Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize Crossword No 25,802 by Paul

Posted by bridgesong on December 1st, 2012


This puzzle kept my solving partner Timon and I pleasantly occupied on a very wet Saturday afternoon, but we  couldn’t adequately explain a couple of the clues.  I think that I have managed it now (with a little help from the annotated solution).  The puzzle is the first I can remember to have included not just one, but three poems, and two of their titles.

1,11 PARSLEY IS GHARSLEY Talk in which girl says she rambles, as 6 complains about cooking ingredient (7,2,8)
*(GIRL SAYS SHE) in PARLEY.  This Ogden Nash poem, the first of two (or three) in this puzzle, was new to me, and a little juvenile, but has the merit of brevity (from a setter’s point of view).
5 BONKING Enjoying oneself? Good man! (7)
BON, KING.  Well, it wouldn’t be a Paul puzzle without a little bit of lewdness.
9 LASSO Lady requiring oxygen for something catching? (5)
10 ANCESTRAL Family trips not starting, I abandon path (9)
11 See 1
12 BEEF Grouse to swallow? (4)
“to swallow” seems a rather weak piece of wordplay.
14 DISABILITIES Impairments stabilised, one doubly mobile (12)
*STABILISED, I I (one twice).
18 HOUSE-WARMING Get-together — in what way a hive of activity, did you say? (5-7)
Sounds like “how swarming?”
21 ECHO Bouncer releasing king from impossible choke (4)
*CHO(k)E.  Nicely misleading definition.
22 SHIFTY-EYED Suspicious-looking, fishy, yet astonishing journalist (6-4)
25 PARTRIDGE Bird perhaps, given malicious gossip, hit back (9)
E.G. DIRT TRAP (all rev).
26 EXALT Old key for lift (5)
EX ALT(computer key).
27 TEA ROOM Male fed a bit of corn oil primarily, where cakes available? (3,4)
EAR O(il) in TOM.
28 SINATRA Star turn in a star (7)
1 PELVIS Part of the body, the sound of Peking? (6)
P ELVIS (aka THE KING).  Thanks to Timon, who explained this very clever clue to me.
2 RESIGN Step down first of stairs to break rule (6)
3 LOOKALIKES Love all? Take less time and skill — mixed doubles (10)
*(OO (t)AKE SKILL).  “Doubles” is the well-concealed definition.
4 YEATS Poet finds the mark of a leech on food (5)
Y EATS.  The annotated solution (on which I don’t usually have to rely) explains that a leech bite mark is a “y” in a circle: well, who knew that?
5 BACTERIUM Poking bottom, I react badly, finding E coli, perhaps? (9)
*(I REACT) in BUM.
6 NASH Partial to pavilion, as Hanoverian architect (4)
Hidden in “pavilion as Hanoverian”.
7 ISRAELIS King held up by goddess for nationals (8)
LEAR(rev) in ISIS.
8 See 20
13 KIDNEY BEAN Pulse -— bendy sort — pulse, ultimately, one gobbled by family (6,4)
*BENDY, (puls)E, A in KIN.
15 ADAM HAD EM Sea with exclamation of discovery about bats being upside-down — or, perhaps, 6 on 23? (4,3,2)
MED, MAD in AHA (all rev).  Possibly another Ogden Nash poem, also attributed to several other authors.
16 OH WET PET 20 8 by 6, perhaps, or from the poet Whitehead? (2,3,3)
*(THE POET, W(hitehead)).  Again this poem is attributed variously to Ogden Nash and to others, including Gyles Brandreth.
17 EUPHORIA Happy house passed around by rising river — that’s extreme happiness! (8)
UP HO in AIRE(rev).
19 TYRANT Bully‘s heartless right-wing bombast (6)
T(or)Y, RANT.  I spent a lot of time looking for a synonym of “bombast” starting B(ull)Y…
20,8 ODE TO A GOLDFISH Good deal of this ornate creation of 6, perhaps (3,2,1,8)
*(GOOD DEAL OF THIS).  The title of the poem at 16 down.
23 FLEAS Unwelcome visitors, first of aliens being upset about it (5)
A in SELF(rev), with “being” being a noun, rather than a verb.  “Fleas” is the title of the poem at 15 down.
24 TRIO Three‘s crowd trouble, if head to toe (4)
RIOT, with the last letter moved to the front.


26 Responses to “Guardian Prize Crossword No 25,802 by Paul”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Paul and bridgesong (and Timon). Didn’t know the leech mark – should have paid closer attention in The African Queen. My memory of Nash poetry is also lacking but did manage to get through it.


  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, bridgesong. I needed Google to get the PARSLEY IS GHARSLEY solution since, although I could see the construction, I’d never come across the poem. Likewise the leech mark – the Wikipedia article I found actually described it as “an inverted Y” but I guess that depends on from which direction you’re looking!

    With anyone other than Paul, I might have had doubts about BONKING (mostly because “enjoying oneself” seemed a bit iffy as a def.)

  3. Fat Al says:

    Thanks Bridesong. Only got half of this done on the weekend, and then have been too busy to look at any crossword since Monday. Having looked at the blog, I doubt I would have solved many more anyway. A bit above my level, but fun never-the-less.

    Small typo at 25…EG DIRT RAP reversed I think.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong – esp for the PELVIS parsing. I grudgingly googled 20d just to check I was tracking properly and was vexed to see staring at me beside it OH MY WET PET. The puzzle’s quite difficult theme was then all too evident.

  5. Biggles A says:

    I got there eventually but only with quite a lot of help from Google. When NASH emerged early on I wasted some time trying to link the architect to the theme.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Bridgesong & Paul, this was very enjoyable or, in other words, Bonking Good!

    I did wonder whether or not various words appear in Chambers … I was thinking of buying myself a copy for Xmas but now I am not so sure.

  7. rhotician says:

    6 is an &lit & elsewhere a misdirection. And an allusion to Paul’s home town/city?

  8. Kjbsoton says:

    In spite of moving from the architect to the poet within a day I still found
    This very challenging but hugely enjoyable
    I could not do 1,11a and the top corner eluded me
    My favourite clue was 18a

  9. dtd says:

    In 21, is the presence of the solution in “from impossiblE CHOke” a coincidence or a second cryptic definition?

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Paul

    Another fun and satisfying puzzle. I am a fan of Ogden Nash but did not remember/know the poems and had to work them out from the word play. I had to google ‘leech’ to confirm the Y mark though the answer was unmistakable.

    I liked many clues including 1a, 5a with it’s sad(?)’?’, 18a, 22a, 6d for the &lit ref. to Brighton Pavilion (as noted by rhotician) 15d, and 20,8.

  11. tupu says:

    re top line of tupu @10

    I suppose this comes from having forgotten to do the ‘captcha’?

  12. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Fairly straightforward once the jump from architect to “poet” was made.

    Naturally I had to use Google to find/check the poem titles. I’m proud to say I’m not too familiar with Mr O Nash as he’s filed in the same box as Pam Ayers, Spike Milligan et al in our Poetry Corner. Although he is less amusing than most of the others!

    By the way NeilW, “bonking” seems quite a good definition for “enjoying oneself”. Am I doing something wrong? ;-)

    It looks like the use of “key” to indicate “alt” is now established. How long before somebody clues CapsLk or PgUp? Perhaps even a letter key? I can’t wait for the outrage from our Ximeneans!

  13. bridgesong says:

    Fat Al @3: I have corrected the typo: thanks.

    Rhotician @7: you’re quite right, Nash designed the Royal Pavilion in Brighton (as I should have known, being born there) and was active during the Hanoverian period. And it’s a misleading clue because all the other references are to Ogden Nash. Thanks for pointing it out.

    dtd@9: I didn’t spot that – I’m sure it’s deliberate.

  14. Stella says:

    Brilliant, but the Ogden Nash references stumped me, as I couldn’t find the poems (though I looked in the same site you did, Bridgesong), so the NW corner stayed empty till this morning.

  15. thom punton says:

    Hi, I’m new to this website and was surprised to see someone giving incredibly snooty remarks like

    “to swallow” seems a rather weak piece of wordplay”


    “This Ogden Nash poem, the first of two (or three) in this puzzle, was new to me, and a little juvenile, but has the merit of brevity (from a setter’s point of view).”

    Forgive my naivety but who are you? Do you set crosswords? Are they better than this? Do you write poems? Are they better than Nash’s? If you do, then I apologise and would like to partake of them.

    Aside from my beef, thanks for putting the effort into explaining all the clues.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Tricky and enjoyable.
    Last in was 15d.
    My favourite was 1d – quite brilliant, I thought.
    Nw corner was a struggle with some spelling(!).
    Thom @15
    You must realise that you can only criticise if you know the birthplace of every compiler, and preferably also his taste in beers.

  17. liz says:

    Thanks Bridgesong and thanks to Paul for an enjoyable puzzle. It took me a while to realize which Nash was wanted and I needed a Google search for the poems, which were familiar but hadn’t stuck in my memory sufficiently to enable me to solve the clues from the wordplay. Thanks for explaining PELVIS — I would never have seen that!

    I think some of you are being a little hard on Ogden Nash. He had the kind of fun with words that I can see appealing to a setter like Paul. He was also a great fan of Baltimore (where I was born). ‘I could have loved New York better, had I not loved Balti-more.’

  18. bridgesong says:

    Thom Punton@15: welcome to the site. Like the other bloggers I have no formal qualifications (a diploma in crossword studies perhaps as a requirement?) but I have been solving cryptic crosswords for about fifty years now. And yes, I have set crosswords and I know how hard it is.

    As for my comments to which you take such exception, they are mild in comparison to some you will find on other sites, such as the Guardian’s own crossword forum. I do not resile from my view that “to swallow” (“grouse” being the definition) is a pretty weak piece of wordplay, especially from a setter of Paul’s ability. And “parsley is gharsley” with its invented spelling raises a smile, but no more. Nash wrote many better poems (such as the one quoted by liz @ 17), but they would not have been so easy to include in a crossword – and I applaud Paul’s ingenuity in including three, short though they were.

    The purpose of the blog is mainly to explain the answers, but also to provoke debate and discussion. Site policy does not allow for aggressive or ad hominem criticism and if I have crossed the line, doubtless Gaufrid (the site administrator) will step in and remove the offending comment.

  19. muck says:

    Thanks Paul and bridgesong
    Re- 5a BONKING (great clue)
    Wiki says it is a card game ?!!
    However, according to 4WAAF it is like table tennis but with smaller balls

  20. muck says:

    Apologies for my failed attempt to a insert a link @19
    It is

  21. Mr Beaver says:

    Brendan @12
    “By the way NeilW, ‘bonking’ seems quite a good definition for ‘enjoying oneself’. Am I doing something wrong?”

    A pedant might say that you were enjoying your partner :)

    It did cross my mind for a moment that the answer might be a more literal definition of ‘enjoying oneself’ – but that would have been a step too far even for Paul – and the clue would have to have been ‘Pale man!’ or similar, which wouldn’t have worked ….

  22. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul and bridgesong (needed you!!)

    Lots of variation as well as a good laugh. Bonking is fun as a clue and as reality!

    Elvis the pelvis made me smile.The king was wonderful!

    Like others, I was misled as to Nash in 6d and not terribly helped by working out that it was Ogden Nash, as I am unfamiliar with his work. However, it is good to learn about new works.

    Keep the fun coming please, Paul x

    Giovanna x

  23. Thom Punton says:

    Bridgesong @15

    I think I realise now that your criticisms were respectful, and fifty years of experience is a hefty enough credential.

    Also, I liked your use of ‘resile’ (in your comment @15). It’s a word I’ve never come across before.

  24. timon says:

    When solving this I had the distinct feeling that I had seen 12 before somewhere but still failed to get the solution before bridgesong. did anyone else get a sense of deja vu?
    “resile” (bridgesong@15) a new one on me but then he does have a way with words.

  25. Huw Powell says:

    First, thanks to bridgestone I mean bridgesong for tackling this blog, and to everyone else for joining in.

    Whew, what a piece of work! If it weren’t for 12a (BEEF) I’d call this puzzle pure genius.

    I finally got it done today, by going brute force on 1/11 and googling “Ogden Nash on food”. Which gave me PELVIS – and I was so close! I had broken it down to “P” + “king”…

    Suffered for a long time with BOARD at 4 – seemed about right to me. I never wrote in BONKING in the grid, but I did “solve” it. Yes, it is Paul, after all. Thanks for the explanation of 18, I inked it in but never “understood” it.

    Now let us talk about Paul. And the week that followed this puzzle in the Guardian. Between this puzzle, his Friday last, and the rest of the week, both seem to have hit a new height in deviousness. And I mean that in a good way! Paul seems to have decided to invent a few dozen new ways to clue words almost overnight, and the Tues, Weds, and Thurs puzzles were also intricately excellent. Ironically, after all that, I finished the recent (unblogged, of course) Prize of 1 Dec in one sitting (and even that was fun)! I must take my hat off to all involved, this has been one of the best weeks at the Guardian I think I have seen in my two or three years of addiction.

    And let me close by thanking Paul for a wonderful treat.

  26. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Paul and bridesong

    Finally got this one done last night after looking on it on and off for a few weeks now!! Problem in the NW was entering KEATS instead of YEATS without properly considering the leech. This made it hard to find Ogden’s PARSLEY for a long time – but made the final entry of PELVIS very satisfying. :)

    A tough prize puzzle with an ingenious theme which could only be appreciated on reflection rather than helping during the actual process.

    Plenty of other delights on the way as well. Thanks again Paul – and finally this one can be put to bed!!

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