Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,679 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on April 21st, 2009


Apologies for the delay: I’m a late substitute, so apologies, too,  for any typos, etc.I thought this was a delight, though I’m quite prepared for some to say it was more appropriate for a Saturday  – with a number of interlocking clues based on Tony Benn and some lovely surfaces.

[ ]* anagram

[ ] < reversal

dd double definition

cd cryptic definition

2   PATHOS: P + ATHOS, one of The Three Musketeers
3   LET ME SEE: dd
10  UTOPIA:  U +TOPI + A[dults]: [edit; addition: ‘covered by’ doesn’t quite seem to work here.]  ‘More’ work, because written by Sir Thomas More in 1516.
12  CHOLESTEROL: sCHO[LESTER]OL: a very neat surface, I thought.
15  SWISS: cd
17  ROOTPRUNE: [OUR PROTE[i]N}* – a nice surface, because of the double meaning of ‘radical’ Chambers has this  word hyphenated.]
18  OPERATIVE: OPERA + [EVITa] < edit: OPER[a] + [EVITA]< thanks, Gaufrid.
19  SIGHT: in expressions like ‘a jolly sight better’
24  ONE-WAY: NEW inside O AY [nothing ever]
27  WEDGWOOD: dd: china, of course, and Tony Benn [22,23] was formerly Anthony Wedgwood Benn.


1   POLICE STOP: dd [Edit: POLICE SLOW: much better  – thanks, Ian]]
2   PATRONISED: [NOT PRAISED]*: a very clever surface, referring to Lord Chesterfield’s tardy and meagre patronage of Samuel Johnson for the writing of his dictionary. This entails a third interpretation of 4dn!
3   LIEGE: dd: Liège is a town in Wallonia
4   CHESTERFIELD: dd: a chesterfield is a tightly-stuffed sofa, and thus a seat, and the town in Derbyshire which was  Tony Benn’s Parliamentary seat
6   ANTELOPES: ANT [hill-dweller] ELOPES
7   HOPE: dd: Philip Stan[boy in 16dn]hope was the name of Lord Chesterfield
8   SEAT: dd
11  CROOKED SPIRE: [PIERS}* The parish church of Chesterfield has a crooked spire, clearly visible from the train.
13  PURGATORIO: [A RIOT GROUP]* – or, strictly, [A RIOT]* in [GROUP]* ‘Purgatorio’ is the third cantica of Dante’s  ‘Divine Comedy’.
16  STANSGATE: ST[SNAG]*ATE: a wonderful surface: Tony Benn was originally 2nd Viscount Stansgate but renounced his title in 1963, in order to be eligible to sit in the House of Commons
21  AWING: dd
22,23 TONY BENN: Spoonerism: Boney Ten

41 Responses to “Guardian 24,679 / Araucaria”

  1. Eileen says:

    An apology already: full explanationn of 10ac:
    UTOPIA: U [posh] TOPI [headgear A[dult]. I don’t think ‘covered by’ quite works here.

  2. Ian says:

    I thought 1D was Police Stop too, but according to the online version, it’s Police Slow. I had to stare at that a long time before deciding it indeed made sense. Made me chuckle and remember the familiar sign (is it only in the States?) “SLOW CHILDREN AHEAD” — always made me think “the poor things!”

  3. Colin Blackburn says:

    14 is a double def with one “reverse cryptic”

    L is the head of letter
    A letterhead is where you’d find a name and address.

  4. Colin Blackburn says:

    Incidentally the story with the spire is that the Devil sat on it cause it to become crooked. Apparently, it will right itself the day a virgin marries in the church.

  5. conradcork says:

    Johnson’s reply to Chesterfield is one of the masterpieces of English. Here is part of it.

    “(I) have brought it (the dictionary) at last to the verge of publication without one act of assistance, one word of encouragement or one smile of favour. Such treatment I did not expect for I never had a patron before.

    “…Is not a patron, My Lord, one who looks with unconcern on a man struggling for life in the water, and when he has reached ground, encumbers him with help? The notice which you have been pleased to take of my labours, had it been early had been kind; but it has been delayed till I am indifferent and cannot enjoy it, till I am solitary and cannot impart it, till I am known and do not want it.”

    Bravo Araucaria.

  6. Tom Hutton says:

    I didn’t like 12ac at all although I got it. I don’t think trainer works for school. Can you think of a sentence where you could swap school for trainer without strain? (Tony Benn went to a selective trainer) I don’t think it’s good. In addition the indication of a dropped leading letter is some way from the word concerned. I just wondered if Jimmy Choo made trainers but I didn’t care much.

    The explanation for 12ac is clever but I think it’s a jolly sight too clever by half as a clue.

    I agree that ‘covered by’ does not work in 10ac.

    Awing is a dreadfully ugly word.

    Altogether quite challenging but not very lovable but perhaps that’s appropriate because the same could be said of the in denial Tony Benn.

  7. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well I struggled and did about half. Having given up and looked at the answers I was dutifully amused by POLICE SLOW. It seemed an OK solution to me.

    Now, and let’s get this straight, it was only mild intellectual curiosity, but I did wonder how well or not our US and Oz friends would get on with the Tony Benn clues. And I would never have expressed that as it was expressed in the first post on today’s Independent blog. Can I be the first to say that that was un-necessary.

  8. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Eileen
    Thanks for standing in at short notice.
    In 12a, like Tom I was not convinced that trainer=school.
    I parsed 18a as OPER[a] EVITA reversed.
    In 20a I assume that ‘being no crank’ refers to the lack of a starting handle that used to be a feature of older vehicles or am I missing something.
    In 8d surely ‘How one is on a horse’ would give ‘seated’ rather than ‘seat’, or does the ‘determines’ indicate the removal of the last two letters?
    In 14d you haven’t mentioned that ‘letter head’ = L (typical Araucuria). Edit, I see Colin has beaten me to it on this one.

  9. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ian. at least it shows I didn’t ‘cheat’! [I’ve always quite liked ‘Heavy plant crossing’.]

    And thanks, Colin, for both comments: I got the wordplay of 14dn but didn’t know what to call it. I’ll file that.

    Conradcork; I totally agree: I don’t know how to do links and couldn’t decide which extract[s] to choose – so thanks for that.

    Derek, I did wonder, too, but I quite agree with your last comment.

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi Gaufrid: re 18ac: I really did have your interpretation in my head but it didn’t make it to the hasty blog!

    Yes, that’s the way I took 20ac.

    8dn: ‘how one is on a horse’ = ‘a mode of sitting, especially on horseback’ [Chambers]. I know people talk of horseriders having ‘a good seat’.

    I do share your and Tom’s reservations about school = trainer – but it did make such a good surface with Lester Piggott and non-starter!

  11. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks for clarifying 8d. I should have consulted the oracle instead of just asking a question but like you I have been in a bit of a rush today.

  12. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog. Didn’t get 13ac — thought it might be ‘purgatorio’ but didn’t know the ref to Dante. I also put ‘police stop’ for 1ac and wasn’t happy with it. ‘Slow’ is much funnier!

    Gaufrid —
    I think ‘seat’ is ok for ‘how one is on a horse’. Riders who have a good posture are said to have a good ‘seat’. I assumed the same as you about the lack of starting handle in 20ac

  13. liz says:

    Sorry to duplicate, Gaufrid

  14. Geoff says:

    Back to the Guardian after a spell away from home making do with the Times.

    Enjoyed this a lot – helped by my getting TONY BENN straight off. As Eileen says, it is more like a Saturday crossword in its requirement for some specific general knowledge, but I didn’t find it particularly difficult.

    I had POLICE SLOW for 1dn.

    Unlike others, I didn’t have a problem with ‘trainer’ = SCHOOL – it’s certainly a loose definition, but I’ve seen far worse, and it fits with ‘Piggott’, obviously.

    ‘Covered’ in 10ac would have worked for a down clue; I wonder if Araucaria flipped his grid? Like the def, though.

  15. Derek Lazenby says:

    As one who used to ride horses BC (Before Children), yes SEAT is the correct word to use in equine circles.

  16. smutchin says:

    Thanks for the brilliant trivia asides Colin and Conradcork. And thanks for the blog Eileen – you’ve cleared up a couple of queries for me.

    My first thought on seeing that we had Araucaria on a Tuesday was that there must be some significant anniversary going on, but I can’t find anything on the net to link Tony Benn to 21 April. Anyone?

    Anyway, that aside, I really enjoyed it, though I have to say that once I twigged 22,23 (which didn’t take long) the rest of the linked answers fell into place very quickly – though I did make life slightly harder for myself by putting SOFA in 8d (because of the reference to 4d) without really understanding why.

    11d and 14d down use tricks that I normally associate with Paul these days, though “most of rich” in 1a is classic Araucaria.

  17. cholecyst says:

    2d. Johnson’s def. of a patron from his dictionary: “One who countenances, supports or protects. Commonly a wretch who supports with insolence, and is paid with flattery.”

    Never one to forget a slight, even if imagined, SJ remembered that, many years before, he was kept waiting by Chesterfield in an ante-room.

  18. Eileen says:

    Smutchin: like you, I looked for a connection. All I could come up with, ironically, is that it’s the Queen’s birthday :-)

  19. smutchin says:

    Eileen – So it is! That surely has to be a bit of closet republican cheekiness from Araucaria.

    I agree with your comment 10 about “trainer” – it works well with the surface.

  20. cholecyst says:

    2 ac. Seems to be some kind of literary joke here as another of the Musketeers was Porthos

  21. Ralph G says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen and the explanation of 25a!
    I liked CROOKED in 11d as the in-solution anagrind for ‘piers*’.
    If you ever have the time, break your journey at Chesterfield and visit the Town Museum. 2000 years of history lead up to Tony Benn’s years as their MP.
    18a OPERATIVE; is there a double definition, ‘worker’ and ‘working on’?

  22. petero says:

    In 12A I first parsed it as ‘ester’ inside something, and even when I found something appropriate to put outside, it took me a while to realize that the word-order worked if you did the envelope first, and then non-started the whole construct. Tricky, but not, I feel, unfair.

  23. Eileen says:

    Ralph: 18ac: yes, I hadn’t spotted that: ‘working on’, as well as being a secondary definition, provides a smooth link to the rest of the clue.

    I, too, thought 11dn was particularly good but, believe it or not, I do try to resist waxing too lyrical about Rev John!

    [Aside ;-): since I had to give up my beloved retreat in the Yorkshire Dales, I no longer do that journey much. I used to have a seven-minute[only] change at Chesterfield, so, alas, never made it to the museum – but saw the spire!]

  24. rightback says:

    Thanks for stepping in at short notice, Eileen, and for explaining the first definition of SEAT which bemused me when solving. I went through testosterone and progesterone before getting CHOLESTEROL, which was an interesting journey.

  25. Eileen says:

    Re 12ac:

    I’m known as one of the first to deride obscure definitions dug from the depth of Chambers but I seemed not to be alone in admiring the spirit of this clue so, for what it’s worth, I’ve found, [buried] in SOED, ‘school: a person or thing regarded as a source of instruction or training’ – but, admittedly, ‘OE’!

  26. Ygor says:

    In response to Derek’s post No. 7: As a US solver I am proud to say that I did finish the puzzle, although I had “Police Stop” for 1D also. I have heard of Tony Benn, probably becaue I’ve been doing these puzzles for a while, but didn’t know the details of his life. The fact that I could get the solutions from the subsidiary parts of the clues testifies to the fairness of the setter, I think.

  27. Eileen says:

    Re comment 23: 18ac: I’m now thinking that OPERATIVE is a TRIPLE dfinition: working, working, on.

  28. Eileen says:

    Sorry – worker, working, on

  29. don says:

    Eileen, “Heavy plant crossing” is more of a source of amusement in Wales, with the sign taken as warning of obese children [plant].

  30. Paul B says:

    Re 7 (Derek) and 26 (Ygor) I want to say that (a) yes, it was unnecessary but I enjoyed nonetheless the deep-felt suffering and bile so uncompromisingly displayed by that poster, and (b) how pleasing it is to see in this blog a comment from a non-native on the perceived fairness of Araucaria’s clueing.

    Of course, setters in The Guardian have no responsibility whatever to be soluble or understood outside the British Isles – why should they? It’s only different in e.g. the FT, where the audience is freely advertised to compilers as constituted in considerable part by foreign nationals, some of whom may not be using English as a first language.

  31. smutchin says:

    Anyone complaining about a Tony Benn-themed crossword appearing in The Guardian, of all places, clearly has a screw loose.

  32. Chatmeister says:

    Paul B
    Re comment #30. What do you mean by “(a) yes, it was unnecessary but I enjoyed nonetheless the deep-felt suffering and bile so uncompromisingly displayed by that poster,”.

    What was unnecessary and which poster was suffering, something which you enjoyed?

    Your comments tend to be obscure, to say the least, and may in future be treated appropriately.

  33. Chatmeister says:

    I cannot see anyone complaining about the theme of this puzzle, unless you have (or I have) misread Paul B’s comment (which is easily done) so what is the point of your comment #21. Please keep future comments relevant otherwise they will be sent to the appropriate place.

  34. Derek Lazenby says:

    Chatmeister, I’m probably the only one still awake at this time of night so I guess it’s down to me to ask, but, have you really not correlated this lot with the Virgilius blog post #1 and the phrase “parochial bullshit”?

  35. Chatmeister says:

    No you are not (the only one still awake). I missed Derek’s reference in comment #7 to the initial comment in the Indy blog which put comments #30 and 31 somewhat out of context. It would certainly help if those making comments would clearly indicate that part of previous comments to which they were replying.

  36. smutchin says:

    Apologies for the confusion. I hadn’t actually read the Indy blog (didn’t want to spoil the Virgilius crossword for myself before I’ve had a chance to look at it) but I was indeed responding to Paul B’s comment referring to the “parochial bullshit” comment.

  37. Paul B says:

    I’ll accept that (35) as your apology then, Chatmeister.

    Do try to get your head out of ‘literal’ every once in a while, old boy – it really can enliven the spirit.

  38. Paul B says:

    And by the way: given (in your 35)

    “It would certainly help if those making comments would clearly indicate that part of previous comments to which they were replying”

    what part of (in my 30)

    “Re 7 (Derek) and 26 (Ygor)”

    don’t you understand?

  39. muck says:

    No more arguments, please

  40. Paul B says:

    It wasn’t my intention to start any, thanks.

  41. Brendan says:

    Only just finished this at breakfast this morning, as Shed grid steadfastly refuses to appear in either of my browsers. We, too, had Police Stop as our final answer but got the rest. And as to post #7 above add Ireland. Got Tony Benn early on, but some of the other references were outside our sphere of knowledge so delighted to see that we got Stansgate solely from the clue but needed the blog to explain why. Difficult puzzle for a Tuesday.

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