Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,452 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on October 13th, 2011


It took me a while to crack the clue to the theme and I was meanwhile rather apprehensive, in view of some of Paul’s recent themed puzzles, so I was very relieved to find, once I got there, that the theme was, in fact, a conducive one for me, and things fairly rapidly fell into place after that. I still found several of the answers rather tricky to parse [great cluing!], so I had several penny-dropping moments.

It’s the 80th anniversary of Ealing Studios this year and this puzzle celebrates its films, some of which have been re-released to mark the occasion. [Fellow Araucaria fans may remember that he produced a very nice puzzle, partially themed around 6,1,18, earlier in the year.]

Many thanks, Paul, for a beguiling stroll down Memory Lane.


5   TAKEN UP: TA [‘Cheers’ – thank you] + E[rupting] in reversal [rejection] of PUNK [loud music]
9   ATTIC: TT[‘dry’ – teetotal] in [stopping] AI [A1 – perfect] + C[irculation]
10  BRAINPANS: RAIN [fall] + P [quietly] in BANS [bars]
11  TEA TROLLEY: reversal [laid back] of YET [still] around [about] EAT ROLL [have some bread]
12  STEP: reversal of PETS
14,1 THE LAVENDER HILL MOB : a clever anagram [desecrated] of LORD IN BETHLEHEM around [outside] LAV[atory]
21  NEEP: NEE [born] + P [pea, say]: the Scottish turnip – with tatties and a dram, the traditional accompaniment to haggis on Burns Night
22  GUANTANAMO: TAN [brown] + A M[are] in [covered in] GUANO [bird droppings, used as manure]
26  POISE: I [one] in POSE [attitude]: definition is ‘cool’, as a noun, as in to lose one’s cool
27  CROUTON: ROUT [stuff] in CON[servative] [blue]
28  SCRAGGY: S[leep] + CRAGGY [rough]


  LETHAL: LET [obstacle, as in ‘let or hindrance’] + HAL[f]
3   MACERATION: MACE [staff] + RATION [allowance]
4   BABEL: BABE [infant] + [schoo]L
5   TRADE NAME: reversal [up] of MANE [pride of lions] + DART [hurry] + [prid]E
6,1,18  KIND HEARTS AND CORONETS: KIND [character] + HEARTS [suit] + anagram [ragged] of ON NERDS COAT
7   NEAP TIDE: anagram [waves] of PAINTED [whit]E
8,25 PASSPORT TO PIMLICO: PASSIM [throughout] round [screening] PORT [left] and TOP [first] + anagram [‘to be fixed’] of COIL
13  RED SNAPPER: after the previous tour de force, a simple charade [but a nice surface]: RED [bloody] + SNAPPER
15  ELOCUTION: anagram [complicated] of IN CLUE TOO
16  MAGNETIC: NET [clear] in MAGIC [‘spelling’]
17  EDGE UP TO: [aggressiv]E + anagram [out] of DOG PUT round [having swallowed] E[cstasy]
19,20 EALING COMEDY: A LING [a fish] + CO [carbon monoxide – poison] in [through] [r]EMEDY [cure]
23  NOOKS: NO OKS! [endorsements]
24  SMUT: reversal [up] of TUMS [corporations]

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,452 / Paul”

  1. William says:

    Thank you, Eileen and Paul. I managed to get almost all in before finding the theme clues.

    Not very happy about CROUTON for which I needed your parsing. I suppose STUFF = ROUT in modern parlance, but BLUE as the sole definer for CON and then the spurious CUBE? Hmm, it’s only just OK.

    Sorry to hark back, but I was as astonished as everyone else to see yesterday’s puzzle where every answer referenced a theme. Have we seen that before? I don’t think so. Consequently, and out of respect for the achievement of the inventor, I humbly propose that it be referred as a “Brendan”.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen, inter alia for clarifying 9 and 27a for me. I got off to a flying start with this and within a minute had 1a (via 11a then 4d) – but to finish it needed an hour, with the theme clues 19 and 20d being the last two in. But for me thiswas a perfect puzzle: doable without aids, and fun throughout. 22a, 17d – trademark smut (24d), marvellous.

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks Eiellen and Paul

    An excellent blog of a not wholly satisfying puzzle which was easier to solve than to parse. I felt that too many answers had rather ‘clunky’ structures and I suspect that relatively few of us will have arrived at them by following the instructions – though I always marvel at the ability of Round Britain Quiz contestants to do that sort of thing. In the end I understood everything except the CO in Ealing Comedy (so special thanks for that, Eileen). In retrospect, I should have got that but cerebral inertia finally set in.

    Some enjoyable clues nonetheless inc. 14,1 a, 28a, and 19,20d despite my failure above re CO.

  4. tupu says:

    Hi William

    I checked crouton and Chambers defines it as (inter alia) cube-shaped.

  5. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    It also took me a while to get the theme (HILL MOB at 1a was the key for me), but I then filled in all the related solutions without needing to look at the clues.

    16d and 27a were my last entries – both rather tough though fair clues (despite ‘cube that’s fried’ being a slightly off-centre definition of CROUTON).

    Generally enjoyable puzzle, though rather a lot of clues involved taking initial or final letters of words in a charade. I don’t like ‘Process of breaking up’ as a definition for MACERATION – which is ‘softening by steeping in liquid’, or ‘wasting away’. Favourite clues: 22a, 7d, 13d.

  6. Matt says:

    William @ 1.

    I think a ‘Brendan’ is a worthy name. The only other examples I can think of are by him too: this one for St Patrick’s Day for example, under his alter ego at the indy.

  7. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. I got PIMLICO early on from the anagram of COIL, from which I quickly deduced the full title and the theme, and then it was easy to fill in the other film titles from the enumerations (without bothering much about parsing the clues…). So it was quick work for me, but still good fun while it lasted.

  8. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I wrote in 3d and 4d which of course gave me ‘mob’ and the enumeration plus a casual spot of toilet gave me 14,1ac and 19,20d and ……well all the theme films. With all those crossing letters I didn’t even need to read half of the cryptic parts from then on.
    Sorry, but this was a big disappointment.
    I cannot really think of a decent clue although 5ac/d held me up for a few moments because I had ‘stage name’in mind.

  9. RCWhiting says:

    “I suspect that relatively few of us will have arrived at them by following the instructions ”
    tupu, you are spot on there and it is a severe condemnation of a cryptic puzzle.

  10. RCWhiting says:

    I seem to be out of line here (I know……).
    Gervase objects to ‘process of breaking up’ for ‘maceration and then partially quotes Chambers by omitting ‘break up’ under ‘macerate’.
    Then William (?) complains about ‘cube that’s fried’ for crouton. I cannot think of any other word which fits that definition and that is my complaint. “cube that’s fried” (7) is crouton and you do not need to read the cryptic and wonder whether rout = stuff.

  11. William says:

    Tupu @4 & RCWhiting @10. I beg a thousand pardons. Of course the clue is fine. I had taken it into my head that ‘cube’ was a containment indicator for some reason. One small advantage of insomnia is tackling the crossword before most normal people (in this country) are up; a disadvantage is that I suspect a chunk of brain is missing at 04h00.

    RCW is quite right, really, there are some clues here in which the definition and one or two crossing letters is all one needs, making the remainder of the clue superfluous.

    Thank you both.

  12. William says:

    Matt @6. You are quite right – I recall tackling that one, too, but I did not know his Indy alter ego. Do you know his real name, at all?

    Many thanks, let’s hope ‘A Brendan’ catches on.

  13. Eileen says:

    Hi William

    If you go to the top of this page and click on ‘Links’, then ‘Setters’ sites’ then ‘Best for Puzzles’, you’ll get to Michael Curl’s [Orlando’s] site. If you then click on ‘Crossword Who’s Who’, you’ll find lots of information on all your favourite setters.

  14. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    Just a pity that Paul couldn’t have worked, haggis, tatties and Whisky Galore into the puzzle.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi gm4hqf

    I nearly made that comment!

  16. William says:

    Eileen @13, thank you very much, most interesting. I see my favourite setter has done a stint as Crossword Editor of both The Times & The Independent. No wonder he’s a master. Wouldn’t it be a nice honour for him to become the eponymous inventor of the fully-themed crossword?

    Thanks for the tip.

  17. Robi says:

    Generally good crossword, although cracking EALING COMEDY, as others have said, did allow a lot of the grid to be filled in without too much thought.

    Thanks Eileen for your blog – I hadn’t been able to parse 19,20 apart from the fish. In retrospect CROUTON had a clever clue, although I couldn’t parse that either! I think ‘process for breaking up’ is OK for MACERATION. A Waring Blende(o)r is used a lot in labs for smashing things up (macerating.)

  18. liz says:

    Tbanks for the blog, Eileen, and for doing all the parsing I couldn’t be bothered to do! The enumeration of 8,25 was my entry to the theme.

    One thing I don’t understand — why does TUMS equal corporations?

  19. Gervase says:

    RCW @10: Re MACERATION – The SOED gives no reference to ‘breaking up’. Chambers does list for ‘macerate’, after the primary def ‘to steep or soak’, ‘to soften, break up, or separate into pulp, by steeping’. The point is that the steeping is an essential part of maceration. ‘Process of breaking up’ doesn’t define the word properly, because it describes only the (possible) result and not the means. ‘Process FOR breaking up’ would have been much better.

  20. Gervase says:

    Robi @17: MACERATION is a process which does NOT involve the application of shear, unlike the use of a Waring blender!!

  21. jandai says:

    I think TUMS is referring to a spare tyre around your middle – sometimes referred to as a corporation!

  22. EB says:

    William @16.

    Brendan is also one of my favourite setters, as I know he is with many others here. If you are interested in finding out more about him there is a very interesting interview with him at the following link:

    The interview is quite long, just over 1 hour I seem to remember, all interesting but especially, perhaps, the first 20 minutes or so where he discusses his crossword background and setting.

    He comes across as a really nice person (as I’m sure all setters are!!)

  23. RCWhiting says:

    I first came across ‘macerate’ to descibe the action of human teeth.
    If we all demanded the extreme precision in the definitions which you seem to favour then there would be little point in devising clever (or any) cryptic elements.
    Even the totally uncryptic ‘Quick Crossword’ had definitions which are not up to your required standard of completeness.

  24. Robi says:

    Gervase @20; you may be strictly correct, but macerate is used in different ways e.g. ‘The successful use of a laboratory blender to macerate tissue for inoculation onto various selective media has been reported.’
    ‘Blenders Juicers
    As you learn more about juicing you will soon realize that blenders are not juicers in the true sense of the word. Blenders macerate foods but do not release nutrients from fiber or separate the juice from pulp. With a blender everything is mixed together and everything is used as opposed to a juicer which extracts the juice leaving behind pulp. A blender will indeed turn a fruit into a liquid state but a juicer will turn that same fruit into a much more nutritious and palatable drink.’

  25. Wolfie says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen, which helped me to parse some of the solutions that, for me, required an element of guesswork.

    I have to say I found this a slog – mainly, I think, because many of the surfaces were so contrived as to be almost meaningless outside the confines of Crosswordland. I am thinking for example of 5ac; 14,1; 5d; and 7d. I much prefer surfaces that may be read as ‘natural’ English sentences. (To be fair, Paul’s surfaces usually read much better than this – an off-day perhaps?)

  26. Gervase says:

    RCW and Robi: The usages of ‘macerate’ which you quote are all erroneous, and not supported by any dictionary, as far as I know. They probably arise through a false etymological link with ‘mash’. Such misuse of ‘fancy’ words is very common, of course. Anyway, as I said earlier, Paul could have avoided any charge of malapropism by simply changing ‘Process of…’ to ‘Process for…’

  27. Paul B says:

    A cryptic crossword clue, bar the odd clue-type, will give a solver two ways of arriving at an answer: the subsidiary part(s) and the definition (which ought to be synonymous with the required word or phrase). Certainly the odd whimsical definition is permissible, but I can’t imagine we’d want all our clues to end in question or exclamation marks (as they would need to, where essentially inaccurate and/or misleading).

    On the other hand, we are all being drawn into RCW’s web here: he’s been banging on about ‘allusive definitions’ ever since he discovered it to be something of a bone of contention (a couple of months ago). This, for me, has marred a few blogs now, and I’m not impressed.

  28. Gervase says:

    BTW, I have just started to make a Christmas cake; the first step is MACERATION of the dried fruit in an unconscionably large amount of booze. No crushing or breaking up is involved – just softening and swelling of the fruit by absorption of the liquid.

  29. don says:

    Given the recent report on the ill-treatment of elderly patients, I assume the antiquity of the theme was Paul’s contribution to Help the Aged.

  30. Welsh says:

    TUMS is short for tummies or fat bodies. It’s in a lot of crosswords

  31. Eileen says:

    Indeed – it’s in today’s Indy: ‘Any one of us getting on a corporation plant [8[‘.

  32. Trebor says:

    On Saturday I did Pauls prize in the bath. I had no internet and was this frustrated by clues whose answers were works (I won’t spoil) I had never heard of so gave up. Today I once again find myself confronted with answers I certainly don’t know and end up using the internet. Neither was very satisfactory. Perhaps my crabbitness is exacerbated by having the 2 in a week but at the minute I’m thinking Pauls lost his touch for thematic puzzles.

  33. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul for the puzzle and Eileen for the parsing.

    Like many others, once I had got Ealing Comedy, the films fell in to place with no thought of the parsing.

    Liz @18, my mother’s generation ofen referred to corpulent individuals as being in possession of a fine corporation. Chambers gives `a belly, esp. a pot-belly (coll.)` BTW, hope you had a good birthday.


  34. RCWhiting says:

    Paul @27
    “On the other hand, we are all being drawn into RCW’s web here: he’s been banging on about ‘allusive definitions’ ever since he discovered it to be something of a bone of contention (a couple of months ago). This, for me, has marred a few blogs now, and I’m not impressed.”

    Oh dear. There I was desperately trying to impress Paul and all the time failing pathetically.

  35. Jamie says:

    I don’t usually chip in, but I found it interesting that quite a few folks found yesterday’s
    puzzle so wonderful. It’s really about a style – personally (and I have a go at most of the Guardian puzzles) I prefer Araucaria (“The Monkey Man”) and Paul, as you feel drawn into solving their clues. I think comments about Rufus on this forum being too easy have now made
    him try a bit harder – is this a good thing? I don’t always finish him now! I enjoyed the Paul puzzle today, because he strikes a balance between style and cleverness and solvability (horible word). I’m a musician. I love Bach, Beethoven, Bartok, Webern, Carter, for example; in Jazz – Bird, ‘Trane, McCoy (+ a long list..). Personally, I admire creative individuals who have an individual style and warmth, rather than people who are “trying too hard to be clever for their own clogs”. Hey – it’s just my opinion, Man (or Woman).

  36. duncan says:

    +1 for “a brendan”.
    today’s paul left me a bit disappointed, not because of the thematically linked thing though- we often see these & if one doesn’t know the subject, then google/wikipedia may fill them in but you still have to parse them to appease your conscience.
    no, it was the like of “maceration” that I couldn’t see, & so the disappointment is entirely with myself.
    I think that despite having a 90 minute commute each way these days in which to contemplate the crucigrama, the 90 minute commute each way is sapping my strength.

    but “trademark smut”- good spot. :-)


  37. Eileen says:

    Hi again William @1 and 16

    So soon after your proposal of an eponym for such as yesterday’s [Brendan] puzzle, in which either the clue and / or the answer was part of a theme, Monk, in today’s FT, has come up with a real humdinger, in which BOTH every clue AND every solution contains a double letter! Where do we go from here?

  38. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Well, I thought it was fun. Maybe not up with his best but good.

    And as often with Paul, a good number of his definitions were suitably cryptic. I’m thinking of “Able to draw” = magnetic and “little movement at sea” being neap tide.

  39. Eileen says:

    Just in case anyone’s interested, the Araucaria puzzle I referred to in the preamble can be found here:

    and Andrew’s blog here:

  40. Huw Powell says:

    Sadly, I am with RCWhiting @8 – had some random clues here and there and it looked like PIMLICO might be part of one of the themed clues. I vaguely know of it as a racetrack (host of the Preakness, doh) but when you type it into wikipedia then click on Ealing Studios since you thought EALING might fit at 19 then you write in about 50-60 letters from a list just by matching words lengths it doesn’t feel much like fun. And I suspect a similar disappoint for someone who is familiar with the subject matter.

    I did, however, like 16 (MAGNETIC) a lot, since I was so busy trying to make it be PHONETIC…

    But thanks for the blog and the puzzle, as usual.

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