Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,835 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on January 3rd, 2013


A classic Paul puzzle, brimming with clever, witty clues and ingenious constructions, providing several ahas and smiles while solving, along with – not surprisingly – a couple of lavatorial references.



16ac was my last in, as I had CORBLIMEY initially for 16dn and had a fruitless [!] search for a politician called CORBY.

Many thanks, Paul, for the entertainment.

[Definitions are underlined.]


1 Watery lake, wet banks
SOPPY [wet] round [banks ] L [lake]

4 First persons in Europe to welcome leader of regime, old, old city
JE [French] and ICH [German] first person pronouns round [to welcome] R [first letter – leader – of Régime] + O [old]

9 Hawthorns tip on one side
COCK [tip – both as verbs] + SPURS [one side – Tottenham Hotspurs]

11 Mad reservists?
B ARMY – nice one!

12 Lethal drug containing Irish whiskey? Ultimately, it’s not true
FATAL [lethal] round [containing] IR [Irish] and Y [last letter – ultimately – of whiskeY] [+ E [drug] accidentally omitted earlier – thanks NeilW @11]

13 Cross bridges if to give evidence
TESTY [cross] round [bridges] IF

15 Warning that’s right about which man’s after my own heart?
R [right] around which is GUY [man] after AU [pAUl’s own heart] – a very neatly constructed clue

17 Old wine in Pinot, bowels evacuated
ASTI [wine] in P[ino]T [bowels evacuated!]

19 Bleat about faceless joint, one serving non-alcoholic drinks
BAA [bleat] round [w]RIST [faceless joint]: interestingly, it’s just a couple of days since Crucible gave us  faces = first letters, which I didn’t remember having seen before

24 Toilet empty, entering toilet is a gamble
T[oile]T [toilet empty] in LOO [toilet]

26 Double entendre primarily in string
TWIN [double] + E [Entendre primarily]

27 Bitter bread possibly English, I’m not sure Napoleon eating it
BONEY [Napoleon] round [eating] E [English] + ERM [I’m not sure] – amusing definition, bread being slang for money

28,8 Cause trouble, as might a 3?
cryptic definition

29 Shrub mainly robust, leastwise at every border
first and last letters [at every border] of MainlY RobusT LeastwisE


1 Old instrument still under fire
BUT [still] under SACK [fire]

2,22 Blade Runner film award is the peak, pope claims
OSCAR [film award] + PIUS [pope] round [claims] IS TOR [peak] – a nice misleading ‘lift and separate’ surface

3 Putin not entirely sorry, not right when subversive girls ultimately jailed — them?
anagram [subversive] of PUTI[n] + SOR[r]Y [sorry, not right] + S last letter [ultimately] of girlS – not quite & lit but a very clever construction and surface

4,10 Can I see limits in Jamaican running, accepting premier of sprinters is Olympic gold medallist?
anagram [running] of CAN I SEE J[amaica]N round [accepting] first letter [premier] of Sprinters + IS – a clever clue for the Olympic golden girl, with a reference to Jamaican sprinting wonder, Usain Bolt

5 Very eager to lose gram to get thin
[g]REEDY [very eager] minus G [gram]

6 For starters, consider each northern constellation — to be one in the south?
First letters [starters] of Consider Each Northern + TAURUS [constellation]

7 Shellfish gobbled by boy’s terrapin
hidden in bOYS TERrapin

16 I’m surprised to see politician with a large strawberry scoffing fruit
GORBY [politician with a large strawberry] round [scoffing] fruit
Mikhail Gorbachev’s birthmark is, actually, a port-wine stain [nevus flammeus] – see here  rather than a strawberry hemangioma   but I hope that won’t be too contentious

18 Thumb thing — thumbthing thought?
the lisping wordplay refers to the game of ‘Hunt the thimble’, in which the thimble is something sought

19 Kind of case where risk overshadows challenge
BET [risk] round [overshadows] ASK [challenge]

20 Untrustworthy in the end, locate new attendant
anagram [new] of LOCATE + last letter [in the end] of untrustworthY

21 Unpleasant stuff deposited in an amount of money
PUT [deposited] in SUM [amount of money]

23 Open on time
OVER [on] + T [time]

25 Principle number eight, gutless
TEN [number] + E[igh]T

32 Responses to “Guardian 25,835 / Paul”

  1. Robi says:

    Nice one, although I couldn’t make the connection between PUSSY RIOT and the Olympics.

    Thanks Eileen, especially for the parsing of JERICHO. I liked GORBLIMEY; apparently: ‘What type does Gorbachev have? It appears to be the hemangioma, often called a port-wine stain, found on the face or neck. Usually permanent, it can be purple, red or pink in color.’ So I guess red=strawberry is OK; perhaps that is what you meant? :)

  2. Robi says:

    …..trouble with quotes from the Internet; I think you are right and it is not a hemangioma, although I’m not a medical expert.

  3. Eileen says:


    No, that isn’t what I meant. I don’t know where you found “It appears to be the hemangioma, often called a port-wine stain…”

    I know that Wikipedia is not infallible but the two links that I gave show the distinction between the two – nevus flammeus and hemangioma – as does this

    As I said, I do hope we’re not going to be preoccupied with this!

  4. Robi says:

    ….we crossed……. :)

  5. Eileen says:

    Sorry, robi: I should have waited a minute or two – or not spent so long typing. 😉

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen for explanations to 19d BASKET. In 9a I didn’t at first follow your explanation “COCK [tip – both as verbs]”; I guess you mean COCK is used as a verb, so then tip is also. I didn’t know there was a cockspur hawthorn, till I googled it just now.

    Took me a while to get 27a BEER MONEY – a great clue. Thought it was SOUR DOUGH, then BEES HONEY.

  7. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave

    I didn’t know cockspur hawthorn, either – that’s why I provided the link! 😉

  8. Dave Ellison says:

    Sorry, Eileen – I couldn’t see the colour of the link

  9. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Parsed Paul’s own clue (15a) last, with a smile. All very satisfying, dredging up 4,10 from anAraucaria of last November and the far better known (here) 2,22. Funny how some answers (GORBLIMEY) stay hidden while others (17a, 3d) leap right out; many of the latter have the setter’s fingerprints all over them.

  10. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen – another addition to a great week of puzzles, I thought, and I impressed myself by getting the athletes’ names without help. Just to be picky, I thought 28,8 was a bit vague, and it’s a shame he didn’t do more with 26a, whose surface is pretty meaningless: it would have been nice to get an actual double entendre in there!

  11. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Classic Paul.

    Talking of bones of contention, I expect later we’ll see complaints that “not right” should remove both Rs from “sorry”. (This doesn’t mean I support the argument!)

    By the way, you’ve accidentally left the drug out of FAIRY TALE.

  12. William says:

    Thank you Eileen.

    Made heavy weather of this, I’m afraid, not knowing COCKSPUR HAWTHORN, JESSICA ENNIS, BARISTA or OSCAR PRETORIUS. Got there in the end but shamefully slowly.

    I thought PAST IT was jolly clever – nice surface.

    THIMBLE is neat too but I don’t quite understand the lisping thing. Is it just a bit of word play?

    Thank you Paul, always look forward to your challenges.

  13. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Many thanks for blogging, Eileen.

    It’s taken me best part of two years to really get on Paul’s wavelength, but I’m glad I persevered, because I really enjoyed this and was pleased to solve and parse it without help (apart from AUGURY, which I never would have parsed in two months of Sundays … thank you).

    Not easy by any means, but when I got the two Olympic athletes it was a big help to provide some crossing letters.

    Paul’s alter ego Punk had THIMBLE in an Indy puzzle just a month or so ago –

    Thumb thing that’th a thign?

    – referring to a lisping pronunciation of SYMBOL.

    Super puzzle, thank you to the setter.

  14. Eileen says:

    Thanks, NeilW – especially for acknowledging that it must be accidentally!

    Andrew, I had the same thought about 26ac – not like Paul to miss a trick like that!

    William, re THIMBLE: a lisper like Violet Elizabeth Bott would pronounce ‘something sought’ [ie THIMBLE in the game] as ‘thumbthing thought’. [I think you don’t live in the UK, if you haven’t heard of JESSICA ENNIS. 😉 ]

    Thanks, K’s D – I knew I’d seen something similar recently.

  15. Aztobesed says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen.

    I just wanted to add my appreciation of 18 which I read as ‘symbol’ and only clicked the ‘sought’ after reading your blog. Paul at his best, I’d say. Paul at his not so good was that cheeky corblimey / gorblimey – Gorby not being the first politician to spring to mind despite the strawberry ‘help’. A pity since it meant I missed out at having a tilt at 15 which is very prettily put together.

  16. Trailman says:

    Quickish solve, aided by working out the Olympians from the numeration (and perhaps, therefore, diminishing the challenge a little). As for many, COCKSPURS was new. SPUTUM and TWINE were last in; the former should have been quicker, knowing Paul’s predilections.

  17. Rowland says:

    I thought some of these phrases had to be really mangled to get some sense into the surfaces, the PUSSY RIOT one for example, while the PISTORIUS one worked much better. That dodgy thing for the one of two Rs could have been avoided too, with a ‘heartless’ or something? Putin is that sort of bloke they say. Anyway, it was an okay solve, if a bit mashy.


  18. William says:

    Thank you Eileen.

    I live in the UK but was absent for the Olympics and the hype that ensued. Heartiest best wishes to them all, however.

    K’s D @13 – thank you – I saw that, too, but couldn’t recall where.

    Smashing puzzle.

  19. Apple Granny says:

    We have just caught up with crosswords after a few days away without the Guardian – and too busy with grandchildren etc to get them on line. We did Paul very quickly, but needed Eileen and others to explain a couple of them. Our last in was “augury” since we failed to explain the “au”. And we wrote in “cockspurs” without finding where the hawthorn fitted in. But, as usual, Paul was a lot of fun.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A quick glance at the top of the right column and all crypticity fled from my mind. Olympic gold medallist conjured up just one name, the best athlete de nos jours (she should have won SPOTY).
    After that I enjoyed a thoroughly well constructed and reasonably challenging crossword.
    Last in were ‘past it’ and ‘thimble’ (Thuperb).
    Favourites were ‘barmy’, ‘myrtle’, OP, ‘acolyte’.
    I enjoy the complex cluing for single letters eg ‘Untrustworthy in the end’ plus several others.
    William @12, I think you are confusing a SA celebrity with a SA city.
    Probably too much beer for a learner!

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    I got along well enough with this this morning, apart from the SE quarter by which time I had to go out and to have a troublesome molar removed. After a short nap on my return, I finished it off.

    Like Eileen I first thought about Corblimey and looked it up only to have the penny dropped for me by seeing Gorblimey. What with him and Boney and Puti I began to wonder if I was in Jack Straw and Condie territory!

    Some very clever cluing. I find the apparent ease with which other solvers sorted it all out a bit dispiriting, but perhaps the tooth fairy will cheer me up – Oh damn, I left the wrteched thing with the dentist!

  22. Gervase says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    Came to this late today, so there is little left to say other than that I enjoyed this a lot. Couldn’t parse AUGURY so thanks for that. ‘Thumb thing’ = THIMBLE puzzled me, as this device is more usually placed on another digit, but it couldn’t be anything else.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Gervase, I am sure you are right although both words do have the same origin.

  24. rhotician says:

    The thimble is most commonly worn on the middle finger. My own middle finger is damaged so I use my ring finger. My granny had a large thimble which she used on the thumb of her left hand for heavy-duty work on such as rugs.

  25. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Paul for the fun and Eileen as ever for a super blog.

    I needed the link to Cockspurs and was interested to find pome there from a fairly recent puzzle.

    Happy New Year to you all.

    Giovanna x

  26. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Quite an easy solve as I studiously avoid the Olympics. I have no interest in any of the events bar football for the other 3 years and 48 weeks! Consequently I had to Google the names of the athletes?? as I’ve never heard of them.

    Still quite an enjoyable puzzle. I didn’t spot the lavatorial references though?

    Thanks to Eileen and Paul.

  27. Carmel says:

    Fairly random thought – Pistorius is a near anagram of Pussy Riot.

  28. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Whoa, Carmel, very near!
    Now there’s an opportunity missed by our beloved setter.

  29. Ilippu says:

    this is 25835…not 25836…search may prove difficult. thanks.

  30. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Ilippu, error corrected.

  31. Sylvia says:

    Very late solving last week’s crosswords, but 18d at first suggested ‘twiddle’ for a thumb thing – something I am apt to do unconsciously :=)

  32. Huw Powell says:

    I know nobody ever reads my comments, except for the bloggers, since I prefer to run a small backlog (I hate to face the day without a puzzle to finish in the morning and a new one to start in the evening, at the very least!).

    This was a real cracker! I think that whole week was, if I recall correctly. I do enjoy the “young guns”, Paul and Brendan, who seem to be pushing the boundaries while emulating the best of the old masters.

    Had an almost empty NE corner due to having no idea who the Olympian was – though the cryptic part of the clue is absolutely fair – and plumping for corblimey, and, strangely, Toronto. That city only works if “tont” means “we” somewhere in Europe…

    Probably my most enjoyed 225 blog ever, since I was able to correct some errors one at a time and proceed from the new checked letters, GORBLIMEY allowed me to solve AUGURY, my COD (or of the week…) and then CENTAURUS!.

    At 18 I was very into the “symbol” concept – as “something thought”. Interesting to read that the word was clued elsewhere using that concept. I do think it was intended.

    Thanks so much to Paul for the challenge and to Eileen and the rest of you lot for the blog.

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