Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,852 by Paul

Posted by PeterO on January 23rd, 2013


This crossword may be found at are enough envelopes here to keep the postman busy, an unusual and possibly dodgy construction at 23A, and one that beats me entirely at 6D. Doubtless I shall be enlightened soon enough.

1. See 7
See 7
5. Paparazzo’s supporter on back page in a temper (7)
MONOPOD An envelope (‘in’) of NO, a reversal (‘back’) of ‘on’ plus P (‘page’) in MOOD (‘temper’).
9. Unanswerable question about religious leader in holy book (5)
KORAN An envelope (‘about’) of R (‘Religious leader’) in KOAN (‘unanswerable question’).
10. Subordinate serving dinner with glue, almost coming unstuck (9)
UNDERLING An anagram (‘comping unstuck’) of ‘dinner’ plus ‘glu[e]’ (‘almost’).
11. Insect finds sugar plant in girl’s skirts buried in the sand (4,6)
DUNG BEETLE A double envelope (‘in’ and ‘buried in’) of BEET (‘sugar plant’) in GL (‘GirL‘s skirts’) in DUNE (‘sand’).
12. Crust sliced carefully, accompanying butter for starters (4)
SCAB First letters (‘for starters’) of ‘Sliced Carefully Accompanying Butter’.
14. Then just escape and one is in the sea (11)
LEGITIMISED A charade of LEG IT (‘escape’) plus I (‘one’) plus an envelope (‘in’) of ‘is’ in MED (‘the sea’). Thanks NeilW for pointing out the  element omitted int the parsing.
18. Newlywed found something sticky behind shower? (11)
HONEYMOONER A charade of HONEY (‘something sticky’) plus MOONER (‘behind shower’).
21. Hum, while doing the backstroke in Lake Erie? (4)
REEK A hidden answer (‘in’) reversed (‘while doing the backstroke’) in ‘LaKE ERie’.
22. Broad characters in Spartacus, fine picture to broadcast (10)
UNSPECIFIC  This seems to be an unusual construction, to which some might object: an anagram (‘to broadcast’) of CUSFINEPIC (‘characters in SpartaCUS FINE PICture’)
25. Tops down, then, bringing cheers (7,2)
BOTTOMS UP Definition and lliteral interpretation.
26. Foreign letter in the midst of detail (5)
THETA A charade of ‘the’ plus TA (‘midst of deTAil’).
27. Author right in tune with literature, primarily (7)
CARROLL An envelope (‘in’) of R (‘right’) in CAROL (‘tune’) plus L (‘Literature, primarily’).
28. Waste rejected by car inspector (7)
AUDITOR A charade of AUDI (‘car’) plus TOR, a reversal (‘rejected’) of ROT (‘waste’).
1. King in the end turned over, work for emperor (6)
MIKADO An envelope (‘in’) of K (‘king’) in MIA, a reversal (‘turned over’) of AIM (‘end’) plus DO (‘work’).
2. Nothing between the ears, given a crown (6)
CORONA An envelope (‘between’) of O (the second one, ‘nothing’) in CORN (‘the ears’) plus ‘a’.
3. You look Labour’s Tony up, bound by an old queen (4,6)
ANNE BOLEYN An envelope (‘bound by’) of NNEBOLEY, a reversal (‘up’, in a down light’) of YE (‘you’) plus LO (‘look’) plus BENN (‘Labour’s Tony’) in ‘an’.
4. Insect ineffective after head transplant (5)
LOUSE NO USE (‘ineffective’) ‘after head transplant’.
5. See 23
See 23
6. The usual: warm lager, no question — 25! (4)
NORM Beyond the definition, I have no idea.
7,1across,19. Royal gaining publicity with menfolk: each is mixed up in relatively unpleasant crime (8,7,2,4)
PRINCESS MICHAEL OF KENT A charade of PR (‘publicity’) plus an envelope (‘in’) of SMICHAELOFKEN, an anagram (‘mixed up’) of ‘menfolk each is’ in INCEST (‘relatively unpleasant crime’).
8. Essence of a setter, perhaps, to be menial (8)
DOGSBODY Definition and literal interpretation.
13. Cursed devil, prowler in the grass (10)
IMPRECATED A charade of IMP (‘devil’) plus an envelope (‘in’) of CAT (‘prowler’) in REED (‘grass’).
15. Plant turns into stick (9)
GROUNDSEL An envelope (‘into’) of ROUNDS (‘turns’) in GEL (‘stick’).
16. Sweet singer with posh name of writer (8)
CHERUBIC A charade of CHER (‘singer’) plus U (‘posh’) plus BIC (‘name of writer’).
17. Animal near to doctor, squeezing nipple (8)
ANTEATER An envelope (‘squeezing’) of TEAT (‘nipple’) in ANER, an anagram (‘to doctor’) of ‘near’.
19. See 7
See 7
20. Even bits of pencil show something long and thin (6)
ECLAIR A charade of ECL (‘even bits of pEnCiL’) plus AIR (‘show’).
23,5. Character expecting father to overcome average fashion socialite (5,9)
PIPPA MIDDLETON A charade of PIP (‘character expecting’, in Dickens’ Grest Expectations) plus PA (‘father’) plus MIDDLE (‘average’) plus TON (‘fashion’).
24. Game of the Royal Mint? (4)
POLO Double definition.

42 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,852 by Paul”

  1. stiofain says:

    6d last letters of warm lager no question all reversed ie bottoms up. I didnt like the unspecific construction and as usual solved the long ones mainly by the enumeration.

  2. PeterO says:

    Thanks Stiofain for putting me out of my misery so quickly.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter, and stiofain, for the two I couldn’t parse. MONOPOD, a novelty, last in. Although it had the trademark surfaces, this one of Paul’s was a bit flat.

  4. molonglo says:

    UNSPECIFIC was the other

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    I liked the cleverness of UNSPECIFIC, once I’d figured it out, but I doubt many could solve it in the conventional way and expect most would have to rely on reverse engineering the clue so let’s hope it doesn’t become too fashionable.

    ECLAIR reminded me of the well-known Chambers definition: “a cake long in shape but short in duration.” :)

    Tiny point: you’ve left the “one” out of your parsing of LEGITIMISED.

  6. michelle says:

    Thanks PeterO

    I enjoyed this challenge, and very pleased I could finish it though I could only parse half the answers I got. That’s why I enjoy the blog so much – excellent for beginners.

    New words for me were 21a hum/reek, 14a groundsel and 5a monopod.

    My favourites were 13d (the last I got in) and 18a (one of the first I got in).

    Having gotten 23,5d in first made it easier for me to get the other answers in too.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, peterO. The most enjoyable so far this week, and I finished, unaided, in a reasonable time for me (~40′).

    I was stuck on the explanation for 18a HONEYMOONER, even after reading yours, until the slow penny dropped that it was not a shower of rain, but a displayer, instead! I had to look up KOAN in 9a – never heard of it – is it well known?

    7, 1, 19 yielded easily once I had the M of Mikado – couldn’t be bothered checking the clue in detail.

  8. jillfc says:

    Thanks, PeterO. I reckon 6d is cleverer than has been suggested: think of the general toast in “the bar where everybody knows your name”.

  9. Blaise says:

    (Inspired by the Captcha?) 4/5 of nine gets 1/2 of my applause… (remember the (other) archetypal koan: “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”)

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Paul

    I enjoyed solving this. I had to check on ‘koan’ but otherwise managed to do and parse the whole thing unaided in a reasonable (for me) time with less ‘reverse engineering’ (as NeilW aptly puts it) than is sometimes necessary.

    I particularly liked 11a, 18a, 4d, 13d and 23,5.

    22a seems just about OK – at least the characters are not picked at random from the words! The fact that’unsepecific’ is such a commonplace word – unlike yesterday’s ‘calumet’ – clealy helps.

  11. Uncle Yap says:

    I solved this with Dr G this morning and when the “behind shower” translated into “mooner”, I literally rolled on the floor. Bravo, Paul, this is my clue for the day.

  12. crypticsue says:

    A lovely Paul start to a very cold day. So much to giggle at (mooner indeed 😀 , although I did have to come here to understand 6d. Thanks to Paul and Peter too.

  13. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Peter

    I liked this one, which I found a bit harder than most recent Paul offerings.

    A very un-Times puzzle, with two references to living persons – easily gettable from the enumeration and a couple of crossing letters. Plus Mrs Henry VIII 2 for good measure. Last in for me were MIKADO and KORAN; ‘koan’ was new to me and I couldn’t parse 1d. Also unparsed by me (though to be fair, I didn’t try very hard) was UNSPECIFIC (clever, but as NeilW says, one hopes this device doesn’t become too widespread) and I missed the LEG IT = ‘escape’ part of LEGITIMISED – another very ingenious clue.

    Favourite undoubtedly 18a, though there were quite a few smiles elsewhere.

  14. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Paul and PeterO.

    Just the ticket for a winter’s day with lots to smile at. HONEYMOONER was a lol moment.I hadn’t come across KOAN before but 9a couldn’t have been other than KORAN.

    Keep the laughs coming – we need them!

    Giovanna x

  15. Robi says:

    Good but difficult puzzle. I got there [not] unaided, if you see what I mean.

    Thanks PeterO; MOONER=behind shower indeed; brilliant! I was so determined in 5a that the ‘Paparazzo’s supporter on back’ was a moped that it took me a while to realise the error of my ways. The KOAN was 6d, so thanks for the explanation stiofain@1.

    I can’t believe that Paul clued PIPPA MIDDLETON without ‘rear’ somewhere in the clue. 😉

  16. MikeC says:

    Thanks PeterO and Paul. Lots of fun. I didn’t realise just how neat 18a was – I read “behind” as being some sort of position indicator (odd, I thought) and got MOONER from simply “shower”. The correct parsing is much cheekier (sorry!). Likewise, I didn’t quite see what was going on in 22a. As the answer is straightforward, with a fairly obvious definition, it’s not a problem – but I do agree with NeilW@5

  17. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Like Gervase I ended with ‘Mikado’ and ‘koran’ (koan new to me).
    Although even more indirect than Neil’s complaint I noticed that the unspecified letters in ‘Spartacus , fine picture’ lead to ‘unspecific’!
    I liked 18ac.
    Isn’t socialite a wonderfully unspecific term, lathered in class and a wonderful role model and aspiration for our young.

  18. Mitz says:

    Thanks Paul and PeterO.

    I seem to be in a minority in that I knew “koan” and so KORAN was a write in (I think it is mentioned by Kipling in Just So Stories, although I could be wrong), but I certainly didn’t find the rest a walk in the park. The two royals (is Pippa a royal? Probably not, but you know what I mean) took far too long for me to spot, and I had to reverse engineer both.

    Normally I’m at the most laid-back end of the libertarian scale, but I don’t think that the UNSPECIFIC device is legit. Various setters have got away with something similar in the past when the letters to be removed from a phrase before the remainder are jumbled up form a certain word, either implied or explicit in the clue. But here it is just “some characters”. Unfair, I reckon.

    Definitely agree with jillfc at #8 that the character Norm from Cheers is the &lit reference for 6d. And that at least a semi-subconscious hint towards La Middleton is intended within the clue for 18!

    My last pair in were CARROLL and POLO – no idea why, as they seem very straightforward in retrospect. COD has to be the double envelope for DUNG BEETLE, although the excellent surface for IMPRECATED runs it close.

  19. Stella says:

    Hi Mitz, if anything she’s a royal-in-law:-)

  20. David Mop says:

    I was interested to see NeilW’s comments @5 on reverse engineering. I have a couple of times criticised clues in which the wordplay works only if you already know the solution. Am I making a convert?!

  21. RCWhiting says:

    Parasite is a lovely word.

  22. muffin says:

    I haven’t contributed as yet, as others have said everything I intended to (even the “Chambers eclair” thing), but I agree with David Mop @ 20 about clues where the answer must be known in order to work out the wordplay being relatively unsatisfactory. I thought CHERUBIC was a good example of this – yes, CHER is a singer, but there are an awful lot to choose from.

  23. Mitz says:

    I have never had a problem with reverse engineering. Sometimes with a clue the cryptic part leaps out and you can find the solution that way – on other occasions certain potential solutions spring to mind when you spot what is probably the straightforward definition, and working backwards helps to identify why that must be the answer. This most often happens when you have solved a fair part of the puzzle already and so have several crossing letters. For me, as long as the solution is gettable and unambiguous I don’t care which way I arrive at it.

    CHERUBIC is a good example. I hadn’t spotted that the definition was simply “sweet” until I had solved 18, 21 and 25 giving me the “H”, “R” and “B”. The word came to me at that point in a nice “aha” moment, I saw how the clue was constructed and went away quite happy.

    Again, with DOGSBODY I struggled for a while thinking that the word “essence” in the clue was the definition. It was only when I had MONOPOD and UNDERLING that I spotted DOG… as a possibility for “setter, perhaps…”. DOGSBODY occurred to me and I was quickly able to justify that as the answer through reverse engineering.

    The key to a good clue fairness. The key to many really good clues is fairness with misdirection.

  24. Apple Granny says:

    We failed on 5a Monopod. I was so convinced that it was Megapad, and came up to the computer to google it, since it wasn’t in Chambers or Collins. This meant that 6d became impossible, as G-R-. When all else failed, I turned to the blog and discovered the error. But it was a good crossword, and we enjoyed the usual Paul humour and challenge.

  25. Trailman says:

    Took two tube journies rather than one so must have been nearly twice as hard as yesterday. No less fun though. UNSPECIFIC indeed.

    Three royals (sort of) in a Guardian crossword, only one of them dead. Is this a record?

  26. muffin says:

    Mitz @ 23
    Of course I often see the solution first, then work out the parsing. However I prefer clues that give me the option of working in either direction (i.e. top-downwards from solution to parsing, or bottom-up from parsing to solution). Realistically this is a lot to ask for throughout a crossword, and many clues will only be easily accessible in one direction or the other. Historically the Guardian has been generous on “bottom-up” clues.

  27. muffin says:

    Afterthought – Rufus’s CALUMET on Monday was an example that wasn’t easy in either direction!

  28. stiofain says:

    I think UNSPECIFIC would have been improved by adding in “central” or similar as the anagram leaves out SPARTA at the start and TURE TO at the end of the phrase.

  29. Median says:

    Like plenty of others here, I enjoyed this. It was just right for my mood, solving skills and available time today. Pleasing to have done it without aids too. My favourite clues were DOGSBODY and HONEYMOONER. (I didn’t realise the full subtlety of the latter till I came here.) I thought UNSPECIFIC was fair enough, once I’d seen how it worked.

    Thanks, PeterO and even bigger thanks to Paul.

  30. dan says:

    Is it something to do with norm in cheers i.e bottoms up

  31. Ripenno says:

    6 down is the bottoms (ends) of warm lager no and question i.e. m – r – o – n, up do backwards. Hence Norm.

  32. Ripenno says:

    “so backwards”

  33. Trebor says:

    The “unspecific” construction is totally new to me and feels like a bit of a stretch. Having said that, even if I had solved nothing other than HONEYMOONER, I would have still finished up with a smile on my face – brillant clue.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We found this Paul puzzle a bit harder than usual, but at least we finished it (far away from resources). Something that cannot be said of many Rufus puzzles ….

    Trebor writes “The “unspecific” construction is totally new to me and feels like a bit of a stretch”.
    I am not sure whether I have seen this before or not – but I can hear some bells ringing. Anyway, yes, it is perhaps a bit of a stretch. I am with Stiofain that the selection of “characters” should have been a bit more indicated to make the clue fairer. That said, my PinC (who is more into The Times than into The Guardian) had great admiration for this novelty (?) device – isn’t life strange (to cite The Moody Blues)?

    One that was apparently a big favourite to many (18ac, HONEYMOONER) left us rather cold – typical Paul in a negative, rather tiresome way.
    The royal clues were quite good, though just ‘socialite’ for Pippa Middleton, well, ok.

    Just one more thing.
    I am a regular blogger of Dante’s puzzles for the FT. For those who don’t know: Dante = Rufus. In his clues I often spot articles (a,an,the) that might be considered as padding. I am used to it now, so no blame on Dante/Rufus.
    However, Paul is a setter who keeps far away from padding.
    Today, though, we had ‘ “a” temper’ in 5ac, ‘ “the” sand’ in 11ac, ‘ “the” sea’ in 14ac and ‘ “the” grass’ in 13d. Very unusual.

    All in all, we found this a very fine crossword. But when asked to single out my CoD – well, I have no idea.

    Many thanks, Peter O.

  35. rhotician says:

    Surely the point of 22a is that the selection of letters is unspecified.

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Not sure about that , rhotician.
    If it is like you say, fine by me.
    But a clue is only fair when it is solvable without knowing the solution, I think. The solution should not be part of the construction. Perhaps I am walking on thin ice here.
    Don’t worry, I do see your point, but I am not completely with you.
    My PinC found the solution from the definition, then backtracked it and ultimately liked it.
    I am still not sure whether this is fair or not.
    Novel it was though, I guess.

  37. rhotician says:

    I agree with NeilW @5. I quite liked the clue but I hope not to see any more like it. It has a feel of the ‘comp. anag. &lit’ about it but doesn’t quite make it. As to being fair, well, like your PinC, if I can solve and parse a clue, by whatever means, then that’s fair enough.

  38. john McCartney says:

    Yes the clueing for “unspecific” leaves a lot to be desired. What’s the next stage? “Pick any seven letters and rearrange into the word I’m thinking of”?

  39. g larsen says:

    Unlike most people, we residents of the Isle of Wight have come across the word ‘koan’ before. It’s a multi-coloured inverted cone which the NHS commissioned at considerable expense as a landmark artistic feature at the entrance to the island’s hospital. It never rotated as intended and has given islanders something to moan about ever since. Thanks to Paul I can now guess what was in the artist’s mind.

    An excellent crossword, though grateful for the blog for some of the parsing.

  40. sppaul says:

    Thanks to setter and blogger. I always like Paul’s puzzles. 18 ac Honeymooner was my clue of week so far!

  41. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Paul and PeterO

    Late to start this and found it typically testing, amusing in places, innovative and varied with the definitions / devices and completely fair for the solver.

    No better typified than with my last in – NORM – a common word using a simple device (used elsewhere at 12 in a more straightforward manner) but so cleverly disguised that many of us here (including myself) were unable to see. Throw in a surface reading that links back to a widely viewed sitcom and there is the complete package of a clue. Here I was looking for a Brit term for warm beer like NORMY or NORMQUE … The rest of the puzzle was as good.

    Well done, Paul

  42. Dave M says:

    Although late entry. Norm = bottom letters of warM lageR nO questioN

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