Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,834 – Philistine

Posted by Andrew on January 2nd, 2013


This is Philistine’s eleventh Guardian puzzle, and the third one I’ve blogged – checking the history reminded me that the last one had a rather bizarre clue for TOUOUSE-LAUTREC. There’s nothing so quite unusual in this one, though there’s a nice trick at 27a and a perhaps rather risqué reference at 3d. I didn’t do very well on my first pass through the clues, and thought I was going to be in for a hard time, but in fact it turned out to be not too hard on the whole. Happy New Year, everyone, especially to those who, like me, have the culture shock of going back to work today after a long break.

1. ANAEMIC Anagram of AMERICAN less R
9. ROMPS [a]R[e] [f]O[r] MPS
10. APHRODITE “Afro” (hairstyle) + DIET*
11. FRITILLARY TILL in FRIARY – the fritillary is a kind of butterfly
12. ZINC Hidden in jazZ IN Concert
21,26. HARD GOING Spoonerism of “guard hoeing”
22. CREATININE INCINERATE* – creatinine is “a break-down product of creatine phosphate in muscle”
25. JITTERBUG BITTER with B moved to the end in JUG
27. RESERVE A sneaky one – to reserve is to book, and adding a P gives PICKLE=PRESERVE
28. ELYSIAN ELY (see, dicocese) + SIAN (Welsh name)
1. ADRIFT AD (=advert = plug) + RIFT
2. ARMPIT ARM (weapon) + PIT (mine)
3. MISSIONARY MISS + (ROY IN A)*, and the Missionary Position (slightly not-safe-for-work link) doesn’t involve a girl being on top…
4. CRAWL Double definition
5. USHERED IN HER in USED (previously-owned) + IN (home)
6,24. POOH BEAR Reverse of HOOP (ring) + BEAR (stomach = put up with)
7. ELIGIBLE Reverse of (BIG I) in ELLE (French for “her”)
13. SWIMMINGLY [le]S[bian] + WIMMIN (supposed non-sexist spelling of “women”, avoiding the syllable “men”) + [u]GLY
15. EXECRABLE EXE (river) + CRAB + LE
16. NIGHTJAR NIGH + [transpor]T + JAR
17. ITERATES Hidden in reverse of corSET ARE TIght
19. BIKINI Change M to K in BIMINI, which isn’t in Chambers, but apparetly is a kind of anti-sun cover for a yacht
20. REAGAN (AGE RAN)*, and Ronald Reagan’s age did indeed “run out” when he died in 2004.
23. ANGLE ANGEL*, with “fish” needing to be separated to provide the definition

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,834 – Philistine”

  1. ToniL says:

    Thanks Philistine and Andrew (very prompt)

    Not a fan of 8d (“No use” in clue and “No excuse” in answer) nor the “let’s just randomly drop a P with no explanation” in 27 and the yacht cover is hardly common knowledge.

    But, several fun clues, a bit of sauce and a decent run-out for the New Year.

    Thanks again.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Like you, for the first couple of minutes, I thought this would be tough but, as soon as I hit Philistine’s wavelength, it was all over very quickly. Left me wanting more though…

  3. vinyl1 says:

    I thought this was quite easy for a Guardian puzzle….except for the very obscure (to me, anyway) ‘creatinine’. I couldn’t get it from the cryptic, since there are so many possibilities with five letters left.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. Started in the NW quadrant and worked swiftly clockwise, slowing down for the climax in 3d, which I thought had Pauline excellence. Didn’t know 22a but there was only one plausible letters combination fori it.

  5. molonglo says:

    I mean NE

  6. Stephen says:

    Re ToniL at number 1: RESERVE seems perfectly fair to me in 27a. It’s not a random dropping of a P.
    ICKLE is PICKLE without a P, so its synonym is PRESERVE without a P.

  7. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Andrew and Philistine. Quite a clever puzzle with some amusing definitions. But I wasn’t happy with 25ac which has ALE = BITTER. Ale specifically excludes the use of hops which make beer bitter.

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew – I hope you’ve weathered the shock!

    Like you and Neil, I had a bit of trouble getting started but, after getting a couple of answers, I was surprised at how quickly I finished it.

    In 28ac, I really liked the use of ELY = see at the beginning of the answer for once – a very neat clue.

    Thanks, Philistine, for the fun!

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Philistine

    A mixed experience on the edge of my ‘comfort zone’.

    Some hard bits of parsing here. I missed the ‘s’ as ‘third of lesbian’ for some reason though the answer was clear enough. I also failed on the logic of 27a and had to check bimini and creatinine.

    There were some pleasing clues including 14a and 1d and also 13d (in retrospect).

  10. Stella says:

    My experience of this was similar to others’, including the sensation of wanting more. I didn’t find 3d particularly risqué, even if it did raise a smile.

    I’m surprised people don’t recognise 22ac, but then maybe they haven’t had as many urine anayses as I have – or haven’t bothered to read them :-)

    @cholecyst, as a lover of real ale, and especially its bitter variety, I have to disagree, and Wiki bears me up:

  11. ToniL says:

    Stephen @6 re 27a Yes I understood the clue.

    My point was that the dropping of the (granted same) letter in each synonym was not clued.

    If this is “perfectly fair” where do we stop. Would it be perfectly fair to drop the same letter at the end of words, or in the middle.

    Then – it must be perfectly fair to drop 2 (or more), if the same letters. So ‘oom’ can become ‘ush, perfectly fairly, with no further indication!

    I normally hate these nit-picking discussions here, and avoid them like the plague, but I do feel I have a point in this case.

  12. Martin says:

    I don’t know where Philistine got “bimini”, which is used in the wordplay for 19d, from – it isn’t in any dictionary I have, nor is it in the online OED. It is, apparently, the name of a group of islands in the Bahamas, and has been borrowed to mean some sort of canvas cover for the cockpit of a boat, so maybe our compiler is a nautical type. Well, you live and learn….at least the solution to this clue could fairly easily be deduced from the definition and the wordplay.

  13. Trailman says:

    Ah, the number of times I counted the letters in ‘lesbian’ and ‘lesbian feminists’ to see if they were divisible by 3. And I do know the old ‘third symphony’ trick. That’s misdirection for you.

  14. Robi says:

    Good puzzle, although I stalled a bit in the NW corner and failed to parse one or two properly.

    Thanks Andrew; glad you were there to help. No doubt 27 is going to generate more discussion. I agree with ToniL @11 in that I didn’t think the clue was particularly clever or entertaining; just somewhat abstruse without sufficient indication for the average solver.

    Horses-for-courses but CREATININE is an everyday word to me; as Stella @10 notes, creatinine clearance is widely used in diagnostic tests. I did like APHRODITE, ELIGIBLE, ANAEMIC and ARMPIT.

    Nice way to start back to work [i.e. doing Guardian crosswords 😉 ]

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    I think this compiler reinforces his earlier promise with this one; very enjoyable and a struggle in the NW which prolonged the pleasure.
    Last in were ‘adrift’ and ‘romps’ which then became favourites.
    I also liked 14ac (never seen this word in a crossword before!) and ‘angle’.
    Certainly failed to parse ‘reserve’ but consider it quite acceptable and nicely original. Also ‘bimini’ was missing from my vast nautical vocabulary; thanks Martin for the detail, it will stay with me forever.

  16. Robi says:

    Extra information for RCW @15, in case he gets confused with ‘dodgers.’

  17. RO says:

    Woohoo! For probably the second time ever – finished the crossword with no help!! Yay!!!!!

  18. cholecyst says:

    Stella @10. You and Wiki are right about real ale and pale ale but Chambers and I are right about “ale” tout seul. And so says Humpty Dumpty!

  19. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I liked (P)ICKLE = (P)RESERVE. Got CREATININE from a mixture of guesswork and submerged memory: with most checked letters being vowels, there were a lot of combinations, but that one rang a distant bell. BIKINI was my last in.

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.

    On 10a I saw ‘hairstyle’ as a word to be split in two then style meaning make an anagram. Add in ‘a’ and anagram of diet and try to make a goddess :(
    It took me quite a while to spot afro as a hairstyle but I got there in the end.

  21. Rowland says:

    Yes, the usual controversies a la Guardian, and all, really avoidable. I just don’t get it! Take them out and it’s a much better puzzle straight away, with hardly any extra work.


  22. Bertandjoyce says:

    This was good fun. Not overly taxing and the unknown words were guesable once you had the checking letters. We didn’t think that 3d was risque but it was our last one in so we finished with a laugh!

    Thanks Philistine for brightening up our cup of tea this afternoon and Andrew for the blog which we needed today to help parse a couple of the clues!

  23. Rowland says:

    Creatine, available in the body-building shop, is in Chambers 21st, a reasonably complete though second-line dictionary, though creatinine is not. I have never heard of it!!

  24. Robi says:

    Hi, Rowly; maybe you should look in Collins:

  25. Robi says:

    P.S. It’s also in Chambers [11th edition] under ‘creatine.’

  26. Stella says:

    @cholecyst, if “pale ale”, and especially “real ale”, include hops, what do you understand by just “ale”? Does not “real” indicate the authentic item?

    In any case, I’ve always heard “ale” and “bitter” as synonymous, so I think their use is valid in crosswordland.

  27. Stella says:

    @Robi, and others, that’s the advantage of having both – Chambers includes words of the same root under one title, which can be useful, while Collins separates them out, which in this case might have been more so :-)

  28. Criskros says:

    HNY and thank you 225 bloggers for a very helpful and informative site.

    Before I return to the pedant lurkers corner after a debut sally, am I the only one who parsed 8d as half of EXCess to be included in NO USE? (or is it perhaps a rare mistyped entry by Andrew?)

  29. RCWhiting says:

    Robi @16
    Thanks a lot for that especially the ‘dodgers’ info, I must tell IDS about that.
    I noticed that the wiki entry had been modified on 6.12.12.
    I am frequently surprised at how many entries have been modified so recently; you do wonder what new info can be added to some of them.

  30. RCWhiting says:

    CrisKros @28
    Probably not.

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Not sure, Rowland, why you are so negative about this puzzle.
    “The usual controversies a la Guardian, and all, really avoidable”.
    Which are these controversies? Surely not the use of Bimini (because it IS a yacht cover – and the solution was clear enough) nor Creatinine (which, as others said, is in the dictionaries).
    After reading all the comments so far, I can only see 27ac as controversial. Rowland, you would have avoided a clue like this, but the point is that every now and then ‘stretching the rules’ is what makes the Guardian crossword different from the other broadsheets (and, of course, the occasional mistake :) [but there weren’t any today]). You may not like it, but I do (as do many others) appreciate a bit of Guardianesque cheekiness (as long as it is offered in small doses).
    That said, I would have indicated something extra in 27ac, eg ” ‘ickle book?” or “*ickle book?”.

    Apart from this clue (and perhaps the ale/bitter thing), there wasn’t that much wrong, was there? Apparently, you feel differently, supported by your remark at the Indy section (today’s Dac) – “Great puzzle too, shows today’s Guardian lad how to write well and simply, IMO” – which is I think not very nice and a bit patronising. I respect everyone’s opinion and yours too, Rowland, but you must have stronger arguments against this puzzle than you provided so far to come to such a verdict.

    It is clear that I found this an overall enjoyable crossword, even if it was very much on the easy side. Although, the NW alone took me just as long as the rest. And happily so, otherwise I would perhaps have felt like RCW solving a Rufus :).

    A thank you to Andrew for the blog and a Bravo to RO @17!

  32. Andrew says:

    Criskros – yes, EXC[use] in 8d was a careless mistake on my part (now fixed). Unfortunately such things are not as rare as I would like..

  33. muffin says:

    Late to it today – I thoroughly enjoyed it, though an eyebrow was raised at MISSIONARY.

    On the ale/beer question – in the distant past ale was made from malt without the addition of hops. It didn’t keep for very long. Dutch immigrants inroduced the use of hops as a preservative in the 16th/17th century (not sure which without checking). This new brew was called “beer”. However, apart from oddities such as “ginger beer” and “nettle beer”, no “ale” has been made without hops in England for at least 200 years.

  34. rhotician says:

    Never mind, Andrew, ToniL’s comment @1 was even more careless.

  35. ToniL says:

    Rhotician @34 Hmmmmm Good point!

    Having re-read it, I’m not sure what I meant now!

    It was late (early), after a couple of days of New Year celebrations. Possibly I thought ‘No use’ was in the clue, sorry
    Philistine. (I do stand by my Pickle pealing comment and the obscure obscureness of Bimini!)

  36. Paul B says:

    Nettle beer – now you’re talking. I like Stinger, which I think is Tongue Tingling Ale from River Cottage.

    Re Rowland, who famously prefers The Times, The FT, and The Independent (and probably in that order) to The Guardian, I would have been more surprised had he chimed in with today’s praisers, given the number of targets a really fierce critic has to select from. However, more detail needed if such fault-finding is to be taken seriously by our even seriouser contributors.

    I quite enjoyed this, though some surfaces could be seen as a bit nonsensical (10 say), or rather long-winded (13 maybe); and there are a couple of G-isms (23 for example) which Rowly might have lit upon. I quite like the grid, though, which (once again) is a new one on me.

    My favourite is the one about deer having swollen bums. Now you may think that one a bit daft, but I come from a place quite near the New Forest.

  37. Dave Ellison says:

    Andrew @32 (and all bloggers) re criskros @28. I saw, by reading on, that you had changed the comment at clue 8d. However, when I first read criskros’ comment it made no sense when I checked back with the blog, and I was ready to dismiss criskros as a rogue commentator. Would it not be better to leave in the original comment in the blog and add the correction to it?

    Thanks for the explanations to several solutions, Andrew. Enjoyed the Xword.

  38. wolfie says:

    I have waited until the end of the day until commenting in the hope that somebody else might have remarked on the disgracefully misogynist clue for 13d. Ah well, for the record, both I and my partner consider such offensive clueing has no place in the Guardian. A pity, since the rest of the crossword was enjoyable – if on the easy side.

    Thanks Andrew for the blog.

  39. RCWhiting says:

    Perhaps nobody has commented because nobody else finds 13d either misogynist or offensive.
    You would need to explain more precisely, wolfie, to convince me.

  40. wolfie says:

    Hello again old friend. As you often point in your comments here, solvers need to be alert to the allusive features of crossword clues. Here 13d conjures up unpleasant images of the stereotypically lesbian feminist with her ugly, cropped hairstyle. I’m surprised that I should need to spell this out and I’m sorry that nobody else seems to think that this is deserving of comment.

  41. stiofain says:

    I thought 13d was pretty funny and not offensive at all. (aaagh the shame, the shame I have agreed with RCW!!!)
    I wonder if this started as a pangram and the editor changed the answer containg Q.

  42. RCWhiting says:

    No,I like definitions which are allusive.
    This one ‘not hard going’ = ‘swimmingly’ is just about satisfactory.
    The rest is cryptic and only the surface-fanatics take it seriously.

  43. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Bizarrely I raced into this one completing all the top half across cues minus ROMPS on the first pass!!

    All went relatively well after this but I was held up by CREATININE (guessable) and couldn’t parse BIKINI.

    NW corner last in but I did manage to complete this without raised eyebrows or offense! ( What a sterile world some people inhabit?!!)

    Thanks to Andrew & Philistine for another fine crossword.

  44. vinyl1 says:

    Dave @37 – generally speaking, bloggers just correct simple typos. If you made a mistake and gave the wrong answer or misunderstood the clue, then the usual practice it to strike through your error and give the correct answer in italics.

    At least that’s what we usually do over at that other blog.

  45. Rowland says:

    Well, I tought it was pretty offensive, but the Guardian has a history of allowing such horrid things as I recall. Thanks for pointing out that I should be more careful in critting the ACTUAL clues I don’t like though, I see people like RCW getting away with general comments, and I just follow suit. Yes, like a lemming!!


  46. RCWhiting says:

    Rowland @45
    “I see people like RCW getting away with general comments”
    I see what you mean but my comments are rarely ‘general’ but specific to that particular crossword.
    Where I seem to differ from some other posters is that to me individual clues are of much less significance than the overall effect of the puzzle.
    Comments which leave me quite bemused are such as “this delightful puzzle was an easy solve full of lovely surfaces”.

  47. Huw Powell says:

    “My experience of this was similar to others’, including the sensation of wanting more.” I agree. 75% of this puzzle was too easy, and the other 25% didn’t match. Got all hung up in the NW. Was not impressed with the answers I found here. Oh well, we can’t always be happy! I did tick off 22a and 23d as being rather “special”.

    Thanks for the bog Andrew et al, and for the puzzle, Philistine!

  48. Huw Powell says:

    “I wonder if this started as a pangram and the editor changed the answer containing Q.” I thought it was headed that way and spent a lot of time trying to fit that Q into the NW! There is no V either, by the way.

    As far as SWIMMINGLY being offensive, I found it sweet. What I found offensive was “unpleasant images of the stereotypically lesbian feminist with her ugly, cropped hairstyle”. That took some nastiness to type.

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