Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25410 Bonxie

Posted by scchua on August 25th, 2011


I had come across a few Bonxies I couldn’t complete, and was afraid this one would be the same – well almost, with the NW being the last to yield.  Tricky in places, but nice workout.  Thanks Bonxie.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  Two of the picture sets have got a hidden connection.


1 Saw horse returning, carrying devout German (7)

EPIGRAMReversal of(returning) MARE(female horse) containing(carrying) PI(short for pious,devout religiously) G(abbrev. for German)

Defn:  A witty saying, concisely expressed, such as:

I can resist everything except temptation – Oscar Wilde 
Make crime pay: become a lawyer.—Will Rogers
A fool and his money are soon elected.—Will Rogers
If you can’t be a good example, you’ll just have to be a horrible warning.—Catherine the Great
We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.—Albert Einstein
I’m not offended by dumb blonde jokes because I’m not dumb, and also I’m not blonde.—Dolly Parton
Nothing so needs reforming as other people’s habits.—Mark Twain
Loyalty to petrified opinion never yet broke a chain or freed a human soul.—Mark Twain
Every saint has a past and every sinner has a future.—Oscar Wilde
We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.—Oscar Wilde

5 Short column with smooth outline (7)

PROFILE :  PRO(PROp,column without,short of its last letter) plus(with) FILE(the verb, to smooth a surface with a file)

10 Scrap a section of the Riot Act (4)

IOTAHidden in(a section of the) rIOT Act

11 Split pine contains hard knot (5,5)

CLOVE HITCH :  [CLOVE(split,past tense of cleave – one of those 2-faced, Janus words, whose other meaning is the reverse: to stick to)  ITCH(yearn,pine for, as in having a figurative itch to scratch)] containing(contains) H(hard)


12,3 Flower presented to model taking stage in “Big Softie” (6,5)

GENTLE GIANT :  [GENTIAN(a plant of the Gentianaceae, usually with blue flowers, giving the shade, gentian blue) plus(presented to) T(from the Model T Ford car)] containing(taking) LEG(a stage in a series which make up the whole, say, of a sporting event)

Defn:  Someone who is big, but unexpectedly soft-hearted and gentle.  I guess big = bad came about because predators and bullies are mostly big, even before the birth of mythology and fairy tales, giving us ”monstrous giants” and ”big bad wolves”.  And don’t even ask what gives for “big softie” … (go on, look it up instead)

13 It may be shot at Ambridge bash (4,4)

GAME BIRDAnagram of(bash) AMBRIDGE

14 Got better grass outside Bury (9)

RECOVERED :  REED(long stemmed grass) containing(outside) COVER(bury, as in “bury your face under the pillow”)

16 Men go away, saying:  … (5)

GNOMEAnagram of(away) MEN GO

Defn:  A short saying expressing a general truth or principle, not to be confused with the statue in your garden that looks like a little shriveled old man.


17 …  “It’s more unusual to find diamonds in river” (5)

ODDER :  D(abbrev. for diamonds, the playing card suit, in eg. bridge notation) contained in(in) ODER(the river in Central Europe)

19 Old soldier to inform on harsh working environment (9)

SWEATSHOP :  SWEAT(British slang for an old and experienced soldier) SHOP(slang for to inform on,betray, usually to the law)

23 Drapes dog with satin dress (8)

CURTAINS :  CUR(a worthless and unfriendly dog) plus(with) anagram of(dress) SATIN

Defn:  The noun for what drapes your windows.

24 Repairs torches with the other hand (6)

RIGHTSReplaces(repairs) the “l”(left hand) in lIGHTS(torches,illuminations) with R(right,the other hand).  Nice intertwining of wordplay and definition.

26 Lethargy evident when swimmers return to longship (10)

SLEEPINESSReversal of(return) of EELS(edible swimmers) plus(to) PINE(year,itch,long for) SS(steamship) – “longship” separated and lifted

27 Relief from a long illness (4)

ALMSA L(short for long) MS(abbrev. for multiple sclerosis, a terrible physically and cognitively debilitating disease,illness with no known cure)

Defn:  Money, food, or other donations to relieve the poor and needy

28 Slander peers as “unreliable” (7)

ASPERSEAnagram of(unreliable) PEERS AS

Defn:  The verb, to cast aspersions on.  Are peers slandered more than other titled persons?

29 Grey-haired church official with little ponytail (7)

ELDERLY :  ELDER(church official) plus(with) L(short for little) Y(last letter,tail of pony) – “ponytail” separated and lifted


2 Sound at end of voicemail message? (7)

PHONEME :  What one might say at the end of a voicemail message: “…..blah….blah….phone me.”

Defn:  In linguistics, the basic distinctive unit of speech sound in a given language

3 See 12

4 Fuse air conditioning on island (7)

ACCRETE :  AC(abbrev. for air conditioning, or air conditioner even) plus(on) CRETE(historic Greek island in the Mediterrean Sea)

Defn:  To become bigger by being attached,fused together

6 Feel sorry for setter — we hear it’s cold and damp (6)

RHEUMY :  RHUE{Homophone of(we hear) rue,feel sorry for} MY(homophone of me,the setter)

Defn:  Description of an environment that is liable to cause rheum, a watery discharge from the eyes or nose

7 See 18

8 Flag officer hung up linen (7)

LOCKRAMReversal of(hung up) [MARK(flag,highlight) COL(abbrev. for colonel,an officer)]

Defn:  Rough-textured linen cloth, the word coming from Locronan, the village in Brittany where the cloth was made

9 Polish dial of Irish wristwatch repeatedly? (6-7)

TONGUE-TWISTER :  TONGUE(language, eg. Polish) TWISTER(whimsical defn. of a dial,knob eg. on an instrument which you twist around to adjust whatever – think of when you used to dial a telephone number instead of punching/pressing one now)

Defn:  What you have when you try to say “Irish wristwatch” repeatedly and quickly.  And, if your name’s Spooner, try this one:

I am not a pheasant plucker,
I’m a pheasant plucker’s son
but I’ll be plucking pheasants
When the pheasant plucker’s gone.

15 Indicate where to open present (4,5)

OVER THERE :  OVERT(out in the open, antonym of covert) HERE(indicates that one is present, eg. in class, at a roll-call; also as in “the here and now”)

18,7 One perching in tree saves old actor (7,9)

DOUGLAS FAIRBANKS :  A(indefinite article,one) contained in(perching in) DOUGLAS FIR(a coniferous tree) BANKS(verb for to put aside,save in a store,reserve,bank, including that tarnished institution where your money is not necessarily safe)

Defn:  The Senior, old (silent movie era) actor, best known for swashbuckling roles.


20 Spray a lover, then look up (7)

AEROSOLA EROS(Greek god of love, Cupid to the Romans, presumably a lover too) plus(then) reversal of(up, in a down clue) LO(look, as in “lo and behold!”)

21 The best workmen (7)

OPTIMAL :  OP(abbrev. for opus, a piece of, usually musical or literary work) TIM and AL(two men’s names) – “workmen” separated and lifted

22 Numbers it amongst “likes” (6)

DIGITSIT contained in(amongst) DIGS(into,likes something, as in “I dig jazz”)

25 Acute accent (5)

GRAVE:  Double defn:  1st:  Descriptive of a critical,grave condition, eg. acute appendicitis; and 2nd:  A mark in some written languages to show differential loudness, pitch or length of a syllable when spoken.  In French there is a grave accent “`“, and, what do you know, an acute accent  “´“ as well.


24 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25410 Bonxie”

  1. Geoff says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    Another rather tough puzzle – what will the bank hol one be like?
    Excellent crossword, with some highly ingenious and amusing clues. I particularly liked 27a, 15d, 18/7, 21d.

    Several nice uses of the ‘lift and separate’ device.

    Only downside for me was the ellipsis at 16/17 – it’s disappointing when this is irrelevant to the second half.

    Does anyone else find that anagrams can sometimes be surprisingly elusive? I stared at *(AMBRIDGE) for ages before I finally solved 13a.

  2. tupu says:

    Many thanks Scchua and Bonxie

    Pretty tough in parts but very enjoyable.

    I was puzzled by ‘twister’. There is apparently a game of that name in which the central apparatus is a dial on which instructions are found that players have to follow. I took it that this was being referred to.

    Many pleasing clues inc. 1a, 5a, 12,3, 19a, 23a, 2d, 6d, 18,7, and 25d!

    I had to check lockram after working it out from the wordplay.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Scchua & Bonxie, this was very enjoyable.

    The NW corner also gave me some problems because I never knew that GENTLE GIANT was a flower.

    LOCKRAM was also new to me.

    My COD was DIGITS.

    Your example of a TONGUE-TWISTER was superb.

    However, Douglas Fairbanks Sr also made a few talkies.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks sschua for a colourful blog. Wilson and Zurich gnomes 1964, nicht wahr? Like you I sailed along but hit a doldrum in the NW, with the interlocking 12,3. A quick TEAS search for G-A– gave 3d and the solution. Thanks also for explaining 5a, 16a and 24a.

  5. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks scchua and Bonxie

    Quite a stiff puzzle, but unlike yesterday, solvable from the clues.

    Had to think for a while over TONGUE TWISTER and got stuck with the top left corner.
    I entered PHONATE for 2d and it didn’t help. Once I got PHONEME, GENTLE GIANT fell into place.


  6. billdabanda6 says:

    to complete the 9d tongue twister
    “plucking pheasant’s pleasant,
    pheasant plucking’s fun”

    and thanks for the blog

  7. Geoff says:

    scchua: I have a slight amendment to your parsing of 6d. The word ‘for’ is not a linker. ‘Rue’ is a transitive verb, unlike the expression ‘feel sorry’. So to ‘rue’ something is to ‘feel sorry FOR’ something. ‘Feel sorry for setter’ therefore sounds like ‘rue me’.

  8. NeilW says:

    Thanks, scchua. Second day running that the daily has been tougher than the (recent) average Prize.

    OPTIMAL has been bugging me all day! I saw the lift and separate bit from the start but stared at TIMAL for ages trying to figure out who the men were! Sometimes, it’s the simplest things that escape me!

  9. DavidA says:

    Thank you for the blog. I feel I should confess that2D was particularly easy for me because I used to think that phoneme was pronounced phone-me!

  10. Dave Ellison says:

    Geoff @1: yes, sometimes they are, but not AMBRIDGE today for me. My problem was I didn’t recognise it as an anagram till late on. I was convinced it was something BULL (the pub in Ambridge) for ages, and then moved on to BALL (a bash) and possibly BOLT (not having got 8d).

    Trouble with NW too. Thanks for lifting the curtain, scchua.

  11. FranTom Menace says:

    Thanks for the blog, and thanks Bonxie. Beat me again!

    Did anyone else put ‘GILL’ for 27a before getting to 21/25d and realising it was wrong? It fits the clue perfectly!

  12. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, scchua – that cleared up a few I couldn’t parse. I found the top half here much more difficult than the bottom. Lots of nice clues there, though.

    Is there some prize for pointing out that while your first picture is of Douglas Fairbanks, the next are of Errol Flynn, Kevin Costner and Mel Brooks? :) Or perhaps this is the equivalent of a “trollquote”, as in this wonderful image, designed to infuriate three different fan communities in one go.

  13. Bracoman says:

    Thanks for the blog. I thought 13A was excellent, especially as there is a large shooting estate in Ambridge which often forms part of the plot.

  14. BrigC says:

    I searched on line sources for the River En at 12,3. I was sure it had cropped up before in crosswords and the clue works more elegantly with it.
    To no avail.

  15. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Bonxie for the puzzle and scchua for the picturesque blog. Ambridge did take a while to anagram correctly. I did like OPTIMAL – have we seen something similar recently? Maybe I am misremembering as usual. The pictures at 18,7: Fairbanks, Flynn and Costner played Robin Hood while Mel Brooks (picture from Blazing Saddles) directed Robin Hood: Men in Tights.


  16. Geoff says:

    Dave Ellison @ 10: My first thought was that the answer was an anagram of ‘Ambridge’ (which I did eventually find), but having failed to get it at first I started to wonder whether the solution might be a term from archery….

  17. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I mustn’t (nor can I) claim any credit for my occasional complaint about too easy puzzles but this is the second (consecutive) day we have had a really good challenge. Well done Enigmatist and Bonxie.
    The lower two thirds fell out quite quickly but boy, was I held up by the top third, especially the NW.
    ‘Gentle’ was hidden because I had ‘phon(at)(e)’.
    I liked ‘optimal’ and I also fell for the ‘bull’ distraction at 13ac.
    It took me a while to convince myself that 5ac was ‘profile’ because I hesitated that prop was a column.

  18. Brendan says:

    I though that pig was a bit insulting for pious German, how did that get through the PC checker I wonder.

  19. scchua says:

    Thanks to all for commenting, especially:

    Geoff@7 – Will amend blog.

    molonglo@4 – Hansard gives Harold Wilson as the originator of “all the little gnomes in Zurich” while he was Shadow Chancellor in 1956, though the phrase became prominent during the 1964 sterling crisis under Wilson’s government.

    mhl@12 – Got the names right, but not quite the connection.

    grandpuzzler@15 – the title goes to you; you sure know your movies. Just to add that Mel Brooks did also act in Men in Tights – as Rabbi Tuckman, counterpart to Friar Tuck.

    Should you want to, and if you haven’t seen them, there are more “hidden connections” in FT 13779 Gurney, FT 13773 Armonie, FT 13767 Phssthpok, and Quiptic 611 Beale.

  20. scchua says:

    And also billdabanda6@6 for completing the tongue-twister.

  21. Alex M says:

    Thanks very much for the blog – very helpful. Didn’t have a lot of time for the puzzle today – 21d was driving me mad. It was clearly “optimal” but I had no way in to it at all. So thanks for that.

  22. Bodgel says:

    Well, I carried on pondering this one till today but abandoned it in the end – most clues were good, but I failed to get a critical mass of crossing letters. And some of that was due (again) to imprecise definitions.

    1a A saw is a commonplace – “a stitch in time saves nine”, not an epigram, which is a witty remark that an individual makes and others can only quote. (A good quota from scchua by the way.)
    29a Grey-haired = elderly? I know people who went grey in their 20s and others who have bright blue hair in their 80s … “grey-beard” might work since Shakespeare used the phrase apparently with that meaning.
    6d Rheumy does not mean cold and damp – it might mean having a cold.
    9d Is it fair to give an example as a definition without any indication that the answer is the general class?
    21d Best (adj.) = optimal. “The best” (n.) as clued = optimum.
    25d Acute means sharp, or as applied to illness, rapidly coming to a crisis. The common cold is an acute illness. Grave means serious, in the case of an illness suggesting a risk of death. Confusing the two is a solecism.

    But I think I might be on my own here.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Well Bodgel,I am not with you. See my comment @13 on Friday.
    All the definitions you quote are suitably vague so as to make the cryptic part essential.

  24. Gordon says:

    Many thanks SCCHUA.

    I get the Guardian Weekly and started this many weeks ago. I got stuck in the NW corner like everyone else, and could not get it done. I put it aside and forgot about it until yesterday. The main problem was I had GOODBYE in for 2D. I parsed it as Sound = Good [as in condition], at = by, and end of voice = e. The whole clue being an ‘and lit’ for GOODBYE. I eventually persuaded myself that this could not be right and got EPIGRAM for 1A which led to PHONEME and GENTLE GIANT.

    Very frustrating it is when you are convinced of a correct answer that then screws up everything else.

    By the way my favourite and simplest tongue-twister is RED LORRY, YELLOW LORRY. Almost impossible to say.

    Best wishes

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