Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic Nº 25,541, by Shed

Posted by PeterO on January 25th, 2012


One on the easier end of the Guardian spectrum, apart from a couple of perhaps less familiar references.
The main feature of the clues is the variety of envelope indicators.

4. Share prayer, wanting nothing (6)
RATION [o]RATION without the o (‘wanting nothing’).
6. Endless wine Shed’s knocked back with officiant (8)
MINISTER A reversal (‘knocked back’) of RETSIN[a] (‘endless wine’) + I’M (‘Shed’s’).
9. Close bank experiencing setback in US city (6)
NEARBY An envelope (‘in’) of EARB, a reversal (‘setback’) of BRAE (‘bank’) in NY (that wonderful town, ‘US city’).
10. Getting shot of free fling (8)
RIDDANCE A charade of RID (‘free’) + DANCE (‘fling’).
11. Character in Hamlet attended wild parties, bumping into popular performer? (11)
GRAVEDIGGER An envelope (‘bumping into’) of RAVED (‘attended wild parties’) in GIGGER (‘popular performer’).
15. Designer of hobbit, elf or dwarf? (7)
TELFORD Resisting the urge to write in Tolkein (two crossing letters correct, at least!), this is an answer hidden in ‘hobbiT ELF OR Dwarf’, giving the Scottish engineer Thomas Telford.
17. It’s not the whole story, but recipe’s included (7)
EXCERPT An envelope (‘included’) of R (‘recipe’) in EXCEPT (‘but’).
18. Monk’s live number accommodating rule (11)
BENEDICTINE Am envelope (‘accommodating’) of EDICT (‘rule’) in BE (‘live’) + NINE (‘number’).
22. Oil the wheels with S&M … and bondage? (8)
HELOTISM An anagram (‘wheels’) of ‘oil the’ + SM (‘S&M’).
23. River drowning one Roman governor (6)
PILATE An envelope (‘drowning’) of I (‘one’) in PLATE (‘river’, the Rio de la Plata, on the border of Argentina and Uruguay).
24. Instrument-maker’s to stop drinking wine when drunk (8)
STEINWAY An envelope (‘drinking’) of EINW, an anagram (‘when drunk’) of ‘wine’ in STAY (‘stop’).
25. Yearn to introduce soldiers to Mum or Dad (6)
PARENT An envelope (‘to introduce’) of RE (Royal Engineers, ‘soldiers’) in PANT (‘yearn’).
1. Girl holding up computer manufacturer’s re-animated remains (6)
ZOMBIE An envelope (‘holding’) of MBI, a reversal (‘up’ in a down clue) of IBM (‘computer manufacturer’) in ZOE (‘girl’).
2. Plunging top to toe into metal 1s (6,4)
LIVING DEAD An envelope (‘into’) of IVINGD, which is DIVING (‘plunging’) with the first letter moved to the end (‘top to toe’) in LEAD (‘metal’).
3. Like ancient poet’s photo capturing faulty drain (8)
PINDARIC An envelope (‘capturing’) of INDAR, an anagram (‘faulty’) of ‘drain’ in PIC (‘photo’). The definition refers to the ancient Greek poet Pindar.
4. Vagabond to smuggle mineral (8)
RUNAGATE A charade of RUN (‘smuggle’) + AGATE (‘mineral’).
5. Turtle’s head fit for consumption — on this? (3,5)
TEA TABLE A charade of T (‘Turtle’s head’) + EATABLE (‘fit for consumption’).
7. Plenty of mucus around (4)
TONS A reversal (‘around’) of SNOT (‘mucus’).
8. Smell smoke (4)
REEK Double definition.
12. 1’s interrupting one Asian or another (10)
INDONESIAN An envelope (‘interrupting’) of ONES (‘1s'; unlike 2D, this does not refer to the clue of that number) in INDIAN (‘one Asian’).
13. Old exclamation about … about falling water … or how to get rid of it? (8)
DRAINAGE An envelope (the second ‘about’) of RAIN (‘falling water’) in DAGE, a reversal (the first ‘about’) of EGAD (‘old exclamation’).
14. Most overpriced fly mostly securing piss-up (8)
STEEPEST A reversal (‘-up’, encompassing the entire wordplay) of an envelope (‘securing’) of PEE (‘piss’) in TSETS[e] (‘fly mostly’).
16. Revolutionary or mordant? (8)
ORBITING A charade of ‘or’ + BITING (‘mordant’).
19. High point? No more than 151 (6)
CLIMAX A charade of CLI (Roman numerals, ‘151’) + MAX (‘no more than’). The order of the elements follows the common usage of MAX.
20. Letters from louse unopened (4)
PHIS [a]PHIS (‘louse unopened’). The Greek letter phi.
21. Down and dirty (4)
BLUE Double definition.

37 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic Nº 25,541, by Shed”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    As you say, remarkably straightforward but nonetheless pleasant solve for a Shed.

    Having got 1 and 19, amongst others, on the first pass, I did wonder if it was going to be a pangram but no. No other Nina that I can see. I think 11 was the standout clue – otherwise the only holdup was a couple of words that were new, at least to me. I needed the crossing letters to see 20 and, even then, I looked up “achis” first!

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeterO, and Shed for a puzzle I liked, especially for its testing SW corner – both 22 and 24a were very neat. I also liked the two misleading ‘ones’ in 2 and 12d, but wondered if there was any reason at all for the apostrophe in the second of these.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thank you for the blog, PeterO.

    A welcome return for Shed and an enjoyable puzzle. Favourite clues: GRAVEDIGGER, HELOTISM, STEINWAY and PHIS. [And hurrah for the unequivocal – for once – 7dn.]

    Re molonglo’s comment: please, everyone, let’s not resurrect the very recent discussion about the use of the apostrophe in the plurals of letters and numerals: here it’s surely indicating ‘one is’?

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Shed

    I wondered at first if I was going to get anywhere but made steady progress after Telford.

    I had not appreciated the number of ‘envelopes’ before reading the blog. Like NeilW I began looking out for a pangram (only Q, U, and J are missing).

    :) A ‘classical education’ once again proves its worth – helotism, Pindaric, and Phis.

    I enjoyed this – ticked 6a, 9a, 17a, 18a, 22a, 24a, 12d, 13d, 14d as I ambled along in a generous mood.

  5. Robi says:

    Not that easy; especially with words like PINDARIC, RUNAGATE and HELOTISM. Shed must have been in a morbid mood with his GRAVEDIGGER, ZOMBIE and LIVING DEAD.

    Thanks PeterO; I got to EXCERPT wrongly via ‘ex’ and ‘cerp’ from recipe (but no ‘t!’) As usual, my hackles rise with r=recipe when r=red is apparently not allowed. Has anyone ever seen ‘r’ written as an abbreviation for recipe? I liked the simple clue for PHIS.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi

    “Has anyone ever seen ‘r’ written as an abbreviation for recipe?”

    Yes! It used to be written in the top left corner of prescriptions, as an instruction [‘Recipe’, Latin ‘Take’] to the pharmacist [I can remember the days when you watched the pharmacist actually mixing your prescription!]. It may still be – I keep forgetting to look.

  7. PeterO says:

    Robi @5

    R=recipe pops up every now and then, and is justifiable, with recipe pronounced with a hard c and a final e, as the Latin for take. It used to be the standard introduction to a doctor’s prescription, generally written with a flourish on the tail, and crossed (and hence often rendered Rx). It is still quite commonly used, at least in the US, to indicate a prescription.

  8. Paul B says:

    Re molonglo, obviously the 1s at 2 is plural, ZOMBIES = LIVING DEAD. But at 12 I too wonder why the apostrophised version has been deployed as an alternative (i.e. it isn’t actually needed): I would have been tempted to maintain an illusory thematic link and mimic 2.

    Good to see the GRAVEDIGGER too, in this excellent puzzle.

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO

    Remarkably straightforward for Shed (I found). Even the vocab didn’t put me off my stride today. Curiously classical/morbid flavour to the puzzle, which I enjoyed a lot.

    Like others, I got ZOMBIES and CLIMAX on the first pass, which flagged up a possible pangram, but this didn’t cause too much of a problem. Favourites were GRAVEDIGGER (for a while I was looking for a word incorporating an anagram of ‘parties’), TELFORD (what a clever hidden clue), HELOTISM (clever construction and fun surface), STEINWAY (another good surface).

    I hadn’t appreciated how many container clues there were until you all pointed it out. And there are only two double defs and one anagram – very unusual, but it didn’t seem unbalanced in any way.

    Last in was DRAINAGE – it took me a while to see the construction.

  10. Mitz says:

    Thanks Shed and PeterO

    Got through this reasonably quickly, with only a couple holding me up. As for some others, runagate and helotism were new ones on me, but fairly clued and gettable from the crossing letters. The extreme SW corner gave me pause for a while because I had truncated ‘aphid’ instead of ‘aphis’, thinking that maybe PhiD was some kind of doctorate (ie ‘letters’) but the very good ‘Steinway’ soon set me straight. Wasn’t particularly convinced by ‘oration’ = ‘prayer’ at 4a, but loved ‘minister’, ‘Telford’ and ‘living dead’. Last in, and without properly parsing it, was ‘steepest’ – the fly must have put me to sleep!

  11. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. You explained a couple of cases where I was left scratching my head over why the answer should be xxx.

    I also tried to make an anagram of parties in 11a :(
    On 23a I tried to find a word meaning Roman Governor as a generalisation. Eventually I spotted that it was one specific governor!

    On 20d I tried chi, phi and rho but finally settled on phi.

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Mitz

    I entered ORATION without hesitation [Latin ‘orare’, to pray – Classical education again!] but I wondered about it. You’ve moved me to look it up: neither Collins nor Chambers gives that meaning [though Chambers does give ‘orare’ to pray as the derivation] and my old SOED gives it as a prayer but ‘now only in historical use’.

  13. Mitz says:

    Thanks for that, Eileen – any classical education that I have is sadly self-taught and so a bit thin…

  14. Eileen says:

    Hi again Mitz

    I was lucky enough to get mine at State expense – and my Latin degree! [Those were the days.]

  15. Robi says:

    Eileen @6 & PeterO @7; I’m very familiar with Rx for prescription – it’s used all the time. Don’t think ‘R’ by itself is used much, if ever, these days (I wait to be corrected, though.)

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I tend to disagree with the blogger about the difficulty level of this one. I found it quite a suitable little challenge.
    Apart from a very old ‘O’level in Latin I have no classical education but usually get by linguistically; I find the still present obsession with Roman and Greek mythology (see University Challenge) irritating. Obsessions with myths which currently some people believe to be true is bad enough but no person alive today believes in the former (do they?!).
    For a daily G. it was unusual to find three solutions I did not know, like Robi, (Pindaric, runagate and helotish (nice anagram)) but they all fell eventually.
    Last in were zombie and living dead which submitted together.
    Intrigued by setter’s decision to define Telford as a designer. He obviously did design but it is not a word you will find associated with his name in most reference works.

  17. NeilW says:

    Robi, I was going to comment in the same vein – it’s the way I’ve always written it but, thirty years ago, nobody actually taught young doctors how to do such things correctly – we were just expected to pick things up, so I dare say there were many minor things I did and still do incorrectly. (I hope nothing important.) I still write shorthand “with” as a small letter I with a line over it as no one ever told me it was supposed to be a C, short for cum. :)

  18. NeilW says:

    … or even a dot – not sure which is correct!

  19. Mitz says:

    RCW – I think describing references to Roman, Greek or any other mythology as an obsession is a little strong. For me (a confirmed atheist by the way) there’s nothing wrong with a great story, and if something like the Percy Jackson series will encourage my 11 year old son to read then I’m all for it.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    I agree about reading for the young – anything is better than nothing!
    My objection is the way a knowledge of R & G mythology is somehow linked to general intelligence and learning. After all Norse or Indian mythology (or any other) are all just utter nonsense tarted up with some unpronounceable names and a great deal of incest.
    It always strikes me as odd that Paxman (on UC) scoffs at any trivial contemporary knowledge but reads out the interminable R&G myth questions as though dealing with something a rational person would consider important.

  21. Gervase says:

    Re various comments above:

    ‘Prayer’ = oration caused me to raise an eyebrow also, but the Latin etymological link seemed good enough to let it pass without checking.

    ‘Designer’ as the def for TELFORD is slightly cryptic and fits the surface much better than ‘engineer’, which would also have made the clue too obvious. ‘Architect’ would have served.

    Without a passing knowledge of Greco-Roman mythology and Bible stories, much of European art becomes meaningless, so it has some practical value whether or not you believe in any of it.

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi Gervase

    Not only art but literature, too – or perhaps you meant art in the broadest sense.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Adding ‘meaning’ to endless large oil paintings of large bottomed naked women involved in bestiality is hardly a ‘practical value’.
    It might be fun, for some, but never practical.

  24. NeilW says:

    Sorry, before I go to bed… RCW, your point is?

  25. RCWhiting says:

    I thought I was replying to the points made by Gervase and Eileen @ 21 and 22. Wasn’t I?

  26. Paul B says:

    Not sure RCW, but I’m certain you haven’t yet addressed the points made, at variance with the one you express in dribs and drabs at #16, #20 & #23, about the continuing relevance of myth in the understanding and study of literature, painting, music, sculpture et cetera.

    I’m currently more of a fan of #19 #21 & #22 (as well as UC), yet I still hope that you are considering making a further contribution to the discussion.

  27. RCWhiting says:

    I am a great admirer of polymaths and would like to apire to such a status.
    Thus a knowledge of R&G mythology is not something which I deplore.
    What I do deplore is the way, in certain circles, that it is given a special place in the hierarchy of knowledge. It is, after all,just trivial nonsense.
    The reason for this is complicated and traditional but contains large doses of classism, sexism and anti-scienceism(?).

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Sorry ‘aspire’.

  29. Mitz says:

    At the risk of stepping in unnecessarily when I’m not wanted (I’m quite sure that RCW can stick up for himself perfectly well) I thought he was quite clear: he finds it irritating that on University Challenge and elsewhere knowledge of the classics is elevated to a higher status than knowledge of other things. Not something that particularly irritates me per se, but I take his point. And his contribution at #23 made me laugh at least…

  30. Derek Lazenby says:

    RCW, are you ready for this? Sitting comfortably? We agree!

  31. Paul B says:

    Well now let’s see: RCW specifically mentions UC as being ‘obsessed’ with Roman and Greek mythology. So does UC really prioritise classics?

    We had a geezer on the other day who claimed to be reading it, but he was a bit of a rara avis (sorry about that Latin, there) as far as I can tell, and I watch it all the time. Besides, aren’t we all supposed to be more interested in ‘modern classics’ (i.e. PPE)? I’m sure we are, and the Oxbridge Universities themselves have been pushing Sisyphus et al back down the hill for yonks.

    Yes, you get the occasional question on myth, but it seems to me utterly baseless to say that UC prioritises anything at all, providing instead a wide selection of subjects for the players (most among whom seem to be, at least to some degree, pun intended, generalists).

    Thus to impute ‘obsession’ is clearly balderdash. If you want to slag off a show like that, call it elitist and then see who disagrees with you.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    You are so obviously correct,PaulB.
    How is the refined pornography hanging on the walls of your stately home?

    Thanks Mitz, my humour often seems to escape detection hereabouts.
    Derek, I will let you know when I have recovered.

  33. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Shed and PeterO,

    I liked oration and thought it connected well with Benedictine. With views of Perugino landscapes on the doorstep for much of the year, I am a huge admirer of Renaissance art. However I loved RCW’s allusion to the large ladies @ 23! It made me smile. There can be a Holy Cow approach to art in general, which must be grating to those who are not interested.

    Paul B’s ornithological comment @ 31 made me smile, too.

    One of the most interesting parts of this site for me is the variation of opinion.


  34. Paul B says:

    Oh well. Another day, et cetera (there I go again).

    And the economy’s seen another shrink. Still not the full quid, then.

  35. Shed says:

    Thanks for the comments.

    Apart from ‘Pindaric’, I can’t see what all these ‘classical’ references are that have caused such controversy. Phis are alive and well and widely used by modern Greeks. ‘Helotism’ is, admittedly, derived from Greek, but so is ‘telephone’.

    I can’t, of course, speak for Jeremy Paxman.

  36. RCWhiting says:

    I think it was that old chestnut r = recipe which started the discussion.

  37. Pat O'Brien says:

    Hi PeterO

    Thought you may be interested to know that this puzzle was published in todays Brisbane Courier Mail.

    The clue for 14d has been changed to ” Most expensive metal,endless annoyance (8).”

    I really thought that us Australians were sophisticated enough to cope with the original clue, but obviously not. It certainly appears to have upset somebody.

    Seems the Courier Mail is a very conservative journal for a News Limited tabloid!

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