Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,427:Araucaria: just magic!

Posted by bridgesong on July 5th, 2008


Another brilliant offering from the maestro; I particularly enjoyed the references to the two very different books which feature in this puzzle.  Solving time: about an hour and a half, except for 22 down, which eluded me for a day.  I shall be away and offline when this post is published and won’t be able to respond to any comments or queries until Sunday afternoon.

Across 1,16    BARNABY RUDGE – (A DRY BUN)* in BARGE.  A central character in the historical novel which bears his name, Barnaby Rudge is variously described as simple or half-witted: “literary idiot” seems a fair definition

5    SHALLOT – The Lady of Shalott, by Tennyson

10    GRIP – the name of Barnaby’s raven, supposedly the inspiration for the later poem by Edgar Allan Poe 11    BOOTLESSLY – although the wordplay is obvious enough, I had to resort to Chambers to discover that bootless means unprofitable or useless.  This use of “boot” is from an entirely different root from the word which refers to footwear

12    TOL-LOL    – again I had to use Chambers to find that this is old slang meaning pretty good

13    TRACTORS – solving this clue opened up the puzzle for me.  It’s CART (rev.) on TORS and the reference is to Marina Lewycka’s delightful novel, which was first published in 2005


17,28    SHORT HISTORY – the reference is probably to Edward Short, a member of Harold Wilson’s first government as chief whip, but could also apply to Clare Short, now an Independent Labour MP

19    TELL APART – the reference of course is to William Tell, nothing to do with Jeffrey Archer

23    CUBE ROOT – utterly brilliant: 2 is the cube root of 8, and those (like me) expecting a cross reference to other clues will have been totally misled

24    GORDON – the reference here is to two different characters: the British general whose military exploits in China (and later in Sudan) brought him popular acclaim in  the early 1860s; and Lord George Gordon, whose actions in 1780 instigated the anti-Catholic riots which are described in Barnaby Rudge, and which bear his name.  I haven’t been able to discover if the two men are related

26    MINESTRONE – the word play is a little complex: it’s NEST (a home) in IRON (a golf club) in ME (the setter)

27    VEAL – hidden, without any clear indication

29    TRINITY – INIT(ial) in TRY; another brilliant clue


2    AIRLOCK – although the wordplay is very clever,the definition eluded me until I discovered that a subsidiary meaning of “bell” is ” a bubble formed in a liquid”

3    NEPAL – (o)NE + PAL

4    BABYLON – BABY + LON(don)

6    HOLMAN – HOL(E) + MAN; Holman Hunt was a Pre-Raphaelite painter

7    LAST TRUMP – last is a model for a foot used by a shoemaker, and the Model T was the original Ford mass production car

8    OILY RAG – OI, LYRA, G referring to the heroine of Philip Pullman’s Northern Lights trilogy

9    CONTRAVENTION – CONVENTION, which refers forward to the following clue, with ART (rev.) inside it 15    AGREEMENT – ME in A GREEN + T

18    HOUDINI – Honi soit qui mal y pense is the motto of the Order of the Garter, so it’s UDI in HONI.  Houdini specialised in escaping from a variety of locations

20    LEGWEAR – LE + GAR(ter) including WE

21    RIOT ACT – “Brazilian diplomacy” for Rio tact is very witty: the Riot Act had to be read out loud to potential rioters to give them an opportunity to disperse; a failure to do so was grounds for arrest, even if no riot as such was taking place.  If it was deployed before the Gordon riots, it failed in its purpose

22    POTTER – the last clue I solved; it came to me while shaving.  The reference is of course to Harry Potter 25    RAVEN – Ravenna in Italy is famous for its mosaics

5 Responses to “Guardian 24,427:Araucaria: just magic!”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thank you for a really great blog. [I didn’t understand how I got ‘HOUDINI’]

    11ac: I actually did know ”bootlessly’. Somehow I remembered from A Level English [Milton’s ‘Lycidas':
    ‘Alas, what boots it with uncessant care
    to tend the homely slighted shepherd’s trade…’

    17,28I didn’t think of Edward Short but went straight to Clare.

    14ac: only a couple of days after another great setter [Shed]’s offering us UKRAINIAN, both referring to our British weather but with a subtle difference.

    19ac: I thought this was a lovely misdirection, capitalising ‘archer’ and so arousing memories of the maestro’s classic ‘The Old Vicarage Grantchester’, which I cherish.

    Too many great clues to mention, really.

    22dn was the only one that stumped me – I didn’t even get it while shaving!

  2. bridgesong says:


    Thank you for your kind comments. It was a lovely puzzle to blog!

  3. beermagnet says:

    2D Airlock. I think the definition from “bell” refers to a diving bell – which I suppose creates a bubble in a liquid but rather a large bubble.

  4. Val says:

    11 ac was the only one I got immediately (if you discout my initial SOLE for 27A). My knowledge of “bootless” comes from , a personal favourite.

  5. Val says:

    Ah, my HTML seems to have misfired…

    Sonnet 29, a personal favourite.

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