Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,469 / Paul

Posted by duncanshiell on November 2nd, 2011


I have solved many puzzles by Paul in my time, and have blogged a Gaurdian Genius by Paul, but I don’t think I have blogged a daily one since I started blogging Guardian daily crosswords almost a year ago.

I noted a fair amount of political and moral comment in today’s clues in line with the Guardian’s dominant editorial stance.




For me, the most enjoyable clue was the one that linked Bernie Madoff and Silvio Berlusconi.  

We also got a fair amount of Paul’s sense of humour coming through the clues.  Some of the juxtaposition of entries could also be construed as political comment, but perhaps I am reading things that aren’t really there.

I enjoy Paul’s clue for their clever references and need for thinking laterally, but I did also see a couple of examples of  "compilers’ cliché" amongst todays’ offerings, e.g. reference to ELI the compilers’ favourite priest and POLY the compilers’ homophone of choice.  

There was quite a bit of  ‘the foreign’ in today’s puzzle with a number of French, German, Italian, Spanish rand United States references.

Finally there were many allusions to the fair sex in both clues and entries – KNICKER ELASTIC, LEGGY, PORTALOO and NYLONS, although I recognise that all of these could apply to gentlemen as well.

Overall, I found this to be towards the easier end of Paul’s spectrum of difficulty.

No. Clue Wordplay Entry
1 Spooner’s departed newspaper – Standard for The Socialist? (3,4) FLED (departed) + RAG (newspaper)  Dr William Archibald Spooner would transpose the leading consonants in the two words and say RED FLAG RED FLAG (the flag or banner [standard] associated with socialists or revolutionaries the world over)
 5,21 Thief caught by tackle is wounded – stretcher produced? (7,7) NICKER (thief) contained in (caught by) an (anagram of [wounded] TACKLE IS) to produce ….. KNICKER [ELASTIC] (something that stretches)
10 See 25   [APPLE] TART
11 Principled strength in which Blair for me, questionable (5,5) Anagram of (questionable) BLAIR FOR ME MORAL FIBRE (principled strength)
12 Good old penny in change – isn’t that funny? (6) G (good) + (D [old penny] contained in [in] EDIT [change]) GEDDIT (do you get it?; do you see the point or joke?; isn’t that funny)
13 Game of which day old parrot spoke (8) MON (Monday; day) + O (old) + POLY (sounds like POLLY [parrot]) MONOPOLY ([board] game)
14 Outdoor cafeteria guaranteed less posh cooking (3,6) Anagram of (cooking) GUARANTEED excluding (less) U (posh) TEA GARDEN (outdoor cafeteria)
16 Tall girl’s back covered in yellow and white? (5) Final letter L of (back) GIRL + EGGY (covered with eggs; covered in yellow and white) LEGGY (having noticeably slim long legs; tall)
17 View viewed, say (5) Sounds like (say) SEEN (viewed) SCENE (view)
19 Letters are dealth with (9) ADDRESSED (letters are) ADDRESSED (dealt with)
23 Iberian drink and Indian potato for the ladies on the move, perhaps (8) PORT (fortified wine of the Duoro Valley in Portugal; Iberian drink) + ALOO (Indian potato) PORTALOO (portable lavatory, as in ladies or gents toilets; for the ladies on the move)
24 Prisoner secreted by friend from the dominant uprising (6) LAG (prisoner) contained in (secreted by) PAL (friend) PLAGAL (musical term in ‘plagal cadence’ in which the subdominant chord preceds the tonic; dominant uprising.  Although the wordplay clearly led to PLAGAL, I have to admit I had to look up the definition to confirm the answer)
26 Madoff, for example, consumed by endless capital, as controversial multi-millionaire (10) US CON (United States prisoner, such as Bernie Madoff , of Ponzi scheme fame) contained in BERLIN (capital [of Germany]) excluding the final letter (endless) N BERLUSCONI (reference the controversial Silvio Berlusconi, Prime Minister of Italy, at present, and a multi-millionairre)
27 Head for the starter (4) PATE (head) PÂTÉ (paste made of blended meat, frequently served as a starter at meals)
28 Plant with aromatic seeds, as garage empty? (7) CAR AWAY (if the CAR is AWAY, the garage is empty.  Let’s ignore multi-car households for the moment.  I can’t  remember when I last fitted a car into my garage – the garage is usually too full of stored items [a euphimism for rubbish] to leave any room for the car) CARAWAY (plant with aromatic seeds)
29 Temperature found in simian, one dead (2,5) (T [temperature] contained in (found in) APE [simian]) + ACE (one) AT PEACE (a euphimism for ‘dead’)
2 English label put on before for furniture item (7) E (English) + TAG (label) + ERE (before) ÉTAGÈRE (a display stand with shelves for ornaments; furniture item)
3 Tailless dog buries long-necked creature that’s smelling bad (5) FIDO (traditionally a common name for a dog) excluding the final letter (tailless) O containing (buries) ET (long-necked Extra Terrestrial creature from the film ET) FETID (stinking; smelling bad)
4 Current tester came across fracture, finally, in broken arm (7) (MET [came across] + the final letter E of [finally] FRACTURE) contained in (in) an (anagram of [broken] ARM) AMMETER (an instrument for measuring current)
6 Hose only used between poles (6) Anagram of (used) ONLY contained in (between) (N [north] and S [south]; reference poles of the Earth) NYLONS (stockings; hose)
7 Clear quality is overcoming limits of production in plant (9) (IS + first and last letters, PN, of [limits of] PRODUCTION) contained in (in) CRESS ([salad] plant)  As this is a Down clue, IS is above [overcoming] PN CRISPNESS (quality of authoritativeness; clear quality)
8 Old US lawman has to carry silencer (7) EARP (reference Wyatt Earp [1848 – 1929], United States lawman) + LUG (to carry) EARPLUG (silencer)
9 Processed food, or the meat, going all the way down (4,4,2,3) Anagram of (processed) FOOD OR THE MEAT FROM HEAD TO TOE (going all the way down)
15 Information on foreign country’s intimate parts (9) GEN (information) + ITALIA (foreign country, Italia is the Italian for Italy) GENITALIA (intimate parts)
18 Gap in  line standing for disease (7) HOLE (gap) contained in (in) (ARC [a line forming part of the circumference of a circle or any curve] reversed [standing], as this is a Down clue]) CHOLERA (disease)
20 Agent isn’t getting to touch something up? (7) REP (representative; agent) + AIN’T (contracted form of is not; isn’t) REPAINT (touch something up)
22 Priest requiring silence before a prophet (6) ELI (priest) + SH (silence) + A ELISHA (prophet)
25,10 Left to feed dog, perhaps, breaking in pieces for pudding (5,4) ( L [left] contained in [to feed] PET {a dog is one kind of pet]) all contained in (breaking) APART (in pieces) APPLE TART (pudding)

42 Responses to “Guardian 25,469 / Paul”

  1. scchua says:

    Thanks Duncan and Paul.

    Towards the easier end of Paul’s spectrum, but enjoyable with wit and humour. I like BERLUSCONI, EARPLUG and PORTALOO (the Indian potato eluded me for a while). The only unsure thing I thought, and perhaps this is a regional issue with homophones again, was MONOPOLY, which I would have pronounced -uh-ly, rather than -or-ly.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    Nice to see ET clued a little differently. I too enjoyed BERLUSCONI and I thought LEGGY was excellent.

  3. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    Definitely one of Paul’s easier offerings, but good to see the ribaldry returning.

    My favourite was 5,21 – good surface and funny solution. 11a and 26a both rather clever. 8d very well constructed.

  4. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Duncan. Good stuff apart from 27 ac PATE, which only means starter if it is accented which,if it was, would not mean head. (Ok – some people think you mustn’t put accents on French capital letters but learned opinion differs –

  5. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan for a very good blog and Paul for an entertaining puzzle.

    I too had to look up ‘plagal’.

    For a variety of reasons I particularly liked 5,21, 14a, 16a, 23a, 26a, 8d, 25,10.

  6. Allan_C says:

    An enjoyable half-hour solve – thanks, Paul (and Duncan).

    Regarding 3d I have always spelt it ‘foetid’ (or even ‘fœtid’) by analogy with asafoetida, thinking ‘fetid’ to be an American spelling. But Chambers tells me the latter is correct and ‘foetid’ is less justifiable. So, I stand corrected.

  7. molonglo says:

    Thanks Duncan, and Paul. Except fot 16a which defeated me, this was delightful, lots to chuckle over like PORTALOO and 5,21, 12a, 26a and 8d. We seem to be getting a few slang words lately (‘kinda’ yesterday) with GEDDIT today; I suppose a question mark is enough in the clueing.

  8. Allan_C says:

    Cholecyst @4: Certainly in French I was taught that accents on capital letters are optional. But in the world of cryptic croswords the convention is that accents and their different pronunciation are ignored. As are differences in pronunciation of the same combination of letters in different words – for example ‘ear’ in 8d here.

  9. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Duncan and Paul

    I’m with molonglo, I don’t like words like KINDA and GEDDIT in puzzles.

    Paul up to his usual slightly ribald standards with 8a 21d and 15d!

    MY new word for today ALOO.

  10. Gervase says:

    Cholecyst @4: French crosswords and the French version of Scrabble also ignore diacritical marks, so 27a (and 2d!) are entirely proper in this context.

    However, English crosswords ignore accent marks in other languages as well, which is less justified. The German convention is to insert an ‘e’ to denote an umlauted vowel if the diacritic is unavailable : KOELN, MUENCHEN etc. We don’t follow this. And DVORAK without his hacek or grave would be something entirely different to a Czech.

    See the Wikipedia entry on crosswords for further info on orthographic conventions in different languages.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Duncan.

    I really struggled to solve Paul’s puzzles when I restarted cryptics a couple of years ago. But I’ve found his wavelength now and this one fairly flew in today, although I think he’s taken his foot off the cryptic gas, to be fair.

    CARAWAY was my last one in, but the one I enjoyed most; and LEGGY was good now that I understand it.

    Cholecyst, vous avez raison, sans doute … but what L’Académie Francaise (sorry, can’t do the cedilla on my laptop) says and what most French folk do are entirely different things …

  12. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Paul and Duncan. I agree with those who think ‘pate’ works perfectly well here, since we are all accustomed to ignoring various items of punctuation/orthography. I’m even in favour of treating the umlaut as transparent.

    As an avid fan of old westerns I particularly liked 8d.

  13. Gervase says:

    K’s D: See my comment at 10! We must have crossed…

  14. Robi says:

    Good crossword, although I didn’t find it easy. ALOO and PLAGAL new to me (the latter not helped by Chambers’ definition.) As a complete aside, I would always put Chambers’ rather than Chambers’s, but the newish grandstand at Epsom was labelled “Duchess’s;” any comments?

    Thanks Duncan; I couldn’t parse BERLUSCONI, thinking Madoff was BERNI, which left me with an unfathomable ‘LUSCO.’ I was also defeated by the parsing of APPLE TART.

    I did like the clue for LEGGY. I’m not sure a leggy gentleman is a very usual expression, although I do admire leggy blondes (or brunettes, come to that.) :) No sexism here, obviously.

  15. Will Mc says:

    @Robi. At my work we use the rule of thumb that if the s is pronounced after the apostrophe then it’s “s’s” – ie James’s. If it’s not voiced (eg Charles Dickens’ novel) or it’s a plural possessive – ie miners’ strike – then there’s no need for the extra s. One exception is Jesus – it’s never Jesus’s, always Jesus’, for some reason.

  16. tupu says:

    Hi Robi
    :) I seem to have more to do with leggy shrubs than leggy girls these days. But ‘girl’ is of course in the clue, at least prima facie, simply for the ‘l’ of it!

  17. crypticsue says:

    Not the hardest Paul I have ever solved but tremendous fun. I wish he wouldn’t have clues that make me laugh out loud in the office such as 5/21. Thanks to him and Duncan too.

  18. Paul B says:

    @ Will Mc: you could argue that the final S is left off because most people don’t pronounce Jesus’s as ‘Jesuses': ‘In Jesus’ name’ for example.

    Nothing wrong with Jesuses though: plenty of ‘em about (some creeping).

  19. Robi says:

    Hi tupu; :) I was referring with LEGGY to Duncan’s blog, rather than the clue. He said that LEGGY could be applied to gentlemen as well (mind you, not many men wear nylons either.)

  20. cholecyst says:

    Gervase @10. Looks as though it’s just me and l’Académie française who agree on accents then, though I admit your points on French crosswords and Scrabble are pretty convincing.

    Will Mc @15. Living here in the NE, I find your St James’s example ill-chosen! NUFC play at St James’ Park, St James Blvd, Newcastle Upon Tyne. (While Exeter City, of course, play at St James Park)

  21. stumped says:

    Mostly quite easy even for a beginner. However “easy” ones from Brummie have baffled me.

    Favourite clue 11a which for me counts as &Lit. I’m sure you’ve all heard of Private Eye’s

    I’m Tory Plan B (4,5,2).


    5,21 I wouldn’t get the solution from definition. Isn’t that a requirement? Often I ‘get’ an Araucaria solution sort of by osmosis and work out the parsing later.

    23a Portaloos aren’t restricted to ladies. That was rather misleading.

    25,10 Couldn’t parse this. What’s the “perhaps” telling us?

    26a US CON for Madoff is a liberty.

    Finally my own ignorance. Got 24a from word play but never heard the word. Several puzzles have had musical terms that I simply don’t know.

    Thanks to setter and blogger for another pleasant diversion.

  22. Robi says:

    Will @15; actually, if you believe this, Dickens’s novel is an accepted use.

  23. buddy says:


    “Perhaps” in 25/10 indicates one of a class. A pet is a dog, perhaps, or a cat, perhaps, or a …………

  24. duncanshiell says:

    Just back from a pleasant interlude on the golf course and have started to read the comments on the blog.

    scchua @ 1 : I think homophones and regional accents rarely mix, but that doesn’t seem to stop setters using homophones frequently.

    many commenters on accents and diacritics @ 4, 8, 10, 11, 13, 20: I subscribe to the view that these should be ignored in wordplay, although I try to use them in the blog when the definition refers to a word that has such marks.

    gm4hqf @ 9: I think the most likely place to come across ALOO these days is on menus in Indian restaurants.

    robi @ 14: I too started off trying to fit BERNIE [Madoff] into the parsing before I saw BERLI[N] and US CON

    robi @ 14 [again]: Iaccept I was probably stretching a point with LEGGY and men.

    stumped @ 21: it is a cryptic definition at 5,21 . You will find many setters use ‘cryptic definitions’ frequently. Rufus is probably the setter who makes the greatest use of this device.

    stumped @ 21 [again]: crossword clues are designed to be misleading whilst still being very clear about what the answer should be. The use of ‘perhaps’ in this clue indicates that ‘ladies’ is just one possible example of the use of a PORTALOO. As you say, it could equally well be ‘Gents’. Yesterday I was in a restaurant that offered ‘lads’ and ‘lassies’.

    stumped @ 21 [again] the ‘perhaps’ in 25,10 another example of indicating a possible type, in this case ‘dog’ is being used as an example of ‘pet’.

    stumped @ 21 [again]: I disagree that US CON is a liberty. Bernie Madoff is currently a prisoner (CON) in the United States (US) so the statement is factually correct.

    I have taken a while to write this comment, so some of what I say may well have been addressed by others already. Sorry if I have duplicated anything.

  25. Paul B says:

    Madoff also cited as an *example* of a US CON, so even more correct. Boasting the highest rate in the world 743 people per 100,000 are incarcerated in the US, with 50% of them black (which ethic group, curiously, makes up only 13% of the US population).

    The Blair one I suppose could be an &lit; but there might be a little too much leeway in that the solver may not quite agree with Paul’s opinion (where ‘for me’ would have to be taken literally, I guess). ‘Questionable in moral fibre’ would for some be putting it mildly, although ‘crusading murderer’ is not possible from this fodder.

  26. Conrad Cork says:

    If it is any help, re 24a, although some people may not know the word plagal, they probably know the sound. The ‘Amen’ at the end of a hymn is a plagal cadence. (Though in my less formal musical milieu it is usually called an ‘amen cadence’.)

  27. stumped says:

    Thanks buddy @23 and duncanshiell @24.

    I see the point about ‘perhaps’. I ignored it in 23a. It threw me in 25,10 because I took it, ‘breaking’ & ‘in pieces’ all as potential “anagrind”, ending up very confused.

    5,21 defn was a bit too cryptic for me. Even something like Spandex Leotard (as seen on late night TV Ads here in USA) theoretically fits, though that’s stretching it a bit! I suppose clues rarely approach platonic ideal of being solvable even if the parsing/wordplay is opaque and there are no check letters.

    26a Despite me being a resident of USA, Madoff as US CON never crossed my mind. The statement is factually correct, especially if you construe CON as the Ponzi scheme, but rather nebulous. Gave up frustrated, unable to make Bernie fit and Berlusconi is just one of many controversial multi-millionaires.

    My skills will improve with practice and all the advice:)

  28. Thomas99 says:

    Extraordinary that there are so many comments about the accents in 27a and none at all about 2d. I think it would be absurd if setters were only allowed to clue accented words with wordplay that contained exactly the same accents. Our language has so few of them, it would be virtually impossible. Perhaps people don’t quite appreciate that “head” in 27a is wordplay, just like “before” in 2d?

  29. stumped says:

    Paul B @25 I did say &Lit somewhat tongue-in-cheek, though I share your stronger sentiment. Paul’s clue construction was deliciously nimble.

    Madoff in the grand scheme of things is indeed a mere example. The real crooks, like Hank Paulson, get to be United States Secretary of the Treasury. He previously served as the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Goldman Sachs. ‘Nuff said.

    I’m stepping off my soapbox now

  30. NeilW says:

    stumped, ridiculously small piece of advice – if you leave a space before the “smiley,” the software will oblige. :)

  31. stumped says:

    D’oh :(

  32. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Thomas at no 28 – agreed, it’s just a convention, so the clue is sound enough. Someone recently (can’t remember exactly where) used ‘Nice summer’ to clue ETE, which of course has accents in French. And even the Grauniad in its articles will use words like ‘debacle’ without the acute and circumflex accents you’ll see in the French version.

    And cholecyst at no 20 (looks like I’m stalking you today, but I’m not really) your St James’ Park explanation is a perfect example of how perverse the English language is. Everyone says St James’s Park, but it ain’t necessarily so. In the same perverse way that Jesus’ and Moses’ are the conventions for the possessives of our friends from the NT and the OT.

  33. MikeC says:

    Thanks Duncan and Paul. I enjoyed this hugely. Etagere may have been secreted somewhere in my memory; plagal certainly wasn’t. But both were very precisely clued. That’s one of the things I like about Paul’s crosswords, I think – some of the “easier” solutions clued in more or less outrageous ways, while the harder ones follow the rulebook closely. If we have to put up with a certain amount of rudeness along the way, so be it . . . ;)

  34. Will Mc says:

    @ cholecyst Not that it matters, but I never wrote St James’s, just James’s. I only said it was a rule of thumb anyhow. And living in Aberdeen, I find your use of NE for Newcastle ill-chosen :)

  35. cholecyst says:

    Will Mc @34 and Kathryn’s Dad @32. Touche!

  36. stumped says:

    I’ve been an expat in Boston area long enough that NE automatically reads as New England.

    We had an nasty pre-Halloween surprise last Saturday. The heavy wet snow on still leafy trees caused lots of downed limbs onto power lines. No heat or light, so we’re stuck in a hotel and I have far too much time on my hands…

    23a First thought was VINDALOO. Iberian drink ‘vino’ (or vinho) somehow morphing into ‘vind’ + Indian potato for Indian dish of Portugese origin that makes one want to ~move~ hurriedly to the loo.

    Daft, but…

  37. muck says:

    Thanks Duncan for an excellent blog, and to others for entertaining comments.
    Not high on Paul’s scale of difficulty, but nice to see some ‘naughty’ clues.
    For me, ETAGERE and PLAGAL were new words, but obvious without cheating.
    BTW happy birthday 15sqd :)

  38. Paul B says:

    @ 27 Madoff, even via Ponzi, is not the scheme itself, but its perp(etrator) on that celebrated occasion. As a result, he would become (and so he remains) a con(vict) in no uncertain terms, and so there is nothing remotely ‘nebulous’ about that element of SI: ‘Madoff, for example’ is as sound as a bell for US CON.

  39. stumped says:

    @ 38 – OK. Fair cop, Guv.

  40. Davy says:

    Thanks Duncan,

    A typically amusing and entertaining puzzle from Paul with KNICKER ELASTIC being a prime example of his art. As soon as I saw ‘elastic’, I didn’t even need to think what the first word was. The only clue I couldn’t explain was LEGGY but obviously I didn’t look very hard. I liked PORTALOO and managed to remember aloo from the dish aloo gosht. Thanks Paul.

  41. Allan_C says:

    Cholecyst, Gervase and K’s D:

    Returning rather late to the fray, Welsh crosswords and the Welsh version of Scrabble (yes, there is one) are interesting in that the digraphs, for example ch, dd, ng, ll, rh are treated as single letters. In a crossword each occupies only one square so, for instance you cannot use the c of a ch digraph as simple c in an intersecting word.

    K’s D, I agree with you about L’Académie Française – what they call a télécopieur the rest of France refers to as a fax. Btw, you should be able to get a cedilla on your laptop; hold down the alt key while typing 135 on the keypad (although if you don’t have a keypad you have to put the keyboard ino keypad mode and remember to reset it afterwards, which is probably more trouble than it’s worth). It doesn’t work with the numbers on the top row. For a comprehensive list of alt+num codes see

  42. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I expect I am alone here but please no contamination of a clear,clean MB with emoticons.
    Surely everyone one here must, by definition, have a sufficiently large vocabulary to not need them.

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