Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,174, Araucaria: Disraeli Gears

Posted by michod on September 5th, 2007


Despite some complex wordplay, I found this less difficult than the average Araucaria (a relief after yesterday’s Pasquale, where I failed on four clues). The theme is the 19th century Tory PM Disraeli, so those not familiar with his literary output (OK, the names of his books) may have had problems. My reference above to the Cream album is gratuitous, but I’d be interested if anyone knows why they called it that.


1. BOD, KIN. A large needle, which has a large eye.

4. EG, G, SHE, LL. As in L-plates.

10. CON, IN, GS, BY. A novel by Disraeli. Selective education = Grammar School.

11. ALAR, MC, ALL.

13. I, L, LEG IT, I, MATE. The wordplay’s OK, but I don’t see how the definition works at all – “Bar sinister means” is what I have left?


20. MORE’S (…the pity). Nice clue.

21. LAID ASIDE. (ADELAIDE IS* – E). Now this is a real bugbear of mine, and I’m sorry to see it here – “Adelaide is” pointlessly would be ADLAIDI. All that’s happened here is that one of three points has been removed. Some would also question ‘displaying’ as an anagrind.

23. RUE MORGUE. As in “The Murders in the …”.

24. SYBIL. Sounds like Sibyl the prophet – tricky if, like me, you can’t remember which way round the I and Y go in either version of the name.

25. (H)OME LETTE(R). The definition referes to 4ac ‘EGGSHELL’, but the wordplay stumps me here. It looks like “letter home” has to have HR (reversed) removed from it, but I don’t see why we then have to reverse the order of the two words.


1, 2. BEN, JA(MIND, IS)R, A, ELI. A strikingly implausible surface – wouldn’t ‘brain’ have worked better than intellect, or do we frown on treating brain and mind as synonyms?


8. LA(Y)ME, N.


14. GLAD STONE. Straightforward clue for BD’s liberal counterpart.

15. V, AR(I)ABLE. ‘x’ marks the definition.

16. FLU, ELLEN (ref 5 down). Welsh character in Henry V.

19. BREEZE. Easy, as in ‘a breeze’, wind, and breeze block.

9 Responses to “Guardian 24,174, Araucaria: Disraeli Gears”

  1. roland says:

    I wondered briefly whether the esteemed Rev. Graham intended 3 Down as an “& lit” clue?

  2. ilancaron says:

    “The title of the album, Disraeli Gears, was actually a bit of an inside joke. Eric Clapton had been thinking of getting a racing bicycle, and was discussing it with Ginger Baker, when Mick Turner, one of the roadies, commented on the performance of “those Disraeli Gears” meaning to say “derailleur gears”.”

    I’m ashamed to say I actually knew this… which probably goes a long way to explaining why I would construct acrostics in my pre-teenhood spelling out “Eric Clapton is God”.

    Incidentally, while solving this I too thought Disraeli Gears would be an excellent name for the puzzle’s blog!

  3. Peter Owen says:

    Re 13A – a bar-sinister is an heraldic indication of illegitimacy.

  4. Stan says:

    25a = omelette – can’t make one without breaking eggshells

  5. linxit says:

    24a – I think this clue could be read either way. 2’s girl is Sybil, and she could be “heard” (homophone indicator), to make “a profit (say)” = prophet, i.e. SIBYL.

    In fact that seems to me to be the better cryptic reading of the clue than the one that leads to SYBIL. As the two interchangeable letters are unchecked, you can’t be sure either way.

  6. linxit says:

    Having said that, the presence of Disraeli and Coningsby in the grid mean it probably is SYBIL, but taken on its own you’d be guessing.

  7. muck says:

    10ac: Coningsby is also an RAF station: hence … 11ac ‘Flying…’

    15dn appears in the onlone print version with %u2018 for beginning quote and %u2019 for ending quote. Hope no one tried to decode these as %(=part of) you mores embryo and so on!

  8. AlanR says:

    25a – “no time for letter home – turn” means remove hr (hour) from letter home and then switch the words, I thought.

  9. Mick says:

    Thanks for all the clarifications,and for Ilan’s rock trivia. I guess Alan must be right about OMELETTE, though I can’t help feeling we’re being asked to remove letters before the turn – i.e. RH, rather than HR.

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