Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,771 by Brummie

Posted by PeterO on October 19th, 2012


An éclair of a crossword.

Pleasant enough, but quickly done. The envelope is one of the basic forms of cryptic clues, but I felt that it was overused here.

9 INNER TUBE Area of the Underground bounded by the Circle Line that could be blown up? (5,4)
A rather elaborate cryptic definition and literal interpretation, with a flippant reference to the Tube bombings which I find inexcusable.
10 See 26
See 26
11 EPOCH Hope abandoned rounding Cape for a time (5)
An envelope (’rounding’) of C (‘cape’) in EPOH, an anagram (‘abandoned’) of ‘hope’.
12,27 THREE-FOUR TIME Therefore Tim dances outside university in which waltzes are played (5-4,4)
An envelope (‘outside’) of U (‘university’) in THREEFORTIME, an anagram (‘dances’) of ‘therefore Tim’. It is unfortunate that Tim come through the experience unchanged.
13 SAFE SEX Congress having protection of axes forged with iron sulphur content (4,3)
An envelope (‘with … content’) of FE (‘iron’) plus S (‘sulphur’ or sulfur if you prefer, chemical symbols) in SAEX, an anagram (‘forged’) of ‘axes’.
14 T-SHIRTS Bustard’s heart stuffed into Hirst’s spinning tops (1-6)
An envelope (‘stuffed into’) of T (‘busTards heart’) in TSHIRS, an anagram (‘spinning’) of ‘Hirsts’.
17 VOTER Suffragette’s intended role when toe prodded into the old queen (5)
An envelope (‘into’) of OTE, an anagram (‘prodded’?) of ‘toe’ in VR (Victoria Regina, ‘the old queen’).
19 See 1
See 1
20 PADUA Out of step — a dual European city (5)
An answer hidden (‘out of’) in ‘steP A DUAl’.
21 NOODLES A dish so done is cooked without fuel, ultimately (7)
An envelope (‘without’) of L (‘fueL, ultimately’) in NOODES, an anagram (‘cooked’) of ‘so done’.
22 SIX-PACK Beer cans proudly displayed beneath chest? (3-4)
Double definition.
24 SLAM-DANCE Twirling medals can result in deliberate collisions on the floor (4-5)
An anagram (‘twirling’) of ‘medals can’.
26,10 EIGHT BELLS A watch’s final indicator? (5,5)
Cryptic definition.
28 ABEAM A ray side-on to the ship (5)
A charade of ‘a’ plus BEAM (‘ray’).
29 EROTICISM Isometric cycling’s sexy nature (9)
An anagram (‘cycling’) of ‘isometric’.
1,19across,25 FIVE-AND-DIME Very English to enter “damnified foreign” US store (4-3-4)
An envelope (‘to enter’) of V (‘very’) plus E (‘English’) in FIANDDIME, an anagram (‘foreign’) of ‘damnified’.
2 ONE-OFF -1 (not repeated) (3-3)
Mathematical notation again: definition and literal interpretation.
3 ORCHESTRAL Right part of torso needs to be held in spoken form of music performance (10)
An envelope (‘needs to be held in’) of R (‘right’) plus CHEST (‘part of torso’) in ORAL (‘spoken’).
4 SURTAX Grinding ruts with cutting tool in US is a higher duty (6)
A charade of SURT, an anagram (‘grinding’) of ‘ruts’ plus AX (‘cutting tool’), American spelling (‘in US’).
5 SERRATED Rolls-Royce could accommodate passengers on the outside with teeth (8)
An envelope (‘on the outside’) of RR (‘Rolls Royce’) in SEATED (‘could accommodate passengers’).
6 OBOE Bum has opening removed with electronic instrument (4)
A charade of [h]OBO (‘bum’) without its initial letter (‘has opening removed’) plus E (‘electronic’).
7 BLOOD-RED Drool licentiously in the sack, looking crimson (5-3)
An envelope (‘in’) of LOODR, an anagram (‘licentiously’) of ‘drool’ in BED (‘the sack’).
8 USER One needing a manual, being involved in house removal? (4)
An answer hidden (‘being involved in’) in ‘hoUSE Removal’.
13,24 SEVEN SEAS The main bodies on earth still restricted by stupid asses (5,4)
An envelope (‘restricted by’) of EVEN (‘still’) in SSEAS, an anagram (‘stupid’) of ‘asses’.
15 HYPOXAEMIA Chronic hexamyopia leading to a deficiency in blood (10)
An anagram (‘chronic’) of ‘hexamyopia’. Hexamyopia? Macbeth’s reaction to the witches?
16 SPARK The author‘s flash of brilliance? (5)
Double definition, with reference to Muriel Spark.
18 TWO-FACED False as a Picasso portrait might appear to be? (3-5)
Definiton and literal interpretation.
19 ABSENTEE One who’s missing a get-together for a spell, possibly outside broadcast? (8)
An envelope (‘outside’) of SENT (‘broadcast’) in A BEE (‘a get-together for a spell, possibly’).
22 SEE YOU Heads of Cambridge University said au revoir (3,3)
A homophone (‘said’) of C U (‘heads of Cambridge University’).
23 ALGOID Seaweed-like element of hidalgo, ideally (6)
An answer hidden (‘element of’) in ‘hidALGO IDeally’
24 See 13
See 13
25 See 1
See 1
27 See 12
See 12

48 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,771 by Brummie”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks PeterO.

    A strangely simple puzzle, saved I suppose by the Nina in plain sight – ONE, TWO, THREE, FOUR, FIVE, SIX, SEVEN, EIGHT. I can’t see nine or ten so I’m not quite sure if there is some deeper significance or not…

    Agree with your comment about 9ac – Cyclops’ style slipping in there? Also, the neologism “hexamyopia” seems a bit of a cop-out.

  2. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Brummie and PeterO. Relatively simple but that gives me time to return to yesterday’s puzzle. Have spent about three hours and six answer so far. Help!


  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. The only delay was in juggling the letters to fit into 15d, and wondering if indeed spell=bee in 19d.

  4. NeilW says:

    Hi molonglo, not sure if you got it or not – the clue refers to the US style “spelling bee” competitions.

    PeterO, you might like to remove the underline from “a get-together” as it is not part of the def but goes with “a spell, possibly” to make A BEE.

  5. Brummie says:

    Yes, this is today’s Guardian setter, Brummie.

    Regulars here will know that I don’t normally post on this site and rarely attend crossword gatherings. So I suppose the plug I’m about to make for the new blog I’ve started on my web site might seem a bit of a cheek. All I can say is that the blog will, to some extent, make amends for my lack of interaction with solvers/crossword enthusiasts. The ‘Introductory Blog’ goes into more detail , and I’ve just added another article: ‘A cryptic clue from start to bitter end’.

    If you’re interested, then the URL link is as follows: Brummie / Cyclops blog

  6. Ian SW3 says:

    Thanks, Brummie and Peter.

    I would have been happy to see this on Monday instead of Rufus, as all the clues are properly cryptic, albeit easy. It was a bit disappointing for a Friday, though, to finish before even my first sip of coffee!

  7. Rick says:

    An easy puzzle – no problem with that – and a helpful blog from PeterO; many thanks!

    Just one comment. In relation to 9 across you write:

    “A rather elaborate cryptic definition and literal interpretation, with a flippant reference to the Tube bombings which I find inexcusable.”

    I must confess that the tube bombings never occurred to me and I’m not at all sure that was intended by the setter. I just interpreted the clue as being a slightly convoluted cryptic definition (“Area of the Underground bounded by the Circle Line”) followed by a more straightforward description (given that an inner tube can be inflated), as you say, but without intending the flippant reference you saw.

    Of course, I could be wrong (a fairly common event …)

  8. John Appleton says:

    I agree with NeilW on the parsing of ABSENTEE – SENT in “a gathering to spell”.

    As with Rick, the tube bombings didn’t occur to me as a reference made by the clue. I saw nothing wrong with it, though I can imagine that it might not sit well with people from the capital (nor those more seriously affected).

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO, but I think you’r half right in it being an éclair – I woulnd’t coun’t it as long in shape…

  9. Muz says:

    Thanks Brummie and Peter

    A personal best for me, time wise – including quiptics. So quick I didn’t even notice the theme until I’d finished.

    We could let dime equal 10, but nine seems to be missing. It is there as an anagram in INNEr tube, and given Peter’s understandable reservations about this clue, it’s a pity we couldn’t have exploited that opportunity. It might have been a nice twist to an otherwise pleasant but straightforward puzzle.

    Many thanks to all the bloggers over the past months. I drop in here once or twice a week, but as I mostly solve over a quiet pint in
    the evenings, the dust is well and truly settled on discussions before I get to post.

  10. greenbean says:

    I think the blown up aspect of Inner Tube was the fact that an inner tube can be blown up so it refers to the whole thing. That’s how I read it anyway but I am a cyclist so perhaps it was more obvious to me.

  11. NeilW says:

    greenbean, I don’t think PeterO was suggesting anything else – his complaint is more with the editor who might have spotted the unfortunate juxtaposition, no doubt absolutely unintentional, of the London underground and the possibility of blowing it up.

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Brummie

    Some sticking points for me (last in were oboe and absentee and Spark – I misremebered her as ‘Stark’ (which I tried vainly to make sense of as Star k) in a generally mild puzzle. I missed the seemingly unexciting ‘nina’ and wonder if there is more to it.

    I agree with PeterO re the number of hidden answers, and with NeilW @4 re spelling bee, though this only struck me when I checked ‘bee’ in Collins to confirm it was a get-together for a specic task (a limited spell ?)and noticed it there.

    9a was my favourite clue though I must confess that, obvious though it is, 7/7 somehow did not enter my mind in the context.

    Overall I don’t think this one caught my interest as much as some recent puzzles – maybe I’m just feeling a bit jaded.

  13. PeterO says:

    NeilW @4

    Change made. I cannot say that I was actually wrong first time, but it is a definite improvement, since a bee is a gathering, whether for spelling or another purpose.

  14. crickleymal says:

    I thought the inner tube bit just referred to a bike tyre. Besides which aren’t we made of sterner stuff than those who would remove that reference for fear of offence.

  15. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Brummie for a gentle end to the week and PeterO for his blog.

    Like others, I hadn’t noticed the shameful bombings reference, which could hardly have been intentional. First thoughts were the classical underground references till I got the bicycle inner tube answer.

    Giovanna x

  16. rowland says:

    It seemed a deliberate and tasteless reference to the bombings from where I sit I’m afrad, and it should have been editited out. A shame that the compiler thought it could be okay, as well!

    This now will sound bad, but I would have said anyway that I found today’s clues rather clunky. Clues were overlong, and could have been tightened by a fair margin I think.

    The definition part for ABSENTEE is just ‘one who’s missing a get-together’ plus SENT in A BEE. But that is pretty woolly!

    Thanks to PeterO for a really lovely blog.


  17. rrc says:

    area of the underground tube bounded by the circle line (inner city) could be blown up inner tube. seems reasonable to me. very enjoyable

  18. Trailman says:

    I am a Londoner, who was just one stop away from the 7/7 Aldgate bomb, but I hadn’t made the link re 9ac till I read the blog. I don’t think Brummie, or Cyclops whom I also solve, would have done so intentionally. In my mind, I was thinking of the ‘inner rail / outer rail’ description of the anti- and clockwise Circle line, still occasionally used. (And I remember a sketch, Tony Hancock I think, in which he was happy for wartime experience of ‘the inner circle of the London underground’ to impress a foreign visitor, who assumed some shadowy secret service.)

    As a crossword, a bit too much contrivance for me, as if the effort in getting the Nina to fit led to some very easy clues. Finished over a sandwich. Gives me time to look at Brummie’s blog!

  19. dtd says:

    Regarding 9 – I think there’s more taking offence than giving going on here, and the usual rush to judgement for any perceived lapse in standards. I did think of the 7/7 bombings, but, pausing to reflect, it also occurred to me that the surface reading of “blown up” could also refer to the enlargement of a tube map, as displayed on a PC screen. I do not believe this clue was “flippant”, “inexcusable”, “shameful” or “tasteless”.

  20. Giovanna says:

    dtd @ 19 “Shameful” only applies if the bombing reference was intentional, which I can hardly believe to be the case.

    Giovanna x

  21. TT says:

    I had Dime as the “ten” and IX in six-pack as the “nine”… possibley stretching it a bit though!

  22. NeilW says:

    dtd @ 19. I don’t live in London but in Jakarta and was very personally affected by one of the attacks here so I will reserve the right to be just a little sensitive. I said I felt that any fault lay with the editor. The two adjectives I used were “unfortunate” and “unintentional” and I think we could all just leave it at that.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I had the ABSENTEE but failed to parse it – so further thanks for that.

    Where is SLAM DANCE used? I have never heard of such a thing. The solution was plain – once I had put dodgems out of my mind :)

  24. chas says:

    I might also mention that I failed to spot ONE, TWO, THREE etc :(

  25. Derek Lazenby says:

    There’s a first time for everything, twice through the clues did it for me, which is suprising because I frequently find myself just not on Brummie’s wavelength and then have to kick myself for not seeing the obvious when I read the blog.

  26. Median says:

    I agree with the consensus that this was an unusually easy puzzle. However, I’m not complaining. Instead I was struck by the thought that I would once have thought it challenging. Thanks, Brummie, for aiming at a different part of the solver spectrum. I’ll point this one out to a friend who’s just getting into cryptics.

  27. rowland says:

    Come off it, per-lease. That reference is definitely intended.

  28. Trailman says:

    Good point Median @26. We’ve all had to learn our apprenticeship and for a beginning solver this would be a good puzzle.

  29. DermotTrellis says:

    I took it as a reference to bicycles too, but it’s all I can do to solve the clues: I rarely know what the compiler was thinking.

  30. Tramp says:

    This was a good puzzle from the excellent Brummie/Cyclops.

    Can I recommend posters read his blog referenced at #5, especially the blog on finding a clue for AHEAD? This article outlines the process of writing a single clue and should be borne in mind when some folk write flippant, negative comments about clues and puzzles. The blog doesn’t mention the frustration in thinking up ideas and filling grids and it doesn’t mention going through a similar process some thirty times for each puzzle but it does, brilliantly, give an insight into the process.

  31. Morpheus says:

    Come on editor. Friday and Monday the wrong way round this week!

    Nice blog Peter O and particularly good to see the subjective put to use in explanation of 12, 27. ;)

  32. Morpheus says:

    whoops, subjunctive I should have said.

  33. yvains says:

    Tramp @30 – I heartily agree, that Brummie’s blog is well worth reading, and gives an excellent insight into the processes involved. I’ll certainly be following it in future.

  34. Brendan (not that one) says:

    A nice easy solve though as previously said a little disappointing for a Friday.

    I too didn’t see any flippant reference to terrorist activity in 9ac until I read this blog.

    Nice to see that Rowland has confirmed the intention though. (How do you do that? :-))

  35. flashling says:

    Found this remarkably easy must admit, surely the tube bombings were a little while ago and not by any stretch of the imagination limited to the Circle line to say it alludes to it is pushing it even by the setter’s private eye alter ego.

  36. KeithW says:

    I too didn’t find any reference to 7/7. A quick solve but enjoyable while it lasted. Thanks Brummie and PeterO.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This was indeed an easy puzzle – also on the Scale of Brummie.
    But what’s wrong with that if the clueing is so smooth as it was today (having said that, even I had my thoughts about 9ac)?
    Actually, the clueing was quite clever in (many) places.
    For us (unlike several others), nothing was too bumpy or contrived.

    Easy, perhaps yes, but also well-written.
    Agree with Tramp @30 – wise words.

  38. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    As I have said before, I do like a new anagram so eroticism was welcome. Not so welcome was ‘hexamyopia'; I hope I am wrong, but does it exist. Not in Chambers and Google first page just has references to this puzzle!
    This was a very disappointing puzzle which didn’t.
    Some people do not like me criticising so I will just pick one obvious weakness: ‘in which waltzes are played'(5-4,4). Oh dear.

  39. molonglo says:

    NeilW @4: I got it all right, but ‘spelling’ is the norm and I still wonder if a bee is a ‘spell’.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    RCW, strictly speaking, you are fully right about ‘hexamyopia’.
    It doesn’t seem to be an existing complaint, even though we thought it had to be one. So Brummie used a non-existing word as the anagram fodder. Well, from a technical POV there is nothing wrong with that – it leads to HYPOXAEMIA.
    In fact, I find it quite amusing what Brummie did here.

    And what’s wrong with 13, 27?
    I am not a dancer, but I know that waltzes are played (and danced) in 3-4 time [which the dictionaries confirm].

    We missed the 1-8 ‘ghost theme’, with hindsight a rather nice bonus.
    We also thought that 13ac (SAFE SEX) and 21ac (NOODLES) were corkers. And 22d (SEE YOU) was perhaps easy, but very nice too.

  41. Paul B says:

    Please note: surfaces are entirely illusory for most clue forms (as six-eyed creatures agree). If anagram fodder is non-real too, don’t waste too much time pondering.

  42. samui pete says:

    Of course blow up just referred to the inner tube. Nothing else evenoccurred to me until I saw this. Enjoyed it.

  43. RCWhiting says:

    Sil @40
    Of course a waltz is in three-four time! What else could it be?
    That is precisely my point.
    I read at least 10 clues in today’s prize before getting a glimmer hence positive attitude and hope that this will be a good one.
    Immediately write in 13 letter solution without reading the cryptic part of the clue hence expect disppointment. In this one it was fully realised.

  44. paul8hours says:

    I agree with PeterO – 9 across is inexcusable. The meaning was obvious as soon as the answer became clear and it is hard to see how it could not have been deliberate.

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, RCW, we’re back to the main point.
    For you, it’s all about challenge/difficulty etc.
    For me, it’s all about elegance/cryptics-as-a-piece-of-art etc.

    As I said before, I am not a dancer (happily so, btw) and therefore THREE-FOUR TIME was not as as obvious to me as it was for you.
    Once more, we’re all different, aren’t we?

  46. Paul B says:

    Oh yes, some are IDs are different, though possibly not as different as some (a different some) of us* (* such as we are) might think.

    Some waltzes, and this is one that will amaze you, can be in D Flat:

  47. Paul B says:

    (Re IDs, a personal belief, of course.)

  48. Huw Powell says:

    Wow, I haven’t see a Guardian puzzle this easy since I stopped doing the Everyman. It was good, yes, rapidly became a race to the finish with me just wondering if I’d get stuck at some point.

    At first, getting FIVE AND DIME seemed partly easier to me as an ex-pat. But then I just kept on writing in answers. Sure, there were some clues where I had to pick up a second checked letter before solving, and I think NOODLES required all four.

    As far as the contentious clue at 9, all I can say is that it had to be noticed by the setter and/or editor, and since something referring to inflated or inflation (in an economic sense – doesn’t the area described include the financial district?) could have been used, we’d have been spared this kerfuffle over offense and intent.

    I didn’t notice the Nina, although it isn’t much of one that I can see, more like a theme. Unless 51347268 is someone’s telephone number?

    Morpheus @ 31, I agree indeed. I still haven’t finished Audreus’ 25,767.

    Someone asked about SLAM DANCE and I didn’t see an answer. It is usually done in a mosh pit, more often than not to punk rock.

    To wrap up, although it was easy it was a good puzzle, in my opinion, just published on the wrong day.

    Thanks for setting it and stopping by, Brummie, and for the fine blog, PeterO and everyone else.

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