Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,624 – Auster

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on February 16th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

As easy as you’d expect on a Monday except for a few horticultural clues that were completely out of my areas of expertise, which had to wait until I had most of the checking letters and then required a bit of dictionary work to confirm once I’d had a guess from the wordplay.

This is the complete opposite of my normal way of working, which is to intuit a word that fits and then work backwards to find out why.

* = anagram
< = reversed
(X) = insertion
(x) = removal


4. LIANAS. ANI(m)ALS*.  Woody forest vines.  Easy to guess from the checking letters and the assumption it was plural, but I’ve never heard of ’em.
6. EGGFRUIT. EGG + RUTIF*.  Confidently wrote in ‘EGGPLANT’ early on, which didn’t help.
9. ABUSED. AB + USED. This clue rings a bell.
10. APRICOTS. APRI(l) + COTS. Aha, one I’d heard of.
11. MALIFICENCE. MALE + F(I + C)ENCE. Easy if you’ve seen Sleeping Beauty.
15. ALL OVER. A + L. + LOVER.
17. HASHISH. HASH + IS + H.  I prefer to call it the Octothorpe.
18. TROUSER LEGS. ROT* + USER + LEGS. Not sure about the definition, or what ‘staff’ is doing there.
23. TITOKI. TITO + K + I. Another mystery plant, had it narrowed down to TITOKI or TITORI.
25. RATBAG. RA(BAT*)G. or R(BAT*)AG I suppose.


1. CARE OF. CAR + FOE<. Nice definition.
2. AGAPANTHUS. A + GAP + AN + THUS. Again, worked it out and had to look it up to check it was right.
4. LEAN MEAT. LEAN + TEAM*. ‘List’ is used as in ‘Lean over’.
5. ARUM LILY. A RUM LILY.  Presumably popular with brides?.
7. UFOS. OFUS*. ‘X origin’ as an anagrind doesn’t work for me.
8. TEST. (whi)TE ST(rip).
12. CARBON COPY. CAR + BO(NCO + P)Y.  ( or maybe N + COP). Second use of CAR in one grid!
18. RHINAL. RHIN(e) + A + L.
20. TRIP. TRIP(let).
21. TSAR. STAR*.

31 Responses to “Guardian 24,624 – Auster”

  1. Geoff Moss says:

    You have a couple of errors in 6a – answer and anagram fodder.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ciaran. I enjoyed this in a leisurely Monday way, and didn;t find thet botanical answers too hard, despite being definitely not much of a gardener (aren’t LIANAS what Tarzan used to swing from tree to tree?).

    My only complaint was with 13dn, where I thought it was weak to have “bomb” appearing in both the fodder and the answer; and like you I’m unsure about TROUSER LEGS.

  3. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    I completed this well within half an hour.

    At 6ac I too had EGGPLANT but as an anagram was involved and the fodder didn’t gel, I waited.

    At 11ac I had malfeasance in mind but again I waited until the correct answer was got. Incidentally a typo needs to be fixed in the answer entered above.

    I too couldn’t really interpret 18ac. Are the subordinate members of staff in any workplace called “trouser-legs”?

    In 12d I had ‘cop’ for police but I as don’t know how N yields officer I later decided it was NCO (officer), P (copper).

  4. brisbanegirl says:

    Hi all and thanks Ciaran

    I must say, I got a wry smile when I saw the setter’s name, and was hoping for another “hump the bluey” issue … well, I was a bit disappointed!!!

    No obscure Aussie slang, and overall a fairly easy puzzle.

    Liana, agapanthus and arum lily are common plants here … probably a bit tropical for you lot. Altho, I had never hear of titoki (I asked a kiwi work colleague if it was real … she laughed at my pronunciation … all vowels short, stress on 2nd syllable).

    Not only was car used twice, use/d/r was also used twice.

    In defence of Auster ( she is now retired), her puzzles, which Aussies would think were great, would not be accessible to you … hence you umbrage at hump the bluey. The puzzles you get are not her best work.

  5. Dawn says:

    I had never heard of an eggfruit and also had eggplant in until nothing else would fit. I had to dip into the dictionary to check a few guesses but otherwise an enjoyable start to the week.

  6. brisbanegirl says:

    As an Aussie … I also had eggplant, but do know of people (especially of an older generation) who calld it an eggfruit … these days we’re almost sophisticated enough to call it and aubergine …

  7. Tom Hutton says:

    A very pleasant crossword to solve.

    Even teachers have legs so I suppose staff may have lower members. I thought it was a neat piece of misdirection.

    15ac. I know it’s common, but I don’t warm to arbitrary abbreviations such as L for Latin. Having said that, it was a very smooth clue which I enjoyed.

  8. C.G. Rishikesh says:

    Eggfruit? Eggplant? I call it brinjal! See Chambers.

  9. brisbanegirl says:

    12ac … p = copper. I was looking for cu and couldn’t for the life of me get it til now … Homer moment…

  10. brisbanegirl says:

    Rishi … and we all love a brinjal pickle with out curry.

  11. C.G. Rishikesh says:


    P = copper I mentioned in Comment #3. Did you leap over it like the roos do?

  12. Derek Lazenby says:

    At the risk of dissapointing, BG, not a right lot to say about this one as we all seem to agree on querying “of staff” and most of us are more familiar with eggplant rather than eggfruit. The latter did show the advantage of online solving though, I pressed Check and PLAN dissappeared, so I knew it was wrong immediately.

    Re, Chit chat. We need a Chat room here. What’s the point of meeting people if not to make friends, and how can you do that if you stick to the topic? Alternatively, if anyone knows how to do IM Conferences, my yahoo id is passingidiot.

    Ciaran, I took up your idea of blogging the Quiptic and mailed as advised. No reply. Even if it is an unwanted offer, one would have thought someone would have had the good manners to say so. The latter is disappointing.

  13. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Derek – 15sq isn’t a huge operation, give it a while…

  14. brisbanegirl says:

    Rishi, It obviously took me an age to get it (12ac “P”) and even with you mentioning it … I obviously didn’t twig straight away.

    Re Chit Chat (I give it capitals because it has become an issue)

    I’m one of the worst offenders when it comes to irrelevancies …. That said, my cynicism/flippansh is not mean’t to detract from the learning and enjoyment I get from most of the ‘straight’comments.

    The enjoyment I get from knowing that people from all walks and educations get a kick from doing a good puzzle is fodder for my brain … especially as I’m a bit of a oner in my group of friends when it comes to doing puzzles.

    Don’t be too harsh.

    If there needs to be a second chit-chat site … I’m happy, I’m not here to upset people.

  15. brisbanegirl says:

    Unlike my friend ‘Bad Boy’ … now an official memeber of the BB famly

  16. mhl says:

    Ciaran: thanks for the excellent post on this.

    With regard to 5 down, it seems that arum lilies are a traditional choice for bridal bouquets.

  17. smutchin says:

    Just to let y’all know, from now on, anything I’ve got to say that’s not related to the blog in question will be posted on my own blog.

    I’ve not done today’s puzzle yet, so have nothing to say except that I’m slightly disappointed if there’s no obscure Aussie slang!

  18. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Can anyone tell me where the first C in 11ac comes from?

  19. Eileen says:

    I’ve been out all morning and have no comment to add to those above, either – but just wanted to say: Congratulations, Smutchin!

  20. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Sil – ‘about’ = ‘circa’ = ‘c.’ Relatively common in crosswords.

  21. Eileen says:

    Sil: C[irca] = about

  22. Eileen says:

    Pipped again, Ciaran!

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you.
    I realised C was probably C[irca] after I submitted my comment.

  24. neildubya says:

    Derek: could you resend your email? I don’t seem to have received anything from you…

  25. Brian Harris says:

    Wasn’t too impressed today, to be honest. Surely, it’s against the unwritten conventions of anagram setting to include an entire string like “bomb” in both clue and definition?!

  26. Derek Lazenby says:

    Neil – The one for blogging at fifteensquared dot net?

  27. Derek Lazenby says:

    I tried again anyway

  28. Ian says:

    I too inserted eggplant!!

  29. stiofain_x says:

    Not many complaints about this but agree the repetition of bomb in clue and answer is beyond the pale.
    As for Aussie slang id say ratbag definitely qualifies there.
    Chit chat hmmmm I think a balance has to be struck no one wants to trawl through a load of irrelevant messages to get to something about the crossword but on the other hand insisting on all postings being strictly on the daily puzzle would be off putting for newbies, many of whom say they find first posting here daunting, and spoil the flow of the forum.
    Personally I think 15/2ed strikes just the right balance and doesnt need any more rules imposed.

  30. BrisBella says:

    Today’s crossword was the easiest I have done in the last couple of years. My aunie still calls it eggfruit & I remember lianas from Saturday matinees when I was a kid – all those jungle serials! The “staff” part of the clue I suspect is just a red herring tossed in to tie up with employer.

    I have to say that what we say here hardly qualifies as chit-chat. I once ventured into a chat room, was totally horrified & quickly tiptoed out. It is very nice to meet like minded people (crossword-wise, if I may be permitted) as now that I am retired and at home most of the time there is no one with whom to share the joy of a brilliant clue and its solution.

  31. Paul B says:

    On this page alone, 60 comments in the Guardian Chat Room versus 5 in the other puzzles.

    I’m sure it doesn’t mean – already – that serious-minded solvers, observers and commenters are finding better things to do than witness the antics of a (bunch of) spoiler(s). On the contrary, it’s just a Monday, and there’s a lot of catching up for most of us to do at work.

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