Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,481 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on November 16th, 2011


There’s much to admire, enjoy and laugh [or groan] at in this typically Paul puzzle. Not much more to be said – I hope you enjoyed it. Many thanks, Paul.


9   PEPPERONI: PEP [spirit] + PERON [leader of Argentina] + I [leader – first letter – of Italy]
10  CROWD: the first of a couple of puns using garbled pronunciations of ‘freezer’, referring to the saying, ‘Three’s a crowd’.
11  TACKLED: TACK [course of action] + LED [was first]
12  ENLARGE: anagram [building] of NEAR around [houses] L[eft] + G[uttersnip]E
13  AGLOW: AG [silver – precious metal] + LOW [blue]
14  SENTIMENT: SENT [transmitted] + IT around [enthrals] MEN [people]
16 MARIE ANTOINETTE: splendid &lit anagram [spoilt] of AT ONE TIME AREN’T I, referring to her alleged ‘Let them eat cake’ response to being told that the peasants had no bread
19  CASTRATED: CAST [players] RATED [given value]: definition: ‘done’ – good old Paul!
21  JOLLY: double definition
22  FREEZER: [apparatus that preserves] which combines with 21,3,4 to sound something like ‘For he’s a jolly good fellow’, which, according to the Guinness Book of Records, is the second most popular song [after ‘Happy Birthday to you’] in the English language. I first heard a joke along these lines when I was at school, I think, but had to laugh at Paul’s sheer audacity in using it in a clue.
23,24  CHARLIE SHEEN: I was hoping that the wordplay would become clear while I was writing the blog but I’m afraid it hasn’t happened. I’m sure it’s very clever and I’m sure the usual suspects will be along very quickly to make me kick myself, so thanks in advance! [Edit: please see first few comments for explanation.]
25  SEVENTEEN: SEEN [viewed] around [hosting] EVENT [tournament]


1   OPHTHALMIC: anagram [after surgery {which I initially thought indicated OP}] of HH [doubly hard] TO CLAIM P[ension]
2   SPECULAR: anagram [cryptic] of CLU[e] in SPEAR [weapon]: I loved the construction of this clue
3   FELLOW: FELL [came a cropper] and probably said OW!
4   GOOD: GOO [something slimy] + D[ied]
5   PIGEON-TOED: anagram [‘in hot water’ {I initially thought ‘ungainly’ was going to be the indicator}] of TO  GO IN DEEP
6   SCALLION: ALL [the lot] in SCION [family member] and a scallion, a word I leaned when living in Northern Ireland, is a member of the onion family, which makes a neat clue. It’s what I would call a spring onion, but I see Chambers has it [also] as a shallot – and a leek, which are both completely different! Confusing, isn’t it?
7   HOARSE: HORSE [Arab perhaps – definition by example] around [kennelling] A: a wonderful surface!
8   IDLE: I + D[o]LE [unemployment benefit less O {nothing}] – another great &lit surface
14  SONG THRUSH: SONG [air] + THUS [that way] around [maintains] R[ight] + H [height]
15  TEENY-WEENY: anagram [stumbling] of WENT BY minus B [‘British awol’] + EEE [‘English threesome’] + NY [US state]
17  EUROZONE: EUR [reversal of RUE – French way] + OZ [Commonwealth nation] + ONE
18  TELL LIES: L [fifty] in [packed in] TELLIES [boxes] – this made me laugh, too
20  SHEKEL: S + HEEL [scoundrel] around [stealing] K [a grand]
21  JOANNA: AN + NA [reversal of another AN – ‘article written up’] after [‘in support of’, in a down clue] marJOrie [middle – ‘essentially’ – of Marjorie: nicely misleading comma – the ‘upright’ refers to the Cockney rhyming slang, ‘Joanna’ for ‘piano’
22  FAST: hidden reversal [towards the ceiling] in meaT SAFe
23  CAVA: the melody is the haunting ‘Cavatina’, from ‘The Deer Hunter’, from which we have to take ‘Tina’ [‘divorced’] – another lovely clue to end with.

41 Responses to “Guardian 25,481 / Paul”

  1. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Eileen
    23,24 is CHARLIE, slang for cocaine, (mind-blowing lines) SHEEN (slick film).

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen – lucky you to get this one :)

    23,24 – Charlie is slang for cocaine, so “Mind-blowing lines”, and slick film = sheen.

  3. Andrew says:


  4. Barbie says:

    I think the ‘mind-blowing lines’ are cocaine (aka ‘charlie’)

  5. Eileen says:

    Photo finish! Thanks both. [How did I know it would be one / both of you two? ;-) ]

    I’m comforted by the fact that I didn’t know that charlie = cocaine, so any amount of staring at it would have done no good, but annoyed that I didn’t think to look up ‘charlie': I thought knew what it was slang for.

  6. Andrew says:

    By the way, “cavatina” doesn’t have to refer to the “Deer Hunter” tune – it’s a generic name for a song or song-like melody.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thank you, too, Barbie, and anyone else who may cross with this.

  8. Thomas99 says:

    Charlie, Billy, Mary-Jane…all part of one big (temporarily) happy family.

  9. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Andrew – that’s two new things you’ve taught me today!

  10. JeremyT says:

    What a wonderful puzzle! Loved Charlie Sheen and Three’s a crowd…

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    A very enjoyable puzzle full of hidden delights. I missed the explanation of Charlie and of ‘upright’ so thanks to Eileen, Gaufrid et al. (as they used to call him) for those.

    Ticked lots as I went along (9a,10a!,13a,16a, 19a!!, 22a!, 7d, 23d.

    Like Eileen I initially thought ‘ungainly’ was the * indicator in 5d.

  12. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Paul. Loved this one and laughed out loud at 22 ac, though there are many other delights.

  13. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen, and the others for explaining Charlie. Nothing otherwise too hard here. Groans for the freezer puns, but all forgiven – it was fun.

  14. Dave Ellison says:

    What a delight, after yesterday’s outing. Thanks, Paul and Eileen.

    Sadly, I didn’t get the pun in 10a – thought it might be CROWD PLEASER which seemed (and was) a stretch too far.

    I, too, started with OP(eration) in 1d, but saw the error of my ways quite quickly.

    17d held up BL corner for a while as I had put in EUROPEAN.

  15. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen. This was a lot of fun … it’s hard to beat Paul when he’s in such a playful mood. Special grins reserved for
    FREEZER CROWD and (jolly good) FELLOW.

    At 23d, I wonder if ‘seeking‘ is indeed an allusion to the use of Cavatina in “The Deer Hunter”.

    Also liked JOANNA, the upright (piano) woman, although most cockneys would probably call it a piana !

  16. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul for a great puzzle.

    I stuck for a while on three SHEKEL, PEPPERONI and PIGEON TOED.

    You are never sure whether a reference to currency is money or a river. Initially I spelled PEPERONI with an E at the end which muddled the down anagram. Once I got the Italy part sorted out I was able to get PIGEON TOED.

    My COD is 16a MARIE ANTOINETTE but there are quite a few other good ones.

  17. Blaise says:

    For those who missed the sneaky “slick film” allusion to amazing Grace in 23/24, I recommend this link. Over 40 years old, but still powerful stuff!

  18. crypticsue says:

    Lovely, laugh out loud fun as usual from Paul. Thank you to him and to Eileen too. Glad to see you, like me, lead the sort of lifestyle where this type of charlie doesn’t feature! Only trouble is that it doesn’t help when you are trying to review a puzzle with this definition, does it?

  19. Blaise says:

    Sorry, messed up the link:
    For those who missed the sneaky “slick film” allusion to amazing Grace in 23/24, I recommend this link. Over 40 years old, but still powerful stuff!

  20. Eileen says:

    Quite right, crypticsue – butI really should have learned by now to look up absolutely everything in Chambers, when blogging, even [or maybe especially] things that I know I know!

  21. Robi says:

    Playful is the right word, and a lot easier than the Prize one, I thought (as it should be.)

    Thanks Eileen; what a sheltered life you lead! I can’t believe I missed ‘free’s a crowd,’ must be going senile. Nice puzzle in that no specialist knowledge required (except that of drug culture.) FREEZER and JOLLY let me into GOOD and FELLOW, as I was a bit stuck in the NW corner. I looked at ‘sona’ for 23d, but couldn’t fit it with a drink.

  22. Robi says:

    With Paul’s playful humour (and with Gaufrid’s and Eileen’s indulgence), I present the real theme of today’s crossword……….

    MARIE ANTOINETTE, although IDLE and PIGEON-TOED, liked a TEENY-WEENY bit of CAVA and SCALLION with PEPPERONI, although it degraded FAST without use of a FREEZER. She loved JOANNA, who although she was known to TELL LIES, and was a bit HOARSE, sang like a SONG-THRUSH especially when she TACKLED opera. Her husband, CHARLIE was a JOLLY GOOD FELLOW, and, although CASTRATED at birth, he was at pains to ENLARGE his intellect. What set her AGLOW was the SENTIMENT of the CROWD, although she did not have a SHEKEL, with which to buy cake. The SPECULAR SHEEN of her existence was not dimmed by the necessary SEVENTEEN OPHTHALMIC operations, although, for many reasons, it was just as well that she lived long before creation of the EUROZONE.

  23. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Really enjoyable today, I thought, but I did fail to get 20dn :-(

    23,24 made me laugh and so did all the FREEZER clues. I also really liked 9ac.

    Cavatina was a new word for me.

  24. Neil Reynolds says:

    23 across was one of the more straightforward ones I thought! Charlie is slang for “mind blowing lines” (of heroin) + sheen = slick film.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Only a moderate challenge but still enjoyable.
    I liked a lot the gross homophones linked to 22ac.
    I admired the deceptive definition at 5d (I do love deceptive definitions, there should be many more).
    Last in was ‘specular’ which I didn’t know although I did know the other derivatives and should have solved it earlier.This was partly due to penultimate 9ac since I have never eaten a pizza.

  26. Stella Heath says:

    Many thanks Eileen et al. for revealing the true brilliance of this puzzle to my out-of-touch, befuddled early-morning mind – the blog hadn’t yet been published when I finished it.

    And then, when I thought I had fully appreciated it, along comes robi@22 with his hilarious rendering of French history :lol:

    Thanks all, especially Paul as the originator, for brightening up my day :)

  27. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Playful is the word. Now that I’ve ‘worked out’ Paul I’m enjoying his puzzles, and this one was no exception.

  28. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Robi, for revealing the theme, which, like 23,24, I had missed! ;-) Apologies for not having acknowledged it before – I’ve been out since lunchtime.

  29. yogdaws says:

    In short…


    And as for Robi…You’re a loon – in the best possible sense…

  30. RCWhiting says:

    I think ‘love’is going a bit far.

  31. Aoxomoxoa says:

    Re Neil at 24 above.

    ‘Charlie’ is cocaine not heroin. ‘Horse’ is heroin so Paul could have used that to clue 7D had he been so inclined.
    Not that I know anything about these things.

  32. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Aoxomoxoa @31 and Neil @24. This clue was cleared up for me by the first few comments but I didn’t alter the blog, because there were several people to thank. [In case you’re new here, it’s always – well, usually – worth reading the comments, as well as the blog.]

  33. Robi says:

    Thanks, Stella, Eileen & yogdaws; you shouldn’t really encourage me :)

    Thankfully to some, this will not be a regular feature of my posts………

  34. Matt says:

    Never eaten pizza?! You must put this right immediately!

  35. James Droy says:

    The best fun I’ve had solving these damned things since Bunthorne shuffled off. Congratulations Paul.

  36. Taxi Phil says:

    An absolute delight. “Charlie Sheen” made me laugh out loud, and was COD if not COY (and it’s nearly the end of the year).

  37. duncan says:

    charlie sheen my c.o.t.d.
    see the psychotic episodes on youtube if you’ve the stomach for it,.
    btw, how long has this bit (responses) been working on the mobile version? been a few days since I tried. tim berners-lee *will* be pleased!

  38. Gaufrid says:

    Hi duncan @37
    WPtouch, the plug-in that converts the site for viewing on a mobile, was last updated four weeks ago so it might have been more than a few days since you last tried.

    However, an earlier update several months ago cured the problem on certain hand-held displays but this did not appear to be consistent as one person indicated that the comments could now be viewed but another, with the same device, reported that the problem was still present.

  39. RCWhiting says:

    I doubt I will. I cook all my own meals from basic ingredients, mostly Indian cuisine.
    Ref:37,38 I also do not own a mobile phone.

  40. Alex in Oz says:

    Like RCWhiting, I didn’t know SPECULAR and it was the last one in. I was also caught up on sweet toppings (e.g. for ice cream) at 9ac until I got the final letter ‘i’ courtesy of 5d. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this – it definitely added some pleasure to an otherwise tedious day in Sydney.

  41. Huw Powell says:

    Like most (or all) of you, I loved this light-hearted romp. I think almost every solution brought a smile – even the ones I couldn’t fully parse. Sadly, I have to admit I didn’t “get” the freezer puns, though they are hilarious. I’ve never heard cocaine referred to as “Charlie”, and I’ve watched a lot of gritty movies, but the “Sheen” was fairly obvious and it couldn’t be his father Martin. Only managed to “buy into” JOANNA because McCartney used it in Let it Be (the movie), and eventually I figured out what the heck he was saying.

    My favorite clues were 14a and 6d, big smiles there.

    Robi @ 22, hilarious!!!

    RCW @ 25, I agree with the deceptive definition thing. I haven’t seen one in a long time (perhaps Frank Lewis used to do these more than the other setters I encounter?), but my favorite clue format is when three words are used, all the same length as the solution, and all of which could conceivably be anagrinds.

    RCW @ 39, pizza in its modern incarnations can mean anything you want on some form of dough, so perhaps you could use your favorite Indian dough recipe, sauce, and toppings to make one?

    In conclusion, thanks for the blog, Eileen, and the other explanations from the rest of you, and most of all to Paul for the wonderful tone of this puzzle.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

7 − three =