Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24054/Araucaria – diverting history

Posted by ilancaron on April 18th, 2007


Solving time: 42’

Well, if you know your William Cowper, you’ll have no problem with this puzzle. I don’t. Had to go off and read “The Diverting History of John Gilpin” to make head or tail. Again, not a puzzle for tube riders – unless there’s a wireless Wikipedia feed on the Northern line. Or you teach A-level English. Or you’re just extremely well-read with a good memory. Not much here not to write about.


1 T(EN)ABLE – my last clue: “directions” in this case E[ast] and N[orth]. Of course, could have been any string of N,E,W,S in any order of any number of characters.
5 CIT=”sit”,I,ZEN – ZEN’s our religion and to “take a pew” is to sit. Also happens to be in the first verse of our theme poem: see 13D.
9 A,D(V)ENTURE – Sometimes 5 really is just five the number. “Set” as in set of DENTUREs. Rather loose. Ha-ha.
10 PANIC – two meanings: certainly a question-mark would have been in order for the first: “godly”.
14 ON FOOT – ”Fidgets, not love of walking”. Def is “walking” but wordplay? Michod below notes that it’s just (not, O, of)* with “fidgets” as the anagrind.  I should have seen that, given that I stared at it for a couple of minutes when writing these notes up.
16 BACON,ER – Francis BACON is our writer and turns out that BACONER is a type of pig (presumably sold at a market). I suppose we’re supposed to think of this little piggy that went to market…
18 DE(TA)CH – Judy Dench is our actor (well, actress): her heart (N) is replaced by TA (for volunteers).
20 IMP,LI(CAT)ED – CAT as in a type of whip.
21 S(P)EW – first time through, I put S(P)IT here.
24 GR[eat],ASP – ‘eat doesn’t indicate cockney aitchlessness for a change.
25 ISO(CELE)SES – CELE[brities] in (sessio[n])* – and an ISOSCELES triangle has two equal edges.
26 SYN=”sin”,O,NYM=”nim” – I think the referenced game is Nim (involving two players and a heap of needles.


1, 3 TRAIN-BAND – I only worked this out from the first verse of “John Gilpin”: “…a TRAIN-BAND captain…”. Turns out that TRAIN-BAND is a kind of 16C militia: so “service” indicates TRAIN (as in train service I suppose) and BAND=”banned”. The clue should have been numbered 1, 3 and not just 1.
2 NAVAR[ro],IN – NAVARIN is a kind of stew and Navarro is in the Spanish Basque country.
4 E,QUALIT[y],ARIANISM – Got lucky on ARIANISM which is heresy to the Catholic church I suppose, since I’m in the middle of Dawkins’ “The God Delusion” where it’s mentioned.
4 CR(EDIT, AND RE,N)OWN – again ref. the first verse of “John Gilpin”. ANDRE’s our French boy.
6 TO,PIC,ALITY=Italy* – one of the few clues with a reasonable surface.
7 ZING,ARO[used] – ZINGARO is a type of gypsy.
13 JO(HN GI)LPIN – my way in to the puzzle was Scott Joplin, our “ragtime man”: nigh* in JOLPIN which is Joplin with its centre changed. I admit at this point I ran to Wikipedia and discovered “The Diverting History of JOHN GILPIN”.
16 BRIDGES – two meanings: sad to say I didn’t know that Robert BRIDGES was a Poet Laureate.
17 C(APT)AIN – another ref. to John Gilpin our “train-band CAPTAIN”.
22 WASTE=”waist” – ref. waistband
23 ACER – it’s a type of tree and an ACE is the top card… but shouldn’t top cards yield ACES? How is the R indicated in the wordplay I guess is my question – can R be “cards” somehow? (Ironically my first answer).

5 Responses to “Guardian 24054/Araucaria – diverting history”

  1. says:

    Well, I managed to do it on the tube without a knowledge of the poem, and didn’t realise quite how thematic it was. I got John Gilpin from the wordplay, and the rest seemed to fall into place OK.
    14ac: Wordplay is NOT O OF*, with love for O.
    23dn: I think top cards are ACE and R, i.e. the French for K… which perhaps needed an indication that one of the packs is foreign!

  2. says:

    “Fidgets, not love of walking” doesn’t seem to me to make very good sense. Better would be “fidgets, with no love of walking”, but, of course, that would spoil the crypticity. Even then, the reader would have to fill in a lot of his/her own background to make sense of it. (A reaction, perhaps, from a non-walker to a suggestion that he/she goes for a walk).

    If “fidgets” is acceptable as an anagram indicator, it still seems in rather an odd position ralative to what is to be anagrammed.

  3. says:

    Or, even, “relative”!

  4. says:

    I agree that the surface isn’t the most sensible but making comments about Araucaria’s wordplay choices is, I’m afraid, a losing proposition.

  5. says:

    Er, I’m not trying to win anything, merely analyse a clue in the same way that I would analyse any other clue.

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