Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian (Jumbo) 24,577 (Sat 20 Dec)/Araucaria – Christmas carols

Posted by rightback on January 3rd, 2009


Solving time: 65 mins

A very nice Christmas jumbo from Araucaria, with the phrases “We wish you a merry Christmas and a happy new year” and “God rest you merry gentlemen” hidden in the unchecked letters in the outer and inner perimeter. I’m surprised the enumerations of these were given in the preamble, as this made the first in particular very easy to guess. I thought the clues were significantly simpler than usual for Araucaria, perhaps because of the added difficulty from the jigsaw.

The clues were presented in alphabetical order; they’re given here in grid order, with the clue numbers at the start. I would welcome any comments on clues 42 (ON THE MAT) and 62 (USEFUL) in particular.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

18 GI GI – the definition is “Colette’s”, indicating the novel by Colette which was later made into a musical.
19 HENNA; rev. of ANNE H – nice clue: William Shakespeare’s wife was Anne Hathaway.
44 OVER MAN – a mining term for a supervisor.
6 CAESAR (2 defs) – without a capital, this is apparently a colloquial term for a delivery by Caesarian section.
41 ONE-HORSE RACE – this refers to the racehorse Eclipse from which comes the phrase “Eclipse first and the rest nowhere”.
49 REPUTED OWNER; (NEW TREE PROUD)* – a slightly curious answer phrase.
32 MY HEART; (THE ARMY)* – there’s no anagram indicator here other than the question mark so I was unsure of this answer, not knowing the Robert Burns poem to which the clue refers
29 MAYDAY (2 defs) – as in an appeal for help.
50 RETARDED; rev. of (DRAT in DEER)
55 S(COL)ARI – Big Phil, manager of Chelsea (at least he was before today’s draw at home to the mighty Southend). His broken English is always good for a laugh. I’m not sure I can remember Araucaria using an up-to-date football reference before.
11 EA(STERNE)R – Laurence Sterne wrote Tristram Shandy.
20 HOLM + FIRTH – the ‘L’ was a guess, I couldn’t remember the name Ian Holm and didn’t know the Yorkshire village of Holmfirth where Last of the Summer Wine was filmed.
56 SENHORITA; (NORTH SEA I)* – the Portuguese version of the word.
2 ADULT + E.R. + E.R.
58 TOLPUDDLE; rev. of LOT (= ‘chance’) + PUDDLE – as in the Tolpuddle Martyrs.
45 PAKISTANI; (SITKA)* in PANI[c] – ‘not spruce’ seems to be the unusual anagram indicator.
67 YESTERDAY; YE (= ‘Readers’, i.e. ‘you’), + (READ)* in STY – ‘Sir Paul’s belief’ referring to McCartney’s song Yesterday, and the line ‘I believe in yesterday’.
46 PERJURERS; PER(J)U + RE[a]RS – very slow on this, the only country beginning with ‘P’ I could think of was Poland.
42 ON THE MAT – something to do with the phrase “The cat sat on the mat” but I don’t really get this clue: probably a reference I’m missing.
22 HO(R,NUN)G – the author of the Raffles books.
53 ROUGHEST; ROT around [h]UGHES – referring to Ted Hughes, former Poet Laureate.
62 USEFUL? – I guess American English is U.S. E but I don’t see the rest: what on earth does ‘To broach a ham’ mean?
37 OCT A.D. IC – i.e. October 99 AD. Google suggests that this song explains the April Rainers.
12 [h]EATERS – i.e. eating apples.
34 NO SMOKE; rev. of SON, + MOKE
24 INDUS[try]
23 I + BIS
65 W + INN + I.E. – 2 definitions, one of Winnie the Pooh.
13 [w]EIGHTY
63 WHEREUNDER; W[estern] + HE (= ‘man’), + U (= ‘turn’) in RENDER (= ‘perform’)
25 INFERRED – I think this is from ‘infra-red’.
54 SARAGOSSA; R.A. in SAGO, + rev. of ASS – not a spelling I’ve seen before.
21 HONEYMOON – a Spoonerism of MONEY HOON.
66 YEA + RA + HEAD – Ra was the Egyptian Sun-god.
40 O + MOP + HAG + I + A – the eating of raw food, from Greek omos (raw) and phagein (to eat).
30 M + EDWA[rd] + Y – apparently Edward Rochester is a character in Jane Eyre. The River Medway flows into the sea near Rochester in Kent.
10 EASE; “E’s”
16 EVA + DE (= ‘from’ in French’) – Adolf’s girl was Eva Braun.
3 A + ITCH – the aitchbone is the bone of the rump in cattle.
5 ARISE (hidden)
15 E + STELLA – ‘stella’ is Latin for star, but I don’t know if it’s used in English. I believe Pip was sweet on Estella in Great Expectations, but I’m not sure ‘Pip’s girl’ is quite accurate.
38 OLD LACE; O + (CALLED)* – very strange anagram indication (‘not so called’). Arsenic and Old Lace was a film but I don’t know how the phrase originated.,
28 MALFI; hidden in ‘thermal five’ – the Duchess of Malfi is a play by John Webster, later adapted by Bertolt Brecht.
48 R.A.D.A. + R
47 PITCH (2 defs)
57 TOR + CH
33 NE(R)Y’S – referring to Marshal Ney.
14 E(R.U.)DITION – Rugby Union is the 15-a-side game.
68 YGGDRASIL; G in (DAY GIRLS)* – a tree in Norse mythology.
27 MALA(GAS)Y – a native of Madagascar.
60 TROOPING; (PORT + GIN + O)* – as in Trooping the Colour.
17 F(AIRE)R – another flower of Yorkshire, to go with 64.
52 ROADIE; (OR)* + A + DIE – as in ‘straight as a die’.
43 ORIGIN; OR (= ‘gold’) + I + GIN (= ‘trap’)
39 O + MAR – I think this is Omar Khayyam.

17 Responses to “Guardian (Jumbo) 24,577 (Sat 20 Dec)/Araucaria – Christmas carols”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    42a If you are ‘on the mat’ you are being criticised (ticked off).

    62a FUL[ham] – an area in London with ‘ham’ broached (split).

  2. rightback says:

    Thanks Geoff. I have to say that 62 must rank amongst the worst clues I’ve seen.

  3. stiofain_x says:

    An excellent Christmas present from Araucaria.
    Solving time 65 (hrs-non-consecutive)
    I got a load of the 9 letter ones and noticed that their first letters formed the interior of the grid and got the phrase by that then everything fell into place.

  4. beermagnet says:

    Who’s going to be the first to nitpick that 57 TORCH and 58 TOLPUDDLE are not in alpha order? – Me!
    Excellent blog RB – certainly ironed out any remaining queries I had.

  5. Eileen says:

    A real Christmas cracker – immensely absorbing and enjoyable.

    I think the point of the ‘not spruce’ anagram indicator in 45 is that the sitka is, in fact, a spruce tree.

    REPUTED OWNER is a legal phrase, ‘a person who has to all appearances the title to the property’ [Chambers].

    ARSENIC AND OLD LACE: I’m pretty sure the play / film title is the origin of the phrase: it’s about two maiden aunts who poison old gentlemen with elderberry wine laced with arsenic.

    I loved the typically Araucarian clues for OCTADIC and MEDWAY.

    Mhl, on Monday, you said you remembered Eclipse from an Everyman puzzle. It rang a bell with me, too, but I knew I hadn’t seen it there, because I don’t take the Observer any more. I searched the 15squared website but couldn’t find it – because this puzzle hadn’t yet been blogged! [That was an Araucaria puzzle, too.]

    I assumed ‘on the mat’ meant the same as ‘on the carpet’ but I couldn’t find it anywhere.

  6. rightback says:

    Thanks for the clarifications, particularly REPUTED OWNER which I did look up but somehow failed to find! On further uplooking, Chambers gives on the mat: on the carpet (fig).

    I didn’t notice the TORCH/TOLPUDDLE discrepancy!

  7. mhl says:

    Thanks for the excellent post on this, rightback – you’ve explained the few that I was unsure about the wordplay of (ACADEMIA, TRANSYLVANIA and ROADIE, for what it’s worth). For once I have an idea of how long this crossword took, since we did all but a couple on a train journey from Edinburgh to Stevenage :)

    Eileen: oops! At least I’m unlikely to forget the expression now, after two Eclipses so close together.

  8. TwoPies says:

    Yes, thanks. The only one I struggled with was 39. I knew the answer was Omar but I didn’t know any poets called Omar.

  9. Eileen says:

    Rightback, this is weird: you couldn’t see ‘reputed owner’ and I couldn’t see ‘on the mat’, for the life of me, until just now. We must have been looking at the wrong WHEREUNDERS!

  10. Bridge says:

    Agree with Beermagnet – just did not put in 57 as it broke the alphabetical flow and had put my faith in Aracuria! Guess – just don’t trust printers1

  11. Eileen says:

    I’d forgotten about the alphabetical mistake, which I did spot, until today. I too resisted putting in TORCH for a while but it was so obviously right [as was TOLPUDDLE] that I gave in, putting it down to a compositor’s [are there still such people?] error rather than Araucaria’s. Had this been one of his rhyming ‘Araubeticals’ [copyright Muck] it would have been more obvious.

  12. smutchin says:

    I didn’t notice the alphabetical discrepancy – and me a sub-editor by profession! – so I filled in Torch and Tolpuddle, being the obvious answers, as Eileen says.

    I found this surprisingly easy and had all but completed it by the Sunday afternoon at a couple of sittings, leaving the rest of the Christmas break free to concentrate on the King William’s quizspend some quality time with my family. The perimeters were pretty obvious and filling them in gave you the initial letters of all the nine-letter clues, which I guess is as good a head-start as you’re ever likely to get from Araucaria. But it was most enjoyable none the less – some great fun clues in there.

    The only answers that eluded me were AITCH (though it seems so obvious now) and OCTADIC. I looked up April Rainers and from that guessed it started OCT… but didn’t manage to decipher the rest of the clue. I presume OCTADIC is in Chambers? It’s not in my OED.

    I liked the MEDWAY clue, though some would balk at the first four letters of a six-letter word being described as the “start” of that word.

    Shame that EATER appeared a few days later in a Paul puzzle with an almost identical (albeit differently worded) clue.

    By the way, rightback, re 40: I think Omophagia is specifically the eating of raw flesh rather than raw food generally.

  13. Bill Taylor says:

    The perfect crossword – I saved it for Boxing Day when I was flying from Toronto to Rome. It occupied me for the full 8-hour flight. I filled in the last answer, 62a (I greatly appreciate Geoff Moss’s explanation but I agree with Beermagnet’s opinion of the clue) as we were on final approach. I flew home yesterday, with another Araucaria puzzle (Saturday’s) to occupy me. I’m STILL trying to figure out 1a in that one!

  14. Rob says:

    in 45 the “not spruce” does work as anagram indicator but is also a nifty bit of misdirection – the Sitka Spruce is a variety of tree as is the Sitka Alder which sent me down a cruciverbal cul-de-sac for some time.

    I thought this was an excellent puzzle for the two days it took me to solve.

  15. Rob says:

    sorry Eileen – I’ve just noticed you pointed this out earlier!

  16. Dave Ellison says:

    I’m with Smutchin in that I found it surprisingly easy, too, and had finished it by the next day.

  17. Owen Jones says:

    I thought 6 CAESAR worked with “delivery” being a homonym indicator and CAESAR being a homonym for “seizer”. But maybe that’s a bit far-fetched.

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