Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,642 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on May 22nd, 2012


Not the blogger you were led last week to expect [I’m a 23’s 23 today] with a rather later blog than usual for a Tuesday [but Uncle Yap has a 7-hour start on me. ;-) ]

A squeaky-clean Paul puzzle today, with a mix of straightforward charades and the more complicated wordplay we expect from this setter. It may fan the sparks of controversy over the enumeration of clues, which arose the other day, and, indeed, over the question of themed puzzles. I didn’t find the theme too intrusive – but then, I enjoyed it! It was very clearly clued and should have been reasonably accessible. I had a lot of fun solving it – many thanks, Paul.


8   EOLITHIC: E [first letter – primarily – of Era]  + O [old] + LI [LI[fe] minus fe, chemical symbol for iron] +THIC[k] [not quite Neanderthal]: I’m going to stick my neck out and call this an &lit
9   ANTRIM: ANT [soldier] + RIM [edge]
10  OMIT: reversal [throw back] of first letters of Trash Into My Old: definition: ‘skip’ – great surface
11  WINE CELLAR: homophone [loudly – I’m not keen on this indicator, which we see rather a lot of these days] of whine [complain] and seller [rep]: I did like the play on ‘plonked’
12  ALEPPO: A LEO [a sign] around PP [double parking] for the ancient city which has been much in the news lately
14  EAST SIDE: anagram [out] of IDEAS SET
15  ASCENDS: AS [like] + CS [sort of gas] round END [base]
17,7  PINBALL WIZARD: PIN [fix] + BALL [dance] + WIZARD [champion] for this song
20  ACOUSTIC: homophone [heard] of ‘a coup’ – ‘a stroke of genius’ and ‘stick – staff’
22  POETRY: another simple charade of POE [writer] and TRY [attempt]
23  SUBSTITUTE: an acquaintance with the theme makes this a Quick crossword clue for another 3dn song
25  BASH: double definition
25  I’M FREE: IRE [fury] around M[asculine] F[eminine] – genders  + last letter [ultimately] of understandablE for another 3dn number
26  MAGIC BUS: anagram [tricks] of MUSIC BAG – here’s another 


2   MINT: double definition
3   THE WHO:  I followed my usual practice of going through the clues in order and so I hadn’t got any of the songs, but this answer wrote itself in, from the definition, the enumeration and the final O but I can’t quite see how it works: I want it to be HEW [hack] IN TO [into] but that leaves H [unlimited character?] – help, please!
  I CAN SEE FOR MILES: another write-in with wordplay not so tortuous as I feared it might be: an anagram [foolishly] of NORMAL FEES I in ICES [sweets]
5   NARCISSI: IS SI [exists {is} forwards and backwards – either way] after reversal [upturned] of CRAN [bush with no berry!]
6   UTILISABLE: [f]UTILE [pointless when trimmed] around reversal [flipping] of BASIL [herb]
13  PRECURSORY: PREY [victim] round [stabbed by] CURSOR [‘the blinking thing’]
16  DETAILED: the Three Blind Mice were DE-TAILED by the farmer’s wife – not exactly original but it still raises a smile
18  LARKSPUR: another simple charade: LARK [caper] + SPUR [egg] with a nice play on the food meaning of both words
19  SCRUMMY: SCUMMY [nasty] around R [right]
21  CRUMMY: C [cold] + RUMMY [game]: I didn’t enter this one for a minute or two: I couldn’t believe Paul had used CRUMMY in consecutive clues without any cross-reference.
22  PLEDGE: hidden [extraction] in princiPLED GEntlemen – nice surface
24  BACK: double definition

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,642 / Paul”

  1. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    An enjoyable puzzle. I had to work out the songs so the enumeration was vital for me. As it was, I successfully managed them all without resorting to google.

    I assumed that ‘tho(rn)’ – the old character – was involved in 3d but was not wholly convinced.

    I ticked 10a, 11a, 25a, 19d out of several pleasing clues.

  2. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog – one of two enjoyable puzzles from Paul/Punk today; hard to say which is best.

    Re 3d – it’s character = ethos, wich both “limits” removed. Not my instinctive definition of ethos, but dictionaries confirm it as more or less the top one. I think I worked backwards for this one – quite tricky, having to lose 2/5 of the word like that.

  3. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    ‘Thorn’ was my first thought, too! – but I couldn’t make it work.

    I think you’re probably right, Thomas, but I’m not keen on ‘caharacter = ethos’, either. I really liked the HEW IN TO, though!

  4. Thomas99 says:

    But looking at online dictionaries again, Ethos=character really is hard to fault: “the distinctive character, spirit, and attitudes of a people, culture, era, etc” (Collins)

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    My quickest Paul solve for a long time, since the enumeration even of 3 made it a write-in… but, I agree, let’s not go there again! ;)

  6. NeilW says:

    By the way, does anyone know if the theme has any particular significance??

  7. Ian Stark says:

    I too was stumped by ethos but it seems correct: the fundamental character or spirit of a culture (from – Chambers has a similar definition).

    I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle (except, perhaps, scrummy and crummy – both fine clues, but surely not side by side!) and although it whizzed by in a single sitting it was the perfect start to my day! Thanks Eileen for the blog.

  8. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Thomas99 @2: Thanks. That makes more sense than my first thought, the Old English thorn, or my second, the Marvel comic character Thor.

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Thomas

    I take it all back. I’ve looked it up now: ‘distinctive character’ first definition in both Collins and Chambers!

    Neil, I did wonder, too, but didn’t look too hard.

  10. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for parsing 3d for me – I already knew the answer before I got to the clue, thanks to 26ac, but only got as far as HEW.

    The other theme clues fell in quite easily after that, except 23ac, which had escaped my memory.

    A fun puzzle, thanks Paul

  11. Ian Stark says:

    It was the brilliant Pete Townshend’s 67th birthday a couple of days ago, but hardly seems worthy of a dedicated puzzle!

  12. Wanderer says:

    Thanks for explaining ethos in 3. I got as far as ‘hew’, saw that ‘tho’ was around it, and vaguely wondered if this gave us ‘Athos’, a ‘character’ from The Three Musketeers. I was not, of course, convinced, but since the solution was obviously correct, I wasted no more time. Your version is much better!

    Thanks Eileen and Paul.

  13. Paul B says:

    IMO we don’t need an anniversary to excuse having a nicely-wrought puzzle about a band, especially such a great one. Musical as he is (no euphemism), I wouldn’t be surprised to find that JH is himself a fan.

    I too found the enumeration helpful (but then we’re supposed to, are we not, in daily puzzles) and enjoyed the theme – though I’m amazed we didn’t get a reference to (Miles) Davis’ guide dog at 4, 1, or indeed some joke about Moon.

  14. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Second reserve blogger, Eileen … kudos doesn’t come any greater than that, does it? But thank you for stepping in, although I didn’t need you too much today (apart from THE WHO). Now that I can usually manage a Paul, I’m really enjoying his style and wit.

    I liked EOLITHIC, but it’s a bit unfair on Neanderthal man, which was an intelligent species just caught in the wrong place at the wrong time. And according to recent genetic research, a good number of us Homo sapiens have some Neanderthal genes inside us. In which case, we’re all a little bit thick …

  15. Robi says:

    Fairly easy and scrummy with the early solving of THE WHO; I remember seeing them and deafeningly hearing them at Southampton University many years ago.

    Thanks Eileen; I didn’t even spot the anagram in MAGIC BUS and wondered about what ‘bus’ had to do with bag. :( I didn’t know that song either. Pity that he couldn’t have fitted ‘My Generation’ in the grid somewhere.

    Thanks Thomas99 @2 for ethos. Like Miche @8, I thought of Thor [now a film] or tho’ for though. I kept thinking of pulsar for the blinking thing, which meant PRECURSORY was my last in.

  16. Robi says:

    P.S. I toyed with ‘cent’ for 2 at first; anyone else do that?

  17. aztobesed says:

    I think there may well be a Keith Moon joke. Someone once told me that he owned a Rools Royce that sat on bricks in his yard in Holland Park. KM would invite people to join him in drinks and ‘strong’ cigarettes on the back seat. I think he called it the ‘magic bus’.

  18. Mitch says:

    Thanks to Paul and Eileen.

    As 3d were never favourites of mine, I had to Google for a list of songs. Which enables me to raise something which has been troubling me for some time.

    Puzzles like this could necessitate a tad of online research. What happens if a solver has no such access?

  19. Robi says:

    Mitch @18; phone a friend or wait for the next day’s solution. But he/she won’t be posting here to tell us!

  20. crypticsue says:

    It helps, Mitch@18, if you are the right age (and that’s as far as I am going on that one!) Very enjoyable, had a bit of a sing as I went along and it didn’t take that long to solve.

    Thanks to Eileen for the usual entertaining blog. Thanks to Paul too for another great crossword – was there some reason the FT couldn’t fit you in today? Having solved the DT Toughie, the Indy and the Graun, it would have been nice to have had a complete set of ‘Halperns’

  21. beermagnet says:

    aztobesed #17. I thought Keith Moon kept his Roller in the swimming pool. Oh no, it was the Cadillac.

  22. Paul B says:

    Well, there have always been tough themed puzzles in The Guardian, so how people managed before the whole world went online is totally beyond me. Unless they were better solvers?

    I just press ‘solution’ and work backwards.

  23. Mitch says:

    crypticsue@20 I am of the “right age”, but I didn’t like, so didn’t listen :-)

    My point was that there seems to be an assumption that folk are online at home, or have access somewhere else. My late brother often complained of a feeling of exclusion. Robi@19 – he hated phoning to ask help from his kid sister.

    Paul B@22 – in them days, you just waited for the next day’s paper.

    Apologies to anyone who reckoned that was too off-topic

  24. Jan says:

    I didn’t like it at all. I’m looking at a lot of empty white squares here. If 3d had had easier word play I might have got the name of the group and gone a-googlin’. I have heard of them but I haven’t got a clue what they do.

    When I got the O at the end I wondered if it might be YOU TWO – they’re a group aren’t they?

    It didn’t help that I put CENT instead of MINT, thinking that Paul had omtted a homophone indicator – so I didn’t even get EOLITHIC.

    Grumpy of Oxford.

  25. Ape says:

    If you can’t do the themed clues you can’t solve the crossword, same as not knowing any of the other answers. Sometimes you can get them from the cryptic definition and the crossing letters. I’d say that’s the case with everything here. Perhaps not so with CECI N’EST PAS UNE PIPE a couple of weeks ago, or the Macbeth themed crossword which didn’t have cryptic definitions just themed ones.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A shelf of reference books used to do the trick (Guiness book of hit singles, recommended for today).
    Last in ‘precursory’.
    A misjudged theme, I think.
    There was no late kick in the teeth like Brendan supplied yesterday.

  27. Wolfie says:

    Thanks Eileen

    In 9ac I think the apparently superfluous ‘- was it?’ must refer to the fact that ‘eolithic’ is a formerly fashionable, but now discredited, term for a period prior to the Palaeolithic, long before the appearance in Europe of Neanderthal people (about whom it should be said that there is no evidence that they were less intelligent than H. sapiens).

    This was a much easier solve than yesterday’s from Brendan. In future I hope that Paul will act as substitute for Rufus when a Monday setter is required. I enjoyed the references to The Who, one of my favourite bands in my adolescent years.

  28. Paul B says:

    Ape @ 25 presumably means the cryptic content, but in all seriousness, ’twas ever thus, and I after a while I found I preferred puzzles to be that way: nothing hones your solving skills quite like a bland series of digits and some (often crazy) SI.

    None of my business, I know, but there seems to be some confusion among Guardianistas as to whether they want puzzles to be slightly more, or slightly less of a challenge. Or is this now a sectarian affair?

  29. Wolfie says:

    Paul B – I enjoy the wide range of difficulty of Guardian cryptics. But I have got used to an easy start to my solving week!

  30. Mikes says:


    Maybe Paul or the editor knew that our blogger today would be a “substitute for our Uncle Y”

  31. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    Considering that I wouldn’t know The Who from The What I had to use Google to solve almost half of this puzzle.

    I don’t like doing this but it is one of the hazards of themed puzzles. One day we might get a theme I know something about!

  32. Trebor says:

    Found this very easy being a big fan of the band but still enjoyed it. Got me thinking about clueing other bands and think there must be some sort of mileage in “needs a w-wash” as a part of a clue for Black Sabbath. Led Zeppelin writes itself! Cheers Paul.

  33. Paul B says:

    ‘Being filthy, son needs a w-wash': is that where you’re going? You can do the definition.

  34. flashling says:

    Many thanks Eileen for being the sub’s sub – I found this harder than the Indy from the same setter, fell into the hew trap for The Who as well, alas you’ll get me as blogger next week as I should have been today.

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