Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,559 (Sat 29 Nov)/Araucaria – D’Oyly water

Posted by rightback on December 6th, 2008


Solving time: 11:36 (one mistake, 23dn)

I really enjoyed solving this puzzle, despite a few quibbles. There’s no major theme that I can see but there is a lot of linkage going on between various clues.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 STOW-ON-THE-WOLD; S[econd] TO + WON’T HE + OLD – a classic Araucaria clue, with complex and clever wordplay but a rather meaningless surface reading. I ignored this at first, thinking the definition was ‘ancient town’.
10 SU(N)FI + SH – ‘don’t sing’ for ‘sh’ was one of those moments where, having fathomed the wordplay, you wonder why you didn’t see it long before. The reason, of course, was the (perfectly fair) ‘sing’, instead of the usual ‘speak’ or ‘talk’, which was required to fit in with the definition (‘bass’). Luckily I knew ‘Sufi’ (= ‘mystic’) or this might have taken me much longer. Nice clue.
12/11 CARTE BLANCHE; (BARN LET)* in CACHE – I needed most of the letters for this. There was a Listener of this name by Homer earlier in the year: if you haven’t solved it, I strongly recommend it.
13 WAIT FOR IT – ‘waits’ are Christmas singers; according to Chambers this word is only seen in the plural, but the question mark excuses that.
16 PHIL AND E.R. – absolutely brilliant, referring to Prince Philip and the Queen (= ‘Royal couple’), with the definition being ‘are flirting’. One of the best clues I’ve seen for a long time.
18 HELL TO PAY – see 17dn.
19/14 SAVOY OPERA; (OVER A SOAPY)* – at first I thought this was going to be ‘Savoy Hotel’, but then I saw the anagram. Unfortunately I hadn’t heard of 23dn/12ac, of whom more later.
20 SQUARED UP (2 defs)
24 CABBAGE – refers to the answers ‘Savoy’ and ‘white’, both types of cabbage.
25 PAYLOAD; (A LADY P.O.)* – it’s a good job this was fairly straightforward or I’d never have got it, having an incorrect crossing letter from 23dn.
26 INTERMARRYING; IN TERM, + R[ailwa]Y in (A RING) – I think the definition here refers to the fact that this word can mean ‘marrying into the family’ or ‘marrying someone from another race/tribe’. The wordplay is very smooth.
2 TENOR BELL; ORB in TEN ELL – an ‘ell’ is a unit of measurement measuring 45 inches, so 450-inch is ‘ten ell’! If that wasn’t obscure enough, ‘tenor bell’ isn’t in Chambers, Collins or any online reference I can find, although a few hits on Google suggest that the tenor bell is a largest (and hence lowest) bell in a set, which may explain the definition ‘bottom of ring’.
3/22 WHITE PAPER – nicely linked to another answer, ‘carte blanche’.
5 HYBRIDITY; (BIRTHD[a]Y + Y[ear] + I)* – difficult anagram to spot.
6 WHARF RATS; (FAR R)* in WHAT’S – superb wordplay.
7 LACER – I presume this is from ‘lacerates’, hence ‘shedding some tears’: very Araucarian!
8 PSYCHOPHYSICS; PSYCHO + (PSYCH[o] IS)* – ‘film’ is the Hitchcock classic Psycho. I say ‘classic’ although I haven’t seen it, which reminds me of Mark Twain’s aphorism: “A classic is a book that everyone wants to own but noone wants to read.”
9 WESTERLY WINDS; WE ST + E[a]RLY + WIN + D.S. – I didn’t know the abbreviation D.S. for ‘document signed’ and couldn’t understand this clue until after solving. Would anyone like to defend ‘almost too soon’ = E[a]RLY?!
15 ALTERNATE; ALTER + (A TEN)* – I’ve seen ’10′ used for TEN a few times recently when it appears to reference another clue, and spotted it quickly this time round.
16 PIPE DREAM; PIPED + REAM (= quires = “CHOIRS”) – more outrageousness (‘choirs, say’ for ‘quires’ => REAM) – this one made me smile.
17 DEVIL’S OWN – as in ‘to have the Devil’s own luck’, and (after some research) referring to the Parable of the Tares, in which it seems that the tares are likened to the Devil’s children. This phrase is actually given in Chambers only as an epithet for an Army regiment in the Peninsular War.
21 URBAN – as in ‘urban myth’, as well as being the name of several Popes; whimsical but I liked it. Remember also Popes Innocent, Leo and Aristus!
23 DOYLY – aargh, came a cropper on the last clue! The clue is ’12 could be 22′ which translates from other answers as ‘Carte could be paper’. I originally had only ‘paper’, which with ‘D???Y’ surely had to give ‘daily’, whatever 12 might be. Then when I solved payload I changed it to ‘dayly’, which I didn’t think was a valid alternative spelling, but meant to come back to it after I solved 12 – which I then forgot to do. In any case, I hadn’t heard of D’Oyly Carte (what a brilliant name!), the opera company named after its founder which staged Gilbert & Sullivan’s Savoy Operas (hence the link at 19/14ac).

21 Responses to “Guardian 24,559 (Sat 29 Nov)/Araucaria – D’Oyly water”

  1. Eileen says:

    Congratulations on a superb blog, Rightback. One of the most enjoyable puzzles for a long time. It was worth it for 16ac alone – absolutely hilarious. It’s a wonder no one has thought of that one before. It looked so much like an anagram of ‘couple are’, too.

    I shared some of your thought processes, eg not knowing the DS abbreviation held me up there a bit [yes, I'll defend 'early' for 'too soon' because it's Araucaria and it was a good clue] but the Doyly / Carte / Savoy clues I got first, being quite a G and S fan.

    There was quite a bit of controversy a while ago about WAIT but then it was about whether a wait was one person or a band of singers. [SOED has it as the latter.] Interestingly, my Chambers [11th edition] has, immediately after your plural definition, “a member of a Christmas band or town band of waits”.

    I haven’t looked at today’s puzzle yet but I see it’s Paul, so we should be in for another treat.

  2. Roger Murray says:

    Loved this crossword and, strangely, found it quite a quick solve for me, it is odd which setters we each find difficult. Sometimes I cruise through some of the tougher ones and then come unstuck on Rufus! why is that? Agree that 16ac is a classic . A good one to tell those of your friends who wonder why you do these things.

  3. Geoff says:

    Tremendously enjoyable, as usual for Araucaria, although I found this a little trickier than usual, for some reason. I spotted STOW-ON-THE-WOLD as a possibility for 1ac almost immediately, but didn’t put it in until I had most of the connecting letters because I couldn’t see the working of the word play until quite a bit later.

    I loved the trick ‘almost too soon’ in 9dn – unorthodox, but not actually misleading. 16ac is wonderful – ‘Royal couple’ is great, and the misdirection to *(COUPLE ARE), as Eileen pointed out, is very clever in such a short clue.

  4. Ralph G says:

    Enjoyed the puzzle and the blog. 13a WAIT, no problem with the singular here so just for interest: in the Chambers definition as mentioned by Eileen I think the singular may relate specifically to a town _band_ (new one to me)as opposed to carol singers. The OED vouches for the singular (obs.) for the band, not for the choir.
    2d TENOR BELL, the required sense (as found in Google) was hidden in the middle of the Chambers (10th ed) entry for TENOR without a secondary heading of TENOR BELL.
    9d DOCUMENT SIGNED: I’m fairly sure this is a legal abbreviation, rather like LS = ‘locus sigilli’ ‘the place of the seal’, to verify the existence of something in a copy of a legal document made by hand. Any conveyancers in the house? Not in the OED which has ADS ‘Autograph document signed’, as in a catalogue.
    9d E(A)RLY: possibly justified by Chambers’ “before the appointed time”. The entry below that gave me a nasty shock; we don’t bring things forward any more, we EARLIERISE them! Oh dear.

  5. Eileen says:

    Rightback: looking at this again, I’m not sure whether you were questioning ‘early’ as meaning ‘too soon’ [as I did initially and then decided it was ok, although we do say '*too*' early - as in the joke about us 'Twirly' bus-pass holders: 'Am I twirly for this?'] or
    E[a]RLY as being ‘nearly too soon’. Either way, it works for me.

    Ralph G: I can’t bear to comment on the last part of your entry.

  6. Eileen says:

    Mhl: if you’re there: when, last Saturday, I couldn’t resist commenting on the stunning 16 ac, you said, quite rightly: “I thought 16a was brilliant, apart from one aspect which we’d better postpone discussion of until next week :)”

    I’d be interested to hear what your reservation was. I had just a slight unease to begin with, but it was quickly dispelled. ;-)

  7. mhl says:

    Oh, I’m embarrassed to say that I thought that the definition part was “flirting” rather “are flirting” when I made that remark, so I completely withdraw my reservation – it’s brilliant :)

  8. mhl says:

    Sorry, I mean “rather than”…

  9. smutchin says:

    I did OK on this one, largely thanks to solving all the linked clues quite quickly, but I came a cropper on some of the more obscure references such as “450 inches”.

    The wordplay part of 16ac is indeed pure genius, but I don’t get why “are flirting” is OK as a definition – I’m sure I’m missing something obvious but could someone please explain further?

  10. Alan O'Brien says:

    D’Oyley Carte is also used in rhyming slang.

  11. Dave Ellison says:

    Enjoyed it, but for much longer than about 11:36

    16 ac: Am I missing something too? No one has spelled it out, but surely the expected answer should be “philandering” to match either “flirting” or “are flirting”.

    The best I could come up with was: if you philander, you are at it, ie you are flirting?

  12. mhl says:

    With regard to 16a, “they are flirting” and “they philander” are equivalent, I think.

  13. Paul B says:

    I think so too MHL. Are you perchance related to DHL, author or parcel service?

  14. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Mhl: that’s the same misgiving I had momentarily, until the penny dropped and I came to the same conclusion as you at comment 12. [That's after spending a few minutes racking my brains for a word meaning 'royal' that was an anagram of 'couple are'!]

  15. smutchin says:

    I’m not entirely convinced, but it’ll have to do.

  16. mhl says:

    I think so too MHL. Are you perchance related to DHL, author or parcel service?

    Sadly neither ;) I’m just using my initials for consistency with previous comments, which probably isn’t a very good reason.

  17. stiofain_x says:

    I loved the philander clue but wouldnt “Royal couple flirt” have been more succint and satisfied the qualms expressed by others?

  18. Eileen says:

    Stiofain: you’re quite right, of course, but then we wouldn’t have had the delightful misdirection of ‘couple are’ as a possible anagram indicator. I think we’ve all [except Smutchin?] admitted that any qualms we had were short-lived.

    [I could go on about the frequentative and continuous use of the present tense but I'd hate to see one of the best clues I've seen spoilt by quibbles. ;-)]

  19. smutchin says:

    No, it’s my grammar that’s not up to scratch, not Araucaria’s.

  20. rightback says:

    9dn: Eileen, as you suspect I was happy with ‘too soon’ = EARLY but not ‘almost’ = ‘remove an arbitrary letter of’!

    2dn: Ralph, thanks for pointing out that ‘tenor bell’ is in the 10th edition of Chambers. It’s not in my 9th edition (although this meaning is alluded to under ‘tenor’), but maybe Santa will bring me a shiny new 11th edition for Christmas if I leave him a mince pie.

    16ac: Thanks to those who have mentioned the misleading ‘anagram’ in 16ac (‘couple are’) – this hadn’t occurred to me but I agree it makes it an even better clue.

  21. Epee says:

    Thanks – good explanation of what I found a very challenging but rewarding puzzle. . As regards the tense of 16Ac, as I (now) understand the definition of ‘philander’, it is the sole prerogative of the male of the species. So it does not apply reflexively in the case of the putative royal couple – i.e. they are not flirting with one another but would be a couple of royal males both at the same time engaged in flirtatious behaviour e.g. Princes Harry & William are flirting = Princes H & W philander (begging their royal pardon of course).

    Also enjoyed 17 Dn (Devil Sown –> Devil’s own) and the linked 18Ac to say nothing of the Savoy –>Cabbage–> butterfly link. Great stuff. Shame on me that I mis-remembered the name of the Cotswold town as Stow-in-the-Wold and blew my chance of a prize !


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