Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,759 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on October 5th, 2012


A themed puzzle from Paul, which may well open up discussion along familiar lines: those familiar with the theme were probably able to fill in a number of the answers from the enumeration alone, while those who were not could, if they wished, do the same, courtesy of Google.

Either way, this can detract from the appeal of a puzzle if too many clues fall too easily. However, I think there’s enough going on in this one to sustain the interest, apart from the theme answers – parsing them was entertaining enough in itself – with a variety of ingenious and witty clues, including a couple of instances of Paul’s schoolboy humour [with some interesting anagram indicators]. Thanks, Paul – I really enjoyed it!


11,10 Work of 15: among plays, others by him not entirely ambiguous (3,7,4)
anagram [ambiguous] of OTHERS BY HI[m] in [among] TOYS [plays]

12 Go by land, getting cold (6)
TRY [go] following [by] WIN [land]

14 Is the bottle so courageous? (8)
double / cryptic definition: if a bottle contains spirits, it could be said to be spirited – nice play on ‘bottle’, too

15 One climbed clear as English author (7)
BEN [Scottish mountain – ‘one climbed’]  + NETT [clear]
National Treasure Alan Bennett, theme of the puzzle

17 Einstein‘s old oath about butter somewhat lost (7)
EGAD [old oath] round GHE[e] [butter somewhat lost] – and, for once, butter means butter!

20,26 5 a part rewritten with religious rite for 15’s work (1,7,8)
anagram [rewritten] of FIVE A PART + UNCTION [religious rite]

22 Shine on beyond deadly sin (6)
RE [on] after LUST [deadly sin]

23 Copy returned shortly, thrill getting hold of terribly sad work of 15 (6,4)
reversal [returned] of FAK[e] [copy shortly] + KICK [thrill] round [getting hold of] anagram of [terribly] SAD

24,18,8,9 15’s work, if a mermaid breaks off to introduce yarn from Richmond? (2,2,6,2,8,5)
anagram [breaks] of IF A MERMAID + OFF round [to introduce] VIRGINIA WOOL [‘yarn from Richmond?’ – capital of Virginia, as I should have noted earlier – thanks Fat Al @ comment 5] – a rather Araucarian construction!

25 Guillotine out to slice through vessel, sliced into pieces (3,2)
[o]UT minus its first letter [guillotined] in [to slice through] CUP [vessel]


1 Drug — figure drawing it in inhaling poisonous gas? (8)
NINE [figure] round [drawing in] IT, which is itself round [inhaling] CO [carbon monoxide – poisonous gas] – great surface!

2 A pleasing thing for Turkish generals (4)
A GAS [pleasing thing]

3 Difficult as a hitch? (6)
cryptic definition

4 Where China Sea becomes choppy in the wind (3,4)
anagram [becomes choppy] of SEA in FART [wind] – another great surface

5 Anticipating a comic, it having popular features inside (8)
IT + IN [having popular features] inside A WAG [a comic] [I was taught that this was not the definition of ‘anticipating’!]

6 Settle on leading celebrities for theatre (10
FOOT [settle – as in foot the bill] + LIGHTS [leading celebrities]  – I’m not sure ‘leading’ is necessary here, since it usually precedes ‘lights’ in this sense
There’s a connection to the theme, in that Alan Bennett and Dudley Moore, from the Oxford Revue, joined Cambridge Footlights members Peter Cook and Jonathan Miller in ‘Beyond the Fringe’

7 Power of pulling, for certain? (1,5)
hidden in pullinG FOR CErtain

13 Bowler’s dream, new balls caught in the slips (3,7)
anagram [balls!] of NEW in TICKETS [slips] – an excellent cricketing surface.
I actually remember Jim Laker achieving this dream [and more!]

16 Month after one thrown from vehicle, find wing in church (8)
SEPT[ember] [month] after TRA[i]N [one thrown from vehicle]

19 Number of convictions proves contradictory, thief ultimately claimed (7)
F [thieF ultimately] in [claimed] BELIES [proves contradictory] – ‘number of’ is necessary for the fine surface

21 Fish put in one’s ear (6)
sounds like [in one’s ear] ‘place’ [put]

22 Juliet’s heart and Lear’s desire (6)
LI [juLIet’s heart] + KING [Lear]

24 Story taking month, not a month less a day (4)
M[a]Y [month not a] + [mon]TH [month minus mon{day}]

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,759 / Paul”

  1. KeithW says:

    I am sure Paul would have loved clueing Prick Up Your Ears if he could have fitted it in. So to speak.

  2. Eileen says:

    The same thought crossed my mind, KeithW – I think he may perhaps have been alluding to it in 21dn!

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    The problem for me with this puzzle was not so much the theme but the fact that Paul clearly had most of his fun contriving the clues to the non-themed solutions – as did I solving them.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen & Paul

    Having solved the suthor’s surname, my immediate assumption was that it was ARNOLD BENNETT.

    Did anyone else get led astray?

  5. Fat Al says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    As you suggested, I got 11,10, but then needed wiki to find out a bit more about the author and his other works to be able to finish.

    You have a ? after Yarn from Richmond. I hope I’m not telling how to suck eggs as we say down here, but I saw that as Virginia Wool could be yarn that came from Richmond, the capital of Virginia, USA.

    Thanks Paul. Enjoyed this.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Fat Al

    Ys, that’s the interpretation I intended: the question mark is not mine – it’s in the clue!

  7. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. With fewer than ten letters missing I hoped to complete this without aids, but knowing near-zero of Bennett’s oeuvre I had to check on KAFKA’S DICK, the 2,2 of24 across and whether or not it was ‘victory’ or ‘history’ in 11,10. But there were as ever with Paul many joyous moments and it’s fair enough that once in a while research is required.

  8. Eccles45 says:

    Bryan – I too got sidetracked ! Even when I sorted out the correct author (via 11,10), I then wrote in 24,18,8,9 from memory except I had the lady’s name as Wolfe. Oh dear.

    Thanks to both Paul and Eileen

  9. Median says:

    Thanks, Eileen. As you say, this puzzle may lead to “discussion along familiar lines”, so here we go.

    One of my hobby horses is setters assuming that solvers have encyclopaedic knowledge of the arts. I was educated and have – so far – lived my life in a different way. Consequently, I hadn’t heard of any of the Bennett works used here. I even had to cheat to get BENNETT before heading for Wikipedia. Yes, there were some flashes – nudge, nudge – of Paul’s trademark humour but overall I was irritated by today’s offering. :(

  10. Fat Al says:

    Eileen @6, Sorry about that! Note to self…don’t post in a rush before heading out. The old question mark as part of the clue trick, hey. I obviously still have a lot to learn. Thanks for pointing that out so nicely.

  11. William says:

    Hello everybody, missed this place very much during extended foreign travels recently.

    Thank you Eileen, a fine blog as usual.

    Not really to my taste I’m afraid and I speak as an ardent Paul fan.

    I had to come backwards to the playwright from Virginia Wool and even then I struggled to parse BENNETT.

    Favorites include FAR EAST and TEN WICKETS. Dislikes include MYTH & WINTRY.

    Thank you Paul.

  12. Robi says:

    Composing crosswords is not easy and a flash of inspiration often involves using a theme. It’s then fun to fit in themed answers. Congratulations Paul in doing this well, although I only knew two of the four works (but Mrs Google seemed to know them all!)

    Thanks Eileen; a tour de force in blogging; I would never have been able to parse ME, I’M AFRAID OF VIRGINIA WOOLF. Some of the ‘other’ clues were great; I really enjoyed the Paulian FAR EAST, MYTH and TEN WICKETS.

  13. crypticsue says:

    Thanks to Eileen and to Paul too. I enjoyed the non-themed ‘naughty’ clues more than the theme.

  14. Eileen says:

    Hi again Fat Al @10

    No need for apologies! I’ve been out at the dentist’s et al and meant to clarify the blog comment before I went. I think the quotation marks make it clearer.

  15. John Appleton says:

    Felt like the crossword was a bit too full of theme today, which didn’t help me to get a foothold, as I’m unfamiliar with most of the titles here. As such, I pretty much had to google to get a fair amount of entries.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A bit of a curate’s egg, I thought.
    Last in was ‘Kafka’s Dick’, is ‘copy’ allowable as a definition for ‘fake’?
    I liked 12ac.
    I am doubtful about ‘if a bottle is full of spirits it is spirited’.
    If a cart is full of wood, is it wooded? There seems to be no end to this cryptic definition type. Also,the fact that ‘bottle’ is a definition for courage does not add anything.
    For me, not one of Paul’s recently improved models.

  17. davewibble says:

    Less theme, more action. ******!

    Edited by Admin to remove an offesive term.

  18. KeithW says:

    Like RCW @16 I wasn’t convinced by SPIRITED at 4ac. On first pass I wanted to put in SOLDIERY on the basis that an empty bottle is sometimes a dead soldier and soldier-y could mean like a soldier (is a bottle so) and therefore courageous. I also doubted that Alan Bennett is an author rather than a dramatist or scriptwriter but that’s just a minor quibble in what I thought was a very satisfactory and fair puzzle. Thanks as ever Paul and Eileen.

  19. Eileen says:


    ” I also doubted that Alan Bennett is an author rather than a dramatist or scriptwriter…”

    I think the list of Bennett’s work in the link I gave must answer your query.

    Re SPIRITED: there’s a question mark at the end of the clue [yes, I know it’s a question 😉 ] and I took it as being one of Paul’s whimsical clues, like his use of apply = like a fruit. [And, admittedly, RCW’s cart full of wood would not be wooded – but a valley full of woods would!

  20. Trailman says:

    12ac, land = WIN? A blind spot for me.

  21. cholecyst says:

    Thanks,Eileen. SPIRITED reminds me of the old Xmas cracker riddle:

    Q. What’s brown and sticky?

    A. A stick.

    On the theme of schoolboy smut, I rather hoped the answer to the bowler’s dream would be wet wickets.

  22. Eileen says:

    Trailman – I nearly added a note on that: eg “He’s landed himself a good job”?

    Chambers: to capture, to secure, to attach to one’s interest and Collins: to win or obtain

  23. Eileen says:

    Thanks, cholecyst – nice to see you back!

  24. stiofain says:

    John @15 “a bit too full of theme today” – well put.
    Pauls overly long answers irritate me and coupled with the fact that the cognescenti can write themed ones in from the enumeration while for the rest it is a google/wiki trawl means you only get half a puzzle.
    The half you are then left with is spoiled by all the crossing letters supplied by the write-ins,so one of the pleasures of solving ( ie the solving of one clue assists in the solving of another ) is lost.
    A general knowledge quiz coupled with 20 non-interconnected individual “Name a 5 letter word starting with c and ending in e meaning drudge-work” type questions does not a cryptic crossword make.
    0 out of 10 from me for this effort from a setter whose name on a puzzle used to practically guarantee an entertaining innovative puzzle.

  25. flashling says:

    I find this falls into the trap of too easy for a weekend puzzle, but nigh on impossible to do without knowing the answers on the train to work where the internet is of no use, bah grumble :-)

    Cheers Eileen.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Eileen @19
    “RCW’s cart full of wood would not be wooded – but a valley full of woods would!”
    I do not see the difference but that aside, would you really accept “is a valley” as a clue for ‘wooded’?

  27. Dave Ellison says:

    I was chagrined not to get started today – I always enjoy conquering the theme, but no Bennet nor any of his works from enumerations. This rendered most of the rest of the crossword impenetrable.

    What a pity.

  28. Dave Ellison says:

    I realise now I came close to cracking it: I had surmised —KASDICK for 23a but wasn’t sufficiently confident of my attempt to pursue it further; doh!

  29. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    I did this in dribs and drabs in the course of a rather busy day.

    I found it quite hard but satisfying on the whole. It took me quite a time to get the author (once I’d seen 20, 26). I only vaguely remembered 23a but it was well clued. I have seen 11,10 and this helped because I could not properly parse it. The shift of ‘plays’ to ‘toys’ for anagram fodder makes me want to cry foul but the answer was at least clear.

    4d was quite amusingly ‘Pauline’.

    I also liked 29a and 24d.

  30. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu, if you’re still there – I’ve been out again.

    “The shift of ‘plays’ to ‘toys’ for anagram fodder makes me want to cry foul but the answer was at least clear.”

    To be fair, ‘toys’ [= plays] is not anagram fodder [the anagram is ‘among’ TOYS: that would make it an indirect anagram, which many would regard as a foul. I saw nothing at all wrong with it – and, of course, ‘plays’ [= ‘toys’] was essential for the & litish [ish] surface.

  31. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    Thanks for that. You are quite right, of course.

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu :-)

  33. mhl says:

    Thanks for the excellent post Eileen. I didn’t enjoy this as much as many of Paul’s puzzles, but given how high his standard is, that still makes it a fun solve :)

    One quibble that I had is with FOOTLIGHTS – they might be called a theatre group, I suppose, but the theatre is the ADC, not Footlights.

  34. Brendan (not that one) says:

    First pass gave only LUSTRE, KNOTTY and LIKING.

    From somewhere in the ether I fathomed THE HISTORY BOYS leading to BENNETT and A PRIVATE FUNCTION.

    Forced to Google the works I don’t know and then almost a write in. Only held up by EGGHEAD

    Sorry Paul but Dull.

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi Mark @33

    Re FOOTLIGHTS: I wasn’t entirely comfortable with this clue: I thought it was just a fairly weak charade and I expressed my reservations about the second part of it. I provided the link to justify the ‘theatre’.
    But I did like the connection with the theme!

  36. rhotician says:

    RCW @16: Is ‘copy’ allowable as a definition for ‘fake’?

    Chambers “allows” synonyms to have the same “(usu very nearly the same)” meaning. Also in Chambers I can go from ‘fake’ to ‘conterfeit’ to ‘imitation’ to ‘copy’. So are ‘fake’ and ‘copy’ very nearly the same? Well, they’re a lot nearer than some of the definitions the setters expect us to allow.

  37. rhotician says:

    Is the bottle so courageous?

    ‘The bottle’ means ‘booze’. (That’s metonymy, that is.) ‘Courage’ as in ‘Dutch courage’ also means alcohol. (Is that a metaphor?) ‘Bottle’ (without ‘the’) also means ‘courage’. So we have quite a nice surface.

    ‘Courageous’ is a simple definition of SPIRITED. By way of the (usually American) process of verbing nouns ‘spirited’ can be taken to mean alcoholic, and booze is undoubtedly so.

    But it doesn’t quite work. The ? is disconnected from the cryptic definition. The usual meaning of spirit is distinct from wine, beer etc. And the metaphor is very sepecific to use with ‘Dutch’. Maybe some reconstruction and the introduction of ‘gin’ would help but surely the surface would be poorer.

    Now I need a metaphorical nightcap.

  38. tupu says:

    Hi rhotician

    Courage = alcohol is also metonymy, I suspect. Metaphor as defined in such contexts is seen to be ‘similar or opposite to’ as part of a semantic set. But there are times when either analysis is possible – fish and chips can be associated either as a ‘just so’ British cultural choice or as opposites (land v. sea and vegetable v. animal). :) Or they can just be eaten and enjoyed without too much thought!

  39. rhotician says:

    True, tupu. But it can be enjoyaable to discuss a meal with one’s fellow diners, and indeed on occasion, with the chef. On the other hand, as in any discourse, there are risks.

  40. tupu says:

    Hi rhotician

    :)food stains on my clothese seem to be my main risk when eating and talking at the same time!

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