Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,900 / Philistine

Posted by PeterO on March 20th, 2013


The puzzle may be found at

The first question is: who is the setter? The crossword front page announces Arachne, but the puzzle itself gives the byline to Philistine. I cannot be sure, but I lean towards the former; perhaps one or the other might make an appearance  to clear the matter up. Either way, it is an excellent offering, not too difficult, but a pleasure to solve.

9. I’m no lunatic, coming in to reduce hate (9)
ABOMINATE An envelope (‘coming in’) of OMIN, an anagram (‘lunatic’) of ‘I’m no’ in ABATE (‘reduce’).
10. Fur would have been warmer after 3 (5)
OTTER 3D is AITCH, and put one in front of the answer gives [h]OTTER (‘warmer’). OTTER has popped up twice in recent Everymans, once with the same definition.
11. One may be speeding either way (4,3)
RACE CAR A palindrome.
12. Agent dines often on box (7)
REPEATS A charade of REP (‘agent’) plus EATS (‘dines’). Arachne / Philistine, you should be doing something useful like setting more crosswords, rather than watching TV.
13. If it’s after 3, hang around for deliveries (4)
OVER Another aspirate – [h]OVER (‘hang around’).
14. Bipolar disorder features everywhere (4,3,3)
HIGH AND LOW Double definition.
16. Dude perhaps worried at the end of term (3,4)
DUE DATE A charade of DUED, an anagram (‘perhaps’) of ‘dude’, plus ATE (‘worried’).
17. Self-proclaimed birdwatcher? (7)
SPOONER This one made me laugh: a Spoonerism of ‘birdwatcher’ is WORD BOTCHER. Finally a Spoonerism clue that does not signal itself!
19. Traffic warden’s note stated why I don’t like this fine (7-3)
TICKETY-BOO A charade of TICKET (‘note’) plus Y, a homophone (‘stated’) of ‘why’, plus BOO (‘I don’t like this’).
22. Shall I speak of which force is 4th? (4)
LISP Cryptic definition; force with a lithp.
24. Island‘s fine, after a fashion? Not quite (7)
OKINAWA A charade of OK (‘fine’) plus IN A WA[y] (‘after a fashion’) cut short (‘not quite’).
25. Dash a couple of final letters on food (7)
PIZZAZZ A charade of PIZZA (‘food’) plus ZZ (‘a couple of final letters’).
26. Peer of Tennyson’s temper of heroic hearts (5)
EQUAL A reference to Tennyson’s splendid poem Ulysses. I sometimes feel like throttling Ulysses, but can only respect him for the final lines:

Tho’ much is taken, much abides; and though
We are not now that strength which in old days
Moved earth and heaven; that which we are, we are;
One equal temper of heroic hearts,
Made weak by time and fate, but strong in will
To strive, to seek, to find, and not to yield.

The full poem may be found at

27. Scientific investigator smashed china and left (9)
TECHNICAL A charade of TEC (detective, ‘investigator’) plus HNICA, an anagram (‘smashed’) of ‘china’, plus L (‘left’).
1. 3 cooler cosmetic (4,11)
HAIR CONDITIONER In the across clues, we had two answers obtained by removing an H; now come three where the answer has the added H: here, without it we have AIR CONDITIONER (‘cooler’).
2. It’s hard for prisoner on island (8)
CONCRETE A charade of CON (‘prisoner’) plus CRETE (‘island’).
3. A desire or aspiration (5)
AITCH A charade of ‘a’ plus ITCH (‘desire’).
4. Very thin 3 carrier recedes with time (8)
HAIRLINE If you remove the initial H, you get AIRLINE (‘carrier’). The wordplay is bracketed by two definitions.
5. Home 3 home? (6)
HEARTH Again, if you remove the initial H, you get EARTH (‘home’, the second one).
6. Fellow compiler’s half-written something positive (9)
COMPANION A charade of COMP[iler] (‘compiler’s half-written’) plus ANION (physics and chemistry, ‘something positive’. Actually, an anion is negatively charged, and in an electrolyte migrates to an anode, the positive terminal).
7. Correspondent in Minnesota (2,4)
ST PAUL Double definition; the city, and the biblical epistle writer.
8. This angry expression by fox (9,6)
CROSSWORD PUZZLE A charade of CROSS WORD (angry expression’) plus PUZZLE (‘fox’).
15. Last minute gathering to one side (9)
LATERALLY A charade of LATE (‘last minute’) plus RALLY (‘gathering’).
17. The last word of 14 in room making laborious progress (4,4)
SLOW PACE An envelope (‘in’) of LOW (‘the last word of 14′; 14 is HIGH AND LOW) in SPACE (‘room’).
18. Subtle difference is admitted to be a bother (8)
NUISANCE An envelope (‘is admitted’) of ‘is’ in NUANCE (‘subtle difference’).
20. Result of seduction: getting end away, maybe (6)
COITUS An anagram (‘maybe’) of ‘s[ed]uctio[n]’ with ‘end’ removed, and an &lit definition.
21. The old stay out for bread and beer (6)
YEASTY A charade of YE (‘the old'; of course, it never really was a Y, but a thorn Þ) plus ASTY, an anagram (‘out’) of ‘stay’. An allusion more than a definition.
23. Lightweight single layer (5)
OZONE A charade of OZ (ounce, ‘lightweight’) plus ONE (‘single’).

43 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,900 / Philistine”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO. My money’s on Philistine.

    Never have I felt such dismay after the first run through of a puzzle with only REPEATS chalked up! Stared at it for five minutes and then got on the right wavelength and suddenly it wasn’t too tough but still really enjoyable.

    LISP is a hidden answer as well.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks Peter. Luckily 9A came at once and the thematic 3D a minute later. Three very nice clues which all earned an exclamation mark – SPOONER, LISP and the last one in, the playful 20D. Thanks Philistine, who it must surely be

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, PeterO, for the blog.

    A delightful puzzle, with many smiles, chortles and ahas – and undoubtedly Philistine: I did it in the paper and, in any case, it’s less than two weeks since we had an Arachne puzzle and exactly four since the last Philistine.

    I particularly liked the clues referring to 3dn, which, fortunately, I got early on, and many others, including PIZZAZZ, TICKETY-BOO and CROSSWORD PUZZLE and, favourites of all, the wickedly witty SPOONER and COITUS.

    I read 6dn as COMP AN ION, being, to my shame, less familiar with anions.

    Huge thanks, Philistine, for a highly entertaining puzzle, which has put me in a really good mood on a damp, miserable day.

  4. Colin says:

    Thanks to PerterO and Philistine (as has now been confirmed).

    Another great puzzle. This week is shaping up very nicely.

    I didn’t get SPOONER until all the crossers were in place and then I laughed out loud. My clue of the week so far by some distance.

  5. chris skidmore says:

    Thanks to Philistine and PeterO!

    An excellent puzzle – especially with the self-referential 8d and the perfect Spooner clue in 17a – a real ‘duh’ moment when I parsed that – it was the last in!

    However, I’ll have to take away a mark for the confusion of ‘anion’ and ‘anode’ – especially after the scientifically flawless puzzle yesterday.

  6. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Peter

    Very fine puzzle from Philistine.

    Some great clues: I particularly liked SPOONER (a reverse Spooner clue: how clever), LATERALLY and COITUS.

    As a chemist myself, my only disappointment was when I parsed 6d as COMP(iler), ANION – with much dismay at the change of polarity. Unlike this compiler to make such an egregious error, methought. But Eileen’s parsing COMP + AN ION does just about work. A case of too much learning being a dangerous thing?

  7. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO and Philistine (I presume)

    A very enjoyable puzzle – like NeilW I stared with dismay for a time before getting started.

    I too parsed 6d as comp + an + ion. Gervase’s comment seems to apply to me here since I did not know/recall anion.

    Several ticked clues. 17a was the best ‘spooner’ clue for some time. I also liked the theme clue, 3d, as well as 7d and 18d.

  8. Arachne says:

    Much as it pains me to do so, I have to admit that the credit for this beaut must go to my brilliant friend and colleague Philistine, who just keeps getting better and better!
    Arachne x

  9. John Appleton says:

    A very good puzzle, but one that ultimately I didn’t manage to finish. SPOONER is indeed excellent, and one that I didn’t get. I got the thematic ones though, and the only quibble I’d have is that they were all in them same part of the grid – making that corner difficult until the penny dropped.

  10. alan m r says:

    I parsed 16A as DUED + AT + E (‘the’ end), with ‘end’ doing double duty.
    Failed to get SPOONER, but I like the subtle twist. (Could even be extrapolated to Snooper = watcher!)

  11. Gervase says:

    The debate around the parsing of COMPANION reminds me of Isaac Asimov’s shibboleth for distinguishing chemists from the general populace: UNIONISED (though I’m sure he spelt it with a zee!). Normal people would interpret this as UNION-ISED – belonging to, or embracing, a (trade) union. Chemists, on the other hand, might see this as UN-IONISED – not split into charged species. PERIODIC is another…

  12. Algarve Nick says:

    Definitely Philistine – brilliant crossword. He’s got to be the laureate-in-waiting to the crown of Araucaria.

  13. george says:

    Many thanks to Philistine for a wonderful puzzle with some excellent clues that were a joy to solve after a very slow start. Most of my favourites have been mentioned above.

    Thanks too PeterO for making me appreciate some of the parsing of solutions that I had guessed at, but did not fully understand.

    Can Friday’s be better than this?

  14. Trailman says:

    Thanks Philistine (on whom my money was always on) and PeterO for the blog, not least in disabusing me of TECHNICAL being an anag of CHINA LEFT somehow gone wrong.

    Just shared 20d with Mrs Trailman. The clue that is. Ho ho ho.

  15. Trailman says:

    Hasten to add we were in M&S at the time.

  16. PeterM says:

    … as opposed to S&M, presumably !

    (By the way, one of our bus companies is S.M.Travel – but they’re not all that uncomfortable.)

  17. Rowland says:

    This would not be by Arachne, who sets neater clues. This for me is very untidy, as if it doesn’t really have an identity in the clueing, all over the shop, as with the H thing for examle,PLUS a slightly distatseful reference to mental illness! Not necessary in mt view. As if Philistine would go out of his way to make things harder for him/her self, but that is my view.

  18. Chris Jobson says:

    Thanks Peter,

    For 22A I wondered if it’s actually a hidden answer in “ShalL I SPeak” with “of which” being the indicator, and the rest of the clue a definition by example?

  19. NeilW says:

    Chris @18. Yes you’re right – see my comment @1.

  20. coltrane says:

    Terrific puzzle, terrific blog; thanks to you both. My CODs conform with others SPOONER (clue of the month, perhaps year for me) and TICKETY BOO.

    Perversely I got to HEARTH another way. HEART = Home as in home is where your heart is + H. I can well imagine P might have had it in mind as well!!

    Another great clue which I do not think has had a mention is the palindromic RACE CAR.

    At one point when I was putting in all the Zs my money was on a pangram but it was not to be.

  21. muffin says:

    Thanks PeterO and Philistine
    Some great clues – especially for SPOONER and COITUS. I rather liked the “add an aitch” ones.
    Gervase @ 11 – PERIODIC confuses us chemists as well – is it a reference to “our table”, or PER-IODIC acid HIO4?

  22. Mitz says:

    Thanks Philistine and PeterO, and Arachne for not trying to claim credit for a puzzle anyone would have been proud of!

    Outstanding. Like NeilW @1 I had a very poor first run through, but as the penny very slowly dropped my enjoyment of the setters ingenuity just grew and grew. PIZZAZZ – good one! SPOONER – ha! But the coup de grace: COITUS – just brilliant.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I had decided that SPOONER was the right answer but did not understand why until I came to 15^2. Word Botcher indeed!

    I am another who tried to make an anagram of China and left for 27a :(

  24. chas says:

    As a separate matter I have just remembered that terrible hosting site where we used to be. I have quite dropped my habit of type in a comment, capture it with CTRL+C, submit it then wait to see if it worked.

    Well done Gaufrid for moving use here.

  25. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, I was also a disbelieving TECHNIFAL person for a time; SPOTTER for 17a wasn’t convincing either; then I got NUISANCE…

    For me Philistine doesn’t have the feel of Araucaria.

    I wasn’t keen on 26a EQUAL – reminds me of the days Xwords had direct poetic quotes in them, which were tedious.

    Otherwise quite enjoyable

  26. John Appleton says:

    Rowland @17: I did wonder if anyone would find the bipolar reference not to their liking; I personally didn’t have a problem with it. From what very little I know of it, I might consider Philsitine’s estimation simplistic rather than distasteful, but as I say, I’m not that knowledgeable on it.

  27. Mitz says:

    Making reference to any condition, physical or psychological, is not of itself offensive. The features of bipolar disorder are extreme “highs”, periods during which the sufferer has (in some cases) too much energy, but can in a positive way lead to enhanced creativity, and severe “lows” of extreme depression that in the worst cases can lead to suicide. So, in this case the clue and its answer state in a simple way the nature of the disorder. There is nothing derogatory about people suffering in this way and there is no belittlement of the condition. You might just as well criticise Shed for including a clue for diaorrhea in the prize puzzle the Saturday before last.

  28. Tramp says:

    Excellent puzzle. I thought 19a was superb.

  29. rhotician says:

    Paul uses the word-botcher joke in 23994 and I’m sure I’ve seen it elsewhere. Usually clues for SPOONER have Reverend in them so today’ is neater.

  30. Drofle says:

    There were some lovely clues, particularly TICKETY-BOO and SPOONER. Great fun and altogether very clever.

  31. Martin P says:

    Thanks Philistine for a cracker, and all comments too.

    I didn’t have any hold-ups though, and it only lasted for half of my first pint of Golden Pippin.

  32. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Philistine and PeterO.

    Great fun today. I liked all the Hs and SPOONER was brilliant.

    Somehow I didn’t quite see COITUS as an Arachne clue but it was super!

    All the scientists must be pleased with an increase in scientific clues. Good for others, too, as new words acquired.

    I don;t see any problem with Bipolar. Surely it is better to acknowledge the illness rather than treat it unnaturally with kid gloves or hide away from it.The more normally that mental illness is treated; the better for the whole community.

    Giovanna x

  33. Martin P says:

    I second Giovanna’s inclusive attitude to affliction of whatever sort. To exclude prudishly any group from normal humorous constructions etc is to isolate them socially.

  34. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Great puzzle again from Philistine.

    I too had only REPEAT and HAIRLINE after the initial pass. However HAIRLINE finally led me to AITCH and things then progressed nicely.

    Last in was COITUS and I couldn’t parse EQUAL though I guessed it was some poetic reference. (which I too am not so keen on!)

    Rowland, don’t be such a grump ;-). The reference to mental disorder is yours. See Collins.


    3. having or characterized by two opposed opinions, natures, etc

    Thanks to Philistine and PeterO

  35. coltrane says:

    Giovanna @ 32 and Martin P @ 33 I totally concur!! If I break my leg everybody is solicitous and signs my pot, (well they used to when we had pots) but if I admit to a mental problem, I am treated with kid gloves. That is prejudice!! Let us assign it to the bin. ALL illnesses need to be diagnosed and where possible treated: end of story!! As Mitz @ 27 quite rightly said, Shed’s diaorrhea clue was not questioned!!

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I am in line with most of the posts above – Philistine´s 8d was a very enjoyable one. Not too difficult, just right.

    SPOONER was the last one in (after 18d made ‘spotter’ impossible). When the penny dropped, I thought ‘yes, of course’.
    While my PinC saw HEARTH as H+EARTH, I was more with coltrane @20 (HEART+H).

    In Philistine’s early Guardian days, I sometimes found his definitions just a tad too obvious. Nowadays, I do feel the opposite thing: not precise enough – only at times, that is!
    I am not a fan of definitions in which one still has to add ‘something that is or has’. Like in 12ac – the definition is ‘things that are often on (the) box’, not just ‘often on the box’. For the same reason, I think the definition in 21d is ‘for bread and beer’ (so including ‘for’) – still not really happy with it though.
    Is a HAIR CONDITIONER really a ‘cosmetic’? I am not convinced.

    But don’t get me wrong – overall I found this another nice puzzle by one of the Guardian’s top-notch setters.

    If one’s not interested in the technical aspects of cluing, one should stop reading from here onwards.
    The much admired (perhaps, satisfying) COITUS at 20d caused some discussion between my PinC and me. Here is another case of a subtraction anagram which has been discussed many times before on this site. Philistine wants us to FIRST delete ‘end’ from ‘seduction’ and then anagrammise it. That is if “maybe” is the anagram indicator. Some people including me are not happy with that because, when the deletion comes before the anagram, the letters should be deleted in the given order (which is not the case here, if one takes ‘maybe’ as the anagrind). My PinC could not be bothered as she saw ‘end’ as the elements of ‘end’ in any order.
    For me, the clue would work like this: (SEDUCTION)* (anagrind: result of) minus END (anagrind: maybe). But then, unfortunately, it is not an &Lit as “getting end away, maybe” has nothing to do with COITUS.
    Sorry, boys and girls, for all this.

    It was a nice crossword, no doubt about that.

  37. nametab says:

    I, as for others, only had REPEATS for 10 minutes, then AITCH popped up somehow, and a very enjoyable puzzle thereafter – didn’t get SPOONER though.
    For 27a: not sure that ‘technical’ and ‘scientific’ are synonymous, but hey ho.
    Thanks to Philistine – always good tussle – and to PeterO

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Agree, nametab, about your ‘technical’/’scientific’ doubts.
    ‘Technological’ comes much closer to ‘scientific’.
    I am afraid, it’s one more ‘minus’ for Philistine in the definition area, but still a clear ‘plus’ for the puzzle as a whole.

  39. NeilW says:

    Sil @36, nice to see you back!

    “Getting your end away” is a vernacular expression for COITUS.

  40. michelle says:

    Thanks for a great blog, PeterO.

    I enjoyed all of the clues linked to 3d, and my other favourites were 1d, 23d, 9a, 21a.

    I especially appreciated your explanations of how to parse 17a, 22a, 26a, 24a, 20d & 6d.

    I learnt two new words: TICKETY-BOO and ANION (parsing of 6d).

  41. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Whoa, Neil, that’s something I didn’t know.
    So, full credits to Philistine.
    How does he know that expression – not being a Brit?
    Because he’s a medic? :)
    And why don’t I know that expression – not being a Brit? :)

    Anyway, nice puzzle.

  42. Brendan (not that one) says:

    Hi Sil, nice to see your late postings again. (One of few to usually post after my late contributions.)

    Regarding your comments @36. I hope I don’t offend here but I guess, and seem to remember from past discussions, that you are not a native English speaker. This being the case it amazes and fills me with respect that you can achieve the level of sophistication in English to solve puzzles such as this.

    However may I point out that “getting end away, maybe” has everything to do with COITUS. In fact it’s a vulgar phrase which commonly would mean exactly that! :-o

  43. Rowland says:

    Weak though, for the subtraction, and defines twice. more or less.

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