Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,848 – Tramp

Posted by Andrew on January 18th, 2013


What a treat to have a Tramp puzzle to blog on this chilly morning. I took a while to get started, not helped by putting in a plausible but wrong answer for 7d, but once I cottoned on to the theme (familiar to me and evoking childhood memories, though perhaps others will have more trouble) it was mostly plain sailing. Good fun and very satisfying – thanks Tramp.

1. STINGRAY STING (singer) + RAY (second note, as in do RAY me – Chambers gives this as an alternative of “re”), giving the Anderson TV series
5. NATION IO (=10) in reverse of [brow]N TAN
12. REFURNISHED FURNISH (David F, partner of Elton John) in REED
15. ASCUS CU in ASS – ascus is an enlarged cell found in fungi. New to me, but gettable from the wordplay.
18. INCIDENCE IN (current) + CID + [p]ENCE
19,26. SCOTT PARKER Two characters from Thunderbirds: Scott Tracy, pilot of Thunderbird 1, and Parker the butler/driver. Scott Parker plays for Spurs.
24. WEEVIL VI (6) in WEE (“go”!) + L. A weevil is a beetle, or a “Beatle, on Radio”
25. BRASSICA BRAINS (Thunderbirds character) less IN + SIC (so) + A[lan] (Alan Tracy is another TB character)
27. TSUMANIS T[he] SUN + [Kingsley or Martin] AMIS. “Main dangers”=”dangers at sea”
1. SUPER MARIO SUPERMA[n] (“with name he could fly”) + RIO (sitre of 2016 Olympics) – character in the famous series of video games
3. GAMER G + AM + ER (“let me see”)
4. ASTRINGENTLY A[merican] + STRING (series) + ENT + L[eaving] + Y[ou]
7. IBIS I in IBS (irritable bowel syndrome). I confidently put BAIT here (I in [cricket] BAT), which caused me problems until I saw that 5a had to be NATION.
8. NEST Last letters of kitcheN, ropE, misS scarletT (items and character from Cluedo, not that it matters to the clue); a nest of (e.g.) tables is a set that fits together
11. THUNDERBIRDS (BURNT DISH RED)*. Supermarionation was the technique used by Gerry and Sylvia Anderson for their puppet series.
13. LACONICISM (I L MAC SONIC)*, with a nod to another video game
16. SEDUCTIVE DUCT I in SEVE [Ballesteros, golfer]
21. ARSON Anagram of ANDERSON less END, and a reference to another Anderson series
22. SWAP Reverse of PAWS
23. LEAR [Virgi]L + EAR, the poet being Edward Lear. I’m not sure how ear=head (or “letter to head”), except perhaps in an ear of wheat? Virgil is another poet, of course, but also yet another Thunderbirds character)

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,848 – Tramp”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Like you, this was a fun trip down memory lane for me.

    You don’t explicitly mention it but all five of the Tracy sons that were the Thunderbird crew are mentioned: Scott, Virgil, Alan, Gordon and John. Wiki tells me that each were named after a Mercury astronaut – Scott Carpenter, Virgil Grissom, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper and John Glenn, respectively.

    I was hoping you’d help me out with the parsing of 23, LEAR which escapes me but you seem to have omitted it…

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Neil, my (unsatisfactory) explanation of 23d somehow didn’t make it into the blog – now added. I did notice the other Tracy brothers, but forgot to mention some of them (though not Virgil in 23d).

  3. Uncle Yap says:

    7Down … I also was held up for a while inking in BAIT like Andrew. What do they say? Great minds think alike but fools seldom differ :-)

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for a super blog of a super puzzle from Super Tramp.

    I’m sure I’d have been another caught by the bait but I’m one for doing the clues in order as far as possible and NATION was one of the easier answers. And IBIS is so much cleverer, isn’t it?

    As always, the real pleasure of finishing a Tramp puzzle is to sit back and discover links, in both clues and answers, that you may have missed in solving, eg the names of all the Thunderbirds crew. [I’m afraid I don’t know the footballer – another clever touch – but that didn’t matter: I was able to get him anyway.]

    I liked the linked Beatles clues, the Cluedo one, recalling Tramp’s great Genius puzzle, and the nod to Alan Titchmarsh in 25ac. And, of course the much-missed charming Spanish golfer.

    And I loved the laugh in WEEVIL.

    Many thanks, Tramp for the warming start to the day – I do hope you’ll drop in and enlighten us regarding LEAR! 😉

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I too took the bait on 7d – it meant that clue was the last one to go in. Lots here I’d never come across or had forgotten so there was a lot of o/l verification after guessing, but I learned a lot, like ‘supermarket action': 11d was thus a fine clue, as was TSUNAMIS. Thanks Tramp.

  6. rhotician says:

    Re LEAR: Perhaps ‘head’ is a misprint of ‘heed’.

  7. Tramp says:

    Thanks Andrew for the super blog.

    I wrote this puzzle in December completely unaware that Gerry Anderson was dying. I finished the puzzle a few weeks before Christmas and was going to let it simmer for a few months before asking Lato would he be so kind to test solve and give me his comments. After doing a bit of research on Wikipedia, I realised that Thuderbirds will be 50 years old in 2014 so I thought it could get published then. Anyway, I found out that Gerry Anderson had passed away over the Christmas break and so sent the puzzle for checking and text Hugh to see if he could use the puzzle quite soon, which he agreed to.

    I got the SCOTT PARKER idea ages ago and decided to keep it back for a future Thunderbirds puzzle. My original idea was to somehow put OWL+TIT+TH, or something similar (TH under “birds”), in a column of unchecked letters and then to define Thunderbirds as “show in fifth column?” or something. I spent ages trying to get this to work but had to give up as few, if any, Guardian grids have eight unchecked cells in a column. When I looked up Gerry Anderson on Wikipedia, I spotted SUPERMARIONATION and thought that might be a better idea. I managed to shoehorn in the pilots Alan, Gordon, Virgil, John, Scott; Brains and Parker and I also got in Scarlet (as in Capt) and Fireball (as in XL5). I tried for ages to get Joe 90 in but it was beyond my ability.

    Getting lots of thematic material in does mean some unusual words, ASCUS for example and that’s always a gamble because if Hugh thinks the word is too arcane for Guardian solvers then it could lead to many wasted hours. ASCUS was in Chambers and Collins though so I decided to go for it.

    I never thought of BAIT — so apologies if that confused folk. For 23d, I’m using “Virgil’s last letter” to be L (admittedly the “letter” is a bit unusual but it’s still a valid instruction without padding, I feel) and “head” = “ear” as in “head of corn”; I don’t know where I pulled that from but I’m sure it used to be quite common in crosswords.

    Thanks for the comments


  8. Andrew says:

    Tramp, thanks for your comment and the interesting story of how the puzzle came about. I’d unaccountably forgotten that Gerry Anderson had died recently, which gives an extra piquancy to the puzzle.

    Thanks also for the explanation of LEAR – glad to see I was right after all about that one, though kicking myself now at missing the reference to [Captain] Scarlet.

  9. Gervase says:

    Thanks Andrew

    Another clever and entertaining puzzle from the vagrant (to whom many thanks for dropping by and giving the background).

    Stupidly, I got SUPER MARIO and NATION almost immediately but stared at them for a while before realising that they made one word and not three; as soon as I realised what was happening the rest fell out fairly easily.

    Tramp produces some excellent surface readings in his clues: a lot here, but my favourite is the wonderful 8d.

    Only disappointment: no Torchy or Four Feather Falls. Bravissimo, nevertheless!

  10. Martin in Beds says:

    Only January, but a good contender for best misdirection of the year in BAIT (even if Tramp didn’t mean it!).

    Spent far too long trying to find Lady Penelope. However, Thunderbird 5 ORBITS the Earth, to stretch a theme.

  11. William says:

    Thank you Andrew, failed to parse a couple of these but all reasonable with the blog.

    Thank you Tramp for dropping by – nice to hear the backdrop to puzzles.

    Can someone tell me how to get from FIREBALL to ARSON, please. The link is obvious enough and the ANDERSON word play is fine; I just can’t sort out the definition. Arson is the crime, presumably, and therefore a noun not a verb…

  12. Andrew says:

    William – I took the definition of ARSON as being “Fireball cast?” Perhaps a bit of a stretch but justifiable (to me) by the surface reference to Fireball XL5.

  13. MikeC says:

    Thanks Andrew and Tramp. Lots of good stuff – tricky but enjoyable. 25a (BRASSICA) must be a rare instance of clueing without reference to “supporters”, or the like!

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    What have we done to deserve a super Tramp after a delightful Monday to Thursday this week? It just shows what is possible.
    I am not, and have never been a follower of ‘thunderbirds’ etc but managed eventually to solve (and parse) them all (I did know the footballer).
    Last in was ‘gamer’ only after ‘pre-empts’ (brilliant).
    I noticed that almost all my favourites were entered latterly and were mostly fiendishly contrived to mislead (9ac,27ac,7d, 21d).
    This was a real treat based on a theme totally ‘alien’ and of no interest to me!

  15. Robi says:

    Thanks Tramp; like RCW, I knew little about Thunderbirds, so this was a bit of a struggle. Even after getting THUNDERBIRDS, I didn’t find the connection to 1d for a long time. Good cluing though.

    Thanks Andrew; I’d never heard of ear=head, but here it is! I forgot to finish 15, but as I did my Ph.D on a fungus, I should have got this. :(

    I liked WEEVIL, although I didn’t see the go=wee; probably because I failed to recognise l=live – I thought it was WEEL=well, but that didn’t really parse anyway.

  16. Tramp says:

    Can I ask people’s opinion on something that I was toying with during the creation of this puzzle? Had I found a suitable grid and put SUPER MARIO at 1 and NATION at 5, say, could I have referred to SUPERMARIONATION in clues as 15? I asked Lato and he thought it wouldn’t be fair and I think he is right but what do Guardian solvers think?

    RIP Gerry Anderson by the way


  17. NormanLinFrance says:

    @tramp 16
    Lato speaks wisely, methinks.

  18. David Mop says:

    Thank you Andrew for the parsing of the clues I could only guess at. I fear my age is showing these days. To me, “John’s partner” suggested only “Janet”!

  19. Rigsby says:

    Great puzzle. Gervais: no Supercar either – everyone forgets that show, but it was the first one to use 1 down 5 across!

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi Tramp

    I’m with Lato and Normaninfrance on this occasion. That would be a step too far, even for me. 😉

  21. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Indeed, a bit of fun to brighten up a snowy day. I too was familiar with the series mentioned, so it was nice to see the references scattered throughout the grid (although This is the Voice of the Mysterons in that mock basso profundo has been stuck in my head all day, so cheers for that, Tramp …)

    SCOTT PARKER was priceless if your Venn diagram for knowledge of footie and Supermarionation do happen to overlap. And David at 18, your comment made me smile – another flashback to fifty or so years ago. Janet always seemed to be in the kitchen with Mummy and John in the garage with Daddy. Happy, if sex-role stereotyped, days.

    Fine puzzle, thank you to the compiler.

  22. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Tramp

    A very clever crossword which took me quite a time to finish.

    re 11a I plumped for ‘refurbished’ and got some support for this from Google (re David Furbish) but a re-google does seem to show David Furnish as Elton John’s real partner.

    Like others I was first misled by ‘bait’ but eventually saw ‘ibis’. For what it’s worth my experience of IBS many years ago was quite the opposite of ‘runs’.

    I saw ‘Thuderbirds’ with a mixture of pleasure and dismay, since I knew little about it. However, I somehow successfully guessed and parsed my way through. I must have heard of Scott Parker since I felt sure it was right, but I don’t remember when or where.

    Overall this seemed to be at the margins of my solving ability since it touched on so many different things that I am not very familiar with.

  23. Robi says:

    tupu @23; without getting too grisly about this, I expect that you know that IBS can be classified as either diarrhoea-predominant (IBS-D)or constipation-predominant (IBS-C), [or IBS-A].

    Anyone with the stomach 😉 for this can read more here.

  24. buddy says:

    @ Tramp 16

    Having thought of referring to it as 15, I can’t see any reason why you shouldn’t. “Lift and join” is no more abstruse than “lift and separate”. Of course you will be politely cursed when you do it, but after a long period of acrimonious disputation, it will become accepted.

    Even better would be 15 down for a concatenation of 1 and 5 down – especially if there isn’t a 15 down.

  25. RCWhiting says:

    I am with Lato (whoever s/he is).
    Re John’s partner, this was another example of the subtle but taxing misdirection which made this such a good puzzle.
    I fell for the Beatle allusion and thought of ‘Ono’.
    I think ‘John’ as a surname/forename confusion has been used before but it still worked with me.

  26. RCWhiting says:

    Surely, Buddy, it would be 6down.

  27. Tom Hutton says:

    An interesting general knowledge quiz though why I should be expected to know the name of a pop singer’s partner or characters in a TV show that I never watched I don’t quite know. Can we have a crossword soon?

  28. RCWhiting says:

    What should we be expected to know, Tom?

  29. tupu says:


    Thanks. I obviously had the second. :) My then GP told me that as it might be something sinister, he would arrange for a scan, but since he didn’t think it was, he would ask for a non-urgent one! I was not much comforted by his logic. Tramp seems to be following Paul’s lead here after Montezuma’s Revenge yesterday.

  30. Gervase says:

    Tom Hutton @27: Stick with the Times crossword, which, though excellent, is far too po-faced to have anything as daring as a reference to a living person, or as vulgar as a ‘theme’.

    Tramp @16: I agree with Lato – the cross-referencing and clueing works much better with the numeration as you have it here.

  31. Qaos says:

    Tramp @16: I’d agree with Lato on this one, especially for a daily. It’s a bit like using “not” to mean “remove the letter t” – just a step too far, as the solver would eventually have to parse each word letter-by-letter to make sure they weren’t missing anything. Can you imagine the howls of protest if that device appeared on a Monday!

    However, it might work well in a Genius puzzle.


  32. Kriscros says:

    Thank you Andrew and Tramp for a fine tribute to the late super-puppeteer

    I too was delayed by the lure at 7d.

    As for Tramp’s quick survey, my vote falls on the non-15 side

  33. Qaos says:

    PS. I clean forgot to say I also thoroughly enjoyed the puzzle!

  34. Matt H says:

    Great puzzle! Very neat and whimsical. Thanks Tramp and Andrew.

    I always enjoy it when themes are topical and familiar- a bit of popular culture is nice for those of us who haven’t had classical educations! I found this more solvable than the last few as well- looking forward to the next Tramp effort

  35. Andrew says:

    For anyone still reading this thread, there’s a new article about Araucaria on the Guardian website.

  36. Robi says:

    Andrew @35; thanks, I’m still at my post – a good article!

  37. nametab says:

    Tramp: excellent puzzle – many thanks.
    As to ’15’ – I’m with Lato et al; it’s a step too far for a daily (with limited time for solving).

    ‘Bait’ at 7d was my first entry too, and it took ages to realise that it wasn’t right. Even when I had solved ‘Super Mario’ I was thinking it might be another Grauniadism.

    Eileen @4: Interested to hear of your preferred method. I go for a stream-of consciousness scan across the whole first, pick out the immediate answers and then continue unravelling.

    Gervase @9: Torchy and Tex Tucker (voice of Nicholas Parsons) were my favourite characters.

    Thanks for Blog Andrew- I needed guidance on a couple of parsings

  38. Monkeypuzzler says:

    I managed to lead myself off the track that should have been beaten. Like many others, I had BAIT pencilled heavilly in for 7d – it HAD to be right – but of course wasn’t.

    Pencilled more lightly for 9a I had PRE-BOOKS. I couldn’t parse it, of course, but I think I chose it (perversely) because I hate the phrase so much! One books (or orders) something in advance. There is no difference in sense between booking or ordering something & pre-booking or pre-ordering, so pre is redundant. Save it for things like pre-theatre, or pre-operative, when it gives a necessary sense of chronological perspective.

    A minor quibble with in=current in 18a. In certainly means trendy, fashionable. With the phrase “It’s the in thing at the moment”, the time frame is stated seperately, suggesting “in” is not carrying a meaning of currency.

    And as for Tramp’s query @16: Absolutely unfair idea!

  39. rhotician says:

    The construction and clueing well reflect the endearing contrivance, albeit somewhat clumsy, of Thunderbirds.

    And they say nostalgia isn’t what it used to be.

  40. Eileen says:

    I’ve just come in [battling through the snow] from a parish quiz where the picture round was children’s TV programmes – including Thunderbirds. Aah! 😉

  41. Martin P says:

    Sue and I enjoyed this down at the pub.

    I’ve some sympathy with anyone who thought it was a bit ageist, but for those who were around at the time but didn’t watch the shows, I’d remind that there are plenty of puzzles with, say, Greek myths as themes, and I’ve not read them.

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Tramp’s crosswords are nearly always ‘themed’. There were some of his puzzles that I solved and thought “is this it?”, only to find out that there was so much more to them.
    The Thunderbirds (woven into a very good surface at 11d) are more my brother’s thing perhaps, but all these people (Scott, Brains, Parker ans so on) did ring a bell.

    In my opinion, Tramp is a master in making the most of a theme – one has only to bring back to mind his superb debut (Fawlty Towers) or the Indy’s ‘Spinal Tap’ crossword.

    In the meantime, his clueing is inventive and of a Paul-like finesse.
    Our last entry today was ARSON (21d). Couldn’t be anything else, but what a nice construction – apt too.

    Enormously enjoyable.
    Thanks Neil!
    And Andrew, of course!

  43. Tramp says:

    Many thanks for all the unbelievably kind words. It means a lot to me.


  44. Lancastrian Bluenose says:

    I was very pleased to solve this very enjoyable crossword.

  45. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Tramp and Andrew

    Always have a smile of anticipation when I see Tramp served up – and as has been expressed, this certainly didn’t let us down ! Didn’t know about tOo much about the Thunderbirds and now I know a little more!!

    Many fine clues with the last in NATION because I too had confidently written in BAIT – both 5 and 7 kept me scratching for the parsing for a while after they were written in.

    Also had written in ACCIDENCE (with the AC current) until Mario insisted it was wrong and had written in WARDLY at the end of 4 which created delays there as well. A good struggle and pleased to get him finished.

  46. Graham H says:

    I’ve come a tad late to this one, but I’d just like to add my appreciation of the puzzle.

    My only slight reservation is that it lacked Penelope.

  47. Huw Powell says:

    What a treat! I was lucky to get NATION early on, pre-empting getting 7 wrong. This was a perfect difficulty level for me – slow going, but getting another answer every ten or twenty minutes, maintaining my optimism. ARSON was last in, once I realized what was going on. Andrew parsing of it is a tiny bit off – it’s not an anagram of Anderson less “end”, it’s Anderson less an anagram of end.

    As to the comments on solving style and strategy, Eileen’s method is very good for making sure one catches the “easy” clues right up front, but I can never seem to be disciplined enough to do it. I often look at the shorter word clues first, and just sort of bounce around, trying to take advantage of checks to make progress, looking randomly at clues to see if anything jumps out (obvious anagrams, etc.). The downside of my “method” is that I can be deep into a long struggle before even looking at some of the clues, some of which might have helped a lot.

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew, and for the corking exercise in fun, Tramp.

    PS, I would argue that Penelope is in here – twice, at 15 and 18.

  48. Edward says:

    I too fell for BAIT. I also tried OMAR for 23d as the poet Virgil’s last name is MARO and then we get Omar Khayyám. LEAR is better.

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seven + = 13