Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,487 (Sat 13 Sept)/Araucaria – Haggard Asher

Posted by rightback on September 13th, 2008


Solving time: 18:46, two mistakes (16ac and 6dn)

Very good this week, I thought, and maybe a little harder than usual. Chambers defines ‘haggard’ as intractable and the title refers to the clue, before anyone springs to Jane’s defence!

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 RETALIATE; rev. of (ETA + I + LATER) – nice use of ‘get back’ in both the wordplay and definition (‘get back … their own’, i.e. get their own back).
10 ASHER – very difficult clue; luckily I thought I knew the name Jane Asher so got this right, but I didn’t know the other bits, the Tribe of Asher, one of the twelve tribes of Israel (Dan and Gad, two of the others, are seen in wordplay from time to time) and the actor Antony Sher (with ‘A for Antony’). Wikipedia says that Jane Asher appeared in ‘A for Andromeda’, so this may be a very clever bit of wordplay which I fear went over my Philistine head. [See comments for more.]
11 S.P. + LIC[ens]ED – I thought this was an excellent clue, although very difficult. The abbreviation ‘sp’ stands for ‘sine prole’, meaning ‘without issue’ (i.e. children), and ‘ens’ is a word meaning ‘being’, plural ‘entia’. These are both standard fare in advanced, barred, cryptic crosswords, but are rarely seen in mainstream puzzles.
12 REGATTA; (A TARGET)* – should have seen this much faster; ‘set’ didn’t suggest itself as an anagram indicator, but there’s really nothing wrong with it.
13 WATT; “WHAT” – a well-known homophone, although worded ambiguously here.
14 CO + W(C)ATCHER – the thing at the front of a train to bash a cow out of the way, should one be unfortunate enough to stray onto the line.
16 REC + LINE – I very carelessly rushed into ‘receive’ here, which doesn’t quite work. ‘Take’ in this clue gives REC, short for the instruction ‘recipe’.
17 GANDALF; AND in rev. of FLAG – not such a good one, ‘X access to Y’ doesn’t make much sense.
19 P(EBB + LED)ASH – ‘pash’ being short for ‘passion’.
22 AZOV; A + rev. of (V OZ) – after doing the maths, this had to be ‘Azov’ or ‘Zova’! Apparently the Sea of Azov is the world’s shallowest sea.
24 ZE(ELAN)D – a province of Holland, literally ‘sea land’, hence ‘Oxymoronic region’.
25 TYPICAL; (CLAY PIT)* – I misinterpreted this for a while, expecting the definition to be ‘Extract from clay’. I’m not sure about ‘Extract from’ as an anagram indicator, but it’s probably ok reading ‘Extract’ as an imperative rather than a noun, which fits the cryptic grammar if the definition is ‘to be expected’.
26 L + AZED – this was obvious from the first half of the clue, which then enabled me to write in 1dn instantly without even looking at its clue.
27 C(OVER)D + ALE – wordplay + double definition: Coverdale is in Yorkshire and Myles Coverdale produced the first complete printed version of the Bible in English. David Coverdale sang with Deep Purple, but perhaps that’s not Araucaria’s cup of tea.
2 ATHLETIC; (HEL)* in ATTIC – this confirmed 23dn, about which I had doubts.
4 HARD + CORE – material used for the foundations of roads and buildings.
5 FERRIC, from FERRIS – I’m not so keen on clues which give an instruction to change a letter without any actual indication of that letter (as here: ‘wheel with new base’ [edit: which indicates that the last letter should be changed, but not what the replacement letter is]).
6 PAR(GET)ING – it was clear how this worked but I didn’t know the word and don’t think I’d have thought of ‘paring’ for ‘reduction’ however long I’d thought. I hazarded the strange-looking ‘wangeting’ (from ‘waning’), but was pretty certain it was wrong.
8 GREAT RIFT VALLEY; (REGAL + IV + FLATTERY)* – a geographic trough. Good anagram and very deceptive definition.
18 ANZAC DAY; [st]ANZA + C. DAY – ‘Unholy’ for ‘remove ST’ is classic Araucaria. The poet is C[ecil] Day Lewis, former Poet Laureate; Anzacs are Australian and New Zealand soldiers, whose landing in Gallipoli in 1915 is commemorated on 25th April.
21 DE + DUCE – ‘de’ is French for ‘from’ and ‘duce’ Italian for ‘leader’, hence ‘from leader in European countries’. Pretty tricky.
23 SPORT (double definition) – I had no idea why this should be ‘Not the typical’, but Chambers gives: ‘sport (n) – an animal or plant that varies singularly and spontaneously from the normal type’.

8 Responses to “Guardian 24,487 (Sat 13 Sept)/Araucaria – Haggard Asher”

  1. Andrew says:

    I found this very hard, needing several sessions to finish off. By coincidence I was watching “A for Andromeda” (with Jane Asher) on BBC4 on Tuesday evening, but it’s pretty bad so I gave up on it and it was a much more satisfying use of my time to finish this puzzle instead.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Rightback, for an excellent blog. RECLINE was my last one to go in, because my first reaction was to make it RECEIVE, too. In fact, it was one of the easiest clues. This was one of those puzzles where you get the answer long before seeing why, in a number of cases.

    I’m still wondering about ‘on stage’ in 10ac. Is it because Jane is an actress or, as I thought, because Asher appears in ‘Joseph’?

    I did know ‘pargeting’, only because, some time ago, I looked up ‘Pargeter’ – because it’s a surname [Nigel in The Archers and Jean in ‘As time goes by’!] I thought it must be an occupation.

    Coverdale is one of my favourite places and this time I didn’t object to ‘in Yorkshire’!

    [To be really picky, 17dn is ASS TO in VEG* ;-)]

  3. mhl says:

    This took a long time for me too, with most problems with SPLICED, ATHLETIC, SPORT and PARGETING. I’m still confused by SPORT; I thought maybe it was that the non-typical meaning of “play” might be “to sport [with]” but it sounds as if rightback’s on more convincing lines!

  4. Kieron says:

    In case it helps, from my primary school days I can still remember it…

    Reuben was the eldest of the children of Israel,
    With Simeon and Levi the next in line.
    Naphtali and Issachar with Asher and Dan,
    Zebulun and Gad took the total to nine.
    Jacob! Jacob and sons!
    Benjamin and Judah, which leaves only one.
    Jacob! Jacob and sons!
    Joseph – Jacob’s favourite son.
    Jacob! Jacob and sons… (repeat and fade)

    (Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat
    by Tim Rice and Andrew Lloyd Webber)

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks Kieron. I know the words, too – we did ‘Joseph’ just last year! I was asking if that was the explanation of ‘tribe on stage’, which was the way I took it.

  6. Dave Ellison says:

    5d I took base to mean the base letter of the word, as it is written vertically, being a down clue

  7. Dave Ellison says:

    5d I have just read your comment again. Did you mean by “indication of that letter” the letter to which it would be changed?

  8. rightback says:

    Eileen, the ‘Joseph’ explanation of ‘tribe on stage’ sounds plausible to me. Now that you’ve put up the lyrics I do remember that song (& could possibly find the cassette if I looked hard enough!) – thanks Kieron.

    Dave – yes, I did mean the indication of the replacement letter. I didn’t make that very clear so I’ve edited the blog – thanks for pointing this out.

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