Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 23,938/Arachne – Caught in a web

Posted by michod on December 1st, 2006


A mixed bag. I found half the clues came very quickly, but there was a stubborn hard core, one of which eluded me to the end (but see comments for solution). Eight proper nouns, including real and fictional characters, including literary references not always kindly clued.


1. COCKTAIL. A tail is a private eye, tip as in tip your hat, and Manhattan as in cocktail. Tricky subsidiary indications, but then what else could Manhattan be?

5. ONEGIN. (gone)* + IN. Again, I can’t think of any other Eugenes, so unless he’s the anagram…

10. Open to offers. I’ve got CRONIN, but don’t see where the samurai fits.

11. I’m stumped. Thought initially it was a not v cryptic clue for marathon. The runner looks like a plant to me. I can’t get Stratford or Hackney marshes in there anywhere. (See below).

18. ALLOTROPIC. A pair of lines = A L L, circle = O, imaginary line= TROPIC.

22. HYSSOP is hidden. But how does ‘about’ indicate that?

24. ARAMIS. Ar + Amis. One of the Three Musketeers.

26. HORNET. (thorne)*.


1. CALLAS. Hidden + lit.

2. CARMAN. Ref George Carman QC and Harriet Harman – very difficult, esp without telling you what replaces the politician’s head.

3. I had TAIWAN, but couldn’t explain it – now I see it’s TAIPAN, with P of pine replacing W for wife. Must mean a foreign businessman in China.

13, OCCIDENTAL. (col acted in)*. Who’s Col? Could the anagram be any clearer?

15. MACHEATH. Informal adress = Mac, former PM = Heath. I associate Macheath with Brecht’s Threepenny opera, but he began life in John Gay’s Beggar’s Opera.

17. ATROPINE. (A protein)*. Nice anag.

20. CASTLE. L(ambert) in CASTE – Lambert being a measurement of…?

21. PENNON. PEN N ON. Note can be any of letters A-G, or Do-Mi – or N. So just about anything, really!

13 Responses to “Guardian 23,938/Arachne – Caught in a web”

  1. says:

    10 CRONIN – if c. = about, ronin must be a samurai! Look up ronin in COD – there it is (a wandering one with no lord or master – cue slightly amended version of “A wandering minstrel I” from the Mikado…)

    11 I think this is an allusion to the tale of the original “Marathon” run by Pheidippides, as related at – how much is true seems to be anyone’s guess – hence the “legendary” – maybe…

  2. says:

    I guess it’s an acropyphal story! I’m still in the dark though.

  3. says:

    11 ac is ATALANTA – Olympic venue (ATLANTA) playing host to A = AT(A)LANTA – a fast runner in Greek mythology

  4. says:

    3dn – According to, a taipan is the head or owner of a foreign busness establishment (foreign to China, that is).

  5. says:

    20dn – a lambert is a unit of luminance or brightness

  6. says:

    now for the American perspective: i’m patting myself on my American back (Pilates has helped me after all it seems) on getting 4D: NORTH+ERN(ie) — somehow I knew that Eric Morecombe’s partner in comedy was Ernie Wise and I’m assuming that he was known as Ern (?). Would you Brits know about Rowen and Martin (and their first names)??

    And anything north of London is northern.

  7. says:

    but didn’t get: Macheath, Carman, larrikin…

  8. says:

    Sorry, should have checked more of the puzzle – I thought you meant MARATHON was the answer!

  9. says:

    Rowan & Martin: Brits of the right age would know about them. Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-in was on British TV in about 1970 – must have been after my bedtime, as none of the stuff about them on Wikipedia rings any bells – except the catchphrase “Easy for you to say!” – Morecambe used “That’s easy for you to say!” for exactly the same purpose. No idea who used it first. Vaguely remembered Dick as a name but not which one it belonged to – Dan R and Dick M apparently. “Little Ern with his short fat hairy legs” was the sort of mocking description used by Morecambe, and “More tea, Ern?” was a fairly regular gag (pun on “tea urn”).

  10. says:

    Glad 3 dn is explained – came up with TAIWAN as only thing that would fit but only TAIPAN I knew of was the venomous snake.

  11. says:

    TAIPAN is also a fairly well-known novel by James Clavell — he of Shogun and King Rat fame.

  12. says:

    RONIN is quite a famous Frankenheimer film about a bunch of mercenaries/robbers/cia/ira types, starring DeNiro, Reno, McElhone et al, built around the theme of wandering samurai (presumably equalling the apparently leaderless group of toughies).

    I didn’t like this puzzle very much at all to be absolutely honest (possibly something to do with the fact that we are being spoilt pretty much every day of the week in The Indy), but on the basis of the popularity of the film alone I wouldn’t penalise this particular reference.

    The Guardian, more than ever before, needs new blood.

  13. says:

    11A – Atalanta, Atlanta + A. She’s a mythical Greek runner apparently.

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