that Monday puzzle you mentioned in #8, Andrew, thát was the hardest (that I can remember)].

    Re 26ac, I am glad that there is at least one person in the world who doesn’t really like it (yes, you, Andrew!), but it is indeed a lost case (cause?) – so, let’s leave it there.

    And there’s a brand name again (OPEL), where there were alternatives. Ah well, another lost case (cause?).

    As one of the greatest Blackadder fans from outside the English Speaking World, I am rather embarrassed to say that ‘cunning planner’ didn’t ring a bell. Never heard of BALDRIC, but +K we’ll get one of the most brilliant characters in British comedy (“Baldrick, get the door please …” :)

    Many of you were extremely delighted by 1ac.
    I do understand the (wit of the) clue, but, sorry, not my cup of tea.
    Not British enough (me, that is).

    Clue of the Day certainly the magnificent MARRIED OFF (13d).

    Andrew, thanks for the blog, and have fun tomorrow.
    [it completely slipped my mind, so I won’t be there – but at Araucaria’s 100th Birthday Party …..]

  31. Mr Beaver says:

    Derek – UNCO was new to me until fairly recently, but it seems to have cropped up in crosswords a couple of times. Mrs Beaver, however, still gave me the ‘don’t be ridiculous’ look when I suggested it :)

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    No, I’m wrong in #30.
    Blackadder would never have said ‘please’ ….

  33. malc95 says:

    Thanks for clarifying the Indy’s Wed. tribute to the Rev. I only saw the on-line version, so didn’t realise it was alphabetical when dead trees were involved. The FT tribute was a straight jigsaw as you probably know, which accounted for my confusion.

  34. Peter says:

    Thankyou for the blogging of a lovely puzzle. Enjoyed it, but had a few loose ends baffling me until I came here — e.g. Antony’s EARS, WANDA, and the Opinion —; and each drop of a penny was a new pleasure in turn. Not the hardest nor the most virtuosic puzzle of the week, but a whimsical and imaginative finish. Thankyou Orlando!

  35. PeeDee says:

    What a nice puzzle! 1ac especially was a treat. Thanks Andrew for the blog and explaining 26ac. I only knew pinion as a toothed wheel (e.g. in a car’s steering column).

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