Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,875 – Tramp

Posted by Uncle Yap on February 19th, 2013

Uncle Yap.

A most pleasant romp this morning through some fairly challenging clues; some of which with definitions that are as mysterious as the cryptic part of the clues. Tramp has obviously taken great pain to ensure the definitions and the elements make for some very smooth surface reading. Thoroughly enjoyable and entertaining.

1 SALAD DODGER Ad reads “Gold Blend — a very large one?” (5,6)
*(AD READS GOLD) for a derogative term for a very fat person who probably got that way by eating only meat and avoiding greens. So why are people trying to lose weight by a rich protein diet?
9 WORKTOP Either end of whisk beat on this? (7)
Either end of the word WHISK = W OR K + TOP (beat as in “Can you top/beat his offer?”)
10 INDULGE Give way to die — lung collapses (7)
11 MINNESOTA Engineer nominates state (9)
12 EAT IN Each can put away at home (3,2)
EA (abbreviation for “each”) + TIN (can). Put away at home would have stood as an adequate cd clue.
13 SOLD Flogged one stolen from firm (4)
SOLID (firm) minus I (one)
14 TAXI-DRIVER I charge up front — way over £5 having dropped off fellow, perhaps? (4-6)
TAX (charge) I + DR (rev of RD, road, way) + FIVER (£5) minus F (fellow)
16 BURGER KING Pickled cucumber not hot in food sent back — here? (6,4)
Ins of GERKIN (Gherkin, pickled cucumber minus H, hot) in BURG (rev of GRUB, food)
19 ADOS Fusses round during commercial break (4)
Ins of O (round) in AD’S (advertisements, commercial break)
21 COYER More reserved insurance having had change of heart (5)
COVER (insurance) with middle letter changed from V to Y for more coy or more reserved
22 REMBRANDT Artist in rock band with actor, having time for love (9)
R.E.M. (rock band) + Marlon BRANDO with T (time) substituted for O (love) for this Dutch painter (1606-1669)
24 PUTTING Place tee in golf, rolling ball on green (7)
Cha of PUT (place) + T (the letter tee) IN G (golf as in the NATO phonetic alphabet)
25 REPTILE One with scales on part of bathroom floor, perhaps taking pressure (7)
Ins of P (pressure) in RE (on) TILE (part of bathroom floor) for a creature defined as one with scales. What an excellent surface !
26 MARIAH CAREY In foyer, a chair — American diva’s reclining, is she? (6,5)
rha My COD for this superb almost &lit of this newbie judge of American Idol
1 SPRINKLER SYSTEM Fire control in kilns/pyres (terms change) (9,6)
*(KILNS PYRES TERMS) Lovely surface
2 LATTE Starbucks offering tiniest bit of tax — at the last minute admitting it (5)
Ins of T (bit of tax or a letter from tax) in LATE (at the last minute) for an espresso coffee with frothed hot milk, available at Starbucks.
3 DIPLOMA Cream left with ordinary degree certificate (7)
DIP (cream or sauce) L (left) O (ordinary) MA (Master of Arts, degree)
4 ORIGAMI Going up — a regular payment to support setter’s work in paper (7)
ORIG A (rev of A + GIRO, a regular payment) + MI (rev of I’M, setter’s)
5 GADGETRY Device making regulars out of guards’ great army (8)
Alternate letters from GuArDs’ GrEaT aRmY
6 RELATIVE DENSITY Order daily entries — vet’s record of weight against a standard (8,7)
*(DAILY ENTRIES VET) for a measure in physics – the weight of any given substance as compared with the weight of an equal volume of water
7 SWAMPS Floods bogs (6)
8 TENNER Note voice during audition  … (6)
The ten-pound note sounds like TENOR (voice)
15 HEARTIER …  catch band getting more friendly (8)
HEAR (catch) TIER (band as in something that ties)
16 BICEPS Blood pressure sleeve primarily going round something cold here? (6)
  Ins of ICE (something cold) in Blood Pressure Sleeve
17 KERYGMA Christian preaching lines at start of gospel in opposite halves of Luke and Mark (7)
Ins of RY (RailwaY lines) + G (start of gospel) in luKE and MArk for a new word to me which Chambers defines as (preaching of) the Christian gospel, esp in the way of the early Church.
18 NUMERIC Relating to 1984, say, Scargill’s men turning wrath on Conservative (7)
NUM (National Union of Mineworkers clued as Arthur Scargill’s men as he was, from 1982 to 2002, the president) + ERI (rev of IRE, wrath) + C (Conservative). I well remember my first winter in Newcastle in 1971/72 when we supported the NUM strike and shivered many nights, refusing to buy coal to heat our house. However, I was prudent enough to buy an electric blanket and survived :-)
20 SETTEE Place to sit for crossword solver? (6)
A compiler of crossword is the SETTER and the solver is the SETTEE (after similar such as DRAWER of a cheque v DRAWEE, the beneficiary of the cheque). This tichy clue made me laugh
23 ROPER One tying top right (5)
Thanks to NeilW@1, PROPER (right) minus first letter, P (indicated by top) with def One tying (a rope)

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

51 Responses to “Guardian 25,875 – Tramp”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, UY. Great fun.


    Is this the first Tramp without much of a theme? I suppose there’s a mini one of fast food. Or am I missing something?

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for an excellent blog. Having got 1-6d I had to look up, somewhat incredulously, this term I’d never heard of. The same bamboozlement caused me to put in ‘wiretap’ for 9a: see it now. ignorance continued with KERYGMA: looked it up, there it was! That said, there many great clues, so thanks, tramp.

  3. vinyl1 says:

    Darn it, Neil beat me to it! I had to think long and hard to see how 23 worked, too.

    I really liked the puzzle, with all the convoluted clues. The ‘Maria Carey’ clue is one of the best hiddens I’ve seen, and ‘taxi driver’ and ‘salad dodger’ are not far behind. A great puzzle from Tramp.

  4. michelle says:

    Enjoyable puzzle with many clues I liked, especially 1a, 20d, 26, 16a, 22, 25.

    KERYGMA was a new word for me, as well as NUM (National Union of Mineworkers).

    I can’t parse 23d ROPER.

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

  5. michelle says:

    I have just realised that you parsed 23d as (p)ROPER. I didn’t notice the first time I read the posts.


  6. Ilippu says:

    26 across – A Chair is going back (reclining) in “Marey” going back as well, and hence, the “is she”?

  7. Eileen says:

    Thanks, UY, for the blog.

    Great stuff, as expected when Tramp’s name is on the puzzle!

    I’d never heard of a SALAD DODGER but it’s a great clue – and very topical! As is LATTE, with its reference to Starbucks tax-dodging.

    I’ve seen ORIGAMI clued a fair few times but never better than this: I hope the rate really is going up, Tramp!

    MARIAH CAREY is just brilliant and I really liked BURGER KING, too.

    Apart from that, too many clever clues to mention more favourites but I would like to mention the faultless cluing of KERYGMA, which made a less familiar word entirely gettable – and with an &littish feel, too.

    [Knowing Tramp’s love of Python, I did wonder if he’d toyed with the idea of ‘Scargill’s men idle’ in 18dn: I know it’s a bit of a chestnut now and I know about the capitalisation ‘rule’ – ah well, just a thought: I loved the surface anyway!]

  8. Eileen says:

    Tramp’s surface, I meant!

  9. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Lovely, entertaining puzzle. I’ve enjoyed Tramp’s themed crosswords, but this one shows that he can amuse and delight without recourse to that. BURGER KING and SALAD DODGER were excellent and NUMERIC and SETTEE weren’t far behind.

    Bravo, Tramp, and don’t be shy about letting us have more non-themed puzzles in the future.

    Thanks for blogging, UY.

  10. John Appleton says:

    Nice work from Tramp, as usual. I think I spotted a mini-theme that he might have been trying; we have Burger King and Starbucks mentioned, plus clues that include TAX and DODGE. Can’t spot any more though; I was hoping Amazon might fit somewhere. 20d was excellent.

  11. Gervase says:

    Thanks, UY

    Great puzzle from the vagrant, with many clever clues and allusive surfaces.

    All the long lights are splendidly clued, as has already been mentioned – 1a was an unfamiliar expression to me, so the top half of the puzzle took longer to complete. However, I was just as impressed by the clues for some of the shorter entries: 12a, 13a, 2d, 4d, 16d, 20d are all very ingenious.

    Tramp’s thematic puzzles are always enjoyable and cleverly constructed. But this one showcases his clue-writing abilities much more clearly.


  12. Stella says:

    Thanks UY and Tramp for an excellent puzzle and blog. I got 26ac without parsing it, so thanks for the explanation – d’oh!

    I’m surprised no-one’s metioned a clever misdirection in 18d – after all, thge setter could have chosen any number other than one which is also the title of a famous novel.

  13. John Appleton says:

    Stella @12: It’s a good point; my mind was on something Orwellian.

  14. NeilW says:

    1984 isn’t “any number”, though Stella – it’s the year of the start of the miners’ strike, led by Scargill, that was the pivotal time in the history of the UK’s industrial relations.

  15. Tramp says:

    Thanks UY for the excellent blog. Thanks to all for your comments.

    I wrote this puzzle in Oct 2011. By my reckoning, this is my third puzzle (out of about 17 for the Guardian and four for the Indy) that doesn’t have a theme. I had some clues that I’d written years ago — BURGER KING, MARIAH CAREY and SALAD DODGER — that were entries in the weekly clue-writing competition on Paul’s, now defunct, cryptica site. The BURGER KING clue came to me when I saw G(h)ERKIN in a reversal of GRUB whilst standing outside one (that’s a BK not a gherkin) at a train station. I placed these answers into a grid and filled words around them. For most of these grid entries I had no idea how to define or clue them. I sometimes like to fit words into a grid with no thoughts about potential clue ideas because it adds to the challenge (“what does KERYGMA mean and how the ‘eck am I going to clue it? It’s in Chambers and Collins so I’ll go for it – should be fun”). I seem to remember reading something by Anax where he states that these types of clues, where you start off with no idea (literally) and end up with something usable, often provide the best moments in the setting process: I agree.

    I think this turned out quite well. The LATTE clue was a rewrite because the original didn’t work; this was a good excuse to shoehorn something in about Starbucks and tax. On reflection, there probably is one or two too many anagrams for my liking. Having said that, one of my non-thematic puzzles that appeared last year (25,669) got slated for being difficult and forced; when I analysed that puzzle I realised that it didn’t feature a single anagram. I now think anagrams allow a way in for solvers so that you can use more sophisticated bits of wordplay in other clues.

    Eileen at #7: It never occurred to me. Good idea but I’d have to put “Idle” at the start of the clue, somehow, because I don’t like the dropping of the capital letter.

    Admittedly, ‘Cream’ to define ‘dip’ is probably a bit loose as the dictionaries define ‘dip’ as ‘a creamy mixture’. This was picked up by Tyrus, who checked the puzzle, and by the editor but I figured Salad Cream or sour cream could be used as a dip so decided to go with it. Perhaps I should have scratched the idea and started afresh.

    Stella at #12: As NeilW says at #13, I did pick 1984 as that was the start of the trouble but, in doing so, the Orwellian connection did cross my mind.

    Thanks again for the comments — they do make it worth the effort.

    Ps If anyone’s interested, I’m in the Indy on Monday.

  16. Elizabeth Parsons says:

    So what is the explanation for 23 dn – roper?

  17. Mitz says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and special thanks to Tramp both for the puzzle and for once again dropping by to give us some insight into your thought processes. Loved the Burger King story – a great example of the setters gift (curse?) of seeing potential clues everywhere.

    Others have already mentioned everyone’s(!) favourite laryngeal gymnast – brilliantly hidden, and I’m tempted to say that’s the best way for her to be. Also loved SALAD DODGER – clocked it as an anagram straight away, but had to get several crossing letters before the eureka moment came. 6 made me smile as it reminded me of Back to the Future (George: You are my density!) and it was nice to see a state being a solution for a change, as opposed to an abbreviation in part of a charade.

    One tiny quibble – in my experience most taxi drivers are happy to be paid at the end of a journey, so the &lit-ish part of that clue didn’t quite work for me. Sorry – horribly nitpicky of me.

    Not too tough, but beautifully inventive, and a lesson for some setters who maybe try to make some of their puzzles a little easier and so more accessible (nothing wrong with that), but fall into the trap of turning out something that drifts by pleasantly enough but is immediately forgotten afterwards.

  18. RCWhiting says:

    see Neil @1

  19. Eccles45 says:

    At long last, after a forgettable week,an enjoyable crossword. Thanks Tramp.

    However, as one with a hell of a weight problem who does eat a lot of the green stuff, I could have done without “a derogative term for a very fat person” – the clue itself, not UY’s description of same.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Not quite Tramp at his best but much superior to several recent productions.
    Maybe by luck, but I spotted the three long anagrams (1d,1ac,6d) which did make the whole thing a bit too straightforward. This in spite of never having seen ‘salad dodger’ before.
    Re:1984, Orwell is the Radio 4 theme at the moment and my constant exposure to the same led me to ‘Martha Carney’ (I know it’s spelled differently, now) but the American diva did stretch things a bit far!
    Mitz @17
    If you sit in the back of the taxi you might go up front to pay the driver.
    Last in was ‘roper’ because I couldn’t parse it.

  21. RCWhiting says:

    …..and exactly why did you choose that nickname…..?

  22. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Tramp

    I found this hard but satisfying once I got more on the setter’s wavelength.

    I thought I had detected a mini-theme of over-eating (indulge, salad dodger, burger king etc) but there we are.

    I missed the parsing of roper (I thought there must be a grisly connection between rope & top (hang) + r but could not get further with it).

    I understood 18d, but noted that the author of 1984 was an Eric.

  23. tupu says:


    The same sort of thought crossed my mind – the driver sits at the front.

  24. Eccles45 says:

    ….’cos the more apposite name, Seagoon, was (at the time) being used by someone else

  25. crosser says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap.
    I’m afraid I still don’t understand 23d, in spite of NeilW’s post @1. Would someone please enlighten me?

  26. John Appleton says:

    Crosser @25: Defintion is “One tying”; “top right” means to remove the top from proper (aka right).

    That’s how I see it, anyway.

  27. coltrane says:

    Thank you Tramp for a great crossword, and Uncle for the blog. After writing in Mariah Carey from the crossing lights, I could not parse it. Read Uncle only to find he just assumed we had all seen the trick. Finally it hit me and is by some distance my COD; it must be the longest reverse insert on record. Bravo!!

    Not too difficult because all the wordplay was scrupulously fair, so that Kerygma just fell into place; I did not even bother with Wiki!! As one who prefers non-themed puzzles and knows little about 60s, 70s or 80s pop this was the best Tramp so far for me!!

  28. NeilW says:

    And, if there’s any confusion left, crosser, think “topping and tailing” carrots for instance.

  29. Mitz says:

    RCW @20 & tupu @23 – mea culpa. Hadn’t even considered looking at it that way.

  30. crosser says:

    John Appleton @26 and NeilW @28, many thanks. I was particulaly dim there!

  31. Rowland says:

    Combination of the good and bad in terms of style, some technical points here and there, and a bit wordy generally, but still fun. I hate Mariah Carey for some reason, so thanks for thatTramp!!


  32. Tramp says:

    Some taxis do charge up front if going on a long journey. When stuck for something to say to a taxi driver, I used to always ask “what’s the furthest place someone’s asked you to go?” and the reply often involved them telling me about some sailor needing to get to Portsmouth and that they’d charge a flat fee up front.

    ‘Top’ in 23d is an imperatival verb in the cryptic reading but a noun in the surface reading: much like ‘engineer’ is in 11a.

  33. chas says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog.

    I had Mariah Carey from the crossing letters and assumed, without checking, that it was an anagram. I was staggered to see the real explanation here.

  34. crypticsue says:

    I usually find I have to work harder with a Tramp puzzle but sat down on the bus (I am not allowed to drive at the moment following major eye surgery) and found that I was able to fill it all in except 17d – the wordplay was with hindsight extremely clear but…

    Thanks to Tramp for making the journey pass quickly and enjoyably and to UY for confirming 17d made sense

  35. Trailman says:

    Finally got there. I found this an infuriating combination of the first-rate (BURGER KING, LATTE, HEARTIER, SETTEE, MARIAH CAREY) and the not-quite-there (WORKTOP, ROPER). Plus if anyone is a SALAD DODGER it’s me, albeit without the waistline to match, but neither I nor Mrs Trailman has come across the term.

    Still, much rather this than some of the recent anodyne fare. Plus, absolutely wonderful to have Tramp discuss at length his thought processes. Thanks Tramp!

  36. Kriscros says:

    Thanks to UY for the blog and to Tramp for providing entertainment with the puzzle and for dropping in to offer us a peek at your setter’s machinations

    As a 20d, I found the puzzle rich in smooth surfaces and well crafted topical clues.

  37. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Tramp and UY

    Found this easier than previous offerings from Tramp – probably from the higher number of anagrams (especially of the long clues, which fell quite quickly) – guess that’s why we saw him on a Tuesday instead of later in the week (or not!)

    Last in was WORKTOP which was probably my favourite – LATTE took me ages to parse by not seeing late. I had the tupu@22 version of parsing of 23d, but was happy to see a more savoury version as the proper one ! Also did not see the brilliant rha for Ms Carey – lazily assuming that it was an anagram without actually checking the fodder.

    And did spend a bit of time unsuccessfully looking for the theme before coming here.

  38. nametab says:

    A really neat puzzle from a tramp (and thanks to him for his contribution here). I also failed to parse ‘roper’. No problem with ‘kerygma’, having studied it. Reckoned it had to be ‘salad dodger’, but a new term for me. Several favourites, but ‘Mariah Carey’ abnd ‘Burger King’ at the top.
    Thanks to Uncle Yap.

  39. flashling says:

    Many thanks Tramp, the head to desk moment for 26 was worth the cost alone.

  40. Martin P says:

    Thanks Tramp and all.

    One of the wittiest XWs I think we’ve had in ages.

    Very enjoyable: thanks again.

  41. Jim T says:

    Great puzzle – excellent clues.

    Liked SALAD DODGER, WORKTOP, BURGER KING, MARIAH CAREY (of course) and LATTE especially.

    Thanks to Tramp and UY.

  42. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Really enjoyable challenging crossword.

    In my opinion Tramp was up to his usual standard.

    All my comments have already been said!

    But I too was astonished I hadn’t seen the rha for Mariah Carey. Thought it was some kind of anagram plus something I couldn’t parse.

    Also never heard of Kerygma but the wordplay got me there.

    Like Tupu I assumed the Eric in Numeric was some sort of reference to the Author of 1984 and my historical sense was is bad enough not to know the relevance of the date re the NUM! However Tramp didn’t mention it so perhaps it was subliminal!

    I appear to be in the minority in parsing ROPER the instant I got REMBRANDT leading to the answer. It’s only “right and proper”!

    Thanks to UY and Tramp.

  43. tupu says:

    Hi Brendan

    For the record, the reference to Orwell merely crossed my mind, but I parsed the answer a la UY. As you say, it is interesting that neither Eileen’s idea nor this one seem to have been consciously in Tramp’s mind. But then nor apparently was any mini-theme of over-indulgence, junk food, and the like. Perhaps, as you suggest, the sub-conscious writes its own stories, unknown to the conscious author.

  44. Monkeypuzzler says:

    Oh, I know no-one will be reading this now, but surely “device” (singular) does not lead to “gadgetry” (plural) in 5d?

  45. Tramp says:

    Monkeypuzzler @44. It’s a good point — I’ve only just spotted that.

  46. jetdoc says:

    I took this with me for entertainment on the journey to and from my quiz last night, and it was well worth it, proving to be an enjoyable challenge. I particularly liked 16d, for BICEPS. Thanks, Tramp.

  47. bdg says:

    re 44/45, but isn’t “device making” gadgetry?

  48. Tramp says:

    bdg@47 yes — that’s what I meant. I thought it unusual that it had slipped through the checking process and that nobody had mentioned it on here.

  49. Tom Willis says:

    Just finished! Thanks Tramp, good fun as usual. Good to get ‘roper’ explained. ‘Salad dodger’ is the kind of clue that would feature in the crossword in Viz – anyone else do that one? (warning: it’s not for the faint-hearted).

  50. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks to Uncle Yap and everyone for the blog, and to Tramp for the puzzle – a very interesting puzzle – and perhaps even more for stopping by and sharing.

    Got a little frustrated when I kept running into “definitions” like “this” and “here” but of course… one has to hand it to the setter for the sheer number of &lit clues. Between my parsings and the explanations here, I was left with only one tiny quibble, at 19. “Ads” =/= “commercial break”. It is “commercial breaks”.

    Couldn’t parse ROPER, loved BURGER KING, had to cheat via checked letters for REMBRANDT and kicked myself. I also had the “Back to the Future” moment with 6, having knocked out enough letters to try to figure out the second word, with my first guess being “destiny”. Pencilled in 1A in a similar fashion, didn’t look it up but my mind was full of those salad tossing machines they make…

    COD of course, and perhaps COtM or even COtY was 26.

  51. Uncle Yap says:

    Huw Powell@50, “commercial break” in this instance is a collective noun for several advertisements. There is nothing wrong with the clue.

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