Never knowingly undersolved.

The Guardian No 25,559 by Paul

Posted by Stella on February 15th, 2012


This is Paul at his best, with great clues, a fun theme and nicely intertwined references. It took a while to hit on the theme, but once the penny dropped it all fell out nicely, apart from a couple that are not quite up my street.

Thanks Paul for reminding me of one of the most important groups of my teens. I’ve included links to the songs for those who like to listen  – hold the mouse over the title to reveal.

Definitions are underlined in the clues, with the exception of 15’s.

1. 15’s dip to seize prey, wings torn off (7)
BREATHE Central letters of (p)RE(y) in BATHE. I don’t remember this song, but the wordplay was clear enough – though on first reading I thought we’d be looking for birds :)
5. Pleased to see hit involving heroes, for a start (7)
CHUFFED CUFFED = “hit”, around H(eroes)
9. Old dictator, Pol’s partner, executed the divvy (5)
IDIOT IDI (Amin) + ( Pol P)OT – What a pair!
10. Dance tease, say (3-3-3)
CHA-CHA-CHA Three teas.
11. Capitals of Italy, Morocco and Germany less popular in important 8 city? (9)
KIMBERLEY I(taly) + M(orocco) + BERL(in) – “less popular” = ‘without “in”‘ -, all in KEY
12. Game tease, say, in John (5)
LOTTO Two “t’s” in LOO
13. Regarding the birth of the bum (5)
NATAL Double definition; the ‘nates’ are the buttocks, according to Chambers online.
15. Old chef’s after salmon for group (4,5)
PINK FLOYD PINK = “salmon” + (Keith) FLOYD
18. Growth in ecstasy through distribution of narcotic (9)
19. Escape that’s authorised, in a word? (3,2)
LEG IT Double definition, the second referring to LEGIT(imate) – another word people insist on shortening for no apparent reason – I’ve complained about this habit before :)
21. See 23 down
- See 23 down
23. Like jelly? 4, perhaps, for triangular plate (3,6)
SET SQUARE SET + SQUARE, of which 4 is an example.
25. Obscure 8 7, say — base (9)
HYDROXIDE I’m no chemist, and know nothing about diamonds, so any help will be welcome. All I know, from Wiki, is that this is indeed a base.
t26. More cross, train not in, completing last in puzzle (5)
EXTRA X + TRA(in) after (puzzl)E
27. Right pair of OT characters, free (7)
28. Plastic through which to draw money by cents, I gathered (7)
STENCIL *CENTS I + L = ‘pound’ = “money”
1. See 18
- See 18
2. Time saved by unscrambling of a Gemini crossword, primarily cryptic (9)
ENIGMATIC T in *A GEMINI + C(rossword)
3. Name tag’s initial, lining hat (5)
4. English city Paul built for Australian natives (9)
5. See 23
- See 23
6. Discouraging classic hit breaking farmers in middle of July (9)
UNHELPFUL HELP (not by 15, this time) in NFU in (J)UL(y)
7. One intercepting newspaper feature (5)
8. See 23
- See 23
14. Rearing meat, you waste sugar (9)
LAEVULOSE <VEAL + U + LOSE = “waste”
16. “Numbers” originally called “number” in error, raised (9)
NINETEENS Sorry, I’m clueless on this one. All I can see is <SIN = “error raised”
17. Wild dog taking drink, head down (9)
ORGIASTIC ASTI (spumante) in CORGI, with the first letter moved down to last place.
18,1,20. 15’s doctor went into a hall to pen “Two Little Boys” (7,5,2,3,4)
20. See 18
- See 18
22. Sing composition in lullaby, only borders raised (5)
YODEL ODE in <L(ullab)Y
23,21,5,8. 15’s timid about one gaseous element, shifting my zodiac around (5,2,3,5,7)
24. Line in letter recited (5)
QUEUE Sounds like the letter Q

55 Responses to “The Guardian No 25,559 by Paul”

  1. Rich says:

    thanks Stella and Paul.

    The usual wit and brilliance shining through. Great puzzle.

    Re 25A I think it’a a homophone of hide rock side.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Stella.

    25 – homophone of “hide rock side.”

  3. NeilW says:

    Snap, Rich!

    16 – Reversal of SIN around NEE “originally called” + TEN “number”

  4. Rich says:

    Lol NeilW

    Just came back to post “nee ten” in <"sin" – one all!

  5. scchua says:

    Thanks Stella, and Paul for a great puzzle.

    The first in was 15 and that helped with the rest. (It also brought back pleasant memory of having the good fortune to have chatted with the late great man at his restaurant in Phuket.)

    16D NINETEENS is NEE(originally called, for a married woman) + TEN (number) in SIN all reversed.

  6. Conrad Cork says:

    The trouble with puzzles like this, however ingenious, is that if you know the key clue, you can often get the themed answers from the enumeration, without having to parse the clue, which reduces the fun. If you don’t know the key clue you at best have to rely on guess work, and at worst are stymied.

  7. scchua says:

    Sorry NeilW and Rich, a three-way cross.

  8. UncleAda says:

    Thank you Stella for the blog, and Paul for a sublime cryptic.

  9. molonglo says:

    Thanks Stella, including for parsing YODEL for me (the ‘only’ threw me). I own 9 Floyfd LPs so no trouble with the theme. But there were some mental leaps ahead (like divvy=idiot) and some joyful moments (17d, eventually, after trying to wrestle ‘dog’ into 0-G). Aids needed for the last two tough, 25a and 14d. Marvellous, Paul.

  10. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Stella. Although I got Pink Floyd early on, their name was about all I knew about them – I had not heard of even one of the thematic answers, so this was a bit of a bore for me. Bring back Mozart and Verdi!

  11. Stella says:

    Thanks to Rich, NeilW and scchua for filling in the blanks. It seems there are always a couple that defeat me, despite getting the answer – they’re obvious now, of course :)

    I made a pint of NOT looking up the group, but working out the titles from the wordplay, so that I could parse them for you more readily. Of course, it helped that I did know the two long ones, and that Dark Side of the Moon didn’t fit!

  12. Miche says:

    Thanks, Stella.

    Took me longer than usual, not being familiar with the 15 canon. I liked the different capitals in 11 and the homophone in 25. LAEVULOSE is new to me, but clear from the wordplay. My last in along with NATAL: in all these years I never knew I had a pair of nates.

  13. NeilW says:

    NATAL was first in for me because of the anatomical term “NATAL cleft” – popularly know as builder’s cleavage! I remember thinking how unusually obvious it was for Paul but now realise that perhaps it’s not a common term after all – it doesn’t feature in my Chambers.

  14. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Stella.

    Like cholecyst, I got 15a without difficulty, but ANOTHER BRICK… was the only familiar track for me, which made the puzzle uncommonly tricky. I couldn’t parse 16d (thanks for that) and didn’t put YODEL in for 22d for quite a while because I thought YO was ‘only borders raised’ and couldn’t see how DEL came from ‘lullaby’. I did manage to parse it eventually, having got HYDROXIDE, which, as a chemist, I’m ashamed to say was one of my last entries! (Not helped by misreading the clue as ‘Obscure 6,7..’. It’s a great one, though). I did get LAEVULOSE without difficulty, however.

    Favourite clues 11a (cleverly devious to have I, M, BERL), 4d (took me ages to realise we weren’t talking about Aboriginals) and 17d (nice construction and surface).

    Why ‘plastic’ in 28a? A STENCIL can be made of any solid material. This seemed unnecessary and confusing.

  15. Gervase says:

    BTW, I thought for a while that this was a pangram. It is almost there – only missing a J.

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Stella. I didn’t think this was one of Paul’s best, as, depite getting the answers, there we too many where I couldn’t see the parsing (9a, the OT bit, despite thinking POL), 13a (of the bum), 25a, 28a (missed L for money), 6d and 16d. Rather detracts from the enjoyment.

    Isn’t it time 4, 9 etc for SQUARE was put out to pasture? We have had so many of them recently they have become cliched.

    I tried solving this from the end up, today; when I got to 15a I got it straight away, so a bottom up solve was not the way to go! However, for me (dare I say it?) obscurity abounded so I had too look up all the PF titles, which means I didn’t need the clues, so again detracting from the enjoyment. However, I did spend a happy half hour broadening my knowledge of diamond cuts.

  17. Gervase says:

    Re my comment at 14, I suppose ‘plastic’ in 28a is the anagrind and ‘gathered’ only serves as a container indicator for the I. Which would make it one of those contentious ‘definition in the middle’ clues.

  18. Stella says:

    Hi Gervase, I get your point@14, although the stencils most of us are familiar with are made of plastic. In any case, your explanation @17 doesn’t really work for me, I’m afraid.

  19. William says:

    Thank you, Stella. Needed you for the ‘execution’ device in IDI+OT (removing the head,) which I always seem to miss.

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle from Paul – lots of clever misdirecting devices.

    NeilW @13, thank you so much for the NATAL CLEFT – I’ll never forget it!

    More please, Paul.

  20. KayOz says:

    I love Paul. He makes me think outside the normal. Isn’t it great when you get an answer (solve) and then think ‘You little arsehole’ or similar when you work out the why? (called ‘parsing’ on this site).

    I am of an age that made me a 15ac fan. I have watched too many videos of ‘The Dark Side of the Moon’ to be healthy. We were young trainee Air Traffic Controllers at the time. Haha.

    1ac I didn’t remember the name of this song, although it went in easy enough. I enjoyed the clip that Stella inserted in her blog. Old memories. Great blog thanks.

    9ac I don’t know a DIVVY as an idiot. I thought of it as ‘divvy up’, as in spread the money.

    13ac I got the NATAL but tried for NATES as in bum cheeks, but it did not fit. Borderline ok.

    Like 19a LEG IT, 26a EXTRA and 28a STENCIL. Actually I liked the whole thing.

  21. Robi says:

    Yes, it’s all very clever to get the titles in, but I found this rather unsatisfying. Had to Google Pink Floyd tracks and then just slapped the answers in (but couldn’t find BREATHE, in any case.) I just found myself getting more bad-tempered as I went on. Perhaps we should have a Bill Haley theme and see how many people know his songs?

    Thanks, Stella; heroic work to parse the answers before resorting to Googling PINK FLOYD, but it sounds like you know their music better than me. Gervase @14; I thought the ‘plastic’ was there as a deliberately misleading cue to ‘plastic money.’ I thought originally that we were in ATM land again.

    I did like Paul’s ORGIASTIC, which I put in before parsing, knowing how Paul’s mind seems to work! And HYDROXIDE had a nice clue, I thought.

  22. Martin says:

    Congratulations from the dark side on enlightening me regarding the parsing of several of these clues which, even though I got the answers, I had no idea how!

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Don’t know what to think of this puzzle.
    The comments of Conrad Cork (@6) and cholecyst (@10) sum it more or less up for me.

    I found PINK FLOYD early on, in that corner certainly helped by the ridiculously easy CHA-CHA-CHA (10ac).
    After that, at least for me, it started to become a kind of fill-in exercise. I couldn’t be bothered about the effort Paul must have put in constructing the two long ones. And I knew BREATHE as the first track of the Floyd’s masterpiece “Dark Side Of The Moon” (1973).

    On the other hand, I can also understand why cholecyst found it a bore. If this is not your world, well, hopefully more fun next time. Not sure whether we should (always) return to Mozart and Verdi though. Pink Floyd’s not that ‘modern’, we talk about 30-40 years ago …. Whoa, we’re getting old. :)

    As such, the crossword was a typical Paul.
    Good quality, but for the reasons mentioned not challenging enough for me (or do I sound like RCW now? :)).

    Many thanks, Stella.

  24. Median says:

    Robi @15, I agree with you about this being clever but unsatisfying. I got Pink Floyd easily enough but had to make far too much use of Google in unearthing their tracks. If it had been an equivalent puzzle featuring one of ‘my’ groups – The Who or the Stones, for example – I guess I would have enjoyed it and saluted the setter’s skill, but I don’t think I would have seen it as fair to solvers in general.

  25. Mitz says:

    Thanks Paul and Stella.

    Everyone has said everything already. Hydroxide – ha!

    Re the PF tracks: 18 1 20 was a number 1 single in 1979 (strictly ABITW part 2), 23 21 5 8 is a very famous lament to their founding member and 1a is the second track on one of the biggest selling albums of all time. Hardly obscure, even if you’re not that familiar with the group’s work.

  26. PeterJohnN says:

    Thanks Paul and Stella.

    Having been to a Floyd “tribute” band gig at a local pub only last Saturday, I had no trouble with the group or the song titles, but still couldn’t complete the bottom right-hand corner in the time I allowed myself. I found NINETEENS, STENCIL and ORGIASTIC particularly obscure. Completed the rest but couldn’t parse some of them. LAEVULOSE was new to me, but it’s just another name for Fructose or Fruit Sugar.

    Re HYDROXIDE, I was reminded of the rule “An acid plus a base give a salt plus water”, one of the first things you learn in O-level chemistry. For example,

    HCl + Na(OH)= NaCl + H(OH)

    i.e. Hydrochloric Acid plus Sodium Hydroxide(Caustic Soda) give Sodium Chloride(Common Salt) plus Hydrogen Hydroxide(Water). A very neat example of a chemical formula!

  27. NeilW says:

    I think, amongst the carping, Sil’s probably put his finger on the “problem” with themed puzzles in general. (Nice to see you back in harness, by the way.) If you know the theme, it’s easy. If not, it still becomes a little tedious. But, googling “best selling albums of all time” turns up Dark Side of the Moon in second place so I think it’s reasonable of Paul to feel this group was fair as a theme for most generations, particularly Guardian solvers and more “fun” than some classical composers. After all, this was a daily puzzle, not a prize. And… I, personally, didn’t find it that easy!

  28. Gervase says:

    Median @24: I tend to agree with you – I don’t particularly like this type of puzzle, well-constructed and ingenious though Paul’s example certainly is. The problem with these complex charades, leading to long solutions across several lights, is that they are extremely difficult to solve without the specific knowledge, and, even with the familiarity, the solution usually comes to mind before the parsing – rather than the two clicking together in place, which is always more pleasing. It means that the knowledgeable can often fill in a large portion of the puzzle from memory with just a few crossing letters, which can be unsatisfying, whereas the topically ignorant is faced with great frustration. And this applies whether the theme is Pink Floyd tracks or quotations from Dryden.

  29. NeilW says:

    Sorry, Mitz, I see you’ve beaten me to most of my points!

  30. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Stella.

    My first entry was PINK FLOYD and my second, from the enumeration alone, was 18,1,20. It took me a bit longer to get the other long song title but I was determined not to look it up and eventually remembered the tribute to Syd Barrett. BREATHE was my last one in. Missed the X in hydroxide :-( despite having twigged the homophone.

    I didn’t enjoy this puzzle as much as usual for the completely biased and personal reason that I’m no Pink Floyd fan and that 18,1,20 (‘We don’t need no education’) is one track I really can’t stand :-) Sorry PF fans!

  31. Mitz says:


    I don’t think that when Roger Waters wrote ABITW he was being anti-education – on the contrary he was sympathising with young students who hate school because of abusive teachers, and wishing that teaching standards were better. Has to be taken in context. Great guitar solo, too…

  32. liz says:


    Thanks for commenting! I just don’t like the group — they’ve always left me cold — as I said ‘completely biased’ and I suspect in a minority :-)

  33. Paul B says:

    But is it prog?

  34. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Stella

    I am in agreement with Conrad Cork @6

    I worked out Pink Floyd but knowing nothing about them the rest of the puzzle was a disaster. Didn’t waste my time looking them up on Google.

    Normal puzzles by Paul are very good, did a prize one by him not so long ago which was brilliant but this was not enjoyable.

    One mans meat as they say.

  35. stiofain says:

    I dislike long answers intensely I got these 2 from the enumeration alone and was left feeling as if Id only done half a crossword.

  36. PeterJohnN says:

    Re me @26, just for the record, for “formula” read “equation”. It’s 55 years since I did chemistry!

  37. tupu says:

    Thanks Stella and Paul

    A hard puzzle amid interruptions. I got the group and worked out all the titles from good clues despite not knowing them before – so no real complaints there.

    Help! I have a puzzle with 16d. I saw ‘nineteens’ but, as it is parsed above, I see no instruction to mix up the letters of ‘nee’ and ‘ten’ since error refers to ‘sin’ as far as I can see (unless it is doing double duty).
    If they are not mixed we get ‘nineetens’. I therefore decided that it was ‘ne’ + ‘teen’ (i.e. a masculine form + teen as the singular of teens (numbers 13-19).
    Very good cluing as noted. My favourite was 25a.

  38. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Paul for a good work-out and Stella for a super blog.

    Pink Floyd went in after I had solved several of the other clues but only helped with The Wall, the album title of which is the only thing I know of their music! I resisted the temptation to visit Wiki but managed to work the clues out eventually.

    Re 13a natal, my Chambers says natal, see nates, which is the first definition of the word.It also gives natiform!! The imagination boggles!The second definition is the usual one, which makes it a super clue, Paul.

    Giovanna x

  39. Thomas99 says:

    You have to reverse everything in 16d, not just sin – nee ten in sin, all reversed. (Even if there were an anagram indicator it would be an indirect anagram – not kosher.)

  40. Bertandjoyce says:

    Clue of the day has to be 25a. We realised it had to begin with ‘hydro’ from the checking letters and groaned when the penny dropped.
    Emjoyed the theme (and the music!).
    Thamks Paul for a well constructed puzzle with lots of ‘groans’ along the way and Stella for a great blog!

  41. tupu says:

    Hi Thomas99

    Thanks. I’m very sorry to have troubled you. The penny dropped as soon as I went out on an errand.

  42. NeilW says:

    tupu, sorry, my fault @3 for not being explicit in my description of the parse – I knew Rich was hot on my tail. ;)

  43. Headteacher says:

    Great crossword. After Monday’s bilge, I though the word ‘cryptic’ was redundant in the header. Good to see Paul (surely Araucaria’s heir apparent) restore the quality

  44. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Paul and Stella. Had a tough time with the themed entries as I don’t know Pink Floyd from Led Zeppelin. I will second Robi @21’s idea of a Bill Haley theme – now that’s up my street. Laevulose was a new word for me. Favorite clue was 9ac.


  45. Rich says:

    Leave your nates out of it NeilW! :-)

    I must admit I’m surprised by the number of people who didn’t enjoy this. I thought the theme was just hard enough and as I didn’t know the names of the tracks beforehand I had to check my answers using google, but I don’t see this as different from looking up a word that I don’t know after solving the word play. For example I had never come across the word laevulose, but the answer came nicely with the help of a couple of crossing letters.

    I do accept that sometimes the enumeration gives too much away but didn’t find that so today. Cha-cha-cha was rather obvious I suppose, but beautifully clued.

    I loved 25A and thought the mini theme on 8D was a nice supplementary.

    Horses for courses I guess.

  46. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Sufficiently tricky for me (Sil). Still do not like themes (but wouldn’t mind a Bill Haley, thanks Robi) and long clues.
    Since 23,21, 5, 8 never charted as single or LP and is therefore not in my reference books and I am not a PF fan I would classify that as ‘obscure’ (see previous MBs). I am not objecting and solved it via the cryptic but “a very famous lament” (Mitz) is going too far.
    Favourites were Kimberley and (especially) hydroxide.
    Stencils are made of anything solid? Coal? Keratin? I think 99% are plastic.

  47. Gervase says:

    RCW @46: I’ll freely concede that most modern stencils are made of synthetic organic polymers, though 99% is perhaps a bit of an overestimate! But they can be made of paper, wood or metal (and could even be made of coal or keratin, if you had a mind to). It’s rather like defining ‘cup’ as ‘ceramic vessel’ – most cups are indeed ceramic, but not necessarily. Defining a class noun by means of an example of the class generally requires some indication that only an example is being used. Paul seems to have used ‘plastic’ to mislead us into thinking of credit cards. He could have made his clue completely fair simply by adding a question mark at the end. Unless my alternative explanation was in his mind (see comment 17), which seems a bit of a stretch.

  48. amulk says:

    Thanks to Paul and Stella. As with many others, I got Pink Floyd easily enough but had to resort to wikipedia to look up the song titles (although maybe I should have persevered and worked through the wordplay in the clues). Had to come here for explanations of 16 dn and 25 ac.

  49. Tom Hutton says:

    A tedious and convoluted crossword honouring a tedious and overblown band so I suppose that is fair enough.

  50. Giovanna says:

    Headteacher @ 43. Great crossword – yes: Monday’s bilge no!!


  51. Davy says:

    Thanks Stella,

    I knew that this crossword would divide opinions and I wasn’t going to comment but Tom Hutton’s comment at 49 I found annoying. Is he the fifteensquared troll ?. I usually find that people who make such sweeping statements, often know little about what they are criticising. It’s like people who say “I hate jazz or I hate country music”. When questioned it becomes apparent that they know absolutely nothing about what they hate.

    As to the theme itself, from a PF perspective it was very well-known stuff but there again, it depends what you know. Personally, I’m not bothered what the theme is as I usually know a bit about most things.

    Anyway, my favourite clues were ENIGMATIC and UNHELPFUL. Maybe there’s somebody out there who doesn’t know the song Help !. Thanks Paul.

  52. wingate says:

    I agree largely with Tom Hutton @ 49. If that makes me a troll too, then sorry but, pace Headteacher @ 43, I enjoyed Monday’s much more.

  53. jeff w says:

    De-lurking only to point out that all three PF songs are multi-parters / subdivided on their respective albums (uniquely, in that context).

    “Breathe” is reprised later on Dark Side Of The Moon, although it’s more of a continuation than a reprise. “Shine On…” is a nine-part epic that was split in two and bookends the Wish You Were Here LP. And “Another Brick…” has three separate ‘Parts’ sprinkled through disc 1 of The Wall. This, to my mind, makes the crossword that much cleverer than if Paul had picked just three random PF tracks, but I’m sure that won’t change the minds of the haters.

    I stumbled in the same two places as Stella: failed to spot the homophone in 25a and to parse 16d. Otherwise, I found this pretty straightforward. Thanks to blogger and setter.

  54. Tom Hutton says:

    In reply to Davy@51, is it all right for people to abuse Rufus but not Paul? As a regular cryptic crossword solver (two every day) I feel my opinion might carry a little legitimacy. I usually enjoy Paul but in general I don’t enjoy crosswords where the clues cross reference each other as much as those where they don’t. I don’t enjoy long anagrams as I find you very rarely have to work them out in order to put the answer in. I don’t admire Pink Floyd at all. (Other popular musicians do attract my admiration.) I am sorry if I have upset Davy who obviously admires the cut and thrust of total agreement.

  55. davy says:

    Thanks for replying Tom Hutton. I don’t think it is right to abuse any crossword compiler and I have never given anything but praise to Rufus. What I was trying to say is that you dismiss Pink Floyd but you may never have listened to Piper at the Gates of Dawn, Saucerful of Secrets, Umma Gumma, Atom Heart Mother etal. Just a thought. Be careful with that axe Eugene.

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