Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,015 (Sat 3rd March)/Araucaria – Land fill

Posted by rightback on March 9th, 2007


Solving time: 14:48

The preamble to this puzzle read: “Lands here are 4-ed [linked] (as our non-PC forebears would think) by 14 down [‘The missing’].”

The grid contains eight countries. At first I thought that the preamble was some kind of allusion to kidnappings in the countries, many of which are notorious for such activites, with ‘non-PC’ to be taken at face value (i.e. ‘not politically correct’). In fact, each of these countries used to be preceded by ‘the’ (e.g. ‘The Argentine’ at 9ac), and I guess ‘non-PC’ implies ‘before personal computers’.

The irony here is that I started to write up before realising this, and wrote the following for 9ac: “Not convinced by this, Araucaria seems to drop the word ‘the’ regularly in answer phrases where it is essential.” This followed several such recent examples in his puzzles, e.g. ‘Pardoner’s Tale’ for ‘The Pardoner’s Tale’. This laxity consequently rather impinges upon the effectiveness of this puzzle’s execution for me. Nonetheless, an enjoyable puzzle, despite a bizarre error (I think) in 16ac.

* = anagram.

9 AR(GENT + I)NE – another outing for Thomas Arne.
10 SUD + AN (French for ‘South of France’ and ‘year’ respectively)
11 ILL LUCK; rev. of CULL in ILK
12 UK + RAIN + E
13 YE + MEN
16 INTER VENT (= ‘put flue underground’) + IONISM (?) – I can only think that the end of this clue should have read ‘I and Simon play’ rather than ‘I and Salmon play’. A dictation problem perhaps?! ‘Nanny’ is in the sense of ‘nanny state’.
19 EU + PHONIES – my favourite clue, I like the misleading ‘Nice’ which usually indicates something to do with France, ‘noises’ which does not indicate a homophone and the apt surface reading.
21 CONGO – I think this is GO (= ‘activity’) after CON (= ‘the other side’ as in ‘pros and cons’).
23 LE(BAN)O + N
24 READE; “READ” – I think this refers to Charles Reade.
25 NEPENTHES; (PENT + H) inside rev. of SEEN – the hardest clue for me and the only one I wasn’t sure of. Nepenthes turns out to be ‘a drug, or the plant providing it, that ancient writers referred to as a means of forgetting grief or trouble’.
2 A + GEL + I’M IT
5 DEBUTANTES; rev. of TUBE inside DANTE’S – another hard clue which I eventually spotted by trying ‘underground’ = TUBE.
6 ESP + R + ESSO – I was very slow on this; ‘telepathy’ = ESP should have been automatic but instead I focused on petrol but could only come up with ‘gas’.
7 EDWINA; (A NEW ID)* – not sure why this clue has no anagram indicator.
14/4 TH(E + MISS + IN + G[oa]L)INK – a strange surface reading and complex wordplay, both usual for the key thematic answer in Araucaria’s puzzles.
15 L(A + MP + O ON (= nothing on))IST
17 REOPENED; O + PEN inside rev. of DEER
18/22 INN ON THE (= (ONE NINTH)*) + PARK – not sure how famous this pub on Hackney’s Victoria Park is, but all sources suggest that the name is ‘Royal Inn…’, another case of a key word being dropped for convenience’s sake (see intro).
21 PUN + JAB
21 CU + BING (Crosby) – very clever definition (‘changing 2 to 8, say’) which completely fooled me at first and had me looking at the answers to 2dn and 8dn.

6 Responses to “Guardian 24,015 (Sat 3rd March)/Araucaria – Land fill”

  1. says:

    Yes, that makes sense for INTERVENTIONISM – I felt like it should be INTERVENTIONALISM, but a) that’s not a word, b) it doesn’t fit and c) it would have to be I and I and Salmon (cf last week’s blogs). What a howler!
    I liked the way he indicated the theme – the link between the country’s almost passed me by.

  2. says:

    I too wondered about 16a – I think the explanation given is probably correct but knowing Araucaria, there could still be some fiendish nuance that escapes me!

    I am still uncertain what the preamble meant. I can’t see why the age of personal computers has any relevance to whether you refer to a country as Argentina or the Argentine. I also thought it meant ‘politically correct’ at first and I still think this may be what is alluded to – did not the colonialists of the past (the ‘non-pc forebears’) regularly refer to the countries as “the Sudan” or “the Punjab”?

  3. says:

    I think that non-PC really does mean non-politically correct in the literal sense… since none of these countries actually were ever called “The “. At least that’s how I read it last week.

    7D: Is this a case of question-mark pretending to be an anagrind? “A new identification for Currie?”. Also, oh Brits, is this some sort of ref to the new national id scheme being introduced in the UK? is Currie related somehow to the Home Office or whoever is responsible for dragging the UK into the world of the police state?

  4. says:

    I forgot to add re 16a – if it was an error, I would have expected a correction, especially as it was a prize crossword. If one was published, I for one missed it.

    Re 7d, I don’t think there is any link to the proposed national identity card through Edwina Currie – she was Conservative politician holding one of the lesser Cabinet portfolios in the 1980s and was never at the Home Office. She lost her seat in 1997 and has been out of mainstream politics since then.

  5. says:

    The Guardian website solutions give the following:

    Theme: Countries that were once called “The ___”

    16 Interventionism INTER VENT + I/SIMON(part anag)

    [The ‘non-PC’ reference is not explained.]

  6. says:

    It means politically correct – constructions such as ‘the ukraine’ or ‘the sudan’ are generally frowned on nowadays for sovereign states.

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