Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,236 Araucaria – Mano A Mano

Posted by neildubya on March 26th, 2008


<Insert my usual hero-worshipping gush about how great Araucaria is here>

<Insert my usual slight whinge about clues that require obsolete copies of Roget’s Thesaurus here >


1 PITTA – It’s usually Paul crosswords that makes me groan out loud in coffee shops, but Araucaria managed it here. Sounds like “Pitter Pat (of tiny feet)”

4 B(LIMP)ISH – ref. to the pompous Colonel Blimp (from the Powell & Pressburger film). Definitely not a Guardian-reader.

8 INTELLIGENTSIA – (LEGISLATE INNIT)* Turns out I’ve been spelling it with too few “L”s and no “T”s. Membership revoked.

10 TRANSFER – It’s a pattern and it’s what happens to football players when they move to a club with “more ambition” (= “more money than sense”)

11 P(RAY)ER – Old vicars never truly retire, it appears.


15 EPHOD – Hidden word (it’s an Old Testament garment)


18 GRAND SLAM – Rugby or Bridge term for complete success. The rugby meaning produces the best visual effect here though.

19 NIPPER – always thought this was gender-neutral term, but I was wrong. Is there a little-girl equivalent ?

21 MAN-TO-MAN – First of the themed clues, (Isle of)Man and “To Man” producing a reversible type of fight

24 PER(SON-TOPERS)ON – Eva Peron is the Argentinian – “Son” is an issue (not a Spanish word for call) and “Topers” are drinkers

25 DAYTO(na)-DAY – Daytona Beach, Florida and Robin Day the interviewer. Not sure how well-known he would be to the non-Brits and the under-20s.

26 PASTE – I’m thinking “toothpaste” and “cut-and-paste”, but I may be wrong


1 PO-IN-TT-OPOINT : River Po, “in” is “home”, “TT” is a race (the Isle of Man again) and (OPTION)*. The whole thing being another type of race. Nobody does these kind of complex compound clues like Araucaria.

2 TETE-A-TETE : Thanks, Eileen – TET[Vietnamese New Year, apparently] + EAT + ETE (French for Summer)
3 Omitted on purpose


5 Omitted on purpose

6 PETER-HEAD – Jesus’ disciple Peter was a fisherman and Peterhead is satisfyingly a fishing town.

7 Omitted on purpose

9 Omitted on purpose – anagrams are good for you, so I won’t spoil your fun.

13 SUMMERSET – An obsolete word for somersault. Grrr.


16 HOLY MOSES – spoonerised version is “Moly Hoses” where Moly is a magic plant from Homer

20 PI(E)TA

22 (an)TWERP

23 ENID – (DINE) reversed

16 Responses to “Guardian 24,236 Araucaria – Mano A Mano”

  1. Eileen says:

    Had the same difficulty with 2D – with a bit of help from Google: TET[Vietnamese New Year, apparently]EAT,ETE
    24A I thought issue was SON and PERSON TO PERSON was the call.

  2. Berny says:

    10a – as children we remembered a transfer was a pictorial design that would temporarily provide a tattoo on your skin

    24a – issue could be reference to son so call would be the definition part

    26a – agree with cut and paste reference from scissors

    2d – still pondering

    13d – thought it can also be spelt sommerset – with o not u

  3. stan says:

    Thanks both – I accept my 24a explanation was flawed (too much Buena Vista Social Club) and Eileen’s 2d looks good to me. Bravo

  4. Geoff says:

    2d: Those of a certain age might dimly remember the Tet Offensive by the northern forces against the Americans and the South Vietnamese army in the Vietnam War – so-called because it was timed for the New Year.

    10a: The ‘transfers’ that Berny refers to are known as ‘decals’ in American English

    24a: To be pedantic, the ‘Argentinian’ PERON is more properly the populist politician Juan Peron, rather than his wife Eva, (aka Evita) who was never normally referred to by her surname alone.

    Some marvellously intricate charade clues, typical of the good Reverend. The last word I got was 5d, which had me stumped until I realised that two people who have become a couple can be described as an ITEM. Duh! Araucaria may be an octogenarian but he happily uses modern slang (see also ‘innit’ in 8a) as well as much older references in his ingenious puzzles.

  5. Ygor says:

    26A I think “artificial” in the clue be the definition, as in “paste jewelry”.

    By the way, couldn’t the word “Peterhead” be clued as “Glanstown?”?

  6. Frances says:

    4a: What is BISH?
    I thought it was BLIP around M + ISH for ‘characteristic of’

  7. stan says:

    I think Bish is a cricketing term for a mis-hit – I don’t have Chambers to check if it’s in. Anyone ?

  8. Testy says:

    It’s definitely in Chambers (which I don’t have to hand) but, from memory, I think it’s just a (somewhat outdated) term for a mistake (not necessarily to do with cricket).

  9. George Foot says:

    4A Bish was the standard slang for a mistake when I was at junior school, a very long time ago. We never used any other word.

  10. stan says:

    From OED bish
    A mistake, blunder.
    1937 PARTRIDGE Dict. Slang 55/2 Bish,..a mistake: Seaford Preparatory School: from ca. 1925. 1955 F. SWINNERTON Sumner Intrigue xx. 198 He’s always making bishes like this! 1956 B. GOOLDEN At Foot of Hills x. 236 She..suddenly realised she’d made an [sic] complete bish.

    I obviously made-up the cricket bit

  11. stan says:

    Or maybe like Hilary Clinton, I mis-spoke.

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    Is “summerset” obsolete? It was in Sergeant Pepper, Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite, and that is not too long ago.

    As an aside, I once, 1970 or so, was persuaded to help translate the lyrics into Columbian Spanish, in Cali. My Spanish was mimimal, and I failed entirely, even with gestures, to convey the meaning of “Took her home nearly made it” (in Lovely Rita).

  13. Comfy Settee says:

    So is this the same Bish we hear in the phrase “bish bash bosh”? Its everywhere ….

    Not many xword answers make me laugh out loud, but PITTA managed it. Nice one Rev.

  14. stan says:

    “Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite” was inspired by the language on a 1850s circus flyer they saw in an Antique shop. I’d say it was quaint then, downright obsolete now.

  15. petebiddlecombe says:

    Comfy settee: I don’t think there’s any connection to ‘bish bash bosh’. The Seaford prep reference sounds dead right – “bish” was used in Jennings books, as in this quote found by Google: “You’ve made a frightful bish and you’re about as much use as a radio-active suet pudding.”

  16. petero says:

    I did eventually manage to dredge up the word ‘bish’, from a (probably the) time I used it at school. I found the broken half of a chess piece, which I held up and announced that someone had made a bish. I haven’t the slightest idea where I had come across the word, but Jennings sounds familiar enough to be the likely culprit.

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