Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,701 / Brendan

Posted by Eileen on July 30th, 2012


It’s one of those disorientating Mondays when we don’t have a Rufus crossword to start the week. Instead, we have a cleverly-crafted puzzle from Brendan, with mostly straightforward clues, which nevertheless produced several penny-dropping moments and a few smiles. [There are two or three clues in which I meed help, rather than delay the blog, which was fun to do, too.]

I hope you enjoyed it as much as I did. Many thanks, Brendan.


9   APRIL: I’ve stumbled at the very first hurdle: April is a girl’s name, April 1st is a significant date and April comes after three other months but I can’t make any more sense of it
10  CRETINOUS: TIN [can] in an anagram [special] of COURSE
11  NEUROTICS: anagram [agitated] of N [new] OUTCRIES – and also of 10ac
12  LAITY: LAY [did lie] around IT – a nicely topical surface!
13  TRAINEE: TEE [driver’s supporter] round RAIN [answer to 1 down] – great misdirection
15  DEFAMER: DEFER [delay] round [over] A M [a minute]
17  CHAIN: CAIN [third man] round [outside] H [hospital] [‘man’ as in ‘mankind’, surely?]
18  TOM: male cat and the first of Tom, Dick and / or Harry [run-of-the-mill trio]
20  IDIOM I’D [I had] IOM [Isle of Man – isolated part of the UK]
22  TEARIER: EAR [attention] in TIER [bank]
25  REGALIA: REAL IA [actual things – Chambers:’ -IA:suffix used in naming things relating to something specified’]
26  PENAL: PEN [enclosure] A L [a pound]
27  COUNTRIES: anagram [altered] of CRETINOUS AND NEUROTICS [10 and 11 across] and the clue indicates that 12 other answers are anagrams of countries [listed at the end of the blog]
30  ROMANIANS: MAN [servant] and I in [breaking] ROANS [some horses]
31  ENEMY: hidden reversal [after backing] in partY MEN Expelled


1   RAIN: sounds like [pronouncement] reign [rule]
2   BROUHAHA: reversal [rising] of AHAB [Captain in ‘Moby Dick’] round anagram [happy] of HOUR
3   ALSO: hidden in royAL SOciety and officiAL SOurces
4   ACCIDENT: A CENT [minimal change in New Yorkj round [bringing in] CID [detectives]
5   NEWSED: I’m afraid I can’t fathom this one
6   AIRLIFTING: the cruciverbally maligned Cockney’s way of saying ‘hair-lifting’ / raising [scary]
7   SODIUM: ODIUM [revulsion] after [added to] S [sulphur]
8   ASHY: A SHY [a cast]
13  TACIT: first letters [primarily] of That Araucaria’s Clues Involve Trickery
14  NON-VIOLENT: anagram [otherwise] of IN NOVEL NOT
16  RUMBA: RUM [drink for sailors] + BA reversal [set up] of AB [one sailor]
19  MARQUESS: A R [a king] + QU [queen] in MESS [disarray]
21  ILL-TIMED: I’LL [I will] + TIED [bound] round [across] M [motorway]
23  AGNAME: reversal [put up] of MAN [chap] in AGE [time] – a very straightforward clue for an unfamiliar word, which I guessed from the Latin agnomen
24  RECLAD: READ [studied] round [outside] CL [class – which I can’t see in either Collins or Chambers]
26  PURE: double definition [neat as in whisky, say]
28  TEES: another one I can’t see, I’m afraid
29  SAYS: SAY [for example] + S [Southern]


40 Responses to “Guardian 25,701 / Brendan”

  1. catflat says:

    Hi Eileen.

    Fun puzzle – thanks Brendan.

    I believe golf tees were originally piles of sand before that little plastic things were invented.

    No idea about 5d, I’m afraid.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, catflat. I did wonder about that, as soon as I’d hit ‘Publish’ – a bit odd to have that meaning of TEE twice in the same puzzle, though.

  3. Rick says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen. I too enjoyed the puzzle – a good effort from Brendan!

    Your queries …

    In 9 across I think that it’s essentially as you have it. April is a girl’s name and it’s the first date after three months of the year.

    In 5 down can “news” be a verb? If so, then we have NEWS (“Quartet vying for contracts” as in the four hands in bridge) followed by ED (“top journalist” – editor) giving NEWSED (past of “news” – report).

    In 28 down TEES is a river and piles of sand were originally used for putting golf balls on when driving (now replaced by golf tees).

  4. Steve & Claire says:

    I agree – lovely puzzle and (as always from Eileen) an entertaining analysis. I think TEES is a golfing reference – once upon a time, before the current plastic pin, players would tee off from a little heap of sand.

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen. This was good fun, especially after the penny dropped about the “12” – I almost missed that initially as 12ac is one of the anagrammed countries, so I thought it was the only one, but then decided that there must be more to it than that.

    I agree with Rick’s explanations of the clues you couldn’t explain. The OED has citations of “news” as a verb going back to 1650.

    My only quibble is that the Isle of Man (20ac) is not a part of the UK, isolated or otherwise. It’s a Crown Dependency, like the Channel Islands.

  6. scchua says:

    Thanks Eileen, and Brendan.
    Great fun with a cleverly constructed clue.
    Following on from Rick@3, I think the defn. is “reported” as a verb. One of those ugly words formed from a noun, as in “His feat was newsed yesterday”.

  7. scchua says:

    Sorry, Andrew, we crossed.

  8. scchua says:

    Sorry, again – a correction to @6 ” a cleverly constructed puzzle” of course.

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen – extremely well done, as usual.

    Very clever puzzle from Brendan, which I found a bit trickier than his last few outings in the Guardian; all the more surprising on a Monday. Including the 12 country anagrams was most ingenious, but didn’t help this solver at all.

    NEWSED and AGNAME were unfamiliar, but couldn’t have been anything else (though I did look up ARNAME as a possibility: MAN in ERA all reversed).

    I particularly liked 12ac (nice construction and surface), 13ac (‘holding one down’), 3dn (cleverly worded double ‘hidden’ clue), 4dn (‘minimal change in New York’), 14dn (‘novel’ in the fodder and not the anagrind).

    MAN (30ac & 23dn) and TEE (13ac & 28dn) both appear twice in the wordplay, which is unusual.

  10. John Appleton says:

    Thanks Eileen and Brendan. Got most of the anagrams but ROMANIANS/SAN MARINO was too clever for me. NEWSED seems like one of those lazy nouns-turned-into-verbs, like the “medalled” that is really beginning to annoy me in Olympic coverage.

  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    I was at one stage beginning to think that this was an unthemed puzzle from Brendan, but then when I came upon 27ac, I realised I should be looking for something. In fact COUNTRIES was one of my last in, and I did realise that there were 12 anagrammed countries around the grid, though I have to say I didn’t go searching for them all.

    Good fun from Brendan today – thank you. And John at no 10, I challenge you to a competition about who can get most annoyed about ‘medalled’ over the next two weeks. I think it could be a photo finish.

  12. dave t says:

    re 5 dn N E W S are the four competitors at contract bridge but I don’t think this sheds any further light on the clue

  13. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Last in was 27ac which I did not parse.I took 10,11,12 as ‘count’ which led nowhere. The themed anagrams completely passed me by, not that it matters, I solved the crossword puzzle.
    I liked 18ac and 26d for not meaning cattle! I am a little hesitant as to why (14d) ‘friends are not this’ is a definition of ‘non-violent’. I am sure plenty of violent people have friends who are similarly inclined.
    Slightly more interesting than the usual Monday fare.

  14. crypticsue says:

    What a splendid start to the week. Didn’t take long to solve but I did spend quite a while sorting out the ’12’. Thanks to Eileen for the usual entertaining blog too.

  15. martin says:

    I have never heard of news as a verb, although the answer was clear enough, especially once the other letters had been inserted.

    I got too fancy on the countries, missed the anagram signifier, but did notice that 5d. was NEWSED = NEW SED = NZ, and spent far too long after completing the grid looking for similar word play.

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog.

    I never did work out that 10,11,12 business – even after filling in all the countries :(

  17. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Eileen – we only managed to solve 5d by looking for anagrams of countries! We hadn’t thought about contract bridge until we came to the blog.

    An enjoyable start to the week – thanks Brendan!

  18. rowland says:

    Indeed a tough one, with nooks and crannies I found hard to squeeze into. At least everyone else felt the same way, -ish, about it! Many thanks for the useful comments everyone, and to Eileen and Brendan for some great stuff.


  19. muffin says:

    Is “not able to learn” as a definition for “cretinous” in keeping with the Guardian’s style guide? Cretinous refers to a very specific (thyroid) hormone-deficiency disease.

  20. Gervase says:

    I had never come across ‘news’ as a verb, but Chambers lists it, as does the SOED, which states that the earliest record of the verbal usage is from the middle of the 17th century. So it isn’t one of those horrible lazy neologisms like ‘medalled’ – which sounds American to me, and therefore is perhaps more properly (!) spelt ‘medaled’.

  21. Gervase says:

    muffin @19: CRETINOUS, as you say, is the adjective from ‘cretin’ – someone suffering from ‘cretinism’, which is a thyroid hormone deficiency disease formerly prevalent in areas far from the sea, where diets are deficient in iodine. One of the symptoms is an impairment of intelligence, so ‘not able to learn’ is a reasonable definition. ‘Not able to learn’ = ‘with learning difficulties'; this seems a fairly sensitive way of defining a word which is often used inaccurately and pejoratively.

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi Gervase @20

    At the back of my mind, I thought I might have heard ‘newsed abroad’, then decided that I must be thinking of ‘noised abroad’, which is from the A.V.

    However, I found this:

    and also several articles pointing out how Shakespeare turned nouns into verbs – it’s called ‘verbing’, of course! This is quite amusing:

  23. Norman L in France says:

    Friends = Quakers

  24. NeilW says:

    Thanks Eileen and Norman L – that’s been really bugging me all day.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks very much.Always so obvious isn’t it (after you tell me).

  26. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks to Brendan and Eileen. Good fun. Have you noticed that, not content with “verbing” ‘medal’, athletes and journalists have now given us ‘to PB’? That should annoy a fair few. Would Shakespeare have approved?

  27. Gervase says:

    Re NEWSED and other examples of verbing, thanks to Eileen @22 for reminding us that Shakespeare did a lot of this, together with other shifts of lexical function, eg adverb to verb (‘That from their own deeds askance their eyes’), adverb to noun (‘In the dark backward and abysm of time’), adverb to adjective (‘Blunting the fine point of seldom pleasure’).

    The generic term for this is conversion, and although Shakespeare used it for poetical effect, and modern examples do grate on most of us, I suppose we have to be grateful for the process. Many usages which are now quite unremarkble have arisen this way. It works particularly easily in modern English, because most of the inflections have been lost – and it’s one of the main reasons why cryptic crosswords are a predominantly English language phenomenon.

    dunsscotus: I wonder if we shall hear a commentator for the triple jump execute a linguistic triple jump: ‘If Idowu’s going to medal, he’s going to have to PB, which is a big ask’.

  28. RCWhiting says:

    ….unless you are an American of course,in which case you will PR….

  29. Wolfie says:

    I struggled with this one, and failed with NEWSED.

    Interesting to note that CRETIN is etymologically derived from CHRISTIAN.

    Thanks Eileen for the very helpful blog.

  30. Paul B says:

    I would have to add, taking great delight in so doing, that one can be ‘unable to learn’ by reason of being either (Collins 1) afflicted with cretinism (the condition of mental retardation caused by thyroid hormone deficiency), or (Collins 2) just really very stupid: ‘that cretin (insert least favourite 15^2 poster here) never bloody learns’.

    Or by being an Arsenal supporter, of course, and yet I think Brendan, in allowing the choice, skilfully sidesteps any controversy, don’t you?

  31. Innocent Abroad says:

    Lots in the top half I couldn’t get – amd even having read all this I’m not totally convinced.

    Didn’t see the bridge reference in 5, because they aren’t four competitiors, they’re two pairs competing. Not quite the same thing.

    And “reign” isn’t a synonym of “rule”. One is what Betty does, the other’s Cammo’s job. Again, I expect the prepositions in clues to ne directionally accurate – using “over” in an across clue (15) is naughty.

    But I am to blame for faiing to see 10 or 11, especially since I got 27 easily enough. Like Eileen, I couldn’t give a full account of certain of my answers (that was one, 16 was another – surely the clue should have been “… for sailor set up”?) and once that happens I start to lose heart in what I can and cannot licence myself to solve. (Andrew has pointed out another example of this.)

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Another very nice Brendan.
    One knows that there will always be something going on.
    Often not just a plain theme but more some kind of value added.

    AGNAME (23d) was our last one in, but at that point we were still missing one more country. We completely overlooked Romanians/San Marino, perhaps because the others were relatively short anagrams.

    No complains about NEWSED (5d). One can start a discussion on it, but it’s surely only there because of being an anagram of Sweden. And Rick’s [@3] parsing is absolutely spot on.

    Just like some others we thought it was slightly unusual/inelegant/avoidable to see Man and Tee appearing twice (although Paul B must be pleased with 28d).
    While 28d is a bit unsatisfactory (the setter could easily have chosen a word nót containing Tee), it is also quite clever in its misdirecting use of “originally”.

    All in all very entertaining.

    Full marks to the simple but oh so elegant double definition in 9ac (APRIL). The same for 1d (RAIN), 3d (ALSO) and some more that were just as smoothly written.

    Not very hard, but extremely enjoyable because of that extra layer. And, yes, we couldn’t stand it not to find Country No 12 ….

    ps, talking about that, using 10,11 and 12 in 27ac (three consecutive numbers) must have been done deliberately by Brendan – another nice touch

    ps2, many thanks Eileen

  33. rhotician says:

    Paul B @30: Chambers 1 is idiot and 2 is the thyroxine stuff. Presumably because the word cretin was in use before the hormone related condition was identified.

    Your elucidation of how Brendan’s definition can apply to both senses is both perceptive and amusing.

  34. rhotician says:

    Innocent @31: Chambers gives reign as “rule, actual or nominal, by a monarch”.

    Eileen’s blog explains 15 and 16 precisely.

    As for bridge I have heard that there is sometimes competetion between partners to declare a contract. Being dummy is not much fun.

  35. rhotician says:

    Andrew @5: A well-known Manxman represents Team GB, which really means the UK. Better not dwell on it though.

  36. stanXYZ says:

    Eileen, Many Thanks to you for explaining “12 other answers”!

    I am completeley in awe of the Setter and all those who spotted the theme.

    I didn’t podium on this one!

  37. Jezza says:

    Thanks to Brendan for a most entertaining puzzle, and to Eileen for the explanations.

    At 18a, I totally missed the TOM (Dick/Harry) explanation, and stumbled across the right answer thinking incorrectly it was 3 of (trio) the first letters of run (O)f (T)he (M)ill.

  38. jeff w says:

    Thanks Eileen, and in particular for the explanation of TOM (it had to be this, but I was fumbling along similar lines to Jezza @37 for the reason why) and for SAN MARINO, the only country anagram I couldn’t spot.

    A lovely puzzle from Brendan.

  39. Tony says:

    I completed all but two solutions while completely unaware of the country name anagrams. I ony saw the online puzzle, and I saw no hint of such a theme. Was it in the print edition?

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Tony, it’s in the clue for 27, check the blog again. Geddit?

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