Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,534 – Philistine

Posted by Uncle Yap on January 17th, 2012

Uncle Yap.

Quite an enjoyable outing today with a good blend of devices to tickle the mind.

1 ORIGINAL SIN Ins of I GIN (one drink) in ORALS (exams) + IN and of course, we bemoan and remember the fall of mankind when womankind couldn’t resist partaking of the fruit from the tree of knowledge of good and evil (Genesis, Chapter 3) Congratulations,  NeilW for spotting today’s deliberate error :-)
10 AVIGNON *(PAVING STONES minus STEPS) for a town in southeastern France on the Rhone River; the seat of the papacy from 1309 to 1378 and the residence of antipopes during the Great Schism. This is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts, its historic centre, the palace of the popes, Rocher des Doms, and the bridge of Avignon.
11 STUPIDITY ST (saint) CUPIDITY (greed) minus C
12 SCORN SCORE (twenty, 20) with North substituted for East
13 EMUS rha
14 CLOTHES PEG CLOT (idiot) HE’S (he is) P (first letter of proceedings) EG (exempli gratia, for example)
16 PHLEGMATIC *(PLACE MIGHT) meaning calm, unemotional or cool
19 PSST PS (post-script, I forgot to mention) + first letters of So & Try
20 SYRAH Rev of HARRY’S minus R for a red wine grape; (also without cap) wine made from this … from the ancient Persian City of Shiraz, where the grape is supposed to have originated
21 EFFICIENT EFF (sound of F) ICI (French for here) + decENT
23 EMERALD Ins of M (mile) in *(DEALER) with def STONE conjointed with MILE
24 RUB IT IN Ins of BIT (part) in RUIN (destruction)

1 OUR MUTUAL FRIEND OUR (Guardian’s) MU (Greek character) *(LefT FREUDIAN) Our Mutual Friend (written in the years 1864–65) is the last novel completed by Charles Dickens
2 IRAQI IRA (Irish Republican Army) Quite Intelligent
3 ILL WILL I (compiler) LL (shall) WILL (bequeath)
4 ANALYST rAiN fAlLs YeS iT (alternate letters of fodder) for a psychoanalyst or shrink. Anyone who goes to a psychiatrist ought to have his head examined. Samuel Goldwyn
5 SPINSTER Ins of North & South (partners in a game of bridge) in *(PRIEST )
6 NON COMPOS MENTIS NO NCO (a major is not a non-commissioned officer) MP (Member of Parliament or politician) OS (outsize, large) MEN (troops) + *(IT’S)
7 LAISSEZ-PASSER *(PARIS ASSEZ LES) betises is French for stupidity, mistake, blunder, silly thing or nonsense and used here as the anagrin – a document indicating permission to do something without restrictions
8 ONE NIGHT STAND *(SNOG INTENT HAD) My COD for the naughty imagery. To snog is to canoodle or caress amorously
15 EGGHEADS A tichy way of saying the letter E is the first letter (or head) of egghead
17 AGENDUM *(MAGNITUDE minus IT) We normally use the plural AGENDA
18 INFERNO INFER (conclude) NO (rejection)
22 CABLE dd Dr John Vincent “Vince” Cable (born 9 May 1943) is a British Liberal Democrat politician and economist who is currently the Business Secretary in the coalition cabinet of David Cameron.

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
rha = reversed hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

53 Responses to “Guardian 25,534 – Philistine”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks UY.

    Tiny mistake in 1ac: its IGIN in ORALS + IN.

  2. NeilW says:

    Sorry about the missing apostrophe!

    I would say very enjoyable rather than “quite,” Uncle Yap. Philistine gets better every time, in my opinion. :)

    The only clue I didn’t like too much was 22 – I’m not a big fan of clues with “sell by dates.”

  3. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Philistine and Uncle Yap. Enjoyed this puzzle. Was held at 16A by trying to anagram OTHER PLACE. Liked 23A and 15D.


  4. Alex in Oz says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap – wasn’t sure on the parsing of 1d. I was left with ‘MUT’ and couldn’t work out where it came from. Also, my lack of French (I studied German at school) had me scrambling for a dictionary to identify that betises was the anagram indicator. Fortunately I did know ‘ici’ (21a) from previous crosswords. Oh to be a polyglot.

    Otherwise, a nice Tuesday stroll, so thanks also to Philistine.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, and for explaining 22d. Excellent again from this new compiler. The clues were often so good I was disappointed to answer them easily – eg AVIGNON jumped out at once, and gave -N- to kick off 8D. Some of the anagrams were good and hard (16a, 17d) while a couple of long ones (1d, 7d) were soft, too close to the original. Like Alex, I frowned over the 1d anagram, not sure how kosher left’= LT is .

  6. NeilW says:

    Hi, molonglo. It’s “outwardly left” = LefT.

  7. NeilW says:

    Interesting aside. I use the iPhone version of Chambers which states that agenda is the plural of agendus not AGENDUM! My hard copy of the dictionary got mislaid in a house move a couple of years ago so I don’t know if the misprint is present there as well…

  8. Uncle Yap says:

    Interestingly Chambers does not carry agendum; only the following :
    agenda or
    n pl (often treated as n sing) (a list of) things to be done; a programme of business for discussion at a meeting.
    [L neuter pl of agendus to be done, gerundive of agere to do]

  9. Darkstarcrashes says:

    Very enjoyable, apart from 19ac which I thought unduly contrived. 8d definitely my COTD too. One gripe as a user of the newsprint version – the revised layout of the Grauniad has the grid straddling the fold of the page. A bit of a pain on the bus! Today’s the first day, so with luck there’ll be sufficient Disgusteds of Tunbridge Wells, or whatever the Guardian equivalent is, to force a rethink.

  10. andy smith says:

    TY UY for the helpful blog.

    @8 – FWIW, while Chambers doesn’t give agendum, Wiki does giving the following etymology:

    ‘ From Latin agendum, substantive use of the neuter singular of agendus (“which ought to be done”), future passive participle (gerundive) of ag? (“I do, act, make”). ‘

    No idea if that is correct or not.

  11. Eileen says:

    Quite right, andy: ‘agendus’ is the masculine singular, ‘agendum’ the neuter. ‘Agenda’ is the neuter plural. The Chambers entry is the equivalent of saying ‘bonnes’ is the feminine plural of ‘bon’, rather than the plural of ‘bonne’.

    Another delightful puzzle from Philistine – I agree with NeilW that he just gets better. Nothing too tortuously difficult but lots of ‘ahas’ and smiles.

    Many thanks, Philistine, for a really enjoyable puzzle – again, I didn’t want to finish it! Thanks to UY for the blog.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap.

    Yes, there was plenty to enjoy here, with a good range of devices. I specially liked SYRAH and AVIGNON, but was less keen on the French anagrind in 1dn. I think that’s a step too far for the average solver and if you have no means of looking it up then you’re in guessland. But a small niggle in a good puzzle, thank you to Philistine.

  13. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    Like others, I enjoyed this one a lot. Good clues with good surfaces (better than many which the older hands produce). 8d undoubtedly my favourite, and I liked the subtractive anagrams at 10a and 17d. 16a was one of my last entries – a wonderfully disguised and most unlikely anagram.

    In English our main encounters with Latin gerundives are in the neuter form: thing(s) to be…. Hence agenda, corrigenda, addenda and the splendidly pompous mutatis mutandis (complete with ablative absolute: ‘having changed the things that are to be changed’). But let’s not forget dear Amanda (female to be loved).

  14. MarionH says:

    Thanks Philistine and UY.

    One tiny quibble with your parsing of 15: surely in this context E is the head of egg, not of egghead?

  15. Gervase says:

    K’s D: I disagree with you about 7d, which I thought was excellent, combining “Paris” and the French wording in the anagram fodder. I suspect there are more people out there who have some knowledge of French than there are cryptic crossword solvers – although how large is the intersection between the two sets is certainly a matter for debate. Cryptic crosswords are littered with things that we don’t know and need to look up or check – ‘bêtises’ is no worse than many.

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks UY and Philistine.

    Plent of refreshingly original turns in this crossword, for example BRIDGETOWN as a definition in 10a; and INFERNO for afterlife in 18d

    I support the remarks about the paper layout by Darkstarcrashes@9; there also seems less empty space for writing, and (off topic) we have lost local and world weather reports and Weather Watch, too, all of which I read every day.

  17. ma_thomas says:

    This setter has perfect pitch – deft and never too contrived.

  18. Andy says:

    I concur with Darkstarcrashes re. the layout in the newsprint version. It was mildly irritating to spread the grid over the central fold. Still, we are only day 2 into the new format so let us hope it is only a brief aberration.

    That aside, I thoroughly enjoyed Philistine today. There were some wonderfully constructed clues. Cupidity was my only failing today – a new word for me.

  19. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog. You explained several cases where I was left scratching my head “Why should the answer be xxx?”.

    I was held up for a while on 14 because I assumed P-G had to be PIG :(

    For those of us who use the paper copy rather than the website: it is horrible having the fold across the grid. I have already emailed my complaint to newspaperchanges{at}guardian{dot}co{dot}uk and I recommend everybody else to do the same.

  20. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. Philistine is joining the ranks of setters whose names I really look forward to seeing. This was lovely — my only regret was that it was over too soon and that a couple of clues wrote themselves in (1dn in particular). Good variety of devices and I liked the use of French in 7dn. Spent most time on the clever anagram at 16ac and 25ac was the last one I got — fantastic surface I thought!

  21. Robi says:

    I echo the compliments to the setter.

    Thanks UY for the blog. KD @12; bêtise is in Chambers, so I guess it’s fair game.

    I did like the EGGHEADS and the ONE-NIGHT STAND. Although I do the crosswords on the computer, I can understand the frustration of the ‘fold’ problem, and think chas @19 is right to get as many complaints in as possible.

  22. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Philistine, for something different and Uncle Yap, as ever.

    I managed to solve 7d without seeing the anagram! A reasonable knowledge of French seems to be taken for granted by crossword compilers as is a certain amount of knowledge of Latin plus the Greek alphabet.

    Gervase @13 –No doubt Paul would have fun with mutatis mutandis in an Italian themed puzzle!


  23. Robi says:

    chas @19; [email protected] doesn’t seem to work. Have I got something wrong?

  24. chas says:

    My apologies – I made a silly mistake. What I wrote as newspaperchanges should have been newspaper.changes :(

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Although I agree regarding new layout (I don’t do it on a bus either) we should,in general, be more concerned at the continuous reduction in pages. The print version will disappear soon: what a dreadful thought.
    In the end, thanks to 16a, 18d, 15d, 25a it gave me a reasonable workout. At the start I thought it was a no-hoper. So many split enumeration long solutions which were obvious from the definitions alone (1a,8d, 6d 1d). How many novels have 3 word titles which start ‘our’, and that’s for someone who has never read a Dickens novel. 1 across was even worse, over definition gone mad!
    And ‘mad’ – (3,6,6),what else could it be?

  26. Gervase says:

    Giovanna @22: ‘Für’ (as in yesterday’s Rufus) and ‘bêtise’ are all very well, but ‘mutandine’ (Italian for ‘knickers’) might be a linguistic step too far for Paul, unfortunately!

  27. Monkeypuzzler says:

    The customary thanks to Philistine & Uncle Yap.

    Am I alone in being vexed by the apostrophe in the clue to 15d? I can see “E” is egg’s head, but the definition (clever ones) and the solution (eggheads) are plural. “E’s” implies the possession of some thing by E. Surely not the case. As stated, the only possession being implied is egg’s possession of a leading “e”. The surface would work better without too, IMHO.

  28. Mitz says:

    Thanks Philistine and UY – really enjoyed today’s puzzle. ‘Phlegmatic’ was my COD – very good anagram because it was less obvious than most. ‘One night stand’ also very good.

    I will be adding my complaint re: placing the grid on the fold – inexcusable. I sympathise with the Guardian having to cut down on pagination in times like these – the paper has been losing money hand over fist for some time now (despite loyal subscribers like your’s truly) and so only having a separate Sport section on Mondays and Saturdays is entirely understandable, but the layout editor can’t expect people not to harrumph about this!

  29. Mark says:

    This is one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts, its historic centre, the palace of the popes, Rocher des Doms, and the bridge of Avignon.

    Actually I’m pretty sure it’s the only French city to have preserved the bridge of Avignon. HTH.

  30. Mitz says:

    I agree Monkeypuzzler (27) – it does seem to be a grocer’s apostrophe! And very drole, Mark (29)!

  31. amulk says:

    Yes, a very nice puzzle indeed from Phlistine. Not entirely convinced by 19ac, which I finished by “filling in the blanks”, otherwise a very enjoyable effort. Thanks to UY too for his usual thorough blog.

    Also agree with the other hard-copy solvers about the placing of the puzzle across the fold.

  32. NeilW says:

    Monkeypuzzler and Mitz. Yes and it’s amazing that a bunch of sticklers like we are never noticed! Mitz, pity you seem to have strayed in similar fashion in your comment @28! ;)

  33. Mitz says:

    Ha ha – wot an idiot! Thanks for keeping me honest, Neil!

  34. bobbielee says:

    Would be very helpful if u would repeat the clue before each explanation. thank u.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hard work for me, no doubt the author of 9 would say “poured my light into ashes”.

  36. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Philistine

    I only got to most of this in the afternoon. A very clever and entertaining puzzle with some excellent anagrams and other devices. Some very good surfaces too.

    I puzzled over the parsing of 1d for some time but the penny dropped at last.

    Ticked many clues en route inc. 9a, 13a, 14a!, 19a, 25a, 6d, 8d! and 18d.

    We have had plenty discussions before about the use of apostrophes. I don’t think E’s here is a simple ‘grocer’s apostrophe’. Crystal’s Encyclopedia of English notes that a common early and persistent use has involved the apostrophe in plurals of foreign words where writers feel a need to clarify the singular form. I consider this case to be similar – Es would not be as immediately recognisable as the plural of E as, say, cats would be of cat.
    Beyond this, Crystal points to the long confused history of the marker since its introduction some centuries ago and the not wholly self-consistent attempts to clean it up in the C19. For example he notes the omission of the apostrophe in all genitive personal pronouns except one’s, and he points out that its omission in many other contexts is extremely widespread e.g. Barclays Bank, St Anns Church etc.

  37. RCWhiting says:

    If someone’s minor error in ‘your’s’ is both pointed out and apologised for perhaps I could gently object to ‘text speak’. Thankyou.

  38. RCWhiting says:

    I think I would go further and suggest that the use of an apostrophe in ‘awkward’ plurals is pretty well standard.
    If I wrote “How many as in paragraph?” it would need a double take before understanding dawned.
    However, “How many a’s in paragraph?” is much clearer.

  39. Monkeypuzzler says:

    tupu & RCWhiting
    I fully accept the need for unambiguity in prose, and the example of the number of occurrences of a certain letter in the word “paragraph” is a good one! For what it’s worth (not much, I grant you), I would write ‘How many “a”s in paragraph?’. This uses more punctuation, not always a good thing, but I think avoids the possession implication.

    As for the rising curse of text speak, I couldn’t agree more. It has it’s place, but surely not on a site given to the appreciation of the nuances of language. I can’t even bring myself to use it when actually texting on my wireless telephone, but that’s my antiquated ways for you!

  40. yogdaws says:

    Never done a Philistine (so to speak).

    Really liked this one. Neat and cheeky.

    Gratitude to all concerned.

  41. tupu says:

    Hi Monkeypuzzler

    I agree that your solution is a possible one. However, it is mistaken to think that the apostrophe is essentially a possession indicator. It was apparently introduced to mark something missing e.g. as in can’t, won’t etc. Its use in the possessive seems likely to have come from its representation of a missing ‘e’ from an earlier genitive case ending ‘es’. One way or another, as rcw and I argue,the present example seems not to be simply a mistake.

  42. Robi says:

    ……. maybe, grocers’ apostrophe makes more sense than grocer’s apostrophe(?)……

  43. Davy says:

    Thanks UY,

    I really enjoyed this one but remain unconvinced about 19a. However, one small quibble did not detract from an excellent puzzle. There was a mixture of easy and harder clues plus some excellent anagrams. PHLEGMATIC and DISEMBOWELS were indeed tricky and took a time to work out.

    Philistine’s clueing style is a bit different to the other compilers and as such, it makes a refreshing change. Thanks P.

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Philistine is going from strength to strength.
    His first ever puzzle, some time ago, had too many too obvious definitions (and was therefore over too soon). And while today one or two of us still have that feeling, I can only say: this was marvellous.
    The cluing is really top-notch. Good spread of devices, good surfaces. And sometimes just that little extra which makes Philistine stand out from the crowd.
    For me (and I am happy to say: for us) he has entered the Guardian Top 5.
    One of the most enjoyable crosswords I/we recently tackled.

    16ac was our last entry, even though I had seen this anagram before (Rufus? Dante?). It was the only clue that, in our opinion, felt somewhat uncomfortable because of the use of both “The” and “be”. But it is just nitpicking.

    Needing a pair of scissors to cut words in two, has really become one of the “new” devices during the last couple of years. Today, Philistine made his contribution, in 23ac. But I think he went one step further than others. I cannot remember having seen a clue in which one of the pieces of the word that had to be split, was the definition. Normally, it is fodder/indicator.

    Another nice little twist, probably unintended, can be found in 4d (ANALYST). ‘Shrink’ is originally a US slang word, so seeing ‘makes us shrink’ in the clue was much appreciated.

    Wonderful stuff from Philistine.
    A jewel in the crown.

  45. darkstarcrashes says:

    Derek@35 – one gets the impression from these blog entries that some folk are casting for faults in the clouds of delusion :-)

  46. charmonium says:

    I’m new to crosswords and almost finished this one :D Just needed my dad’s help with 15 and 19. I still don’t really understand how 15 worked, could anyone explain it in a bit more detail?

    I liked 10 alot, I assumed “bridgetown” was a reference to the famous song “Sur le pont d’Avignon”.

  47. NeilW says:

    Hi, charmonium. Welcome to the blog and crossword land!

    As pointed out in the blog comments, Uncle Yap was slightly out in his explanation, which is probably the source of your confusion. The definition is “Clever ones” and the cryptic part is “get E’s.” The letter E is the “head” letter of the word “egg,” thus EGGHEADS are “E’s.” EGGHEADS is a rather dated word for clever people – presumably because they are characterised as having excessively large brains!

    Hope that helps!

  48. Paul B says:

    Just say ‘how many letters A in a paragraph’. If you really want to say it.

    ‘Clever ones get E’s is wrong’, pure and simple: E is the head of egg in this sense, and Es are heads of egg. Well, that what is meant, anyway. It’s a bit of a mess all round really.

  49. RCWhiting says:

    Eggheads is hardly dated – it is the title of a popular early evening quiz show on BBC2 TV which has been running for years.

    Paul, reminds me of examples like ‘court-martials’ or ‘courts-martial’ ie letter a’s or letters a.

  50. Sil van den Hoek says:

    But apart from the fact that E’s should indeed have been Es [in the (excellent) surface, that is – cryptically speaking, it’s not wrong], this was IMO a splendid crossword.
    BTW, this Eggheads thing is very Paulian. I am sure, would Paul have done this, we all would have jumped for joy. The same with PSST, I guess.
    Paul B, I hope your “It’s a bit of a mess all round really” only applies to the E-thing [and who’s to blame? the setter? yes, perhaps, but who’s the next in line?].
    I’ll stick to my verdict that there’s something really good about Philistine.

  51. Paul B says:

    No, it IS indeed wrong: the apostrophe IS incorrect.

  52. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Sorry, Paul, don’t get this (but as you know I’m a bloody foreigner :)).
    The plural of (grade E) is Es, so the surface should have read Es and not E’s.
    Clear to me, indeed wrong.
    But because Egghead = E, both Es and E’s can lead to EGGHEADS.
    Am I right (in constructions we do not look at apostrophes)?
    That’s why I wrote that, cryptically speaking, it’s OK.
    This is a different discussion from the one we had a while ago, which was about the surface being fine while the cryptic construction was not acceptable (incidentally, also triggered by a Philistine puzzle).
    Here I think the construction is fine, while the surface is not what it should be.
    Correct if I’m wrong.

  53. tupu says:

    Hi Paul and Sil

    As noted earlier, the apostrophe is a long-standing convention for marking what RCW calls ‘awkward’ plurals. It is also but not only a possessive indicator.

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