Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,709 by Paul

Posted by PeterO on August 8th, 2012


A sparkling offering from Paul.

There are many variations on the envelope theme, but it did not seem in any way excessive, and much inventive construction, including a couple of neat &lits. Paul’s impish humour is well in evidence.

1. Tricky situation, having to preserve a mischiev­ous child (6)
PICKLE Triple definition.
4. Dull Second and Third from Prokofiev, ending in Vaughan Williams’ mortified cry? (6)
MATRON A charade of MAT (‘dull’) + RO (‘second and third from PROkofiev’) + N (‘ending in VaughaN‘). The definition references William Brown, of the Just William stories by Richmal Crompton.
9. See 26
See 26
10. Popular figure into reforming, yet law unto herself, the Queen (3,5,2)
THE ROYAL WE An envelope (‘into’) of HERO (‘popular figure’) in TYALWE, an anagram (‘reforming’) of ‘yet law’.
11. Old 26 9, lightweight in store (6)
MOZART An envelope (‘in’) of OZ (ounce, ‘lightweight’) in MART (‘store’). The answer to 9,26 is MEGASTAR.
12. Bearing right, work to see name on old US aircraft (8)
NORTHROP A charade of NORTH (‘bearing’) + R (‘right’) + OP (‘work’). Northrop Corporation, a major maker of American airplanes, merged with Grumman in 1994.
13. So brevity different! (9)
VERBOSITY An anagram (‘different’) of ‘so brevity’.
15. Weak film about boxing (5)
ROCKY Double definition.
16. Strike small arachnid (5)
SMITE A charade of S (‘small’) + MITE (‘arachnid’).
18. Little time to cry, protecting wife after a month in siege (6,3)
TROJAN WAR An envelope (‘protecting’) of JAN (‘month’) + W (‘wife’) in T (‘little time’) + ROAR (‘cry’).
22. Empty hen house duck found centrally in street (5,3)
SCOOP OUT An envelope (‘in’) of COOP (‘hen house’) + O (‘duck’) + U (‘foUnd centrally’) in ST (‘street’).
23. Farm animals talked regularly behind domestic animal (6)
CATTLE A charade of CAT (‘domestic animal’) + TLE (‘TaLkEd regularly’).
25. Patient accommodating seconds, parts to find hot meals (10)
CASSEROLES An envelope (‘accommodating’) of S (‘seconds’) in CASE (‘patient’) + ROLES (‘parts’).
26,9. Both thin and thick stuff written by me — quite some name! (8)
MEGASTAR A charade of ‘me’ + GAS (‘thin [stuff]’) + TAR (‘thick stuff’).
27. Invalid guided around a rider (6)
LAPSED An envelope (‘around’) of ‘a’ + PS (postscript, ‘rider’) in LED (‘guided’).
28. New beginnings in double entendres, Uranus circling 9 being taken from behind (6)
UNUSED An envelope (‘circling’) of SUN (‘9′ is STAR) in DEU (‘beginnings of Double Entendres, Uranus’), all reversed (‘being taken from behind’).
1. Staff around but it needs filling (7)
POTHOLE An envelope (‘around’) of THO’ (‘but’) in POLE (‘staff’).
2. Catholic penetrating spy organisation, getting about (5)
CIRCA An envelope (‘penetrating’) of RC (Roman ‘Catholic’) in CIA (‘spy organisation’).
3. Child in stories that’s not saying enough (7)
LITOTES An envelope (‘in’) of TOT (‘child’) in LIES (‘stories’).
5. A poet entertaining circle on a ship (6)
ABOARD An envelope (‘entertaining’) of O (‘circle’) in ‘a’ (the first one) + BARD (‘poet’).
6. Feel low, as every daughter in line heading for nuptials (5,4)
REACH DOWN An envelope (‘in’) of EACH (‘every’) + D (‘daughter’) in ROW (‘line’) + N (‘heading for Nuptials’).
7,24. Publication for whom monkey writes cryptic (3,4,5)
NEW YORK TIMES An anagram (‘cryptic’) of ‘monkey writes’. I wonder what Will Shortz would have to say about that!
8. Brunette with plait plaited, sweet thing (6,7)
PEANUT BRITTLE An anagram (‘plaited’) of ‘brunette’ + ‘plait’.
14. Pubs’ motto, possibly? (7,2)
BOTTOMS UP An anagram (‘possibly’) of ‘pubs motto’.
17,19. Paul’s set up drink, then game wrapped in fruit, but no starter for 26 9 (7,7)
MICHAEL JACKSON A charade of MI, a reversal (‘set up’) of I’M (‘Paul’s’) + CHA (tea, ‘drink’) + an envelope (‘wrapped in’) of JACKS (‘game’) in [m]ELON (‘fruit, no starter’). The answer to 26, 9 is MEGASTAR.
19. See 17
See 17
20. Welshman’s grasped member, it’s claimed (7)
ALLEGED An envelope (‘grasped’) of LEG (‘member’) in ALED (‘Welshman’).
21. 26 9, model no more (6)
MONROE An anagram (‘model’) of ‘no more’. Last Sunday was the 50th anniversary of Marilyn Monroe’s death.
24. See 7
See 7

43 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,709 by Paul”

  1. Stabby says:

    I had Kenneth Williams for 4a — but I’m not familiar with Just William. Nice puzzle though. I actually managed to finish this one.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. It wasn’t hard but it was delightful, as Paul’s puzzles regularly are. Arachne had PICKLE as 1a in February tho’ not with the mischievous child reference: but I have seen that somewhere not long ago. I solved 4a without however getting the Richmal Crompton reference. Two questions: does matron suggest boarding school, and did William go to one?

  3. EB says:

    Thanks Peter & Paul.

    I agree with Stabby @1 – “Williams’ mortified cry” is much more likely to refer to Kenneth Williams who would often proclaim “Ooh Matron” in films such as Carry on Nurse/Doctor/Matron etc.

    The give-away is the position of the apostrophe – Williams’ not William’s.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Peter. I’m also firmly in the Kenneth W camp – apart from the position of the apostrophe, the Carry On films just seem so much more likely as a source for Paul.

    I was disappointed to finish this as I was having so much fun!

  5. Cajela says:

    I associated the William with Billy Bunter, myself.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Good blog, Peter, thank you.

    You’re right: this is Paul on sparkling form. A theme that didn’t get in the way of completing the puzzle, and some lovely light-hearted clueing throughout. I got a couple of the themed clues, which led me to the gateway clue, but in the end it all fell out nicely.

    THE ROYAL WE and BOTTOMS UP were my favourite clues this morning. And it’s definitely Kenneth Williams that Punk is referring to in MATRON. Hattie Jacques, if I remember well.

    [Not so old joke: When Prince Philip recently had that bladder infection during the Jubilee celebrations, do you think his urologist used the royal we?]

  7. John Appleton says:

    I also thought Paul was referring to Kennth Williams. BOTTOMS UP was excellent.

  8. tupu says:

    A good puzzle.

    I assumed 4a was from Just William but was troubled by the apostrophe and the cry did not ring a bell. I should have checked – see!

  9. Thomas99 says:

    It’s definitely Kenneth Williams in 4a – it says “Williams'” not “William’s” so it can’t be someone called William, and there is no connection between Just William and crying out “Matron!” that I know of. In answer to molonglo @2, William in the Richmal Crompton books certainly didn’t go to boarding school, and I would say that matron does suggest boarding rather than day school, though not exclusively. It would be a pity not to correct the blog on this as I think it’s going to be a lot of people’s favourite clue, largely because of the clever way it uses the Kenneth Williams quotation.

  10. Andrew says:

    This was Paul in absolutely classic form: a delight. I’m another for Kenneth Williams in 4ac – I’ve had his voice saying “Ooh, Matron!” running through my head all morning. And 28ac was great with its self-referential cheekiness.

  11. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Great fun. 4ac is emphatically a reference to Kenneth Williams, and gave me my first of many sniggers in this puzzle.

    Lots of good clues, but special mention to the splendid &lit anagrams at 13ac and 14dn.

    Pleasing to see a Welshman who isn’t DAI (at 20dn), and I enjoyed the image of monkeys compiling crosswords for the NYT.

    Paul had LITOTES in a puzzle in February this year, with a clue that was also constructed LI(TOT)ES, but with different semantics. Nice word, though.

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Peter, O, and Paul.

    Enjoyed this, but it took me an age, as I found it quite hard. Only got MEGASTAR late in the day (toying with MAGICIAN for a while), and the anagram at 8d (PEANUT BRITTLE) refused to crack.

    Before I had 9a STAR, I had thought 28a UNUSED was DE SUNU (URANUS circling with RA removed), but I see your explanation as more satisfactory.

  13. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Paul and PeterO.

    Like NeilW @ 4, I didn’t want this to end! In 4ac, Kenneth Williams leapt out at me with Hattie Jacques, too. I can see them now.

    Lots of fun clues and childhood memories. Do people still play jacks?

    Giovanna x

  14. NeilW says:

    Dave @12, “cian” isn’t a word, though. At least not in my dictionary. 😉

  15. crypticsue says:

    Splendid treat from Paul. Great entertainment so thank you to him and Peter O.

    Slightly worried about Neil@4 being in the ‘Kenneth Williams camp’ 😀

  16. PhilR says:

    Wouldn’t 7,24 be better as “Publication cryptic monkeys write”?

  17. NeilW says:

    crypticsue @15, oops. Oooh, Matron! :(

  18. aztobesed says:

    PhilR @16

    I read it that the monkey writes (the) cryptic – ie the crossword.

  19. rowland says:

    Re #16 I’m more worried about the ‘whom’! And amazed that people went on about Just William for so long.

    Yes I think we can say Paul is on form today, like Dac over at Indy. 7 24 probably my CoD, despite my quibble, if it is one.

    Thanks all,

  20. rhotician says:

    In an otherwise excellent puzzle the clue for LITOTES is seriously flawed. I am reminded of two of my favourite passages from two of my favourite books.

    From Flann O’Brien’s At Swim-Two-Birds:

    “He suggested that we should drink a number of jars or pints of plain porter in Grogan’s public house. I observed that it would probably do us no harm, thus expressing my whole-hearted concurrence by a figure of speech.

    Name of figure of speech: Litotes (or Meiosis).”

    From The Chambers Dictionary:

    “litotes…meiosis or understatement; esp affirmation by negation of the contrary, as in not a little angry = furious”

    “not saying enough” is not an adequate definition of litotes. It is a perfectly good jocular definition of understatement. So the clue needs a ?.

    Enough said?

  21. Trailman says:

    Pedantry corner first:
    I’m with Rowland. 7, 24, should be which not whom, the NYT not being animate.
    But who cares really. Paul more than most setters has a genius for the unfolding of a puzzle, one thing leading to another (pardon any innuendo). For me this was half on my journey into town this morning, culminating in MEGASTAR just before I got off the tube, and the assorted big names falling neatly out on the way back. Wonderful!

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Quite a good challenge especially the NE corner which I struggled with until I got Northrop. ‘Reach down’ was last in, I had been fixated on R(ea)(D)y (RY=line) since the very beginning.
    I always get pleasure from nice fresh anagrams and there were two today at 14d and 13ac.
    Why is the title so annoying to rho?

  23. Dave Ellison says:

    NeilW @ 14. Yes, I realised “cian” wasn’t a word, so I new it couldn’t be MAGICIAN – the only word I could think of at the time; and I couldn’t fit it to the clue anyway.

  24. JollySwagman says:

    @rho #20 But isn’t “not saying enough” an example of litotes in itself?

  25. rowland says:

    NeilW, are you Neil Wellard, the gentleman who ran this site in its early days? Sorry for asking, but I used to lurk back then, cheating on the clues I’m now better able to solve, and have been wondering.

    Trailman, thank you, but I hope I wasn’t being ‘pedantic’. The ‘whom’ looks like a straightforward mistake to me! Also I hope your Tube journeys aren’t too tough with all the extra Olympics ‘traffic’.

    Thanks again for the wisdom, all.


  26. NeilW says:

    Hi Rowly @25. Sadly, no but thank you for the compliment. A while ago, I was suspected of being Neil Walker (Tramp) which was extremely gratifying, though also wrong. Luckily, crypticsue @15 pricked my balloon today. 😉

  27. rhotician says:

    RCW @22: Why is the title so annoying to rho? Don’t ask me, mate.

    What do you mean by title?

  28. Trailman says:

    Hi Rowland, to me pedantry is to be applauded, so no worries there! :)
    London is functioning fantastically well so far thanks. I was on my way to an Olympic duty as an ‘Ambassador’, so am responsible for some of the extra traffic anyway.

  29. Paul B says:

    But one wouldn’t applaud (or disdain for that matter) the Argus-eyed identification of a simple error as ‘pedantry': I think that’s the point.

  30. William says:

    Thank you PeterO.

    I love to see Paul’s name on a crossword these days. I can be reasonably assured of getting there, but not without a good old tussle.

    Spent a silly amount of time trying to make BOGART work instead of MOZART!

    Cracking job yet again, Paul, thank you for all the fun.

  31. rhotician says:

    JS @24: Is “not saying enough” an example of litotes in itself? Well, not quite. It can only mean understatement in Cryptic Crossword Land.

    However in the context of this clue “not saying enough” is indeed not saying enough. It needs a ?. In real life I can think of only one case of something being an example of itself. TLA is an example of a TLA.

    One of the earliest TLAs is BBC. In this case nine syllables are reduced to three. With the burgeoning of IT we now have WWW, which, when spoken, reduces three syllables to nine.

    But I ramble. On in general and off topic in particular.

  32. Paul B says:

    Well, yes, you are a bit, but it has been QI. Is QI a TLA? Yes it is!

  33. nametab says:

    Paul on form & thanks to Peter O. No question that Williams = Kenneth. As with RCW – two excellent anagrams at 13ac & 14d, but 21d is succinct, apt and poignant. 10ac is also neater than it might first appear. Had thought of Oz for lightweight, but fixation on Bogart prevented seeing Mozart even with all crossing letters.

  34. Martin P says:


    What are the two secrets of good comedy?

    First: always leave your audience wanting more.

  35. RCWhiting says:

    (title so)* rho

  36. Davy says:

    Thanks Peter,

    Tremendous fun from Paul who was in great form today (litotes nowithstanding). Clue of the day ?. Definitely MATRON
    and there is no doubt whatsoever that he is referring to Kenneth Williams. Also liked VERBOSITY, LAPSED, CIRCA,
    LITOTES (dare I say it) and NEW YORK TIMES. I was fooled by Mozart and put Bogart ie zero grammes within bart which
    I thought was maybe a location where bartering took place. Such a place wouldn’t be called a store though, would it !.
    From bart to mart should have been an easy step but I didn’t see it. Thanks for all the fun Paul.

  37. RCWhiting says:

    Incidently, www is a very unfortunate ‘choice’ for such a widely used abreviation.
    Every letter in the alphabet has one syllable except w which has three.

  38. rhotician says:

    RCW, got me again. Your anagrind, ‘annoying’, is nicely apt.

    Incidently, when I described the clue as “seriously” flawed I wasn’t being serious. A case of hyperbole, the opposite of understatement. Seriously silly? An oxymoron.

  39. rhotician says:

    By the way, “incidently” should be “incidentally”.

  40. Paul B says:

    One hell of a coincidence that, I’d say.

  41. RCWhiting says:

    Is copying my misspelling plagiarism?

  42. Paul B says:

    Oh, I don’t think it was that.

  43. Vin says:

    I entertained the idea of a Kenneth Williams line in 4, but “Infamy!” was all I could think of, and that didn’t fit the crossing letters. I’m kicking myself now, of course. And I, too, was fixated on “Bogart” for 11, and had to cheat.

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