Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,610/Arachne

Posted by Andrew on January 30th, 2009


A fairly tricky puzzle from Arachne which I’ve been intermittently struggling with all morning in between trying to get some work done. Some nice clues, but I think 4dn is very poor, and I can’t see how 19dn works.

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

9. WRAITH Homophone of Raith, site of a battle in AD 596 (and home of the Rovers).
10. LEAH Last letters of “Rachel take a bath”. Leah and Rachel were the sisters involved in the strange story of Jacob’s marriages in Genesis.
11. INSENSIBLE IN SEN SIB + last letters of wilL bE
14. GOLD DUST GOLD = or, DUST = “something worthless”. This took me a while to work out – I think it’s clever.
15. RUMBAS RUM + alternate letters of BeAtS
17. TROOPS (POOR in ST)<
20. TIRAMISU (IS IT A RUM)*. Tiramisù is often laced with Marsala.
22. DEEPLY DEEP + L(az)Y. The first “extremely” is the definition.
23. DISHARMONY D + HARMISON* + Y (unknown). Steve Harmison is a cricketer, though that’s irrelevant to the clue.
24. FIVE IV in FE
25. OCKERS Hidden
2. MASH Hidden – a reference to the TV show MASH (based on ilm of the same name) which was set in an army field hospital during the Korean war
4. SWINDLER SWINDLE R. “Leg” (short for “blackleg”) is apparently an archaic word for a swindler. I think it’s pretty feeble to have a clue that essentially says “verb + R = person who ‘verbs'”.
5. PALINDROME (RIPE ALMOND)* No reference to Sarah Palin for a change
6. STYLUS Y in LUSTS* – the “reproduction” is of sound rather than people. For younger readers: in Ye Olden Dayes before CDs and iPods we played music on “records” with a “needle” or “stylus”
8. ENSIGN ENS (Enrolled Nurses) + IGN. For once the “unknown” is not X or Y, but “ign”, an abbreviation of Latin “ignotus”
13. SYMPATHIES (AS MPS THEY I)*. I put SYMPATHISE originally until OCKERS showed it was wrong
16. APIARIST A (SPIRIT A)*. Nice misleading definition
18. SALIVATE (A VITAL)* + E in AS. To salivate = to water, as in mouth-watering
19. CUPOLA A cupola is a dome, but I don’t get the rest
21. IDIOCY I in IDO CY. Ido is an artificial language, based on Esperanto and designed to eliminate some of its shortcomings.
24. FLUX F LUX. The Lux is the SI unit of “illuminance and luminous emittance”, and the Farad is the unit of electrical capacitance, so no a unit of flux (of which there are several varieties).

50 Responses to “Guardian 24,610/Arachne”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    19d UP (in London) in COLA (nut), ‘cases’ is the insertion indicator.

  2. Geoff Moss says:

    18d You have too many A’s in your anagram fodder. I read this as S (‘s, is) A *(VITAL) E (Ecstasy).

  3. don says:

    4 Down Isn’t it ‘a rip off’, rather than ‘to rip off’?

  4. Ian Stark says:

    Thanks for the explanations Andrew – I finished this one but was very unsure about how I arrived at a fair few answers – specifically the ones you’ve highlighted. I do hope there is a better explanation for 4d! Thanks, Geoff, for the explanation of 19d.

    Don’t understand FLY in 3d. Anyone help me out there?

    That was a toughie – and the first one I attempted using the online applet (my wife is at home today and I can’t let her see me sitting in my usual spot, with a cup of tea and the crossword – I am supposed to be working, after all).

  5. Geoff Moss says:

    3d race = go quickly = fly

  6. Ian Stark says:

    Thanks Geoff. I thought that might be it. However, now I don’t understand ‘a figure involved in’!

  7. Andrew says:

    Geoff, thanks for the explanation of 19dn, and for pointing out my slip in 18d. Does UP really mean “in London” though? I know about up & down trains and “up to town” vs. “down to the country”, but I don’t think I’ve seen it used this way.

    Ian – I thought it was FLY = go fast = “race”

  8. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew. I struggled with this one, rather, but got there in the end.

    I really liked 14ac and 5dn but was less happy about 11ac: INSENSIBLE = ‘ill’? and 3dn: ‘a figure’?

    [I’m ashamed to say I didn’t know ‘ane’ or the Battle of Raith.]

  9. Geoff Moss says:

    3d To me, ‘a figure’ appears superfluous. The clue would read just as well without it.

    19d ‘up’ is usually defined as ‘towards a centre (such as a capital or university)’ but it has been used as ‘in London’ or ‘at university’, particularly in crosswords, for more years than I care to remember.

  10. don says:

    Surely the whole of Scotland, the north of England and the Midlands go ‘down’ to London?

  11. Ian Stark says:

    Geoff, I think that’s it – and that’s why I was getting confused. Thanks.

  12. Geoff Moss says:

    If you think of ‘up’ and ‘down’ in terms of ‘north’ and ‘south’ then yes but with things like trains, ‘up’ means towards the capital and ‘down’ means coming away from it. Those people living due east or west of London would still say that they are going ‘up to town’.

  13. smutchin says:

    I found this one really tough but hugely enjoyable for its excellent surface readings and penny-dropping moments.

    Eileen – I thought it was spelled “ain” (except Billy Connolly, who’s the Big “Yin”) but I guess “ane” is a variant.

    Don – London may be “up” or “down” on a paper map (depending on which way up you’re holding it) but the convention established by the railways is that the “up” line is the one going towards London and that’s what “up” refers to here. One also goes “up” to the Varsity.

  14. smutchin says:

    …ie exactly what Geoff already said, which I didn’t read before posting my comment.

  15. Eileen says:


    I do know ‘ain’ but that means ‘own’, as in ‘my ain folk’.

    ‘Down here’ in the Midlands, we’re forever having this discussion and by and large, we reckon to say ‘down’, resenting the implication of superiority conveyed to us sensitive souls in ‘up’.

  16. beermagnet says:

    I had a real struggle with this and only got about half before flinging it away and tackling the Indie instead – a very nice Phi puzzle which I finished with pleasure in less time than I gave to this, thus proving it wasn’t just that I was having an off day.
    Now I’ve read the blog I think may be I should’ve persevered but didn’t really have the time.
    I’m obviously not in tune with Arachne yet.

  17. smutchin says:

    Ah, I can see I’ve got myself mixed up. I thought “ain” was “one”. But I’ve just found this great website that clears things up somewhat: Wir Ain Leid

  18. Ian Stark says:

    A brilliant find, Smutchin! I was saddened to discover that, even though the two halves are mentioned, the phrase ‘och aye the noo’ is a Beano-only expression :-(

  19. Stakhanovite says:

    ‘ar’ for ‘Arab’ was a new one for me here (12A). Is that a normal abbreviation? And even if it is, is ‘Arab censored list of words’ really ok as an instruction to take the word ‘glossary’ and remove the letters ‘ar’ from it?

  20. TwoPies says:

    Thanks Andrew for the blog and everyone for the subsequent clarifications. This one didn’t do it for me at all and, like Beermagnet, I turned to the more pleasurable Phi. 23ac reads nicely though with Harmison actually playing for Durham.
    I’m not being coy Eileen, this is my first visit since yesterday. Mine is the first one, inspired by Paul’s recent Jack Nicholson theme.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    OK, so the clever brigade struggled, so I guess it’s no surprise that the class dunce did worse. In mitigation, can I direct your combined attentions to today’s Times2 pages 2 & 3. 10 people were asked what 7 terms re the recession meant. The success rate was <1%!!! I guess General Knowledge isn’t common knowledge anymore, and I look like a genius compared to that lot in the Times.

    So, not common knowledge….

    7ac) Ane is indeed Scots for one, but I didn’t know that. It’s not as though Scots is a national language, it is peculiar to the Lowlands and is thus seen by some as only a dialect. So why should an English man know Scots? You lot were busy saying only yesterday that this crossword is aimed at solely an English audience, rembember? So, I am from Yorkshire, Yorkshire is actually part of England, how many of you know Yorkshire dialect words hmm? But that is a form of English and English is supposed to be the target culture. So if you don’t know dialects from your own land why should anyone be expected to know minor and minority languages from another country?

    8d) Latin has not been taught in state schools for decades. Even in my time (pre67) it was only taken by a small minority, even in Grammar Schools, so again why would the target audience be expected to know this?

    26ac) To court in the sense to date is a verb, but in the clue it is used as a noun. I have never heard of “a court” in the sense “a date”. Maybe I have got this wrong, but I thought using a verb as a noun was frowned upon in crossword circles. Please advise me on this one.

    4dn) That sense of leg must be truly archane. I just applied for my bus pass and it has not been a current term in any of that period of time.

    24dn) What exactly directs one to Lux? I’m an Imperial bloke myself, so please enlighten me, is it true that Lux is the only SI unit with 3 letters?

    23ac) Oh what a shame! That clue came seriously close to brilliance. The first reading suggests the removal of Harmison from Durham Leadership, which works fine until you get all the way to the o n. Wouldn’t that have been great? A ten letter removal?

    And before you all jump on me for my ignorance, go read that Times2 article, that is true ignorance :)

  22. C.G. Rishikesh says:


    Thanks for the link to scots-online website. I hope to explore it.

    Till now I knew only a few expressions like “gang agley” from my reading of old poems and ballads.

  23. Derek Lazenby says:

    Dang, see post 19, I was going to say that too.

  24. Tom Hutton says:

    A very spotty crossword this. Like others I put in answers without any confidence that I had got the word play.
    Niggles: Battle of Raith – who had heard of that before doing this crossword?
    Deeply – deeply is only tenuously extremely and deep is only rich by association. (deep pockets)
    Up for London is S.E. centric. I go up to Edinburgh ot Glasgow and down to London, even on the train.
    Do troops = masses? Again, you can just see it but it is tenuous.
    Does insensible = ill?

    Thin stuff, I thought with some nice cues but deeply unsatisfying to solve.

  25. John says:

    In 16 dn what makes “a” = “active”? 26 ac is questionable in all its parts. Other than that, it’s all been said. Disappointingly full of obscurities and inaccuracies.

  26. Eileen says:

    TwoPies: nice one! Thanks for clearing that one up.

    Thanks for the link, Smutchin. I’ll have fun with that.

    Derek: for the record, Smutchin’s point yesterday was that the Guardian is a *British* paper. In fact, none of the commenters used the word ‘English’. The Scots do regard themselves as British but they understandably get irate when that’s seen to equate with ‘English’. [And I do remember seeing Yorkshire expressions in the crossword from time to time.]

    John; I thought ‘a’ [active] might be used in dictionaries to signify the active voice of a verb but that doesn’t seem to be the case, at least in Chambers, which does give that abbreviation.

  27. Geoff Moss says:

    Re comment #19, ‘ar’ is a standard abbreviation for ‘arab’ and the clue is of a type that is used quite regularly. You need to read it as ‘[with] Arab censored …..’ or ‘Arab censored [from] …..’.

  28. Geoff Moss says:

    Re comment 21.
    In 26a you need to split the clue before parsing, A (A) DATE (court, both verbal).

    24d There are only two three-letter SI units in the Chambers’ list but only one that is _U_.

    8d ‘ign’ = unknown is in Chambers so you don’t need to have studied Latin to get the answer (though it might have helped).

  29. Geoff Moss says:

    Re Comment #24
    Troops = a great number and masses = a large number (both Chambers’ definitions) so they seem synonymous to me.

  30. Derek Lazenby says:

    Missed the point Eileen. I as a Yorkshireman would think it unfair that you have come across Yorkshire words in British crosswords. How many of those words did you know? How many do you think the population at large knew?

    The Guardian may be a British newspaper, but I thought there were Scots newsapapers to which they give preference? Just like I used to read the Yorkshire Post in the mornings and the Yorkshire Evening Post at night and never really thought about the Guardian. I was using English in that sense, ie. available in Britain, but with a readership and therefore target audience which is mainly English due to regional papers taking precedence.

    I’m sorry if I didn’t make that clear but I figured I was saying quite enough as it was.

    Yes I know I said 10 and should have said 8, there area lot of distractions in this house today. Just thought I’d get that in before anyone noticed. Ditto archane for arcane.

  31. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ta Geoff.

    The main reason I don’t look in Chambers is that I don’t have one. I’m not paying for a work I don’t trust, see the discusion on PI about a month ago, that is just one example.

  32. smutchin says:

    Derek, just for you, here’s a clue I wrote recently:

    “In Yorkshire, the lavish exercise regularly. (5)”

  33. Ian Stark says:

    Smutchin: Ha! I know I should but don’t . . . Excellent clue.

  34. Derek Lazenby says:

    Aww, how thoughtful Smutchin! But what’s the point? That’s like speaking plainly with this lot, so yer might just as well say what yer mean in future. LOL.

  35. cholecyst says:

    9 ac. Raith Rovers are based at Stark’s Park Kirkcaldy and are the PM’s home team. I don’t think that there is now a town of Raith in Scotland. Perhaps there never was.

    23 ac. Steve Harmison IS connected with the clue. He plays for Durham.

    Re Derek Lazenby’s comment on Latin not being taught in schools:

    In fact it is taught in many state schools. Some pupils prefer it because usually there is no oral exam!

  36. Geoff says:

    Found this puzzle very tricky, but got there in the end. Couldn’t see the wordplay for CUPOLA, so thanks to my namesake for that one. Well done, Andrew for posting this one.

    Strange crossword, with a mixture of very easy and much more difficult clues. Some are downright vague, particularly in their very loose defs. My last entry was WRAITH – Battle of Raith is so obscure that it doesn’t figure among the 79 Scottish battles listed in Wikipedia!

    Some clues very clever though – I liked 14ac and 20ac (although the recipe I use for tiramisu does contain rum!)

  37. Derek Lazenby says:

    I wasn’t looking for Latin as a subject when I was looking for a place to send my lads to school at. But it was noticable by it’s absence from the advertised courses. The best I got was that it could be arranged if required. So where are these many state schools? My direct experience says there are bugger all.

    Maybe this is yet another post code lottery.

  38. Ian Stark says:

    Raith 101: A mansion and estate, built on, or near, the 596AD battle site, a mile to the west of Kircaldy (where you will find Raith Florist, Raith Fish ‘n’ Chips and, as Cholecyst says, Raith Rovers, which I presumably own, given the name of the ground). The ‘Battle of Raith’ was where the Angles fought, and won against, an alliance of Scots, Picts and Britons, led by King Áedán mac Gabráin of Dál Riata (together with a bunch of Hobbits and Dwarves, no doubt). Here endeth etc etc.

    Sorry, Derek – Yateley Comprehensive offers Latin! I’ll assume that beer is cancelled, then, eh? 😉

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    Don’t be silly. Silly is my job.

  40. Smutchin says:

    Yorkshireman’s exclamation played backwards on radio for African leader. (6)

  41. Geoff says:

    Smutchin: Isn’t the ‘Yorkshireman’s exclamation’ the nickname that Lord Carrington privately gave the African leader during the discussions ending Rhodesian UDI and leading to the creation of Zimbabwe?

  42. Derek Lazenby says:

    Anyone know where Smutchin’s tablets are? He seems to be having delusions of being a crossword.

    Where are we? Friday? Wonder if I can get the good lady to take me to the pub. Been on this damn sofa all week. Might start needing some pills meself otherwise. See y’all Monday.

  43. Geoff Anderson says:

    A deep colour is also rich. A deep, rich red, for instance.

  44. smutchin says:

    Geoff – yes, it’s an old gag and one I can’t take credit for.

  45. Ian Stark says:


  46. mark says:

    Sorry, I still don’t get 3D a day later and with the benefit of posts above.

    Are we just agreeing that “..a figure…” is superfluous? Which is THE worst thing a setter can do in my book…it doesn’t even help the surface here.

    Please tell me there’s a better explanation.

  47. Ralph G says:

    23d and #24 above (Derek L). I thought ‘leg’ for ‘swindler’ was iffy, as I only knew ‘blackleg’ in the industrial disputes context, but it’s been in Chambers since 1951 at least, as short for ‘blackleg’ meaning a ‘turf-swindler’. Probably familiar to racegoers. Went to Newmarket once. Great experience but I had to watch the big screen to have any idea of where my horses were. At any one time as many people in the bar and restaurant as in the grandstand etc.
    I’m not defending the puzzle generally. I agree with comments above about it being deeply unsatisfying.

  48. mark says:

    Agree, and still frustrated by 3D. Help please anyone.

  49. Chunter says:

    ‘Students to be taught Latin in schools curriculum overhaul’ (Telegraph)

  50. KG says:

    Frank Lampard has a GCSE A* in Latin.

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