Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,440 by Paul

Posted by PeterO on September 29th, 2011


A breezy outing with Paul.

There are bags of envelopes, and some tortuous wordplays, particularly in the mini-theme of a famous chef restauranteur and his creations. At 12A, Paul even adds his own recipe to the menu.

1. Whale — something inclined to break wind when tail cut off (7)
GRAMPUS An envelope (‘to break’) of RAMP (‘something inclined’) in GUS[t] (‘wind when tail cut off’). I left this clue as the last to write up, in the hope of getting the wordplay; fortunately it came just in time. Of course, it involves the splitting of a naturally connected pair of words.
5. Racket’s centre starts to buckle under bombardment (6)
HUBBUB A charade of HUB (‘centre’) + BUB (‘starts to Buckle Under Bombardment’).
9. See 18
See 18
10. Having to live with hump, a whale (6)
BELUGA A charade of BE (‘live’) + LUG (carry, ‘hump’) + ‘a’. A Beluga whale does not give us caviar; that’s a sturgeon of the same name.
12. “Melange of Entrails” is OK as meat dish (7,5)
SIRLOIN STEAK An anagram (‘melange’) of ‘entrails is OK’. I’ll take the steak.
15. Bathroom items showing bum a lot (6,4)
SPONGE BAGS A charade of SPONGE (cadge, ‘bum’)) + BAGS (as said by someone who probably has not been a schoolchild for quite a time, ‘a lot’).
17,24. Dreadful situation for mechanics? (3,4)
THE PITS Double definition.
19. See 18
See 18
20. Hostile sun a planet goes round (10)
UNPLEASANT An anagram (‘goes round’) of ‘sun a planet’.
22. Perhaps how vets are paid out in a settlement shows endurance (12)
PERPETUATION A charade of PER PET (‘perhaps how vets are paid’) + an anagram (‘settlement’) of ‘out in a’.
26. Until now there’s little rotating through something nailed on one’s foot (2,4)
TO DATE An envelope (‘through’) of DAT, a reversal (‘rotating’) of TAD (‘little’) in TOE (‘something nailed on ones foot’).
27. Feminist hiding as one gets more slimy (8)
GREASIER An envelope (‘hiding’) of AS I (‘as one’) in GREER (Germaine, ‘feminist’).
28. Mind chap’s lesson read out? (6)
SHRINK Lessen is a homophone (‘read out’) of ‘lesson’. Definition: a psychiatrist.
29. Reserve accommodation for animals, by the way (7)
MODESTY A charade of MODE (‘way’) + (‘by’) STY (‘accommodation for animals’).
1. Sand in guts (4)
GRIT Double definition.
2. See 25
See 25
3. See 4
See 4
4,3. 21 7’s creation, time which goes slowly? (5,8)
SNAIL PORRIDGE Definition and cryptic definition. Yes, you will find it here. Or if you are moved to try it out for yourself, here is the recipe.
6. Hard then to appear nervous? (6)
UNEASY Double definition.
7. See 21
See 21
8. Medieval killer ordered city to restrain miss, due to be disembowelled (5,5)
BLACK DEATH An envelope (‘restrain’) of LACK (‘miss’) + DE (‘DuE to be disembowelled’) in BATH (‘city’).
11. Roman writer’s watch going round end of finger (6)
VIRGIL An envelope (‘going round’) of R (‘end of fingeR‘) in VIGIL (‘watch’).
13. Those such as 11 up in swear words, manipulating people (10)
OSTEOPATHS An envelope (‘in’) of STEOP, a reversal (‘up’ in a down clue) of POETS (‘Those such as 11′ i.e. Virgil) in OATHS (‘swear words’).
14. US horseman hurried off to grab first of guns after uprising in Oregon (5-5)
ROUGH-RIDER A charade of RO, a reversal (‘uprising’) of OR (USPS abbreviation for ‘Oregon’) + (‘after’) an envelope (‘to grab’) of G (‘first of Guns’) in UHRIDER, an anagram (‘off’) of ‘hurried’. A rough-rider is a horse-breaker. My 1961 Chambers lists the word hyphenated, but by the 9th. edition it had become a single word. Neither lists it as an Americanism; the US connection that comes to mind is Roosevelt’s Rough Riders (separate words), the cavalry regiment that Theodore Roosevelt commanded.
16. Peak time, touring university, for 21’s work (3,3)
BEN HUR An envelope (‘touring’) of U (‘university’) in BEN (‘peak'; Ben Nevis, for example) + HR (hour, ‘time’). Note that the definition references 21 alone, (Charlton) Heston being the eponymous star of the 1959 film.
18,19,9. 21 7’s creation concerned with magic, a nonsense to eat say (a degree over the top) (5,3,3,3,5)
BACON AND EGG ICE CREAM An envelope (‘to eat’) of EG (‘say’) in a charade of BA (‘a degree’) + (‘over the top’) CONANDGICECREAM, an anagram (‘nonsense’) of ‘concerned’ ‘magic a’. Another of Heston Blumenthal’s improbable culinary exercises.
21,7. Menus on the table virtually absurd, into hysterical extremes — is he? (6,10)
HESTON BLUMENTHAL An envelope (‘into’) of ESTONBLUMENTHA, an anagram (‘absurd’) of ‘menus on the tabl[e]’ (with ‘virtually’ indicating the dropping of the last letter) in HL (‘HystericaL extremes’). Heston Blumenthal is a chef, the proprietor of The Fat Duck, a restaurant in Bray, Berkshire. Paul offers 4, 3 and 18, 19, 9 as evidence of the &lit-ish nature of this clue.
23. Rhythmic sound heard initially in jazz performer, pet scarpering (5)
THRUM An envelope (‘in’) of H (‘Heard initially’) in TRUM[pet] (‘jazz performer, pet scarpering’, although the trumpet is not only a jazz instrument).
24. See 17
See 17
25,2. Part of hippo, perhaps, revealing woolly patch? (4,4)
GREY AREA Double definition, I suppose, in that hippos are grey, and ‘wooly’ is to be taken as fuzzy.

27 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,440 by Paul”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO. Quite straightforward for Paul, I thought. I was lucky in spotting the Heston B. anagram very quickly, perhaps.

    You might like to add to your explanation of 8 that “ordered” is a bit of misdirection, referring to the Order of the Bath.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeterO, and Paul. I’m quite chuffed having solved this without any aids despite never having heard of the famous chef or any of his dishes – but it did take ninety minutes. Lots to like in this, eg 22a and 28a. The rudish 17,24 and 1a were among the last to be got, and I didn’t get the latter’s parsing right, thinking it was even ruder and referred to grandad. Oh dear.

  3. molonglo says:

    Not 17,24 – I mean 15

  4. caretman says:

    Re: molonglo @2, I’m impressed! I did work out 21/7 from the wordplay with a few crossing letters entered, but I doubt I could have decoded the recipes. I had to resort to googling Mr. Blumenthal to solve those.

    But I could do the rest, although some of the clues took me longer than they ought. For example, my last in was 28a, over which I had puzzled for minutes; when I finally saw it I figuratively slapped my head since it was so obvious. 17/24 and 25/2 also took me a long time to decode.

    This was definitely a challenging puzzle. Next time I’m over there I guess I need to try out The Fat Duck.

    Thanks, PeterO, for the blog. And thanks to Paul for introducing me to such improbable-sounding recipes.

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Paul

    Quite a hard grind in places. I needed help from my wife for ‘snail porridge’ – an excellent clue once one gets the answer.

    I plumped for ‘shrink’ in 28, but the surface reads a bit oddly to me and I wondered whether ‘shrunk’, as a derivative of shrink, might fit the surface sense better.

    Re 25,2 I think the reading of ‘woolly’ as grey is probably correct, but I simply read it as a patch of grey in someone’s hair.

    I liked 15a, 22a (nicely misleading), 29a, and 13d.

  6. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO

    I found this one quite tricky, despite getting HB quite quickly. Difficult for anyone not familiar with Britain’s most famous molecular gastronomist and his most notorious dishes, I would have thought. And although it was a tour de force by Paul to fit all that into a crossword with some highly ingenious clueing, I have to say it was one of those puzzles where I couldn’t be bothered to work out the parsing for the connected solutions – SNAIL PORRIDGE apart, which was more obvious (and amusing).

    Last in for me were 22a and 16d – with kick for myself when I saw the latter.

    My ‘favourites’ list is identical to tupu’s, mirabile dictu.

  7. Cinculus says:

    I’ve had a couple of thoughts (probably way off the mark) about the hippo’s grey area. “Hippo” can refer to horse – as can “grey”. It could also refer to “hippocampus” – the seahorse-shaped part of the brain. Technically not part of the “grey matter” but in the right sort of area.

    This is a first post so if you wish to shoot me down in flames kindly do it gently!

  8. Andrew says:

    Thanks peter. Good fun from Paul as always – I particularly liked 1ac for the “aha” moment it gave me when I discovered its non-flatulence-related parsing. I was familiar enough with snail porridge (by repute, not direct experience) for the Blumenthal references not to be too much of a problem.

    Just one nitpick re 16dn – the Charlton Heston film, and the novel it’s based on (written, as QI viewers will know, by a Governor of New Mexico who also signed Billy The Kid’s death warrant) are both Ben-Hur, with a hyphen.

  9. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO and Paul

    Solved this one but it took me quite a long time. I never watch cookery programs on TV but I do remember thinking that HESTON BLUMENTHAL was a peculiar name when I saw it in the Radio Times. Once I got SNAIL PORRIDGE then BACON AND EGG ICE CREAM wasn’t such a big leap.

    I found 14d to be the trickiest clue because I kept getting RANGE RIDER floating through my head. A long time since I have come across GRAMPUS in a crossword.

  10. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    How satisfying to have a third struggle in a row. Perhaps it is a compensation for the price rise – long may it continue.
    I was struggling to finish the SW corner because I had ‘strum’ for a long time and that stopped me getting ‘perpetuation'; also ‘shrink’ I had but was slow spotting the homophone.
    I do hope you had your smelling salts at hand when your eyes lit upon ‘bum’.

  11. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO, and to Paul for introducing me to Mr. Blumanthal, whom I’d never heard of, although his arch-rival Ferrán Adriá is a familiar name here in Spain. The rivalry may soon be over, though, as El Bullu is closing in 2013 (I think). Let nobody be tempted to try it out before than, though, as I believe it’s booked up!

    Also known in Spain are savoury ice-creams such as chick-pea – reportedly delicious – but BACON AND EGGS seems a little too far-fetched. And I’ve often eaten, and even prapared, snails, but I like my porridge more traditional :)

  12. William says:

    Thanks, PeterO. Needed your blog for GRAMPUS & SHRINK (missed the homophone reference).

    Last in was BEN HUR because I failed to spot that the reference was HESTON only.

    Needed a lot of Googling to sort this out and it took a couple of hours in all. I get mildly irritated by gastro-nonsense and found I was looking for fault rather than merit.

    RCW @10 – wait for it, a puzzle comprising not only the B-word but also reference to wind-breaking is sure to yield howls.

    Not at all sure about GREY AREA. Can it be just that hippos are grey? Perhaps I’m missing something.

    A decent struggle all considered. Thank you, Paul.

  13. NeilW says:

    William, you are missing nothing at all. As you say, Hippos are grey and, as PeterO said, wooly is a perfectly good word for “grey” – think “fuzzy.”

  14. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Paul for an entertaining puzzle and PeterO for his usual excellent blog.

    Much fun as usual with Paul. Was looking for bra burners when he introduce the feminist in 29a!

    Heston Blumenthal fell into place from the H and L and a couple of crossing letters but I am unfamiliar with his recipes. I’m with Stella Heath@11 on the subject of porridge! By the way, Stella, I understood that El Bulli had closed already.

    Welcome Cinculus @7. It is always good to have new ideas. You may have given the setters a clue for further puzzles.

    RCW@ 10 – alas no smelling salts this time!!


  15. scchua says:

    Thanks PeterO and Paul for a lovely puzzle.

    Second time today, though, that I failed by a 4-letter word: Instead of 17A 24D THE PITS, I had THE FITS from mechanics = fitters. Sigh!

  16. tupu says:

    Re 28a
    I suddenly realise that I too, like rcw and William, missed the homophone in this clue. I had simply seen lesson as ‘less on’.

  17. RCWhiting says:

    For the oldsters out there, I did spend some time considering Leslie Sarony fo 28ac.I recalled him as a comedy singer but wondered whether he had done a mind-reading act as well – but he didn’t.
    Apparently he had a small part in a Monty Python film when he was almost 80.

  18. Dave Ellison says:

    Strange – BEN HUR was one of my first to go in, but that then led me to think we were looking for the author or director. I knew neither and had no means to check as was on my inward journey, so progress was slow initially.

    gm4hqf, I also considered RANGE ROVER, RANGE RIDER, for 14d. “hurried off to grab first of guns” is RANG so it seemed very plausible.

    Enjoyable again.

  19. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Giovanna@14, it seems you’re right, it’s now a foundation.

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Although most of the comments above reflect a positive feeling about this crossword, they do (mostly) not really go beyond something that feels like lukewarm.
    Which I/we found rather surprising.
    We thought this was a very cleverly constructed Paul puzzle with many surfaces typical for this great setter.

    While we couldn’t be bothered by the long anagram of 18,19,9 (not a great fan of this device), it wasn’t very hard for us to complile a Top 5 of Best Clues.
    The positions at 2-5 were (in random order) taken by 22ac (the amusing ‘per pet’ find), 29ac (nice use of ‘by the way’), 28ac (great homophone construction) and 26ac (brilliant description of ‘toe’).
    The Palm d’Or, however, goes to the quintessential 21,7.
    As PeterO says, &Lit-ish. We think Paul put a lot of thought in this clue to get the result right.

    And PeterO, since I’ve mentioned your name: many thanks for your fantastic blog!
    And, of course, many thanks to Paul too for one of his better contributions to Crosswordland [which may sound like many are not so good, but that’s not what I meant to say :)].

  21. PeterO says:

    NeilW @1 – I had wondered in passing how the ‘ordered’ in 8D was justified.; now I know. Thank you.

    Mononglo @2 – Until the last minute, I was thinking along the same lines as you for 1A, and was uncertain how I could express it tactfully.

    Caretman @4 – Even though 1A was the last I solved satisfactorily, the answer was clear enough from the definition and checking letters. Like you, 28A was the last I entered. I should book well in advance if you do want to go to The Fat Duck.

    Gervase @6 – Evidently you got 4/3, no problem, but looking back, I think I might have pointed out, for those unfamiliar with the slang, that PORRIDGE is ‘time’ as a prison sentence.

    Cinculus @7 – Welcome, and keep up the good work.

    Sil @20 – I agree with your accolade for 21/7, and for the crossword as a whole.

  22. sheffield hatter says:

    Although the clue for 25, 2 was easily solvable (a grey area is one that lacks clear distinction, so “woolly” in the same sense as woolly thinking), I don’t think grey is the correct colour for a hippopotamus.

    Image 1

    Image 2

    Image 3

    Image 4

  23. Tony Davis says:

    We were hindered in our progress through this fascinating puzzle by guessing (from crossing letters B, U and E) BAUDELAIRE for 7dn. Then a fourth letter ruled this out, and BLUMENTHAL immediately came to mind. Unfortunately we were not sure what his first name was, or whether he was a writer or fashion designer … Ultimately, guessing BACON AND EGG put us on the right track, but our brains were so benumbed by the struggle that we failed to get SHRINK even though I’d spotted the possible homophone.

    Thank you for your hard work and paistaking analysis, PeterO, but I must point out that there’s no ‘n’ in ‘restaurateur’ (for a detailed explanation of why this is so, see

  24. PeterO says:

    Sheffield Hatter @22 – An interesting point; unfortunately, your image links do not work. They all lead to Google Images home. Looking up the hippopotamus gives a profusion of images, with an unsurprising tendency to focus on the gaping maw, but showing a range of colours. The underbelly seems to be generally pinkish (the clue does say ‘part of hippo’), pink lights about the face, and the back grey with a red cast, which apparently originates from a secreted sunscreen rather than the skin pigment. On the whole, I do not think grey is too far from the mark,

    Tony Davis @23 – Thanks for pointing out the error, and the explanatory link. The article does end:
    However, it[i.e. restauranteur]’s becoming more common and may even eventually take over.
    So I’m ahead of the curve. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

  25. Sylvia says:

    Having worked out the ‘greasier’ bit I then confused myself by entering Germaine and was stuck in the SE corner

  26. sheffield hatter says:

    PeterO @ 24.

    I tested the links before posting, when they worked fine.

    And they still work for me – four different images of quite clearly non-grey hippopotami. Oh well, back to the drawing board…

  27. nick says:

    hippo definitely refers to the hippocampus, which is one of the grey matter areas of the brain. I was thinking it was a hippocampus reference but didn’t get there.

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