Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,728 / Araucaria

Posted by Gaufrid on June 17th, 2009


 I do enjoy Araucaria’s libertarianism and today was no exception. A mini theme revolving around ‘the House’ which, according to Chambers, can be “at Oxford, Christ Church (Aedes Christi), in London, the Stock Exchange or the Houses of Parliament”, all of which appeared in the grid (11,16, 2, 6) or were used as part of a clue (5,14). We also had ‘bingo hall’ and ‘Olivier’, though I am unable to explain the latter to my full satisfaction.

1 VICE-CHANCELLOR  VICE CHANCE (bad luck) ROLL (revolution) reversed – I assume this needs to be read as ‘bad luck’ = ‘vice chance’ as in ‘vice squad’ and ‘vice ring’.
10 REIGN  REIGN[ite] (start to light again)
11,16 STOCK EXCHANGE  STOCK (family) EX (old) CHANGE (coppers)
12 OBSESSIVE  *(BOSSES) I’VE (setter’s)
13 MUSTERED  homophone of ‘mustard’ (keen type)
17 LIBIDO  BID (order) in LIO[n] (cat with no tail)
22 TAOISEACH  TAO (good conduct) IS EACH (for everyone)
24 SODIC  SO (thus) CID (police) reversed
25 DUTCH  dd
26 BINGO HALL  BIN (house collector of rubbish) H (hospital) in GOAL (objective) L (student)
27 DOUBLE JEOPARDY  DOUBLE J (feature of the hajj) *(PRAY DEO)

1 VERSIMILITUDE  *(ER SUITE MDLVIII) – excellent anagram fodder I thought.
2 COMMONS  dd – you have to search hard in Chambers for commons = food but it’s there!
3 CHICKWEED  CHIC (smart) K (sum of money) WE (Guardian) ED (editor)
5,14 CHRISTCHURCH  CHRIST CHURCH (university house, see preamble) – I hope you all resisted the temptation to parse this as CHRIST (university) CHURCH (house, of God) even though there is a Christ University in Bangalore :-)
6 LORDS  cd
7 OLIVIER  I (first) in OLIVER (musical) – presumably the ‘house’ is the Olivier Theatre or have I missed something?
8 UNMETHODICALLY  *(ANY OLD CHUM I LET) – excellent surface
15 HELISCOOP  IS COO (pigeon talk) in HELP (aid)
18 BOOK TWO  Spoonerism ‘took boo’ (received disapproval)
20 RED HAIR  *(HARRIED) – where does the ‘one’ fit in, it seems superfluous to me?
21 BARBIE  BARB (hurtful remark) IE (that’s) – two definitions
23 SAHIB  AH (expression of satisfaction) in SIB (relative)

42 Responses to “Guardian 24,728 / Araucaria”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi Gaufrid – and thanks for the blog.

    Classic Araucaria – and hugely entertaining. I loved 27ac: took a while to sort out the anagram fodder – there didn’t seem to be the right number of letters. For a while I wanted it to end in RTY [‘try again’].

    1dn is superb and 1558 is the year Elizabeth I became queen – brilliant!

    7dn: I agree with your parsing: ‘theatre’ = house, as in ‘full house’.

    [There’s also a Christ Church at Cambridge!]

  2. Colin Blackburn says:

    1ac was missing from the interactive online version—I had to grab the PDF. 1dn was a very interesting anagram though the font in which I see the crossword clues is a bit odd and so I couldn’t see the 8.

    [There is no Christ Church (college) at Cambridge, there is a Christ’s.]

  3. Eileen says:

    26ac: I took the definition as ‘house [hall] of House’ [exclamation of win at Bingo] and ‘bin’ as ‘collector of rubbish’

  4. Lanson says:

    Thanks for the parsing of 1d, lovely clue once you understand it, 27a was wonderful. 15d heliscoop, got the answer, googled it and drew a near blank, not mentioned in my Oxford or Collins but Chambers of course has it!

  5. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. I hope those who are concerned at the putative anglocentric nature of recent puzzles will appreciate that in this one we visit NZ, Ireland, India and The Netherlands!

  6. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Colin, I was thinking of Christ Church, Cambridge.

    And, sorry again, in comment 3 I meant ‘house to House’ of course.

  7. Andrew says:

    Thanks Gaufrid. This was good fun, and I found I got through it pretty quickly. I agree with you and Eileen about the theatrical connection for OLIVIER. 1dn was amazing – it seemed most unlikely that the fodder would be an anagram of anything.

    Eileen – I had to think for a minute about the in Cambridge Christ Church, but you are right, though I’d say it was “in” rather than “at”. It’s a building that a clergyman of my former acquaintance called “bloody King’s”, from its red brick construction and vague resemblance to a better-known chapel.

    Has anyone here ever heard of a HELISCOOP?

  8. Conrad Cork says:


    Heliscoop? Nope, but the cryptic led to it and it was in Chambers when I checked.

  9. jetdoc says:

    Chambers defines heliscoop as ‘a net let down from a helicopter to rescue people in difficulty’. I hadn’t heard the word before but it was easy enough to get from the wordplay.

  10. Gaufrid says:

    Re comment #3. Yes, but surely the other way round. Looking again at 26a there does not appear to be a separate definition, just two sets of wordplay, BINGO (House) HALL (house) and BIN H in GOAL L.

    “Has anyone here ever heard of a HELISCOOP?”

    I have now :-)

  11. Gareth Rees says:

    “Heliscoop” is fascinating—it appears in Chambers sure enough, but on the web it only appears in wordlists, a sure sign that no-one uses it any more.

    Searching Google Books, “heliscoop” appears in Chambers and in The Book of Firsts where its first use is credited to Lt-Cdr John Sproule.

    And that leads us to this scan of a page of Flight magazine from 1955, which reports, “IN recognition of his invention of the scoop net [i.e. the heliscoop]—which, used by Naval helicopters, has already saved at least four lives at sea within a few months—Lt-Cdr. John Sproule has been awarded £30 from the Herbert Lott Naval Trust Fund … Co-inventor of the net with Lt-Cdr. Sproule was C.P.O. Stewart Lock; he receives £20 from the fund.”

    My guess is that the heliscoop never caught on, I presume because the system involving a winchman is better. So the word was probably obsolete before it got any widespread use. I wonder how it got into Chambers?

  12. Andrew says:

    Thanks for that, Gareth. £30 seems a measly reward for those four lives.

    Of course, classicists (I’m looking at you, Eileen!) and pedants may object to the use of “heli-” as a prefix for helicopter-related things (heliport is a more familiar example). The etymology is helico-pter – spiral (helix)+ “wing” (as in pterodactyl).

  13. Gareth Rees says:

    £30 in 1955 would be roughly £600 today.

  14. Derek Lazenby says:

    If a Vice Chancellor was a leader he would be called Chancellor.

    Do I detect biased slagging off of other setters? They would be castigated for using a word directly in a solution. So who will be fair minded enough to mention 22ac? Before anybody drops some acid and hallucinates into thinking otherwise, can I just say it is not a criticism I make.

    The names of colleges at other Universities would not be considered general knowledge, so why, apart from snob value, should anyone presume that the reverse applies to Oxbridge? In the modern world, people care nothing for such things so the presumption of general knowledge is at least half a centuary out of date.

  15. NeilW says:

    Derek, it was a long time ago but I seem to remember that the Vice Chancellor is the real boss (well at Oxford anyway) and the Chancellor is just the titular head. Equivalent to UK’s Prime Minister vs. the Queen. Apologies for a continued reference to Oxbridge!

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew

    Re your comments 12c and 7: as a pedantic Classicist, I’m not always [you may have noticed :-)] entirely consistent. I’ve no problem re HELISCOOP – as you say, heliport and helipad are very well established. No, I’d never heard of HELISCOOP. I did this crossword in bed this morning, without dictionaries, but the wordplay for 15dn was so charmingly unambiguous that I was quite confident of putting it in. And it’s so descriptive – I’d no idea of the actual mechanics of it but it sounded a very effective aerial rescuer!

  17. chunter says:

    NeilW: What you say of Oxford is true of all British universities (and those of some Commonwealth countries).

    See – ‘Our members are the executive heads (Vice-Chancellors or Principals) of UK universities and colleges of higher education. We currently have 133 members.’

  18. Eileen says:

    Sorry: yet again, I should have used the ‘preview’ option. ’12c’ should read ’12’.

  19. Gareth Rees says:

    Even if you ignore the convention (in Commonwealth countries) that chancellors are figureheads and vice chancellors are chief executives, it’s still fine for crossword purposes to clue “vice chancellor” as a “university leader”, because among the meanings of “leader” is “someone who leads” (which a vice chancellor certainly does, even if she may herself be also led).

  20. Colin Blackburn says:

    Re 22a: If, Derek, you mean the use of ‘is’ en claire then I’m not sure who would castigate any setter for that. There are plenty of occasions when parts of the wordplay appear directly in a clue, particularly very short words but sometimes longer ones too.

  21. Colin Blackburn says:

    Regarding Oxbridge colleges: no other universities are collegiate in the same way as Oxford and Cambridge. At these two universities the colleges are essentially autonomous institutions that ‘buy in’ to the university. Some of the colleges existed before the university per se did. Although other universities, Durham or York for instance, claim to be collegiate the colleges aren’t much more than extended halls of residence. They certainly don’t have the autonomy of Oxbridge colleges (though Durham is a little more complex).

    It is for this reason that I think some Oxbridge colleges can be reasonably considered general knowledge while the ‘colleges’ of universities would not be.

  22. Derek Lazenby says:

    We might fight and die at the behest of a Prime Minister, but we still do it “For Queen and Country”, not for the Prime Minister.

    “Chief exective” and “leader”, in several walks of life, have diverged from being the same person, although they could still be the same person.

    Leaders lead by inspiring one to follow, chief executives have a depressing tendency to be mere bean counting bullies who you wouldn’t want to follow anywhere!

    Vice Chancellors are in which category? Most are in the latter I fear, at least they were when we students of the 60s were fighting them tooth and nail. I can’t think of anyone who would have refered to them as leaders as they sure as hell weren’t leading us, and as a majority of staff sympathised with us, they weren’t leading the staff either.

  23. chunter says:

    London University is another special case, as it has 15 members of Universities UK (its VC and the heads of 14 colleges).

  24. Dagnabit says:

    No problems with the puzzle today (among the many pleasures were 22ac, 24ac, 1d, 3d, 18d, and 21d), but plenty with the technology – I had to resort to printing the PDF and filling it in the old-fashioned way.

    First, as Colin pointed out, the clue to 1ac was missing, but then stranger things began happening. About halfway through, the program started entering two letters for every one I typed, such that A became AA, B became BB, etc., so I had to keep backspacing and replacing the duplicate letter with the one that should have been there, which then created new duplicates that had to be replaced in their turn. (A case of 27ac?) Finally, the entire grid simply disappeared, and would not return no matter how many times I refreshed the page.

    So, as you can see, I reached the end a bit 8d, and had to be quite 12ac in order to get it all done. It was all I could do not to say to myself, “Oh, 5d, I give up!”

  25. Derek Lazenby says:

    Colin, re post 20. I’m not suggesting anything. I just want to know where are the other voices who were complaining just a few days ago, do you not remember that?

    re post 21, I see and ty for that, but even so, do you think the average 21st centuary person gives a monkeys? Unless one actually goes there the distinction has no impact on one’s life and one therefore has no incentive to learn such things.

  26. NeilW says:

    Dagnabit – yes something went horribly wrong. Immensely frustrating for those of us using the onlne version. Worse still if you completed and saved Saturday’s prize: try going back to it: if you saved it you get an error message: “Unfortunately this crossword cannot be replicated in our production tool and is unavailable online.” Swine flu?

  27. Dagnabit says:

    Neil, how terrible about the prize crossword. :( But at least it’s some small comfort to know there’s something amiss at the Guardian’s end and not on our computers. I hope a miracle occurs soon and you are able to retrieve your saved puzzle…

  28. Fletch says:

    I love the irony of century spelt wrong (twice) by someone railing against the advantages of an Oxbridge education.

  29. sidey says:

    The Guardian crosswords can be printed at any stage of completion, see the paragraph “Print your current solution” near the bottom of the page. You don’t have to use paper, you can print to a PDF file using Doro PDFWriter.

  30. Derek Lazenby says:

    I love the irony of people who can’t understand English. May one ask what sort of education leads to such an amazing inabality?

    I never railed against an Oxbridge education, just the idiotic idea that I should be familiar with a list of names which would be of no conceivable use to me.

    Or maybe this is yet another example of those people for whom misrepresentation is normal because they do it all the time under the guise of sundry management-speak gobbeldy-gook phrases so they no longer realise what truth is. In every day life they get away with it because it is difficult to confirm who said what. But they forget that here a simple scroll up shows precisely who said what.

    Go on try it. Scroll up. The only item under discussion was the knowledge or not of college names, not the quality of education therein.

    Is there any reason why it always seems to be the same people who persist in making these leaps of illogic?

  31. stiofain says:

    Nice to see an Irish word included.
    Anyone seen one before?
    Nice one.

  32. bgg says:

    I cruelled my own wicket with “scion” for 23d. What an outstanding crossword!

  33. Colin Blackburn says:

    Chunter: yes I forgot London. Some of its colleges would be general knowledge. Though some, Imperial, are now fully independent universities.

    Dagnabit: Ah, I assumed the double letter problem was local to me. I solved the problem in the end by enabling Cheat and clicking on cheat once I knew an answer.

    Derek 1: Sorry I missed the debate about words en claire so I don’t know the thrust of the debate. If you let me know the puzzle number I’ll take a look.

    Derek 2: What is general knowledge? I accept that many people mightn’t know the even the most notable Oxbridge (or London) colleges. But lots of people don’t know lots of things. Is general knowledge to be limited to the intersection of the facts everyone knows? Or just the intersection of the facts that daily cryptic solvers know? Or should we accept that there will be stuff we don’t know, arcane stuff like the colleges or contemporary stuff like pop stars?

    Here we do cryptic crosswords, not GK quizzes. That means we have a second way to the answer (usually) and some checking letters (hopefully). Sure there are lots of hoary old chestnuts that should be swept away but let’s not throw out the bay with the bath water.

  34. Ian W. says:

    Derek, you may not have been attacking the quality of Oxbridge colleges, but your tone was distinctly hostile when alleging that knowledge of their names was of no use to you (or anyone else outside those universties) — but so what? Learning the word “heliscoop” is no use to me, but interesting nontheless.

    In any event, I think the names of Oxbridge colleges are well known (even to people like me who didn’t even go to university in this country) from references and depictions in lots of English literature in a way that details of other British universities are not.

  35. chunter says:

    Colin: As far as I know Imperial is the only college to have left London University (though the biggest remaining ones, such as UCL, have a great deal of independence). Several years ago Imperial tried to take over/merge with UCL, but was rebuffed.

    Entirely agree with your comments about GK.

  36. Ken Lazybreed says:

    I can’t be the only one who is getting bored with the same arrogant and ill-informed comments on this board every day. Derek Lazenby first stated something yesterday that was just plain wrong: “If a Vice-Chancellor was a leader he’d be called a Chancellor”. No. That is wrong. Check the facts, or let someone else check them for you and have the good grace to accept that you are wrong. Don’t try and squirm out of it by saying that Vice-Chancellors are not really leaders as they are ‘bean-counters’.

    And yeah Derek, unless you actually go to Christ Church, the name means nothing to you and you have no incentive to learn such things. Well, maybe you have such a small circle of interest that the only things you want to learn are things that affect your life directly, but the rest of us retain a curiosity and love of learning for it’s own sake, and I for one do crosswords partly because I WANT to learn things I’ve never heard of. Might I suggest you take up another less taxing hobby if you are going to keep infecting a pleasant exchange of opinions about crosswords with the toxic and hostile tone of your comments.

  37. Neil says:

    Ken: whilst I appeciate the sentiments of your remarks at #36, as well as for their learning opportunities I do crosswords for their entertainment value. Derek Lazenby adds a fair bit to that! Trenchant perversity can often prove amusing. I was quite disappointed that Derek didn’t contribute to the vigorous controversy here recently about the Puck puzzle, No.24,727.

    (Apologies if this is considered off-topic).

  38. Derek Lazenby says:

    Sorry if I upset people but it’s more fun than polite agreement, that just gets tediously repetitous and predictable. But seriously, there was never meant to be an aggressive tone, that was caused some time ago as a response to someone who prefered put downs when help and advice would have been more appropriate. I tried being bland for a while, but certain people kept inventing meanings to my words that implied deliberate misrepresentation, so I gave up on bland. Blame the misrepresenters for that. For example it is month’s since I was on here “every day”, but what got said above?

    I was not wriggling out of anything. Leadership implies more than being a manager with an arcane title. To call mere managers (even big managers) “leaders” is to devalue the concept of leader.

    There will be exceptions somewhere in the world, but a leader inspires you to follow, a manager just gets you to do things because its a requirement of the job, not because he inspires you to do those things.

    That should be obvious, or am I talking to managers who are under the illusion that that makes them leaders and therefore they have a blind spot?

    And I’m sorry if my spelling and typing are below par. They never tested for it when I was a lad so I can’t say for sure, but my eldest son is seriously dyslexic. He gets it from me. So please feel free to poke fun at my typos, I’m sure it gives you a thrill.

    Good stuff English, very flexible, but arcane is by definition not general, otherwise I would agree with 33/2 as I’ve said the same myself.

    I didn’t do Puck, I was having some problem with the web-site. The problem vanished mysteriously the day after.

  39. Neil says:

    I don’t suppose anybody is looking this far back any more, but if you are, Derek, I’m pleased you’re still with us. I agree with very little of what you say, but will defend your right to say it, against the more prissy demands of propriety. I’d bet you have lively discussions at your local, but i might be unprepared to tell you where mine is! Power to your elbow, but when you KNOW you’re proven to be wrong (if ever), admit it, eh? And I’m sure you will accept this as part of the important British culture of ‘Pub Banter’ in which you clearly seem well versed. Some of our fellow contributors may appear to be a little more cloistered. Forgive them. All seem very polite. They each have their own variously arcane and equally relevant cultures too. I always felt a bit sorry for those who had to go to University because they couldn’t get into Art School. Mind you, that was back in the 1950s!

  40. Derek Lazenby says:

    Neil, thank you for your concern but even you have got it wrong.

    The original statement re Chancelor was just a joke.

    Does no-one have the imagination to realise that if you have spent 3 years at uni you know precisely what a VC is? If they did they could have worked it out. But certain people are so hell bent on rubbishing anything I say they totally fail to think things through.

    So that alleged correction was totally spurious. Obviously I already knew. What else do you do when somebody is so bloody mindedly presumptious as to give that so called correction other than ignore it and totally play up the situation?

    When I went on to discuss the difference between a chief executive and a leader, I was however serious. Any CE or even a VC is just the most senior manager, and as such is no different from any other manager, simply manipulating others to their own advantage, they hardly ever do any leading. Consider that tired phrase “in the current economical climate” which has been used since the year dot to inform everyone else of their pay restraints or cuts or job losses. A leader would set an example that affected his own pocket more. How many managers, of whatever seniority are prepared to set such an example? Very few and those few are truely leaders, the others are just using spin if they claim to be leaders because that is the one thing they never do. Therefore, as the majority don’t lead, the use of that word to describe them is erroneous in general, but with some honourable exceptions.

    Put simply, being called a leader does not make you a leader, you actually have to do some leading.

    But none of that is what the joke was about. That was just the pure Englishness of giving the guy in charge a title which implies that he isn’t.

  41. Ken Lazybreed says:

    “If a Vice Chancellor was a leader he would be called Chancellor”

    Really funny joke there Derek. Had me splitting my sides with mirth that did.

  42. Rufus says:

    Re the scoopnet. When with 851 and 849 squadrons at R.N.A.S. Culdrose in Cornwall during the 50s we were taken to sea at regular intervals and required to jump in the icy waters to give the helicopter personnel, and aircrew, experience of recovery via the scoop net. The use of this device didn’t seem last very long in service. By the time I was picked up after crashing in a Gannet aircraft off Ceylon in March 1961, within minutes of escaping from 6o feet below the surface, it was back to hooking oneself to the hovering helicopter. The device was designed to pick up survivors who may have been injured and possibly unable to be take any action. Its designer, John Sproule, was a very pleasant man.

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