Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,308 / Tramp

Posted by Eileen on April 28th, 2011


I am pretty sure this is the first appearance of a Tramp cryptic crossword.  I remembered seeing his name on a Genius puzzle earlier in the year and, after some research on this site, I found that Tramp was not, as had been suspected, yet another manifestation of Paul but, in fact, a great admirer of his.

This puzzle will not be everybody’s cup of tea, relying as it does, very heavily on its theme, the 1970s BBC TV comedy series ‘Fawlty Towers’ but the many devotees of the show will have enjoyed it tremendously, I’m sure. There is some very witty and ingenious cluing, of which Paul might well be proud, my only reservation being the slight over-use, clever though it is, of initial or individual letters in clues [there are about a dozen instances]. That aside, I found it highly entertaining and amusing and I hope we soon see more of this setter.

There were twelve episodes of the show: as I don’t always [!] see Ninas, I was chuffed to spot that the titles of all of them appear in either clues or  solutions:

1.   ‘A touch of class': see 24ac
2.   ‘The Builders': see 18ac
3.   ‘The Wedding Party': see 2,8dn
4.   ‘The Hotel Inspectors': see 6dn
5.   ‘Gourmet Night': see 5dn
6.   ‘The Germans': see 1,25ac
7.   ‘Communication Problems': see 13ac
8.   ‘The Psychiatrist': see 3dn
9.   ‘Waldorf Salad': see 2,8dn
10.  ‘The kipper and the corpse': see 9ac and 23ac
11.  ‘The Anniversary': see 19ac
12.  ‘Basil the Rat': see 11dn

A real tour de force, I think  – and, as far as I can see, no mention of the war! :-) Many thanks, Tramp!


1,25  FAWLTY TOWERS: F[rance] + anagram of TOWEL WARS around TY [‘Torquay’s borders’]: a superb opening clue to set the scene: the show was set in Torquay and, in the opening titles, the hotel sign featured various anagrams of Fawlty Towers.
4   EGGHEADS: EGG [referring to the question of whether the chicken or the egg came first] + HEADS [comes first]
9   ASLEEP: anagram of PLEASE – an amusing reference to the sign hung on a hotel bedroom door
10  CULTURAL: TU [‘first couple from Turner’ + RA [artist] in CULL [killing of animals]
12  FLOSS: F[luoride] + LOSS [deficiency]
13 AIM: I [middle letter of ‘communication’] + M [last letter of ‘problem’] after A
14  LUCID: LUCI [sounds like {heard} LUCY] + D[iamonds]: reference to Beatles’ song: ‘Lucy in the sky with diamonds’
15  SUFIC: hidden reversal in reliC IF USe: a new word for me – ‘an adherent of any of various Muslim mystical orders or teachings, which emphasize the direct personal experience of God’
16  INTENSE: S[outh] E[ast] [Home Counties] after IN TEN across! [where to put the solution,’cultural’]
18  TBILISI: TB [introduction to The Builders] + I [middle letter of O’ReIlly {who was the builder in the show}] + L[eft] + 1 + SI [‘catchphrase’ of Manuel, the waiter in the show – ‘He’s from Barcelona’]
19  PETAL: PET [favourite] + A[nniversary] + L[eft]: I think I remember this endearment being used in the show.
21  BLEAT: hidden in staBLE ATtack
22  ASH: first letters of Alarm Sounded + H[otel] the appropriate NATO phonetic alphabet symbol
23  CORPS: CORPSE minus E[vidence]
24  SPECIFIC: PE [first and last letters of Pertwee] in SCI-FI [‘Dr Who’ perhaps] + C[lass]: Jon Pertwee was the third actor to play The Doctor.
26  LIMITING: M[cCartney] + IT [sex] in LING [Heather]
27  ESCORT: if the first letter of ’tills’ was moved to the beginning, it would make TESCO R[uns]


1   FLATFISH: TFI [anagram of FIT] in FLASH [ reference to comic strip hero Flash Gordon: I didn’t know this meaning of ‘fluke’.
2,8 WALDORF SALAD: W[edding] + DO [party] inside ALRFS [first letters of Alan’s Little Room For Singles] + A LAD[y]
3   THE PSYCHIATRIST: THE[y] + anagram [managed] of IT SCRIPT HAS Y[ear]
GOURMET NIGHT: anagram [‘off’] of STRAIGHTENING MENU  + O [duck] minus anagram [mad] of INSANE: superb wordplay – and ‘Duck’s off, sorry’ is actually a line from this episode. Just brilliant!
6   HOTEL INSPECTORS: anagram [flying] of HELICOPTERS NOT + S[outh]
7   AURICLE: alternate letters of jAnUaRy Is CoLdEr
11  RATIFICATION: RAT [what Basil was in Episode 12] + 1 FICTION [one story] around A
17  CLOSE-SET: I can’t quite see this one: C [Celtic?] + LOSES [goes down] + E[xtra] T[ime] sort of works but what about ‘spectators at either end’? I was hoping the penny would drop while blogging.
18  TIE BEAM: TIE [draw] + BEAM: [smile]: a nicely simple clue for an unfamiliar [to me] term: ‘a horizontal beam forming the base of a triangular truss for a pitched roof’
20  TORPEDO: TO + P[olaris] in REDO [make a further attempt]
21  BASIL: double definition: Basil Fawlty, the hero of the hour.

55 Responses to “Guardian 25,308 / Tramp”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Eileen
    In 17dn the definition is ‘Not much distance between spectators’ (ie eyes) and ‘at either end: Celtic’ gives the initial C.

  2. Judy says:

    I enjoyed this very much, though I missed some of the references to episodes not directly mentioned. In 17 d, I think close-set refers to eyes (spectators) being too close together. C is either end of Celtic.

  3. Robi says:

    “You’re a bit stuck if you don’t like duck.” Nice theme but as usual this allowed some answers to just be put in without much thought.

    Great blog, Eileen. I don’t know how you managed to parse 16 – bravo!

    Got a bit stuck in the SE corner, and I can’t help with ‘spectators at either end.’

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for an exctremely fine blog and Tramp for a super puzzle

    I read close set as not much room between eyes (spectators) = c (either end of Celtic) + loses + e(xtra) t(ime)

    Many thanks Eileen for the detail. I did not remember much of it and did not check on google except at the end re ‘gourmet night’ and ‘ratification’ after working them out. I found gourmet night hard to parse since I did not get ‘mad’ as a ref. to the letters of insane.

    It is a tribute to the cluing that I completed without recourse to a program list!

    A tour de force as you say!

  5. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Gaufrid, Judy and tupu.

    I should have apologised for the rather later than usual blog: the research took a bit longer than it often does, then, when I was ready to post, the site was not accessible and, by the time it was, I’d already had to go out. As they say in the supermarket, ‘Thank you for waiting’. :-)

  6. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen, which made me appreciate and enjoy this puzzle even more in retrospect, as I missed the references to the episode titles that were not directly clued, along with other bits of wordplay.

    I also noted the similarity with Paul’s style of clueing while I was solving.

    Failed at 18ac after staring for a long time at T-I-I-I :-(

    Thanks to Tramp — hope we have more of these!

  7. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    As Robi says, recognising the theme meant it was pretty straightforward for aficionados of the show but I really didn’t mind as it was such a pleasure recognising all the referencees as I went along.

    The only holdup was 18ac where I spent a while on the first pass trying to think of a capital city ending in the letters que(?)!

  8. tupu says:

    re Tramp see

  9. Ian says:

    Thanks Eileen and also to Tramp for a very fine debut with a Guardian cryptic puzzle.

    Eileen, I agree with your sentiments in connexion with the setters heavy use of initial letter cluing. By necessity, these are invariably pretty inelegant and verbose.

    Otherwise there was a lot to admire today.

    1, 25 is, by any stretch of the imagination, a superb clue, setting the scene for a clever, is easy to solve theme.

    Clues 5 and 24 were very cleverly written whilst I thank you for parsing 16 for me!!

    Excellent stuff.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Well, sorry to demur, but I was less than enthusiastic about this outing. Hated all the firsts and lasts and middles, and one too many hidden ones for my taste.

    I got the theme straight away – I hardly ever get 1a first time through. And managed to get all but one FT clues (11d) without recourse to aids.

    The clues were immensely long on the whole.

    However, I didn’t know all the refernces you give above, Eileen, so I can appreciate now the effort that went into compiling this. It’s a pity, like for me, it will be lost on most people, I imagine.

  11. Median says:

    As a Fawlty Towers fan, I enjoyed this very much. Thanks a lot, Tramp. Hope to see you again soon.

  12. Tramp says:

    Thanks for the great blog Eileen and for all the comments.

    I understand that some people don’t like overly thematic puzzles and I was conscious this would probably be a ‘Marmite puzzle’.

    I apologise that the average length of the clues is longer than I would have liked. However, in trying to squeeze all twelve episodes into the puzzle I wrote long clues and couldn’t make them much more concise: I did try though. Earlier incarnations of this puzzle didn’t feature all twelve episodes – some clues were more succinct but I decided that shoehorning the other episodes in was worth the extra length. Moreover, for a lot of the thematic material, I tried to describe episodes in the surface reading and make them semi-&lit. For example, the “duck’s off” , “how often do you manage it?” and the playboy Alan all feature as do O’Reilly, the fire alarm etc – this meant that the clues were long.

    I admit, the deliberate misplacing of the colon in 17d to help the surface was a little naughty of me and there are a lot of single letter indications!


  13. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen

    Never seen a Tramp puzzle before.

    Managed it all apart from 18a which I was convinced was Tripoli for some reason. Of course it didn’t fit in with 11d.

    I normally print off the puzzle & this is the first time two pages have come out of my printer. Seems to confirm what Dave says above, overlong clues.

  14. walruss says:

    Yes, I’m afraid this was rather bitty, and that sometimes shows a lack of ability, or, more kindly, experience on the part of the compiler, whi is after all new. Ambitious theme as well to hamstring him/her, so not one for me to rave about. I preferred Python anyway!Please keep them coming though. This compiler is better than a lot of them at The Guardian.

  15. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Tramp @12, for dropping in and for filling in the details I’d missed – I was sure there would be some! It’s always interesting to hear about the setting process.

    [I nearly used the term ‘Marmite puzzle’ in my preamble. :-) ]

  16. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen and Welcome Tramp to The Grauniad Cryptic scene.

    However, I know next to nothing about Fawlty Towers – having lived in Holland during its prominence – so, after solving 1 & 25a, I knew I was out of my depth – particularly as I always tackle the puzzles off-line over breakfast. I therefore surrendered.

    But, Eileen, now that you have made everything clear I can appreciate the cleverness. Reportedly, Prunella Scales is a cryptic enthusiast, so maybe she dashed it off within 10 minutes? What say you, Prunella?

    We have often heard that it is more difficult to compile an easy puzzle but I suspect that Tramp probably sweated blood over this.

    So Tramp, I am now looking forward to your next effort which I trust will not require so much specialised knowledge.

  17. walruss says:

    No blog for the other papers today?

  18. Carrots says:

    Congratulations Tramp on a really super inaugural puzzle for the Grauniad…and praise to Eileen for a difficult blog.

    I didn`t, however, finish it! 11 dn. RATIFICATION beat me, mainly because I over-hastily put in TRIPOLI instead of TBILISI. All my own fault and no reflection on the integrity of the setter.

    I commend anyone in Bryan`s situation to the boxed set of all twelve episodes: boy, are you in for a treat! It hasn`t dated one bit and remains one of the BBC`s most iconic sit-coms.

  19. Martin says:

    Manuel’s catchphrase (18a) was surely “que?” (with an inverted apostrophe before it). I don’t remember him using “si” very much, probably because that would have involved agreeing with his interlocutor, which, in turn, would have required him to understand what that person had said….something which our man from Barcelona (in Spain) could rarely do.

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    My feelings about this debut puzzle were initially quite similar to those of Dave Ellison @10: too wordy, too many laborious constructions (using all those single letters).

    But I have to say, now that I’ve finished the crossword: it was an enjoyable journey back in time with a lot of very clever cluing. Impeccable cluing, too.
    Indeed, a ‘tour de force’ to include so many FT references.
    Apparently, that’s what Tramp wanted (see @12), at the risk of making many of these clues overlong (which as such doesn’t appeal to me).
    I am not sure yet whether this is Basil’s ‘problem’ or Tramp’s.
    For example, 17d (CLOSE-SET) is also extremely wordy and has nothing to do with FT – a nice surface, though.
    The same for 27ac (ESCORT) – but again, very well clued.
    Time will tell.

    Some of you mention the name ‘Paul’, but – even though Tramp seems to be one of his protégés (in the past a household name at Cryptica, too) – I do not really see the link in the cluing style itself.

    I find it very hard to single out a 24ac clue, but I think, for example, 6d (smooth anagram) and 22ac (ASH), though a victim of the single letter virus, were superb.

    Even though the cluing today was not completely on my wavelength (yet), because too wordy, I admire the thoughts put into it and expect Tramp to evolve into one of the better Guardian setters.

    So thanks Tramp, hope to see more of you in the future!

    [and thank you Eileen, of course – also, thank you for giving me, in the Cincinnus blog, a hint for the one word that was missing in today’s Neo puzzle :)]

    [Oh, and Bryan, FT passed you by because you lived in Holland in those days? Well, FT was just as much a hype there as it was in the UK – broadcast on tv with subtitles]

  21. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Like for some others, a bit of a mixed bag for me today. First off, thanks to the setter for a clever but not impenetrable gateway clue – once solved, you know where you are and can crack on with the rest.

    The series is a classic, so you can’t say it’s an obscure theme, but I was left at the end admiring the way Tramp had managed to get all the references into the grid rather than thinking ‘I really enjoyed that’. But – apart from some of the clues turning into the length of a short novel – it wasn’t a bad dayboo, and as walruss says of a better standard than some of the Grauniad offerings.

    Welcome to Tramp and thanks to Eileen for the blog.

  22. Eileen says:

    Apologies for the spoiler, Sil. :-( I did wonder!

  23. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Tramp for the puzzle and Eileen for the blog. Although I did finish, I had to come here to learn what it all meant. FT was on PBS in the States in the 70’s but my only recollection of the show was John Cleese. Just read that he had turned down a peerage offered by Paddy Ashdown because he couldn’t face spending the winter in England. Couldn’t be any worse than Seattle – or could it?


  24. rrc says:

    I liked 21a

  25. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for an excellent blog, Eileen, which understandably took longer than usual, and congratulations for parsing 16ac.

    Also congratulations to Tramp for his first Grauniad Cryptic, in which my first impression was the impeccable cluing. I was able to get the whole puzzle despite having only vague memories of the series, and forcing myself not to look it up in Wiki. That says something!

    Now I’ve read the blog, I appreciate even more the skill of the setter – long may he remain among us.

    BTW, TRAMPA in Spanish means ‘trap’, HACER TRAMPA, to cheat 😀

  26. Stella Heath says:

    In the time I was writing the previous comment, several other posters popped in, all with interesting remarks. I think Sil is (as often) spot on.

    I’d forgotten to mention that I got 18ac thanks to having helped my daughter with her Geography some 15 years ago, otherwise it would never have occured to me to start a word with ‘tb’, however well clued :)

  27. Paul says:

    Well done Tramp – praise well-deserved!

    John aka Paul

  28. Will Mc says:

    My main complaint about this is that because the clues were so long, they were printed in a really small font in the newspaper and were quite difficult to read. Maybe I just need new glasses.

  29. Neil says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog.

    To Tramp, I thank you for the excellent crossword and for your participation in the forum.
    I hope to cross you again soon :-)

  30. Martin H says:

    Once again I can’t see the point of a setter locking himself into a demanding theme and so, by his own admission, having to make less satisfactory clues than he would have liked. I got 1,25 straight away, apprehensively scanned the clues, groaned inwardly, and never regained any enthusiasm – giving up in boredom after about half the grid was in. Looking over the commentary, it’s clear that Tramp is an inventive and interesting setter. I look forward to a really good crossword next time, not a ‘tour de force’.

  31. Cosafina says:

    I thought it was a fantastic debut, and thoroughly enjoyed it! Even managed to finish it, though I hadn’t made the connection to 10 in 16, so thanks for that Eileen.
    Looking forward to seeing more of Tramp!

  32. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    I did not solve 1,25 at first but once I had got 21d then 1,25 was obvious.
    That then gave me a major problem: I did not like FT as I considered it too silly – so the majority of the theme clues passed me by.

    I agree with MartinH @30.
    I hope that Tramp becomes more generalised in the future.

  33. muck says:

    Thanks Eileen for a great blog, which must have been difficult
    Thanks Tramp for a great puzzle, please come again
    Carrots@18: I didn`t, however, finish it! 11 dn. RATIFICATION beat me, mainly because I over-hastily put in TRIPOLI instead of TBILISI. Me too.

  34. Tramp says:

    Thanks – all sound comments.

    Martin H: I shoehorned episodes into the clues at the expense of length realising that some would think the tail was wagging the dog. I’m still glad I did.

    Sil van den Hoek: you are right, some of the non-FT clues are long but they probably wouldn’t stick out as being long of they weren’t surrounded by long, thematic clues. I take your point though. Originally, ET was clued as “extra time” rather than “start of exta time” but I changed it last minute as I wasn’t sure how familiar the ET abbreviation is. I should have clued the “C” more succinctly than “Celtic at either end”. Originally, “Aim” had a two-word clue but I changed it to shoehorn in “Communication Problem” and introduced two initial letters in the process. “Waldorf Sald” was originally much shorter but I changed it to include a semi-&lit attempt at describing Alan in “The Wedding Party”. “Specific” was much shorter originally but I changed it to include “A Touch of Class” …

    The clues are a tad too long and there are too many single-letter indications. I will try to avoid this in future.

    I’m learning all the time.

    Thnaks again

  35. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks for the visits, Tramp, I much much appreciate your comments. I took your single letters indications to be, in a sense, a similar idea to the “queens” we had yesterday, and other such repeptitious words we have had from time to time. My comment in an earlier blog is that the repetition tends to numb my brain.

    I do look forward to your next crossword; it should be interesting, I think

  36. Paul B says:

    I expect someone’s dad is smiling down today. Great stuff, NW, all the best for your (very well-deserved) Guardian career.

  37. Wolfie says:

    Though it’s already been said by the majority of posters I must add my congratulations to Tramp for providing a most enjoyable puzzle. Thanks also to Eileen for the excellent blog.

    Eileen: did you assume (as many posters appear to have done) that Tramp is male, or do you have solid information about the setter’s gender? Anyway, Tramp does not seem to have taken exception to the use of the masculine pronoun so if it was a guess you may well be right! As I have commented before, there are too few female setters appearing in the Guardian so I did harbour hopes that Tramp might be a woman…..

  38. Bryan says:

    Wolfie @ 37

    Tramp is a male.

  39. Eileen says:

    Hi Wolfie

    As I said in the preamble, I did my research in the archive here and found that Paul called Tramp ‘a good bloke’ and, if you follow tupu’s link @8, you’ll find that tramp is in fact, the [appropriate] pseudonym of Neil Walker.

    I, too, have said in the past that i wished for more female setters! :-)

  40. Eileen says:

    Apologies for the three [!] punctuation errors – I was rushing to beat Bryan!

  41. Daniel Miller says:

    Would be churlish to be critical – which was absolutely my first thought. Having reconsidered I now appreciate some of the further subtleties that eluded me the first time round. Overall I agree that 1. across was remarkably easy – indeed the allusion to Torquay + Towels and Germans brings it straight to mind.

    I’d like to dwell on some points (mentioned above) and praise (occasionally criticise) as appropriate.

    Obviously the References are made clear in review and in some cases in the clues.

    4a – on review this is a lovely subtle clue (Eggheads, Egg Heads – what comes first….)
    9a – Kipper reference (FT) and Disturbing please/asleep – well done again
    13a – too wordy (perhaps a hidden reference to BF’s manic behaviour?)
    16a – very clever (again on reflection – perhaps few of us even noticed the answer to 10 being Cultural)
    18a 22a – necessarily verbose for the theme
    23a – excellent – using Corpse (FT) less E-Evidence etc.
    26a – crafty use of Heather (not McCartney) and McCartney – sex and broken (not legs!) – wonderful.. had me thinking of Leg-a-tine (tine – musical fork..)
    27a – not so difficult to see (opening of Tills) as T – to see Tesco – but rather well disguised. A kind of alternative mind is required to set a clue that goes beyond the answer in some way..

    2/8d Overly verbose – but again probably wanting to show off a little regarding Alan (character, singles –

    I might have gone for some sort of anagram of Waldorf (Draw of L etc) and “Tossed” it (e.g. made a salad) but a degree of latitude should be allowed given the overall theme and, to some extent this was a greater help to the solver than might reasonably be expected on any given day – the multiple allusions certainly helped.

    3d, 6d witty and well formed – as were many of these..

    So, to summarise, I thought I’d come and complain but now I’m thoroughly converted!!

  42. claire says:

    Well I thought it was brilliant. Well done to Tramp and Eileen. What really spooked me was how much of Fawlty Towers was actually lodged in my brain without me realizing it. I don’t ever recall sitting down and watching it devotedly, but there you go. Osmosis is not only a physical process.
    A big thank you

  43. Jake says:

    Not sure of this puzzle. I agree ‘a mixed bag’ however, several top clues. And love the name Tramp!
    Clues were rather long say, but crackable.. So thumbs up!

    (^_^) !!!!

  44. Goujeers says:

    Congrats Tramp on breaking into the daily puzzle. Those of us without a TV find it harder going than some.

    Non-statisticians may like to know that Tramp also set occasional puzzle for the RSS magazine Significance, and that the next (June) issue will have one of his puzzles.

  45. Wolfie says:

    Hi Eileen, Bryan and (via his link) Tupu for confirmation of Tramp’s gender! Perhaps the next new setter to hit the pages of the Guardian will be a woman. I live in hope…

  46. Steve says:

    As I’ve said before, I’m a relative newbie to properly attempting these, and it goes down as an enjoyable (and completed!!) crossword. Thanks, Tramp :-)

  47. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Great fun! I didn’t complete. Like a few others I failed on the Tripoli/Tblisi dilemma and consequently couldn’t manage ratification.

    As has been said earlier, brevity is the soul of wit and as a rule we would all prefer sharper clueing but that shouldn’t take away from a puzzle full of style and originality. Keep it up.

    I too wondered if the Lady was a Tramp (#36-#38) but it seems not.

  48. Mick H says:

    Very enjoyable puzzle – congratulations Tramp. I agree the small point size was a pain, but probably preferable to slashing the clues – I’m not sure I’ve seen the Guardian do this before.
    As for the single-letter indicators, I find they creep in a lot when you’re compiling thematic puzzles, as they help you to stick to the theme. But if people get fed up with too many, it’s just a matter of striking the right balance I suppose.

  49. caretman says:

    If the theme had been “Yes Minister” or “The EastEnders” I would have been in trouble, but this was a series I knew making it eminently solvable. On 18ac as I first started to parse it, I thought “‘Introduction to the builders’ could signal TB. Oh, that can’t be it, *nothing* starts with TB.” Until with another crossing letter or two I realised that indeed something *does* start with TB. And with 11dn, for the longest time I was trying to make the answer be something that Basil was in one of the episodes, even at one point trying to find a 12-letter word meaning ‘rat’, until finally the pin dropped.

    Oh, and I kept looking for a “He’s from Barcelona” somewhere in the grid. I figured surely Tramp would fit that in somehow given everything else he managed to put in.

  50. molonglo says:

    Thanks and welcome Tramp for your opener, a tour de force. 16 across especially brilliant. Thanks also to Eileen for a brilliant blog.

  51. blaise says:

    Thanks Tramp. Hope to see more of you in the future. I thought the long clues were an interesting change and made the parsing more fun and challenging. The only downside, for me who likes to work on a printed copy, was getting a second page with nothing but the Guardian’s copyright notice.

    And, after 90 minutes earlier in the evening, I didn’t miss Barcelona at all…

  52. Huw Powell says:

    Wow, what a puzzle. I stared at it a bit last night, realizing that without 1/25 I would be sunk – though at least it was a clear construction, so I could brute force it if necessary. Looking at the themed clues made it worse, since they were all over the map. Filled in a few of the easier clues and put it aside. I even had “BASIL?” written next to the clue at 21d!

    Today I was mulling it over, and somehow a combination of some of the words in the themed clues, the letters in 1/25, knowing there would be a TY in it, made the solution pop into my brain.

    Now, I have seen FT many random times over the years here on American public TV, but not recently, and knew no episode titles. Still I hoped to not have to do the obvious thing and look up the show on Wikipedia, as I suspected that would make things too easy to be any fun.

    In the end I managed to fill in every square correctly, with a little help from OneLook (picking RATIFICATION out of the possibilities, and a couple-three others). The explanation for 16 got by me, thanks Eileen, that was a brilliant clue! TBILISI came slowly because I kept refusing to use the “TB” for some time.

    Which leads to a quick response to Martin @19, regarding “SI” – as I vaguely recall, Miguel was just as likely to say “si” as “que?” in response to Basil – often a series of sis would be followed by one que?, showing that he actually understood nothing of what Basil said.

    I am quite impressed with the working in of all the titles, which I did not notice, of course.

    The longer clues did not bother me, although I often find them harder to work out, especially now that I see why some of them happened.

    One tiny quibble: “Lucy” does not sound like the LUCI in LUCID. For a while I had an unexplained LURID in there, since it fit “explicit” so well. I had rather hoped for some other Beatles song girl’s name, homophoned and followed by ICE, but it was not to be.

    Also I don’t think anyone mentioned this at 26:

    “LIMITING: M[cCartney] + IT [sex] in LING [Heather]” needs the “one” to make the third I:

    “LIMITING: I [one] [piece of] M[cCartney] + IT [sex] in LING [Heather]”

    Sorry for the long list of random comments, but this puzzle made me want to take a short holiday in a poorly-run hotel…

    Thanks for the grand outing, Tramp, and the well-done blog, Eileen!

  53. Eileen says:

    Hi Huw Powell

    “Also I don’t think anyone mentioned this at 26:

    “LIMITING: M[cCartney] + IT [sex] in LING [Heather]” needs the “one” to make the third I”

    You’re absolutely right, Huw – how on earth did I get away with that for so long?

    “One tiny quibble: “Lucy” does not sound like the LUCI in LUCID.”

    I’m afraid I have to disagree there. I’ve said both over to myself a number of times and they don’t sound different to me.

    I’m not expecting anyone still to be out there but I just want to add something to the ‘brevity is wit’ debate. I almost did so last night but decided against it.

    I know that the ‘ideal’ average length of clue for a puzzle is supposed to be something like 5.5 words and I’m a great admirer of say, Rufus’ two-word double definitions, but, for me, this was a totally different kind of puzzle, refreshingly so from a new compiler. The clues were, certainly, longer than the norm but, still, I didn’t detect any superfluous words [which is not always the case with shorter clues]. Regular readers will know that I love story-telling clues and this puzzle had them in abundance. I’m just sorry that I missed some of the nuances. I still think that the inclusion of ‘Duck’s off’ in 5dn was masterly.

    I’m really looking forward to more Tramp puzzles, especialy since he seems to be a setter who is prepared to engage in discussion.

  54. Huw Powell says:

    Hi Eileen, nice to hear back from you! I always post so late to these things I never really expect feedback, but since I was only a day behind (and posted a fifty thousand word essay) I suspected I might see something.

    I was surprised indeed that noone caught that “I”.

    To my ear, “Lucy” is pronounced (or sung?) Lucee, while “lucid” is pronounced, well, lucid (or loose-id) – a short i sound. A minor quibble considering. It might even be one of those regional accent things.

    And I enjoyed the surfeit of long clues, it was almost a theme of the puzzle, in a sense. Looking forward to your next blog!

  55. Ste says:

    Superb puzzle. Inspired me to make this, my one and only contribution here. Thanks, Tramp, for the Eureka moments connecting up the references (which eventually I got)
    My main hurdle was ‘ratification’. I thought Basil was ‘in’ the ratatouille not the episode. Once Tbilisi fell, the bottom left-hand corner slotted into place.
    Looking forward to seeing more, Tramp.

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