Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic Nº 25,349 by Orlando: A tall story

Posted by PeterO on June 15th, 2011


This time a title is in order, since tales are plastered all over the clues. Enjoyable, with some fine surfaces and a few convoluted wordplays.

1. Far from gayest sort of sodomite? (8)
MOODIEST Anagram (‘sort of’) of ‘sodomite’.
5. Reviled American drawn into a plot (6)
ABUSED Envelope (‘drawn into’) of US (‘American’) in A BED (‘a plot’).
9. Fruit getting stuffed with date and walnut toppings for tellers of tales (3,5)
OLD WIVES Envelope (‘getting studffed with’) of DW (‘Date and Walnut toppings’) in OLIVES (‘fruit'; note the plural).
10. Think about including good teller of tale (6)
KNIGHT Envelope (‘about’ ‘including’) of G (‘good’) in a reversal (‘about’) of ‘think’. The reference in the definition is to the knight’s tale in Chaucer’s The Canterbury Tales.
12. HM’s in a grand setting here (11)
SANDRINGHAM Anagram (‘setting’) of ‘HMs in a grand’. Her Majesty’s Norfolk estate gives the &lit definition.
15. Group of four mostly tropical fish (5)
TETRA TETRA[d] (‘group of four, mostly’).
17. Player’s first in Masters with VIP producing work for Google? (3-6)
MAP-MAKING Envelope (‘in’) of P (‘Players first’) in MA MA (‘masters'; Master of Arts, twice) + KING (‘VIP’).
18. Twelve fish close to shore, others being excluded (2,3,4)
NO ONE ELSE Charade of NOON (‘twleve’ midday) + EELS (‘fish’) + E (‘close to shorE‘).
19. Doctor not getting on with sudden increase (5)
SURGE SURGE[on] (‘doctor not getting on’).
20. It’s darned tough at sea for a battleship (11)
DREADNOUGHT Anagram (‘at sea’) of ‘darned tough’.
24. Where barcarolle may be heard by “The King and I” singer? (6)
RIALTO Charade of R (‘king’) + (‘and’) ‘I’ + ALTO (‘singer’).
25. Singular sack for waste (8)
SPILLAGE Charade of S (‘single’) + PILLAGE (‘sack’).
26. Polish language, as heard here (6)
FINISH Homophone (‘as heard’) of Finnish (‘language’). Definition ‘polish’ with a short o.
27. Last couple of actors in show performing a U-turn? (8)
REVERSAL Envelope (‘in’) of RS (‘last couple of actoRS‘) in REVEAL (‘show’).
1. Head of state with guns to tame rioting (3,3-4)
MAO TSE-TUNG Anagram (‘rioting’) of ‘guns to tame’).
2. I would run round upsetting people after becoming a minister (10)
ORDINATION Reversal (‘upsetting’) of I’D R O (‘I would’ ‘run’ ’round’) + (‘after’, which has to be read as the people coming after) NATION (‘people’).
3. Here in Paris leading lady is more slippery (5)
ICIER Charade of ICI (‘here in Paris’) + ER (the Monarch again, this time cryptically as ‘leading lady’).
4. Actress in capital gaining point for victory over teller of tale (6,6)
SIENNA MILLER VIENNA (‘capital’) with S (‘point’) replacing (‘for’) V (‘victory’) + MILLER (The Canterbury Tales again). I often have a blind spot for ‘for’ replacements, and, not knowing the actress, I had some trouble with this.
6. Unknown city in Alaska held by outlaws? Certainly not! (2,2,5)
BY NO MEANS Envelope (‘held by’) of Y (‘unknown’) + NOME (‘city in Alaska’) in BANS (‘outlaws'; verb).
7. Tale of returning officers in Muslim countries (4)
SAGA Reversal (‘returning’) of AGAS (‘officers in Muslim countries'; an aga or agha was a title for some civil and military officers in the Ottoman Empire).
8. Somewhat surprised at astounding facts (4)
DATA Hidden (‘somewhat’) in ‘surpriseD AT Astounding’.
11. Dish from Hesperides transformed with HP? (9,3)
SHEPHERDS PIE Anagram (‘transformed’) of ‘Hesperides’ with ‘HP’.
13. Mirror provides support for tale about construction material (10)
FIBREGLASS Charade of FIB (‘tale’) + RE (‘about’) + (‘provides support for’) GLASS (‘mirror’).
14. Extremely amusing tale read out often (1,5,4)
A GREAT DEAL Charade of AG (‘extremely AmusinG‘) + anagram (‘out’) of ‘tale read’.
16. A northern city shows excessive affection for tales (9)
ANECDOTES Charade of A N (‘a northern’) + EC (‘city’ of London) + DOTES (‘shows excessive affection’).
21. Hardy presents most of hoary tale (5)
OLLIE Charade of OL[d] (‘most of hoary’) + LIE (‘tale’). Ollie Hardy of Laurel and Hardy.
22. Endless hard work for tennis player (4)
GRAF GRAF[t] (‘endless hard work’). Steffi of that ilk.
23. Lady Godiva under observation ends tale (4)
YARN Last letters (‘ends’) of ‘LadY GodivA undeR observatioN’.

41 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic Nº 25,349 by Orlando: A tall story”

  1. caretman says:

    Thanks, PeterO, for the blog and explanations. Yes, I thought it was a pretty straightforward puzzle. ‘Graft’ in the sense of hard work was relatively unfamiliar to me, I’m more used to its meaning of bribery which, if anything, avoids having to do hard work. I liked the pronunciation shifts in the charade for NO ONE ELSE. And with regard to SIENNA MILLER, I thought she was all over the news over there with allegations that the News of the World had hacked her cell phone.

    As an aside and in regard to DREADNOUGHT, I heard that after HMS Dreadnought was built and launched, the United States planned to build a similar ship and name her ‘Scared of Nothing’. Somehow doesn’t quite have the same ring to it.

    Oh, and thanks of course to Orlando for the tour of stories and their tellers.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks PeterO and Orlando for a marvellous puzzle.

    I particularly liked NO ONE ELSE when the penny finally dropped.

    SIENNA MILLER was my last entry because I couldn’t see how the clue worked until now.

    I’d never heard of NOME previously and there’s certainly no place like it.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeterO. Shot through this until the final acrosses and downs bogged me. I thought 14d’s definition of “often” a bit odd.

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    A lovely crossword and a fine blog, thanks to both Peter and Orlando.

    The tone was set by the surface of 1ac, which made me smile early on a Wednesday morning. Plenty of other good stuff as well, though: SANDRINGHAM was a nice &lit and KNIGHT was cleverly done. The theme weaved here and there, providing a nice additional element to the puzzle without requiring any cross-referencing of clues.

    Anyone else get stuck in the SW corner by stupidly entering FRENCH at 26ac?

  5. Mystogre says:

    Great thanks to both PeterO and Orlando. I enjoyed this although I did not get OLLIE. For a long time I had OWLER from howler, but then the bottom clue worked out.

    I did like the odd anagram, like 12 & 20ac along with 11d. I had not seen them before. And I would have thought Sienna Miller had had enough of herself splashed across various pages over the last couple of years, but I hesitated as she isn’t a classical actress.

    The rest was a gentle ramble that is worthy of a story. Pleasant and achievable. Just right for the end of an involved day.

  6. Mystogre says:

    And yea, I did have FRENCH for a start. Bother.

  7. Eileen says:

    Moi aussi.

    But I have a worse confession to make. I’m afraid I didn’t know SIENNA MILLER but I arrived at her – by the wrong route: N[point]in SIENA, which Wikipedia told me is the capital of the province of Siena over MILLER. I thought, ‘victory over’ was a poor way of indicating that SIENNA came first.

    I should have known this setter better! Profuse apologies, Orlando, and many thanks, as ever – and to PeterO for the blog.

    [11dn made me laugh.]

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Orlando

    Another well clued and very enjoyable offering from this setter with typical lightness of touch (lacking a bit as Sil noted in yesterday’s puzzle).

    I had to guess and check ‘Nome’ and ‘tetra’.

    I was also not wholly happy with 1d though his presence is still clearly felt.

    I enjoyed several clues including 9a, 10a, 24a, 21d.

  9. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO & Orlando

    Sons of the Desert would have had no problem with Ollie but I have never heard of Sienna Miller. Must be an age thing!

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Most enjoyable puzzle with neat and concise clues.

    I don’t have a problem with ‘often’ as the def for 14d, but ‘work for Google’ is a rather odd def for 17a (I can’t claim it’s wrong or misleading, though).

    I especially liked the &lit at 12a and the anagrams at 20a, 1d (almost an &lit, here) and 11d (I always used to have HP with SHEPHERD’S PIE!).

    By the time I got to 26a I already had the F and S, so I wasn’t decoyed into entering ‘French’. However, my first entry for 1a was DOOMIEST – the first anagram that sprang to mind, and a possible answer which fits the clue perfectly!

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Geoff
    I sceptically checked ‘doomy’ in OED and there it is, as a relatively recent word, so I suppose ‘doomiest’ would be both possible and fitting, as you say – if it wasn’t for that old spoilsport Chairman! I wonder if it is a bit of assonant coinage from ‘gloomy’.

  12. Mitz says:

    Thanks Orlando and PeterO. Cute puzzle, well explained.

    I too had “doomiest” at 1a at first, but when I came to the down clues 1d was so obviously Mao that it didn’t hold me up. Nearly put “French” in at 26 as well, but I wasn’t convinced and held myself back – “finish” quickly follwed “anecdotes”.

    Come on guys: stop saying you don’t know who Sienna Miller is – people will think we cruciverbalists don’t get out much…!

  13. Jezza says:

    Thanks to Orlando for a most enjoyable puzzle, and to PeterO for the review.

    I also contemplated ‘French’ for 26a, until 23d went in.

    17a was my last one in – I agree with Geoff at #10; not the first think I would think of as ‘work for Google’, but I admit is fair enough.

  14. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO and Orlando for an entertaining puzzle. Am I the only one to spot a sort of sub-theme in the profusion of ‘quantity’ expressions – 18ac and 6 and 14d -?

    I didn’t know “Nome”, or “tetra” as a fish, only as a compositive element meaning 4, but these represented no obstacle. I also considered “French” at 26ac, but was unconvinced so I hit the check button, and immediately came up with the correct solution.

    I’m afraid Miss Miller was unknown to me, too, and my original reasoning went somewhere along the same lines as Eileen’s until I looked the surname up in Wiki and the penny dropped.

    Last in was 23d, as the Godiva reference completely threw me. I gave myself a mental kick when I finally saw it :)

  15. otter says:

    Thanks for a very clear blog, and to Orlando for an enjoyable puzzle with a fun theme. I struggled with a lot of this a surprising amount considering how straightforward many of the clues are.

    Also thought SIENNA was Siena with N inserted, couldn’t work out why N was ‘point for victory’ – the explanation in the blog makes a lot more sense. Also had FRENCH for polish/language, which foxed me for a long time in the SW corner, and failed for ages to see TETRA, in spite of the fact I kept them (among other species) as a child. Immediately thought of Oliver for Hardy, but OLLIE was a long time in coming to mind. And so the list goes on. Others – MAO TSE TUNG, MOODIEST, SHEPHERD’S PIE, DREADNOUGHT, FIBREGLASS and so on – went straight into the grid with little thought.

    A few unknowns for me – Nome, barcarolle and so on – today, so have learned a little. Which is good.

  16. Geoff says:

    tupu @11: I’m surprised you hadn’t come across the word ‘doomy’ before. I don’t know where I have encountered it – possibly in connection with Sienna Miller…. The SOED puts it down as ‘M20′ (mid 20th century) – just like you and I.

    Your surmise about its assonant origins is a very reasonable one. ‘Doom and gloom’ is a common jocular description of general Weltschmerz – hence ‘doomy and gloomy’, I suppose.

  17. otter says:

    Oh, and was completely stumped by YARN – utterly failed to think of word endings. Must try harder.

  18. PeterO says:

    Caretman @1 – You are right that Sienna Miller might have rung a bell from the hacking business, and if I had been over there in the UK it probably would have done.

    Nome, with its 3000-odd inhabitants may not be the first city to come to mind, but it is perhaps best known as the endpoint of the Iditarod race

    I was another to toy with FRENCH for 26A, although from the git go I was not happy with a C at the end of 16D, and when ANECDOTES fell into place, FINISH followed directly. It is as well that DOOMIEST is an uncommon word, or that would have been another red herring.

    Mr Google has fingers in all sorts of software pies, but I have a gripe with him: his calendar is supposed to send me emails (all one word) which I rely on to remind me about my blogs here, but I did not get any for this one; it needed a last-minute check to avoid a missing entry.

    I note a slip in 10A: the envelope indicator is, of course, ‘including’, not ‘about’ doing double duty.

  19. MattD says:


    like most people here I struggled with the parsing of Sienna Miller (it didn’t help me that “Lima + N” is “over” in the answer but couldn’t see the rest). However, it is an @Lit too as she has gained victory over the teller of tale (News of the World) with the phone hacking case so I put it in with confidence.

    I had “French” too with a sigh as we’ve seen “Polish Language” meaning “French” a few times. Then I re-read it and cunningly realised that it is clearly the place where French is heard, so I changed it to France. Eventually corrected when I worked out the other crossing answers.

    Can’t see why EC is “City” even with the explanation above – a new abbreviation to remember…

    One quibble – to a republican like myself, I don’t see a King as a VIP…

    Great crossword and many thanks for the blog.

  20. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Matt D

    EC is common for ‘city’ because it’s the postal code for the City of London. I’m with you on the King thing …

  21. scchua says:

    Thanks PeterO and thanks and apologies to Orlando, as with Eileen et al, I too, though knowing of her, took the parsing to be SIENA gaining N over(for victory) MILLER.

  22. tupu says:

    HI Geoff

    Thanks. ‘Gloomy’ has never been the same for me since sharing an office in 1960 with a friend. We identified ourselves on the door as Gitche and Gumee, and addressed each other with ‘Dont be bitchy, Gitche!’ and ‘Don’t be gloomy, Gumee’. :) Yet another bit of mental damage down to Hiawatha.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I made a similar mistake to MattD @19. He used ‘heard here’ to convert French to France. I converted Grease to Greece!

    As for Hardy in 21d: I was stuck on Thomas for an age.

    I liked 11d once I cast off the nymphs/goddesses of the evening and Hewlet Packard.

  24. PeterO says:

    MattD @19: I imagine that a few Kings, at least, would disagree with you.

  25. Eileen says:

    Hi chas @23

    Yes, I was tickled by the thought of Golden Delicious being transformed by brown sauce into Shepherd’s Pie. :-)

  26. Thomas99 says:

    PeterO (24) and MattD (19)-
    Some people in Memphis, Tennessee might disagree with MattD too!

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    The old buffers are out in force today. All familiar with stories written 600 years ago but a young woman who has been literally everywhere for several months is an unknown.
    Not only has Sienna Miller been in all the gossip mags because of her failed relationships with Jude Law (who he? ed.) but, because of her prominent link to the phone-hacking scandal, she has been reported in all the ‘serious’ papers and law reports on radio and TV.

    I thought today’s offering was back to the ‘too easy’ category after yesterday’s good challenge.
    There were too many easy, longish anagrams, perhaps with too obvious definitions (12ac, 20ac,1d, 11d, 14d).
    The “theme” was not worthy of the name.

  28. MattD says:

    Thomas99@26 – that would the “The King” not “A King” surely? Agree he would be a VIP based on merit not accident of birth…

    Kathryn’s Dad@20 – I didn’t know that postcode – I assume it’s like SW19 and E17 etc. Stretching it a bit in my opinion – are all postcodes fair game then?

  29. RCWhiting says:

    But Matt, EC=city has been around as long as I have been a solver (50 years)and I cannot recall any other London postcode being used similarly.

  30. MattD says:

    RCWhiting: I just haven’t come across it before and it seems like a strained device to me. Mind you, quite a few of them do so I’ll just add this to the list of ones to look out for!

    I wouldn’t mind so much if it stated that it was a postcode of a particular city or similar (I get that this example is “The City”) although our fellow posters living abroad may cry foul. I seem to remember seeing “M” for Manchester before somewhere thinking about it.

    It’s a minor point in an enjoyable crossword though.

  31. Robi says:

    Thanks Orlando for a very straightforward, although enjoyable puzzle.

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog and explaining where my extra ‘e’ for city came in ANECDOTES.

    I’m also flabbergasted that people have not heard of SIENNA MILLER. If you read the Guardian as well as doing the crosswords, you could not have failed to notice her on numerous occasions……. but then again, I did not know that RIALTO is the financial and commercial centre of Venice; sounds more like an old cinema to me.

    Last in was YARN, which took me far too long to parse. The city in Alaska was not NOME to me; neither was TETRA as a fish. Google does make maps as well as producing the search engine, so 17 was fair enough, I thought. BTW, could ‘most of hoary tale’ be fOLLIEs?

  32. Robi says:

    BTW (with Gaufrid’s indulgence) did NO ONE ELSE see SIENNA MILLER appearing at the RIALTO in the MOODIEST ANECDOTES penned by the KNIGHT and ICIER OLD WIVES? This meant a great deal to MAO TSE-TUNG who ABUSED his FIBREGLASS DREADNOUGHT at the thought of MAP-MAKING at SANDRINGHAM. BY NO MEANS did his lack of ORDINATION prevent his FINISHing his SAGA with a SURGE of DATA – a YARN about Steffi GRAF and her REVERSAL of fortunes. OLLIE, of course, regretted the SPILLAGE of his SHEPHERD’S PIE, so ate TETRA instead.

  33. Tokyocolin says:

    Thanks PeterO, and to Orlando. I enjoyed most of this and some clues especially so.

    I too entered Doomiest and French initially. And Yarn was also my last in, doh!

    I have to disagree with RCWhiting’s assertion that she “has been literally everywhere”. Not big in Japan. But I agree that “City” has always been EC in crosswordland. I never knew why and now I do. Thankyou K’s D.

  34. Tokyocolin says:

    And speaking of old buffers I am compelled to point out that Mao Tse Tung is the old, discredited Wade-Giles transcription of Mao’s Chinese name. The currently accepted Pinyin version is Mao Zedong. The pronunciation of course has not changed.

    Having said that I had no issue with entering the “old buffer” version at 1dn.

  35. RCWhiting says:

    OK TC I was being rather Euro-centric.
    Nevertheless, there are plenty of Japanese gossip magazines which have featured the couple and OK has a Japanese version.
    Their on-off relationship has been a world-wide news story – you might wonder why (me too) but it is a fact.

  36. Geoff says:

    MattD: The use of ‘city’ here is a reference to expressions like: ‘He works in the City’. In Britain this is conventional shorthand for ‘he works in the financial district of the historic city of London’ – an area covered by the Eastern Central (EC) postcodes.

    Yes. this is Anglocentric, if not even more narrowly Londinocentric – but that’s where the puzzles are generated. It’s no worse than the many references (fortunately thinning out a bit now) to cricketing terminology which have tended to plague cryptics.

  37. Carrots says:

    I made such a mess of this that I`m ashamed to publish the details. Suffice to say I got six clues wrong…and altered perfectly correct ones to accommodate my little “cuckoos”.

    Many thanks Orlando & PeterO: lets hope that you`ve taught this Mr Toad a lesson he`ll never forget.

  38. Dave Ellison says:

    I liked the first clue, which I got straight away. I anticipated there would have been some adverse comment, and had thought Orlando wrote it with 15 squarers in mind!

    Wives a kind of reference to Chaucer, too, I thought.

  39. don says:

    “May our setters long enjoy the right to roam anywhere they like in English-Language-Land”

    Yesterday ‘a bas’
    Today ‘ici’

    Saesneg? Mae e’n mynd o ddrwg i waeth!

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Another fine example of how a relatively easy (for some even ‘too easy’) crossword can be very enjoyable.
    Orlando cares for the surface, and is one of those setters who can produce a clue that takes perhaps half a minute to solve, but at the same time leaves us (read: me) with sheer admiration for the elegancy of it.

    18ac (NO ONE ELSE) was such a highlight today, as were eg 10ac and 11d (and a few more).

    I am a bit surprised that so many people thought of FRENCH for 26ac, as this Polish/language clue/device is almost chestnutty.

    Also surprised (like some others) about the ignorance re SIENNA MILLER. I got it immediately from the crossing letters but couldn’t (fully) parse it eventually [so many thanks, PeterO].
    Sienna Miller played next to Keira Knightley and Matthew Rhys in 2008’s “The Edge of Love”, about Dylan Thomas (and in particular his relationship with Vera and Caitlin). Rather well-known.

    Thanks, tupu, for mentioning the lightness of touch.
    Indeed a reason why I prefer a crossword like this over yesterday’s.
    But then, we’re all different, aren’t we? As are setters.

  41. Giovanni says:

    Anyone know what has happened to Orlando? No puzzles at all in July – v.unusual!

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