Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,921/Araucaria – tough thematic puzzle

Posted by petebiddlecombe on November 18th, 2006


Solving time 24:41

This was a nice example of the kind of challenge that has made Araucaria probably the best-loved cryptic setter we have. The theme turns out to be a subset of the seven wonders of the ancient world, and something Sir Roger de Coverley said about them. Includes various examples of the “libertarian” practices that wind up some cryptic crossword purists, but this is one of the times when the fun of the puzzle excuses them.

1 DUST,PAN=immortal. Ref. “Dust to dust, ashes to ashes”. “Brush with destiny” is a stroke of genius.
5,25 HANGING,GARDENS (of Babylon) – all the wonders in the puzzle have a vague definition like “Miraculous” – fair enough as otherwise it would all have been over that bit too quickly
10 M,Au,SOLE,UM – goldfish = Au,sole is the sort of thing that has strict Ximeneans complaining, but it made quite a nice clue here. Another wonder – the Mausoleum at Halicarnassus.
11 MO(NO POLIS,A)TION – cornering as “corner the market”, POLIS = slang for police, at first = A.
13 AUNT = haunt with dropped H
14 IN,HAL(A,N)T – a halt is a minor railway station
17 DOORSTOP=rev. of pots,rood
21 WA(TERCOLOUR=anag. of Corot rule)IST – Cotman was one
26 NEEDLES – “fresh water” = Freshwater, IoW – more cheek with word spacing, and no capital F, which is a bit naughty. It seems possible to rework this one so that “Freash water” is the beginning of the clue, which would reduce the Ximenean blood pressure a bit.
2 SIR JOHN(=”surgeon”),M,OR,TIMER – M=money as in all those things like M1 which economists go on about. Sir John Mortime wrote the books about Rumpole of the Bailey – not sure whether that’s how he got the knighthood though.
3 PHAROS – anag. – where the lighthouse was
4 NIM,ROD – Nimrod the (Biblical) hunter, as well as a nod to Nimrod the crossword setter and disciple of Araucaria. Nim is the game where the one who takes the last matchstick wins or loses.
5 HAU(RIEN)T – uses Fr. haut=high, rien=nothing. “Haurient” seems to mean “sticking head out of water to breathe” if your coat of arms happens to include a fish.
6 NEO(PAGA = rev. of a gap)N
7 IN,E,VI,TABLES,HALL. “Come mighty Must!/Inevitable Shall!/In thee I trust.” is the beginning of a song in Princess Ida (Gilbert and Sullivan) – or so Google reveals. Fairly easy to work out except for “per” which doesn’t really fit the wordplay.
12 (p)LAN,DOWNING – Street = Downing is a bit cheeky but it’s a pretty well-known one.
16 Co,LOSS,U.S. (of Rhodes) – another wonder clue
19,20 LONDON BRIDGE – which Sir R de C said was better than any of the seven wonders, according to Addison in the Spectator. See “XXV. SIR ROGER AT VAUXHALL GARDENS” here. Not a quote I know, but it’s in the ODQ.
22 ZEUS – the water here being a certain canal not far from the Great Pyramid – does Araucaria score half a wonder for this too? The last wonder – the statue of him at Olympia.

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