Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,650 / Tramp

Posted by Eileen on May 31st, 2012


Another great puzzle from Tramp, with the hallmarks we have come to recognise and appreciate – witty and ingenious cluing, fine story-telling surfaces and interesting references. Previous Tramp puzzles have had themes based on comedy, eg Fawlty Towers, Monty Python, Only Fools and Horses: this one is rather different and the theme may well have escaped you altogether.

One or two people may have experienced a sense of déjà vu on seeing this puzzle. Owing to a series of gaffes on the Guardian website on 15th May, a draft of it appeared for a short time as the crossword of the day, replacing the scheduled Orlando puzzle.

This is a special puzzle for Tramp, as he revealed here in the Guardian comments column at 11.37 on that day, in answer to the inevitable queries as to the confusion. I hope he has recovered from the shock and disappointment of the unfortunate  mix-up, and that he may, perhaps, find time and feel able to tell us about the other hidden elements of the puzzle. [There are a number of names providing possibilities and he’s already told us that one of them [25dn] is his wife’s.]

Huge thanks, as ever, Tramp, for a real treat.


1   TRIPLES: TRIES [first three rugby scores] around [without] reversal [backing] of LP [record]: strictly speaking, a try [three points] is only one score – but we know what Tramp means: [I don’t really know about triple bets, though, but I’m sure Derek can tell us.] In the event, it was Thomas @comment 9 who put me right: apologies, Tramp!  :-(
5   WALKER: reversal of LAW [rule] + KER[b] [most of edge of pavement] – our Transatlantic solvers know it as ‘curb’, I believe
9   DORIS DAY: DO [act] + RY [{railway} lines] round [to go over] anagram [in the wrong order] of SAID – super surface!
10  GRADIN: G [first letter – leader – of gladiators + RAIN [fall] round [captivating] D [500]: I was quite mortified by this clue, having got the answer through the very clear wordplay: I thought I knew a fair bit about [ancient] amphitheatres  but this word was totally unknown to me, although its derivation, from  Italian ‘gradino’, ‘little step’, from Latin ‘gradus’ is perfectly clear
12  RICE KRISPIES: anagram [mix] of RE SPECIAL K INSPIRE minus an anagram [nuts] of ALPEN: for me, they don’t come much better than this!
15  WORDSMITHS: anagram [engineering] of SHOWS DIRT round [crossing] M I [motorway] I’m not quite comfortable with wordsmiths = the articulated: ‘I’d be interested to hear what others think
17  WHA: W [with] H [hard] A [answer]: WHA = Scots [Jock’s] ‘who’ [query]
19  POD: P [pi] D [diameter] round [grasping] O [circumference ?]: a pod is a school of whales, as I found out through crosswords: two consecutive three-letter answers clued by individual letters, which is quite impressive
20  TRANSIENCE: reversal [return] of ART [Garfunkel] + N [last letter [ultimately] of Simon] + SIENCE [SI{l}ENCE [calm] minus L [line taken ]: cue a little self-indulgence, which I’m listening to while writing this
22  CONVALESCENT: anagram [after operation] of CANCELS VET round [carrying] ON – another great surface
26  ROOKIE: ROOK [chess piece] + IE [that is]
27  YAHOOISM: reversal [is back] of MOO [low] + HAY [‘Haye cut’] round [boxing] IS: another clever surface, referring to boxer David Haye
28  SOFTLY: O [round] FT [feet] L [last letter – ultimately – of wilL] in SY [first and last letters – casing – of SteinwaY: it makes a change to see P = piano as the answer, rather than part of the wordplay
29  GO TO SEA: Goose [bird] round [embraces] T [last letter – tail – of pussycaT]: a nice reference to ‘The Owl and the Pussycat’ [went to sea]


1   TIDY: TINY [small] with the N [middle letter – heart – of oNe becoming D [dead]: tidy = large as in ‘a tidy sum’
2   IN RE: I’m struggling here: the best I can come up with is an anagram [‘flipping’ – but that usually indicates a reversal] of REIN – but a rein is not a bit, is it? I hope someone can put me right [The gallant Andrew to the rescue: it’s a clever reversed hidden answer in its definition, concERNIng]
3   LUSTIEST: [f]LUS[h] [wiping ends] + odd letters of ToIlEt SiT
4   SUAVE: SHAVE [razor] with the H [last letter of tash] changed to U [bend]: the same device as in 1dn – but it’s a good one
6   AFRESH: QU [question] and A [answer] dropped from AquaFRESH [toothpaste]: the second instance of product-placing in this puzzle – four products in all: I wonder how much Tramp is getting for this! 😉
7   KIDDIEWINK: KID [tease] + reversal of WE [the Guardian] before [‘primarily’, which belongs before the dash] I D [1 down] + INK [it’s used to write]
8   RING SNAKES: anagram [design] of N [new] NIKE GRASS
11  ORPHAN: OR + PHAN[tom] of the Opera [ Lloyd Webber work]: Oliver Twist is the orphan [not urchin, as I first thought  – and how many others first tried to make something from ‘Cats’?]
13  SWIPECARDS: SWIPE [steal] + CAS{h} [money] minus H [‘dropping heroin’] round [over] RD [road]
14  TRADING OFF: DiNGO [dog] in [intercepting] TRAFF[ic] minus [concealed] I [International] C [cocaine]
15  ISRAEL: neat little anagram [ground] of ARIELS –  and see comment 9
18  SIGNPOST: I spent some minutes pondering this: there’s a potential anagram [out] of POINT but that doesn’t leave promising letters. ‘Initial’ usually means ‘first letter of’ but that got me nowhere. I’m settling for a straightforward charade – unusual for Tramp:  SIGN [initial] + POST [letters]?
21,23 DANIEL CRAIG: anagram [playing] of LEAD IN + first letters [primarily] of Casino Royale Actor Is Great, for a stunning &lit
24  MISS: double definition
25  EMMA: reversal [head over heels] of ME [Tramp] + MA{x] [top {max} with X [kiss] off: I’ve seen umpteen clues for EMMA but this &lit [ok, not quite!] tops them all – a lovely clue to end with

49 Responses to “Guardian 25,650 / Tramp”

  1. Meic says:

    His own surname is 5 Ac

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi Meic

    There’s more to it than that, as you’ll see if you follow the link in the preamble.

  3. Meic says:

    Just followed the link above – a lovely tribute, and my deepest sympathies Neil

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen : great blog of a great puzzle – I hadn’t followed the story of the mix-up on the Guardian site, which was particularly unfortunate given the subject. Condolences to Tramp, but thanks for sharing with us in this puzzle.

    2dn – hidden in reverse of concERNIng: very nice, I thought.

  5. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew – very nice indeed!

  6. AndrewC says:

    Thanks Eileen (and Tramp). Avery elegant puzzle that succumbed only to time and esoteric inspiration, the way a good puzzle should (though I’m no fan of KIDDIEWINKS!). 2d is a hidden answer (and &lit) – ‘IN RE’ is reversed in ‘concerning’.

  7. Andrew says:

    I forgot to say that I thought 18 was just a charade of SIGN + POST, as you say.

  8. Richard says:

    Kiddiewinks as spelt is 11 letters. Should be singular?

  9. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog and to Tramp for a fine puzzle that gets better the more I look at it.

    Small correction to 1a – Def. is “Bets involving first three”, isn’t it? Then tries = simply “rugby scores”, etc.

    I think I’ve seen Ariels/Israel (15d) before but I’m not sure anyone’s found the &-littish potential before (he’s thinking of Sharon-type Ariels, not Shakespearean ones, I think).

  10. DixieDean says:

    Another great puzzle by Tramp. Speaking as Tramp’s twin brother, I know how much this puzzle means to him personally and how disappointed he was with the mix up the other week. One element which adds to this puzzle as a tribute is the fact that all of his family members at the time of dad’s passing are referenced in this puzzle (one of them quite subtly).

    A fine crossword and a great tribute. As dad would say “good show pal!”

  11. Tramp says:

    Eileen: many thanks for the excellent blog and for your lovely words. You have made me very happy.

    One slight clarification: for TRIPLES, the definition is “bets involving first three” and the “rugby scores” = TRIES. The clue for SIGNPOST is a simple charade.

    As Eileen so eloquently says this puzzle is a tribute to my family and in particular my late, great dad LES WALKER — one of the finest gentlemen to ever walk the earth. I discussed the events of 2003 in Alan Connor’s Meet the Setter series (see link), in the Sandy Balfour X-Philes column referenced therein and in the link Eileen gives above so I don’t want to rake over old coals again. In short, I never got to say my goodbyes to dad so this was my attempt at doing something to fill that gap. The top line reads tRIP LES WALKER.

    I’m so fortunate in that I have a wonderful family; the family members* who went through the tragic loss with me are also featured in the grid. For the record, these are:

    DORIS day (my mum)
    daniel CRAIG (twin brother)
    STEPHEN (hidden in sixth row)
    EMMA (my amazing other half)

    and there you have it. I don’t really like the grid but I believe it’s the only Guardian grid with a 7,6 pattern on the top row and that’s where I wanted my main message to go. I wrote this puzzle about a year ago (I think). I apologise for some of the clues being somewhat “round the houses” and I appreciate some people might think it a little self-indulgent but on reflection
    I’m happy with my tribute.

    I’m in Raleigh, NC with work until Sat and I can’t wait to go home, see my family and do some puzzles (and drink some proper tea).

    Thanks again for the blog Eileen and thanks for everyone’s support.


    *I now have a wonderful sister-in-law, nephew and two perfect daughters but I couldn’t get them into the grid!

  12. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Richard – corrected now.

    Thanks Thomas re 1ac: I admitted not knowing about the bets – you’re right, of course!

    And I’m ashamed to say I’d missed the clever [surely true &lit?] 15dn, so many thanks for that, too.

    Hi DixieDean – how lovely to hear from you! As I said in the preamble, I’m hoping that Tramp will give us the full picture in due course. [I can see someone lurking in the 6th row – thanks for the hint! :-)]

  13. Thomas99 says:

    I think you’re right that 15d’s a true &lit (wordplay: “Ariel’s ground here” (i.e. here in the clue); Definition: “Ariel’s ground here” (i.e. here in the Middle East) – works for me) but was nervous of starting another argument about &lits. Some bloggers seem to be avoiding the term altogether now for the same reason, which is a shame.

  14. Eileen says:

    Hi Tramp

    You’re up early! 😉

    Sorry for the mistakes – and for crossing with your post.

  15. Tramp says:

    Hi Eileen

    Nothing to apologise for. Thanks for everything.

    I was up at 2am so that I could speak to my family via Skype before they go to work/nursery. Our youngest daughter has chickenpox, so mum is up to look after her. I just want to go home now. This is my first time out of Europe (I was 21 before I left Lancashire — just kidding) and I haven’t adjusted to this time difference.


  16. MikeC says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog, and Tramp for an exceptional puzzle – by turns funny, devious and rude, in a Paul-ine sort of way (3d!). Great stuff. As Eileen suggested might happen, the theme escaped me entirely. The fact that I still enjoyed the puzzle enormously says that it is by no means “self-indulgent”. Have a good trip home on Saturday, Neil.

  17. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen

    I got a lot of the answers but there were quite a few of the clues I couldn’t solve. This one by Tramp mostly beat me. I obviously need a lot more practice with Tramps style.

    Roll on the next one.

  18. Tees says:

    Yes, RIP Les: as I’m sure he does, knowing what a cool setter his son has become.

    Well done Neil – this is a goodie of course, now it’s here in all, as opposed to some of (ref recent, unfortunate events in the world of crossword publishing), its glory. Lovely clues, and a very enjoyable solve. But burn that grid! Send it the way of Saint Joan ASAP!

  19. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    What an utter delight.
    This setter must have special instructions from the editor to produce excellent cryptic crosswords.
    It was a happily tough solve; full of interesting, varied clues (too many to select from).The clever misdirections abounded and helped me to maintain my anti-dementia campaign.
    O for two or three like this every week.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    As a non-gridist, I can understand although not sympathise with those who rail against the four mini-puzzles grids, but please, what exactly is amiss with this one?

  21. Tramp says:

    I don’t like the unsightly black areas at the top (and bottom) of the grid. It would be aesthetically more pleasing if the top row consisted of 8-letter and 6-letter lights (and similar modification to the bottom row, to maintain symmetry). The only reason I chose this grid was because it had 7-letter light and a six-letter light on the top row and that was more important to me than the look of the grid.

  22. Paul says:

    Super stuff Trampy.

    The quality and fun of your work is in itself a great tribute.

    Well done again.

    Much love,

    John (Paul)

  23. Robi says:

    Thanks to Eileen and Tramp; what a super tribute to your Dad!

    I took some time to solve this one, but it was worth the effort. Maybe the five pints of Guinness at the Sloggers and Betters last night didn’t help. 😉

    In response to Eileen, yes, I was thinking of ‘Cats’ in 11 and then went on to urchin before I got the correct ORPHAN.

    I particularly liked RICE KRISPIES.

  24. crypticsue says:

    A splendid tribute to an obviously much loved Dad. It was quite hard work to solve but I got there in the end, thank you Tramp. Thanks to Eileen too – so nice to meet you and all the others yesterday and glad to see you (and I) got home safely.

  25. ArtieFufkin says:

    Wow! A really entertaining puzzle. Thanks Tramp and Eileen, for the blog.

    Favourites include 12 ac and 9 ac. Some great wordplay and misdirection again.

    A smashing tribute to your dad. Great work!

  26. NeilW says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    Normally one of the first to post but today was impossibly busy. I saw that it was Tramp first thing, remembered the recent debacle at the Grauniad and knew this would be special so refused to solve it in dribs and drabs on my iPad between meetings and I’m very glad I kept it waiting until I could fully appreciate it.

    A great puzzle, poignant theme though it is. Congratulations to my, slightly, namesake!

  27. Mitz says:

    I have no words. Top stuff.

  28. Donk says:

    Wonderful stuff, a throughly enjoyable solve. Many thanks to the setter and, of course, the blogger for clearing up a couple of the excellent constructions that had passed me by. 9a and 3d were my favourites in a lovely set of clues.

    Also, was fantastic to meet so many like-minded souls last night! Had a great time!

  29. togo says:

    What a fine puzzle! Lots of scorching clues, with the sense and solution intricately folded and secreted into the surfaces….. A tribute in every way. Thanks Tramp, and Eileen for your usual gracious and helpful blog.

  30. postrophe says:

    Re product placement – does yahooism count? 😉

  31. postrophe says:

    …and yes, Eileen, I too went down the urchin and “Cats” route!

  32. Sylvia says:

    How satisfying it is to finally complete an at first seemingly impossible task and then to be proved you were right! My respect for Tramp and his puzzles is greatly increased, especially having enjoyed his company fairly recently. Many thanks, Tramp.

  33. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog and Tramp for an excellent puzzle. We couldn’t access the link to the Guardian website for a while but once we did, we enjoyed reading Tramp’s “meet the setter’ piece. We’ve printed out one of the puzzles he refers to – will tackle it this evening as we’ve already completed the Indy offering for today.

    It’s interesting what he says about the younger generation not being keen on crosswords. However, our son created a cryptic crossword for us to solve for our last Christmas present as he couldn’t afford a gift! Turned out to be one of the best presents he’d given us!

    We had tiddlywink at one point which really messed up the NE corner!

  34. David Travis says:

    For 12 ac I initially thought you had to remove a word for ‘nuts’ (‘without nuts’) from the anagram fodder. Then I found ‘PECAN’ in the anagram fodder and was made up. Sadly, I got stuck at that point, so thanks for the clarification.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    Eileen, you want to know about Triples eh? (I suspect you don’t really!) We’ve been there before. Tramp @11 has the correct meaning, but it is not a common usage. In this country, and most of the rest of the world, that bet is called a Tricast or Trifecta. It is most definitely not refered to as a Triple anywhere except in some isolated spots in the USA (and I did an awful lot of Googling and talking to bookies last time to find that usage!).

    So the definition is valid because of the USA. It probably works as a crossword clue because most people are sufficiently ignorant of betting that they have probably heard a word used that they can’t quite remember and think “treble/triple, must be sufficiently alike to mean the same thing”, so it doesn’t occur to them that a) they are most definitely not the same thing, and b) there is no bet called a Triple in the UK. Knowing my pinch of salt attitude to dictionaries, you won’t be surprised to learn that I suspect dictionary writers are also the sort of person I just described. But hats off to any dictionary that correctly states that it is an obscure Americanism.

  36. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Derek: I knew I could rely on you. 😉

  37. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Great puzzle from Tramp, which I found a Heraclean struggle, but enjoyable all the way.

    The top had me stuck for a long time, and I needed a few hints (thanks, Eileen!) to finish the NE quadrant. I know the setter’s name was WALKER, but I couldn’t get ‘edge of pavement’ = P out of my mind, so this excellent clue had me stumped for ages.

    Difficult to choose favourite clues from this one; I’ll plump for 10a (great allusive surface), 11d (clever misdirection in the surface), 21,23 (lovely &lit).

    Congratulations and condolences, Tramp – safe journey home.

  38. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Tramp

    I had no idea about the past history, and I did not know aquafresh and gradin. I failed to get these two. I found the rest of the puzzle clever and a long but enjoyable solve.

  39. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Tramp and Eileen for a great puzzle and a great blog.

    Sorry about the late post but I’ve been for new specs today – I can see again!!

    Thanks Derek @35 for explaining about Triples.

    Tramp, you haven’t lost your father, you just can’t ask him a question. I think about my father most days and he is still with me. The great thing is to talk about him and remember him as you have done so well here.

    Take care.

    Giovanna xx

  40. Roger says:

    Great puzzle today. Featured a beautiful clue involving our brand ,Aquafresh (GSK), and also the name of my boss., Emma. Gave me goosebumps! I can assure everyone no sponsorship involved.

  41. Rorschach says:

    Lovely cluing!

    Loved the toothpaste one – although the surface was a little bit stretchy. And Simon and Grafunkel juxtaposition was nice too.

    Thanks both.

    Also – great to get to meet some of you a couple of days ago – great fun!

  42. nmsindy says:

    Thanks, Tramp, for this puzzle and sympathies for the loss which led to the puzzle’s creation. Quite difficult, I thought, and I’d to go for help for the actors and (sorry, Roger at #40), I never thought of that toothpaste – now that it’s explained I see it’s an excellent clue. Many thanks for the blog, Eileen, and nice to see you again at the S&B and to have this puzzle to do on my way back from it.

  43. Gordon Elliott says:

    Thankyou Tramp and Eileen for great puzzle and explanation.

    It was a bit difficult for me and took up time that should have been spent more productive things. Ihpoe that RCWhiting @19’scomment is not taken too literally, there are a great number of us out there that struggle with the present standard of difficulty. It would have been great for a Saturday offering though.
    Had trouble with the trade names but finally had to accept them.

  44. nametab says:

    Have been out of circulation, so was unable to do Tramp’s poignant puzzle.
    Thanks to Eileen and all bloggers for a good read here of the enjoyment it has given.
    Condolences and best wishes to you Tramp.
    Hope to tackle your next one.

  45. Fallowfield says:

    Aquafresh – there’s one to remember for future tramps in the country. Question/answer = qu/a? Where? Another puzzle crucified on a theme – in this case one impossible to detect.

    As it turns out, its to do with bereavement. Well, my partner and I used to do the Guardian crossword every morning in bed with tea and toast until cancer took her away last year. Anyone want to hear about it?

  46. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Tramp for a great puzzle and Eileen for the blog.

    This took much longer than normal – struggled with a lot of the local knowledge required with the products … yet ashamedly I missed the correct parsing of 14d which involved the DINGO !!

    Also missed POD and had spent too much time looking for an English school naming system that involved PCD or PBD or similar :( – finally gave up this morning and was mortified to see it was a simple school of whales !!

    Excellent clues with outstanding surfaces – couldn’t think of a better tribute to your Dad.

  47. Tramp says:


    This puzzle was a theme for my family. I intended it to be a latent theme and to not mention it to the general solving public. There was a mix up earlier in the month and I panicked that my tribute wouldn’t get published so I explained over on the crossword blog what had happened, thereby exposing the theme. This puzzle had a ghost theme; you didn’t need to know anything about the theme to solve the puzzle.

    Qu = Question (Chambers 12th Edition p1272)
    A = Answer (Chambers 12th Edition p1)

    I am extremely sorry to hear about your solving partner. I realise my puzzle is a little self-indulgent and I don’t for one minute think I’m the only person in the world who hasn’t suffered a loss.

  48. PeeDee says:

    Very late solving this puzzle, but what a treat!

    I didn’t have any problems with the grid, seemed just fine to me. I like ‘unsightly grids’ in the same away that I like to see knobbly vegetables and spots on my apples. The real world is like that.

    It is a shame that the (silent) personal theme ended up so much in the spotlight. In general the editing at the Guardian seem a bit of a shambles at the moment.

    Thanks to Derek L for the fascinating explanation of triples/trebles, though I don’t see a problem with words ending up in the dictionary because so many people use them mistakenly. The ‘new’ meanings do become real, the dictionary reflects the actual usages in the real world.

    Thank you Eileen and thank you Tramp.

  49. Ste says:

    Work deadlines prevented me from having a proper crack at my brother’s latest for a week after publication. The first shot produced a meagre 5 results. Then a spare evening (starting 10.30 pm)gave me a window to put my mind to a puzzle Neil had guaranteed me I would love. Anticipating references to 80s music, Peter Kaye quotations, Everton greats (would have had to be a Bank Holiday double grid though) I twigged the theme after Daniel CRAIG at 10.45. Five minutes later came DORIS Day followed by random search for all WALKER relatives. Not the conventional method of crossword solving but I am usually the last to finish Tramp’s puzzles and post a message here. 1.30 am and 95% of the grid completed I called it a day and retired a tad deflated not only at failing to see the tribute to my dad but also with my search in vein (but perhaps vain!) for my own name. The following morning I spotted the hidden name STEPHEN and instantly texted my brother in delight. I discover he’d been in the USA when I was having my first crack at the puzzle (more guilt). I finally complete the crucial top left hand corner with Neil’s advice and, thanks to some friends who ask about my dad’s name, finally see the tribute. This puzzle is getting framed and hung proudly in my house. Mum also wants one. A joy, honour and privilege Neil. From us all. Ste x

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