Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25525 Tramp

Posted by scchua on January 6th, 2012


Sorry for the later posting (long lunch).  This was an enjoyable offering from Tramp (as we have come to expect from him).  Well clued and neat surfaces.  Thanks Tramp.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  The pair of pictures at the bottom has an unidentified link to the crossword.


1 Setters return, breaking dog’s entrance (7)

BEWITCHReversal of(return) WE(pronoun to refer to setters of the crossword, in contrast to you, us solvers) contained in(breaking) BITCH(female dog, really)

Defn:  To put under a spell,entrance, not to be confused with that through which you enter

5 One fancies commercial on satellite station – theatrical drama? (7)

ADMIRER :  AD(advertisement,commercial plus(on) MIR(the Soviet Union/Russian satellite space station) ER(title of the TV soap opera revolving round the emergency room/operating theatre,theatrical drama, though just being a soap would qualify it as “theatrical drama”)

9 Blocking a good try with right difficulties (5)

AGGRO :  R(right) contained in(blocking …with) [{A G(a good)} + GO(a try,an attempt)

Defn:  Short for aggravation, things which give you problems,difficulties

10 Took back on medical ground (9)                           

RECLAIMEDAnagram of(ground) [RE(on,about,refering to) MEDICAL]

11 National treasure and good man – English writer capturing hearts with fine lines (7,3)

STEPHEN FRY :  ST(abbrev. for saint,good man) E(English) PEN(writer) containing(capturing) H(abbrev. for hearts, as in bridge notation) F(fine) RY(abbrev. for railway which runs on lines)

Defn:  A multi-talented national treasure – actor, screenwriter, author, playwright, journalist, poet, comedian, television presenter, and film director.

12 First to post off knickers for soldiers (4)

ANTS :  “pants”(knickers,undergarments in the UK) minus(off) “p”(first letter of,topost”)

Defn:  A caste in a colony of ants who act as soldiers

14 Studying  2’s epic work without the use of Google, perhaps (11)

RESEARCHING :  RING(epic operatic work by Wagner,answer to 2 down) containing(without,outside) E-SEARCH{electronic search on the Internet with the use of a search engine like,perhaps, Google}

18 See 20

21 See 6

22 Crazy Baldrick idea, without the slightest bit of intelligence, repeatedly, on this? (10)

BLACKADDERAnagram of(crazy) BALDRCKDEA{“baldrick ideaminus(without) the “i”s(first letter,slightest bit of “intelligence”, twice,repeatedly}

Defn:  The TV series in which you know what to expect whenever Baldrick, Blackadder’s dim dogsbody, says “I have an idea”.  I think this is a terrific &lit.  Three of the seasons also have Stephen Fry (cf 11A) acting in them.

25 Nostalgically upset, having lost coal production in a way that’s permanent (9)

LASTINGLYAnagram of(upset) NSTLGIALY{“nostalgicallyminus(having lost) the individual letters(production) in “coal”}

26 One from Middle East terrorist group joining 11 programme (5)

IRAQI :  IRA(Irish terrorist group) plus(joining) QI(standing for Quite Interesting, TV quiz panel show,programme hosted by 11 across,Stephen Fry.  The reference that led me to the answer to 11 across.)

27 See 6

28 Like Elvis’s shock – America cried around centre of Memphis (7)

UPSWEPT :  [US(United States of America) WEPT(cried)] containing(around) P(middle letter,centre ofMemphis”). 

Defn:  How Elvis Presley combed his shock of hair.  Nice surface perhaps refering to Elvis’s shocking death.


1 It would make Angus flip to take in recipe by first-class cook (6)

BRAISE :  BSE(bovine spongiform encephalopathy,mad cow disease, that would make eg. Aberdeen Angus, a breed of cattle, go mad,flip) containing(to take in) R(abbrev. for recipe, as used in medical prescriptions) plus(by) AI(looks like A1,first class)

2 Genius that scored in National having placed outside bet (6)

WAGNER :  N(abbrev. of national) contained in(having placed outside) WAGER(bet)

Defn:  Richard, genius that scored music

3 Piece of gear to groom canines? (10)

TOOTHBRUSH :  TOOTH(piece of gearwheel which meshes with other gearwheels) BRUSH(to groom the coat of dogs,canines)

Defn:  Whimisically, a piece of equipment,gear to brush,groom teeth,canines.  Another &lit I think.

4 Star with northern bird (5)

HERON :  HERO(star) plus(with) N(northern)

5 Confirm when sure (9)

ASCERTAIN :  AS(as in “as and when”) CERTAIN(sure)

6,21,27 11’s book: “Second one breaking open six-pack, perhaps how Sinatra did it, endlessly drunk consuming sauce” (4,2,2,7)

MOAB IS MY WASHPOT :  MO(second,from moment) + [I(Roman numeral one) contained in(breaking open) ABS(short for abdominal muscles,called a six-pack when firm and strong)] MY WA{“My Way”, title of one of,perhaps Frank Sinatra’s songs, with the line “I did it my way”, minus the last letter(endlessly)} + SOT(a drunk) containing(consuming) HP(popular brand of brown sauce)

Defn:  Autobiography of 11 across,Stephen Fry’s early years.  Apparently, he never explained the significance of the title.

7 Unrealistic Abramovich starts to tear into Chelsea? (8)

ROMANTIC :  ROMAN(Abramovich, Russian owner of Chelsea football club, among other things) TIC(initial letters,starts totear into Chelses”).  Nice surface, might even be an &lit?

8 Change layout removing first “navy” from flag (8)

REDESIGN :  “red ensign”,a flag flown by various (merchant) navies minus(removing) “n”(first letter of “navy”)

13 Plans redraft of catechisms (10)

SCHEMATICSAnagram of(redraft of) CATECHISMS

15 Incidental information in window by door (9)

SIDELIGHT :  SIDE(incidental,not central or main – unless it’s “a bit on the side”?) LIGHT(information, as in “to shed light on the matter”)  Edit.note:  Tramp@1 gives the correct parsing.

16 About one Birmingham side with rules for residents (5,3)

CIVIL LAW :  C(about,circa) I(Roman numeral one) VILLA(short for “Aston Villa”, a Birmingham side,football team) W(with)

17 Business building bad press around record label (8)

PREMISESAnagram of(bad) PRESS containing(around) EMI(record label)

19 Imagine Tramp would consume tablet (6)

IDEATE :  I’D(shortened form of I,pronoun for Tramp, would) Edit.note: EAT containing(consume) E(the drug, Ecstasy, usually in the form of a tablet)

20,18 A nerdier scientist rearranged drawer in house? (6,2,9)


23 Turning up to support shy creature (5)

COYPUReversal of(turning) UP placed after(to support, in a down clue) COY(shy,reserved)

Defn:  A large, South American aquatic rodent, looking like a cross between a beaver and a big rat

24 Power to rogue solicitor (4)

PIMP :  P(abbrev. for power, especially in physics) plus(to) IMP(rogue,cheeky chap)

Defn:  Not a solicitor with a silk wig and gown, but flashy clothes, bling and a stable



51 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25525 Tramp”

  1. Tramp says:

    Many thanks for the blog Stella.

    As a bit of background, I am a huge Wagner fan. It has been my ambition for many years to go to the annual Wagner festival in Bayreuth. Last year, I was lucky enough to get a ticket. Prior to going in July, I watched the excellent Stephen Fry documentary Wagner and Me. I thought this programme was so good that I decided to write to the great man to tell him; writing to celebs is something I don’t do very often. To my surprise, he replied with a charming letter. That’s when I decided to try to write a tributary puzzle. This is the result. Looking back, I’m quite happy with it.

    For the record, I don’t like the TOOTHBRUSH clue. The editor suggested a few things that improved the puzzle: this is an edit that I wasn’t enamoured with but decided to leave it as deadline day was approaching. I’d already messed the editor around asking for time to change a handful of clues. To my mind, it doesn’t work as a semi-&lit because the first five words do double duty and then ‘canines’ is just tagged on the end. I feel something like:

    Piece of gear to scrape canine cleaner? (10)

    was more like the original and would have been better. I’m still learning.

    SIDELIGHT is simply a double definition.

  2. sidey says:

    Top stuff from Tramp. Some really excellent cluing throughout. A real pleasure to solve.

    And thanks for the usual super blog scchua.

    Pic one is Clooney from ER.

  3. John Appleton says:

    Thanks, Tramp and Stella. Great to see Stephen Fry and Blackadder sneaking their way into my crossword.

  4. Tramp says:

    … of course I meant scchua. Doh.

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks for dropping by, Tramp. I’m a Stella swap today for next Friday, and hopefully no-one’s going to call her scchua then :-)

    (I hear that getting a ticket to Bayreuth is harder than winning a lottery, so you were lucky!)

  6. artiefufkin says:

    Another wonderful puzzle Tramp. Thoroughly enjoyed it.

    Picture 1 is George Clooney
    Picture 2 is Rosemary Clooney

    George is the nephew of Rosemary
    Rosemary is the aunt of George

    Not sure of the link to the puzzle yet though.

    Great work Tramp!

  7. NeilW says:

    Thanks, scchua and Tramp, both for the puzzle and dropping in – given that yours was the first comment yesterday, were you told this was going to be in yesterday’s paper?

    I had the same problem with TOOTHBRUSH, having difficulty categorizing it, although the answer was clear enough.

    On the first pass, I had Stephen and BLACKADDER so thought the latter was going to be the theme. That left me hunting around afterwards looking for something else beyond the Fry connection… I don’t think he has time for crosswords sadly, although they would be right up his street!

  8. Tramp says:

    sorry scchua. Excellent blog. I’d heard it was Stella today and never checked. Even though I thought “oh. Stella must be doing picture links as well”. What a muppet!

  9. artiefufkin says:

    I think both George and Rosemary Clooney appeared in ER.

  10. Tramp says:

    NeilW@7 – no. Yesterday I just happened to check 225 just as the blog went live. Today I checked in at 30 minute intervals.

  11. Gervase says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    Another nice one from Tramp – I liked the SF theme. Bravo for a valiant attempt at a clue for his autobig.

    Many great clues here: especially the &lit at 22a and the wonderful 7d and 8d. A lot of cleverly misleading defs: ‘entrance’ is not original, but well used here, ‘Elvis’s shock’, ‘drawer in house’ – and 3d is not half bad, IMHO.

    ‘Dog’ to clue the word ‘bitch’ in 1a was the only thing I had a slight qualm about, as ‘dog’ is properly the name of the male animal – originally ‘hounds’ (the Indo-European word) were either dogs OR bitches, as we still refer to the male of Vulpes vulpes as a ‘dog-fox’. But this is a very minor quibble in a fun puzzle.

  12. Gervase says:

    Sorry about the typo: ‘autobig’ should of course read ‘autobiog’. But, considering the author, it does make a kind of sense as I originally typed it….

  13. NeilW says:

    Yes, Tramp, you’re right – she made a guest appearance apparently in ER in 1994, according to IMDB.

  14. scchua says:

    Tramp@8, no need for apology, understandable slip. And I’ve been addressed worse before! :-)

  15. steve_m says:

    What a great week for cruciverbalists, Thanks to Rufus, Chifonie, Arachne, Puck and Tramp for making the daily morning commute a complete joy. Admittedly I had to make recourse to fifteensquared yesterday and Wednesday to complete these, but Tramp has restored my confidence with a really good crossword. Despite him not liking TOOTHBRUSH, this was my first in.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    We have had some great efforts from this setter recently and although not quite up to that standard I still enjoyed this one.
    I solved SF immediately so,thanks to the enumeration and that it was the first title which came to mind, ‘Moab….’ was in and opened the grid rather too easily.
    ‘Admirer’ was clever but over defined. ‘Upswept’ was neat and economical.

  17. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks to Tramp and scchua — some great and-lits here, esp. STEPHEN FRY.

    19d: I thought it was I’D EAT E, rather than consume being a container indicator.

  18. Tramp says:

    Thanks for comments.

    Mr Jim — that’s right.

  19. dunsscotus says:

    Excellent puzzle, thanks all. Can I ask for help re yesterday’s blog? I don’t what what the talk of ‘nina’ means. Is it an abbreviation?

  20. artiefufkin says:

    dunsscotus: A Nina is a hidden word or phrase which appears within the completed grid. The word originates from Al Hirschfeld who was an American caricaturist. He was reknowned for hiding his daughter’s name Nina wihtin his work.

    Does this help?

  21. artiefufkin says:

    Sorry. Meant renowned.

  22. dunsscotus says:

    Many thanks, artiefufkin.

  23. scchua says:

    Mr. Jim@17, well done for spotting the SF &lit, and you’re right about IDEATE (a temporary fixation with containers on my part!). Am correcting the blog, thanks.

  24. Gervase says:

    scchua: Re your parsing of 8d, I interpreted ‘navy’ as N (as in RN). The clue has ‘first “navy”‘ because RED ENSIGN has two Ns, only one of which needs to be removed to give the solution.

  25. Eileen says:

    I’ve been out since first thing this morning – but I made time to do the puzzle before I went! – so it’s practically all been said.

    I agree with all the ‘favourites’ above – as usual, I had too many ticks to mention but I’d just like to add 12ac, which made me laugh.

    I loved the theme and the clever way in which it was exploited. 11ac is definitely &lit! I’d love to think that SF saw this puzzle. As NeilW says, he’s surely one for cryptics?

    Many thanks, as ever, Tramp, and thank you, scchua, for the blog: you were fortunate in your swap!

  26. scchua says:

    Eileen@25, yes I know. I owe Stella, and I hope she’ll get a puzzle next Friday just as good if not better than today’s. Thanks again Stella, if you’re there.

  27. tupu says:

    Many thanks scchua and Tramp

    A very good puzzle at just the right Baby Bear level of difficulty for me.

    I’m no great Wagner fan but that did not interfere with my enjoyment. And I suppose I should learn to separate his musical talent from his virulent views even if he couldn’t keep them away from his assessment of Mendelssohn. The clues were amusing and immaculate so that I even worked out Fry’s title from the word play without knowing it beforehand.

    I loved 22a and also ticked 28a, 1d, and 3d despite the double duties.

    Many thanks too Tramp for your visits.

    ps There is a minor ‘typo’ at 14a – ring contains e-search.

  28. Kathryn's Dad says:

    A kind of unusual theme, but why not? Mr F is a National Treasure (did I read somewhere recently that the phrase has only just made it into the dictionaries this year? I’m sure it’s been around for ages). Luckily I knew the title of his book, so that was my way in. The ARTIST IN RESIDENCE anagram was my favourite clue today.

    Thanks for blogging, scchua, and to Tramp for another fine puzzle.

  29. scchua says:

    Thanks tupu@27, typo corrected.

  30. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Tramp for an excellently enjoyable puzzle, which prompted me to look up on Mr. Fry – apparently born about a month after I was, and whom I admire but, from the distance, don’t have much contact with.

    I’m flattered by the thanks unduly addressed to me, since Scchua’s blog is much better thanI would have managed . just as the puzzle deserves.

    Be with you all next Friday :)

  31. RCWhiting says:

    There was a recent whole programme on BBC R4 devoted to the concept of ‘national treasure’. A discussion led by Giles Brandreth (who isn’t one but obviously would like to be) covered what one is and how to become one.

  32. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks scchua and Tramp. Finished this over a cup of tea. Struggled with Stephen Fry’s book – it was the last one in but really liked 22a.

  33. Kathryn's Dad says:

    RCW, I’ve remembered now. It was one of the solution’s in Scorpion’s Indy crossword in November

    in which the gateway clue was CHAMBERS and all the acrosses were new entries for the 2012 edition. NATIONAL TREASURE was one of those (NEET and STAYCATION were others).

  34. amulk says:

    Another very nice puzzle and thanks for a fine blog to Scchua. I am afraid I hadn’t heard of Stephen Fry’s book so struggled with that a little and it was the last in – after confirmation from Google. On the subject of Stephen Fry, could someone please explain how 11ac is an &lit? I’ve probably got an attack of the stupids, but I can’t see how “National Treasurer” enters the wordplay. Surely it would have to be part of the wordplay for the clue to work as an &lit?

  35. Tramp says:


    It’s what I tend to call a semi-&lit. A true &lit needs no ‘padding': the definition and the wordplay are all contained in one, neat sentence with no extra words.

  36. Tramp says:

    ..the “on this” in:

    Crazy Baldrick idea, without the slightest bit of intelligence, repeatedly, on this? (10)

    makes it a semi-&lit.

  37. tupu says:

    Hi Amulk

    Isn’t it national treasure? No ‘r’. It’s an &lit inasmuch as he is a good man, English writer, capturing hearts with fine lines. If I remember rightly, a couple of years ago when much of the jargon of Cruciverbalish (a dialect of Mystificasian and said by some to be close to Gibberish – though this is contested) was new to me, the word ‘charade’ appeared quite often in the blogs but seems to have gone awol more recently. This clue seems to have a charade quality in addition to its &lit nature.

  38. Hip Priest says:

    Thanks Tramp for an enjoyable puzzle and scchua for the help (‘entrance’ had me scratching my head!) For some reason, instead of going for the obvious Birmingham side, I was trying to get Walsall to fit in somehow.

  39. scchua says:

    Re &lits and semi-&lits: I think that it will be my New Year resolution not to use these terms when blogging. I shall merely say that “the wordplay intertwines with the definition” (WIWD) and leave it at that, thus acknowledging the cleverness of the clue but pre-empting what I personally think is over-analysis of such clues.

  40. amulk says:

    Thanks Tramp @ 35 for clearing that up. And thanks too to Tupu 37. Definitely an attack of the stupids on my part for being too literal and for the typo in my original post.

  41. Paul B says:

    By it ‘truth’ and ‘lie’ looked alternately interchangeable (11)

    is an &lit because the whole clue defines the answer: there is no definition word per se, as absolutely everything is doing double-duty.

    This one by NC Dexter, just in case you’re missing it, is anag. alternate letters & lit using b, i, t, u, h, n, l, e, o, k, & d.

    Find out more about &lits here:

  42. tupu says:

    Hi amulk et al

    re charades. Apologies. I should have checked through the searching facility – the term appears much more commonly than I remembered, and is particularly common in PeterO’s blog of Paul 22/12/11.

  43. Tramp says:

    Paul B

    Doublethink — that’s a super clue

  44. Ian W. says:

    Thanks, Tramp, for the crossword, and scchua for the blog. But re your commentary on 24d, solicitors don’t wear wigs, barristers do — and they’re horse hair, not silk.

  45. Davy says:

    Thanks scchua,

    An interesting and very entertaining puzzle from Tramp, with quite a bit of tricky wordplay. I put BRAISE (cook) in but failed to see the BSE/Angus connection. Very well-disguised indeed. Took me far too long to get the catechisms anagram also.

    So many good clues so I’ll select a few favourites such as RECLAIMED (medical ground was excellent), LASTINGLY (superb surface) and PIMP (simple but effective).

    I enjoyed the theme also but didn’t know the Fry book although the clue led me to the answer.

    Great stuff Tramp. Looking forward to your next outing.

  46. Trebor says:

    Good puzzle again from Tramp.

    I vaguely recall some sort of quote from SF when discussing his reputed intelligence that went along the lines of [obviously paraphrasing]: “…I can do The Times crossword faster than anyone I know…” so it’s fairly likely that news of this puzzle will reach him.

  47. DROPO says:

    Well, I liked TOOTHBRUSH :) Good puzzle – I missed only “IRAQI” because I’d never heard of “QI.” (I’m an American addict of English crosswords, and my limited knowledge sometimes gets me almost far enough.)

  48. Davy says:

    Forgot to say, I thought TOOTHBRUSH was very Rufus-like.

  49. bagbird says:

    I am running behind after some recent puzzles took up far too much time.
    Tramp, this was a delight and has restored my enjoyment of crosswords. And I didn’t have to google anything, for once. Thank you!

  50. PeeDee says:

    Thanks scchua and Tramp, super puzzle and blog.

    I was really hoping someone would tell me what “MOAB WAS MY WASHPOT” is all about. Just a joke by Fry to see how much time people waste trying to come up with an explanation?

    I had never heard of the phrase but wrote it in any without any hope whatsoever of it being correct, then what do you know, it is correct after all!

  51. ernie says:

    Thanks scchua and Tramp. Would not normally come in this late but just to check if PeeDee@50 recognises that MOAB IS MY WASHPOT is somewhere in The Bible (Old Testament?). I assume SF chose it because it sounds both interesting and quirky at the same time.

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