Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian25,625 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on May 2nd, 2012


Another fun puzzle from Paul, with amusing surfaces and ingenious cluing – several laugh out loud moments, especially at 11ac. Many thanks, Paul, for the entertainment!


1   SHIATSU: anagram [difficult] of THIS A + SU[m] [problem finally erased] with a nice play on ‘rubber’
5   COBWEBS: COS [because] round [investing] BB [billions] round [inspiring] WE [you and I] for ‘certain [?] things gathering dust’ – a rather clunky and ungrammatical surface and the weakest clue, I thought
10  ORCA: hidden in motOR CAravan – a lovely picture!
11  NUDIBRANCH: reversal [back] of DUN [horse] + I [one] + BRANCH [limb]: I wondered at the obviousness of the definition, its capitalisation and inverted commas, then realised that Paul was having a laugh at his own [and our] expense. I had to look up NUDIBRANCH and found in Wikipedia, ‘Nudibranchs are often casually called “sea slugs”, but many sea slugs belong to several taxonomic groups which are not closely related to nudibranchs. A number of these other sea slugs (such as the colorful Aglajidae) are often confused with nudibranchs.’ A couple of weeks ago, Paul confessed here to having made a prawn of himself after causing a storm of protest by getting his molluscs mixed up with his crustaceans. Here he is getting his retaliation in first – nice one, Paul!
12  FIANCÉ: reversal [return] of NAIF [innocent] + first letters [starts] of C[hild] and E[ffectively] – definition: ‘intended’
13  CRITERIA: sounds like [when reported] CRY [appear sad] TEARIER [more sad] – this made me laugh
14  VERBOSITY: BOS [boss – manager – cut short] in VERITY [truth]
16  WEDGE: W [women] + EDGE [bound] – definition: [golf] club
17  SPELT: PELT [hide] after S [first letter of shredded]
19  INNER TUBE: INN [local] + TUB [boat] in ERE [before]
23  AIR-TO-AIR: AIR [bearing] + anagram [dispersal] of A RIOT
24  HOMILY: reversal [flipping] of I’M in HOLY [blessed]
26  LUBRICATED: CAT [something furry] in anagram [bum – excellent!] of BUILDER
27  TOYS: First letters [introductions only] of Typical Of Your Sheridan, with ‘plays’ as the definition – very neat
28  BAILOUT: AIL [experience suffering] in BOUT [fight]: I’d have expected at least a hyphen here
29  BASSOON: ASS [dork] in [opening] BOON [gift] for something that has to be blown, not sucked!


2   HEROINE: HEROIN + E [both drugs]
3   AGAIN: amusing repetition of AGA [range] + IN [popular]
6   ON BAIL: O [nothing] + NAIL [secure] round B [first letter {originally} of Buckle]
7   WHALE MEAT: WHALE [giant] + MEAT [food] + 3dn [AGAIN] for the pun on the Vera Lynn classic, ‘We’ll meet again’: there’s a nice account here  of how this version arose
8,4  BACKING SINGERS: I hadn’t heard of either of these ‘names’, so, on seeing the clue, of course I looked up Ronet and found Maurice Ronet, French film actor, director and writer – but, of course nothing for Otla: more crossing letters revealed the answer: BACKING [reversal] of TENOR and ALTO [singers]
9   EDUCATING RITA: anagram [creation] of GRADUATE IN IT round [consuming] last letter [in the end] of academiC – an excellent & lit
15  BILATERAL: reversal [‘standing’, in a down clue] of LAB [Labour] round [to bury] I [one] LATER [in the future]
18  PRIMULA: PAUL [me] with the A moved to the end [‘dropped’, in a down clue] round [circling] RIM [border]
20  ECHIDNA: HID [buried] N [nose initially] in reversal [‘climbing’, in a down clue]
of ACE [one]
21,25: BILLY-NO-MATES: anagram [abandoned] of NAME BOY STILL
22  MANCHU: MAN [chap] + CHU[m] [friend, minus its last letter – ‘detailed’]

36 Responses to “Guardian25,625 / Paul”

  1. sppaul says:

    Nice one Paul and thanks Eileen. I had to cheat on 29ac – and guess the meaning of 17ac. I agree I have never thought of 28ac as one word.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    A toughie but enjoyable. Very well clued, which made everything solvable though I had to check nudibranch and Billy N0-mates to confirm.

    I liked 7d (thanks for the link) and several others e.g. 13a, 29a, 3d, and 20d (clear enough answer but parsing at first eluded me).

    I felt sceptical about the ‘old’ re Manchu since most lantguages are quite old. But it is spoken by very few people these days and is described as endangered. See

  3. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. Another classic Paul! BASSOON made me laugh as did 7dn with its punny homophone. Last in was 5ac, which I agree was not the best clue. Did no one else gasp at the outrageous surface of 26ac? V funny and v naughty.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I agree – classic Paul, inventive and fun. A couple of little points:

    I think one of the billions is missing in your parsing of COBWEBS and you’ve accidentally put hide instead of PELT in the explanation of SPELT.

    I’m not sure that 9dn is an &lit since “Film” makes a fairly reasonable definition on it’s own, for such a well known title.

  5. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I liked the backing singers and the builder’s bum enough to be willing to forgive “whale meat again”. I don’t think I’ve seen “inspiring” as an envelope indicator before: very neat.
    Graun style for BAILOUT is no hyphen.

  6. Eileen says:

    Thanks, NeilW – sorted now.

  7. John Appleton says:

    8,4 was very good – thanks Eileen and Paul.

  8. Allan_C says:

    Like you, Eileen, I looked up Ronet and Otla, finding one but not the other. But then on an impulse I wondered if they were the names of (fairly recently arrived) singers so put ‘singers’ in 4d and suddenly twigged the whole thing. Btw, if you google for Ronet and Otla together it will direct you to fifteensquared, it’s that quick.

  9. crypticsue says:

    Another excellent typical Paul offering – If ever there was a word crying out to be used by him in a crossword it has to be the splendid 11a. Thanks to Paul for brightening up a very dull East Kent morning and to lucky Eileen, who had the fun of enjoying it twice in order to write the blog.

  10. Coffee says:

    Shiatsu? Rubber? No, that doesn’t work at all. Is Paul thinking that Shiatsu is a form of massage, or rubbing? Not at all. It’s based on pressure points – oh google it, don’t listen to me.

  11. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A much better contribution from this setter than recent efforts.
    It kept me puzzling for quite a while,especially 1ac (amazingly vague definition), 2d (unusual synonym for protagonist) and my last in (29ac) where I had early on spotted the deliciously nonsensical definition but could not see the boon = gift.
    The ‘we’ll meet again’ is a fairly well used joke.
    Talking of jokes, I do feel so lacking when I read this MB with its constant references to folk who collapse in paroxysms of laughter at a clue. Please, how is 11ac remotely funny.

  12. Robi says:

    Enjoyable but tough going, although when the answers appeared, you wondered why.

    Thanks Eileen; I needed your help to parse ECHIDNA. I also failed to spot the anagram in EDUCATING RITA, which I got from the &lit part. I had never seen naive as NAIF before. Funny how the brain works, I saw tenor and alto straightaway, thinking the clued words were unlikely to mean anything much.

    WHALE MEAT (AGAIN) caused a snigger of enjoyment. I also liked PRIMULA, SHIATSU and the builder’s bum LUBRICATED. I also liked the tichy NUDIBRANCH, although Paul restrained himself this time with the clue [naked limb?]

    With 18, I first thought this was a play on PERI(me)TER, but couldn’t find an appropriate plant.

  13. Robi says:

    Coffee @10; found this: ‘Massage techniques like tapping, squeezing, rubbing, and applied pressure are applied along the meridians to unblock energy blockages and reintroduce the optimal flow of ki.’

    Maybe Paul let his ki flow.

  14. Robi says:

    P.S. The alternative spelling of ki as qi is very useful in Scrabble.

  15. David Travis says:

    “Bum” as an anagram indicator? Really?

  16. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen

    I just couldn’t fathom BACKING SINGERS, simple when you see it!

  17. Eileen says:

    RCW @11

    I almost commented on how good it was to see ‘protagonist’ [literally ‘first actor’] used in its original meaning. Chambers: ‘protagonist: orig. the chief actor, character or combatant, now often applied to any [or in pl all] of the main personages or participants in a story or event’.

    David Travis @15

    Chambers again: ‘bum²: dud, wrong, false’

  18. Median says:

    A game of two halves, I thought. For me the bottom was a doddle but the top was much trickier. 26 made me laugh. Thanks, Paul and Eileen.

  19. RCWhiting says:

    Was that a bum note you played there? (Peter Sellers)

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Nobody, including me, has mentioned the delight which is 3d.
    I didn’t laugh, just admired.

  21. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    It’s taken me a while to get to grips with Paul, but I’m getting there and I really enjoyed today’s puzzle. BACKING SINGERS was good, and I also liked LUBRICATED for its funny surface. NUDIBRANCH went straight in with a couple of crossing letters – as we’ve discussed before, one person’s obscure is another person’s ‘what’s all that about?’

    RCW at no 11: I don’t think anyone on this thread has ever volunteered the fact that they’ve had paroxysms of laughter over a clue. Laugh out loud, maybe; but that requires a sense of humour. Perhaps the reason that you feel ‘so lacking’ is that yours is locked away somewhere. My sense is that there’d be a few bloggers and commenters here who’d volunteer to look for the key.

  22. Bertandjoyce says:

    Well – we enjoyed it. No paroxysms of laughter but many smiles and chuckles along the way! We wondered about shiatsu but ended up thinking it was OK. Even if it wasn’t, we could forgive Paul given the quality of the rest of the clueing – just as we did with the recent ‘mollusc’ debate.

    Thanks to Paul and Eileen!

  23. Eileen says:

    Thanks, K’s D and B and J.

    By ‘laugh out loud’, I really meant ‘chuckle’, too.

    [I suspect RCW read the preamble and not my lengthy comment on 11ac which, I thought, rather over-explained why I thought “Sea Slug” [sic] was funny. 😉 ]

  24. Mikes says:

    Reasonably straightforward for Paul today and amusing as ever; as are so many of RCW’s wry observations that I always hope will appear at some stage during the day!

    Thanks to both.

  25. Derek Lazenby says:

    Got just over half of this, the bits I didn’t get seemed rather vague, but let’s not go there.

    But for those of you who failed to find OTLA, see the Offices section of

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks Mikes. You have obviously realised that to understand my ‘wry observations’ you need a sense of humour.
    KD will get there some day.

  27. Trebor says:

    Good puzzle for the half hour commute. Paul can produce either very tricky or quite easy puzzles – his puzzles are of course good fun in any guise.
    Which makes me think of the various difficulty standards we see in the Guardian. I seem to remember a suggestion that, as a matter of policy, certain days were consistently harder than others. Could anyone expand on this?

  28. Jake says:

    Great Paul as always, God awful grid design though. I dislike the first letters not being active.

  29. Wolfie says:

    An entertaining crossword that did raise some smiles (‘Whale meet again’, indeed!), though no paroxysms of laughter.

    I didn’t like the grammar of the surface of the clue for 5ac – ‘inspiring you and I’ made me wince.

    Thank you Eileen, as always

  30. FranTom Menace says:

    What a really enjoyable solve this was! Can you believe we failed only on 16a with all other solutions in. Suspected ‘wedge’ but having ‘wed’ as join and looking for ‘GE’ to be a woman’s club in order to get the definition ‘bound’ got us thoroughly stuck.

    Fran sussed it was ‘tenor’ and ‘alto’ backwards very quickly, and the solution came even faster once we sussed that.

    Thanks Paul!

  31. Dave Ellison says:

    (i) Why should (would) Paul retaliate?

    (ii) I understood Xwords were often published weeks or months after submission – was there time for Paul to retaliate?

    I also saw Alto and Tenor (and therefore SINGERS) straight away, but it took an age to get BACKING.

    What is Billy No Mates? (OK, I’ll look it up).

    I found it quite tough today.

  32. Dave Ellison says:

    Please ignore

  33. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry – experiencing some submission problems: I kept getting “duplicate comments” message, so I thought I could clear it with a new “Please Ignore” message, by which time the original was posted!

  34. Uncle Yap says:

    Life is not fair. This Paul puzzle is just my cup of tea and while solving it, was heard alternately tittering and guffawing … truly a fun experience even though I should have been feeling miserable (lightning killed my modem-router the night because, probably as divine retribution for being grumpy about Boatman’s puzzle)

    Thank you, Paul for lifting my spirits … I will lift a single malt with you when we meet. Thanks Eileen for the excellent blog – I truly envy you.

  35. Rorschach says:

    Sometimes Paul is a parody of himself. I saw “well oiled” and inserted “lubricated” without even looking at the cryptic element.

    “Sea Slug” is in quotes for the surface.

    Found some of the surfaces a bit weak.

    I really enjoyed it mind.

  36. AndrewC says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog (as usual). I have to jump (hesitantly in such company) to Paul’s defence on the grammar of 5ac. Yes, ‘you and I’ is incorrect as it stands, but ‘you and me’ would have give the accusative first person plural pronoun, ‘us’ instead of the required nominative ‘we’ – so, having headed down that road, he had no choice. I think it’s forgivable. Thanks, Paul.

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