Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,798 – Tramp

Posted by Uncle Yap on November 20th, 2012

Uncle Yap.

Very challenging and entertaining puzzle with some very clever clues. Better stop here in case I incur the wrath of this setter who did not take kindly to my comments last time

Hold cursor over any clue number to read the clue.


1 BRUTAL BRUT (a brand of aftershave) ALI (The Greatest) minus I
5 See 4
9 SPRAINED Ins of P (end of cap) in *(SARDINE)
10 PRUNES dd
11 SNOT Rev of TONS (lots, bags) for usually dry nasal mucus that is picked surreptitiously when you think nobody is looking. In the Far East, the derisive term is applied to Singapore by its larger predominantly-Muslim neighbours and to Taiwan by the PRChina
12 SINGLE FILE Single (45 rpm vinyl record) FILE (documentary record)
13 GENEVA ha
14,25 STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN *(TV HIT AS A WEARY ONE) “Stairway to Heaven” is a song by the English rock band Led Zeppelin, released in late 1971. Note the connection to 2,22
16 ESCAPEES Ins of AP (first letters of Aldi promotions) in TESCO minus TO & EES (rev of SEE)
19 LIBIDO ALIBI (excuse) minus A + DO (party)
21 FLOOD PLAIN FLO-JO minus J (judge) + D (died) PLAIN (ugly) for an extensive level area beside a river, formed of deposits of sediment brought downstream and spread by the river in flood. Reference to Florence Griffith-Joyner (1959–1998), also known as Flo-Jo, an American track and field athlete who was a mega-star in the 1988 Seoul Olympic Games
23 SOHO First letters of sets off hounds’ onslaught for a hunting call whereas most of us associate this word with a seedy part of London
24 GODIVA GO (run) DIVA (rev of AVID, fanatical) Lady Godiva was an Anglo-Saxon noblewoman who, according to legend, rode naked through the streets of Coventry, in England, in order to gain a remission of the oppressive taxation imposed by her husband on his tenants
25 See 14
27 STEADY Cha of S (second) *(DATE) + Y (symbol for unknown in algebra)
2,22 REPONDEZ SIL VOUS PLAIT *(SO A LeD ZEPPELIN IV TOUR’S) for the familiar RSVP at the bottom of many invitation cards … and all this while, I thought it stood for Remember Some Valuable Presents
3 TOASTIE Ins of S (son) in TO A T (to a tee, perfect) + IE (id est, that is, that is to say)
5 PEDANTS Ins of ED (BALLS, Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer in the British Parliament, thanks RogerE@17) in PANTS (underwear) My COD for a clue which could very well have come from Cyclops in the Private Eye
6 IMPEL I (one) M (mark) PELE (famous Brazilian footballer) minus E
7 THUS FAR Ins of SFA (Sweet Fanny Adams, nothing) in *(HURT)
8 NEEDLE AND THREAD NEED (want) LEAN (skinny) + ins of THR (last letters of rat? Watch catcher) in DEAD (six feet under) Cannot resist going to to hear Skeeter Davis singing Silver Threads and Golden Needles
15 AILANTHUS Ins of I (one) in ALAN SUGAR (a British business magnate, media personality, and political advisor) THUS (part of the answer to 7D) for a tall Asoiatic tree
17 ASOCIAL AS (while) + ins of I (one, used third time in the same puzzle) in O CAL (zero calorie, nutritional description of water)
18 SCANTER SCATTER (spread) with N substituted for T)
20 BUS LANE Ins of US (America) in David BLAINE (street magician) minus I (vanishing trick essentially) Very clever construction
22 See 2

Key to abbreviations

dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(FODDER) = anagram

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,798 – Tramp”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks UY. Charged through most of this but then slowed right down in the bottom left for some reason. Easier than normal for Tramp but good fun with a lot of parsing after the fact, though.

    You mentioned the connection of STAIRWAY TO HEAVEN to Led Zep in 2,22 – in fact, even the album number, Led Zeppelin IV is the correct one. Page and Plant (4,5) were band members. Knowing Tramp, there must be other links hidden in the puzzle but I’m no expert…

    In 21, I did wonder how fair it was to equate PLAIN with “ugly” – seems a bit harsh, Tramp!

  2. Fat Al says:

    Thanks UY. I got stuck in the bottom right, and came here for help. I’m glad I didn’t waste any more time on my own. I managed to remember Ed Balls from previous crosswords this time, but both David Blaine and Alan Sugar were unknown to me, as was AILANTHUS. I’m not complaining though…I enjoyed doing what I could. I’m just glad I didn’t waste any more time trying to solve the (for me) unsolvable. Thanks Tramp.

  3. Thomas99 says:

    NeilW @1

    For Plain, Chambers has “ugly (euphem.)” And who did you think he was being unfair to…?

  4. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for blogging, UY.

    This setter likes his themes and his music, doesn’t he? I enjoyed this one, although perhaps not as much as some of Tramp’s previous puzzles. I too liked PEDANTS, and LANDSCAPE PAINTING was clever, although I didn’t know the composition as such.

    I think I said this last time, so at the risk of being boring, I do find some of Tramp’s surfaces nonsensical: here 1ac, 11ac and 26ac just seemed to make no surface sense at all. Maybe it’s just me.

    Thanks to Tramp for today’s puzzle.

  5. muffin says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap
    I really didn’t enjoy this one – I had to cheat on a couple, and I thought it was a bit sloppy in places; “field” is a bit weak as a definiton for “flood plain”, and, pedantically, “alibi” isn’t an “excuse” – it’s claim to have “been elsewhere”.

  6. yvains says:

    Thanks, Tramp and Uncle Yap, I enjoyed both the puzzle and the blog. I assume the connection (visual and mental) between 15 and 25 is intentional (ailanthus being the ‘tree of heaven’).

  7. NeilW says:

    muffin @5, the field is said to be beside the runner/river…

  8. muffin says:

    NeilW @&
    Thanks – I had missed that.

  9. Thomas99 says:

    muffin @5
    Chambers: Alibi – (3rd meaning) “an excuse for failure (inf.)”. “A means B therefore cannot mean C” is untrue for all languages.

  10. muffin says:

    Thomas99 @9
    Chambers is recording the common misuse of the word. I think we should try to use words correctly, not accept the mistakes of the ignorant.

  11. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    Entertaining crossword from Tramp, which I found quite a bit easier than previous ones – though I may just be getting more used to his style. 2,22 is ingeniously constructed, but was pretty well a write-in from the enumeration and the Z in the fodder; similarly, I got 8d with one crossing letter, having spotted the alternative meaning of ‘sewer’. The Led Zeppelin references across the puzzle were cleverly done.

    I enjoyed 11a (last in!) and 5d, of course, together with 12a, 3d and 7d for their construction. I like the way his clues often combine semantically related elements: Aldi and Tesco in 16a, Flo-Jo and ‘runner’s field’ in 21a, ‘magician’ and ‘vanishing trick’ in 20d.

    1a has a clever allusion to the TV commercials for Brut which featured sporting celebrities, most notably Henry Cooper.

    Nice one, Tramp.

  12. Thomas99 says:

    muffin @9
    Alibi in that sense has a perfectly respectable history, not least because and it is in the nature of an alibi to excuse (i.e. “release from a charge” in its old, strictly legal sense) the suspect. This is also usually its only purpose. So it is virtually impossible to conceive of an alibi that is not in a sense an excuse. You, incidentally, seem to be confining yourself to a single, modern meaning of “excuse”, originally a corruption of the one I’ve just given. Alibi is also used in the sense you object to in Lacanian theory. (Actually, I see it comes up in the English version of Lacan’s own Ecrits – “From this moment onwards, [the subject’s] previously unconscious alibi begins to disclose itself to him, and we see him passionately trying to justify all his work” (p.135 – cited by Darian Leader)).

  13. Thomas99 says:

    Sorry – muffin is @10, not @9.

  14. Gervase says:

    muffin @10: ‘alibi’ = ‘excuse’ could perhaps be considered metaphorical, but is certainly semantic drift. It’s tempting, but ultimately futile to rail against this; much of our vocabulary has changed its meaning over the centuries through this process.

  15. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, although I agree with Kathryn’s Dad @4 that some of the surfaces seem to be clumsy. Starting at 1a put me in the wrong frame of mind at the outset (is there some hidden meaning there?)

    Thanks UY; 11 and 15 seemed to be rather Paulian – and funny! I liked the GODIVA clue. I was convinced at the beginning that we were going to get the rider=saw synonym incorporated. As UY said, BUS LANE was very clever.

  16. Robi says:

    Thanks, Gervase @11; apparently Ali also used to represent BRUT aftershave, so I withdraw my criticism of 1a.

  17. RogerE says:

    Being a pendant, re: 5d – Ed Balls is Shadow Chancellor of the Exchequer, not leader of the Labour Party (that’s Ed Miliband).

  18. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap – and Tramp for some impressive surfaces, especially the Led Zeppelin ones. Despite cruising nicely to the near the end, the ‘Stairway’ clue and two others – ESCAPEES and AILANTHUS – blocked the path,until the aha and the quick run home.

  19. Tramp says:

    Thanks UY for the blog.

    A couple of the surfaces are a bit weak — 1ac was trying to allude to Henry Cooper and his “splash it all over” campaign for Brut. Admittedly, it should be “Aftershave company”. I was surprised that 11ac is considered a weak surface: I thought it was one of the better clues. I pictured someone picking eco stuff in the supermarket and returning the bags. 26ac is a bit weak but I was thinking of a losing sequence on Strictly Come Dancing; come to think of it, that is a rubbish clue — I’ll get my coat.

    NeilW @1: There are only three LZ references (LZ have an album out this week) which are as you stated in your post. I did get “ugly” equals “plain” from some thesaurus or dictionary but I can’t remember which.

    Muffin @5: The original clue had “being elsewhere” or something but I was asked to change it.

    For those that found it easier than normal, I do have my first barred-grid puzzle appearing in the Indy magazine this Saturday (under Jambazi) that’s a little more challenging.


  20. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks UY and Tramp. I quite enjoyed this, and also found it easier than the usual.

    I completed all of the rhs quickly, but slowed down on the left. 8d went in having only the initial N and final E, but at first sight looked as though it had nothing to do with most of the clue!

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Tramp

    A clever puzzle and quite entertaining.

    I had to check alianthus/ailanthus and also ‘soho’ and ‘bla(i)ne’in bus lane. I also lazily put in ‘toastee’ without bothering to check having missed the ‘that is’.

    I must confess to having seen ‘snot’ very early on but keeping it in reserve till I’d got the crossing leters. The clue was clever, but I was a bit surprised (my head tells me for no good reason).

    I particularly liked 24a, 2,22, 5d, and 7d.

  22. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Tramp and UY

    Enjoyed it – even if a bit quicker than normal – a lot of interesting clues to unravel the parsing of – like 8d. Last in were ISOLATOR and ASOCIAL.

    In 6, I originally thought SFA … but with th footballer, changed to S= short and FA = Football Association. Didn’t no the magician – even thouh I was looking for a BLA?NE or a BL?ANE.

  23. Gervase says:

    Tramp: Thanks for dropping by. Nothing wrong with 1a – if solvers don’t see the allusion, that’s hardly your fault. And ‘Aftershave company’ wouldn’t work – the company that introduced Brut is Fabergé!

  24. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for dropping in, Tramp. Okay, I see what you were intending with the surface of SNOT now. Just didn’t trigger with me. Wavelengths and all that.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    After a very easy RHS I was all ready to be as disappointed as I was yesterday.
    However, the LHS, especially the French (S?L ??) kept me puzzling so a reasonable day’s effort.
    Favourites were 3d and 17d (last in).

  26. rowland says:

    Quite bitty stuff I thought, with overcomplicated clues like 8d, and even heresy at 2, 22! I would say to Tramp hey slow down a bit, man! Get relaxed with the solutions a bit more maybe.

    Very good to mention Led Zep IV though, a fine rock LP.


  27. Mick H says:

    Isn’t snot the wet stuff you blow into a tissue, bogies being the dried bits you pick?
    cf old joke: “Is that a bogy?” “No, it’s not”.
    Sorry to be picky (and gross)!

  28. Davy says:

    Thanks UY,

    Had a lot of fun doing this and enjoyed solving the long anagrams, the last being 2,22. Yes, 8d is complicated
    but guessable just from the first two words ie Want(need) and skinny (lean). I didn’t bother looking any further.
    Apart from the two Zep clues, I was looking for other references, but didn’t find any. I’m sure that a marvellous
    clue could be written for ‘No Quarter’.

    Favourite clue was GODIVA which had a great surface and SNOT made me laugh. Good anagrams too. Many thanks Tramp.

  29. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks to Tramp and UY. Perhaps we should start a league with the purpose of persuading the population to say ‘exculpate’ and not ‘excuse’ when the former is what’s meant.

  30. hammock says:

    As a novice I still cannot see how the solution to 26a is arrived at……

  31. Moose says:


    Isolator = one cuts off (and electrical isolator cuts off the supply, for example)
    foxtROT A LOSIng sequence (of letters) overturned (reversed)

    Hope this helps

  32. muck says:

    Thanks Tramp and UY

    Hammock@30. UY uses ‘ha’ as an abbreviation for hidden answer, ie all the letters are there in the correct order, but hidden with other words. In this case the letters are all there but in reverse order, hence ‘rha’.

  33. SeanDimly says:

    Thank you Tramp and Uncle Yap.
    Enjoyed 24a, 1a and 20d in particular.
    (Preferred Hawkwind though. My silver machine is a Nissan Micra automatic …)

  34. MikeC says:

    Thanks Tramp and UY. Good puzzle: the odd obscurity and some nifty word plays but ultimately gettable. Not too hard nor too easy, imho.

  35. Brendan (not that one) says:

    A good workout for me today. Not helped by entering NEDDLE and THREAD. Hence last in was PRUNES!!!!

    Very enjoyable though but not as enjoyable as Muffin’s comment @10. ;-)

    Thanks to Tramp and UY

  36. jetdoc says:

    I didn’t get round to this until late, and I’m glad it made the effort — very entertaining and laugh-out-loud funny. I loved the clue for SNOT. Thanks, Tramp.

  37. hammock says:

    Thanks to moose@31 and muck@32, I see it now. Will try to remember that rha acronymn….

  38. RCWhiting says:

    Your explanation for ‘soho’ seems very contrived and therefore dubious (see POSH: port out starboard home).
    Chambers gives merely “a huntsman’s halloo” {Anglo-French].

  39. Tramp says:

    RCWhiting: I think UY is quoting the clue there. I see nothing wrong with his explanation.

  40. RCWhiting says:

    Good point Tramp – my error. Apology to UY.

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