Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,656 – Gordius

Posted by manehi on June 7th, 2012


Mostly straightforward, but I did have to look up 5dn and 26ac afterwards. Favourite clue was 11ac.

Edits thanks to tupu and NeilW

1 CANOPY =”Cover” AN=article inside COPY=transcript
4 PHYSIC =”traditional medication” (Chips + y)*, where y=”unknown”
9 STRAIT AND NARROW =”right way” (An artist ran word)*
10 ERASER =”one gets rid of data” Hidden in “aftER A SERvice” ERA=”Some time” + SER[vice]
11 OLEANDER =”rosebay” (a shrub) Hero famously did love LEANDER, and “love”=>O
12 CHICKPEA =”type of vegetable” (each pick)*
14 SHAMAN =”Asian healer” SHAM=”pretend to be” + AN
15 SPONGE =”To cadge” PONG=”bad odour” in S[outh]E[ast]=”Home Counties”
18 ESTIMATE =”Figure” I’m=”I am” in ESTATE=property
21 CRITICAL “decisive” CR[edit] + (italic)*
22 TRUSTY =”honest” T[ime] + RUSTY=”out of practice”
24 FOUNDATION STONE cryptic def a block used in the base of a construction
25 AGEING =”getting past it” (an egg + I)*, where I=”one”
26 ACKERS slang for “cash” b[ACKERS]=”Supporters”
1 CATARRH =”complaint” CATH=Girl, around ARR[ive]
2 NEAPS =”Tides” NAPS=siestas, around E[spana]=Spain
3 PIT PROP =”Mine’s support” POP=Dad, around (trip)*
5 HUNKERS =”Conservative types” Chambers gives “orig a member of the conservative section of the New York Democratic party (1845); a conservative person”. It also means (to sit on one’s) haunches.
6 STRONG-ARM =”Violent” Satchmo=>Louis Armstrong, then put the first part of the surname last
7 CHOLERA =”Illness” HOLE=gap, inside rev(ARC=curve)
8 ANCONA =”Adriatic port” in Italy ANNA=Girl, around CO[mpany]=firm
13 CONSTANCE =”She” [girl’s name] CONS=cheats + TAN=beat + C[hurch of] E[ngland]=Establishment (as the “established” – i.e. official state – Church in England)
16 PERSONA “Assumed identity” (no spare)*
17 ENCHAIN “Bind” (inane ch[urch])*
18 ECLAIR =”cake” EC is the postcode for much of the City of London + LAIR=den
19 TITANIC =”Great [disaster]” (I can’t)* around IT (I can’t it)*
20 TETANUS =”infection” (UN state)*
23 UNTIE =”loose” [a]UNTIE=”BBC”

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,656 – Gordius”

  1. tupu says:

    A more consistent set of clues, I felt, from this setter, with one or two that held me up a bit. Like manehi, I had to check ‘hunkers’ (I am used to saying ‘honkers’) and I also checked ‘ackers’ though the answer was clear enough. I liked 11a, 22a, and 23d. No qualms about poor taste, either, in this puzzle.

    My Chambers defines ‘éclair’ as a cake, long in shape, and short in duration. I gather this is an old crossword ‘chestnut’.

  2. Trailman says:

    Thanks Manehi.
    I too was held up by 5d. I’d heard of ‘hunkering down’ but didn’t link it to the ‘sit’ part of the clue, and the ‘conservative’ allusion is obscure knowledge to say the least.
    That apart, there was a nice medical link with three conditions (four if you count AGEING) and two healers, and the comedians Ronnie ANCONA and Jenny ECLAIR down the middle.

  3. Frank says:

    Thanks Manehi, and Gordius for a Rufus-like composition.

    Is “ser” a valid abbreviation for “a service”?

  4. tupu says:

    Mahi and Frank

    Eraser is some (hidden in) ‘after a service’.

  5. tupu says:

    Apologies Manehi not Mahi

  6. manehi says:

    Thanks, tupu – edited now.

  7. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks both.

    10a (ERASER)’s a hidden answer!

  8. Thomas99 says:

    Sorry about the cross-posting, though I did check…

  9. NeilW says:

    Thanks manehi. Two small points:
    I thought SHAM was in the verbal sense, thus = “pretend to be”
    Isn’t TITANIC an anagram of “I CAN’T” around IT, rather than IT being in the fodder?

  10. William says:

    Thanks, Manehi.

    Not my favourite setter but some nice-ish clues.

    NeilW’s TITANIC was how I read it too.

    Trailman @2 – well spotted, I missed the comedians.

    Can you explain how STRONG-ARM works, please. I get the Armstrong gag and the answer flew in easily enough, but I don’t see how one could interpose ‘violent’ for ‘strong-arm’ in a sentence. ‘Violent’ is an adjective, isn’t it? And ‘strong-arm’ is only really a verb or conceivably a noun.

    Thanks again.

  11. manehi says:

    NeilW – those both make sense. I hadn’t seen SHAM as a verb before.

    William – I think I’ve seen strong-arm as an adjective – e.g. “the use of strong-arm tactics”

  12. William says:

    True enough, thanks, Manehi.

  13. Robi says:

    ACKERS and HUNKERS eh; too old even for me. Reasonably entertaining crossword.

    Thanks manehi; I failed to parse CONSTANCE properly.

    I’m embarrassed to admit that I thought STRAIT AND NARROW was spelt ‘straight.’ :(

    ERASER was my last in; cleverly hidden, I thought it must be some obscure church expression for ‘some time after a service.’

  14. Robi says:

    Perhaps I am not such an idiot after all – see ‘straight and narrow.’

  15. Wolfie says:

    Thank you Manehi.

    For 5d I had HUNTERS – I thought the conservative types were blood-sport enthusiasts, sitting on their horses! (Actually, I think this works, though I am sure HUNKERS is better.)

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Although I too failed to write in 5d I thought this crossword contained far too many over simple clues. Some just silly (24ac). I knew ‘hunkers’ for the sitting but nothing about US right-wingers. Like Wolfie I considered ‘hunters’ which fitted the ‘sitting on’ well but even in this type of ‘puzzle’ I couldn’t believe the blood sports link.
    9ac was quickly solved but like Robi I couldn’t write it in because I was unfamiliar with that spelling.
    All in all, very disappointing for a Thursday.

  17. gasmanjack says:

    9a Chambers only gives “straight and narrow”

  18. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Gordius and Manehi for puzzle and blog.

    Gasman @ 17 My hundred-year old Chambers’s (sic), defines straitness as strait and narrow. Straightness is defined as narrowness.The two words seem to have been fairly interchangeable in those days.

    Giovanna x

  19. aztobesed says:

    I’m not quite sure how to ‘read’ my Chambers but it seems to suggest that ‘straight’ is an ‘old’ or ‘non-standard’ reading of ‘strait’ with Spenser and Milton having ‘streight’.


  20. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Gordius and manehi. My 2003 Chambers has only straight and narrow (p 1494). Was not familiar with alternate spelling. My father, a liberal democrat to be sure, used the phrase “hunker down” a lot. I had assumed that it meant to get down on your haunches. New word for me was ACKERS.


  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Mostly easy, with exception of Hunkers.

    I thought it should be Straight too, and that to be otherwise is pretty Dire 😀

    Yeah I know, they were plural, but the dog is bouncing around wanting to be fed, so it was the best I could do under the circumstances!

  22. scchua says:

    Thanks manehi and Gordius.
    Agree that it was mostly straightforward except for the 2 not so common words. Got one but, not what the setter intended, the other I had as (L)ACKEYS, which were coins formerly minted in England for W.Africa.

  23. Gervase says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    Raced through this, only to be stumped by 5d. Rather too many obvious anagrams for my taste.

    The general consensus seems to be that ‘straight and narrow’ is a better version of the stock phrase than that which Gordius’s puzzle demands. Etymologically the two words are distinct: ‘strait’ (which means ‘narrow’ – as in the usage for a narrow strip of sea between two land areas) is from the old French ‘estreit’ (modern French ‘étroit’), whereas ‘straight’ is from Old English ‘streht’ (related to the word ‘stretch’). The confusion arises because the phrase does not appear in this form in its original source. The King James Bible has: ‘strait (i.e. narrow) is the gate and narrow is the way which leadeth unto life’ (Matthew, 7, 14). Here two synonyms are being used for euphony. However, if we put the words together, ‘strait and narrow’ is simply tautologous, and ‘straight and narrow’ makes more sense, even though there is no biblical implication that the road to salvation is without twists and turns! Bet bet is to avoid the cliche entirely.

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to manehi for the blog. I was beaten by 5d :(

    On 11a I was thinking that Hero swam across the Bosphorus then I thought no that was her boyfriend but what was his name? Thanks to manehi for putting me right.

    10a: it took a long time for me to spot that it was hidden – but I got there eventually!

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Gervase et al

    Redundancy e.g. strait + narrow is, I understand, not always a negative trait. It may be less valuable in written language, but it can aid the comprehension of a message in oral language since spoken sound is essentially short lived unlike the written text. I have heard that this may have been a feature of the use of biblical text in sermons to a congregation who may well have been illiterate themselves. I seem to remember having seen or :) heard that it may be used in English with a mixture of words of different origins e.g. Old English and French which fits the present example.

  26. Gervase says:

    tupu: I take your point, although I suspect ‘strait’ = narrow was more familiar in the 17th century than it is today, and I still think that the KJB phraseology was chosen because it sounds much better. I suppose, if you want to be really abstruse, you could claim ‘strait and narrow’ is an example of a hendyadis. This figure of speech is fairly common in classical Greek and Latin: an adjective with a noun, or an adverb with an adjective is alternatively expressed as two similar words linked with ‘and’. ‘Vi et armis’, literally ‘by force and by arms’, meaning ‘by force OF arms’, is a famous example. It is much rarer in English, but an example is ‘nice and warm’, which really means ‘nicely warm’ – the niceness is not additional to the warmth. So ‘strait and narrow’ could just be taken to mean ‘humongously tight’.

  27. Paul B says:

    Mark Knopfler was in Dire Straits, and is a millionaire. He’s come a long way, obviously.

  28. RCWhiting says:

    Many years teaching overseas to students who had English as a second (or third) language led me into the habit of repeating almost everything using different words or constructions.
    When I returned to the UK I found it a useful habit to continue; it has the added advantage of slowing the rate at which information is conveyed.

  29. Brendan (not that one) says:

    I too had hunters for 5 down.

    Just as valid as hunkers IMHO!

  30. Colin says:

    I knew ackers – still use it myself. Hunkers I didn’t, and looked up rosebay and didn’t get very far. I’m sure any overseas fans will have trouble with Auntie – I did. We don’t call it that on Radio 3!

  31. Helen says:

    I got ‘hunters’ for 5d too.
    Was struck by the number of times ‘One’ was used in the clues. A cryptic concession to the Jubilee maybe?

  32. Speckled Jim says:

    Did anyone else go for ‘benches’ for 5d? Pencilling that in really caused me problems with 4 and 11!

    19 is a triple definition, isn’t it?

    And one gripe: why the word ‘time’ in 10? Totally unnecessary and misleading! Yes, the surface wouldn’t work without it, but then the clue should be rewritten. Gripe over!

  33. KeithW says:

    Sorry for the late contribution but I seem to be alone in offering HINDERS for 5d. I haven’t looked it up (I’m currently hundreds of miles from my reference books) but I seem to remember the word as a diminutive of hindquarters (something one might sit on) and hinders, in the sense of delays or makes difficult, seems to describe the tactics of some conservatives.

  34. rhotician says:

    aztobesed @19: Chambers does not seem to me to suggest any reading, rather it states, in effect, that ‘straight is an old or non-standard spelling of ‘strait’. More important, it does not say that ‘strait’ is any kind of spelling of ‘straight’.

    Robi @13, RCW @16 and Grandpuzzler @20:
    ‘strait’, therefore, is a misspelling of ‘straight’, clearly not one that any of you would make. In fact, I suspect that very few people would. Much more likely would be misspellings (the other way) of such as ‘straitjacket’, ‘strait-laced’, ‘strait of Gibraltar’, ‘straitened circumstances’ and ‘dire straits’ – less so in this case thanks to Dire Straits.

    (Giovanna @18: Your Chambers is by definition old and almost certainly non-standard.
    Sorry,I don’t know how to do smileys.)

    However, in the context of ‘straight and narrow’, ‘strait’ is not merely a misspelling but, more seriously a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word.
    Gervase @23 does a good job of explaining.

    He manages despite being hampered by the suggestion in the link by Robi @14 that the origin of the phrase is “perhaps an alteration of … an allusion to” something.
    This is so tenuous as to be insupportable whatever the something. In this case it is also regrettable that the reference is to Matthew 7:14, a good example of why some regard the King James Bible as the finest single work in the English language. Again Gervase elucidates the quotation very well.

    ‘strait and narrow’ he describes as tautologous – more precisely it is pleonastic. (Wey hey!) This brings us nicely to tupu @25 and RCW @28 and redundancy. (‘pleonasm’ means redundancy, esp of words.) Their observations, while interesting and valid, cannot justify the appearance of ‘strait and narrow’ in a crossword. It is simply not valid.

  35. rhotician says:

    Self @34:
    I hope you haven’t overstepped the mark and caused offence.

  36. rhotician says:

    None intended i assure you all.

  37. Huw Powell says:

    Well, first let me say that at least the Wikipedia disambiguation page for “Oleander” picked up some improvements, and the article on the plant gained a handful of correct italicisations. I have long said that one could match up most of my editing there with Grauniad puzzles given a day to three lag.

    I don’t buy “strait and narrow”. Chambers (2011 p. 1537) won’t quite get one there – strait can become straight, but not the other way around. As solved, it simply isn’t a real phrase that matches the definition. I could see it being used where “synonyms” was elsewhere in the puzzle, built on a homonym type clue for “in the right way”.

    Too bad there isn’t a malady spelled P?R?O?A, for symmetry’s sake!

    Plenty of fun though, thanks manehi & alia for the blog and Gordius for the unraveling.

  38. gronwi says:

    Very belated – I catch only the weekly edition. But surprised that no-one caught the Pilgrim’s Progress quotation: “thus thou mayest distinguish the right from the wrong, the right only being strait and narrow.” So 9a is in fact accurate.

  39. Gordon says:

    I actually had Hangers for 5d, as in “Hangers and Floggers”, which describes many Tories. I wasn’t convinced that to hang meant to sit, but so what!

  40. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Gordius abd manihi

    Also a late entry after sitting on an unfilled 5d for quit a few days – eventually opted for HUNTERS like a few others and was wrong – haven’t heard of the Conservative HUNKERS before – so admit defeat!

    Like scchua I had opted for ACKEYS as well – ACKERS in Aust refers to a teenager’s pimples !! Couldn’t find a direct reference for ACKERS when solving, but now see that it is Nth English slang for banknotes.

    So in this one concede – Gordius 2 / Bruce 0

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