Never knowingly undersolved.

The Guardian No 25,573 by Orlando

Posted by Stella on March 2nd, 2012


I was surprise to see Orlando’s name as the setter for a Friday crossword, as he’s generally considered one of the more accessible authors, and this puzzle certainly was so. Only one explanation eludes me.

Definitions are underlined in the clues.

1. Thrilled parasite was lethal! (7,2,5)
TICKLED TO DEATH Double definition, the second with letter count 4,3,2,5
8. Cardboarded truck? (5)
WAGON I was hoping to come up with an explanation for this by the time I finished writing up the blog, but unfortunately none is forthcoming. I don’t know what is meant by “cardboarded” :(
9. Orbison’s recording is visionary: minds are made up (2,6)
IN DREAMS *MINDS ARE, for a Roy Orbison song
11. Duke leaving bird in boot again? (7)
RESTART RE(d)START without D(uke)
12. Sign of life after sappers drive back (7)
REPULSE PULSE after R(oyal) E(ngineers) = “sappers”
13. Stop, say, before junction (5)
15. National service morally wrong”, admitted leaders in artillery and infantry (5,4)
ROYAL MAIL *MORALLY with the first letters (“leaders”) of A(rtillery) and I(nfantry)
17. Don Juan is one friend of Mary Poppins in work (9)
20. Way-out humour in part in Salad Days (5)
YOUTH Hidden on “waY OUT Humour”
21. Transport Orlando with large hamper (7)
23. Metropolitan area announced ironic error (7)
RUISLIP Sounds like ‘wry’ + SLIP
25. Starters for two, using raw mushrooms, rice, nuts, curry powder (8)
TURMERIC Initial letters of T(wo) U(sing) R(aw) M(ushrooms) + *RICE
26. Skip comes back with name for title role (5)
27. Rotten preacher? Nobody’s perfect (6,8)
1. Borough play — drag queen’s providing cover (5,7)
2. Pens and cobs primarily, taking donkey’s years (5)
3. Bomber‘s house (9)
LANCASTER Double definition
4. Bum visible in boat? (7)
DRIFTER And another
5. Well-organised Communist revolution in airport (7)
ORDERLY RED reversed or anagrammed, as you like it, in ORLY
6. Lofty from EastEnders heard in study? (3,2)
EYE UP Sounds like “(h)igh up”, as pronounced by Londoners
7. I’m an adult working in Madras now (5,4)
10. One with nipper may be in financial difficulties (4,3,5)
FEEL THE PINCH Definition and cryptic definition
14. Opening amber fluid OK (9)
16. Hairstyle’s messed up when doffing cap for one who’s not a nun in a nunnery (3,6)
18. Bride appearing drunk after drinking two litres is certainly not ladylike (3-4)
19. Each character in Friends left out as result of nagging? (7)
EARACHE EA + RACHE(l), the character played by Jennifer Aniston
22. Doctor entertained by old chairman’s dance (5)
24. Liberal with novel proposition (5)
LEMMA L(iberal) + EMMA

35 Responses to “The Guardian No 25,573 by Orlando”

  1. orange says:

    8ac A card is a wag, and boarded is to get on – I quite like this!

  2. tykeitfromme says:

    8. is WAG = card + ON = boarded

  3. zan says:

    a wag = a card (ie witty person) who got on or boarded

  4. tykeitfromme says:

    Drat! x-posted!
    I can’t see the definition in 7d.

  5. shuchi says:

    Enjoyed this crossword very much. Thanks Orlando, and Stella for the blog.

    Just a niggle with 7d. “Madras now” can give Chennai (the capital of Tamil Nadu), not Tamil Nadu.

  6. William says:

    Thanks you Stella, nice blog.

    Didn’t know LEMMA but it was getable. Couldn’t parse WAGON. Is this what Eileen might call a ‘lift and separate’ clue?

    TAMIL NADU, I presume, is that bit at the bottom of India nearest to Ceylon where the people speak TAMIL. Again, getable from the clue.

    I always disliked IN DREAMS from Roy Orbison – dreadful dirge. What an unlikely star he was.

    Thanks again.

  7. tupu says:

    Thankjs Stella and Orlando

    And thanks orange et al for parsing 8a (very nice and I should have seen it).

    The rest was pretty straightforward and typical Orlando – elegant cluing, nice light touch, and a pleasure to engage with. Ticked 1a (my COD) among others.

  8. William says:

    Going back to LEMMA, is this whence comes DILEMMA, I wonder? Need someone who understands these logic conundrums.

  9. Stella says:

    Hi Tykeitfromme and Shuchi; I didn’t know the current name of Madras, and looked it up in Wiki, where I indeed found Chennai, but further research revealed that this is the name of the town, while the province is indeed Tamil Nadu.

    Thanks to all for explaining 8ac, but in what context is a ‘wag’ a ‘card’? As far as I know, it’s what my dog tries to do with his non-existant tail :)

  10. Aoxomoxoa says:

    Re William @6, “I always disliked IN DREAMS from Roy Orbison – dreadful dirge. What an unlikely star he was”.

    Gasp! Like a dagger to the heart! May the candy-coloured clown they call ‘The Sandman’ tiptoe to YOUR room every night 😉

    Agree with Shuchi @5 about Chennai and Tamil Nadu.

  11. NeilW says:

    Hi Stella. Thanks for the blog.

    Chambers: WAG 5. An amusing, mischievous person, a habitual joker. CARD 17(!) A comical or eccentric person.

    Loved 1ac, by the way.

  12. Stella says:

    Thanks for that NeilW.

    Hi William, apparently ‘lemma’ and ‘dilemma’ do have the same Greek root, though I guessed it from the Spanish “lema”, which translates as ‘motto’.

  13. Ian Payn says:

    Like Aoxomoxoa @10 I lie back in my ergonomically-sound chair gasping with dismay at the very idea that anyone a) can dislike The Big O and b) call In Dreams a dirge. Nurse! The sal volatile! Oh well, chacun a son gout.

    And Stella, wag and card are both rather dated expressions for amusing people. When used now they tend to be a bit sarcastic. Arnold Bennett, when not stuffing his face with omlettes, wrote a novel called The Card, later turned into a film with Alec Guinness and then a West End musical with Jim Dale as the self-made man (and card) Denry Machin. In my opinion you’d be looking long and hard at Jim Dale before you’d mistake him for Alec Guinness, and, indeed, vice versa, but horses for courses.

  14. dialrib says:

    Thanks Stella.

    Tamil Nadu used to be known as Madras State.

  15. Robi says:

    Thanks Orlando and Stella.

    I didn’t parse EYE ON. I thought it was something like: loft ‘y’ between East enders (eye), but then got stymied by the ‘UP.’

    In my extensive research about drag queens for 1d, I found this connection to Tower Hamlets 😉

  16. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Stella, for the blog, and Orlando for another enjoyable puzzle.

    6dn is a very neat clue: Lofty was one of the original characters [1985-1988]in ‘EastEnders’.

  17. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Stella.

    One of Orlando’s best , I thought: not difficult, but full of well constructed clues with great surfaces and several smiles along the way. A lot of popular cultural references here: Bert, Rachel, Lofty from EastEnders (who was a character in the soap) and of course Roy O (whom I am willing to concede was one of the greats, but to whose charms I am curiously resistant).

    I couldn’t parse WAGON either, so thanks to all – it’s a good clue. And dialrib @14 has cleared up the ‘Madras’ = TAMIL NADU problem, I believe.

    Favourite clues were 1a, 11a, 15a, 27a, 16d, 18d – and I liked ‘drag queen’ = TOW ER.

  18. Pipeflake says:

    Tamil Nadu. See Collins for full explanation.

  19. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Orlando, for a good Friday puzzle and Stella for her usual parsing skills.

    I thought we were in for a Shakespearean theme when I got 1d, followed by 20a with Cleopatra reference and 26a with Timon and even 16d (obliquely)and smiled at the thought of what fun Paul would have had with this clue!
    Lemma in Italian is a headword, which I notice is one of the Chambers definitions.

    Giovanna x

  20. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Stella.

    I thought TICKLED TO DEATH was worth the entry money on its own – brilliant!

  21. Wolfie says:

    A vastly entertaining crossword – I agree with K’s D @20 about TICKLED TO DEATH; what a great clue!

    Twenty comments posted so far, and not one complaint yet about the puzzle being too easy for a Friday…

    Thank you Stella for the blog.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Rest easy Wolfie, this was too easy for any day.
    Last in 10d, I liked 6d (reference to the days when my family ensured that I couldn’t avoid EE). Now I satisfy any soap needs with The Archers.

  23. Davy says:

    Thanks Stella,

    A superb puzzle from Orlando and I totally agree with Gervase whose summary was rather good.
    For me, entertainment value is the main criterion and this puzzle was brimming over with it (gush gush). The clues were spot-on and I didn’t have a moment’s trouble with any of the wordplay. Where is the fun in obscure words clued by vague wordplay ?.

    Favourite clues among many great clues were ROYAL MAIL (COD), TICKLED TO DEATH and EYE-UP.

    Finally, In Dreams is a great song by a great singer with an amazing vocal range.

  24. Innocent Abroad says:

    Shouldn’t the puzzle be a little easier on “dress down” Friday? Perhaps Wednesday should be the hardest non-prize effort. Anyway, popular culture defeated me, as ever. But I should have had 3 down – I was brought up less than a mile from an aerodrome they used :)

  25. RCWhiting says:

    “”Finally, In Dreams is a great song by a great singer with an amazing vocal range.”

    Davy,at last I can agree with you. One of the few singers who can be relied on to bring tears to my eyes. That wonderful voice and the reality of his sad life combine to produce emotion of the highest order (gush,gush).

    There has never been a set of lyrics like ‘Runnin’ Scared’ in which the whole story hinges on the very last two words.

    Innocent, some of us are fortunate enough to ‘dress down’ every day. So I cannot support your idea!

  26. amulk says:

    An enjoyable puzzle with some very nice clues, although not too difficult. Needed to come here for an explanation of 8ac. Talking of “In Dreams”, I recently saw a David Lynch movie called “Blue Velvet” which features this song, and thanks to the twisted imagination of Mr. Lynch, this song now leaves me in cold sweat!

  27. Davy says:

    RCW, maybe we have some commonality after all. I was pleased and maybe surprised that you are a fan of Roy Orbison. Yes he did have a very tragic life but still remains one of the great singers. I remember asking for Only the Lonely way back in 1960 (along with Del Shannon’s Runaway) and getting a blank look.

    You have gone up in my estimation RCW because I adore music in whatever form it takes. Is your name Roger or Robert or something more esoteric ?. Please let us fans know.

    I just wish RCW that you would give Orlando some credit because he is really very good.

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Davy, I do not understand the prevailing attitude on this MB.
    Everyday I find in newspapers,on TV and radio people called critics.
    They criticise films,restaurants, novels, music of all kinds, dance, TV and radio programmes and nobody blinks an eye.
    So just why is it considered by some posters here (notably you) so unacceptable for me to criticise a crossword.
    Note that, a crossword, not a person. You can give all the credit you wish, with my blessing, to Orlando (whoever he or she might be), I am not interested; my interest is in only their work which is offered to me in return for a monetary contribution. Tonight I paid a cinema to allow me watch a film, it is no different.
    Each morning around 10 am (it is great being retired) I collect my G. from the doormat,having paid £1.30 for it. With a coffee and cigarette I settle down to read it through until I get to the back where I tackle the crossword. How diappointed I am when I find myself writing in solutions with little thought or struggle and how satisfied when one like yesterday’s entertains me for a reasonable time.
    Without being too unkind I do think your view of a MB is rather naive, too personal maybe. You illustrate this by your query about my ‘name’ – we use nicknames – they might, and often do, bear no relation to our real names.
    No hard feelings, especially to an admirer of the Big ‘O’.

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    On Thursday we had a crossword in which Paul, as Eileen made clear, was on the very top of his form. Today, Orlando presented one of his very best.

    Some of you mentioned 1ac as Clue of the Day, but we thought the one at the bottom (27ac) was another contender. The combination “nobody/perfect” is just brilliant here.
    Orlando is a master in writing splendid surfaces, it all seems to be so effortless.

    I really do see where RCW is coming from in his criticism re this puzzle [during solving, I actually warned my PinC that this might happen today] – this puzzle is not that difficult or perhaps not challenging enough for some.

    But I look at crosswords in a different way.
    I see writing clues as a piece of art.
    For me the quality of cluing as such is more important than the effort it takes to find the solution.
    It is so satisfying to see a clue that reads well and/or makes use of the English in a clever way.

    For me (my PinC agrees), it is Orlando who is the ‘Big O’ today !

    Thanks, Stella.

  30. RCWhiting says:

    I do see your point Sil.It’s just that my view is different.
    Each day I read with no understanding all the ‘wonderful surface’ and ‘this raised a laugh’ comments.
    Here is an excellent comparison: Michael Johnson and Roger Black.
    The latter tall, long-legged with an elegant stride; the former with the ugliest upright and laboured style ever seen in a world class athlete. Who won the gold medals and set the world records – the one I admired and delighted in watching.

  31. Davy says:


    Of course you have a right to your opinion which I would never deny as we live in a free country…allegedly. However, it’s the way that you express your opiniions that is the problem. You don’t criticise as such but simply dismiss a crossword usually with a short comment. Of course, I don’t need to say (but I will) that your comments are usually at variance to others.
    Also, I wish you’d stop banging on about the price of the paper as it the complete package you are paying for, not just the puzzle which is a very small part.

    As to your name, real or otherwise, I don’t give two hoots (to be polite) what it is. I’m sure others would agree that RCWhiting sounds like a real name. Why have a pseodonym that sounds like a real name ?. Will the real RCWhiting please stand up…I’m sure you remember that old quiz show !.

    It is re-assuring to find that you have at least one vice ie smoking. Maybe you have others too but do I care – no.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    Since you seem to have resorted to rudeness again I shall sadly re-terminate our conversations.

  33. harhop says:

    @rcw – your comparison of Michael Johnson and Roger Black is perfectly correct, especially when we think of then as individual runners. But I’d like to add that Roger Black also anchored many GB 4×400 relay teams which ran above thier individual merits with great courage and brought home some unexpected golds. One of the glories of British athletics at that time.

  34. ernie says:

    WAG = e.g. Denry Machin = The CARD by Arnold Bennett.
    LEMMA can = some kind of mathematical theorem.
    Thanks Stella and Orlando. I like an ‘easy'(?) xword.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This post is quite a late one, but I just wanted to say something to Davy in particular.
    And because this might go off topic, I redirect it to General Discussion.

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