Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,838 – Rufus

Posted by Andrew on January 7th, 2013


I guessed I was in for a quick solve on this when I got 1a and 5a, and then 10a and 11a, immediately, and so it proved, with most of the answers virtually writing themselves in. All in the usual smooth Rufus style, though I have a couple of nitpicks, mentioned below.

10. EMMA Hidden in esteEM MAybe, &lit, referring to Nelson’s mistress Lady Hamilton
11. BEANFEASTS I haven’t had cause to describe a clue as a sesquidef recently, but this is definitely one – aka a definition plus a hint of another
12. ANIMAL Reverse of LAMINA
13. HIGH TIME HIGH (drunk) + TIME (prison sentence)
14. ACCESSORY Double definition
16. CEASE [judg]E in CASE
23. JUMPED UP Double definition
24. TRAMPS RAMP (swindle – a new meaning for this word for me) in reverse of ST
26. GOLF COURSE Cryptic definition – golfers have handicaps, use drivers and play rounds
27. ROOD Homophone of “rude” – this is ambiguous without the O from 21d, though I don’t object to this as much as some people do
29. WELL OFF WELL (source) + OFF (no longer available : e.g. a dish in a restaurant)
2. ALMANAC ALMA + reverse of CAN (though it doesn’t exactly correspond to “able to”)
3. UNARM UN (French “a”) + ARM (member)
4. NO BALLS Cryptic definition, referring to deliveries in cricket
6. REFUGE Double definition, though only just, as the meanings are virtually indentical
8. ISTHMUS THIS* + reverse of SUM
9. CATHERINE PARR A in (PRINCE RATHER)* – Henry VIII’s last wife, who outlived him
15. EXCEPT FOR (EXCERPT OF)* – definition “save”
18. POUR OUT POUR (French “for”) + OUT (abroad) – people say “shall I be Mother?” when pouring tea
20. EXTREME Double definition
21. REPROOF RE (about) + PROOF (measure of alcoholic content)
25. APRIL A PERIL less E[ast]

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,838 – Rufus”

  1. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Rufus and Andrew

    An almost opposite solve for me – started with ROOD as the first in and finished with 1a as my last !!

    Didn’t have issues with any of the clues except for 18 where the connection between POUR OUT and BE MOTHER FOR looks to be fairly tenuous.

    Other than that – was all over within 15 minutes – needed a catch up with a build up from the holiday break when not always near an Internet and printer :)

  2. vinyl1 says:

    Embarrassed to say I got stuck. Did 3/4 in 10 minutes, then hit the NW, just couldn’t see it. Went and did something else for a while, then came back and it was all obvious. ‘Beanfeasts’ was my LOI, COD to ‘Catherine Parr’.

    I, too, put in ‘rude’ and then changed it to ‘rood’, had to be one or t’other.

  3. jaws says:

    I don’t often get to complete a puzzle on the day it’s published (and sometimes not at all) so have never commented here before, though I do like to read what others have to say.

    I felt a bit foolish having put REPROVE and hence had problems with WELL OFF. Other than that I felt it was all OK. There seems to be a lot of anagrams in this one. Is this typical of Rufus or am I just being picky?

  4. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Would you – or anyone – care to elaborate on 20d? I can’t see how it works as a dd.

    The attempted misdirection in 26a relies on a use of “handicapped” which is positively archaic, and deprecated by the Guardian style guide:

    should not be used to refer to people with disabilities or learning difficulties

  5. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Andrew. My kind of Rufus today – not overloaded with dds and cds, but some cleverly laconic surfaces and a smile or two. A quickish solve, but that’s Rufus’ brief.

    Yes, jaws, I think there were perhaps more anagrams than usual today for a Rufus offering (but therefore perhaps fewer cds and dds).

    Miche, I too had to look twice at EXTREME, but my SOED gives ‘last, outermost’ and ‘very great’, and the latter is a good definition of ‘not least'; so I think it works as a dd.

    Thanks you to the setter too.

  6. muffin says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus
    Easy but enjoyable – ideal for a Monday. ISTHMUS was my favourite.

    I looked up UNARM in Chambers (thinking that “disarm” was the correct word). It was there, but interestingly it gave it as a synonym for “disarm” only as a minor meaning – most of the meanings were to do with removing armour.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for the blog and Rufus for the puzzle.

    Some very nice anagrams, my favourites being CALUMNY, CATHERINE PARR and ANCESTORS.

    Hi brucew_aus @1. The expression ‘be mother’ for pour out the tea is perhaps not so widely-known in Australia but it’s pretty common here – and, to be fair, the definition in the clue is ‘be mother’ [the ‘for’ belongs with ‘the French’].

  8. Cliff says:

    In reply to Miche @ 4: Surely crosswords are concerned with meanings, not with political correctness? That the Guardian is meally-mouthed in its style isn’t relevant to the meaning, still ordinarily-used despite what you say, of the word.

  9. Robi says:

    Usual smooth Rufus surfaces.

    Thanks Andrew; I took REFUGE as a cd, rather than a dd. In ALMANAC, could the ‘able’ just be ‘can,’ with the instruction ‘to set up?’

    I thought of ‘reprove’ but I think that that is a verb, rather than the noun: REPROOF.

  10. John Appleton says:

    I wasn’t aware that “handicapped” is seen by some to be non-PC, certainly I wouldn’t say it’s an archaic usage. It seems to me to be a straightforward, accurate adjective with no inherent malign intent – as indeed, one could say about “disabled”. Were it to be a perjorative term, I could understand. If it’s merely fallen out of general use then I don’t see an issue.

    In any case, today’s was a standard Rufus. Never heard of BEANFEASTS, not my type of feast but each to his own.

  11. jaws says:

    “able” or “able to” doesn’t’ = “can”.

    I “am able to” / she “is able to” = I/she “can”.

    “Girl IS able to set up a whole lot of dates” would have solved this problem.

  12. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Eileen@7 – I looked up the term “Shall I be mother?” when I got home from work and sheepishly saw that it was a British / Australian phrase for something humourously said ‘in order to ask whether one should serve drink or food’. I have not heard of the saying.

    Forgot to mention earlier the clever 26 clue as my COD.

  13. Robi says:

    jaws @11; yes, I must have some breakfast before writing these posts…….

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Rufus

    Enjoyable with good surfaces as usual.

    I take the point about ‘handicapped’ though it gets harder as one ages to keep up with changing tastes in words, and I must confess I liked the clue.
    I also ticked 8d.

  15. Rog says:

    John Appleton et al: Re ‘handicapped,’ I think this piece (from 2004) puts the position quite well:

    Oh, and John: it’s ‘pejorative’ not ‘perjorative’. (Sorry: it was probably a slip of the finger on your part, but it’s one of my bugbears. Something to do with the way it’s pronounced, I guess).

  16. Audrey says:

    Golfers are not disabled they are handicapped depending on how well they score.

  17. Trailman says:

    Pleasant Monday morning diversion, finished in time to pick up a rehearsal from ROH on the Guardian site. Delayed a bit by only seeing ENAMEL at 12a, silly me.

  18. John Appleton says:

    Rog @15: Not a slip of the keyboard – I actually thought that was the spelling. Thanks for educating me (with the link, too). It is a surprise to see that it’s considered so offensive – but it’s not my place to say when other people should or shouldn’t be offended.

    Jaws @11: It seems a suitable substitution: “Girl able to set up many dates” can have the same sense as “Girl can set up many dates”. I’d say that it’s not great style and perhaps wouldn’t be suitable for formal writing, but I’ll accept it in a crossword.

  19. Col says:

    Surprised the term “be mother” is not well known. Usually when a pot of tea is delivered to the table of several waiting indivuals, the person deciding to pick it up and pour everyone a cuppa traditionally exclaims: “Shall I be mother?”

  20. Rowland says:

    Well-known to me, but I’m a full-on Brit. Or Celt, to be quite right.

    Well it was Rufie wasn’t it, so a breeze for anyone good at crosswords. Quixote over the way was more my cup of tea. As for the can thing, even in an xwd I don’t like it — something else that’s sloppy and easil corrected!


  21. Robi says:

    …something else that’s sloppy and easil[y] corrected…. :)

  22. William Smith-Haddon says:

    Eileeen, thought EXCEPT FOR was the best of the anagram bunch today.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Andrew “……..with most of the answers virtually writing themselves in. ”
    How sad.

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    As you probably know, I suffered a collapsed vertebra a while back which means I am now just a tad disabled, i.e. a great deal less disabled than some thankfully. If anyone wants to call that a handicap, or say that I am handicapped, that is fine by me. Only complete idiots who are not themselves in some way disabled would imagine that a perfectly accurate description of the situation could be in any way offensive. Anyone who is disabled who has succumbed to the beliefs of the idiots needs to get a better understanding of the language.

    Pleasant crossword btw.

  25. Miche says:

    Kathryn’s Dad @5: Thanks. I can see that “not least” could be read as meiosis for “very great.” But an extreme can be a minimum as well as a maximum, a negative as well as a positive, and “not least” for “extreme” just doesn’t work for me.

    Derek @24: I disagree with you on this question. It is possible to do that without calling anyone an idiot.

  26. nametab says:

    Elucidation sought please: I’ve been reading and occasionally contributing to this site for some time, and had hoped by now to have worked out what ‘COD’ stands for. Clearly it means something like ‘personal favourite’. Any offers?; thanks in advance :)

    Without thinking I put ‘enamel’ (i.e. = plate) at 12a, and wondered how ‘lemane’ might be a backward horse.

  27. Miche says:

    Nametab @26: Clue of (the) day.

  28. Cliff says:

    Clue of the Day

  29. Ripenno says:

    I don’t understand all the debate about the use of the word “handicapped” as a synonym for “disabled” as it isn’t in 26 across, being used in its golfing context. The clue merely invites solvers to erroneously place the term in the context of disability perhaps. Can Rufus be held responsible for the interpretations of others?

  30. nametab says:

    Thank you Miche & Cliff

  31. Doug says:


    Your description of the Guardian’s policy on avoiding offense in language as ‘meally-mouthed’ has bothered me all day.
    We, as crossword afficionados, should be aware of the power of language. To please, to amuse, and to offend.

    There was nothing offensive in the clue; as others have pointed out, any connotations were in the minds of the readers, as is only correct with a cryptic crossword.

    To just make myself clear; in its general reportage, The Guardian and other media should do all they can to avoid offence in casual use of language; that is not being ‘meally-mouthed’, that is giving respect to the sensibilities of others.

  32. Cliff says:

    Well, Collins has “mealy-mouthed” defined as “hesitant or afraid to speak plainly; not outspoken”, which I think just about covers it as a description of politically correct language. A non-politically correct term, but accurate.

    It must be one of those highly irregular verbs: I speak plainly; you are politically correct; he is mealy-mouthed.

  33. RCWhiting says:

    PC in its original manifestation was “do not use an expression or term which you know others find offensive, choose an alternative”.
    Put simply, it is just good manners. We should all be in favour of good manners.

  34. Doug says:


    Just as you say.
    Your description of the Guardian’s policy of observing the power of language is not ‘mealy-mouthed’.
    It is decent and something to which we should all aspire.
    It should not in any way be denigrated.
    Just saying…

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    Insiduous little phrase “just good manners” isn’t it?

    By pandering to every sensitive flower who invents a new way of being offended by what is generally accepted as inoffensive we emmasculate the language. More and more words and topics, many of which should be usable and discussable, become taboo for no good reason.

    In any case, what constitutes good manners? There are potentially mutually exclusive possibilities. For example, in the presence of both of the following types of person, which is better, to be good mannered and pander to the sensibilities of a non-cancer sufferer who finds the subject disturbing, or be good mannered and allow a sufferer to have the theraputic effect of talking freely about the subject? It’s not an easy question is it?

    I rather think the phrase “just good manners” can lead to bad simplifications of complex issues. Not always of course, but one has to be careful not to use the phrase in some blanket way.

  36. ray says:

    Usually rely on you guys to explain answers to me after much (often unsuccessful) toil but for 27a: 1 rood = 1/4 of an acre so is an area! A dd for sure.

  37. matt says:


    I quite agree with you.


  38. RCWhiting says:

    “It’s not an easy question, is it?”
    No,it isn’t.
    Because no group of cancer sufferers or non-sufferers are a persecuted minority. I know of no words or phrases which are used about these groups or their disease which are discriminatory, perjorative or abusive.
    Hence your hypothetical situation is irrelevant.

  39. Rog says:

    RCWhiting: I agree with you, but, again, it’s PEJORATIVE not perjorative!


  40. RCWhiting says:

    Rog, you are so right, and I even hesitated and recalled your previous comment. That’s why I avoided ‘prejorative’!

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