Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,753 / Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on July 16th, 2009


Nothing too difficult in this one. As always with Araucaria, some lovely clues and also some that make you go “hmm..”.

* = anagram
dd = double definition
< = reverse

1. FUNNY PECULIAR PEN-Y* in FUNICULAR with the I misplaced. Strange clue!
11. KICKS dd
12. COMFY COMFREY less RE – I think you have to read “removed” as “RE moved”.
13. ATTENUATE “At ten you ate”, which would be a late breakfast or dinner, depending on whether it was a.m or p.m.
14. LET FALL dd
18. TIDE RIP IDE (the obscure fish well known to Scrabble players) in TRIP. Another nautical answer – did Rufus have a hand in this?
20. PEAT BOG BOAT* in PEG. Not sure what “contra-indicated” is doing here.
23. DRONE DR (debtor) + ONE
24. KNURL Even letters of uK’s NeUtRaL. “Favouring” seems to be just a linking word.
25. PARAMEDIC DEM(ar)ARA< in PIC. Interesting that there’s more sugar in there in the form of cARAMEl…
2. UNLIMITED L I’M in UNITED. The Guardian’s website used to be called “Guardian Unlimited”, though they seem to have dropped the “unlimited” lately.
3. NIPPY dd
5. CHEETAH Homophone of CHEAT – the second syllable seems to be unaccounted for, but there may be some tortured Araucarianism that makes it work.
7. ACCRA ACC + RA (sun god). Accra is the capital of Ghana, which used to be called the Gold Coast.
9. ISLES OF GREECE “Aisles of grease”. The third Canto of Byron’s Don Juan.
19. PORK PIE dd – type of hat and rhyming slang for a lie.
20. POMFRET Old form of Pontefract, which has a castle and “cakes”.
22. NAURU N + AURU(m) – an island state in Micronesia
23. DEMON DE MON is “of my” in French, so I suppose it’s a “version” of it. A bit vague, though.

44 Responses to “Guardian 24,753 / Araucaria”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog , Andrew.

    I loved 9dn. – and 26 ac is very clever: 2009 is the quincentanary of henry VIII’s accession to the throne.

  2. Crypticnut says:

    Thanks Andrew. We have been spoilt this week so far.

    Re 5d – “one pulling a fast one” would have been better giving “Cheater” sounds like CHEETAH.

    And I agree that 23d was vague. I got DEMON from the crossing letters but couldn’t work out why as my french is limited to oui non and merci!

    Overall a nice easy one from the master.

  3. Eileen says:

    Sorry again: ‘quincentenary of Henry VIII’s accession’!

  4. Crypticnut says:

    I’ve just noticed that you missed one.

    LAKE NYASA is 6d

    7d is ACCRA ACC(ording to) RA (sun). But what’s gold have to do with it?

  5. Andrew says:

    Oops, thanks for that Crypticnut. Accra is the capital of Ghana, which used to be called the Gold Coast. (Blog updated)

  6. harry says:

    Am slightly worried by 8dn – butter icing on a chocolate cake? surely not. Butter icing on a sponge, yes, but not on a chocolate cake.
    Enjoyed the puzzle though, and am now in the mood for cake…

  7. Crypticnut says:

    Hi harry,

    In Oz butter icing is called mock cream – made with butter and sugar well beaten. When using on a chocalate cake we just add cocoa. Delicious!

  8. IanN14 says:

    This, I thought, was OK, but for those of you who like eccentric, funny, Paul-style clueing, get yourselves over to the Indy Morph this morning (if you have time).

  9. Bryan says:

    I loved it but I failed to get Nauru which I’d never heard of.

    Great puzzle as always!

    Many thanks to all.

  10. Eileen says:

    Andrew, I forgot to say earlier, re ‘contra-indicated': I expected it to indicate a reversal but do you think it could refer to the fact that peat is now frowned on as a fertiliser?

  11. Andrew says:

    Eileen – that’s what I was thinking about peat bogs: at least frowned on in the environmental sense.

  12. cholecyst says:

    Maybe, Eileen (20 ac.) My objection is that peat is not a fertiliser – it’s a soil conditioner. And 8dn: Araucaria is having problems with his cakes . One recent alphabetic grid solution required Angel Cake to be made with no eggs, instead of no yolks!

  13. don says:

    Re 26 across. Is it Araucaria’s birthday?

    Monica M You asked about 1 down (Dai) in yesterday’s crossword.

    David is a popular Christian name in Wales, probably due to St David being the Patron Saint, and ‘Dai’ is a very common diminutive for anyone called David, or its Welsh equivalent Dafydd.

    In school we had a Dai Jones, a Dai Davies, a Dai Llewellyn, a Dai Rees and two Dai James.

    Dai Dower was a British, European and Empire boxing champion; Dai Davies won over 50 international caps in goal for Wales; Dai Watkins was a rugby union and rugby league international, the only person to captain both the British and Irish Lions rugby union team and the Great Britain rugby league side; Dai Rees was captain of the last Great Britain side to win the Ryder Cup, before other European golfers were invited to play — but if your sport is just playing around, rather than a round of golf, you could have tried the socialite Sir Dai Llewellyn, brother of Roddy.

    I’m truly sorry for diverging!

  14. Eileen says:

    Cholecyst, yes, I remember the angel cake! I personally would sandwich a chocolate cake with butter icing [+ cocoa, Crypticnut] and put chocolate on top, so I’d go along with Araucaria this time.

    Don, how rude! [See comment 1 – and 3!]

    By the way, I saw no problem with DEMON. One meaning of ‘version’ is ‘translation’.

  15. don says:

    Sorry, Eillen – I was mixing up my ‘quinces’ with my ‘octas’, and was wondering if his 80th was around now, that all.

  16. don says:

    Sorry ‘octos’ … [that’s all].

  17. beermagnet says:

    More like his 85th – it says b.1924 on his Wiki page:

  18. Andrew says:

    I think Araucaria is already well past his 80th.


    Hmm, the sources are at variance: Wikipedia says he was born in 1924 (citing Jonathan Crowther’s book, which I don;t have), but links to a Guardian article celebrating his 80th birthday on 16 Feb 2001.

  19. Eileen says:

    Andrew, I can confirm that Jonathan Crowther gives Rev John’s birthdate as 1924.

  20. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I enjoyed this! My reading of ‘contra-indicated’ was also that you’re not supposed to put peat on your garden any more for environmental reasons.

    A little googling helped me to get NAURU. Got POMFRET from the checking letters, tho I have never heard of the cake. Personally, I prefer chocolate icing with chocolate cake!

  21. jvh says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I think 10 and 11 are linked by the phrase “more kicks than halfpence” (or alternatively by slang for pre-decimalisation coins).

  22. Chunter says:

    The Guardian article is correct. I’ve just looked at his entry in Who’s Who, which gives 16 Feb 1921 as his date of birth.

    And, no, I don’t have my own copy of Who’s Who. I used my library-card number to login to the website –

  23. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen – maybe the 1921 date is a Grauniad Glitch..

    Liz – Pontefract cakes are not real cakes (hence my quotes in the blog), but a kind of sweet: a disk-shaped piece of liquorice.

    jvh – thanks, I’ve never heard that expression.

  24. Andrew says:

    Ah, an Azed glitch then!

  25. Crypticnut says:

    I am surprised that a few of the posters here had trouble with NAURU.
    This very small island – no more than a rocky outcrop – became so covered in bird poo, over many centuries, that it was a rich source of super phosphate for the British Phosphate Commission, super phosphate being a very good fertilizer.
    Which makes 22d a quirky balance to 20a.

  26. Eileen says:

    Gosh, so he’s 88 – amazing! I do remember the article in the Guardian but, as with so many other things, I can’t believe it’s that long ago!

    PONTEFRACT CAKE is an answer in today’s FT crossword.

  27. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew, for explaining Pomfret cake. I think I’ll stick to chocolate.

  28. cholecyst says:

    1 ac. There seems to be some sort of hidden word play here which I can’t quite fathom ( or it could coincidence) – pen y reminds me of pen y ghent the famous Yorkshire tump and of course pen occurs in many Welsh place names usually meaning hill. So here we have pen (hill), cable railways and funiculars: how appropriate. One thing reminds me of another and I could easily find another Yorkshire link – Old Peculier the famous brew from Masham.

  29. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Chunter, for identifying the availability of Who’s Who with a Library Card. It worked and I see that Araucaria has been setting crosswords since 1958!

    I’ve also tried to check out Araucaria doc on:

    But there were 3 John G’s reported in the 1st Qtr, 1921: in Headington, W Ward and St George’s Hanover Square. Trust Araucaria to make things tricky.

    Regarding Nauru, Crypticnut,it is almost certainly better known in Oz than here in the UK.

  30. enitharmon says:

    Pomfret cakes are rather nice but inferior, being too sweet, to the Finnish salted liquorice drops called salmiakki. I look forward to the last-named turning up in a crossword! (I milk a ska dance for Finnish delicacy?)

  31. Eileen says:

    Cholecyst, that’s interesting. I do the crossword in the paper, where the line-end in the clue is at pen-, so I’d just been admiring how easy it was to read that as ‘penny-dreadful’ [a word I haven’t heard for years], which of course, was the intention. I didn’t associate it with Pen-y-Ghent, which I know well [and old Peculier!] Although I’d call it a bit more than a tump, it’s beguiling to picture a cable car going up it!

  32. enitharmon says:

    There’s Pen-y-Fan too, the highers point in the Brecon Beacons and significantly higher than Pen-y-Ghent. Not sure why a Yorkshire hill should have a Welsh-sounding name, but then the Welsh language was much more widespread one than it is now.

  33. Eileen says:

    cholecyst / enitharmon

    I found this from the Cambridge Dictionary of English Place-Names:

    “Pen-y-Ghent: the last element is not ‘unexplained’. It corresponds to Welsh gynt ‘pagans; Vikings’. The name means ‘hill of the Vikings’, who occupied Yorkshire in the ninth century. Pen-y-Ghent then became a border landmark, receiving its present name (reflecting political and strategic change) from Cumbrians to the north.”

    There’s also the tautological Pen Hill, in Wensleydale, which I know very much better!

  34. Hud says:

    Perhaps it’s my crude mind but I took the contra-indicated in 20a to suggest that a bog (toilet) was not the source of fertiliser but the opposite.

  35. Derek Lazenby says:

    Nice one Hud, you must be a Paul fan with that humour!

    Well yee hah, one of my very rare Araucaria finishes! OK ok, there was the odd use of electronic wizardry, but not that much. I always figure I’m in with a chance with him when I look at the first clue and see it straight away, especially a longer one.

    Had to guess at DEMON.

    And the Test is going our way so far. And it’s the wife’s birthday so we are taking the lads out for a pizza later. So it’s a good day!

  36. John says:

    “Version” is the French term for translation from English into French. The other way round is called “theme” (circumflex over the first “e”).

  37. John says:

    Forgot to ask why EMBER is “fast days”?

  38. Andrew says:


    Ember days – see here

    “Version” – thanks for that: if that’s the intention of the clue, it’s pretty obscure!

  39. MarkB says:

    1ac might allude to the Great Orme Tramway in Llandudno, which is a funicular, and the Welsh for Great Orme is Pen y Gogarth.

  40. Bryan says:

    I’ve now got a fix on Araucaria’s birthplace.

    He was born in Headington, Oxford in 1921.

    So Wiki is wrong yet again!

    I’ll get that sorted.

  41. John says:

    Thanks Andrew for the link. Another piece of useful info

  42. Eileen says:

    John / Andrew re comments 36 and 38

    Having only O Level French, and that many decades ago, I never got beyond responding to the command, ‘Traduisez!’ and so I was interested to learn of the alternative words in French.

    Araucaria’s clue still stands up in view of John’s definition but, even so, we don’t need to resort to French and I don’t thnk it’s at all obscure. The primary definition of ‘version’ in SOED is ‘a rendering of some text or work, or of a single word, passage, etc., from one language into another; a translation’. [Chambers gives ‘version’, straightforwardly, as ‘translation’.]

    Terence Rattigan’s play, ‘The Browning Version’ revolves around Robert Browning’s translation of Aeschylus’ ‘Agamemnon’ from Greek into English.

    And I’ve been really disappointed that, in all the confusion between 50s and 80s and decades and centuries and discussions about Araucaria’s age, no-one has agreed with me that 26ac is a brilliant clue!

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK, Eileen, I will do you a favour (because you said so many nice words about me yesterday).
    26ac was indeed a great clue, if you look at the link with Henry VIII (which Araucaria surely had in mind).
    Although I must admit, it was one of the last we got today.

    Complaining about DEMON (23dn) is not really on/fair, if you know Araucaria’s regular references to the French language.

    And what a pity that Lake Nyasa (6dn) is NOT in Kenya, but in Malawi.
    Then this clue would have been wonderful.
    In fact, nowadays it is called Lake Malawi. In colonial days “we” (not me) called it Lake Nyasa. And the word Nyasa means … lake. And Malawi was once called Nyasaland, Lakeland (and so we are back in Britain).

  44. stiofain says:

    I agree 26 ac was great but I seem to recall a very similar one by Araucaria recently.
    I dont think 18ac needed the “Nearly” at start.

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