Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic 25841 Shed

Posted by scchua on January 10th, 2013


After being stretched a bit by the setter’s setter-mum yesterday, I was expecting the worst.  And, on the first pass, I could not, if at all, connect more than 2 answers together.  But, after a while, it yielded especially after getting the 2 related long answers.  Thanks for the challenge, Shed – enjoyed it.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  P.S.  Since this is my first Guardian Cryptic blog for 2013, may I take this opportunity to wish all at the 15sq Guardian Cryptic Category a Happy, Healthy and Fun-filled New Year.

[[The pictures at the bottom between them share 3 unidentified links to the puzzle.  Please enclose any comments on them in double brackes.  Thank you.]]

4 Many new arrivals, never the same (6)

INFLUX : IN FLUX(in a continuously changing state;never the same)

6 Row of architectural features getting characteristic reaction (8)

DOMESTIC : DOMES(architectural features) plus(getting) TIC(an involuntary muscle spasm;reaction, which becomes a characteristic of the person unfortunate to have one).

Answer:  Especially used by police, as a short form for a domestic row, even violence, especially between a man and a woman.

9 Crazy Iranian losing head in fantasy world (6)

NARNIA : Anagram of(crazy) “Iranianminus its initial letter(losing head).

Answer: The fantasy world penned by C.S. Lewis in “The Chronicles of….”

10 Brief spree involving back support (8)

FLEETING : FLING(a brief spree;a short period of unrestrained pursuit of one’s desires) containing(involving) reversal of(back) TEE(a support, especially for a golf ball when driving off from the tee). Nice misdirection: Firstly by “brief spree” (a spree by itself could be either long or short, and becomes a fling only with the latter), and then thinking that “brief” was an indicator to delete the end of a word.

11 Journalist and right-wing coach swallowing bone (11)

CONTRIBUTOR : CON( short for conservative, traditionally associated with the right) TUTOR(a coach) containing(swallowing) RIB(a chest bone).

15 Short man with no feeling for offal? (7)

NUMBLES : NUMB LES(shortened form of the man’s name, Leslie or even Lester, and this one happens to be numb;have no feeling, as well).


17 Take a hint from unhealthy competition (3,4)

RAT RACE : R(abbrev. for the imperative “take”, as in medical prescriptions, from the Latin recipe) + A + TRACE(a hint;a touch of).

Answer: The competitive activity amongst humans, especially at work, often leading to health problems.

18 Actor James almost securing part of New York’s emperor (11)

CHARLEMAGNE : “Cagney”(James, tough-guy actor and song-and-dance man) minus its last letter(almost) containing(securing) HARLEM(a part;district of New York City).

Answer: Aka Charles the Great and Charles I, the first emperor of the Holy Roman Empire.

22 Start being offensive about Queen (of Denmark?) (8)

GERTRUDE : GET RUDE(start being offensive) containing(about) R(abbrev. for Regina, Latin for Queen).

Answer: In Shakespeare’s Hamlet, mother of the protagonist and Queen of Denmark – “Queen” doing double duty.

23 See 2

24 Curtain-raiser sees flower open first (8)

OVERTURE : URE(a river;a flow-er in North Yorkshire) placed after(… first) OVERT(open;public;aboveboard).

Answer: The opening number;curtain-raiser for a musical drama or a ballet.

25 Service user putting the “E” into Eastwood? (6)

CLIENT : contained in(putting the … into) CLINT(“go ahead, make my day” Eastwood, actor and now director).

1 Bruise becoming more active (6)

BUSIER : Anagram of(becoming) BRUISE.

2,23 Armada let loose in artwork by 4 down 12 (10,6)

COLLATERAL DAMAGE : Anagram of(loose) ARMADA LET contained in(in) COLLAGE(a piece of artwork, done by pasting various incongruous materials on to a surface).

Answer: A euphemism for innocent bystanders (answer to 4 down 12) who, though not targeted, might be injured in an attack.

3 Type of low-life bum embracing, initially, waif and stray (5,3)

SEWER RAT : SEAT(bum;that part of your anatomy that you place on a seat) containing(embracing) [W{initial letter(initially) “waif”} plus(and) ERR(to stray from the straight and narrow)].

4 Blameless watering hole given zero cash in US (8)

INNOCENT : INN(a watering hole, serving more alcohol than water) plus(given) O(letter looking like 0;zero) + CENT(denomination of cash in the USA).

5 Hair-raising warning about Amy, say (8)

FORENAME : Reversal of(…-raising) MANE(hair on the back or around the neck on animals, eg. the horse or lion, or even hair on the human head, especially if it’s long and thick) contained in(… about) FORE(a warning word shouted on the golf course to those who might be in the way of a ball after it has been hit).

Answer: An example of which;say is Amy.

7 Double-canned tungsten? (4)

TWIN : W(the chemical symbol for the element tungsten) contained in a tin(canned). My COD – concise and effectively cryptic.

8 Composer’s  enclosure (4)

CAGE : Double defn: 1st: John, avant-garde US composer. His famous work 4’33” is supposedly not the 4 minutes and 33 seconds of silence while the “musician(s)” do nothing, but the sounds of the audience’s environment – there being no such thing as absolute silence.  I know, it’s challenging the traditional concept of music.  To watch and listen(?) to a performance of the ultimate in minimalist music (all of 3 movements), click the link below (but only if you have the time):

12 Invariably 4 down people‘s trendy bass rendition (10)

BYSTANDERS : Anagram of(rendition) TRENDY BASS.

Answer: Invariably this is associated with “innocent”(the answer to 4 down). In fact after getting 4 down, this was a write-in for me.

13 Desecrate tomb of nobleman (8)

MARGRAVE : MAR(to damage;if to a sacred object like a tomb, to desecrate) + GRAVE(a tomb).

Answer: Historically, a hereditary German title for a nobleman, equivalent to a marquis.

14 Let loose about Eastern border, evincing deep conviction (8)

VEHEMENT : VENT(to let loose;let escape, say, gases) containing(about) [E(abbrev. for “Eastern”) + HEM(the border, say, of a skirt)].

16 Wound dead plant internally (8)

LACERATE : LATE(euphemism for being dead) containing(… internally) ACER(any plant of the genus Acer, commonly known as “maple”- not to be confused with the computer brand I’m typing this on).

Answer: Literally to tear (say, flesh), or figuratively, to hurt (say, feelings).

19 A crafty setter on top — but pretty feeble (6)

MEASLY : [A + SLY(crafty;cunning)] placed below(… on top) ME(self-referencing pronoun for the setter of this crossword)

20 Big boy’s tongue (4)

IGBO : Hidden in(…’s, contraction of “has”) “Big boy’s“.

Answer: Language of the Igbo people of W. Africa, mainly S. Nigeria.

21 Released  without charge (4)

FREE : Double defn: 1st: Adjective, as in “the released/free bird”. A slight misdirection as the surface implies a verb as in “released/freed the suspect”; and 2nd: No charge;gratis.





38 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25841 Shed”

  1. John Appleton says:

    Decent enough challenge. Failed on DOMESTIC, so thanks for explaining that one. R = Take seems to be strecthing things a bit, it’s a new one on me.

    [[ John Cleese was in RAT RACE, and I’m wondering if Rowan Atkinson was too; in any case, Blackadder’s Pseudonym when fancying himself as a writer in Blackadder III was GERTRUDE perkins. ]]

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks scchua for the usual fine blog. You didn’t say so exactly, but NUMBLES is offal, I discovered subsequently. Despite never liking take=R (much discussed on this site) and querying the equivalence of 2,23 and 4,12 I do commend Shed for an enjoyable puzzle.

  3. scchua says:

    Hi John, you might be more familiar with the Rx (represented by capital R with a forward slash across its tail) in connection with medicinal prescriptions, meaning “take”, and it derives from the Latin “recipe”.

    [[You’re right about John Cleese, and there’s a reason I deliberately pasted him and Rowan Atkinson in the same picture frame. :-) ]]

  4. scchua says:

    Hi molonglo,but I did…by underlining “offal”, which can be baked into a “numble” or “umble” pie, which also gave “humble pie”, (which was the name taken by the rock band formed in 1969 by Steve Marriott, if you remember).

  5. John Appleton says:

    Scchua @4 – not familiar with it at all; I can’t remember the last time I had to bother with a medical prescription. I assume it’s in Chambers, in which case there’s nothing technically unfair about it – just a knowledge deficit on my part. As it was, RAT RACE went in easily enough though I hadn’t any idea how to parse it.

    [[ Oh, and Arnie was in COLLATERAL DAMAGE. ]]

  6. Ian SW3 says:

    Scchua — FYI, this post has been misfiled under “Guardian Quiptic.” I’ve been looking for it under “Cryptic” all morning.

  7. scchua says:

    Apologies, Ian SW3. Having not blogged here for sometime, I’d forgotten that this category is only “Guardian”. Corrected now, and thanks.

  8. Ian SW3 says:

    Thanks, though, for the blog and for parsing Gertude, which eluded me.

    [[Susan Sarandon and Tommy Lee Jones were in “The Client”]]

  9. Ian SW3 says:

    [[Cuba Gooding, Jr. was also in “Rat Race” and there is a 1972 film called “Innocent Bystanders” — perhaps the fellow in the bottom right corner whom I don’t recognise was in it? Whoopee!]]

  10. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Shed and scchua

    The Shed planets and mine must have been aligned today – quickest solve of a setter who can present some curly challenges for me usually. Got the two linked clues early on that got things started off nicely and the rest seemed to flow smoothly on from there. Found it vey enjoyable all the same.

    Nicholas Cage fleetingly came to mind when filling in 8 until went looking and finding the interesting John. Thought that 7,18, 22, 24 and 25 were all very good,

    IGBO was last in and was new to me, as was NUMBLES.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua and Shed

    A good puzzle with some very enjoyable clues. I was surprised to see on checking that ‘humble pie’ is originally made from offals.

    Particularly liked 10a, 17a, 18a, 2,23, 3d.

  12. Robi says:

    Thanks to Shed and scchua.

    Good crossword, tough in parts, I thought. I got caught (again!) by the rather unwelcome take=R although this is an accepted abbreviation in crosswordland. Both NUMBLES and MARGRAVE were new to me.

    I liked DOMESTIC and FORENAME, although the latter was the last in and needed all the crossers to resolve.

    [[Rowan Atkinson, Whoopi Goldberg, Cuba Gooding, Jr. and John Cleese were all in RAT RACE.
    #7 is John Grisham who wrote ‘The INNOCENT Man’ and who’s works are described thus: ‘This is the recurring Grisham theme: the innocent bystander against the System.’]]

  13. Robi says:

    P.S. I tried GERONIMO for 5 (hair-raising warning), but couldn’t work out the connection with Amy, apart from this [you don’t have to listen to the full three minutes!]

  14. Ian SW3 says:

    [[Aha – and of course he also wrote The Client.

    Are we still missing something about the connection between Cleese and Atkinson? Ingredients of a basil-bean salad, perhaps?]]

  15. Mike says:

    How did some contributors yesterday know that Shed would be following Audreus today?

  16. Robi says:

    Mike @15; Shed is Audreus’s son and usually follows him in the Guardian slots.

  17. tupu says:

    Hi Mike
    I believe Audreus is Shed’s mother and their puzzles typically appear in this order.

  18. Alan Connor says:

    BTW Audreus is also interviewed today in a Meet The Setter which I thoroughly enjoyed. (By the way, I hope you’ll forgive me mentioning that I once compiled a medley of different versions of Cage’s 4.33, which you can hear at the BBC site). Rat Race was a great film, no?

  19. scchua says:

    [[John@1 & 5, Ian SW3@8, 9 & 14, Robi@12 well done, that’s it: Rat Race, Collateral Damage and The Client were the 3 links. Sorry to disappoint you, Ian SW3@14 – no other intended connection between Cleese and Atkinson besides both being in Rat Race.]]

  20. Mike says:

    Robi@16 & tupu@17; many thanks for the information. I’ll look out for mother-son procession in future.

  21. muffin says:

    Thanks Shed, and scchua for explaining a couple I hadn’t parsed (Charlemagne for example). Another I had great difficulty understanding was TWIN at 7dn, as the word “tungsten” didn’t appear in the clue in the paper (as opposed to the website)! Did anyone else find (or not find) this?

  22. William says:

    Thank you sscchua and Mrs Young, a good workout.

    Much more on humble pie etc in the Etymologicon which Santa delivered this year. It’s a cracking read by Mark Forsyth for anyone interested in word origins. The section on how the size of today’s Kindle reader is linked to a sheep is unforgettable!


  23. Mitz says:

    Thanks Shed and scchua,

    Having swept through most of the across clues with only NARNIA falling I was getting a bit worried, but I got the last two, and the downs seemed much easier. Once the long clues gave up their secrets (I got BYSTANDERS first, leading me to INNOCENT, and COLLATERAL DAMAGE followed soon after) it was simply a matter of mopping up the rest.

    Not easy though – especially as there is a typo in the paper: “tungsten” is missing as part of the cryptic clue for 7. I justified it as “double” doing double duty as definition and “‘double-[u]’ to be put in tin” and wasn’t very happy. Was glad to see that Shed’s clue was much better than that, and I promise I did know that W is the chemical symbol for tungsten, so I’m sure that but for the omission I would have got the NE corner a lot more quickly than I did!

    Was pleased to guess IGBO from the clue having never heard of it before, and although NUMBLES rang a vague bell I wasn’t sure until I looked it up – nice clue though. My COD was INFLUX, just because I like the word!

  24. Eileen says:

    Thanks, scchua, for the blog, and Shed for another cracking puzzle.

    I loved the 2,23 and 4,12 connections and I also particularly liked CHARLEMAGNE and GERTRUDE.

    Hi muffin @21 and Mitz @23

    I’m puzzled by your comments on 7dn. ‘Tungsten’ was in my copy of the paper, delivered shortly after 6.00 am.

  25. Mitz says:

    Hi Eileen,

    I bought the paper (or rather handed over my subscriber’s ticket) as usual at my local newsagent on my way to work at around 8am. I did smell a rat as there is a space between “canned” and the question mark. It would be most unusual if the earlier edition was correct with the mistake only cropping up in a later printing, so maybe it is a regional difference? The Grauniad is printed separately in London, Manchester and Northern Ireland – I am in London.

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Mitz

    That might explain it: I’m in Leicester, so perhaps I get the Northern version.

  27. Mitz says:

    William @22: the Etymologicon is next on my reading list after Perfect Rigor (about the Russian Mathematician Grigori Perelman) – looking forward to it.

  28. muffin says:

    Hi Eileen and Mitz
    I think it must be edition rather than place – I am in Lancashire.

    I looked on the Guardian website and there are some comments on the missing “tungsten” there too – it’s all very odd!

  29. Shed says:

    Thanks all. No idea what happened to the tungsten in 7dn in some editions of the Grauniad: it was certainly there in the proof I read and the paper I bought today (in the afternoon, in Cambridgeshire).

    Why do people always get so agitated by R = recipe = take? I’ve been taken to task for this before (which has brought out the imp of the perverse in me and encouraged me to reuse it). OK, it’s bit past its sell-by date, but it’s well-attested in any decent dictionary and still widely used in crosswords if nowhere else.

  30. claire says:

    Nice puzzle (I like Shed anyway) but I wouldn’t have equated ‘contributor’ with ‘journalist’ though I can see how it could arise. To me a journalist is the professional and the contributor one who ‘contributes’, perhaps in the sense of an expert witness. My experience is in broadcasting, rather than print, though, so maybe there is a subtle difference. Not something I would lose sleep over, however.

  31. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Shed and scchua, whose blogs always add such a good extra dimension. Hope you are enjoying the new year, too.

    Particularly liked CHARLEMAGNE AND DOMESTIC.

    Giovanna x

  32. William says:

    Mitz @27 I was thinking about Perfect Rigour for my Kindle – is it good?

  33. DunsScotus says:

    Thanks to Shed and sschua; good fun as always. I know I’m late but I had to express my delight at the very concept of a medley of versions of Cage’s 4:33. Thanks Alan @ 18.

  34. muffin says:

    I don’t think that different versions of Cage’s 4:33 are all that surprising – the point is that he invites us to listen to the “ambient” sounds (not that I am suggesting that multiple listening improves the experience).

  35. rhotician says:


    Speak roughly to your little boy,
    When ‘take’ for R he clues.
    He only does it to annoy.
    We’d rather he amuse.

  36. Shed says:

    rhotician #35: criticism of that calibre I’ll take on the chin. Whether or not Audreus will follow your advice remains to be seen.

  37. William Smith-Haddon says:

    rhotician @35 – lovely! Nice bit of dog Carroll for a setter. Well done.

  38. scchua says:

    Thanks all, for your contributions. And Giovanna@31, it’s my pleasure!

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