Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,399 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on August 12th, 2011


As I solved the excellent Brendan puzzle yesterday, I wished it might have been mine to blog but getting a Paul on a Friday can’t be bad, either. Some clever clues here, as to be expected – one too clever for me, I’m afraid, but I know help is at hand and I’m sure I shall kick myself. There are a couple of  & lits and a couple more that I hesitate to label as such!


1   MIDWIFE: cryptic definition and IF is the middle of wIFe [woman
5   AMPOULE: A + PO  [the familiar Italian ‘flower’] in MULE [shoe]
9   SWORD: three synonyms for sword, which could be said to be ‘ S WORDS’
10  CHAPERONE: CHAP ONE [the first man, perhaps] around [to hug] ER [royalty]
11  IRRESOLUTE: a very nice anagram of TORIES’ RULE
12  FIFA: hidden in mischieF I FAncy: acronym for Fédération Internationale de Football Association – isn’t that lovely [but does it make sense?]
18  LOOKED AFTER: LOOK DAFTER [appear more stupid]  around [secreting] E [the familiar drug]
21  GAGA: GAG A: Lady Gaga is becoming nearly as popular as Emma and Di!
22  MONTEVIDEO: this looked as if it might be difficult but it’s a simple charade, once you’ve found out that MONTE is a Spanish-American gambling card game – then add VIDEO [record] as a verb
25  EPICENTRE: EPIC [classic] + ENTREchat [ballet leap] minus [cut the] chat
26  AMONG: A MON[day] G[row]
27  TREMOLO: anagram of LOT MORE – & lit, I think
28,14 THEATRE OF THE ABSURD: reverse anagram [absurd] of HATER OF TEETH


1   MYSTIC: I’ve stared at this for ages and I hoped the wordplay would come to me while typing. Alas, that hasn’t happened, so it’s over to you.
2   DOOBRY: anagram of BODY OR – a new word for me. Interestingly, Chambers gives only doobrey or doobrie as possible spellings but various online dictionaries have this version for a thingummy.
3   INDISPOSED: IN [at home] + anagram [another] of SIP in DOSED [given medicine]
4   EXCEL: sounds like XL – Roman [Caesar’s] numeral for forty
5   APARTMENT: PART [leave] + MEN [people – we keep getting this definition!] under A + T[yre]
6   PHEW: H[ot] in PEW [seat]: Phew, what a scorcher!
7   UXORIOUS: U [you] X [kiss] O [love] R[ight] I O[love] U [you] S[o]: this made me laugh, thinking of Paul basking in post-nuptial bliss – practically & lit.
8   EYE CANDY: C[aught] in [feeding] anagram [‘sort of’] NEEDY + [gu]Y
13  ABBREVIATE: VERB [grammatical term] reversed [brought up] + I [one] in ABATE [decline]
15  TEA FOR TWO: WET [weak] reversed [lifts] round A FORT [a strong building] + O[ld]; a song from the film of the same name. Bryan might like this
16  SLUGFEST: anagram [frantic] of GUTLESS around F[racas]: another new word for me.
17  LONGTIME: anagram [catastrophic] of MELTING around O [Circle]
19  ADROIT: anagram [broadcast] of RADIO + T[ime] – nice surface
20  TONGUE: double definition – and another nice surface
23  THEFT: THE FT [Financial Times – the bankers’ daily]: definitely my favourite clue
24  LEGO: reversal of GEL [set] + O [zero]

45 Responses to “Guardian 25,399 / Paul”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen – 1dn refers to a homophone of “euphemistic”, as in the comic alphabet ‘ay for ‘orses, b for mutton, etc…

  2. sidey says:


  3. sidey says:

    Darn it.

  4. kettledrum says:

    euphemistic !

  5. Andrew says:

    See for a full list (there are various versions of this).

    OT: I also like the “misleading alphabet”, where none of the letters match the sounds of the words they stand for – A for Aegis, B for Bdellium, C for Ctesiphon .. not sure how much further it can go.

  6. Andrew says:

    Tea for Two actually originated in the 1920s musical “No, No, Nanette”

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, everyone!

    It’s a good job I decided to go ahead and post, as I was on completely the wrong track. I knew I could rely on you. [I think that’s now my favourite clue! :-( ]

  8. scchua says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Paul for a most enjoyable puzzle with witty cluing.

    Favourites were 1D MYSTIC (no cigar for me for 4th place :-) ); 25A EPICENTRE, and 15D TEA FOR TWO, one of the great standards, thanks for the link.

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for a vg blog and Paul for an elegant puzzle

    Some very smooth surfaces and cleverly contsructed clues. Doobry (new to me too – I am getting a new Chambers soon) was last to go in after checking online. Lots of ticks inc. 1a, 18a! (look daft, often with ‘didn’t half’, is such a quintessential northern expression for me), 28,14,1d (boom boom!), 6d, 23d, and 24d.

    Overall a very enjoyable exercise.

  10. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Eileen et al., and Paul of course.

    This is the first time I’ve ever seen 2d in writing, though I am familiar with the word. so its spelling didn’t bother me. I, too, was mystified by 1d, though :)

  11. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Stella – I’m glad I wasn’t entirely alone!

  12. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen. 12a kind of makes sense in that ‘partial’ = part of, incomplete … so ‘partial to’ = ‘a bit of ‘.

    Paul in more-than usually-crafty mode today, I thought … mid wIFe, S-word, ABSURD (hater of teeth). Also liked PHEW, GAGA (is the clue wishful thinking …) and THEFT (&lit …). UXORIOUS fell out easily enough but was then surprised to find the word existed !

    Is there a political dig at 11a, I wonder.

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi Roger

    Re 12ac: it wasn’t Paul’s wordplay I was questioning but the Franglais – surely it should be ‘associationS?

    [Re your last sentence, please see my preamble. ;-)]

  14. superkiwigirl says:

    Many thanks for your blog, Eileen, and for a very enjoyable puzzle, Paul.

    I was also unable to see how MYSTIC was arrived at until coming here (thanks for the link to the comic alphabet, Andrew). It’s a brilliant clue, and I also liked EPICENTRE, UXORIOUS and LOOKED AFTER.

    As for FIFA, I think that the clue makes perfect sense given all the recent problems to have beset the organisation (or have I misunderstood your comment, Eileen?)

  15. superkiwigirl says:

    Sorry, Eileen, didn’t see your latest entry before posting.

  16. superkiwigirl says:

    Having looked at Wikipedia, I think the phrase “Football Association” in this context could just be the french term for the game itself (the adjective following the noun) rather than the various national governing bodies.

    Does this seem plausible?

  17. Eileen says:

    Thank you, superkiwigirl, that certainly does make sense.

    I still think it’s hilarious!

  18. sidey says:

    Football Association is surely the French version of Association Football, the name of the game rather than a collection of associations.

  19. blaise says:

    I have a vague memory of Spike Milligan writing a letter to one of the dailies in July or August asking them to print an article headlined “Phew, what a scorcher!” as he always took this as a cue to shed his winter woollies and was feeling uncomfortable…

  20. EB says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul.

    RE: FIFA – the game that FIFA governs is officially called Association Football (as opposed say to Rugby Football) and this is where the term ‘Soccer’ comes from. So in English FIFA stands for International Federation of Association Football – but of course, confusingly, there are many national football associations that come under its control.

    As for 1d and U for mystic (another version I’ve seen is U for IC) I know this alphabet as ‘The Fool’s Alphabet’ – which is also the title of a novel by one of my favourite authors Sebastian Faulks. The novel has 26 chapters and each chapter is set in a city whose name begins with the relevant letter. It comes highly recommended as do all his other works.

  21. EB says:

    Wires have been crossed – my fault for taking over 10 minutes to type that lot!

  22. harry says:

    Thanks Eileen

    Given the recent shenanigans at the upper levels of FIFA, could we take 12ac as an &lit?

  23. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen & Paul this was delightful with FIFA outstanding for me. I do hope that Sepp Blatter also has a sense of humour:

    And a Special Thanks for the link to ‘Tea For Two’ and Doris Day who is one of my all-time favourites.

    Years ago when I was in New York, I pondered about which Broadway show to see with the revival of ‘No No Nanette’ as one of the options. In the event, I gave it a miss.

    I’d never heard of SLUGFEST but guessed it correctly even though, to me, it sounds more like a garden full of slugs.

  24. sidey says:

    Posh doobry, if you can believe Wiki

  25. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Of the many fine clues here I most liked 26a, the only one to defeat me, and 28, 14 with its internal anagrind. EYE CANDY we had in May, with Philistine’s first compilation. Also noteworthy, 10a, and 20d, last in. Top marks Paul

  26. Robi says:

    Nice one, Paul; I always enjoy thinking up new versions for the cockney alphabet. One that Eileen might like is A for ism. :)

    Thanks, Eileen; sometimes the obvious is unseen – THE FT was parsed by me as TH for Thursday and EFT for Electronic Funds Transfer (and I missed the ‘S’ WORD)! I did like both MIDWIFE and MYSTIC.

    I don’t suppose many people would know MONTE – quite handy for Scrabble, though, when you pick up an ‘n’ instead of an ‘m.’

  27. Ann Kittenplan says:

    FWIW this was the easiest Guardian crossword I’ve ever done. First pass, which usually yields two or three, and sometimes none at all, this time gave 15. I counted. THEFT raised a smile and TONGUE actually made me laugh out loud. Great clue. Incidentally I thought DOOBRY was a word one of my schoolfriends had invented, didn’t realise till today it had wider legitimacy. 24′. Last in EPICENTRE.

    Thanks Paul and Eileen.

  28. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. This was great fun. I didn’t understand 1dn, though, which was my last one in. Also missed the parsing of 23dn.

    Loved UXORIOUS.

  29. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Bryan@23 – “Sepp Blatter” – what a wonderful name for a cryptic clue! Any suggestions?

  30. caretman says:

    Thanks, Eileen, for the blog, and to all of the posters who explained 1d to me. Now understanding it, it’s a great clue.

    My initial experience with this puzzle was the opposite of Ann Kittenplan’s @27. I finished going through the across clues and stared at a nearly empty grid, but then the down clues came much more readily. I often find that’s the case, that on a first time through I get many fewer across clues than down clues, and I don’t think it’s just having some crossing letters when I get to the down clues. Do others have that experience? I’ve wondered whether setters may tend to fill their initial grid with across lights first, so the funny/unusual/fiendish clues they’ve thought of leading up to composing the puzzle often end up in the across clues.

    With 6d my first thought was ‘seat’ = SIT, but then looked to insert an H in there and thought, “Oh dear. Surely Paul wouldn’t do that“. Fortunately, I was right.

    Lots of good clues here. I liked SWORDS (one of my last in), SLUGFEST (a common American term for a high-scoring baseball game), and loved THEFT, my clue of the day.

    Thanks, Paul, for the puzzle.

  31. Tricky Tree says:

    Hi – not posted before. Another hugely enjoyable way to spend an afternoon. Took about three different “sittings” which is why I love doing crosswords. It always amazes me how the brain can only do so much before needing a break and can then see much more upon return. I think the experts who do them in 10 minutes are missing out.

    As for Mr Blatter….

    Rotten apples? Better get rid of evil head of football.

    It uses “head” in the definition and the subsidiary part of the clue but as it’s a Paul day, I thought that would be allowed!

  32. Eileen says:

    Welcome Tricky Tree. :-)

    And what a début – I like it!

  33. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Eileen.

    I must be getting the hang of this Paul crossword lark, because I managed this one without too much difficulty. As others have said, not too difficult, but with some lovely clueing. MYSTIC was my last in, but my favourite; and the intersecting MIDWIFE was also simple but clever.

  34. Robi says:

    BTW Sepp Blatter wanted to increase the popularity of women’s football by their wearing ‘more feminine’ outfits!

    ‘Football chief responsible for flaky pet pelt bras’ (as it’s a Paul crossword!)

  35. crypticsue says:

    I spent a day at the beach with extended family, most of whom called me said and over-addicted as I returned on and off to my piece of paper to do battle with Paul. Too superb to put down. Is 2d really in Chambers??!! Thanks to Paul and Eilenn too.

  36. superkiwigirl says:

    Tricky Tree @ 31,

    Yes indeed, welcome to the Site.

    I think that your suggested clue is very good indeed – difficult (for me at least) to imagine how it could be improved upon.

  37. togo says:

    Tricky Tree @31

    Just to say hi and what a scorcher of a clue.

  38. Eileen says:

    Hi crypticsue

    I’m so glad I’m not alone!

    My family have recently left after our usual Friday evening get-together. They don’t actually call me sad [I’m sure that’s what you meant ;-)] – I think they’re glad that, at my advanced age, I’ve got something to occupy me and the brain cells – but they can’t understand me, either [I think I’ve failed as a parent] so I haven’t been back to read the comments and therefore missed responding to Robi’s clue [thanks, Robi!]

    I’m sure there may be more but I think it must be left to Stella to award the accolade, as it’s her game!

    [PS: 2dn really is in Chambers. :-) ]

  39. Eileen says:

    Re PS: albeit with different spelling, as indicated in the blog.

  40. crypticsue says:

    Eileen: I did mean sad (some did say tragic!) but just because I have a week off for the family visit, doesn’t mean that I should abandon the joy of cryptics, especially when they are as good as this one by Paul.

  41. Stella Heath says:

    I’m not going to judge, as voth answers so far have their merits. Robi uses all the letters in an ingenious phrase, but what’s a flaky pet?

    As for Tricky Tree (not Araucaria, but a great pen-name :)), it’s a great anagram, but the rest doesn’t indicate taking the first letter of ‘better’ as part of the fodder.

    As I haven’t even attempted it myself, I’ll leave it there :)

  42. Stella Heath says:

    I’m writing with only the TV and my netbook for light, but I’d like to know of “voth” is a word – it looks good to me 😀

  43. Daniel Miller says:

    Ah!!! Bufo’s Comic Alphabet – (alternatives exist) – A for Horses, B for Mutton, C for Miles, D for Ential, E for a Brick, F for Vescent, G for the Police, H for Themselves, I for Lutin, J for Orange, K for Teria, L for Leather, M for size, N for a Penny, O for the wings of a Dove, P forming flea, Q for everything, R for Daley, S for Children (come unto me), Tea for Two (also an answer here), U for Mism, V for La Victory, W or quits, X for Breakfast, Y for heaven’s sake, Z for Breeze.

    (Deferential, (h)eave a brick, Effervescent, Go for the Police, Cafeteria, S – suffer, X – eggs, Zephyr.)

  44. apiarist says:

    Here I go again ! Shouldn’t long-time be hyphenated and, if so, what is the general “rule” on such words ? Sorry to be so pedantic.

  45. Robi says:

    apiarist @44; it’s hyphenated in Chambers, but not in Collins (as an adjective), so I guess that is OK.

    Stella @42; voth isn’t even allowed in Scrabble, but it is in Star Trek! :)

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