Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,857 – Qaos

Posted by Uncle Yap on January 29th, 2013

Uncle Yap.

A brisk morning canter … nothing too esoteric or obscure although I was disconcerted by a few unusual abbreviations not found in Chambers. I have donated all my dead-tree copies of dictionaries to my club library and depend primarily on my diskette copy of Chambers plus on-line dictionaries via One Look.

Guide to the mini-theme (7 & 19 Down)

The Rime of the Ancient Mariner  is the longest major poem by the English poet Samuel Taylor Coleridge, written in 1797–98 and published in 1798 in the first edition of Lyrical Ballads.

1 LAPELS Friend backs golfer, then folds (6)
Rev of PAL (friend) + S.African golfer Ernie ELS 
4 STADIA Grounds for a divorce? At first it’s a mix-up (6)
Ins of A D (first letter of divorce) in *(IT’S) + A for the plural of stadium or rather *(A D IT’S A)
9 ORAL Test for a learner? (4)
10 ANTARCTICA Artist turned and entered: “I can’t act romantically; the atmosphere’s frosty here” (10)
Ins of AR (rev of RA, Royal Academician, artist) in *(I CAN’T ACT) for the icy patch around the South Pole
11 SCOTCH Drink squash (6)
dd for the elixir of life and an action to frustrate or put an end to
12 THEORIES Maybe Cameron and Osborne conceal explosive ideas (8)
Ins of HE (high explosive) in TORIES. David Cameron and George Osborne, members of the British cabinet are both Conservatives or TORIESThanks DrG@1 for the explosive
13 ALBATROSS Actress Jessica sorts out Big Bird (9)
ALBA (Jessica Marie,an American model, television and film actress) + *(SORTS)
15 MINT The perfect sweet? (4)
dd anything in mint condition is pristine and perfect and of course everybody knows the Polo mint
16 WOMB Jonathan Ross, say, talking of space where people start (4)
Can this be Qaos’s way of saying that certain TV personalities talk funny and pronounce ROOM as WOMB?
17 SEA BREAMS Spooner’s cheese looks like fishes (3,6)
BRIE (cheese) SEEMS (looks)
21 ADVISERS Coaches condemned divers after acting by Suarez, primarily (8)
A (acting) + *(DIVERS) + S (first letter of Suarez, Liverpool player)
22 LUSTRE Meltdown result for Sheen … (6)
24 DIPSOMANIA … wild man is paid and gets in round, which leads to alcoholism (10)
Ins of O (round) in *(MAN IS PAID) for an intermittent pathological craving for alcoholic stimulants … and all this while I thought it was an irresistible urge to pick pocket :-)
25 RANK Line from pointless joke (4)
PRANK (joke) minus P (point? not in Chambers)
26 GUESTS Lodgers get us rent on Sunday (6)
*(GET US) + S (Sunday? not in Chambers)
27 ISOBAR Unkempt Boris muffles answer — it shows constant pressure (6)
Ins of A (answer, in Chambers3) in *(BORIS)
1 LYRICAL I cry, all upset and emotional (7)
2 PILOT Captain is first into bed (5)
Ins of I (first letter of is) in PLOT (bed)
3 LEATHER Panic over Spain’s strike (7)
Ins of E (Espana, Spain) in LATHER (panic). To put leather to is to thrash or to strike
5 TURKEY Rising Republican cuts wings off essential Big Bird (6)
Rev of R (Republican) + UT (CUTS, without extreme letters) plus KEY (essential) for the second big bird
6 DETERMINE Fix note to end of Coleridge’s rime: “… then wander without horse” (9)
I was flummoxed by this but am fortunate to have such a helpful neighbour like NeilW who came to my rescue with “Def is “Fix”: D “note” E “end of Coleridge” TERMINE (RIMEThEN)* “rime then wander without horse” with the anagrind being wander and H for horse”
7 ANCIENT Old and new Conservative regularly likes wearing fake tan (7)
Ins of N (new) C (Conservative) + lIkEs (regular letters) in *(TAN)
8 STATESPERSONS Individuals following US politicians? (13)
STATES (US) PERSONS (individuals)
14 ARMY ISSUE Clothing for a soldier’s baby? (4,5)
Clothing for a soldier is ARMY ISSUE and a soldier’s baby can be said to be an ARMY ISSUE
16 WEDDING Early water raised commotion with golf union (7)
WED (rev of DEW, early water) + DIN (commotion) + G (golf? not in Chambers)
18 BALLADS British concert artist covers sad rock songs (7)
BALL (Michael Ashley, a British actor, singer, and radio and TV presenter) +*(SAD)
19 MARINER Sailor’s rime — a Royal Navy jingle? (7)
*(RIME A Royal Navy)
20 HERMIT Mrs Romney’s man? They say he’s retired from public life (6)
Willard Mitt Romney is the unsuccessful Republican Party’s nominee for President of the United States in the 2012 election. His wife’s man would, therefore be HER MITT (sounds the same as MIT) thus HERMIT, a recluse retired from public life
23 SHRUB Quiet caress in the garden? (5)
SH (quiet) RUB (caress) for a plant found in the garden

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

45 Responses to “Guardian 25,857 – Qaos”

  1. DrG says:

    Across12 HE(high explosives) in Tories

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, UY. I found the right side quite tricky. There’s a mini-theme going on about the Rime of the ANCIENT MARINER (7,19 down the right side) – ALBATROSS, WEDDING GUESTS etc.

    I thought STADIA was a “mix up” of the whole lot rather than an insertion of AD.

    THEORIES is TORIES around HE (High Explosive)

    I think the crossword land joke about Jonathan Ross’ lisp is wearing a bit thin.

    I guess, in PRANK, the fact that the letter removed is P is probably irrelevant as I couldn’t find P as an abbreviation for point either, although I dare say it exists on a map somewhere! I guess it’s just “remove the point, i.e. first letter”.

    Golf is the international code for the letter G.

  3. NeilW says:

    Sorry, DrG, I took too long typing!

  4. ergonaut says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Qaos.
    I couldn’t parse 6d but it makes sense now.
    I think 12a is just TORIES with an ins of H.E. (high explosive)
    And in 25a I took “pointless” to mean lacking the first letter so no abbreviation needed

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. And Neil, for the parsing of 6d which defeated me. The only other trouble I had with a generally gentle puzzle was 16a. Having no knowledge of Mr Ross I guessed ‘wimp’ and left it at that.

  6. michelle says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    I was unable to finish this puzzle, and basically gave up on the NE corner even though I had already solved 10 and 12 so had plenty of crossing letters which should have been helpful. I could not solve 5,6,7d and 4,15a. I guess I was just not on Qaos’s wavelength in this part of the puzzle.

    I enjoyed learning a new word, squash = scotch.

    Although I solved these clues I could not fully parse them: 16a, 16d & 18 so I enjoyed reading this blog.

    My favourites were 13a and 17a.

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    I found albatross, guests, wedding, pilot, hermit, ancient and mariner in the Rime; Lyrical Ballads closely connected; and Antarctica, and to a lesser extent, isobar, sea breams loosely connected; and, of course, Coleridge, rime in the clues. Pretty good going on Qaos’ part.

    Thanks, UY – I got stuck in TR corner too.

  8. muffin says:

    Thanks UY and Qaos
    Very mixed, I thought – some I liked very much (e.g. scotch, lapels), some I couldn’t parse, one I didn’t get (rank), and some that were a bit “iffy”. I dislike “Spooner” clues in general, and I thought this one was particularly poor. Also a slight pity that “man” appears in “dipsoMANia”.

  9. Ian Payn says:

    S for Sunday may not be in Chambers, but it’s in a lot of other places. If you look at the date/time adjuster on your PC (if you’re running Windows) S does double duty for Saturday and Sunday (T does the same for Tuesday and Thursday – you can tell which is which by position, of course, so it doesn’t matter), just to pick one of many examples.

  10. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY.

    I missed the Ancient Mariner theme, unsurprisingly (because I usually miss unannounced themes, not because I’m unfamiliar with Coleridge’s poem, you understand). Most of the puzzle went in quickly, but the NE corner took a bit longer.

    Rather an uneven puzzle, with some rather clumsy clues (including a very ho-hum Spooner) and others which are very well-crafted: I liked 21a, 2d, 20d and the 22a/24a surface has a nice reference to Charlie Sheen’s behaviour.

  11. crypticsue says:

    I quite often have trouble getting on Qaos’s wavelength but not today. Perhaps because the theme was studied for English Lit at school many eons ago. Thanks to setter and blogger.

  12. Robi says:

    Largely good crossword.

    Thanks UY; the S=Sunday does seem to be in popular usage. ‘Pointless’ is in my Chambers Xword dic. as a tail deletion indicator, but as point=tip I don’t see why it can’t be used for head deletion also. I didn’t see anything wrong with the Spoonerism; to me it seemed to be a perfect homonym…. and setters often like to put one in just to give variety, I think.

    I liked ARMY ISSUE, WEDDING and HERMIT, but I thought ‘alcoholism’ was too much of a giveaway in 24. Maybe ‘liking for beer’ or somesuch would have been less obvious.

  13. Thomas99 says:

    Robi is right. There is nothing wrong with the Spoonerism. They’re just not that easy, which I think is the main reason people complain about them, and frequently impose their own bizarre rules on them.

  14. John Appleton says:

    No problems with the puzzle, but I’m annoyed at myself for missing what should have been an obvious theme (for me, as I’m quite familiar with the poem). Only real quibble is what appears to be a question mark to indicate a hidden answer in 9a – it doesn’t seem sufficient to me.

  15. Otherstuff says:

    S for Sunday is given in Chambers Crossword Dictionary both 3rd and 4th Editions

  16. Martin says:

    Not too keen on “sea breams” as a plural. Shouldn’t the plural of “bream” be…….”bream”? One doesn’t say “sea basses”, “rock salmons” or “rainbow trouts”, or add an “s” to other fish when referring to more than one.

  17. Colin says:

    Thanks to Qaos and Uncle Yip.

    Like Michelle I got bogged down in the NE corner. Otherwise it was quite straight forward.

    I agree with John Appleton@9 and I don’t understand why the definition “Big Bird” is capitalised in clues 5 and 13.

  18. Colin says:

    Sorry I meant John Appleton@14

  19. NeilW says:

    Colin, Big Bird is a pretty well known character out of Sesame Street, the kids programme.

  20. Alan says:

    Golf may not be in Chambers but it is the internationally accepted way of expressing g phonetically in aviation and military circles on radio or telephone where it may be misheard. Thanks for the solution. Best wishes Alan thats Alpha Lima Alpha november

  21. muffin says:

    I wasn’t too bothered about “breams” as QAOS did give us “fishes” in the clue. Odd plural, isn’t it – one fish, a few fishes, lots of fish!
    I still didn’t like the clue, though.

  22. NeilW says:

    muffin and Martin, it’s very much a question of usage and I doubt there are any hard and fast rules.. eels and sharks spring to mind.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This was a real mixed bag for me.
    I could probably double this list but these were weak and/or too easy : 11,16,22,26,27ac, 23d.
    On the other hand like others I struggled with the NE corner and enjoyed but found 6 d intriguingly complex. I also had to rack my brains to get ‘mint’ which hasn’t been mentioned earlier.
    I like Spoonerisms and this was a good one. It is possible to apply some reasoning to them which I do not find in any other type of clue – long may they continue.
    Last in was ‘turkey’ which was very clever and misleading (cuts?).
    Is Michael Ball a British concert artist? I am not an expert in this field but I was put off entering ‘ballads’ for along time by this grand title.

  24. NeilW says:

    RCW, I’d never heard of him but, once I’d discounted the misdirection of sorts of “British”, I Googled him and found, on his Wiki page, the exact phrase “British concert artist”. It seems that ready access to Google/Wiki is becoming assumed… (That doesn’t mean I approve.)

  25. NeilW says:

    By the way, RCW, if you haven’t yet swept through today’s Anax in the Indy, do try it out – should be to your taste.

  26. Mitz says:

    Thanks Qaos and Uncle Yap.

    I have come to the conclusion that these ‘unannounced’ themes are my favourite type. Just a few hints here and there in the clues, and the occasional answer that nudges you further along, and once the grid is complete usually a couple pop out that you didn’t even notice while solving.

    Like most, I found some of this puzzle easy but some areas quite challenging, and I’m another that filled in the NE last, with TURKEY and MINT being last of all.

    I like Spooner clues, and thought 17 was a good ‘un. I agree with RCW about the form in general being unusual in that it is possible to apply reasoning, unlike with most other clue types.

    STATESPERSONS was an odd one. Reminded me of Uni days, where certain budding politicians in the Students’ Union would do themselves (and political correctness) no favours at all by eschewing the word “man” in favour of “person” (fair enough) but would then go too far by ditching “person” in favour of “per-kin”.

  27. Colin says:

    Thanks Neilw. It all makes perfect sense now.

  28. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog. You explained a couple of cases where I had the right answer without understanding why.

    I also thought 9a was poor: no hint in the clue that the answer was concealed.

    I am moderately familiar with the Rime but totally failed to see the theme :(

  29. Paul B says:

    Perhaps the problem is that we have a Spoonerism for ‘cheese looks’ rather than ‘cheese looks like’? I’ve looked up ‘seem’ in Collins to check, but I fear we might be missing something.

    Bloody good poem though.

  30. Giovanna says:

    Thanks Qaos and Uncle Yap.

    Paul B @29 – it certainly is a good poem and one that stays with you. I was delighted to find rime in 6d and started looking for the albatross. Oddly enough, I was discussing poems read at school with daughter-in-law yesterday and, of course, the Rime was mentioned. It emerged that the older generation had studied far more poems.

    Unlike RCW, I don’t like Spoonerisms but brie had to be in there and it fell without too much difficulty. All good fun.

    Giovanna x

  31. RCWhiting says:

    I would attach the ‘like’ to the ‘fishes’.

  32. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Qaos

    I found the north-east quite hard and only got the last few there after a break.

    I liked 12a, 17a, 25a, 6d, 23d.

    I only vaguely noticed the theme which I don’t think adds much to the puzzle.
    Mitz @26

    That must have been at the University of Personchester.

  33. Martin in Beds says:

    Golf for G is standard usage in the NATO alphabet.

    These come up regularly in crosswords, and equally regularly people complain about them. These abbreviations are commonly used (watch any police drama on TV), and if they are not in Chambers they really should be. Solvers, read and remember.

    I have never seen the strange number pronunciations in a crossword (“niner” is the most commonly used). Maybe a mini-theme to really annoy people!

  34. HKColin says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Qaos. I found this difficult and needed lots of online help to finish. One that I didn’t manage unaided was the Spoonerism. I have often been amused by others objecting to homonyms which seem spot on or at least near enough to my ear. But today it was my turn to be stumped. Growing up, that fish was always pronounced ‘brim’ and in Japan which was home until recently it is ‘tai’ so I never heard the ‘seems’ homonym version. No complaints though. It is my version that is odd this time around.

    Also, I notice that we have a new Colin. Welcome. When I first contributed I was asked not to use that moniker because it was attached to an established contributor, so I chose TokyoColin which made sense until recently. I guess the original Colin has been dormant for long enough for his rights to that name to have lapsed. Again, no complaints, I am happy to be HKColin for my now infrequent contributions.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    How strange! I didn’t find any one quarter harder than any of the others and, as an inveterate theme misser, I picked this one up quite quickly. Maybe I’m improving? There again…..

  36. Trailman says:

    Feeling a right TURKEY today for in desperation at 5d I thrust in TERCEL which is a bird although not that big (fast though). Had spotted that ‘wings off essential’ could have been the final EL and there was an R for Republican. Well, it was good enough for me at the time.

  37. NeilW says:

    Hey, HKColin, welcome back! Since we are almost in the same time zone, more so now, I’ve missed your contributions. (Although your comments were always a little more incisive than mine!) There aren’t many of us.

  38. Qaos says:

    Thanks everyone for the comments – always appreciated!

    For a change, I decided to telegraph the ghost theme a little more for this puzzle. The other thematic elements from “The Rime of the 7 19″ were 1d 18, 10, 13, 16d 26, 2 and 20. I did consider putting in references to Fleetwood Mac and that classic Monty Python sketch with John Cleese as an usherette, but thought that might have been overdoing things.

    Spoonerisms are often have a bit of a Marmite flavour to them, but I quite like adding the odd one for cluing variety. All part of the fun!

    Best wishes,


  39. JFord says:

    Don’t know about there, but here (US) sticklers would say that “fishes” refers to a varied selection of species, as in “the market has many fishes on display and on a good day sells many fish.”

  40. John Qbass says:

    Can I add “Lyrical Ballads” to the theme? It’s the title of Coleridge and Wordsworth’s joint volume of verse.

  41. PeterM says:

    There must have been something about the NE corner, as I too had great difficulty with it, though I’d got 10ac straight away. At 5d seemed to need a bird PER???, but PERNIS does’t parse, while I couldn’t see how 6d worked at all, so thanks for explanation.

  42. rhotician says:

    G is not an abbreviation for golf. Golf is code for G. That’s why Chambers has all of them under the word rather than the letter.

  43. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Well I loved it. Not easy but neither was it too difficult.

    Last in was STADIA.

    It appears to be a contentious one reading the comments but I cant see why?

  44. Martin P says:

    For 5d I toyed with Parker as in Charlie, “Bird”, but settled on Turkey. However, I parsed it as that famous republican Brutus rising, winged, albeit assymetrically.

    Pretty enjoyable though, I thought.

  45. Otherstuff says:

    Dear Qaos,
    I think it is so nice when the setter drops in, so I thank you for the puzzle and for dropping by and responding to the comments. I am by no means a regular here.
    Just a tyro, I found quite a few of the crossers quite accessible but the completion of it very much tougher, though not impossible. A crossword that stirs up quite a bit of debate is in my opinion a good thing. That said I have reservations about using live persons in crosswords. Though I just about remember Jessica Alba from Dark Angel, google does bring up Jessica Ennis first and Alba is difficult to find

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