Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,806 / Picaroon

Posted by Eileen on November 29th, 2012


I’m a great fan of Picaroon’s puzzles and there was no disappointment here: lots of witty and ingenious cluing, resulting in quite a bit of head-scratching, not least in the parsing department, followed by the usual smiles and ‘ahas’. Many thanks, Picaroon, for a highly entertaining and enjoyable puzzle.


1 Another way to speak of camp Liberal fleeing through back road
GU[l]AG [camp minus L – liberal fleeing] in [through] SECOND LANE [back road]

8 Dismay of the Pope with head of Anglicans advancing
PAPAL [of the Pope] with A [first letter – head – of Anglicans] moved to the front: there may be discussion again about the interpretation  of ‘advancing’, which could mean moving the letter further on in the word: either makes sense to me

9 Caught cheat swapping sides
DECEIVER [cheat] with first and last letters swapped

11 27 fruit farms
G [good] substituted for O [nothing] [see answer to 27] in oRANGES [fruit] – an excellent clue

12 Eastern churchman, one making a cross
E [Eastern] + LECTOR [one who reads in church]
I spent minutes trying to work out how / why an erector would make a cross.

13 German runner, man clutching hip after run
HE [man] round [clutching] IN [hip] after R [run]

15 Society making waves in prioritising economy
S [society] + CRIMPING [making waves]

17 Collar film actor from the east taking lead in movie that’s dubbed
NICK [collar] + reversal [from the east] of {James} DEAN [film actor] round [taking] M [first letter – lead – of Movie

20 Take legal action about journalist’s material
SUE [take legal action] round ED [journalist

21 What’s to drag and heave heading for Europe?
LUG [drag] + GAG [heave] + E [first letter of – heading for Europe] – a great surface and virtual &lit

23 Transport has vents with it
AIRS [has vents] + HIP [with it] – shades of 13ac

25 Plug for Harry Potter — billions in turnover for book
hidden [plug for] reversal [turnover] in pOTTER BILlions

26 Perhaps Clegg gets in great excuse
LIB[eral] [perhaps Clegg] in A1 [great]
we seem to have had a lot of alibis lately but I had a wry smile at the clue for this one

27 Feckless Democrat pursues sentimentality of the very cheapest kind
D [democrat] after [pursues] GOO [sentimentality] + FOR NOTHING [of the very cheapest kind]


1 Ryan Giggs let loose in striking fashion
clever anagram [loose] of RYAN GIGGS LET

2 It gets drunk secretary to hold up bit of lingerie
PA [secretary] after [to hold up, in a down clue] CUP [bit of lingerie]

3 English innocent has nothing on in the shade in Africa
NIL [nothing] on E GREEN [English innocent]

4 Lion oddly rears primates
Odd letters of LiOn + RISES [rears]

5 Character in the Iliad with light sort of weapons
NU [Greek letter – character in the Iliad] + CLEAR [light]

6 Fifth group of soldiers to join up
UNIT [group of soldiers] + E [fifth letter?]

7 It’s Goethe’s novel, so be very discriminating!
another clever anagram [novel] of ITS GOETHE

10 Player on the wings fit and well when the Reds struggled in Europe
PR [first and last letters – on the wings – of PlayeR] + AGUE [fit] + SPRING [well] – great surface

14 Like compilers noticing anagrams with cry of surprise
anagram of NOTICING + O [cry of surprise]
thank goodness that compilers of the Guardian crossword are not, as in some other papers, incognito – but this compiler did keep his alter ego quiet for some time!

16 Rogue‘s pile spanning rolling acres
MINT [pile] round [spanning] anagram of [rolling] ACRES

18 He produces some art when playing
anagram of [playing] SOME ART – &lit

19 What’s on TV? Nothing showing is to prove very compelling
I thought I was going to have to admit defeat on the first part of this then, mercifully, the penny dropped: it’s DRAG [what’s on TV = transvestite!] + O ON [nothing showing] – what a superb clue!

22 Did express almost derail unexpectedly?
anagram of [unexpectedly] DERAI[l] – another very nice surface

24 Country‘s bowler perhaps taking single before India
HAT [bowler perhaps] round [taking] I [single] + I [India] – and another to finish with

42 Responses to “Guardian 25,806 / Picaroon”

  1. ToniL says:

    Excellent crossword and blog.

    The best for ages, thank-you Picaroon and Eileen.

    Nohing to add, just lots of lovely touches everywhere. Almost solved in two parts – answers in, then a lengthy parsing exercise. This is what a crossword should be like.

  2. Sylvia says:

    I was also puzzled by erector for a while. In 6d I presumed a unit was a fifth as well as a group of soldiers, but the fifth letter didn’t occur to me. What a great crossword! Thanks Picaroon and Eileen.

  3. ToniL says:

    Also, special mention for 11, with Nile and Rhine in the NW, ‘twould have been easy for “R in Ganges” or similar. What he produced instead was rather brilliant.

  4. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Great puzzle. I too was an erector at first. I thought UNIT E was quite clear, although more familiarly seen as “Company A” etc.

  5. jim says:

    What can one say?
    Just excellent from start to finish.
    Many thanks Picaroon, and to Eileen too for a great blog.

  6. rhotician says:

    Thanks Eileen. I thought a handful of the clues unremarkable, outstandingly so.

  7. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Very good puzzle, with a lot of inventive clues. I failed to parse 27a, not realising that ‘feckless’ was the definition, rather than ‘of the very cheapest kind’.

    13a definitely looked like a container clue, with the word ‘clutching’, but I did wonder whether it might be RHEIN. (The use of the rather old-fashioned ‘hip’ [= fashionable] appears twice in the puzzle – a very slight inelegance, but the only one I can find!) Strangely, I had never come across the expression NILE GREEN, being more familiar with ‘eau de Nil’.

    Favourite clue from a strong field was the &lit at 21a.

  8. .molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. I got 1a at first glance but moved on, failing to make any sense of its last seven words – and that was still the case when I finished the puzzle. Similar bafflement with the middle section of17a. I feel dumb after seeing your explanations. Lots to like in this, especially 11a. ‘Anagrams’ is an unusual anagrind (14d).

  9. sitywit says:

    Excellent puzzle – thanks to Picaroon, and to Eileen. I too had ‘erector’ for 12A – and left it in, imagining a scene on Golgotha…

  10. rowland says:

    Yes, this is pretty good, one or two very good. But the most pleasing thing is that it’s good for grammar throughout I think! Well done Picaroon! Keep it going


  11. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Lovely puzzle, not that easy though – and I gave up on parsing quite a few and came here, so thank you Eileen for the blog. ALIBI and CUPPA were favourites today. ‘Anagram’ as a verb? It’s in the dictionaries, but took me back to this summer’s Olympic Games, where everyone ‘medalled’ or ‘podiumed’.

    Bravo, Picaroon – look forward to the next one.

  12. Mitz says:

    Thanks Picaroon and Eileen.

    I’d better get it on record that I am yet another with erectile dysfunction today…

    I had the same thought as Gervase: the only very tiny criticism that can be levelled against this puzzle is the repetition of “hip”. I solved 13 during my slow progression across the concourse of Victoria Station this morning with the solution gradually coalescing as I waited for the tube entrance bottleneck to ease. In other words, it was a slow process. But with it in mind (d’you see what I did there?) 23 was a write in.

    Everything else was just lovely. I had the answer for 1A ages before I understood it. Today I worked around the grid more-or-less anticlockwise, so with 10 I had the crossing letters giving me “spring” first. “Prague” took an age to follow.

    Last in: “nuclear” and “received” together. COD – really tough to pick just one. I’ll go for 14, although many others are almost as good. Top stuff.

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Picaroon

    A very clever and entertainijng puzzle.

    I failed to parse 1a and 19d though the answers were clear early on. Both very good clues, though I’m not sure I like ‘second lane’ for ‘back road’.

    I especially liked 8a, 11a, 17a, 1d, 3d, and 7d.

  14. John Appleton says:

    Don’t think I’ve ever seen as obvious an anagram indicator as “anagrams”, but that takes nothing away from the clue, which was one of many very good ones in this puzzle.

  15. Gaufrid says:

    Hi tupu @13
    “…. though I’m not sure I like ‘second lane’ for ‘back road’.”

    It should be read: SECOND (back [support etc]) LANE (road) 😉

  16. ToniL says:

    tupu @ 13

    I parsed it as…..

    second = back (voting etc)
    road = lane

    rather than all as one!

  17. ToniL says:

    Sorry Gaufrid, crossed with you there, had the sticky problem of the A level maths puzzle to contend with.

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    At the risk of repeating most of the above, this was a strange one.
    Enjoyable and reasonably challenging but never have I quickly solved so many clues in one puzzle but not entered them because I had failed to even partially parse them (1ac, 11ac,3d and 19d (last in)).
    I entered ‘elector’ immediately, isn’t the ‘making a cross’ trick rather common for voting.
    My favourite was 25ac, brilliantly hidden and lots of misdirection -excellent. I also liked 9ac.
    Well done compiler.

  19. tupu says:

    Many thanks Gaufrid and ToniL

    Oh Dear! Of course, you are right. The clue is even better than I thought. Despite seeing the answer at once, I seem to have got quite hazed by it like a rabbit in its headlights.

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. There were several cases where I had the right answer but no parsing, and you supplied what I lacked.

    I did myself no good on 13a by spelling it the German way as RHEIN. It has all the right letters just the wrong order! That held me up for a while :(

  21. tones says:

    Thanks, Picaroon, for a great puzzle and, Eileen, for the blog, particularly for the correct parsing for 8. I convinced myself that advancing (= suggesting) was a homophone indicator and we were combining PPAL (= Pope Paul) with A (head of Anglicans) – a real stretch, but I was desperate!

  22. Eileen says:

    Thanks, everyone.

    I’ve been out since just after posting the blog, so rather belated apologies to tupu for my shorthand ‘SHORT LANE = back road’, intended to be interpreted as Gaufrid and ToniL explained. 😉

    Hi Gervase and Mitz

    I did briefly remark on the repetition of ‘hip’in the blog but, like, you, thought it was such a tiny inconsistency that I didn’t want to make a meal of it.

  23. Tramp says:

    Great blog Eileen and a wonderful crossword

  24. Paul B says:

    The clue for 8 across, if we interpret the advancement as ‘moving to the front’, can be APPAL or APAPL (since there are two heads of Anglicans to choose from). But there’s not a lot loose apart from that here, and some of the ideas are most entertaining.

    I delight in solving Guardian crosswords with a weather eye out for the seemingly inevitable goofs in grammar, but here’s someone (along with those other, albeit relatively few really excellent Guardian compilers) who knows how to do it properly.

  25. izzythedram says:

    too hard

  26. RCWhiting says:

    APAPL = Dismay? Which dictionary?

  27. rhotician says:

    Paul B @24: Advancing does not mean moving to the front. It means moving toward the front, or ,more concisely, moving forward. This allows PAAPAL as a third (and fourth) solution.

  28. rhotician says:

    Gervase and Mitz. I thought ‘hip’ for IN and ‘with it’ for HIP was a nice little joke.

  29. nametab says:

    As is often the case with my late contribution, others have said it all. The several flawless surfaces are particularly admirable, and satisfying to decipher. Thanks to Eileen and Picaroon.
    Q @14d: wouldn’t ‘anagram’ in the singular work, and leave no scope for hair-splitting?

  30. Paul B says:

    Optician: I did it my way (cue song) to make the point rather than labour it.

    RCW: I’m sure you’re not the only contributor who will excuse the clue on those grounds, but you know how it is.

    Nametab: you’d be offending to an extent at the cryptic level with that, making the anag-ind nounal. The verb I think much better.

  31. Eileen says:

    Hi nametab

    Re 14dn – I haven’t noticed any hair-splitting: molonglo @8 said,
    “‘Anagrams’ is an unusual anagrind” and John Appeton @14, “Don’t think I’ve ever seen as obvious an anagram indicator as “anagrams”” but both seem to have accepted it – and why not?

    In the context of the clue, it needs to be taken as a [singular] verb [which is perhaps the unusual bit] and intransitive, at that – i.e. ‘noticing’ anagrams [itself]. [Chambers gives it, understandably, as both transitive and intransitive.] Your suggestion, ‘noticing anagram’ [noun in apposition] is equally viable, of course – and might have been a rather simpler surface. 😉

  32. Eileen says:

    Paul B – my comment crossed with yours.

  33. Paul B says:

    Yes. You done it more good than what I said.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    “I delight in solving Guardian crosswords with a weather eye out for the seemingly inevitable goofs in grammar, but here’s someone (…..) who knows how to do it properly” [Paul B @24].

    Fully agree.
    Picaroon is adventurous (I mean, his clueing is), cares for the service and above all for correct cryptic grammar.

    Apart from thanks to Picaroon for another corker (although I still think his previous one was perhaps the Guardian Crossword of the Year), many thanks to Eileen too.

    Needed your wise words for 1ac (even my PinC who teaches ESL (English as a Second Language) didn’t see the construction) and 19d.

    Challenging puzzle with 1d (the Ryan Giggs anagram) and 10d as particular highlights. And 24d (HAITI) is quite good too – cricket surface with a construction quite different from that.

    Perhaps, in 22d a false capitalisation (for ‘express’) could have enhanced the clue, but I’m fine with it.
    I’m fine with this splendid crossword anyway.

    Some setters are better than others, although they all want to entertain us.
    This one surely has the X-Factor!

  35. JollySwagman says:

    Great puzzle. Nice devices. More Guardianistical than his earlier ones.

    Great to see P as hopefully a regular now on the Guardian team. Many aspire – few are chosen.

    Which reminds me, I liked Nile Green – wanted it to be Queen – that little corner took a while to fall but very pleasing indeed when it did.

    Oh – er yes – I fell for erector as well – Thanks for the blog E – I agree re advancing – let it work either way and add more parsing possibilities – likewise the selected letter does not need to be uniquely defined.

  36. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Great crossword. Nothing more to add except first in was 1ac which I failed to parse!!!!

    Thanks to Eileen and Picaroon

  37. rhotician says:

    PB @30. Surely if you’re making a point about precision you ought to be punctilious. On the other hand I have heard it said that a job worth doing is worth doing badly. In this case though I can’t agree that your point was worth making at all.

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re my own post @34.
    “Cares for the service” ??
    Surface, of course!!

  39. Cosafina says:

    rhotician @27: PAAPAL is not a possible answer as it’s 6 letters, not 5.

  40. rhotician says:

    Right you are. PAAPL. Need to see an optician.

  41. Paul B says:

    Whose advice might be to open those eyes just a bit, before posting @ 37. Good Lord, you are a careless ‘contrarian’.

  42. rhotician says:

    You can call me Rho. Or Betty.

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