Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25386 Pasquale

Posted by scchua on July 28th, 2011


This is my debut Guardian Cryptic.  Hence, this preamble to a preamble, in case you’re wondering why the detailedness… I’m going on the basis that the 15sq’d motto means “… and never knowingly underexplained”.  Furthermore, I can’t be sure where someone might have a blind spot (I’m sure some of my own blind spots will get in the way of the blog).  Aside from the serious business of explaining, I also try to lighten it a bit, that is, in addition to the entertainment and education provided by the setter.  And that’s why.  Of course, all this (I hasten to add that it’s not unique in 15sq’d)  is provided I have the time on the day….Which happily today I have, thanks to Pasquale with this enjoyable offering which was not too difficult, especially after having got the long ones at 5,23,11,19 and 8. (Definitions are underlined in the clues.)


1 People bothered about language in Mass — those devoted to the Virgin (11)

GRAMMARIANS :  GRAM(measure of mass in the metric system) MARIANS(persons devoted to the Virgin Mary, mother of Christ).

Defn:  Alas, such people who bother about the correct usage of language and its components, are becoming fewer, and those who do, are being unheeded more and more.

9 Worker is about to meet Her Maj, becoming more nervy (7)

ANTSIER :  ANT(a worker in an ant colony) + reversal(about) of IS + ER(Her Majesty, Elizabeth Regina)

Defn:  A comparative for “antsy”, from “ants in your pants”, which would definitely make you agitated and nervous or nervy.  Nice surface.

10 Party men wanting dull, submissive type (7)

DOORMAT :  DO(a function,bash,party) OR(other ranks,men in the military) +(wanting) MAT(matte,matt,with a dull surface, one of the options for eg. printed photos)

Defn:  A person who passively accepts,submits to humiliation and abuse, like how a doormat is literally treated

11 See 5 

12 Wobbly toilet seat half falling off (5)

LOOSE :  LOO(toilet) SE(seat with 2nd half  of the word, “at”, deleted,falling off).  Another nice surface.

13 Maverick has lost his heart in a dance (4)

REEL :  REEL(“rebel”,maverick,non-conformist without,lost “b”, middle letter,heart).

14 One decants mucky liquid (10)

CONDENSATE :  Anagram(mucky) of ONE DECANTS

Defn:  The liquid that forms when a hot vapour is sufficiently cooled down.

16 Try to engage with lunatic without saying much (10)

TACITURNLY :  Anagram(to engage with) of [TRY + LUNATIC].

19 See 5

21 Yield of grass around about farm cut by 75% (5)

DEFER :  Reversal(around) of REED(tall thin grass) round(about) F(farm with 75%,3 out of 4 letters deleted,cut).

22 Angry female’s wrath in lively exchange (9)

CROSSFIRE :  CROSS(angry) F(female) IRE(wrath)

Defn:  In addition to material fighting with bullets, and any sort of missiles, could also be verbal exchange.  Just don’t get caught in it, that’s all.

24 Conceited type is to get teased (7)

EGOTIST :  Anagram(teased) of IS TO GET.

25 Issue not raised naturally (7)

ADOPTEE :  Cryptic defn.  The issue,offspring that is not raised by its natural parents, but by the adopters.  Famous example is the baby cuckoo, albeit the (smaller in size) foster parents have been deceived.


26 Setters we can deal with? (3,8)

DOG HANDLERS :  Cryptic defn.  The “we” who can deal with,handle canine setters, as opposed to the “we” solvers who can handle crossword setters.


1 Walk after a hearty breakfast? (2,2,3,8)

GO TO THE SCAFFOLD :  Cryptic defn.  For those who are to be executed at the scaffold, usually hanged, and usually in the early morning, the walk after the traditional last meal, which would be a hearty (or not) breakfast.

2 Girl seen in college put into a story (5)

ALICE :  C(college) in(put into) A LIE(story,tale,fabrication).

3 Dance company following society’s conventions (7)

MORESCO :  CO(company) after(following) MORES(society’s conventions,norms)

Defn:  Another word for Morris dancing, derived from “Moorish” dance.  The term originated from when the Spaniards were celebrating the expulsion of the Moors from Spain.


“Perhaps we need more multi-culturalism.”

4 Actor‘s car in colour Henry wouldn’t allow! (7)

REDFORD :  RED(colour) +  FORD(the mass-produced Model T Ford car, of which Henry Ford, industrialist and founder of the Ford Motor Company, famously said, “Any customer can have a car painted any colour that he wants so long as it is black”).  My COD, if only because it led me on a wild-goose chase after English Henry’s, especially kings and the War of the Roses (red against white).  Got it after starting the blog.

Defn:  Robert, actor, and latterly movie director and producer.


5,23,11,19 Saw why Keith couldn’t pick up Kate? (1,7,5,7,2,4)

A ROLLING STONE GATHERS NO MOSS :  A ROLLING STONE(Keith Richards, a member of the rock group Rolling Stones) GATHERS NO(couldn’t pick up) MOSS(Kate, British model)

Defn:  The proverb

6 What could make one moan so — staginess in old play (6,9)

SAMSON AGONISTES :  Anagram(what could make one) of MOAN SO STAGINESS

Defn:  Drama by John Milton about the Biblical character who owed his strength to his hair, and was betrayed by Delilah.  “Samson” has come to personify a person of great strength, and “Delilah” a seductive treacherous woman.

7 Car registration set up for 5 23 (6)

JAGGER :  JAG(short for Jaguar, an iconic British make of car) + reversal(set up, in a down clue) of REG(short for registration)

Defn:  Mick, another member of the Rolling Stones.


8 Goddess sinking into bath energetically (6)

ATHENE :  Hidden(sinking into) in bATH ENErgetically

Defn:  Ancient Greed goddess of wisdom, fertility, the useful arts, and prudent warfare (a strange combination of attibutes?).

15 19’s uni? (8)

STIRLING :  Double defn:  1st:  STIRLING(Sir 19,Moss, a pioneering English racing car driver, who competed between 1948 and 1962) and 2nd:  The University in Scotland.


16 Bound to carry identification that’s in good order (6)

TIDIED :  TIED(bound) around(carry) ID(short for identification)

17 Cheese in bed girl’s eaten (7)

RICOTTA :  RITA(name of a girl) around(eaten) COT(bed, especially for infants and young children).

18 Writer turning up to probe fat cat (7)

LEOPARD :  Reversal(turning up, in a down clue) of POE(Edgar Allan, American Gothic writer) in(to probe) LARD(rendered fat, especially from pork…or it could be excess fat on a person’s body, with related rude names for the person).

20 Wife tucks into horse, fricasséed (6)

STEWED :  W(wife) in(tucks into) STEED(horse).

23 See 5


31 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25386 Pasquale”

  1. Prolixic says:

    A very enjoyable crossword from Quixote. I am still smiling at the work of genius that is 5,23,11,19. Thanks to our setter and congratulations on your debut Guardian review.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks and congrats on your elevation, scchua.

    A remarkably straightforward puzzle for Pasquale – perhaps he knew you were blogging and so wanted to give you an easy introduction. :)

    There’s a tiny error in 1ac (Muphry’s law with a word like GRAMMARIANS!) Your “in” should read “after” – I’m sure that’s what you meant!

  3. tupu says:

    Many thanks scchua for an excellent illustrated blog and Pasquale for a satisfying puzzle.

    All went well once I had got passed 2d.

    I thought this was Lucie (UC in lie) but eventually realised it could not be.

    Some enjoyable clues inc. 1a, 10a, 5d, 7d.

    I was not 100% happy re 25a though I guessed it straightaway. The ‘issue’ is not acquired, rather than raised, naturally.

  4. Andrew says:

    I’m always glad to see a Pasquale, but I wasn’t too keen on the cryptic definitions on this one (including 5/23 etc, which does have a definition, though a very unhelpful one), as such a large number of entries depended on them. Fortunately (deliberately?) many of the other clues were easy enough to provide some helpful crossing letters – I actually got to the long answer from guessing STIRLING, which led straight to MOSS,

    It’s perhaps worth mentioning that 1dn specifically refers to the saying (which I can’t find a specific origin for): “the condemned man ate a hearty breakfast”.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks NeilW@2. Have now corrected it. I had initially got it as “MARIAN in GRAMS”, which explains the “in”.

  6. Setrungo says:

    Great blog scchua. An excellent amount of detail and I love the addition of images to assist in the explanations. Keep up the good work.

    Personally, my COD is 5,23,11,19. Very easy once I’d worked out that the Kate referred to was Kate Moss.

  7. molonglo says:

    Thanks scchua, fine blog. I think you have persuaded me there is a definition in 26a: as if there were a comma after the first word. I got it at once, but remained unsatisfied. I got 25a last, and was also a bit unhappy: was it cryptic, did the surface work? All in all, a puzzle to make you ink, so good marks to Pasquale.

  8. molonglo says:

    Think, not ink, I mean. Wretched Ipad.

  9. crypticsue says:

    Excellent blog of an equally excellent puzzle. I too thought 5/23/11/9 was a work of genius. Thanks to Pasquale and scchua.

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks scchua. Needed you for several explanations.

    I am not a fan of P., and I thought 1a not good – the capital M, and the “in”. 25a – is it really cryptic? 26a – ugh!

    One or two others were OK, but no excitement for me.

  11. Chris says:

    (First time commenting here)

    Great puzzle, much enjoyed it – thanks Pasquale and thanks to scchua for a very thorough run-down of the parsings. I actually finished it (albeit I used “Cheat” on the long playname at 6d, because I’d spotted the wordplay and thought it was something like “Agonistes”, but lacked the classical knowledge to actually get it), which is rare.

    In any case, I’m mostly here to say – I think 2d’s a rather nice &lit as well – Alice Liddell being a girl seen (by Lewis Carol) at a college (Christ Church, Oxford) who was put into a story.

  12. Martin H says:

    Good to see the clues included in the commentary. I wish it were standard practice. Thanks for that scchua.

    I agree with Andrew about 5/23 etc, and didn’t think it was anything special: once the setter has decided to go down the celebrity route with the RS’s, Moss can’t have been too hard to find a reference for – neat, yes, but a ‘work of genius’? Come on!

    Also with tupu @3 re 25a. I’m sure scchua has got Pasquale’s meaning, but it simply doesn’t work. Nor does the cuckoo, scchua – adopting parents have some choice in the matter!

    Excellent surfaces at 1, 4, and 12.

  13. don says:

    I’ve got to agree with tupu #3, an ‘adoptee’ might not be raised by its natural parents, but I’m sure it is raised quite naturally by its adoptive parents.

    As there’s no such word as ‘antsier’, or even ‘antsy’, in my Chambers (New Edition, 1983), can I have ‘abortee’ for one who ‘Naturally, is not raised’.

  14. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Scchua & a Hearty Welcome on your debut in the Guardian slot.

    Also many thanks Pasquale this was very enjoyable and even the words that were new to me (MORESCO and ANTSIER) were guessable which – in my view – is how it should be.

    I did like the Rolling Stones clues sfter I had eventually figured them out.

  15. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks a lot scchua. Like Dave Ellison@10 I am not a fan of Pasquale.

    I failed to get 1a because I tried ON TO THE SCAFFOLD and UP TO THE SCAFFOLD for 1d.

    I know ANTSY is in Chambers but ANTSIER, I ask you.

    Still you can’t please everyone.

  16. Jezza says:

    I thought this was quite fun. Not too tricky, and getting 5/23/11/19 from the off, helped me enormously.
    Thanks to Pasquale, and to scchua for the review.

  17. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for the début blog scchua. An excellent performance.

    I enjoyed this puzzle, helped by the fact that I saw the long answer with only a few crossing letter, fairly chuckled at the idea 😆

    For once, though, I find myself disagreeing with tupu. A child would naturally be raised by its parents – at least, most are, especially in the animal world (with the notable exception of the cuckoo).

    I guessed ANTSIER, which as far as I0m concerned is a neologism. If the adjective is in the dictionary, gm4hgf, then it has a comparative form. I confess to being one of the 1ac’s you so sorely miss, scchua :)

    I didn’t know the dance at 3d, either, and would have expected it to be “morIsco”, as it is in Spanish, were it not for the unequivocal wordplay.

    My thanks to Pasquale for an enjoyable half hour (or so)

  18. Dave Ellison says:

    According to the Free Dictionary, Collins 2003 has antsier included

  19. chas says:

    Welcome scchua to the ranks of the Guardian people, and thanks for the blog.

    I was sure that 2d had to be ALICE but I needed your explanation of why this was true.

    Once I had got 5,23,11,19 then Kate Moss followed easily. I was sure that 15d would be a different Moss but I could not think which one it might be :(

  20. Giovanna says:

    Thanks scchua for an entertaining and informative blog – also Pasquale.

    My Reader’s Digest Oxford Complete Wordfinder lists antsy as a US colloquial adjective. I suppose one could just about stretch the point in a crossword.I will have to look at the book again!


  21. gm4hqf says:

    Agreed Stella, I also guessed ANTSIER. I just don’t like this sort of word in puzzles. To my mind there is something unnatural about them.

  22. Stella Heath says:

    Now there I must agree with you, gm4hqf, and ugly, too. I don’t see the point in in venting them when there are plenty of perfectly good “natural” words in English, but once they come into existence, they are only likely to be obliterated through lack of use, such is the nature of language. And if a word exists, its use in a crossword is legitimate so long as a reasonable good taste is observed.

  23. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, although I had to look up SAMSON, of course.

    Great blog, scchua; I thought your explanation of ADOPTEE was fine – as you say, the ‘naturally’ here refers to natural parents rather than any slur on bringing up adopted children. I took a while to get 5,23,11,9 because I thought it must relate to ‘kiss-me kate,’ but then the stone dropped! Yes, ANTSY is in Chambers, so I’m with Stella @17 on the comparitive form. :)

    I would always spell the dull MAT with an extra ‘t,’ although I see the former is an acceptable alternative. I failed on the grass in DEFER because I thought the ‘around about’ was the RE reversed and couldn’t think of a farm in which ‘FED’ was 25% of the word! [federations, almost]

  24. scchua says:

    Thanks for all your comments (and encouragement).

    To add to 25A ADOPTEE, it might help with the explanation to think “naturally” = by its natural,biological parents. Hi Martin H@12, I chose the cuckoo as it’s an interesting illustration of the evolutionary arms race (different cuckoo species target specific foster parent species and their eggs have to look like those of the foster parents in order to deceive them). True the foster parents in this case have no choice, having been deceived, but their treatment of the adoptee is no different from if they did have a choice. And from the adoptee’s point of view, it’s still an adoptee whether or not the choice was there for its foster parents.

  25. Martin H says:

    Hi scchua – ‘it might help with the explanation to think “naturally” = by its natural,biological parents.’ Well yes, it might, and no doubt that’s what Pasquale intended. The trouble is it doesn’t really mean that. I accept, of course, the distinction between natural and adoptive parents, but isn’t it a bit of a stretch to extend that to ‘raising’?

    Interesting about the cuckoo and its eggs. Still, I’d always thought there was a necessary element of choice in adoption, and Chambers gives: ‘to take voluntarily as one’s own child, etc…’ So the cuckoo isn’t an ‘adoptee’ from anyone’s point of view, even if the bird can be said to have such a thing beyond being hungry/fed.

    What did you think about C=college in 2d? I thought some other nitpickers might have homed in on that one.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    There was a whole programme (R4) recently devoted to the cuckoo.
    It dismissed some myths. If I remember correctly it was remarked how the eggs are often quite unlike the host eggs, possibly two or three times as big.
    I found the most amazing piece of information was that by the time the chick is ready to fly the parents are already in South Africa!

  27. muck says:

    Welcome scchua – thanks for the comprehensive & illustrated blog

  28. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Robi@23, I totally agree with you re 10ac, although it was my first in – thanks to what I’ve learnt from this site 😀

    As to DEFER, I have to confess that I totally failed, having read the clue the wrong way round. I was trying to fit three letters of ‘farm’ into something to do with ‘grass’, eg. CI (=”confidential informant”, as I learn from US TV series)

  29. Gerry says:

    Can’t see why ‘antsier’ is any more ‘unnatural’ than any other neologism. ‘Defer’ also nearly got me until I remembered deer grass. I laughed when I got 5,23,11,19.

  30. Davy says:

    Thanks scchua for your excellent and comprehensive blog. I think you set the benchmark here.

    This belated comment is mainly for the benefit of Pasquale and just to say how much I enjoyed his marvellous puzzle. With my dim, old brain, I rarely finish a crossword on the day which is why I like the Prize one so much. I usually get there in the end but those simple words are so difficult to find. They are locked away in compartments with no path available to them.

    I was pleased to get the SAMSON anagram without even knowing the Milton work and just a quick check on Google to confirm. Favourite clues were GO TO THE SCAFFOLD which amused me but obviously would not amuse those on the way. Also the long clue which I thought was brilliant. DOG HANDLERS was also short but effective and the anagram of ‘One decants’ was great. Thanks Pasquale.

  31. Katherine says:

    Very belatedly I’d like to thank scchua for a very thorough blog.
    As I am American, I see nothing wrong with antsier. It is a commonly used word here and is in all my US dictionaries.
    At least he didn’t make a word up as Auracaria seems to often do.

    I liked 5,23,11,19 but think it could have been made better still if, rather than Keith Richards, Pasquale had used Bill Wyman.

    Then we could have had “William couldn’t pick up Kate” – a passing reference to your ‘lovely’ royal couple.

    I too don’t like mat as an alternative to matt.

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