Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,878 / Brummie

Posted by Eileen on February 22nd, 2013


A pleasant puzzle from Brummie to end a rather remarkable week – not so taxing as the last day or three but a nice, unobtrusive little theme, which I’ll leave you to spot, and some witty and enjoyable cluing. Many thanks, Brummie.


8 Dicky Hunt holding firm, with leader of union touching base
anagram [dicky] of HUNT round [holding] CO [firm] next to [touching] U[nion]

9 Speak without distinction, reversing laws lacking energy
reversal of RUL[e]S [laws] minus e [energy]

10 Oil blended in French wine: Bob Kennedy’s performing aid
anagram [blended] of OIL in VIN [French wine] + BOW [bob] – Nigel the violinist rather than Robert the senator

12,7 Capital place supplying two sorts of cheese
district of London [capital place]  and two sorts of cheese, of course

3 Nearby row surrounded on all sides
CLOSE [nearby] DIN [row]

16,22 Fig tree possibly restricts weight reduction: beware of such an offering
anagram [maybe] of FIG TREE round [restricts] KG [abbreviation – reduction] of kilogram [weight]
reference to Laocoön’s warning to the Trojans in the Aeneid not to take in the wooden horse: ‘ I fear the Greeks even [or especially] when they bring gifts’.

18 Acted like one who doesn’t go in for conventional bedtime activity?
cryptic definition, with a play on ‘go in for’

20,25 Missus, having 100 years of the Guardian, displays spirited confidence?
DUTCH [Missus – wife in Cockney rhyming slang: Duchess of Fife] + C [100] + OUR AGE [years of the Guardian], for ‘the artificial courage induced by drinking alcohol’, hence ‘spirited’ – nice!

21 Eg Laurel and Hardy’s “dodo”
DO = act
not being a fan, I didn’t know if there was a special reason  for using these two: googling produced a line from ‘Sons of the desert’ , ‘Now listen, dodo, you keep out of this’. [the second Google entry was this clue!]

24,15 Fancy UK T-shirt? Bah! — you’ll sweat in it
anagram [fancy] of UK T SHIRT BAH


2 Fir moved into store that has several arms, mainly
anagram [moved] of FIR in STASH [store] – ‘mainly’ meaning ‘in the sea’

3 Very long time holding up Virginia’s plants
AGES [very long time] round [holding] reversal [up] of VA [Virginia]
I didn’t know this plant but the cluing is faultless

4 As might be brakes of tank with coil rotation
anagram [rotation] of TANK and COIL

5,17across Not a single feature that would make old-style toast
CHIN-CHIN – an old-style greeting or toast

11 Group of players or front running athletic starters
OR + CHEST [front] + first letters [starters] of R[unning] A[thletics]
a change to have a charade for this word, rather than the anagrammed chestnut CARTHORSE [or Morph’s variation SHORT RACE last week]

12 Quiet boring thing’s clothing item?
SH [quiet] + AWL [boring thing]

14,6 Perhaps Murdoch wants the SW broadcast dish
IRIS [perhaps writer Murdoch] + anagram [broadcast] of THE SW

16 Irish lough without its source river turned unwholesome
anagram [turned] of  [ir]ISH LOUGH without its source [first letter] and r [river] – I think: I thought this was a rather weak clue, the anagram being so obvious, but I fear I may have missed something

17 Familiar female film star, bloody sort
CATE [female film star] + GORY [bloody]
I’m not really sure of this one, either: initially, I wanted ‘familiar’ to mean CAT [as in witch’s familiar] but then I was left with E. The film star is always called CATE, so I can’t see the need for ‘familiar’

19 Brave as a rose picker?
cryptic definition

20 Electronic concern when reverse circuit terminals in ruin
CT [reversal of first and last letters – terminals – of CircuiT] in DOOM [ruin]

21,1 Beats introducing performer’s speciality act?
cryptic definition?

23 Fruits singularly not given by uncaring types
cryptic definition, referring  to the expression: I don’t give / care a fig for …

58 Responses to “Guardian 25,878 / Brummie”

  1. greyfox says:

    I took ‘Cate’ to be a reference to Ms. Blanchett. A bit weak I thought.

  2. Duncan says:

    re 17 Cate Blanchett was christened Catherine, so Cate is a ‘familiar’ form.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Apart from the obvious theme, the double appearance of DOUBLE made me wonder if there were more going on… FIG appears twice two as does IRISH. The interesting thing is the alternative combinations scattered around the grid (e.g SWISS ROLL) – although it takes a stretch to find the “LUCK of the IRISH” in PLUCKY. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to double-match them all, so maybe I’ve not quite twigged Brummie’s game.

  4. NeilW says:

    … twice too, of course. :(

  5. michelle says:

    Enjoyable puzzle although I was slow to get going on it and I found the SE corner the most difficult, with 20d being the last in (probably because my brain seizes up when certain sports or “electronic problems” are mentioned in the clue).

    My favourites were DOUBLE CHIN, UNCOUTH & DUTCH COURAGE.

    I was not sure how to parse ‘bow’ in 10, 12/7 (no wonder I couldn’t parse it – I got it wrong, having put in SWISS MONTEGO!) and 17.

    Regarding 17, I also parsed it as CAT = familiar + GORY, but then had a problem with the ‘e’. If CATE (Blanchett, for example) + GORY I did not see the need for ‘familiar’ in the clue.

    Thank you for this blog, Eileen.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi NeilW

    Not for the first time, you’ve seen a bit more than I did. 😉

    I’ve just spotted DOUBLE DUTCH.

  7. michelle says:

    Regarding the clue for 20/25, does ‘the Guardian’ always equal ‘OUR’? I’ve seen it before but I forgot to ask about it.

  8. NeilW says:


  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Michelle

    Here, the clue was ‘of the Guardian’, so OUR, but ‘Guardian’ crops up quite often as WE or US – certainly worth filing away!

  10. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks Brummie and Eileen; most enjoyable and nice to finish after failing on Wednesday and having a disaster yesterday! I take it the mini-theme is simply the embedding of nations; I would have enjoyed a ‘scotch’ if you see what I mean. Oh, btw, I agree with Duncan @ 2 re. the divine Cate.

    Quite a week.

  11. NeilW says:

    michelle @7, sometimes “we”, depending on the case – and, of course, sometimes it’s a double bluff and something else entirely!

  12. NeilW says:

    Sorry, Eileen, for stepping on your toes!

  13. dunsscotus says:

    Hi. One use of a violin bow is to make a slur – ie the opposite of detached notes.

  14. Eileen says:

    Sorry you missed out on your scotch, dunsscotus!

    As NeilW points out, there’s a bit more to it than the five nations! [I’m just glad that I didn’t comment, as I was going to, that it was a pity that Brummie had repeated DOUBLE in the answers!] I think you’re stretching your violin bow a bit, though. 😉

    Re Cate Blanchett: I thought I’d made it clear that I knew that was who was mweant – but I still don’t see the need for ‘familiar’, as I’ve never seen or heard her called anything else

  15. muffin says:

    Thanks Brummie and Eileen
    I failed on DOTCOM, and couldn’t understand DRUM ROLL and SLEPT OUT. On the other hand, DOUBLE ACT was a delight when the penny dropped, and several other were pleasing.

  16. Stella says:

    Nice puzzle, and thanks for the blog, Eileen, and to NeilW for pointing out the more subtle theme.

    Regarding Ms. Blanchett, the more usual familiar form of her name would be Kate, which perhaps justifies the wordplay “Familiar female film star”

  17. NeilW says:

    This looks, more and more, like a work in progress – around the perimeter we have AA, NN, MYMY and, nearly SS – maybe it’s a coincidence or maybe Brummie just gave up on it.. Perhaps he’ll drop in and tell all!

  18. NeilW says:

    Stella @16, in that case, wouldn’t “unfamiliar” have been more appropriate? In any case, see Duncan @2 who, I think, nails it.

  19. george says:

    Thanks Eileen for the parsing of some of the answers that I got lucky with. I got 24,15 first and ended with 2. Concentrating on solving I had missed the theme completely and I’m impressed by extra layer of the alternative combinations possible.

    As a visitor to southern Spain I know AGAVES well. The bottom part of the plant is a huge rosette of spiky leaves, but it is the spectacular flowers that I love. They are taller than me (as my son would say – not difficult):

  20. michelle says:

    Eileen@9 & Neil@11
    thanks, I will file away the various possibilities

  21. michelle says:

    how about DOUBLE LOCK?

  22. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. Missed the theme, though I did spot that there was a lot of doubling up.

    (Glad to return to the blog after weeks of lurking…it’s been a very testing time personally, featuring sudden admission of husband to hospital, followed by house move! All sorted now, thankfully :-) )

  23. Robi says:

    Excellent crossword with accurate cluing and the different layers of themes [have we got them all?]

    Thanks Eileen; sterling job as ever. There is also, apparently, a double roll. Well done, Michelle for spotting double lock. Wikipedia gives: ‘Catherine Élise “Cate” Blanchett,’ so as above I suppose that is the reason for the ‘familiar.’ CATEGORY is a synonym of family, although I doubt whether the connection was intended as it wouldn’t really parse.

    I particularly liked DOUBLE CHIN, IRISH STEW and VIOLIN BOW (where, of course, I got misled by the Bob Kennedy at first.)

  24. Eileen says:

    It’s good to see you back, liz @22 – I’ve missed you.

    I’m glad things are better now and expect we’ll be hearing more from you. 😉

  25. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Brummie

    More going on here than I saw in a hasty solve which didn’t do justice to a puzzle that needs a solver like Yossarian in Catch22 who ‘saw everything twice’.

    I missed out on ‘parsing’ bow and on reference to ‘chin chin’.

    I liked 21a.

  26. Ellis B says:

    Robi #23 – “have we got them all?”

    Doubt it – probably more though mainly tenuous I guess.

    I’ve certainly seen an advert somewhere for a ‘Double Bath.’ ‘Irish Drum’ is a possibility and here’s a link to an interesting ‘Dutch Cottage':

  27. NeilW says:

    michelle, I’ll echo Robi – well done on DOUBLE LOCK. This is my favourite type of crossword, where there are so many hidden layers, irrelevant to the quick solve.

  28. michelle says:

    thanks – just found one more – FISH STEW

  29. muffin says:

    The Greek Star is apparently a newspaper in the US for the Greek community!

  30. michelle says:

    thanks Neil – you are, after all, one of my (many) mentors on 225. I’m glad to get your praise!

  31. NeilW says:

    michelle, thanks, but… mentor? Believe me, I’m still a learner!

  32. Miche says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Isn’t it “familiar” (17d) to address or refer to someone by only their first name?

    Incidentally,the “Duchess of Fife” explanation for [my old] Dutch is almost certainly folk etymology, as the term predates the creation of the title Duke of Fife.

  33. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I had been puzzled by ‘old-style toast’ in 5,17 because I had totally forgotten chin-chin as a spoken term.

    A distant memory tells me that the sound of chin-chin is offensive to Japanese people but I have never understood this. Can anybody clear it up?

    When I saw Murdoch in 14,6 I thought of Rupert and his family – no help at all. Eventually I spotted Iris :(

  34. michelle says:

    Neil@31 – no need to be so “humble” – you are obviously very good at solving cryptics.

    By “mentors” I mean everyone who has been encouraging or informative on 225, so apart from the bloggers I can think of the following as “mentors” (sorry, no capitals in this list): neilw, kathryn’s dad, william, tupu, muffin, rowly, rcwhiting, gaufrid, derek lazenby, coltrane, hkcolin, giovanna, simon, nametab, mitz, rhotician, huw powell.

    All in all, I’m glad I discovered this website.

    BTW I completed last Saturday’s Prize puzzle, and I’m eager to see the answers tomorrow.

  35. muffin says:

    Michelle @ 34
    I am honoured to be included in such a distinguished line-up!

  36. Eileen says:

    Hi chas

    Both Chambers and Collins [and Brewer’s] give chin-chin as being Chinese [please, please] with no mention of Japanese. However, I found this:

    [I suspect that you were being mischievous, as you could have googled for yourself. 😉 ]

    Hi Miche @32

    Chambers and Brewer’s also both give the Duchess of Fife origin for Dutch, but I had heard before – and forgotten – about the controversy.

    And hi, Michelle @34

    I think we’re all each other’s mentors here – that’s one of the great things about this site! Congratulations on finishing the Prize [and all the other recent ones]. I don’t think you’ve called yourself a beginner for a day or two – quite rightly! [But, as NeilW [almost] says, we’re all still learners.]

  37. michelle says:

    I agree with you, we’re all still learners. Viva 225!

  38. NeilW says:

    Oh, Eileen, please don’t put yourself in the same basket: some are more equal than others! :)

  39. Robi says:

    I doubt that this planned, but I’ve just realised that all the answers can be found in ‘double’ words – apart from the obvious ones, there is: racial slur; plucky duck; uncouth youth; age category; prayer shawl; and even Baron von Ghoulish

    from Nobby Robi 😉

  40. Eccles45 says:

    A fabulously enjoyable puzzle. Loads of fun. Even the write-ins such as (16,22) and (20,25) were a joy. Thanks Brummie

  41. Eileen says:

    Hi NeilW

    Please see my comment 6!!

  42. chas says:

    Eileen @36: thanks for the link – that explains what I heard about quite a few years ago.
    As you say I could have googled it myself but there are still things about WWW that I just do not instinctively do. I suppose it comes of my age – I retired a couple of years ago.

  43. NeilW says:

    Eileen, unwarranted, but thank you.

    Robi, I think that may be a bridge too far – I can only echo my earlier sentiment that it would be great if Brummie would drop in. Sadly, he only seems to do so when the comments are negative.

  44. Robi says:

    Neil @43; I was being a bit tichy. I don’t always mean what I say. :)

  45. Eileen says:

    Hi Robi

    So long as you follow Afrit’s lassic injunction [Armchair Crosswords, 1949]:

    “You need not mean what you say, but you must say what you mean”

  46. Eileen says:

    That should be ‘classic injunction’.

  47. John Appleton says:

    Good end to the week, I thought. The possibility of a theme dawned after getting SWISS and TURSKISH in early on, but it didn’t occur to me after that. Cleverly done, in hindsight.

  48. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A nice exercise in solving a puzzle while entirely avoiding all spurious double-sided-tracks.
    My only problems were ‘drum-roll’ which I couldn’t accept as CD;
    and ‘ghoulish’ which I thought very clever and precise (which is probably why I took so long to get it).
    I did decrypt 3d easily but the plant was new to me.
    Tramp, Philistine, Picaroon, Brummie – a much higher quality run, thankyou Guardian.

  49. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    Like others, I enjoyed this one. Brummie is one of those compilers who I often struggle with, and it’s just a ‘wavelength’ thing, because his clueing is precise. I should be getting better, because he’s pretty much a once per month man, so I’ll have had a go at a few.

    I thought VIOLIN BOW was particularly creative today, but there was good stuff elsewhere too. I saw a few countries scattered around the place but cba to really track down all the links.

    I too would hesitate to call myself a ‘mentor’ (but thank you anyway, Michelle); however I do remember when I first started contributing here a few years ago, people were very helpful and friendly when I asked daft questions. Some folk say that they started out solving cryptics in a group, with friends or work colleagues, and I guess this blog is the cyberspace version of that – if someone can’t get or understand a solution, then someone else will.

  50. MDatta says:

    With RCW on drum roll. Am I missing something? Lots of alternative cd’ s jump to mind. Otherwise a pleasant run out.

  51. RCWhiting says:

    “Some folk say that they started out solving cryptics in a group, with friends or work colleagues, and I guess this blog is the cyberspace version of that –”
    Not in my experience,it isn’t.
    The former,in an all-male work-force, was a ruthlesss dog eats dog competition.The first test was to hear the clue read out to a shuffling crowd of 6 or 8; then to spot any crossers and the enumeration and finally shout the solution before anyone else.
    We warmed up on the D.Tel. and then played the main event – The G.
    When I started, getting one success per lunch hour was sublime,and I always tried to read the completed grid after the scrimmage had dispersed.
    Happy days.

  52. muffin says:

    Sorry about your experience @51, RCW. I agree with KD. I learned as an apprentice, journeyman and competent (still awaiting master status) in school staff common rooms at lunchtimes (when pressure of marking allowed).

  53. Kriscros says:

    thank you Eileen and Brummie.

    A fitting friday offering and treat. I missed the 2nd layer of the theme so thank you to 225 for adding to the enjoyment.

  54. mrpenney says:

    As regards the “familiar” film star: Those of us with any manners at all know that she is Ms. Blanchett. If you call her Cate, you’re being excessively familiar.

  55. Otherstuff says:

    To say Chin is, here in Italy, quite common but of course it is spelt “cin” here, I think that chin chin is slightly less common but not unknown. Maybe it was more common in times past but along with many phrases that got brought over to the UK and made popular by such as Julian and Sandy, they have not evolved as they do in their source country. Been living here just over a year and never yet heard cin cin but my wife confirms that it is still in use.

  56. Querulous says:

    Chin-chin does indeed mean the male member in Japanese slang – it’s pronounced cheen-cheen.

  57. RCWhiting says:

    muffin @52
    No need for ‘sorry’, it was a great time. The only way to learn(?)
    Some of the personal comments about the compilers after a disappointment would have sent half this MB off to bed with an attack of the vapours.

  58. Huw Powell says:

    I think Irish courage is a synonym for Dutch courage…

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

six + 1 =