Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,365 / Rufus

Posted by Eileen on July 4th, 2011


I think this was perhaps just a little trickier than your average Rufus but there’s the usual mix of witty cryptic definitions and clever anagrams – and I wish I could think of an alternative epithet to ‘smooth’ for his surfaces: so many of these are like silk! [I began to list them but there are too many.] I had several smiles along the way – thank you Rufus!


5   BEMUSE: BE [live] + MUSE [inspiring woman]
6   STATUE: cryptic definition, which I really liked
9   ALCOVE: anagram of VOCAL + E[lgar]: [I don’t really think of an alcove as an opening, though.]
10  HALF-TERM: HARM outside anagram of LEFT
11  FEAT: anagram of FATE – what a lovely surface!
12  PAWN TICKET: cryptic definition
13  DROP THE CASE: double definition, which made me laugh
18  PLAINTIFFS: PLAIN [clear] TIFFS [arguments]
21  AXIS: cryptic definition
22  SUBPOENA: anagram of BEAN SOUP and nice misdirection with ‘served’
23  RIDING: DIN [noise] in RIG [gear]
24  HATPIN: cryptic definition, relying on two meanings for both ’tile’ and shingle': a shingle is a kind of roof tile but also a style of haircut: I knew tile = hat from crosswords but, checking this morning, I find that Chambers gives it as a Scottish top hat – which would hardly require a hatpin! However, further research reveals that it’s old slang for any hat, as in this Stanley Holloway song – a pity about the typo in the title!
25  LISBON: L [pound] IS BON [good in France]


1   IMPOSTOR: ST [saint – holy man] in I’M POOR [claim of poverty]
2   ASLEEP: ASP [snake] round LEE [shelter]
3   ATHLETIC: anagram of CAT LITHE – and what could be smoother than that?
STATIC: double definition
5   BOLDER: sounds like ‘boulder’
SHOW THE FLAG: double definition
14  PATHETIC: PATH [way] + reversal of CITE [‘call-up’]
15  STANDS BY: double definition
16  PLOUGH: double definition: ‘plough’ means to fail an exam – I don’t think I knew that.
17  FINNAN: FINN [Scandinavian] + AN: I’ve only ever seen this as Finnan haddock [or haddie] [smoked haddock named after the village of Findon in N.E. Scotland] but Chambers has it thus.
19 IMPUTE: I’M PUT [I am given place] + [cambridg]E
20  STRAIN: double definition

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,365 / Rufus”

  1. Mystogre says:

    Thanks Eileen. You weren’t the only one having a smile at parts of this. Just what I needed after a long day. I ran into trouble when I put AXLE for 21ac and realized much later that was wrong. So I learned about a fish, not to mention hats and hairstyles. I did enjoy it more than recent Monday offerings.

    But I think my COD was 12ac. Gave me a real chortle. So thanks Rufus too.

  2. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen. Good stuff again from Rufus. 6a was rather appropriate I thought, for the 4th of July !

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Rufus

    A well clued puzzle as usual. I was doubtful about 7d till I realised it was ‘(l)earner’ rather than (l)earned’

    Rufus’s surfaces are always smooth so there’s no harm saying so.

    Particularly liked 12a, 13a, 18a, and 24a (a purple patch in mid-puzzle).

    I knew tile well enough, but assumed wrongly that it was rhyming slang. It seems to be a an urban slang cd.

  4. Anna says:

    I agree with Mystogre at 1 that 12 ac was my favourite clue, closely followed by 13. I don’t really like anagrams as I think they are too simplistic but in a Paul or Araucaria they help start the whole thing off. Very appreciative of the explanations on fifteen squared and look forward to the comments from the regulars. Keep up the good work.

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen & Rufus this was very enjoyable, particularly now that I’ve seen photos of the two of you living it up in style.

    I agree this was a touch tougher than our usual Rufus fare. I guess that you must have taken the opportunity to tell him to toughen up?

    My favourite was 24a HATPIN but Rufus was really on the mark with 6a coincident with the announcement Ronald Reagan is going to be so remembered. Personally, I would have preferred Jane Wyman – one of his ex-wives – she was so lovely:

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen.

    A delightful puzzle, full of invention and good surfaces. I reckon there’ll be a lot of different favourite clues today, but mine was SUBPOENA. Didn’t know the PLOUGH definition either, nor the tile and shingle combination.

    Many thanks to Rufus for a nice start to the crosswording week.

  7. Robi says:

    Thanks Rufus and Eileen, especially for enlightening tile and shingle.

    I thought this was no harder than the average Rufus, maybe easier, although I, too, put in AXLE at first. I would also spell IMPOSTOR with an ‘e,’ but possibly that is a touch uncultured.

    I agree with Eileen’s feelings about alcove, although my Chambers Xword dic. does have opening as a synonym. My COD was PAWN TICKET.

  8. Median says:

    For me, this was easier than most Rufus puzzles – completed quite quickly, without recourse to the computer. Different strokes for different folks, it seems.

  9. tupu says:

    A small quibble. Finland is not, strictly speaking, a Scandinavian country but a ‘Nordic’ one because its language is from a quite different (Finno-Ugric) stock.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    I also found this easier than usual. For once I liked two of the CDs: 12 and 24 ac.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. As always, I enjoyed the smooth surfaces, especially 11ac and 3dn.

    Sloppy parsing on my part made me put HALF TIME at 10ac, until I got 7dn and corrected it.

    I found this a little easier than usual, perhaps because the CDs weren’t so loose. 12ac made me smile, too.

    V nice misdirection at 22ac.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu @9

    I decided not to open that particular can of worms – but I’m not really surprised that you did! :-)

    I’m not saying it’s right but Collins gives; ‘Scandinavia:1: the peninsula of N. Europe occupied by Norway and Sweden; 2: the counties of N Europe, esp considered as a cultural unit and including Norway, Sweden, Denmark, and often Finland, Iceland and the Faeroe Islands.’

    Wikipedia also discusses the controversy:

    I’m prepared to go with Rufus on this one, assuming the cultural, rather than the linguistic aspect.

  13. Eileen says:

    Small typo above: re Collins: ‘the countRies of N Europe’.

  14. Martin H says:

    The best Rufus I’ve seen for a long time, with only 8d and 11a disappointing – 8 because it’s hardly double in meaning, more an explanation of the metaphor; and 11 because in a puzzle which was pretty easy anyway, I’m sure Rufus could have come up with something a bit more entertaining than this very obvious anagram.

    In 6a, which I agree Eileen is a nice clue, do we need ‘for example’? To me that seems to weaken the clue: ‘Liberty’ could be a figure of speech or a figure of stone; ‘Liberty, for example’, ie the statue, can only be a figure of stone.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi Martin H

    I read it as Liberty being one example of a statue.

  16. scchua says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Rufus.

    I’m on the side of those who found it easier than usual. The long lights (8 or more letters) were quite easy, providing many checking letters. Last one in was AXIS, which I thought was perhaps a letdown (not so cryptic) after all the other brilliant ones. Favourites were 13A DROP THE CASE, 22A SUBPOENA, and 12A PAWN TICKET.

  17. Martin H says:

    The best Rufus I’ve seen for a long time, with only 8d and 11a disappointing – 8 because it’s hardly double in meaning, more an explanation of the metaphor; and 11 because in a puzzle which was pretty easy anyway, I’m sure Rufus could have come up with something a bit more entertaining than this very obvious anagram.

    In 6a – which I agree Eileen is a nice idea, (and more a cryptic dd than a cd?) – do we need ‘for example’? To me it seems to spoil the clue: ‘Liberty’ is ‘not just’ figure of speech, but also – understood, and pointing to the solution – a figure of stone; ‘Liberty, for example’, ie the statue, can only be a figure of stone.

    Rufus has been known to sacrifice accurate definition for surface, and I thought he’d done it again with FINNAN, but I followed the lead to Chambers, and see that it is justified. It still doesn’t ring true though. I’ll try it out on a fishmonger and see what happens.

    SUBPOENA and HATPIN excellent.

    Thanks to Rufus and Eileen

  18. Martin H says:

    Ah, I see that my entry somehow slipped itself in unfinished at 14. The second version at 17 is what I meant to say.

  19. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thanks. :) Given my marriage to a Finn and my research in the country, I felt duty bound to make a tiny noise. I’m not much fashed about it, and it is scarcely a controversy really these days, though Finnish identity has naturally been a political hot potato in the past and may be becoming one again after the success of the ‘True Finns’ party in the last election.
    The geographical region used to be Fenno-Scandia. Culturally you are quite right, though the special link to Russia has been more readily accepted in recent years at least by historians. This was not one-way – e.g. several of Faberge’s craftsmen and designers were Finns.

    OED excludes both Finland and Iceland from their list.

    I should add that I solved the clue on sight and my awareness of the ‘problem’ may well have made it easier to do so.

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    On 24a I remembered (part of) that old song ‘Where did you get that hat? Where did you get that tile?’ but it took longer to remember that shingle is also a female hair style. Does any woman still use it?

    For 1d I am used to impostEr but the poverty in the clue made clear what spelling he actually wanted.

  21. Robi says:

    chas @20; looks like the shingle is still in fashion!

  22. Robi says:

    P.S. Like the typo in Eileen’s link, I always assumed the song went: ‘Where did you get that hat? Where did you get that TIE?’ I’m still learning!

  23. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. Rather surprisingly (to me, anyway), “Where Did You Get That Hat?” was first published as early as 1888. According to this page, “the melody is based partly on a leitmotiv from Wagner’s Lohengrin“, but I’m not enough of a Wagnerian to verify this.

  24. chas says:

    Robi @21 I looked at your link. To my eyes there seemed to be several different styles illustrated there. I guess that women still use the style but the name is not talked about as much as it used to be.

  25. Jim morton says:

    6 across
    Independence Dat in USA

  26. Jim morton says:

    6 across
    Independence Day in USA

  27. RCWhiting says:

    Can someone explain ‘axis’please.
    I get the revolver although, at least in theoretical maths an axis is invariable and therefoe doesn’t revolve. It is the pin which I don’t get – I chose (with no conviction) ‘afix’.

  28. Robi says:

    RCWhiting @27; good point. The only explanation I can come up with is that Chambers gives AXIS as an obsolete variation of axle. The latter is defined as: ‘the pin or rod in the nave of a wheel on or by means of which the wheel turns.’ That is probably why I tried ‘axle’ as the answer at first.

  29. tupu says:

    HI Robi and RCWhiting
    I have just been delving into OED and come up with the same answer as Robi. Axis was used for an axle until the early C19, and axle there is defined as a pin etc.

  30. Geoff says:

    Thanks Eileen

    Came very late to this today. I found it largely very easy, although I was held up for a little while in the SW corner. Elegantly clued, as ever.

    Like others, I had AXLE briefly at 21a.

    ‘Scandinavian’ = FINN is uncharacteristically sloppy for Rufus. Despite what Collins may say (and the other dictionaries pointedly don’t) no Scandinavian would employ this usage – Nordic is the umbrella term, as tupu points out. It’s analogous to calling a Scot ‘English’, or (in Soviet days) a Ukranian ‘Russian’ – loose terminology which is common outside the territories themselves. Far from being a ‘cultural usage’ it is actually (albeit mildly) culturally insensitive.

  31. Mr Beaver says:

    “‘Scandinavian’ = FINN is uncharacteristically sloppy for Rufus” ?

    – well, I didn’t have any problems with 17d: if it’s incorrect usage, I hadn’t realised.
    As others have said, I found this uncharacteristically un-sloppy – the constructions were good, there were no non-cryptic cds, and far more wit than I usually find.
    More in the same vein, please!

  32. RCWhiting says:

    Thankyou Robi and tupu
    I guess you are right but it is all a little unconvincing.
    Dear old Azed does usually indicate when he is using obsolete meanings!

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