Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,332 / Philistine

Posted by Eileen on May 26th, 2011


Philistine hasn’t yet got a profile on the Guardian website, let alone made it to Michael Curl’s ‘Who’s Who’, so I think we can take it that s/he is a new setter. This was somewhat disconcerting, especially on a Thursday, when we expect something rather challenging, but it turned out to be plain sailing. In fact, this would make an admirable Quiptic puzzle: as well as an abundance of anagrams, there is at least one example of just about every clue type imaginable [and some  old favourites] with some wit thrown in at 12, 23 and 26ac and 9dn. A good puzzle for those still cutting their teeth on cryptics.


5   NERVOUS: anagram of OR VENUS: I was at first looking for a verb meaning ‘mars’, thinking that ‘getting excited’ was the anagram indicator.
10  EYED: homophone of !’d
11  MAINSTREAM: MA [degree] + anagram of MERITS AN
12  LABOUR: double / cryptic definition, ‘term’ being ‘the normal duration of a pregnancy, or its completion': I liked this one very much – as a clue! – and I don’t remember seeing it before, though it seems so obvious, really.
13  EYE CANDY: CAN [preserve] in EYED [solution to 10ac] + Y[our]
14  PRESCRIBE: anagram  of BEER and CRISP
16  GIDDY: GIDD[a]Y: I think I’d only seen this written as ‘G’ day’ before.
17  MANIC: anagram of CINEMA minus E[nergy]
19  VEHEMENCE: HE-MEN [macho types] replacing the two middle letters of VE[ni]CE
23  PATIENTS: TIE [knot] in PANTS [knickers]: nice misleading definition
24  OUTING: double definition
26  GO COMMANDO: GO [try] COMMANDO [soldier]: a nice surface!
27  LOOT: reversal of TOOL – thankfully unambiguous this time
28  FERTILE: anagram of LET FIRE

29  GYPSIES: anagram of YES PIGS


2   MAYFAIR: MAY [hawthorn] + FAIR [just]
3   RADIO: AD [plug] in RIO [port]
4   ADMIRER: anagram of MARRIED
6   EASTER: hidden in camE AS TERm – another end-of-term celebration!
8   UNAIDED: I [one] in anagram of UNDEAD
9   MIXED BLESSING: reverse anagram of GLIBNESS: I’ve seen this more than once but it still raised a smile and it’s a nice clue for those who haven’t met it before.
15  SPIT IT OUT: double definition
18 ABALONE: AB [sailor] + ALONE [on his tod]: I have never seen this on a fish stall but I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve seen it in a crossword.
20  ECONOMY: anagram of MONEY and CO
21  CONDONE: CON [swindle] + DONE [swindled]
22  ANIMAL: reversal of LAMINA [plate]: another familiar clue
25  TALKS: initial letters of Thus A Loving Kiss Signifies

37 Responses to “Guardian 25,332 / Philistine”

  1. tellmee says:

    Am I slow? I’ve never come acorss the expression Go Commando. Is this a sign of a sheltered upbringing?

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi tellmee

    You and me both, I think. I didn’t comment in the blog, so as not to show my naïveté! I’m sure I met it in a crossword [but I can’t find it now] and had to look it up.

  3. Mystogre says:

    Thanks Eileen. 26ac is rather topical with what some of the attention seekers get up to. Almost risqué for a crossword.

    And, yes, it was rather an easy solve, but I did have a quiet smile at a couple, like 23ac and 9d. Apart from a chortle at 26ac.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for an excellent blog, and welcome to a new setter.

    I very much agree with Eileen’s comments.
    I approached a new setter with some hesitation (another Rufus or another Enigmatist? – much more like the former).

    I solved ‘go commando’ from the clue, and I could not find it or eye candy (similarly solved) in my older Chambers.

    As Eileen, first misled by 5a. :) I also momentarily thought that ‘loot’ might be a homophone of ‘lute’!.

    Liked 9d, 12a, 17a, 19a, 24a.

    A pleasant experience overall, nicely leaving time for other things.

  5. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen. First time I have seen a puzzle by Philistine.

    I have to disagree with you as I didn’t think it was very easy. A lot easier than yesterdays but I have seen easier ones.

    Had to think about MIXED BLESSINGS and VEHEMENCE for a while. Being a Scot GO COMMANDO was no problem!

  6. Robi says:

    Thanks Eileen; great minds……… I was also thinking that this would not be out of place as a Quiptic. Chalk and cheese compared to yesterday’s; the editor obviously thought we needed a bit of a rest.

    Still enjoyable and some nice surfaces. I did like LABOUR, which in retrospect as you say looked obvious but was actually my last in (no ‘do’ for party.)

    For GO COMMANDO, keep your knickers on but see here.

  7. Martin H says:

    Morning Eileen – thanks for putting me right re ‘labour’ – I read it as ‘Labour’, and an outdated political reference – typical male thinking? A nice clue, as you say.

    I didn’t find this quite as plain sailing as you did, and after the rather weak 10, 15 and 18, found a lot to enjoy: some good anagram indicators: Mars (excellent), shuffling; a nice dd at 24; perfect surface at 3 – probably my favourite, along with 8. 23 well done as well.

    Less keen on the double anagram indicators at 14, and similarly the containment indicators at 19.

    Looking forward to more from Philistine – in the Monday slot maybe?

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I wondered if I’d “met” this setter before, then warmed to the style as I went through the clues, which raised several smiles.

    I particularly liked 19ac, which I thought quite clever, and 26ac, which I’d never heard of – a little risqué, perhaps, as Mystogre says.

    Regarding abalone, we were holidaying in Falmouth one year and witnessed a fisherman feeding his catch to a seal, affording me the chance to take some lovely photos. When we asked why he was doing so, he said the fish wouldn’t fetch much in the market, as they were abalone.

    Thanks for an entertaining puzzle, Philistine, and I shall look forward to more of the same.

  9. Wanderer says:

    Thanks Eileen and Philistine. At first read through, I thought this was going to be Quiptic-level, but after some easier clues went in, there was still plenty to think about. Favourites were LABOUR, VEHEMENCE and EYE CANDY, but there was much else to enjoy here.

    Like Eileen, I have only ever come across ABALONE in crosswords, and always clued in exactly the same way, something to do with a sailor being on his own. Has any visitor to this site ever knowingly eaten one?

    If Philistine is indeed new, many thanks for an enjoyable solve and I look forward to more.

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    An interesting new setter indeed – some clever clues here, and a wide variety of clue types. My favourites were 12a, 23a and the simple but effective 15d.

    I found this mostly easy, but got stuck for a while on half a dozen clues. In 19a I tried to fit an anagram of ‘enic’ (central Venice to be displaced) together with a ‘force’, until I realised the clue had to be read another way. I hadn’t come across the *(GLIBNESS) = BLESSING before, so that didn’t leap out at me either.

    However, I am familiar with the expressions GO COMMANDO (suggested to be a variant on ‘go regimental’, ie wear a kilt without undergarments) and EYE CANDY (not to be confused with ‘nose candy’), although the latter was one of my last entries.

    Eileen: You are unlikely to see ABALONE in European markets, as this name is usually given only to the species of the shellfish genus Haliotis found in Pacific waters. However, the ormer, a related mollusc, is found round British coasts and might just appear on a fishmongers slab, although overfishing has reduced the population dramatically and severe restrictions are now imposed on its collection.

  11. TokyoColin says:

    Thanks Eileen. Interesting to see a new setter. I agree that this would have made a good Quiptic. A touch too straightforward for my taste as a regular weekday puzzle. Not just simple constructions but too clearly signposted. In almost every clue I knew immediately what I was looking for and where it would come from. A couple at the end were slow to come but I was all done in 10 minutes. Not dull by any means, just not satisfying.

    Abalone are frequently found on menus in this part of the world but have become fairly expensive, due to catch limits I believe. Divers may only take specimens above a certain size.

    I have always heard it pronounced abba-low-nee, but recently abba-loan seems to be fashionable.

  12. norm says:

    I liked this. Easy, but very pleasing. As Eileen said – a good one for newbies.

  13. superkiwigirl says:

    Hello All,

    I only discovered this marvellous blog a month or so back when I switched from doing the Times to the Guardian and Independent cryptics for their easier accessibility online (I’m now living in France and can’t afford to feed my crossword habit here by purchasing several daily papers). I couldn’t resist joining in today once I saw the “abalone thread”, as the NZ variety, the paua, is considered a great delicacy back home. One of my cook books has 6 pages of paua recipes (steaks, fritters, soups, pickles, pancakes …)

    Like most today, I found this an easier solve than I was expecting (not a bad thing after yesterday’s struggle) and I too learned a new expression at 26a. As for 16a, I think that the more usual spelling Down Under is “Gidday” (pity I can’t find my copy of “Let Stalk Strine” to check).

    Thanks to Eileen for an excellent blog, and to Philistine for an enjoyable puzzle.

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Good opener for P. Quite straightforward, I liked 19a most.

  15. Bruce says:

    I’m sorry, but this puzzle is far to easy to be published as a Guardian cryptic crossword.

    I feel like asking for my £1 back, having bought the paper just to do the crossword on my way into work. I’d finished it inside 5 minutes and was forced to actually read the paper.

    However, there is some good clueing and I particualrly liked 9d

  16. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Overall, a fairly straightforward puzzle, with some enjoyment. My heart sank a bit when the first clues I looked at, in the top left corner, went straight in, but I found some challenges elsewhere.

    My favourites were LABOUR and MIXED BLESSING, neither of which I’ve come across before in crosswords. A few good surfaces, but also some pedestrian stuff. Hopefully Philistine will set a few more challenges in his/her puzzles as s/he gets established.

    I’m quite familiar with both EYE CANDY and GO COMMANDO, so they caused no problems, although it took me a while to see what the clue was doing. I won’t say which of those two phrases is most often applied to me.

  17. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    Like many others I found this fairly straightforward but I did like 9d once I had spotted what was going on.
    It reminded me of NOMMAG as a clue for backgammon.

    As for 16a I have only ever seen it written as G’day.

    I, as an old hand of several months, would like to extend a welcome to superkiwigirl. Please continue coming here.

  18. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. I quite liked this, especially when it started to get hard, with the last few in – EYE CANDY, PATIENTS and GO COMMANDO. I couldn’t credit having lived decades and not heard this last term, and when I keyed it in read the Wiki entry with interest. My only niggle was with 16a, which is not in the Macquarie Dictionary except as a tag to the real thing which is G’Day. The second sound, the apostrophe, is a schwa. Come to think of it, Kiwis would pronounce the second sound of GIDDY with a schwa so maybe the clue works for those Antipodeans.

  19. riccardo says:

    If you are London-based and in the “never heard of abalone” camp, I can thoroughly recommend that you try it at Fung Shing in Lisle Street, Chinatown. I have no link to the place other than being a happy customer.

  20. NeilW says:

    Thanks Eileen and welcome Philistine!

    I don’t remember but I wonder what the first few outings for Paul were like. This felt like the young player in the reserves getting his chance to play in the first team -lots of fumbles but the odd flash of brilliance showing true potential. I would say well done to HS for giving the youngster a go. (I will probably find out in due course that Philistine is Araucaria’s schoolmate!)

  21. Conrad Cork says:

    As a vegetarian I make do with mock abalone, which suspiciously, along with mock duck and mock chicken (mock cluck?) is available from Chinese supermarkets. It’s gluten which has been shaped to look like the thing it mocks, and makes me wonder whether restaurant owners up their margins by mixing it with the more expensive real thing.

    Howsoever it is good in stir fries.

    Just my $0.02 worth.

  22. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    Fairly easy puzzle I thought, but I enjoyed it a lot.
    Re.ABALONE – Here in Guernsey we call them ormers,they have long been a local delicacy(overrated in my opinion).
    They are now in such short supply that their collection is restricted to only a few tides each year –

  23. HelenEdith says:

    I liked this crossword. I solved part of it unaided; had recourse to an online dictionary for a bit more; and came here for solutions to 19ac, 27ac and 21dn.

    I remember abalone being pronounced abba-lone-ee and presume that used to be the definitive pronunciation as I worked for SAFCOL (South Australian Fishermens’ Co-Operative Limited) who used to can them. (I would expect they still do, but I’ve moved on.) I don’t remember ever getting the opportunity to eat them. We used to get some marvellous seafood spreads at our office parties, but I remember prawns 4″ long; crab legs and smoked oysters rather than abalone. People used to smoke back in those days and quite a few abalone shells were used as ashtrays.

  24. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    I liked this crossword and look forward to more from Philistine.

  25. walruss says:

    I thought it was incorrectly pitched for the market, to be honest! Way too easy, especially at this time in the week when we all expect a bit of a trick here and there, and some SHOCKING chestnuts. Notrhing fresh about this ‘new’ compiler’s style for me.

  26. Carrots says:

    Although this was a fairly easy offering from a new setter, there were a couple of clever devices which I stumbled over. I had no idea what GO COMMANDO meant, but enjoyed MIXED BLESSING and VEHEMENCE.

    Some years ago I bought some Abalones from Leicester fish-market and was told they were farmed (along with Ormers) off the West coast of Ireland. I haven`t seen them anywhere since, which is not surprising as they can take twenty years to reach edible maturity. I suspect the ones I had had been poached by skin divers stripping sea-beds for a fast buck.

    If ever you do encounter one, pound with a steak hammer and gently poach in white wine, shallots and its own juices until tender. Unusual taste…slightly sweetish for shellfish…goes well in a melange with clams and cockles.

  27. Jim morton says:

    Abalone is (or used to be) common on San Francisco menus.

  28. rrc says:

    I quite like crosswords where I understand the clue on the first reading!
    quite the reverse from yesterdays offering from my favourite compiler who wasnt yesterday I thought this was straightforward a number of clues caused me to smile which has got to be a bonus and radio I did not workout til late this afternoon.

  29. Eileen says:

    Hi All

    I’ve had a very busy day so must apologise for not having welcomed superkiwigirl @13 [thanks, chas @17] – great to hear from you!

    I’m fascinated by how much correspondence ABALONE has generated, after all its appearances! Thanks for all the tips and recipes: I’ll certainly look out for them in Leicester fish market, Carrots! :-)

  30. scchua says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog and Philistine for a great debut puzzle.

    Don’t normally do the current Guardian, but got stuck on today’s Indy and wanted to try out the NKOTB. I fall the camp that found it moderately difficult, with expressions that I know of, but hadn’t encountered before or wasn’t expecting in a crossword, but which was what made this puzzle enjoyable.


    Re ABALONE, this is a delicacy ie. high-priced out here and I remember having it (canned from Mexico) on special occasions like the New Year family re-union dinners. Like most shellfish, it’s sweetest eaten off the shell. As a footnote, I recall about 10+ years ago, reading a food critic (I think, but can’t be sure, that it was the acerbic A A Gill of the Sunday Times) describing the texture of abalone. I can’t locate the original article, but suffice to say that it was much risque-er than GO COMMANDO but in the same general area, if you get my drift. Those who’ve had a taste of it might be familiar with it. Also suffice to say, if it were A A Gill, he’s won the Bad Sex Award in Literature :-)

  31. Dave Ellison says:

    I was in hospital for the day, so was pleased to finish an unaided crossword. Whilst I found it reasonably straightforward, there was originality (Mars as anagrind, and, for me 9d – great clue)I had the feeling that P. should mature into something very decent after another outing or two.

    I remember having abalone in Chinese restaurants in the 60s in Lancaster and Oxford, possibly Manchester and Wilmslow, too, but I don’t know if Chines restaurants still do it, as we don’t visit them any more because of excess MSG. It ruined our wedding night and the first anniversary, with trips to hospital to have the rash sorted out each time.

  32. morpheus says:

    Definitely a welcome appearance from a new setter. A lot of very nice surfaces which compensated for some easy clues and slightly too many anagrams for my taste. Still managed to get stuck on vehemence.

    And more strayan please!

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    First of all, a warm welcome to Philistine!
    Even though Hugh Stephenson said, last November, that there’s no opportunity for new setters in the next seven years, things seem to have changed. Only recently Tramp surprised us with a rewarding puzzle, now there’s Philistine.
    Is (s)he new? It’s not Phi in disguise, isn’t (s)he?

    It’s after ten o’clock on this Thursday night and there’s still no post by the (wo)man h(im/er)self. That’s a real pity.

    My overall feeling is that Philistine didn’t live up to his potential today. The problem with a statement like this is that I’m not sure whether (s)he’s a newby or not.
    One feels the dedication in the writing of the clues, a good spread of devices, fine surfaces etc. But these clues deserved more depth. For example, 5ac (NERVOUS) was very well (and originally) constructed (although I would have tried to find an astronomic definition), but the answer was there within 10 seconds. It was just a real shame to see so many good clues being spoiled by their obvious solutions.

    On the minus side, we weren’t happy with the definition in 14ac (PRESCRIBE) [or was it an attempt to write an &Lit?]. My PinC in particular didn’t like the order of things in 16ac: ‘missing a’ coming before ‘greeting etc’, while it reads like it should be linked with ‘Frivolous’. We both thought ‘undead’ in the clue for 8d was too similar to the answer (UNAIDED).

    On the plus side, we were very happy with 9d (MIXED BLESSING) [she] and 6d (EASTER) [me]. And with 5ac, 11ac and 7d.

    I have to be careful with what I’m saying (as I try to compile myself every now and then), but eventually I think the cluing as such was nice, however just not challenging enough.
    See what happens next time.

    As I said a warm welcome, but also 9d.

    [thanks, Eileen]

  34. Scarpia says:

    Thought our new setter might have been the well known homophone,so tried Google – unbelieveable,are these people real? I blame the parents.

  35. otter says:

    Oh, I forgot to say earlier that I really liked the use of Mars as an anagram indicator in the context of the surface of 5a.

    And I’ve never seen ‘Gidday’ – only ‘G’day’.

  36. Jake says:

    At last a new setter with a ‘new’ thought out name.

    Well done sir. Great puzzle


  37. Huw Powell says:

    Well, a grand welcome to “Philistine”, and thank you Eileen for the blog.

    I found a lot of fun here, but then I love anagrams, and there were a lot of them.

    I really liked: the tricky anagram indicator at 5, the clue I didn’t solve at 12, the wonderful 19, the nice surface at 4, and the puzzle in general.

    Perhaps this was not Thursday fodder, but “difficulty” is hard for the editor to judge given the wide range of solvers’ knowledge and talents. Oh, I also liked 13.

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