Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,886 – Brendan

Posted by Andrew on March 4th, 2013


I was thinking we were about due a non-Rufus Monday, and was delighted to see Brendan’s name on this puzzle. The usual light touch – mostly not too difficult, a couple of perhaps slightly obscure words, though clearly clued.

As always with Brendan there’s a theme, here relating to DOUBLE ACT in 24a. As well as some cross-referencing clues, there are also some well-known double acts in the grid. I noticed MORECAMBE and WISE, LITTLE and LARGE, HOPE and CROSBY (Bob and Bing), and LAUREL and HARDY, but it wouldn’t surprise me if I’d missed some. I also need some help in explaining 6d.

9. MORECAMBE MORE (larger number) + B in CAME
10. INTRO R[ook] in INTO (deeply involved with)
11. GESSO G + ESSO . I don’t think I’d heard of this paint mixture, but it’s clearly clued
12. RECHERCHE REACH EARACHE less three A[rea]s
13. LAY INTO Hidden in disLAY INTOlerance
14. THE WASH Anagram of WHAT plus either SHE or HE’S
17. RUMBA RUM (odd, unusual) + BA (degree)
19. TWO “It takes two to tango”, and 2 is the only even prime number
20. AMOUR U in reverse of ROMA (Italian for Rome, hence “foreign capital”)
21. ELASTIC Hidden in performancE LAST I Conducted
22. LEGALLY LEG + ALLY (two “supporters” – no bras involved for a change)
24. DOUBLE ACT (BAD CLUE TO)* – nice and easy for this key answer
26. ROUEN ROUE + N (last letter of Don Juan)
28. DUETS T in DUES – double acts might perform duets
29. ALLOTMENT ALL + ME in OT + NT (collections of books)
1. SMOG SMOG is a portmanteau word, from SMOKE + FOG, and heavy smog hampers drivers. The use of “portmanteau” to denote a word formed from two others comes from Humpty Dumpty’s explanation to Alice of some of the words in Jabberwocky. ‘You see it’s like a portmanteau—there are two meanings packed up into one word.’
2. CROSBY CROS[s] + BY – town in Merseyside
3. ACCOUNTANT (ACT ACT NON U)* – one of several clues using the phrase “double ACT” literally
5. MERCUTIO Hidden in perforMER CUT I Offer. Although there are quite a few other hidden clues in this puzzle, it took me a while to spot this one.
6. WISE Not sure about this – wise=sage, and some reference to Kipling that I don’t get: maybe to the “six honest serving men” in The Elephant’s Child, which are “What and Why and When/And How and Where and Who”; or maybe If with its line ”And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise”. (Clue: Sage nonsensically contradicting Kipling)
7. STACCATO (ACT ACT)* in so. Staccato is a musical term meaning “detached”, i.e. not smooth
8. HOPE Anthony HOPE, author of The Prisoner of Zenda, and great expectations are hopes
13. LARGE LAGER with the R moved to the middle
15. EXAGGERATE reverse of (EGG (urge) + AXE (cut)) + RATE (speed)
16. HARDY The author Thomas Hardy (1840-1928) was roughly a contemporary of Anthony Hope (1863-1933)
18. MEASURED Double definition
22. LITTLE L + TITLE with the first two letters reversed
23. LAUREL A in LURE + L
24. DODO DODO – DO (act) twice, and an old-fashioned or conservative person can be called a dodo
25. LASS Even letters of cLeAnSeS
27. NUTS Double definition – we don’t usually think of nuts as fruits, but botanically they are

42 Responses to “Guardian 25,886 – Brendan”

  1. muffin says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan
    A alight drawback of this type of crossword is that it allowed me to solve MORECAMBE, LITTLE and LAUREL from the theme rather than their clues.
    I particularly liked HOPE.
    Slight misprint in your answer to 12ac, Andrew – recHerche

  2. muffin says:

    Slight misprint in my post too!

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I took WISE as a homophone of Whys in the poem you cite – seven million of them contradicting his friend at the end.

    You’ve a couple of typos in RECHERCHE – the word itself and there are 3 areas missing, not two.

    I thought this was an entertaining puzzle, enhanced by the theme, without which it might have seemed rather pedestrian – although probably just right for a Monday!

  4. Judy says:

    Very enjoyable while straightforward – thanks. Kipling reference in 6d is to “West is West and East is East and never the twain shall meet” W(est) is E(ast).

  5. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew & Brendan

    This was the perfect start to the week although I suspect that some of overseas and younger puzzlers will not recall Little & Large.

    CROSBY was my last in.

    Sorry, but I cannot explain WISE either.

  6. muffin says:

    Judy @4
    Lovely explanation, but the quotation is the other way round:
    OH, East is East, and West is West, and never the twain shall meet,
    Till Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat;

  7. Aztobesed says:

    6 is a reference to’ East is East and West is West”, so the contradiction is W is E.

    I thought the writer might be Pope who might have ambitions to become Gregory the Great say. The pairs sorted it all.

    Thanks for the blog.

  8. Aztobesed says:

    A quick check on Great Popes threw up Leo, Gregory, Dioscurus, John Paul and Dionysus. I thought I’d unearthed a clever little clue. I felt a bit disappointed when I had to ditch it.

  9. John Appleton says:

    I think we had DOUBLE ACT fairly recently (and in the same position, too), but it didn’t really spoil anything. Quick solve; good enough for a Monday.

    Minor typo in your explanation of SMOG: SMOKE rather than SOKE.

  10. michelle says:

    It took me a while to get going (1st clue in was 4d EMBRYO) but I enjoyed this puzzle by Brendan with its theme of DOUBLE-ACTS including MORECAMBE & WISE, LAUREL & HARDY, HOPE & (Dorothy L)AMOUR, HOPE & CROSBY, LITTLE & LARGE as well as the clues such as DUETS, TWO, DODO, STACCATO, ACCOUNTANT & TOCCATAS.

    Too many favourites in this wonderful puzzle but apart from the ones I have already mentioned, I liked ROUEN & GESSO.

    As a non-Brit it was interesting to learn about some new places in the UK: MORECAMBE, CROSBY & THE WASH. (Thanks, Wikipedia)

    I wasn’t sure how to parse 1d and 6d, so thanks for the blog and posts above regarding these two clues.

  11. Andrew says:

    Thanks to those who pointed out my Monday morning typos – now corrected. Also thank to Judy (et al) for the W IS E explanation, which I’m sure is what’s intended.

  12. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Brendan and Andrew

    Nice to be up to date and enjoy this over lunch – saw the first part of theme with 7, 19 and 24 early but only spotted the second part toward the end which gave me MORECAMBE (lucky because I didn’t know the town). As with Bryan, my last in was CROSBY and again more from the theme than knowing the town.

    Was another who could not parse WISE but agree on the ‘west is east’ theory.

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan

    An enjoyable and not too difficult puzzle where the theme, as others note, helps the solver along, though it still leaves some parsing to do.

    I also took Bob Hope and Oliver Hardy as contemporaries while at the same time guessing, but not checking, that Hope was a writer who was Thomas Hardy’s contemporary.

    Thanks to Judy and Aztobesed for explaining Wise – very nice.

    I particularly liked 3d and 24d.

  14. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew

    Very straightforward for a Brendan, with a simple anagram for the key words. Hence, like muffin, I got many of the pairs with barely a glance at the clues. But Brendan’s clues are always varied and interesting and this was pleasing to solve. It was good to see DOUBLE ACT used in different senses.

    SMOG was a write-in for me once I had the M, as ‘portmanteau’ is these days far more commonly used (I think?) in the sense of a hybrid word than in its original sense of a suitcase. In fact, it took me a while to see the intended surface meaning, as the cryptic meaning leapt out at me!

    I couldn’t parse WISE, but the ‘West is East’ explanation is surely true, and very nicely done – which probably makes this the COD for me, even though it went over my head.

  15. Trailman says:

    Well, I do prefer this to a Rufus. It’s all a matter of personal preference of course, but Mondays usually rely too much on double defs for me. Double acts a wry comment perhaps?

    GESSO took ages due to brain failure, and I liked DODO for ‘extremely conservative’ plus the variation double act. I only missed a more recent double act: DECANT would have been nice somewhere.

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    A very enjoyable puzzle and a nice change from Rufus (no offence to Rufus!).

    I needed your explanation of SMOG.

    And Judy@4’s explanation of WISE.

    Good fun!

  17. Mark I says:

    I think you’re missing an “e” from 15 down (or I’ve misunderstood your square brackets);

    It’s EGG AXE rising + RATE.

  18. Andrew says:

    Mark I, you’re right; I miscounted the Es – I’ll correct the blog.

  19. dunsscotus says:

    Thanks, Brendan, Andrew – and Judy for her ‘w-is-e’, which eluded me entirely. Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, and was lucky enough to spot 24ac straight away, which made things go quicker.

    I hope this isn’t too egocentric, but I want to share the fact that, for the first time ever, and with much use of Chambers, I finally finished an Azed yesterday. What a nice feeling!

  20. crypticsue says:

    A very enjoyable start to Monday morning thank you Brendan and Andrew too.

  21. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Brendan and Andrew.

    This was a pleasant start to the week. My first thought with MORECAMBE and CROSBY was that we were in for a north-western theme and then bays with THE WASH and the clue for LAUREL but once DOUBLE ACTS went in, there was a search for WISE et al.

    We have had GESSO before. Nice clue.

    Giovanna x

  22. Robi says:

    Thanks Brendan for a good theme and enjoyable crossword. I wondered if the intention had been to get LAMOUR in the middle. If so, there is apparently (via Google) a part of NEUCHATEL called NEUCHTEL, unless I have misunderstood.

    Thanks Andrew; the ease of the theme clue certainly helped in the solve. I looked for the only six-letter place left to put LAUREL, and bingo! I’m not sure that I understand why ‘in express’ is in 15; the surface seems to make sense without it. Could anyone please explain why it is there? I did like RECHERCHÉ.

  23. Apple Granny says:

    We agreed that this was a very good start to the week’s crosswords. Thanks for explaining why “Smog” and portmanteau match. It was obviously smog. And thanks for explaining “Wise”. The new word was “gesso” which we had heard of but didn’t remember the meaning until we checked in Chambers.

  24. Andrew says:

    Robi – in 15d the definition is “express, exceeding what’s reasonable”; without “express” it wouldn’t be defining a verb.

    (I’m fairly sure your NEUCHTEL is a mistake arising from a missing “â” (a-circumflex) in Neuchâtel. The &‍226; that appears at the top of the page you link to is an HTML encoding for that character.)

  25. george says:

    I echo lots of the above sentiments re an enjoyable puzzle with some clever clues and thanks to Andrew for explaining some solutions whose parsing had eluded me.

    When I saw ferry and northwestern town in 2d I immediately thought of the Gerry and the Pacemakers song “Ferry Cross the Mersey’. Looking at the map I see CROSBY is in fact north of Liverpool and the Mersey so will not act as a terminal for river crossings. I think it’s a good clue nevertheless.

  26. Robi says:

    Thanks, Andrew – yes that makes sense for ‘express.’

    (Underneath, it gives: ‘Location : Neuchtel, Neuchâtel, Mittelland, Switzerland’ so, not sure if this is a district, an alternative or what.)

  27. NormanLinFrance says:

    Neuchâtel is both the main town and the canton.

  28. Jeceris says:

    I’m mystified by the discussion involving LAMOUR and NEUCHATEL. Could Robi enlighten me?

  29. Robi says:

    Jeceris @28; across the middle of the grid, it reads TWO AMOUR. This could be changed to TIL AMOUR, but then one would have to find a word that is ?E?C?T?L for 5d. The only one I could come up with was NEUCHTEL. This can be quite often found on Google, but as Andrew @24 said, this may be because the software omits the â sometimes after it has been typed.

  30. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Late to the party today, but just dropping in to say that I liked this one. MERCUTIO was my favourite, for the reason Andrew mentions.

    Thanks to S&B.

  31. muck says:

    Thanks Andrew and Brendan

    GESSO is a surface preparation for painting, somewhat like plaster. It is not really ‘a paint mixture’.

  32. coltrane says:

    I am sorry to change the subject, but it has been over a week since we had a post from RCW. Is there anyone who visits this post who might be able to throw any light on his. It would be good to know that he is OK and plans a return soon!!

  33. Brendan (not that one) says:

    What a pleasant surprise to have a Rufus free Monday. And a cracking crossword as well.

    I saw the theme early on before I had any of the names in the grid. This led quite quickly to MORECAMBE and WISE.

    However due to an interruption I managed to forget all about this which made completing the grid pleasantly difficult.

    Thanks to Andrew and Brendan.

  34. Morpheus says:

    Really enjoyable. Nice for a Monday puzzle to rise above the usual basic workout. And is “embryo” also an example of a double act?…

  35. slipstream says:

    Good one Morpheus.

    I have to confess that I solved the puzzle but completely missed the theme. Never connected HOPE and CROSBY, nor LAUREL and HARDY. Must be Monday again.

  36. otleyeagle says:

    Hmm…I managed to get CHAS (Dickens) for 8down, ‘n’ DAVE (Cameron) for 24d….

  37. rhotician says:

    This rang bells.

    Brendan has used the same grid in four of his last five puzzles. This is because he starts with a theme and has to find a grid to accommodate the theme words. In these cases the 4’s and 5’s in the grid come in handy.

    Brummie, not long ago in 25878, plays with ‘double’ and clues DOUBLE ACT as E.g. Laurel and Hardy’s “dodo”.

    Brendan in 24206 from 2007 has “It could be folded once or twice – it’s ambiguous” for DOUBLE MEANING. This both describes and exemplifies the theme, which is double definitions which are more or less contradictory.

    Firmly secured or escaped – BOLTED
    Disappeared or remaining – LEFT
    Show or hide – SCREEN
    Of highest qualty or worst – BEST
    Tangles or untangles – RAVELS
    Permitted or penalized – SANCTIONED
    Approach or pull away – DRAW
    Added fine particles to or removed fine particles from – DUSTED
    Become attached or separate – CLEAVE
    Careful checking or careless mistake – OVERSIGHT

  38. Paul B says:

    Has not RCW been a friend of yours, Betty?

  39. rhotician says:

    RCW has never been unfriendly to me, certainly. Here he has recently mentioned hospital visits, connected apparently with heart problems. Bit of a worry that.

  40. rhotician says:

    Marcus du Sautoy likes to refer to two as the odd prime.

  41. matt says:

    Agree with the above – been checking back through the days to see if Mr Whiting has been around. I hope he’s back soon.

  42. Huw Powell says:

    What a delightful workout! I started last night, rather into the Scotch, and got a few, among them DOUBLE CAT and SCATTACO [sic]. The double double theme theme was so much fun! Using DOUBLE ACT in at least three different ways (as part of anagrams three times, and the DODO and DUETS) would have been enough, but when I got LAUREL it gave me HARDY. Which is also how I solved WISE and CROSBY. Missed L & L, but I have heard of them. And then having TWO dead center? Sheer bloody poetry.

    Loved the difficulty level – I can see how one of you smarter people could have banged this out in a twelve minute train ride, but I just had to set to it and keep working. Couldn’t have done it without the double use of the theme. The explanation for WISE is sublime.

    I also spent some time about 3/4 of the way along musing about 2 as the “only even prime”. This is only interesting because the only number we have a special word for being divisible by is 2. Every other prime is also unique in being the only number divisible by it. The concept of evens and odds isn’t even interesting or useful in mathematics. What’s more fun is that all the numbers divisible by 3 have digits that add up to a number divisible by 3 (this is also true of 9). To makes things even more fun, the captcha I got today is two + 4 = ? A thematic captcha!!!

    Thanks to Andrew and the rest of you for the blog and double thanks to Brendan for a gem of a puzzle.

    PS – the bloggers can email posters. Would it be possible to drop R C W a brief note mentioning our concern for his well-being?

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