Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic crossword No 25,487, by Arachne

Posted by Stella on November 23rd, 2011


There’s always a lot of fun in the Spider Woman’s puzzles, and this one was no exception, though I did find it rather full of “pick out the letters” clues.

Also there are a few where the full explanation eludes me, so any help will be welcome.

1. Legislator’s fabulously manly bass enthrals little girl (11)
ASSEMBLYMAN *MANLY BASS around EM(ma) or EMILY, for example
9. National flower’s characteristics (7)
10. Tempestuous at heart, I’m about to preside over chaos … (7)
MISRULE (Tempe)S(tuous) IM, reversed, +RULE
11. … am person ultimately prone to uncontrolled ribaldry (5,4)
EARLY BIRD (Pron)E + *RIBALDRY.I’m not quite sure what the definition is. This could be an &lit, but “person ultimately prone” hardly equates to “first person up” IMO Thanks to the first few bloggers for pointing out that “am” = A.M.; apologies for the blind spot.
12. Perfect merchant? (5)
IDEAL Definition and cryptic definition
13. May perhaps be middle-of-the-road? (4)
14. Broadcaster perhaps pronounced French city’s name the English way (10)
MARSEILLES Sorry, all I can see here is the French city, the English pronunciation of which says nothing to me. Apparently its (Andrew) MARR – who I’ve never heard of, + SAY, which would be how the English pronounce the city’s name.
16. Biotechnology’s revolutionary view of carbon in man and beast (10)
ERGONOMICS Sorry, this one’s lost me. I’ve left it till last in the hope of inspiration, but none is forthcoming. I missed the reversal indicator “revolutionary”, which leads to C in SIMON + OGRE, all reversed.Thanks to Eileen et el. for explaining this.
19. Alternately lance and drain noisome boils (4)
ACNE Alternate letters of lAnCe, + outside letters of NoisomE
20. Knocking back Rennies, mostly in private (5)
INNER Hidden reversed in RENNI(ies)
21. Calamitous combination of wind and frost causing winter hazard (9)
23. Volunteer soldier, one who endeavours to protect Her Majesty (7)
24. “Pardon me!”, I asked, regularly breaking vow (7)
PROMISE Another clue where we’re asked to pick out alternate letters, this time of PaRdOn Me I aSkEd
25. Answer to clue? It’s easy, but it causes small wavelets (5,6)
LIGHT BREEZE LIGHT, in Crosswordland “answer to clue”, + BREEZE, “easy”, as when you say “The exam was a breeze”. This one raised a :)
1. Top lawyer and doctor natter on eagerly (8,7)
2. Sharp, like a rock in the Channel? (5)
SARKY Cryptically like Sark, one of the Channel Islands, the answer being an abbreviation of “sarcastic”.Why do people have to abbreviate everything beyond recognition?
3. Sicilian city renames Sinatra’s house (7)
MESSINA Hidden, “house(d)”, in renaMES SINAtra’s”
4. Greek letters could make sheepish youngster rebelliously glum (7)
5. Inflammation primarily found in maternal breasts (8)
MASTITIS MA’S TITIS :lol: + &lit Apologies, I originally saw that I should be included in the answer, giving MA’S + I in TITS, but forgot as I was blogging.
6. In clue I use novel cryptic definition: “Large plate, small portions” (8,7)
NOUVELLE CUISINE *IN CLUE I USE NOVEL + cd. Another :lol: moment, as the definition is spot on!
7. Patient numbers (13)
ANAESTHETISTS Cryptic definition. I got this straight away, as I imagine others will have, given the recent discussions on the site.
8. Describing endless Latvian bestseller in translation as “aesthetic literature” (6-7)
15. At last you can see necromancer call up dead (8)
UNERRING Final letters this time, of “yoU caN seE necromanceR” + RING.Definition “dead”, as in “dead straight”, for example.
17. Male American tailless otter mounting semi-aquatic rodent (7)
MUSKRAT M + US + <TARK(a) (the Otter)
18. Guillotine revolutionary leader in police custody (7)
CROPPER First letter of R(evolutionary) inside COPPER = “in police custody” :)
22. Get lost, Lorna! (5)
DOONE DO ONE, which I learn from the Urban Dictionary is an invitation to “get lost”.

77 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic crossword No 25,487, by Arachne”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks Stella – the EARLY BIRD is an “a.m. person”

  2. Andrew says:

    And 16dn is C in SIMON + OGRE, all reversed

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Stella – lucky you!

    You had the same queries as I had initially but it was fun sorting them out!

    11ac: definition is ‘am [morning] person’

    14ac: I thought it might be MAR [Andrew Marr, political broadcaster] + SEILLES [‘say’ – ‘perhaps’]?

    16ac; another ‘aha': C [carbon] in reverse of SIMON [man] and OGRE [beast]

    I have ticks all over the place and I laughed out loud several times, especially at 5dn – which must be one of the best &lits I’ve ever seen – and 22dn. Too many more great clues to mention, as usual.

    Many thanks, Arachne – this was one of those I was sorry to finish!

  4. Eileen says:

    Snap, Andrew – too slow typing, as usual!

  5. Citywit says:

    11. How about “a.m. person”? 14. Surely not Andrew Marr? Which would in any case leave “say” for “pronounced”… 16. Simon with C in, and ogre, rev.? 21 was pretty good too, wasn’t it?

  6. Citywit says:

    Too late… And NOW I see 14…

  7. Geoff Chapman says:

    Beautifully laid out blog Stella.

    Titis? Yuck. Can’t see it in Chambers either. Am I missing something? Probably…

  8. PeterJohnN says:

    Marseilles is pronounced (andrew) MARR, SAY (perhaps). Spelt the English way (there is no final S in French).

  9. Eileen says:


    5dn: it’s I[nflammation] in TITS

  10. PeterJohnN says:

    MASTITIS is I in ma’s tits. A bit rude!

  11. jim says:

    5 is I (Inflammation primarily)in Ma’s tits – I think that makes more sense

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Stella and Arachne. The only one I couldn’t see was 15d UNERRING.

    5d COY – worthy of Paul; brilliant!

    7d No, Stella, I didn’t get it straightaway, but about half way through.

  13. PeterJohnN says:

    LIGHT BREEZE equals Force 2 on the Beaufort scale, characterised by “small wavelets”.

  14. Jennie says:

    We must be very thick because niether of us can understand 7 down at all. Anyone feel like giving us the ‘eejits’ explanation please?

  15. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Stella. Failed with 8d in this Arachne puzzle.

    I have never heard the phrase DO ONE but Lorna DOONE was the only Lorna I could think of. Couldn’t figure out ERGONOMICS either.

    I also took 14a to be Andrew MARR SAYS

  16. Paul B says:

    I think the MASTITIS solution is supposed to be I (for ‘primarily’?) in MA’S TITS: I can’t find that spelling (TITIS = tits) anywhere, so something is up. It’s not &lit either, as mastitis can occur in any breast or udder.

    For me there were some good clues, 12a, 1d, 2d, 6d, and the plural usage for the hidden word at 3d I thought very nicely done: which makes it a bit harder to explain the apparent shocker at 1a, where the apostrophised S presents a tense problem: it can only signify IS or HAS, AFAIA, thereby dumping ‘enthrals’ in the wrong part of speech. 9a the solution word is very rarely used as a plural I would guess, and what’s ‘breaking’ for at 24a? 7d old chestnut, and 22d who among an average xwd audience would know this?

    As a result, IMV, what could have been great ends up a typical Grauniad puzzle, i.e. curate’s egg: but at least 6d was sensational.

  17. PeterJohnN says:

    Completed the grid, but couldn’t parse 15,17,18 or 22!

    Thanks Stella and Arachne.

  18. Paul B says:

    Eileen @ 9 resolves MASTITIS btw.

  19. Paul B says:

    For Jennie @ 7d: for ‘number’ read ‘a thing that numbs’. HTH.

  20. PeterJohnN says:

    Jennie 7d make hospital patients numb.

  21. Roger says:

    Hi Jennie. Anaesthetists numb patients … which makes them patient numbers !

  22. Jennie says:

    So obvious now – thanks from wet and windy Cape Town

  23. David W says:

    Is “ergonomics” defined by “biotechnology”? If so, why?

  24. Roger says:

    Came to SARKY (like the Island) after a brief detour {A R(ock) in SKY (Channel ?) … no, wasn’t sure either}. Fun clue though, once the lights came on.

  25. Paul B says:

    Re #23 the two are synonymous, according to Collins. See under ‘ergonomics’.

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Paul B @16

    Quite right, of course: in fact, one of my sons had it, when a few days old, to my amazement and dismay – but I think ‘primarily’ could do double duty and justify its &litness.

    The real surprise is that Arachne got away with it, considering what happened to her SHAMPOOERS on 7th October. Brava for risking it, Arachne! ;-)

  27. David W says:

    Paul @ #25 – Thanks for the suggestion, but is that in a small or very recent Collins?

    My desktop edition of 2005 has ergonomics as the study of the relationship between workers and their environment. Biotechnology is the use of microorganisms for beneficial effect.

  28. Robi says:

    Very tricky; often got the answers but had trouble with the parsing.

    Thanks, Stella; I’m afraid I still don’t get IDEAL=merchant. Also failed with the parsing of EARLY BIRD – nice definition after all; TREE; MARSEILLES (still think this is weak); and DOONE. Having worked with the biotechnology industry for several years, I can say that I don’t think ERGONOMICS is related in any way; except for the type of chair that you might sit on! I don’t understand Paul B’s comment @23; my Collins says: ‘the study of the relationship between workers and their environment, esp. the equipment they use.’ Similar definitions in Chambers and ODE, so I don’t see where the biotechnology link came in.

    Yet again, I only got ‘numbers’ after I solved the clue – doh!

  29. PeterJohnN says:

    Paul B @ 16, I agree the clue should be worded “enthralling” rather than “enthrals” to agree with “is”, but where’s the plural usage in 3d?

  30. Robi says:

    OK, on re-reading Chambers, I see that biotechnology is given as equivalent to ergonomics in N. American usage. I still think this is a mis-use. I’ve never met anyone in the US who would equate the two terms. Any comments from our over-the-pond posters?

  31. Roger says:

    Hi Robi (28). I guess a merchant might say “I deal” (… in whatever), for that is what he does. The ‘?’ is perhaps well justified.

  32. PeterJohnN says:

    Paul B, further to my question @ 29, I’ve just realised that you mean the plural usage of “house” as a verb, but wouldn’t the singular, “houses” have been more appropriate?

  33. chas says:

    Thanks to Stella for the blog. I needed you for a couple of parsings e.g. ‘do one’=get lost. This is totally new to me.

    On ERGONOMICS I can now see SIMON and OGRE but I still disagree that it is the same as biotechnology!

    On 13a I remembered that the saying “Ne’er cast a clout till May be out” does not refer to the month but a plant. However I was certain that the plant was a bush so failed to see TREE :(

  34. PeterJohnN says:

    Robi @ 28, the definition is “French city’s name the English way”, i.e. spelt with an S added. It is pronounced MARR (broadcaster) SAY (perhaps).

  35. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Stella. Had trouble parsing the same ones that you did.

    My favourite clue has to be 6dn — sensationally funny.

  36. Arachne says:

    Afternoon, all.
    Many thanks to Stella for the excellent blog – once again I’m reminded that whilst we are the Sloggers, the people on here are most definitely our Betters! Thanks to all the contributors above, too.

    1ac – mea culpa! Must have blinked at both the setting and the checking stages.
    16ac – for some subjects I confess I’m entirely reliant on dictionaries: under ‘ergonomics’ my Collins English Dictionary (10th edition, 2009) has ‘Also called: biotechnology’, but apologies if this is incorrect.
    3dn – I felt it was ok to use the pl. “house” as the two words “renames Sinatra’s” house MESSINA
    7dn – I promise I won’t do it again! (but it *was* new to quite a lot of people :) )
    22dn – oh dear, I think I must move in the wrong circles.

    Now off to see my granddaughter Isobel, born yesterday (really). I won’t be showing 5dn to my daughter ;)
    Love and hugs,

  37. Rog says:

    Chas: I got TREE for 13ac straight away, but only because Paul used the may tree only yesterday (in 24dn). Not for the first time, I find myself asking whether this is pure coincidence or whether the setters occasionally collaborate to produce a mini-theme on successive days. Any ideas?

  38. Arachne says:

    PS isn’t it alarming when one’s first reaction to a grandchild’s name is to try to write a clue for it…

  39. Arachne says:

    Rog @37 – pure coincidence (which happens far more than it ought to IMHO).

  40. Stella says:

    Thanks to Arachne for dropping by, and to all for your contributions. I have now corrected the blog to include your several clarifications. Congratulations on your new granddaughter.

    Hi PaulB@16. I don’t see your problem with 1ac, since for the surface reading I took “legislator’s” as a genitive, while “‘s” = “is” for cluing purposes.

  41. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    In spite of all the pedantic quibbles above I thought this was an excellent puzzle.
    The setter managed to produce some lovely cryptics and allusive definitions whilst retaining a degree of difficulty which kept me puzzling for a good time.
    I particularly liked 6d, 24ac and 25ac.
    I did wonder whether (15d) ‘uner’could be ‘at last ‘runer’. But I think Stella is correct.
    As I wrote in ‘mastitis’ I smiled,not at the clue, but at the certain knowledge that by the time I came here someone would have used the term

  42. Stella says:

    Hi RCWhiting, I’m glad you enjoyed this one. I would have done so more if I hadn’t woken up late and suddenly realised it was my turn to blog :)

    I found 5d a slightly disagreeable concept, but not rude – rather like 19ac.

  43. Robi says:

    Roger @31; thanks for explaining IDEAL.

    RCWhiting @41; not sure what are your ‘pedantic quibbles,’ but if it refers to ERGONOMICS, I’m afraid the definition is just plain wrong. It’s like saying something was written by Shakespeare when it was written by Dickens. Not Arachne’s fault as it is in the dictionary, but on this site we may as well find correct usage for words. :)

  44. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks to Arachne for a great puzzle and to Stella.

    I imagined a plummy Englishman saying ‘Morse says’! (I suppose Morse is quite a celebrated broadcaster!) If read as the redoubtable Andy, I wonder if ‘perhaps’ isn’t a bit redundant? Enjoyed the clue, though.

    I also wondered if the ace trader only ever needed ‘one deal’?

    Got ‘unerring’ early but wasn’t totally happy until the phrase ‘dead shot’ popped into the head. Thanks again.

  45. chas says:

    Rog @37
    My impression is that, in general, compilers do not know when a particular puzzle will be published.

    Obvious exceptions are (1) Prize puzzles and (2) puzzles aimed at a particular event. I think there was one for the Oscars ceremony and Araucaria had a nasty one for the day that South Africa had its first multi-racial general election.
    About a year ago, as I remember it, the Graun had an evening described as Meet The Compiler which was hosted by Paul. The crossword that day was set by Paul. It seems likely that that was done deliberately.

  46. otter says:

    Thanks for an enjoyable crossword, Arachne, and congrats on a grand-daughter. Thanks also for the blog, Stella, which explained a couple of answers I just couldn’t untangle.

    Paul, message 16:
    – I don’t see the problem with ‘enthrals’. If you take the apostrophe-s as a possessive for the surface sense, the sentence works as ‘enthrals’ refers to ‘bass’. (Substitute ‘his’ and remove the adjectives and adverbs and you get ‘his bass enthrals girl’.) The apostrophe-s can be considered a contraction of ‘is’ for the purposes of the wordplay.
    – ‘Natures’ seems fine to me if referring to the characteristics of two different people, eg ‘They have very different natures’ (might also be said of eg dogs). I didn’t have any problem with this.
    – 24a, ‘breaking’ means (I think) that the words are regularly broken, ie remove alternate letters. Again, it seems fair to me, as it conveys the right sense, even if it is a bit cryptic.
    – Agreed 7d went straight in, as numbers for anaesthetics and so on used frequently.
    – 22d well known classic literature, isn’t it? I’ve known about it since taking a family holiday in the area when I was about 7 years old, although I confess I’ve never got around to reading the novel.

    The one I was most stuck on was TREE – while the answer went in quickly as a guess for ‘May, perhaps’, I simply couldn’t get the wordplay. Now I see the answer it’s blindingly obvious (when you see it!). Also EARLY BIRD – I got it, but again couldn’t see the wordplay. Was thinking that ‘surely the early bird is the first person to stop being prone (ie first to get up), not the last to bed’. Now I see how the wordplay works, I think that’s a fantastic piece of misdirection and a very clever clue.

  47. otter says:

    Robi, message 43:

    if it refers to ERGONOMICS, I’m afraid the definition is just plain wrong. It’s like saying something was written by Shakespeare when it was written by Dickens. Not Arachne’s fault as it is in the dictionary, but on this site we may as well find correct usage for words.

    Some words change their meanings over time, and I can imagine that ‘biotechnology’ was used more or less synonymously with ‘ergonomics’ before the science of biotechnology, meaning the technological alteration of biological entities, developed. If the word is found in a dictionary, unless it’s a plain error, this must be the case.

    Indeed, looking in the online OED, sense (2) of biotechnology seems to suggest this. the definition is ‘The application of science and technology to practical problems of living; the study of the interaction of human beings and technology’, which certainly has echoes of ‘ The scientific study of the efficiency of man in his working environment’ – the definition given for ergonomics. And this is one of the citations for biotechnology in this sense: ‘Hours of work, on-the-job feeding, rest periods, etc. are also phases of the physiology of work which form an important part of a comprehensive biotechnology.’ This citation is from 1947, while the earliest citation given for ergonomics is 1950, which suggest that ‘ergonomics’ superseded ‘biotechnology’ in this sense during the 1950s, while ‘biotechnology’ took on a new meaning.

    So I don’t think you can say that the definition is ‘just plain wrong’.

  48. Stella says:

    Hi otter, you make some very good points.

    I believe Lorna Doone was the first “adult” book I read, when I was about nine or ten. I remember enjoying it, but not much more, though I’m sure it stimulated my taste for literature.

    My problems were the same as yours at 11 and 13ac: TREE last in, and only parsed as I was blogging :)- great clue, though!

  49. RCWhiting says:

    I think you have proved my ‘pedantic quibbles’ to be near the mark (unerring!).
    There were many others besides Robi’s. Some much more pedantic.
    “I found 5d a slightly disagreeable concept, but not rude – rather like 19ac.”
    Of course not,but you are not a mature man behaving like my 12-year old grandson!

  50. Thomas99 says:

    otter (47)-
    Interesting. Thanks for the info. Arachne is obviously drawing on the older, less common meaning of biotechnology.

    Actually, I know some philosophers (e.g. Giorgio Agamben) are again (still?) discussing the greek concept “bios” as meaning living humanly as opposed to what we call biology (=living as any any life form, which is something like “zoon”, I think, as in zoology), so for them the old definition would still be relevant/useful. I’d guess it won’t be obsolete for a while yet. Biology is one of those slightly “wrong” etymologies – bios somehow got used to mean the other kind of life but there are still outcrops of its older meaning.

  51. tupu says:

    Thanks Stella and Arachne

    A very enjoyable and accessible puzzle with one or two things I was unsure of.

    It was clear that Doone was the answer to 22d and I assumed ‘do one’ meant meant ‘get lost’ but I needed to check that. Incidentally the name Lorna is usually said to have been invented for her by the novelist.

    I missed the proper parsing of 11a and 14a though I saw the anagram in the first and recognised the broadcaster in the second.

    I remembered the ‘lord of misrule’ re 10a.

    I liked many clues inc. 16a, 25a, 5d!, 6d, 15d.

    Congrats Arachne on the granddaughter. Its a life-changing event!

  52. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Stella. I woke up at my usual early time (being an am person) and still struggled with this. I agree there are a couple of quibbles, which didn’t help, but it just seemed that Arachne had her foot on the gas here more than in her previous puzzles. But there was much to enjoy; MASTITIS is priceless, but LIGHT BREEZE and EARLY BIRD also hit the spot. I thought NATURES was fine; otter explains it well.

    Very pleasing puzzle; thank you to Arachne. Don’t forget to bring piccies of the new arrival on Saturday!

  53. Paul B says:

    Hello again.

    Re #27 I wasn’t making a suggestion: according to Collins, 2009, the two words are synonymous. If you have a problem with that, talk to Collins, not the compiler.

    Re #29 & #32 ‘houses’ is the plural version of ‘to house’, legitimised by the two elements in the SI, namely ‘renames’ and ‘Sinatra’s’. ‘Houses’ also works, where the SI is taken as a whole, i.e. singular.

    Re #40 & #46 the surface is irrelevant, something that a lot of people in crosswords, solvers and compilers alike, some with an excellent understanding of grammar as it pertains out there in the real world, don’t seem to get. The ONLY reading that counts in terms of grammar for a clue is the cryptic one, or break-down, or fiddly bits, or whatever else you like to call it: the surface is merely the outward show of what is, hopefully, some extremely cunning and perhaps devious artistry at an unseen level.

  54. Paul B says:

    Sorry: re #29 & #32’house’ is the plural version of ‘to house’. Brain’s gone. Obvious.

  55. Robi says:

    Forgot to say congrats to Arachne.

    Otter @47; thanks for the info. You are probably right that this is an old-fashioned meaning. My comment of ‘just plain wrong’ referred to present-day usage when I don’t think anyone would confuse the two words, which have now quite separate meanings. :)

  56. Thomas99 says:

    I probably shouldn’t be pedantic on Otter’s behalf, but it seems important to note that although the second meaning in the OED is older, it isn’t necessarily obsolete or even obsolescent. There is surely no sense in which the definition in that clue is “just plain wrong”. The setter has just done what good setters do and used an out-of-the-way meaning.

  57. Robi says:

    Thomas99 @56; this may be getting a bit boring, but………..

    I do know what I am talking about. Biotechnology is now an industry and no-one in the present day would confuse that with ERGONOMICS. No criticism implied or otherwise to Arachne; she just used a meaning that is in the dictionary. I would, however, hate to think that people would go out there today and use biotechnology for ERGONOMICS. No-one would understand it………. I would suggest that the old meaning IS obsolescent……. but, this isn’t a life-or-death matter. It’s OK for a crossword, but I would suggest not using this sense in the outside world. :)

  58. John says:

    Since no one has mentioned it, everybody must be happy with the ellipses in 10,11 ac.
    Perhaps someone could enlighten me?

  59. Robi says:

    John @58; I wondered about the ellipses as well. I suppose that it is because you can read the two clues together in a single surface. But, I’m no expert.

  60. apple granny says:

    We had the same problems as Stella and others – completed the grid, but didn’t understand 14a,and got 15d wrong – missed the reason for unerring, and decided inurning might be the best! But we did get 11a, and 22d. It was a very enjoyable challenge today

  61. Geoff Chapman says:

    Eileen @ 9 – thank you. So glad it wasn’t titis.

  62. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks Robi for that timely warning.
    Next time I am chatting with my biotechnology friends I will ensure thst ‘ergonomics’ never crosses my lips.
    Phew! Just in time.

  63. JollySwagman says:

    Great puzzle and well blogged – thanks to both.

    Stella – just to tidy up, I think you’re not quite there yet with 14A.

    Broadcaster – MARR
    perhaps pronounced SAY
    French city’s name = MARSEILLE (which they pronounce MARSAY
    the English way (10) MARSEILLES

    which we pronounce MARSAILS.

  64. JollySwagman says:

    Correction – push “pronounced” down a line. It’s actually a pretty tight clue.

  65. Stella Heath says:

    Hi John@58,

    Ellipses between one clue and another often mean nothing regarding the wordplay, but facilitate the surface reading.

    I was befuddled in this puzzle by not realising the function of “am” in 11ac.

  66. jvector says:

    John #58: I saw the ellipsis as a technique to allow the setter to start the secons clue with a lower case ‘a’. Since clues generally start with a capital the morning indication would not have worked as ‘Am'; it needed to be lower case to suggest ‘a.m.’. My £0.02 anyway.

  67. andy smith says:

    Re Ergonomics and Biotechnology – personally I just took this as a light-hearted play on words – as on might use e.g. Thermodynamicist to describe a Cook.

  68. Arachne says:

    jvector@66 – spot on :)

  69. PeterJohnN says:

    Stella, re 14a. I don’t suppose anyone will read this because it’s so late, but I’ve just returned from a funeral and subsequent wake (not a sad affair, more of a celebration). I’m dismayed that you have still not understood that MARSEILLES is not an English pronunciation, but an English spelling. MARSEILLE is the French spelling, and MARR SAY is the French pronunciation. See my entries @ 8 & 34. Can’t believe you’ve never heard of Andrew Marr! He’s on BBC radio and TV news programmes every day!

    Arachne @ 36 See your point about the plural (and Paul B’s @ 16). Please back me up re MARSEILLES!

    Paul B @ 53 & 54. You were right the first time, but didn’t realise it! Sorry! See above!

  70. Paul B says:

    No. ‘House’ really is the plural usage: element A and element B house the answer. As I said, it functions in the singular too, where ‘houses’ is selected.

  71. PeterJohnN says:

    Stella, re 25a (LIGHT BREEZE), you still haven’t included the origin of the phrase “small wavelets” in 25a as per my comment @ 13, viz. Force 2 on the Beaufort scale.

  72. stumped says:

    Great puzzle Arachne and very nice blog Stella.

    Found this much more to my taste than the ‘fiery’ one under Anarche recently in the Indy.

    Many laugh out loud moments.

    Managed to get non-numerical use of number in 7d.

    5d will surely show up in Alan Connor’s Monday Blog. Why is it rude? We’re not putting skirts on piano legs any more.

    Last in 25a, kept thinking of ‘packets’ and ‘quanta’. Thanks for the clarification PeterJohnN.

    Favourite clue 6d, simply brilliant.

  73. Arachne says:

    Far too late, but I wanted to back up PeterJohnN@69 over Marseilles(s) – it was all about the different spellings :)

  74. JollySwagman says:

    @PeterJohnN #69 “I’m dismayed that you have still not understood that MARSEILLES is not an English pronunciation”

    Not so – it doesn’t affect the clue, but the traditional English pronunciation is MARSAILS and it is only since the war that MARSAY has been gaining ground.

    The same thing happened to Lyon(s) before that. The spelt and sometimes sounded S on the end of French place names has evolved over time in France – we (until recently) hung on to how it was when we picked it up over 1000 years ago. A bit like “Americanisms” which turn out to be archaic English English which they have held on to.

    After all for Paris we still say PARISS – not PAREE – and they call Dover Douvres and get to Londres by sailing up the Tamise.

  75. otter says:

    Paul, message 53:
    the surface is irrelevant […] The ONLY reading that counts in terms of grammar for a clue is the cryptic one
    I agree. My point was that in this case, the word can be read in two different ways, one of which makes sense in terms of the wordplay, the other of which makes grammatical sense in the surface reading. After all, if a surface reading doesn’t make grammatical sense, a solver would be more or less directed to how the wordplay works; it’s all part of the misdirection. So while grammatical sense of the surface reading isn’t strictly relevant, it’s an important part of a good crossword.

    Robi, messages passim:
    You seem to be saying that because a term has one clearly defined meaning in your field, it cannot have other meanings outside of that field. I and others have demonstrated from dictionary citations that it has (and still does have) another valid meaning outside of that field. This is the case with many words.

    And to the point which someone raised about ‘bio-‘ and ‘zoo-‘: I think (although am not an expert in Greek) that ‘bios’ refers to any life, whereas ‘zoon’ (?) refers only to animal life; hence biology is the study of all life, while zoology is the study of animal life. I guess those philosophers who use ‘bio-‘ to refer only to living humanly have done what was done to ‘biotechnology': taken a term and given it a very specific, new meaning.

  76. Paul B says:

    That true otter: Afrit’s Injunction to a T!

  77. Huw Powell says:

    My only problem with the ellipses at 10/11 is that the combined surface doesn’t actually make an sense at all. It was as I realized that that I popped 11, since on its own it doesn’t make sense unless you read at as a.m. So it’s a little less elegant that it could have been, but perhaps the ungrammatical part was intentional to prod us along a bit?

    Anyway, thanks for the blog Stella, and Arachne for the puzzle and for dropping by. Congratulations, by the way!

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