Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,931 / Paul

Posted by Eileen on April 25th, 2013


I think this is one of the easiest Paul puzzles I’ve solved – but no less enjoyable for that –  and, after yesterday, that’s perhaps a bit of a relief. Clues such as 20ac, 22ac, 25ac, 4dn, 18dn – and also 8,24ac –  give strong hints as to the authorship and provide a few smiles / sniggers. There are, as always, some inventive anagram and insertion indicators, ingenious constructions and witty surfaces. Many thanks, Paul!


8,24down Sonny didn’t tremble ___ , in view of East London?
[Sonny didn’t tremble] BUT CHER SHOOK
Paul is rather fond of these clever ‘corollary’-type clues [but I can’t think of any other examples at the moment].  Singer CHER is well-known to crossword solvers but here she’s clued by way of her husband, Sonny
reference to Cockney rhyming slang: butcher’s hook = look

9 Able to get a handle on calculus, initially
C [first letter – initially – of Calculus] + LEVER [handle]

10 Lather moistens back
reversal [back] of WETS [moistens]

11 Islander mangling soapy linen
anagram [mangling] of SOAPY LINEN

12 Bird collecting rent, returned over counter?
reversal [returned] of EMU [bird] round RIP [rent]

14 Shoes back to front, one full of holes
TRAINERS [shoes] with the last letter moved to the front

15 Most adventurous combination of underclothes

17 Double letter with double letters spelled out as “fraud”
W [double U – double letter] + anagram [ spelled out] of DOUBLE
I loved the construction of this but was surprised at the definition: I’ve always thought of it as meaning ‘aspiring’, which is Chambers’ first definition, but it’s also there as a noun: ‘a vain pretender’

20 Company of smokers inhaling good pile of poo
DUNHILL [cigarette- makers] round [inhaling] G [good]

22 Full-bodied burgundy offered for starters? Very well!
BO [initial letters [starters] of Burgundy Offering] + SO [very] + MY [well – exclamation]

23 Loud and doubly buoyant, one decorating Christmas tree
F [loud] + AIRY [buoyant] + LIGHT [also buoyant]

24 Shell port
double definition

25 Dog mounting sheep
MUTT [dog] +ON [mounting]

26 Marine gets to tell about end of voyage in the past
SING [tell] round E [last letter of voyagE]  + AGO [in the past]


1 Right person always producing sacred word in general
OM [sacred syllable intoned as part of Hindu devotion] in CUSTER [American Civil War general]
reference to the saying, ‘The customer is always right’ [remember those days?]

2 Sark boatless, Jersey or Guernsey getting boat
S [S{ark} without ark – boatless] + COW [Jersey or Guernsey] – one of my favourite clues

3 Vulnerable spot for church
double definition

4 Save more pants!

5 Situation as nice or nasty
anagram [nasty] of AS NICE OR

6 Poetry written about a hostile French city
VERSES [poetry] round A ILL [hostile]

7 Plant‘s gender almost identical
SE[x] [gender almost] + SAME [identical]

13 Unstable trio given a brace
anagram [unstable] of TRIO GIVEN A

16 Avoid passage for vehicle
SKIP [avoid] + LANE [passage]

18 Bad quality expensive jewellery? That’s clumsy
BUM [bad quality] + BLING [expensive jewellery – but surely bling is the opposite?]

19 Poet right to pen first of sonnets in support of sweetheart
LEGIT [right] round [to pen] S [first letter of Sonnets] after [in support of, in a down clue] E [middle letter of swEet] – very nice construction and surface

21 Planet where anyone can see river close to a canal
U [anyone can see – as in film classification] + R [river] + ANUS [close of {alimentary} canal] – at least we were spared the dreaded homophone!

22 Give away chance to get some sun
BET [chance] + RAY [some sun]

25 Responses to “Guardian 25,931 / Paul”

  1. Judith says:

    18dn Bling is expensive, but usually tasteless!

  2. Rob Lewis says:

    12 ac also includes Dickie Bird, a well known cricket umpire
    18d anything ‘bum bling’would be poor quality but flashy (hinting at over priced) jewellery

  3. Jeff Cumberbatch says:

    The reference to “pants” in 4D eludes me! My COD was 12A. Thanks, Eileen, thanks Paul.

  4. michelle says:

    This puzzle by Paul was a lot of fun. I liked so many clues, especially 15a, 17a, 7d, 1d, 22d & 12a (last in). My absolute favourites were BUTCHER’S HOOK, BUMBLING, USELESS & SCOW.

    I also thought that DUNGHILL was clever, but I didn’t much like the product placement.

    New words for me were ‘pants’ = ‘nonsense, rubbish, useless’, and the Cockney rhyming slang ‘butcher’s hook’ = ‘look’.

    I was unable to parse 14a & I parsed 19d incorrectly (but a least I remembered that ‘sweetheart’ = ‘E’.)

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen.

  5. michelle says:

    Re 18d BUMBLING

    Oxford Dictionaries online defines ‘bling’ as: “expensive, ostentatious clothing and jewellery”. Collins defines it as “ostentatious jewellery”.

    I have always thought of bling as simply being very sparkling and glittering, and it is sometimes tasteful and sometimes tasteless and everything in between.

    The word seems to me to be almost onomatopoeic (or at least imitative) in that “bling-bling” is like “twinkle-twinkle” and it makes anyone looking at it need to blink.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Jeff @3

    ‘Pants’ = rubbish or nonsense. I first came across it in the Comic Relief slogan in 2001, ‘Say Pants to Poverty’. It’s worth remembering, because it’s quite often used as an anagram indicator these days.

  7. michelle says:


    “Bling” is not onomatopoeic.

    I knew there was something wrong with that description. I’ve now discovered in wikipedia that “In linguistics terms, bling is an ideophone intended to evoke the “sound” of light hitting silver, platinum, or diamonds. It is not an onomatopoeia, because the act of jewelry shining does not make a sound. ”

    And I forgot to add that it can be both expensive or cheap, as Eileen suggested.

  8. Shirley says:

    Thanks Eileen – immaculate blog as usual. We were surprised to find that Versailles (6D)was a city! I just thought it was a Paris suburb that happened to have a fantastic chateau attached but I’m sure someone will let me know if I’m wrong.

  9. Jeff Cumberbatch says:

    Thanks, Eileen@6

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi Shirley

    Me too! I meant to comment and supply this link
    [which, I think, shows that we were right!]

  11. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen, and thanks to Paul for a lot of fun!

    Not one of his hardest, I agree, but I really enjoyed this and managed to parse all the clues as I went along, which is rare for me.

    BUTCHERS HOOK, SCOW and BUMBLING made me smile :-)

    Some very good surfaces here.

  12. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. ‘Pants’ with this meaning is unheard-of down here, but we’ve had it before. No trouble (and lots of fun) until the very end when for 26a I tried ‘sea-hound’ then’sea-borne’ before cracking it. Thanks Paul.

  13. Robi says:

    Fun crossword – BUTCHER’S HOOK particularly raised a smile.

    Thanks Eileen for your splendid blog. Is a plane really a vehicle? I know we have space vehicles and Chambers has a wide enough definition to encompass it, just (!?) I can’t imagine saying that I’m going to Australia in a vehicle and meaning a plane. Perhaps I am missing something? Thanks for explaining ‘over counter;’ I was thinking of just ‘counter’ and trying to equate with UMPIRE.

    Given the date, I can’t see much reference to DNA structure, although this has figured previously.

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Paul

    Enjoyable and not too hard overall though 26a had me scratching around in Chambers before I found the answer. I had the right idea but got mentally stuck on ‘seaborne’ which unlike ‘seagoing’ was impossible to parse. ‘Going’ is a very odd word when one thinks about it.

    I ticked 11a, 12a, 14a, 19d and 26a (once I’d found it!).

  15. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Eileen

    Nice one from Paul. I didn’t find this quite as easy as most others seem to have done. Not too tricky, certainly, but the NW quadrant held me up for a while until I suddenly saw BUTCHERS HOOK – accompanied by a broad grin. Other favourite clues were 1d, 2d, 4d, 21d.

    Last in was TEMPLE. A Rufus clue in a Paul puzzle? Who’d have thought it?

  16. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I don’t have anything to add, but I wanted to let people know that Enigmatist (aka John) has just commented on yesterday’s puzzle, giving the clues he originally submitted for CAPE OF GOOD HOPE and ERECT, both of which were edited to cause the problems we discussed..

  17. crypticsue says:

    Great fun as ever from Paul – handy that it wasn’t quite as difficult as some because once again it is ‘hide a puzzle under paperwork day’.

    ‘Pants’ was used by my sons a lot as teenagers – not sure what the current word is for ‘rubbish’ in the sense of useless.

    Thanks very much to Paul for adding more brightness to an already sunny day and to lucky Eileen for the blog.

  18. Trailman says:

    Despite being possibly the closest thing to a cockney on the blog, parsing 8a/24d was beyond me so thanks Eileen. Another setter’s trick to look out for!

    Managed to scribble in ELOGIST for ELEGIST. Silly me.

  19. PeeDee says:

    Thanks Eileen for explaining ‘butchers hook’. I thought of Sonny and Cher immediately but for some reason completely failed to make any conenction.

  20. flashling says:

    Thanks Eileen, didn’t find it that easy at all, unlike Crosophile in a different place, see you next Saturday maybe?

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi flashling

    On reflection, I think I found it relatively ‘easy’ because, unexpectedly, I got 8,24 straightaway, partly because of my age, in that I [almost] instantly recalled Sonny, and I recognised the clue type, which I had admired before.

    See you soon. 😉

  22. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks Eileen. We started this late last night and didn’t find it that easy! We only finished it this morning and we came here to check 8/24. If we’d looked at it for a bit longer we may have been able to parse it but we have other things to do today!

    Thanks Paul – an enjoyable puzzle. There were plenty of groans and smiles during the solve!

  23. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Paul and Eileen

    Late to this one after being held up by Enigmatist on Wednesday (still two to go :( ). Found this one entertaining, but certainly not easy – and that you had to earn most of them.

    WOULD-BE was last in and was my COD because of the original and clever construct. Am also a fan of the device used in BUTCHER’S HOOK. The other well put together clue I thought was BOSOMY. Had not seen that use of PANTS before either.

    A lot of nice surface reading amongst many of the clues as well.

  24. Rolf says:

    Couldn’t get “butcher’s hook” partly because Sonny and Cher
    never occurred to me and partly because I figure the second
    word had to be “hill” or “hall”. And this was because I put
    “sea plane” in for 26 across. Couldn’t actually parse it,
    but then I often can’t, and it seemed nicely parallel with
    16 down. Mini theme? And then Google turned up “Butchers
    Hall” so I figure that was that, even though I again couldn’t
    parse it.

    Not at all an easy one; in fact damned near impossible for
    a normal human being.

  25. Gordon says:

    Hi Eileen

    This was in last week’s Guardian Weekly, so I’m a bit late to the game, here in the US of A. Still, I think you get these old messages.

    Two things always astound me; first that we can disagree on the difficulty of a crossword, and secondly how we can persuade ourselves of a wrong answer.

    I usually do Paul’s crosswords fairly easily, but found this very hard-going, actually more so than the last couple of Geniuses [this month’s is much harder for me so far]. It is all to do with wave-length I think.

    I also convinced myself that 26a was SEA-YARNS, which really got me then trying to assume that 24d must be HEAD. Eventually I realised that this was all about Sonny and Cher and then the penny dropped. I still did not get SEA-GOING until my last answer though.

    I had managed to convince myself – though without real conviction – about SEA-YARNS as follows.

    To tell = SAYS, about E [End of Voyage], with A RN being Marine as reference to Royal Navy. Finally, Gets then somehow suggested to me that ARN be inserted into the rest of the answer.

    I assumed that as YARNS were old Sailor’s tales then apart from the seeming tautology of SEA-YARNS then this was an &lit clue. Very tortuous I know, but after a couple of glasses of wine it seemed perfectly clear!

    As I could not find any mention of SEA-YARNS in dictionaries or on-line it did not really surprise me to discover my error later though!

    Ah well.

    Thanks for letting me know about Versailles. I got the answer without realising until your blog that it had to be a separate city. I too thought of it as a suburb, which is crazy as I’ve actually been there and should have known better.



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