Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,372 – Brummie

Posted by Uncle Yap on July 12th, 2011

Uncle Yap.

Another fine morning’s worth of entertainment and clownery, solving and blogging Brummie whose other contribution I look forward to every fortnight in the Private Eye. More as I discuss individual clues below.

I am sometimes bemused by the comments here. Last week, I used a term in adulation and admiration for someone who is considered one of the best in his field as is my right and privilege as the blogger stating his subjective views. Yet someone described this as distasteful. The mind boggles.

1 COMMISSAR COM (half of COMedy, farce) + ins of IS in *(ARMS)
6 BUST dd and the support would be a bra or a bikini top … at last a glimpse of the one-eyed alter ego :-)
8 COMEDIAN Ins of MEDIA (press, etc) in CON (trick) First of the mini-theme of people provoking laughter and mirth
9 AFFRAY NAFF (tasteless) minus N (name dropping) RAY (Fish)
10 SNAKED S (sun) NAKED (raw)
11 DISGORGE DI’S (Diana’s) GORGE (Cheddar Gorge, caves where cheese are left to mature)
12 JESTER cd which made me go to YouTube to play Don McLean singing American Pie at
15 BANKNOTE A banknote is a bill but the wordplay eluded me until the Community responded. Called in Buffalo = what a bill is termed in the town of Buffalo in New York or what the Americans call a banknote … most creative and now my COD
16 CAPSICUM CAP (top) + *(MUSIC)
19 ENCORE Ins of NCO (non-commissioned officer like a corporal or sergeant) in ERE (before)
21 LAY AN EGG Tichy intro to a common US term for the action of a comedian who fails to raise any laughter
22 CRECHE ha
24 GEDDIT Ins of *(DIED) in GT (gran turismo, high performance car)
25 HUMORIST Ins of MORRIS minus R (William Morris (1834-1896), an arts and crafts activist) in HUT (shed) and of course we all remember  Spike Milligan (1918–2002), comedian, writer and actor
26 KNAP Sounds like NAP (sleep) to break (eg stones) in pieces with repeated blows;
27 RETICENCE Ins of ICE (cold refreshment) in *(CENTRE)

1 CLOWN C (cold) LOW (depressed) N (northern) with quite a clever def
2 MEERKAT Sounds like MERE CAT (only kitty) People who watch Animal Planet would know this creature well
3 ILIAD IL (film minus extremities) + Rev of DAI (man of Harlech or Welshman) for Homer’s epic
4 SAND DAB Rev of BAD (poor) DNA’S (genetic material’s)
5 ROAD SENSE R (tip of putteR) + *(SEASONED) I like the way the clue is fashioned as though it were about golf
6 BUFFOON To be naked is to be in the BUFF + O (nothing) + ON
7 SLAUGHTER S (first letter of supplies) LAUGHTER (what the COMEDIAN, JESTER, HUMORIST, BUFFOON, STAND-UP COMIC seek) I think the CLOWN (1 Down) has been left out by an oversight or a typo error
13 EL ALAMEIN EL (sounds like Elle, a worldwide magazine of French origin that focuses on women’s fashion, beauty, health, and entertainment) A (ace) *(A MILE) + N (northern) An Egyptian city where two WWII battles were fought in 1942
14 ROCHESTER RO (rev of OR, otherwise with northern as rev indicator) CHESTER (city) for a seaport in Kent, often clued for SE (south-eastern)
17 STAND-UP (5-2) STAND UP (without hyphen or disconnectedly) is what an applauding audience would do in recognition of an excellent performance
18 MUGSHOT M (male) + *(TOUGHS)
20 CHEVRON Ins of V (versus or against) in HER -> HEVR inside CON (convict or prisoner)
22 COMIC COSMIC (beyond earth) minus S (sulphur)
23 HESSE HESS (SHE’S with first letter S moved to the back) + E (East) for Hermann Hesse (1877 – 1962) a German-Swiss poet, novelist, and painter. In 1946, he received the Nobel Prize in Literature. His best-known works include Steppenwolf, Siddhartha, and The Glass Bead Game (also known as Magister Ludi), each of which explores an individual’s search for authenticity, self-knowledge and spirituality.
When I saw the clue, I thought this was about a female, Eva of the same surname until the German-Swiss description broke the tie, so to speak
Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

60 Responses to “Guardian 25,372 – Brummie”

  1. caretman says:

    Thanks, Brummie, for the workout, and thanks Uncle Yap for your usual fine breakdown of the clues. I really hoped I’d come here and find out what I was missing with 15a, but I see you were as mystified as I am. This was one of those puzzles that it took me a while to get started; none of the across clues went in in the first time through the clues but several of the down clues fell out (my first in was 17d) and then I started making steady progress. There were some well-hidden definitions as you pointed out. I really wanted the answer to 1d to be LARRY or CURLY since STOOGE didn’t fit. Definitely a fun puzzle.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I also spotted and wondered about the missing 1d in 7d’s list, and you’re probably right. On 15a, in Boston and Baltimore that’s also what a bill is called. This was one of two clues I liked a lot, the other being 2d. Less happy with 12a, hardly cryptic; 17d (what is “one”?) and the repetitive COMs in three answers. That said, it was an enjoyable puzzle, doable in an hour without aids.

  3. Dr. Gurmukh says:

    3d I don’t think ‘DAI’ is a Welshman; probably a Chinese.
    Could ‘DAI’ be the robot guarding Harlech Castle?

  4. Uncle Yap says:

    Dai is the Welsh diminutive form of David or its Welsh equivalent Dafydd and it is a very popular Welsh name. Wikipedia named the following notables:
    Dai Davies (footballer)
    Dai Davies (politician)
    Dai Ward, Wales international footballer
    Dai Young, Wales international rugby union player

    Anyway, you may be pleased to know that Dai is also a Chinese surname. Both of us are, therefore, not wrong.

    Okay, off to my Hash … I am the Hare today

  5. Eileen says:

    This was good fun – many thanks, Brummie.

    There were some really neat clues – I liked ‘card trick’ in 8ac ‘tasteless name-dropping’ in 9ac and ‘epic film’ in 3dn.

    Other favourites: SNAKED and BANKNOTE – once I saw the wordplay: this was a real ‘aha’ moment for me, having so recently blogged Enigmatist’s clue [‘Buffalo Bill lassoes me for amusement’] for COMEDY, which fits in nicely with today’s theme.

    Thanks, UY, for the blog.

    Buffalo Bill lassoes me for amusement

  6. Eileen says:

    Sorry – I forgot to delete the copied clue. [I really must get into the habit of always using the Preview facility!]

  7. superdad says:

    And Dai Laughing?

  8. chris says:

    First post here – new long commute means I tend to finish the crossword far earlier in the day!

    For 15ac, is it simply that in Buffalo, NY (or anywhere else in the US for that matter), a banknote tends to be called a bill?

  9. Shirley says:

    Eileen – can you explain 15A for us please? Apart from a banknote being a bill we don;t getit I’m afraid

  10. chris says:

    (as I now realise Molonglo was pointing out at #2 !)

  11. Eileen says:

    Hi Shirley

    Yes, it’s as Molonglo and Chris said. :-)

  12. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap & Brummie – this was very enjoyable and ultimately doable.

    I’d never before heard of Buffalo Bill meaning BANKNOTE so, also thanks to Google:

    I also liked ROAD SENSE after first assuming that P was the tip of the Putter; MEERKAT and COMMISSAR.

  13. Thomas99 says:

    Not sure if you’re being entirely serious or not but anyway…
    Buffalo Bill doesn’t mean banknote. The clue means that in Buffalo (the town in NY state) a banknote is called a bill.

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Brummie

    A very good puzzle with some pleasing clues e.g. 10a, 12a, 24a, 26a, 2d!, 3d, 4d, 14d, 18d.

    15a puzzled me and I plumped for the answer when I saw that some banknotes have been known as buffaloes because of a buffalo image on them. The proper answer is much simpler, and more reasonable, of course.

    I got chevron but did not follow up the parsing properly, I’m afraid – NB ‘prisoner’s’ is arguably doing double duty.

  15. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. I enjoyed this — three in the NW corner the last ones to go in.

    Missed the wordplay for 15ac — no excuse, as I was born in Baltimore!

  16. rulei says:

    A possible other direction for BANKNOTE is that “to buffalo” can mean “to intimidate” which is a reasonable clue for BATE, but as that leaves us NKNO for “called”, I’m inclined to put my money on Thomas99’s explanation.

  17. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A much better challenge with some very good clues as mentioned above.
    It was a slow start for me but saisfying (Davy, take note).
    Banknote fooled me too.
    Nobody has mentioned ‘Rich’ in 22 d. Is it Rich Hall (a bit vague?)

  18. Eileen says:


    Re 22dn; I took it as in ‘That’s rich!’ and I now see that Chambers has: ‘providing good opportunities for laughter, full of comic potential'; [of a remark, etc.] outrageous, ridiculous [inf.]’.]

  19. Thomas99 says:

    RCWhiting (17)-
    Well it’s only the 7th definition in Merriam-Webster, but it is there:
    7. a : entertaining; also : laughable

  20. crypticsue says:

    Thank you to Brummie for the proper brain workout. I thought some of the top half was never going to fall into place. Thanks to Uncle Yap for the much needed explanations – 15a was very sneaky.

  21. Robi says:

    When I saw Brummie I thought it would be a struggle…….. and it was.

    Thanks UY for the good blog. I, too, failed to parse BANKNOTE and took ages to see the ha in CRECHE.

    I also liked MEERKAT; for the enthusiasts there really is a website called . Hadn’t heard of SAND DAB or the expression LAY AN EGG. ROAD SENSE was also very good.

  22. oftheland says:

    7a – Richie Rich is also the name of a comic book character…

  23. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog.

    I too was puzzled by 15a until I came here. A slight rearrangement of the words in the clue makes it plain: In Buffalo a banknote is called a bill.
    This was stated by Thomas99

  24. Qaos says:

    I loved this puzzle today. Brummie does have a wonderful way of choosing words with multiple meanings as part of his clueing (Cyclops too) and today was no exception. Words like card, scrap, wound, shed, which then force you to re-read the clue again thinking “now is that a verb or a noun?”.

    Excellent fun!

  25. Martin H says:

    Some excellent clues, particularly 9, 10, and 18. ‘Sporting’ as anagram indicator in 27 was very well done. One or two weak ones though: Knap/nap and Elle/el don’t really succeed as cryptic homophones as, in both cases, the sound-carrying element in each half has identical spelling. COM/half of farce (1) is too loose. Overall though, as others have said, a very decent workout. Thanks Brummie, and UY for the thorough commentary.

    You refer in your preamble, UY, to my comment last week. As it was posted very late, after midnight even at Pacific time, most readers would not have seen it anyway; but as you feel the need to air it, I suggest anyone interested should go to last Tuesday’s forum, @30, and judge for themselves if it is mind-boggling.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks Eileen and Thomas.
    Take care, Martin,this is not P.Toynbee or G. Monbiot you are talking about.
    (see yesterday)

  27. Bryan says:

    Thomas99 @ 13

    Re: 15a

    I’ve travelled extensively throughout the US, including Buffalo, but I’ve never come across the usage until today.

    I simply Googled Buffalo Bill and Banknote and voila: I was happy to find a match – especially when it had eluded Uncle Yap. There’s not much that gets past him!

  28. Robi says:

    molonglo @2; not sure I understand your comment: ’17d (what is “one”?),’ but ‘one’ I think refers to a stand-up comedian, if that is what your question referred to.

  29. Thomas99 says:

    Again I’m not quite sure what you’re saying but Buffalo Bill doesn’t mean bank note, and if it did it wouldn’t be relevant to 15a. I don’t see any possible parsing with “Buffalo Bill” as the definition – the wordplay would have to be “called in”. Your link was to a picture of a little-known banknote that happened to have a buffalo on it – the “Buffalo bill” – but it does not seem feasible that this is what Brummie was thinking of. The relevant usage is “Bill” in American English, meaning banknote. See above for numerous (identical) explanations of the clue. Chas at 23 is perhaps the clearest.

    Apologies if you knew this all along and are joking or saying something else.

  30. Bryan says:

    Thomas99 @ 29

    No joke, I promise, and if you read the text below the image on my link, you will see:

    The $10 Legal Tender Note (Series of 1901) popularly known as the “Bison Note,” remains to this day one of the more beautifully designed and printed bank notes produced by the United States. Also nicknamed the “Buffalo Bill,” this bank note was designed to stimulate interest in the Lewis and Clark Centennial Exposition held in 1905.

  31. otter says:

    Thanks for the explanation of 15a, which also eluded me: ‘called “bill” in Buffalo [and other places in USA]’.

    Bryan, although there is, as you have found out, a limited edition 10$ note from 1905 nicknamed ‘the Buffalo bill’, I don’t think that can possibly be the definition in a crossword in a UK paper – far too obscure a defintion, wouldn’t you say? It can only be a coincidence.

  32. Thomas99 says:

    But what on earth does it have to do with the clue?

  33. Thomas99 says:

    From comments on the Guardian site, it seems that some American solvers don’t know that “bill” DOESN’T mean banknote in British English. (A “10 pound bill” would mean a request for payment, never the money you pay with.) That may explain the confusion here. To a British solver the clue is not obscure – you have to have some reference to America to connect “bill” to banknote, and in this case it’s “in Buffalo”. A banknote is called a bill in Buffalo (but not in London). My guess is that Bryan is American.

  34. RCWhiting says:

    Well done Thomas, I hope you are correct about Bryan because that would explain the confusion.
    They use bill-fold for wallet too, I wonder whether they use wallet for something else?

  35. Le Petomane says:

    Eva Hesse was an artist not a novelist

  36. Bryan says:

    Thomas99 @ 33

    You are so WRONG – I’m British through and through: born and bred in Oldham, Lancashire and now living in Hove.

    Of course, I’ve travelled extensively and I have lived in Germany for 2 years and The Netherlands for 5.

    I thought everyone knew that!

  37. Derek Lazenby says:

    To everyone who gave up on this as too tough, yes that’s you, the silent ones who never post, all I can say is I nearly gave several times. Nearly 4 bleedin’ hours later and the class dummy had caught up with the clever so and so’s!

    Never come across SNAKED = wound before. Therefore it looks to me like the wrong tense is in the answer or the clue (unless there is an ‘ed’ missing from ‘wound’ in the online version).

  38. Monkeypuzzler says:

    Just to pop the buffalo bill back in the wallet for a moment, was anyone else tempted by crossing letters to pencil in “junk DNA” for 4d, having been misdirected by ‘poor genetic material’ in the clue? Not that it could be justified by the rest of the clue.

    Also jumped to the conclusion in 20d that ‘against’ in the clue equated to the “con” part of the answer, then couldn’t figure where the “v” came from. Like a well decanted wine, all became clear eventually.

    All in all good fun, which is appropriate given the (sort of) theme.

  39. Eileen says:

    Hi Derek

    Re SNAKED: it’s ‘wound’ as the past tense of ‘wind’- Chambers: ‘snake – to follow a winding course’.

  40. Derek Lazenby says:


    And then some wonder why I use ‘class dummy’!

  41. Eileen says:

    Hi again Derek

    I was prepared for that one today, after Alberich’s nice clue last week for BANDAGE: ‘wound covering in two ways’.

    I said @5 that this was one of my favourite clues – and look at Qaos’ comment @24. ;-)

  42. dave says:

    To provide an American POV on the “Buffalo Bill” discussion, I can assure you that the Bison Bill would be an extremely obscure reference over here. I also was not aware that “bill” was not used for folding money in the UK. That’s two new things I have learned today from just one cryptic clue.

  43. JerryH says:

    Hi Uncle Yap,
    re 15 across Buffalo Bill is, of course b note. called could be undelivered or answered not known (or ANK in the states). If this sounds a bit condescending it isn’t I’m just v impressed by anyone so good at xwords.
    Cheers Jerry

  44. Thomas99 says:

    I think 15a must have been laced with LSD.

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This afternoon, at another place (FT), I wrote: “We haven’t done today’s Guardian yet, but Brummie must come up with an incredibly good puzzle to beat Redshank”.

    We’ve done it now, and have to conclude that it was every bit as good as Crucible’s alter ego.

    We found it a puzzle of two halves.

    The left hand side went in relatively quickly and we spotted the theme (if we may call it like that, nowadays) early on.
    Martin H @25 made a remark on one of the clues in that half: the homophone KNAP/NAP. Strictly speaking, Martin’s right, but how, um, sound can it get with “sleep soundly”?
    The imagery of 24ac (GEDDIT) is not very attractive, perhaps, but what a good clue.

    In the other half, there was indeed BANKNOTE and we saw it as Thomas99 and others, so nor problem at all.
    CRECHE (22ac) was, in our opinion, a very well hidden solution. Clever.

    Great puzzle, worth every penny of the printout …. :)

  46. g larsen says:

    A tricky but very enjoyable puzzle, which I’m rather pleased to have solved in a reasonable time. As usual I didn’t notice the theme until quite late in the day.

    As a cavil, and by way of diversion from the buffaloes, can I suggest that it is not really correct for 14dn to call Rochester a port – it is on the Medway, but the ports on that river are Chatham and Sheerness. Of course, calling it a port did allow a further challenge, since we all no doubt tried to get an L into the answer.

  47. Ann Kittenplan says:

    OK. I might be a bit grumpy, as I raced through this feeling very pleased with myself but didn’t get 15ac. Is that capital B for Bill fair?
    Called in Buffalo Bill – Is a great surface but a banknote is a bill not a Bill.
    Called in Buffalo bill – Seems fairer, but then the surface is contrived, meaningless even.
    Does the ‘Called’ excuse it? Not for me.
    What do others think?

    Anyway, thanks for an enjoyable puzzle. 1d my favourite :-)

  48. Sil van den Hoek says:

    First a warm welcome, Ann – haven’t seen your name here before.

    Even today my PinC [yes, boys and girls, it’s: Beth] complained about it. As a Times addict she still cannot get used to it.

    However, Peter Biddlecombe (nowadays editor of The Sunday Times crosswords) made it more than once clear:
    – a word or name that needs a capital should have a capital
    – a word or name that does not need a capital maybe misdirectingly capitalised

    So, there you are.
    The only thing I can say about it: I know where you come from (and I have to hear it more or less every week), but please, get used to it.
    You are only going to annoy yourself if you don’t …. :)

  49. Malcolm says:

    Le Petomane I think you’re muddled about your Hesses. Eva Hesse may be an artist but Herman Hesse was a Swiss/German novellist.

  50. Martin H says:

    Sil – ‘but how, um, sound can it get with “sleep soundly”?’ Well, after only a little thought: does/doughs/…dows – however you need to spell it; there are probably others too; but knap, wrest? They work, but doesn’t the solver feel let down? Best find another strategy.

  51. Martin H says:

    ….meant to add – Thomas99 @ 44 – I’ve watched this develop with growing disbelief. I think it’s only happened so you could find that explanation. Thank you – you’ve made my evening.

  52. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Martin, not sure what you mean.
    KNAP is a homophone of ‘nap’.
    And I see your point – ‘nap’ being a part of ‘knap’ (visually), which is perhaps not very elegant.

    But then the homophone indicator is as ‘sound’ as it can be.
    That’s why I give Brummie the benefit of hardly-any-doubt.

    You say: “Well, after only a little thought: does/doughs/…dows – however you need to spell it; there are probably others too; but knap, wrest?”, but with all respect – what has this to do with the clue at 26ac?

  53. Ann Kittenplan says:

    @Sil Thanks.
    I have to say I don’t like that particular device but I shall tut quietly and move on :-)

  54. Martin H says:

    Sil – ‘what has this to do with the clue at 26ac?’ Simply that Knap/nap (or wrest/rest) are too close to be called cryptic homophones, whereas does, doughs, or …dows are properly cryptic homophones of ‘doze’ = sleep. The indicator wasn’t the problem.


  55. Daniel Miller says:

    and Dai Ingfrit

    Buffalo Bill – best clue I’ve seen in a long time… – the rest excellent too!

  56. el stano says:

    No-one seems to have noticed that “geddit” is a favourite expression of Ms G Slagg…

  57. harhop says:

    About 14 down – a simpler way to deal with the northerly city is to assume that it is Rochester NY

  58. RCWhiting says:

    It would hardly be cryptic to have two places with exactly the same name.
    It would be more of a general knowledge crossword clue.

    I think there are several inland ports. Wisbech is one I am familiar with.
    I would have said that it does need some water but not the sea, but according to Chambers it just needs a market!

  59. Huw Powell says:

    15a is incomprehensible.

  60. g larsen says:

    RCWhiting @58 – too late for you or anyone else to see, no doubt (I’ve been away) but my objection to Rochester was not that it was inland. There are indeed several ports which are much further from the sea than Rochester eg Goole or Antwerp. My difficulty is that I think that to be a port a place has to be in the business of handling ships, which as far as I know Rochester doesn’t.
    The relevant Chambers definition is to a town with a harbour, which I think also excludes Rochester.

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