Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,368 by Gordius

Posted by PeterO on July 7th, 2011


A straightforward but pleasing offering from Gordius.

9. Monarch in total chaos gets a reproof (7,2)
TALKING TO Envelope (‘in’) of KING (‘monarch’) in TALTO, an anagram (‘chaos’) of ‘total’.
10. A small piece of land has a tenant (5)
ISLET IS LET (‘has a tenant’).
11. Compound frequency of head infection? (7)
NITRATE NIT RATE (‘frequency of head infection'; a nit is a louse egg, seen in the hair of an infected person.)
12. Town with unrefined smell at first (7)
BOROUGH Charade of BO (‘smell’) + ROUGH (‘unrefined’). I spend a few moments trying to come up with a specific town beginning BO.
13. Burn that’s not left one alone (5)
SINGE SING[l]E (‘one alone’) without the L (‘not left’). The wordplay more naturally suggests taking the L out of a word meaning burn, but the other way round is justifiable, as well as giving an answer.
14. Decaff? It’s designed to put you off (9)
DISAFFECT Anagram (‘designed’) of ‘decaff its’.
16. Money back from the government? Would it were! (6,3,6)
INCOME TAX RETURN Unfortunately, that’s not quite the idea intended by “return”.
19. Easy time goes a long way (5,4)
LIGHT YEAR Charade of LIGHT (‘easy’) + YEAR (‘time’). The distance light travels in a year, nearly 10¹³ kilometres.
21. Vast territory summarised in main diagonal (5)
INDIA Hidden answer (‘summarised in’) in ‘maIN DIAgonal’.
22. Where to find bones — some of old king and some of his mistress? (7)
CHARNEL Charade of ‘some of’ (shades of Araucaria!) CHAR[les II] (‘old king’) + NEL[l Gwyn], various spellings (‘his mistress’, or one of them).

King Charles II

Nell Gwyn

23. Endure cultivation of English ground (7)
UNDERGO Anagram (‘cultivation’) of E (‘English’) + ‘ground’.
24. Expire in gold vale (5)
ADIEU Envelope (‘in’) of DIE (‘expire’) in AU (‘gold’, chemical symbol). Definition: Latin vale (as in ave atque vale), farewell.
25. It’s unlikely to get worn out (9)
NIGHTGOWN Anagram (‘out’) of ‘to get worn’. A fine &lit. Cryptic definition. Thanks NeilW.
1. Puts up with checkout hold-up (10)
STANDSTILL Charade of STANDS (‘puts up with’) + TILL (‘checkout’).
2. Latin cop working after Greek philosopher (8)
PLATONIC Anagram (‘working’) of ‘Latin cop’.
3. Centre rank turns up in line at the end (6)
FINALE Envelope (‘in’) of NA, a reversal (‘turns up’) of AN (‘centre rANk’) in FILE (‘line’).
4. Eye Lego building (4)
OGLE Anagram (‘building’) of ‘Lego’.
5. Cop having sex or otherwise with adolescent girl (5-5)
BOBBY-SOXER Charade of BOBBY (‘cop’) + SOXER, an anagram (‘otherwise’) of ‘sex or’.
6. Atmosphere upset flier with small arm (3,5)
AIR RIFLE Charade of AIR (‘atmosphere’) + RIFLE, an anagram (‘upset’) of ‘flier’.
7. Movement involving student as part of contract (6)
CLAUSE Envelope (‘involving’) of L (‘student’ driver) in CAUSE (‘movement’).
8. Eat away without starting to bring back (4)
ETCH [f]ETCH (‘without starting to’ ‘bring back’)
14. Monica called for when required here (6,4)
DOTTED LINE Homophone (‘called for’) of moniker (various spellings), the name you would put on the …
15. Boiled mutton at an equivalent valuation (10)
TANTAMOUNT Anagram (‘boiled’) of ‘mutton at an’.
17. Can Open University add up without being rebellious? (8)
MUTINOUS Envelope (‘without’) of TIN (‘can’) + OU (‘open university’) in MUS, a reversal (‘up’) of SUM (‘add’).
18. Current could be wet round about (8)
UNDERTOW Anagram (‘about’) of ‘wet round’.
20. Macbeth’s title is fascinating at first (6)
GLAMIS Charade of GLAM (‘fascinating’) + ‘is’.
21. Salt that’s Toad’s undoing (6)
IODATE Anagram (‘undoing’) of IE (‘that’s’) + ‘Toad’.
22. Weep over a southeast river (4)
CRAY Envelope (‘over’) of ‘a’ in CRY (‘weep’). The River Cray rises int the London borough of Bromley, and flows north to meet the Darent just before it flows into the Thames.
23. Impulse to take up, say, sport (4)
URGE Reversal (‘up’) of EG (‘say’) + RU (Rugby Union, ‘sport’).

37 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,368 by Gordius”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Gordius and PeterO. Although I finished the puzzle, I needed the blog to understand 14d. Thought Monica might be some rhyming slang which is beyond me. Thanks for the explanation for 8d: (f)ETCH. Thought it might be (r)ETCH.


  2. caretman says:

    Thanks from me as well PeterO. I was as lost as grandpuzzler on 14d; it was the only thing that fit but I hadn’t the faintest idea why. So thanks for ending my mystification. I had a quibble with 21d, with ‘that’s’ being replaced by ‘ie’ before being put in the anagram. If there had been a containment indicator (to give I(TOAD*)E) it would be okay, but I didn’t like it with IE as part of a fodder. But the clue was deducible, and as you say it was a fairly gentle puzzle.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks PeterO and Gordius. This was very enjoyable and such a relief after yesterday.

    However, like earlier common taters, I also wondered where Monica fitted in and now I know.

    Thanks also for the images but, being a king, I would have thought that Charlie could have done better – if he had shopped around.

    BOBBY-SOXER took me way back – to the Forties? Surely, they are a thing of the very distant past?

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Peter.

    This was a much nicer Gordius, with a few smiles along the way.

    I think you may have got a little cross-eyed on 25. Isn’t it just a slightly cryptic definition? Nice idea though…

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks PeterO and Gordius.

    This was a nice workout, not too difficult and not too easy. Favourites were 5D BOBBY SOXER, tried to find a cop like Morse or Lewis in, 16A INCOME TAX RETURN, nice cryptic, and 17D MUTINOUS.

    Hi Bryan@3, at the risk of being locked up in the Tower, just fast forward about 330 years and what you say’s still true, though not a king (yet?)?

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeterO. I don’t recall enjoying a Gordius as much, and liked in particular 22a, and 14 and 17d.

  7. Robi says:

    Thanks Gordius and PeterO. As NeilW @4 has pointed out, 25 is, I think, a cd rather than a wing thong.

    I did like DOTTED LINE. INCOME TAX RETURN was also good; I started to put ‘rebate’ at first – some hope!

    Two salts in one crossword; don’t say that science is creeping in to these puzzles!

  8. Robi says:

    ………. or even into.

  9. Geoff says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Because there are rather a lot of anagrams in this puzzle, I was decoyed into trying to make 25a out of *(TO GET WORN) until I realised that it was a rather Rufusian cd clue: which probably makes it my COD.

    I picked up the ‘Monica’/moniker possibility almost immediately, though that didn’t help me get the answer quickly.

    NITRATE is, alongside ‘acetate’, one of the setters’ favourite anions and regularly makes an appearance in crosswords. IODATE is much rarer!

  10. PeterO says:

    It seems agreed that 25A would be a very decent clue if it were an anagram. Thanks to NeilW and Geoff for pointing out that it is not; I should have looked a little closer.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Peter0 and Gordius

    As others say, a rather enjoyable Gordius!

    Like others I spent some time looking for the anagram in 25a until the penny dropped.

    I also assumed 8d was (r)etch.

    Some nice clues including 10a (My first thought was ‘inlet’ which would not do at all), 16a (also thought rebate at first), 19a, 22a, 25a (very misleading), 17d and 18d (good anagrams).

    :) I lazily found 21d only after looking up iodine, having fancifully wondered if this might be dangerous to toads according to some piece of folk wisdom from Macbeth’s witches or wherever!

  12. Roger says:

    Thanks PeterO. This week’s pendulum begins to swing again. Have only ever heard of charnel-house and wasn’t Macbeth’s title Thane (albeit of Glamis) ? NIT RATE still amused … as did 16a (if only !)

    scchua @5 … nice one … see you in the dungeons, then.

  13. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO and Gordius.

    I fell into some of the same traps as above, and had no idea who Monica was – I even thought Dot might be a very uncommon diminutive! – so thanks for the explanation.

    I wondered if iodine had anything to do with the discovery of Toad’s escape from prison, disguised as a washerwoman.

  14. Giovanna says:

    Thanks PeterO and Gordius for an entertaining puzzle.

    Hello Stella@13

    Like you, I was thinking about Toad’s escape and was quite disappointed that it wasn’t!


  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    An enjoyable puzzle and none the worse for a complete lack of rhymes.

    I thought that 16a was rather too easy and therefore opened the whole puzzle too quickly, especially ‘bobby soxer’.
    Most of it was pleasantly testing but for some reason I was left stuck for quite a while at the end trying to solve and/or parse 3d.
    I think my favourite must be ‘nightgown’ because I, too, fell for the anagram misleader.

  16. CynicCure says:

    21a. Anyone care to defend the use of the word ‘summarised’? Is it part of the definition, perhaps? (‘Vast territory summarised.’)

  17. Jezza says:

    Thanks to Gordius for an enjoyable puzzle, and to PeterO for the review.

    I foolishly put ‘refund’ in 16a, which fitted with a couple of checking letters, and until I realised the error, 15d was the last to go in!

  18. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog. As NeilW said, I enjoyed this more than I usually do Gordius’s puzzles. No real problems in solving it, although I was a little held up by BOROUGH – always forget B.O. for ‘smell’.

    A little disappointed by 16a – a (for me) rather weak wordplay, in which the only play is one the word ‘return’. Other than that, no gripes from me, I don’t think.

    Thought of ‘moniker’ for 14d fairly early on, but took me ages to work out how it was being used in the clue. Quite a good &lit of sorts, because ‘Monica’ could be that moniker which is entered on the dotted line.

  19. NeilW says:

    Hi CynicCure

    As I saw it, “summarised” is the inclusion indicator: Chambers gives “summary, meaning 2: A shortened form of a story or report…”

    I think it’s OK but I do see why you might have a certain reservation.

  20. Stella Heath says:

    Now here I agree with you, NeilW, and you put it much better than I could have done.

    I’m better at reading/understanding than at expression/production – in language teaching terms, a little mixed up.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well, having found not a lot wrong with yesterday’s, I found this to be pretty much on a par. Perhaps you guys shouldn’t have had that bad curry the day before yesterday.

  22. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Derek,

    I didn’t want to add anything today to yesterday’s discourse, but as you mention it, I get the feeling that those of us who twigged to the rhymes didn’t find it so unsatisfying as those who didn’t.

  23. Chris says:

    Hi Roger

    Macbeth was my O Level Eng Lit play ca 1972. Earl of Glamis, Thane of Cawdor – if I recall correctly.

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I also have heard of charnel-house but never charnel by itself. However nothing else would go in there.

    14d seemed to have caused quite a few problems. In my case I was trying, fruitlessly, to remember the surname of the Monica involved with President Clinton! Eventually I spotted the real meaning.

    I seem to remember that Macbeth’s Thane cropped up recently – last week perhaps. On that occasion I remembered Thane of Cawdor and failed to remember the other one. This time the clue gave the answer immediately.

  25. Davy says:

    Thanks PeterO for the excellent blog and thanks Gordius for a very entertaining puzzle. It’s nice to get back to normal after yesterday’s strange journey into Logoland. I have ticked eight clues as being worthy of mention and my favorites of those are BOROUGH, LIGHT YEAR and BOBBY-SOXER. The fact that no-one has complained about this latter clue, shows the average age of the commenters. In a similar vein, I’ll be interested in people’s comments on last Saturday’s Enigmatist.

  26. Paul B says:

    CHARNEL is an adjective and a noun, so no problem with it for me.

    Davy might like to know that some fairly eminent people think that adolescence occurs between the ages of 13 and 19, and so for them 5 across wouldn’t necessarily a tasteless or (given recent news headlines) insensitive clue. Of course it might have been designed to offend adloescent girls, their relatives, or the Police.

  27. Davy says:

    Paul B,

    When I said that no-one had complained about BOBBY-SOXER, I didn’t mean the words of the clue, I meant the era to which the term applies. A young person would be unaware of this term and so maybe would complain that the answer is unfair.

    I think there are words missing from your comment as I couldn’t quite make sense of it.

  28. Speckled Jim says:

    Found this at the harder end of Guardian crosswords. Must be a style thing. Never heard of bobby-soxers. I dread to put it into Google for fear of what might turn up.

    Big dislike to clues 16a and 25a. The latter could have been all sorts of things, including ‘underwear’ – more specificity in clue, please!

    14d is a good one; although I spotted the Monica homophone, I’d never have got it.

    I never would have expected to see either nitrates or iodates in a (non chemistry) crossword, and I’m a chemist by trade!

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I had never heard of BOBBY-SOXER either, but I got the solution right away because I had to think of 1985’s Eurovision Song Contest winners: The Bobbysocks [from Norway, remember “La det swinge”?].

  30. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Yes, fair play to Gordius, this was an enjoyable puzzle with some fine clues. Ones I liked today were ISLET, ADIEU and INCOME TAX RETURN.

    Thanks for blogging, Peter.

  31. RCWhiting says:

    Bobby Soxers far predate 1985. When Sinatra was barely more than a teenager himself he developed a new form of following: very young girls who screamed loudly and wore white ankle socks (or as the Americans have it, sox).
    Nightgown = underwear except that no letter cross checks which is why they are called crosswords.

  32. Speckled Jim says:

    Thank you, RCWhiting, yes I’m aware of how crosswords work, but you have to be able to get some letters in the grid before other letters “cross check” – therefore, every clue should be solvable in isolation, and this one wasn’t.

    Still very surprised at how much love 16a is getting. Given that an “income tax return” is a form that you fill in, not money that you do/don’t pay, I can’t see how this is a well-worded clue…

  33. Ann Kittenplan says:

    Macbeth meets the Witches for the first time (I think)

    Macbeth: Speak, if you can: what are you?
    First Witch: All hail, Macbeth! hail to thee, Thane of Glamis!
    Second Witch: All hail, Macbeth, hail to thee, Thane of Cawdor!
    Third Witch: All hail, Macbeth, thou shalt be king hereafter!

  34. otter says:

    I agree with Speckled Jim that neither 16a nor 25a are good clues. Both eminently gettable, but for me not testing enough – and 25a is too vague – ‘something which wouldn’t be worn out [of the house]’ – to be satisfying. (Although there has been plenty of tabloid hand-wringing of late over mothers dropping off their children at school in their pyjamas…)

  35. Paul B says:

    Yes Davy, between ‘necessarily’ and ‘a’ there should be a ‘be’. I thought you were celebrating the fact that Gordius hadn’t managed to annoy anyone on grounds of taste, on this occasion.

    Clearly not everyone here knows the term, but perhaps you could clarify why you think it might not be suitable for inclusion in a daily crossword puzzle: too obscure perhaps? Obscured in the mists of time?

  36. otter says:

    Well, I was born many years after the days of the bobby-soxers, and it’s a term I’m familiar with. It took some time to dredge it out of the murk of my memory, but that’s partly what crosswords are for, isn’t it?

  37. Brendan Quinn says:

    Thanks very much for the solution and explanation to 14 down – the Monica clue. After quite a long break from cryptic crosswords I enjoyed this one but was completely stuck till now on 14d even though had all the other clues right quite quickly. Actually I’m a bit annoyed as this is a pretty obscure reference to a little used word (Moniker) and the “homophone” does not work at all for those of us who pronounce all the ‘r’s in words – Irish, Scots, West Country, Americans …

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