Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,851 – Puck

Posted by Uncle Yap on January 22nd, 2013

Uncle Yap.

It is always a pleasure to solve and blog Puck, my magic dragon from the Land of Guinness. I am always reminded about a lazy afternoon spent in a Dublin pub, drinking pints of that creamy stuff, if only to see the bubbles going up and down as a new glass is drawn. As expected, this was an excellent puzzle which should titillate any solver of discerning taste.

1 TOP OF THE MORNING Salutation, first thing in funny little new poem for tonight (3,2,3,7)
*(New POEM FOR TONIGHT) What a nice way to be greeted by my favourite Irish setter and I don’t mean the dog.
9 LONG-FACED Dismal-looking dog can half-heartedly feel otherwise (4-5)
10 DIEGO Spaniard has to pass over square to get money from bank (5)
DIE (pass) + GO (the square on the Monopoly board where you collect $200 from the bank) for the Spanish equivalent of James. Thanks to the ever-vigilant NeilW@1
11 WAYSIDE Start off from parking places in spacious area next to the A1? (7)
Ins of parking BAYS, minus B (start off) in WIDE (spacious)
12 COLLARD Nick died a vegetable (7)
COLLAR (nick or seize) D (died) for cabbage, esp varieties with no heart; aka COLEWORT
13 YOU Second person involved in family outing (3)
14 MEDUSAS Jellyfish assumed to be wobbly (7)
*(ASSUMED) for jellyfish named after the three Gorgons, whose head, with snakes for hair, turned beholders into stone, but was cut off by Perseus, and placed in Athena’s aegis, according to Greek mythology
17 MAGNIFY Blow up silver balloon at last — before I start to faint, in my case (7)
Ins of AG (argentum, silver) + N, last letter of balloon + I + F (first letter of faint) in MY
19 EXPENDS Lays out dead writer before dirge singing starts (7)
EX (dead as in John Cleese’s parrot :-) + PEN (writer) + D & S (first letters of dirge & singing). What a lovely surface to disguise the true meaning of the answer, root word for expenditure.
22 SECONDO Contralto’s last bit is the lower part of two (7)
Another tichy clue where the letter O (last letter of contralto) is the second O in that word; hence SECOND O (thanks to NeilW@1 for the parsing that made more sense) Musical term for the lower part in a duet.
24 See 16
See 16
Island hill dweller keen on the radio (7)
ANT (hill dweller as in creature in an anthill) + IGUA (sounds like eager, keen) As usual, as a non-native, I try not to get involved in homophone discussions
26 EMERALD De la Mare: “Not a Rolling Stone” (7)
*(DE LA MARE minus A) Another exquisite surface
28 AWOKE Came to wonder about endorsement (5)
Ins of OK (endorsement) in AWE (wonder)
29 PHILIPPIC Royal to snap, giving rise to invective (9)
Prince PHILIP, Duke of Edinburgh, a royal + PIC (picture, snap) for a discourse full of invective after the three orations of Demosthenes against Philip of Macedon
30 NIGHT ON THE TILES Drinking session to make Scrabble player’s day? Just the opposite (5,2,3,5)
A tichy clue for a night out with friends in a city centre during which one usually indulges in drinking, dancing, and the inadvertent concoction of hilarious anecdotes. The word ’tiles’ probably refers to the tiles that make up dance floors (Urban Dictionary) and of course Scrabble players play with tiles. Incidentally, my latest Club crossword has this clue Words help calm phobic brains working feverishly at this event (5,8,12)
1 TILL WE MEET AGAIN Spoilt a meal tweeting about one lost song (4,2,4,5)
Ins of I (one) + L (lost/) in *(A MEAL TWEETING) and of course this must be my cue to re-tell my favourite war-time story of Vera Lynn, the darling of the British populace who was deemed such a national treasure that she had to be safely ensconced in a remote fishing village in Scotland to escape German bombs. One morning, she woke up all bright and cheerful and frolicked her way to the docks where the fishing boats were coming in. She danced her way up a boat, threw off the tarpaulin covering the catch, took a look, gasped and sang the immortal lines “Whale meat, again!”
2 PONGY Humming end of song through a small glass (5)
Ins of G (last letter of song) in PONY (small glass)
3 FIFTIES Period furniture initially provided with ribbons? (7)
Cha of F (first letter of furniture) IF (provided) TIES (ribbons) for say the 1950’s
4 HICKEYS Reminders that you were kissed by a country bumpkin? Yes, maddeningly (7)
HICK (country bumpkin) + *(YES) for love bites
5 MODICUM Small amount of poetry written in silence (7)
Ins of ODIC (of poetry) in MUM (silence)
6 RED FLAG Fal de rol’s first bit ruined good song (3,4)
*(FAL DE Rol) + G (good) “Red Flag”, a song by Billy Talent on the album Billy Talent II
7 ITERATION Bum note? Aria ended prematurely — it bears repetition (9)
8 GOOD DAY FOR DUCKS “Hello Huey! Hi Dewey! — miserable weather!” (4,3,3,5)
Another tichy clue alluding to a rainy day being superb for Donald Duck’s nephews Huey, Dewey, and Louie (Walt Disney)
15 DIPHTHONG Hot strip after swim for two thirds of 13 (16 24!) (9)
DIP (swim) + H (hot) + THONG (strip of leather, say, on footwear) two vowel sounds pronounced as one syllable (as in out or loin or YOU, answer to 13)
16,24 AND HOW A new vessel? I should think so, indeed! (3,3)
A N (new) DHOW (Arab lateen-sailed vessel)
18 ARE Unit of army’s top soldiers (3)
A (first letter of army) RE (Royal Engineers, soldiers) for a unit of the metric land measure, 100 sq m.
20 NEGLECT Carelessness sees golfer regularly caught in trap (7)
Ins of GoLfEr + C (notation in cricket scoring for caught) in NET (trap)
21 SHARPEN Increase pitch of instrument in three different ways (7)
Ins of HARP (musical instrument) in SEN (south, east & north, three different ways)
22 SWEDISH Boy entertained by smart and stylish country folk (7)
Ins of ED (boy) in SWISH (smart and stylish)
23 COEXIST Live together peacefully, without one in charge (7)
Ins of EX (without) + I (one) in COST (charge)
27 APPAL “Phone add-on a pound” shock (5)
Mobile APP (applications software for mobile devices) A L (pound)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(FODDER) = anagram

61 Responses to “Guardian 25,851 – Puck”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks UY. Very Puckish. Greetings all around the outside and in the middle: “And how are you?”

    DIEGO is DIE (pass) + GO – the Monopoly square you have to pass to get money from the bank.

    SECONDO I thought was a reference to the spelling – the last bit is the second O.

  2. koranuk says:

    Thanks for that Uncle Yap – very prompt – it’s only just gone 2am! My thinking for 10 was ‘die’ for ‘pass over’ and ‘Go’ as the square on the Monopoly board which pays out £200 (still?) when a player alights on or passes it.

  3. PeterO says:

    Thanks for the reminder about Donald’s nephews – I had guessed the answer while forgetting them. I parsed 10A as DIE (‘pass over’) plus GO (‘square to get money from bank’, Monopoly).

  4. PeterO says:

    There seems to be a consensus here ….

  5. NeilW says:

    @1, when I wrote “greetings”, I meant “hellos and goodbyes”.

  6. DrG says:

    Great blog. Thanks UY
    Remember, there is a bubbly of yours hiding in my fridge

  7. JollySwagman says:

    Very nice – just like you said UY.

    29a my fave – &lit surface (well – I thought it was) as a bonus to a regular clue – love that.

    Held me up a bit at first.

    May thanks both.

  8. vinyl1 says:

    I started off on the wrong foot with ‘nice day for ducks’, and in the wrong place too. Finished in an hour anyway, understanding most, but not all of the cryptics. I never heard of ‘Red Flag’, but that had to be it, but otherwise not held back through ignorance.

    A fine puzzle, thanks to Puck, Uncle Yap, and the helpful comments.

  9. michelle says:

    thanks uncle yap and puck,
    as a beginner, I was very pleased to finish this puzzle, although I did need to use dictionary, thesaurus and hit the “check” button from time to time. I start to think that is how I define myself as a beginner – I can often get the answers but do not know how I did so, ie cannot parse them.
    I especially appreciate your parsing of the following:
    – across clues: 10, 11, 12, 22, 25 and of course your reference in parsing of 30a to the “world scrabble championship”
    – down clues: 2,3,5,7,15,20,21,23
    And many thanks for all the help you have given me in your various blogs (I’ve been going back through the archived puzzles)

  10. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. Red Flag is famously the anthem of the international labour movement. Fun fare as ever from Puck, with a niffy 2d and a nifty 3d, the only ones to hold me up. The next one was naughty, and 15d suggestive: and how!

  11. Paul says:

    I’m still not sure what (16 24) serves in 15D.

    I’m sure the RED FLAG song is not the one by Billy Talent but the one that is the Labour Party’s sort of anthem.

    I came here to find out how GO worked (in DIEGO). I’ve not seen that before. Nice.

  12. muffin says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Puck
    michelle@9 – I find that I have to “check” a lot with Puck generally, and this was no exception – answers were easy enough, but parsing was sometimes Byzantine.
    I made a wrong call by entering OPS for 18dn (nice hidden word, I thought), so that held me up a bit.
    Favourite was EMERALD.

  13. Chris says:

    Paul @11 – I believe it’s pointing out that you find a diphthong in “you” and “how”.

    Chuffed to very-nearly finish this; only 3d FIFTIES eluded me. And I did like the &lit in 4d!

  14. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Puck and UY

    Typically enjoyable Puck with a mini theme on greetings and goodbyes by the look, including all of the three letter ones giving “And how are you?” when read anti clockwise!

    Many nice clues – I thought that in 22 it was the last O in two that was the second O in contralto which makes it an &lit (?).

    Last in was 27 which was tempting one to go for Apple … well it did me anyway.

    Thanks again … a lot of fun.

  15. sppaul says:

    Thanks to Uncle Yap and to Puck – a lovely crosswords and very tichy (I only just saw the meaning of that!) A big contrast to yesterday’s DD (dogs dinner)

  16. NeilW says:

    bruce_aus @14 – on the Nina, yes – see my comments @1 and 5. As soon as I saw the unusual grid, I was reminded of Puck’s great armadillo Nina so was on the lookout.

  17. Eileen says:

    Thanks, UY, for the blog. [I thought you were rather coy with your “(strip of leather, say, on footwear)” in 15dn. 😉 ]

    The long answers and friendly grid were a big help, giving lots of initial letters and the solving went along quite smoothly, with many smiles and ahas on the way.

    Favourite clues; DIEGO, EXPENDS, EMERALD, AWOKE, PHILIPPIC and DIPHTHONG – all mainly for the surfaces but there were some nice constructions, too.

    And – the icing on the cake – I actually saw the greeting in the middle! [I shall never, ever forget missing the armadillo!]

    Many thanks, Puck, for a super puzzle – and 1ac to you!

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi NeilW

    We crossed – again!

  19. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Puck

    A very good puzzle that I was surprised to finish in reasonable time after a slow start.

    I had ACE for 18d. Chambers defines this as ‘unit’ and the intitials mean Allied Command Europe. But NeilW’s combinational comment clearly settles it.

    Thanks for the explanations of 2d and 22a.

    Lots of ticks – 1a, 10a, 26a, 28a, 29a, 8d, 16,24, 21d and 27d.

    I agreed with Chris @13 re the diphthongs.

  20. Stella says:

    Thanks UY and Puck.

    Just one comment to add, since it seems you have not given the setter full credit for 15d – while “ou” is often though not always pronounced as a a DIPHTHONG, YOU is not since the semi-vowel(or semi-consonent) “y” functions as the latter here, phonetically /ju:/ – hence “two thirds of 13″

  21. brucew_aus says:

    Sorry Neil
    … so pleased that I’d found it that I missed your comment at 1 :(

  22. Robi says:

    What a belter! A real joy to solve this.

    Thanks UY; as others have pointed out, you seem to have the wrong Red Flag, so I’ll put the link in here. Yes, Eileen @17, the famous armadillo, but I still missed the greeting as per NeilW @1.

    So many good clues with smooth surfaces, it is difficult to pick out favourites. As a sometime Scrabble player, I did like NIGHT ON THE TILES; and the LONG-FACED ducks. I can also remember the FIFTIES. 😉

  23. Stella says:

    I’m surprised nobody’s queried “fal de rol”. Though its function in the wordplay is obvious, I’ve never seen such an expression, which looks French; and I graduated in French. What does it mean, and where does it come from?

  24. ChrisS says:

    Stella – I think its a nonsense word – a bit like fa-la-la – used to fill in lines in a song. I don’t think I’ve ever come across it in a sixteenth century madrigal – I suspect its of 19th century origin.

  25. Monkeypuzzler says:

    30a isn’t a greeting or a farewell. 8d is possibly something you might say about the weather as an opening remark when meeting someone, but is not really a greeting as such. (I accept “Good day” by itself is a greeting, of course)

    I wondered why A1 was chosen for the thing that the way was beside in 11a?

    Enjoyed the whole thing though.

  26. Robi says:

    With Gaufrid’s indulgence (I haven’t done this for about a year) and with acknowledgements to Pete and Dud. I’ll put the drivel in square brackets, so that RCW doesn’t have to read it.

    [[“TOP OF THE MORNING, AND HOW ARE YOU? It’s a GOOD DAY FOR DUCKS. Is that why you are looking so LONG-FACED?” “No, I had a NIGHT ON THE TILES with that SWEDISH girl with EMERALD eyes and DIEGO (they COEXIST happily;) it always EXPENDS a MODICUM of energy!” “Yes, when you’re in your FIFTIES it’s a RED FLAG warning, especially after consuming such a large plate of COLLARD; I hope you didn’t ask for SECONDOs! Did you get any HICKEYS from the ‘MEDUSAS’?” “No, I was NEGLECTed! When I AWOKE, I had trouble with my DIPHTHONGs, and, PHILIPPICS, I couldn’t even get my ITERATIONs right! I feel like I’m falling by the WAYSIDE” “You’ll have to SHARPEN your tongue to MAGNIFY the effects, otherwise you might feel a bit PONGY. I hear you are off to ANTIGUA soon; TILL WE MEET AGAIN!”]]

  27. Stella says:

    Nice one, Robi, 😆

  28. NeilW says:

    Stella @23, at the time, I thought it was from The Sound of Music but, to my chagrin, I now discover the phrase is “val-dera”. Well, it was a very long time ago… :)

    Monkeypuzzler @25, I don’t think even Puck’s that clever but he has a hello or goodbye included in each of the perimeter solutions and a greeting response hidden in the centre: good enough for me.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    [[{thanks robi}]]!
    Since all the long ones had multi-word enumerations I thought this would be the first quick disappointment for 7 days but it wasn’t.
    I found ‘spc……’ at 22ac very difficult because one of my first in was ‘amp’18d (MP = military police). When I did sort it out I thought 22ac was easy and clever.
    Favourite was ‘long-faced’.
    Last in was ‘diego’ because I was convinced that dago or don figured somehow.
    Monkeypuzzler, the A1 wayside was chosen because I live on it,obviously.

  30. Rowland says:

    I expect he means ‘falderal or folderol’.


  31. Gervase says:

    Thanks UY.

    Straightforward, because of the grid and the easy phrases round the perimeter, but great fun, with a lot of entertaining clues. My favourites were 10a, 22a and 3d: clever construction and good surfaces.

    I think Stella @20 is a little too generous to Puck about 15d, which is my only niggle in an excellent puzzle. ‘Two thirds of 13′ gives the ‘ou’ of YOU, certainly, but in this word the two letters are a digraph (a single sound represented by two characters, in this case/u:/) and not a DIPHTHONG.

  32. Stella says:

    Hi Gervase, that’s precisely my point – Only 2/3 of YOU could be pronounced
    /??/ or /??/, though in this case, they’re not.

  33. Stella says:

    Sorry, the phonetic notation appeared perfect in the preview.

  34. RCWhiting says:

    A while ago we had a few tips for beginners on this MB.
    Here is a favourite of mine which was well illustrated today.
    I had scanned half a dozen clues with no success when I read 3d and was convinced that it started with F (it was quite a time before I solved it completely).
    I then read ‘of’ in 1ac and immediately wrote in ‘top of the morning’.
    So never discard partial solutions.
    (all old solvers please disregard the above)

  35. NeilW says:

    Gervase and Stella, since the heavyweights are involved now, please explain how 2/3 of AND HOW is a DIPHTHONG?

  36. NeilW says:

    Or HOW, for that matter?

  37. Stella says:

    Hi NeilW, it’s 2/3 of YOU, “and” of HOW, in other words, “o” + “u” or “w”, which can be pronounced in either of the ways I tried to reproduce above. I0m looking for some way to do so, but I fear the font used here doesn’t use phonetic notation.

  38. Trailman says:

    Seeing Puck’s name today I worried that I was in for an ever harder time than with the atypical Rufus of yesterday, but not so. All but ANTIGUA was complete by the time I got to my French class, and that was fitted in instantaneously thereafter.

    But more to the point, what fun it was. The perimetrical enumerations helped a bit, but not overmuch, the diphthong reference was a delight, surfaces such as 19a and 26a a joy, and

  39. Trailman says:

    … I must look out for COLLARDs in Tesco on Friday too (having pressed publish too quickly earlier).

  40. Mitz says:

    Thanks Puck and Uncle Yap.

    Might as well start at the end. I think the clue for DIPHTHONG reads as “two thirds of ‘you’, and two thirds of ‘how'”, but I’m more at peace with the idea of the “ow” of HOW being a diphthong than I am with the “ou” of YOU. Unless you really mangle the pronunciation, like Graham Chapman does at the end of The Meaning of Life – “…I’d like to sing a song for all of yeeeoooo!”

    Anyway, that notwithstanding I thought 15D was a great clue. As were many others – hard to pick a COD, but FIFTIES, DIEGO (RCW – really!), ITERATION and AWOKE were all excellent. Very clever grid, well used. And I also loved ANTIGUA, being just on the get-awayable-with side of tichy homophonia…

  41. Stella says:

    /??/ or /??/

    Ok, that looks good, but then it did last time. I fit doesn’t work now, I give up.

  42. Mitz says:

    Oh, by the way: I remembered COLLARD greens from the brilliantly anti-racist song Coloured Spade from the musical Hair. Don’t think I’ve ever come across it anywhere else.

  43. Stella says:

    Think of words like “bout” and “couch” (but not “cough” :-))

  44. fearsome says:

    thanks Puck and Uncle Yap
    enjoyed this one
    6d had me singing:-

    “With bowler hat and old school tie
    Umbrella raised up to the sky
    And just to show we’re still sincere
    We’ll sing the red flag once a year!”

  45. crypticsue says:

    Solved in a hospital waiting room next to a lady who felt compelled to tell us in the loudest tones about very aspect of her life, so it is really a miracle I was able to solve this puzzle at all. I did enjoy myself, spotted the Nina and so a big thank you to Puck for making time pass much more enjoyably than it otherwise might. Thanks to UY too.

    Robi@16 – that’s brilliant. Well done.

  46. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hard for me, but got there eventually helped by what must be most solver friendly grid we have had.

    Re “Fol de rol”, that was in “Three Billy Goats Gruff” as played on “Childrens Favourites” on the “Light Program”. (Gives age away!) Some versions have different words but the one I remember included “I’m a troll, fol de rol, I’m a troll, fol de rol, and I’ll eat you for my supper”. Sigh, the useless things we remember!

  47. kenj says:

    ‘ Till we meet again ‘ is an American First World War song, composed in 1918 by Whiting and Egan.
    Nothing to do with Vera Lynn’s World War Two warble.

  48. jezza says:

    A very enjoyable puzzle. Many thanks to Puck, and to Uncle Yap.

  49. RCWhiting says:

    Mitz @40
    What have I done now?

  50. Mitz says:

    Amused rather than offended, I assure you!

  51. Twm says:

    I always thought that, ‘a night on the tiles,’ was a reference to cats spending the night on rooftops, doing what cats might do in relative privacy, instead of being at home in their own beds.

  52. Matt H says:

    A great solve! Thanks UY. 1ac cheered up a cold and miserable early morning commute for me

  53. RCWhiting says:

    Glad to amuse and not offended in the least,Mitz.
    In fact,I don’t think anything on a MB could offend me – it is all so nebulous.

  54. swin says:

    Yes, I agree with Twm in message 51 – rooftop tiles and caterwauling cats. And many thanks to tohubohu for referencing this page. I too am a beginner and struggling and this page has been a revelation.

  55. nametab says:

    Puck delights again.
    RCW @ 29: I too was thwarted for a long time by having ‘amp’ at 18d
    Missed the greeting in the middle.

  56. Brendan (not that one) says:

    I expected this to be a little more difficult as per a normal Puck. But the grid was a little too easy combined with the fact that I got all the long outside clues on the first pass!

    For the same reasons as Tupu I had ACE for 18d. A perfectly good solution although it is obvious from the solution grid that PUCK intended ARE as the entered solution!

    A really good crossword with great surfaces and clever cluing as ever.

  57. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Oh, and I forgot to mention 29a.

    Bonxie 18th December
    Tirades delivered after man snaps (10)

    Puck 22nd January
    Royal to snap, giving rise to invective (9)

    I’m sure the editor had a good reason for this 😉

  58. SuzeeMoon says:

    It took me ages and I didn’t get “secondo” or 18d. Found te long answers most satisfying.

    I too got 1a by working out 3d began with “f”.

    Totally missed the “inner message”

  59. Sil van den Hoek says:

    There was a time, perhaps two years ago, that I described a certain Saturday Prize Crossword by Puck as “a bumpy ride”.
    But ever since I read Puck’s “Meet the Setter” interview with Alan Connor, I have always felt that this setter’s approach to setting crosswords is a bit like mine.

    Some said, it was an easy crossword.
    I read a comment saying that this was one for beginners.
    Then I would say: Great – to start with such a Great puzzle.

    For me, the level of difficulty or the challenge is not the main thing – sorry, RCW, I know you think differently.

    I can imagine seeing Puck riding on his bike to work (or somewhere else), thinking of clues, and then coming up with one like the very fine 8d (GOOD DAY FOR DUCKS). Because that is how it works for me too.

    Clue of the Day : 3d (FIFTIES).

    My PinC found it a very enjoyable crossword.
    It’s surely clear that I agree 100% with her!

  60. rhotician says:


  61. Sil van den Hoek says:


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