Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,523 (Sat 18 Oct)/Araucaria – Hair apparent

Posted by rightback on October 26th, 2008


Solving time: 12:56

I probably found this a little easier than usual for Araucaria, until I came to the last three clues (EMBRYO, MULCT and STEEL [BLUE]) which took a fair chunk of the time.

There is a hair-cutting theme to this puzzle: Samson & Delilah, Vidal Sassoon and Figaro all make an appearance, and there are several other related words.

This should have appeared yesterday – I’m afraid I forgot to ‘pre-post’ it before leaving for the Lake District on Friday, and have been stuck in a hurricane over the weekend!

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 TEST-TUBE BABIES; (BEST BIT BUT EASE)* – nice anagram but ungainly wording with a superfluous ‘the': ‘…that’s the [fodder] off’.
10 AD + AIR – the ‘Red’ is Red Adair, the firefighter (nothing to do with Johnny “Mad Dog” Adair, which went through my mind when solving) and I think ‘Robin’ is a reference to this folk song, of which I’d never heard.
11 IRONS (2 defs) – the actor Jeremy Irons. This word caused me extraordinary difficulty in the final of the recent Times Crossword Championship, for no good reason.
12 ANECDOTIC; O in (ACCIDENT)* – I’d only ever seen ‘anecdotal’.
13 TEN + ORS + A + X – with ‘X’ also indicating ‘ten’. Not keen on this one: apart from the incomplete definition, I’m not sure ‘or’ (meaning ‘gold’) can be pluraralised.
14 EMBRYO; EMB[e]R + YO[u] – I really struggled with this, and eventually spotted it from the checking letters and definition. Having worked out the wordplay, I see why I struggled! The superfluous ‘for’ is probably the worst crime in this one.
17 FIGARO; “FIGURE O” – this feels like it must be an “old chestnut” but I hadn’t seen it before and really liked it.
22/19 SHORT BACK AND SIDES; SHORT (= ‘Clare’) + BACK (= ‘returned’), + SID in ANDES (= ‘range’)
24 MUL[e] + CT – tricky word.
25 DIG IT – a misleading apparent clue number in the clue (’20’) – classic Araucaria.
26 STEEL BLUE – the ‘steel’ part of this was a guess, by analogy with the Blue Steel missile. The Lib Dem peer turns out to be David Steel, whom I am just too young to remember.
27 NATIONAL ANTHEM; (NA in IOLANTHE) inside (NA + TM) – diehard Araucaria fans will probably rave about what a marvellous spot the G&S comic opera Iolanthe is (and I couldn’t disagree); others might question what on earth the surface reading is supposed to mean. The song, of course, is The National Anthem by Radiohead, which
I must confess (despite being a huge fan) I’m not all that keen on.
1 THE DISTAFF SIDE; (HIDE)* + STAFFS, all in TIDE (= ‘flower’) – a good job I knew this phrase or I’d never have worked it out. A bizarre clue.
2 S(ASS)OON – not the poet but the hairdresser. Nice use of ‘shortly’ to mean something other than ‘with the last letter missing’.
5 BARBER – ‘Top’ as in ‘head’ (nice clueing), and shop as in barbershop.
6 BEAR + D
7 EX + ACTOR – 10 points to anyone who wrote in ‘Shearer’ or ‘Lineker’ here.
8 PRECIOUS STREAM; (SOUR SPERMACETI)* – this appears to be an anagram, but I have no idea what the rest of the clue is about and would be grateful for elucidation.
15 MUSK MELON; (KUMMEL’S NO)* – good clue. I only knew this phrase because of an excellent puzzle by Mango in last year’s Magpie.
16 SNAKE EEL; NAKE[d] in (SEE + L)
18 GEORGIA (hidden)
20 DELILAH; (HEAD ILL)* – a nice semi-&lit.
21 SAMSON – which becomes DAMSON with S (shilling) changed to D (one old penny).
23 TUTTI[ng]

4 Responses to “Guardian 24,523 (Sat 18 Oct)/Araucaria – Hair apparent”

  1. Andrew says:

    8dn – I only found this out by googling, but “Lady Precious Stream” is the title of a Chinese play or story, presumably set near the Yellow River.

  2. Dave Ellison says:

    Were you doing the Karrimor? How was it for you?

  3. rightback says:

    I was, and it was a grand day out, thank you. Just a shame that the overnight campsite was flooded, which left the organisers with no option but to cancel the second day. Were you there, Dave?

    Thanks for identifying “Lady Precious Stream”, Andrew. This has to be one of the most obscure references I’ve ever seen in a normal cryptic!

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    No, I was last “there” in Arran in ~1980. I grew a bit dis-allusioned as the three or four I did were all processional, without the challenge of ordinary orienteering. I have stuck to ordinary fell races and O ing since then, and have recently returned after a quadruple heart by-pass operation a year ago.

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