Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24766 – Araucaria

Posted by manehi on July 31st, 2009


As often with Araucaria, I’m still a little puzzled but thoroughly entertained.

9 ALBATROSS There’s a lake ALO in Nigeria, and SS presumably comes from “southern sea”, but I can’t get the remaining BATR ALBAT is a homophone for (Lake) Albert and ROSS is the southern sea
10 OXLIP O=”love”, X=”kiss” and LIP=”kisser”
11 SINGLET polyester has a SINGLE T, unlike cotton
12 INSULAR Half of SULtan inside rev(RANI), Rani being the female equivalent to Rajah
13 BRAY The sound of the donkey and a reference to the Vicar of Bray
14 FLOODLIGHT BLOOD=”gore” losing the B, inside FLIGHT
16 ENTROPY OP short for opus=”work”, inside ENTRY (e.g. a competition entry). From my limited knowledge of entropy, “What’s happening to the world” isn’t much of a definition, entropy being a quantity and not a process.
17 BACK OFF BACK=”defender”, OFF=”given card”
19 VELOCIPEDE is a cycle. VIP=”bigwig” around old king COLE reversed. I can’t get EDE from “at the end of the french” E=”end of the” and DE=”of the french”
22 STET Hidden in “In haSTE To”
24 TROUNCE “counterproductive” -> (counter)*
25 VERTIGO VERT=green, before I GO
27 PERGOLESI Put it in from the definition “composer”, not too sure on the wordplay. PER~=”for”, GOL is Persian for rose, ESI is some of the letters from “freesias”? PERGOLA minus the A + some of the letters of “freesias”
1 MASS OBSERVATION double def: a hagioscope allows people to see a Mass.
3 STILL Double def
4 MORTALLY (art)* in MOLLY
5 ESKIMO oriental’s -> East’S -> ES, KIMONO minus the NO
6 WORSE LUCK (clues)* in WORK
7 OLD LAG “record holder” being a cryptic def for someone who has been to prison a few times. [g]OLD L[eft] AG=silver
8 SPIRIT OF ST LOUIS (is out O first slip)*
15 FORCE NINE FOR CANINE with the A string changed to an E
18 OUTRIDER =scout. Not sure if it’s a pun on something like “How tried? Er…” An undecided jury is still OUT, and RIDER=comment
20 LOOKER double def
21 PREPPY PP=”quite quiet” in PREY=”quarry”
23 BROOD double def

55 Responses to “Guardian 24766 – Araucaria”

  1. Derek Lazenby says:

    19 ede is end of the + french for of the

  2. tarby says:

    27ac pergol(a) with middle 3 letters of freesias

  3. Derek Lazenby says:

    7 sorry, still don’t see what record holder has to do with anything

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks manehi. Quite a tough one I thought….

    9ac- The ALBAT part is a homophone of “Albert” – i presume there’s a Lake Albert in Africa somewhere, and of course there is also a ROSS sea in the Antarctic.

    18dn i think it’s OUT=”undecided” (not sure how this works, though), RIDER = “jury’s comment”

  5. Derek Lazenby says:

    come to that, in 18 I can get rider from both parts of the clue and out from the second, but where is out in the first part?

  6. tarby says:

    1ac Ross is the southern sea . If AL is african lake where does bat come in?

  7. Chunter says:

    Thanks, manehi.

    27ac: ‘support for roses’ is PERGOLA.

  8. Andrew says:

    “Aha” moment for 7dn – an OLD LAG has a (criminal) record.

  9. Gazza says:

    18d. I think “undecided jury” is a reference to “the jury’s still OUT”, and rider is a comment.

  10. tarby says:

    & down : criminal record

  11. Derek Lazenby says:

    just remembered “the jury is still out”, ok forget that one

  12. manehi says:

    Thanks for the help everyone – sorry, 7dn was supposed to have a hyperlink to the def of OLD LAG. Will change it all now.

  13. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ta for the others chaps

  14. Andrew says:

    There is indeed a Lake Albert – it lies between Uganda and the “Democratic” “Republic” of Congo.

  15. tarby says:

    Yes Andrew “the jurys out” means its still deliberating

  16. Eileen says:

    I can’t get 19ac to work: ‘the end’ gives E but DE is French for ‘of’, not ‘of the’, which is ‘du’ or ‘des’.

    I liked the anagram in 8dn [I love the James Stewart film!] and I thought 7dn had a great surface.

  17. The trafites says:

    Thanks for explaining 27ac – I only got this composer from google, and couldn’t work out the word play at all.

    11ac too had me beat in the word play, but had to be singlet – Now seeing the explanation, phew!

    24ac COUNTERPRODUCTIVE? I guess only Araucaria gets away with clues like this.


  18. Derek Lazenby says:

    43 years since I last did French and therefore somewhat rusty, but now that you mention it yeah. Maybe we were supposed to read it “of – as said by the” rather than the literal “of the”.

  19. NeilW says:

    Eileen, I agree with you; I can’t think of an example in common usage to justify “de” for “of the”.

    Late to the party as watching the test. Can someone please explain the point of “needs” in 14ac, please?

  20. Eileen says:

    I see what you mean, Derek, but this device is used a lot in crosswords and I’ve never known Araucaria get it ‘wrong’ before.

    Neil, I think ‘needs’ is just a linking word.

  21. manehi says:

    cul-de-sac, aide-de-camp? not that I’m convinced, but those two came to mind as examples of phrases that literal translations into English might give “de”=”of the”.

  22. Bryan says:

    Araucaria is one of my favourite setters but I didn’t like so I gave up about half-way through and I’m glad that I did.

    I had ALBATROSS as a possible for 2a but couldn’t figure out why.

    I didn’t like several other clues e.g. 11a nor others with obscure solutions (for me) like Pergolesi and Bedivere.

    Many thanks, Manehi and others, for explaining the otherwise inexplicable.

  23. liz says:

    Thanks, manehi. I would never have seen the wordplay for INSULAR! OLD LAG also misled me for ages. But the one that caused me the most trouble was BEDIVERE, a knight I’ve never heard of. For the longest time I was trying to make a word with DOVE in the middle.

    I did wonder about the EDE ending in 19ac. Aside from COUNTERPRODUCTIVE, I thought 27ac was pure Araucaria, with ‘a bunch of freesias’ cluing ESI…! Good fun.

  24. liz says:

    I should have said that the *clue* for OLD LAG was what was doing the misleading!

  25. NeilW says:

    Manehi, yes and no. You can translate aide-de-camp as “helper of the camp”, I suppose, but that doesn’t really work – camp aider (or in old French, field aid, battle assistant etc. but with no “of the”.) In modern French, perhaps we should avoid translating cul-de-sac – “ar*e of the bag” doesn’t work as a substitute for “the bag’s ar*e”! (Hope no true French scholars are lurking.)

  26. manehi says:

    Neil – fair points. Just thought of “fruits de mer”=”fruits of the sea” rather than “sea fruits” or whatever..

    (I know it’s still too tenuous to justify the clue, the comments just got me thinking)

  27. NeilW says:

    Yes, very good Manehi! I’ve been struggling in the tea interval to think of one too! (Don’t really like to question the Master.) You’re absolutely right although one has to question how the translation arose… if it was originally an English expression, I can’t see the French not using “de la”.

  28. NeilW says:

    Well, Bopara’s gone and I’ve finally thought of one, Manehi! “Fin de siecle” – end of the century. Bit of a struggle though, like England’s batting.

  29. John McDonald says:

    What a terribly loose crossword! I almost dread to see Araucaria’s name as setter because it means imprecise cluing. lax definitions and wholly imprecise wordplay. Examples are 27 Ac and 15 Down — why not using cluing such as “plus a bunch of letters” rather than tell us it’s “some of the letters of freesias”.

    Sloppy and unenjoyable.

    John M

  30. Dave Ellison says:

    I am surprised no one has commented on 25a. I thought this was one of the best clues, and a kind of double &lit. In fact, the clue could have been (cleverly) just “Before I turn green”, but I think A’s version is much nicer.

  31. aferick says:

    19ac. Ist it not “…thE end of the French (DE)

  32. NeilW says:


  33. Brian Harris says:

    I really enjoyed this today. I found it much better than yesterday’s. Maybe I was just in a good mood today, or got lucky by solving a good few clues fairly quickly… but I quite liked some of the weird constructions (the double t thing, for example). It’s curious how sometimes crosswords are such a matter of taste. Disliked yesterday’s, enjoyed today’s.

  34. Andrew says:

    The strange thing about the “DE” problem is that the clue would make just as much (or as little) sense if it read “…of French..”.

  35. aferick says:

    ‘Ere! 19ac. Is it not: VIP=”bigwig” around old king COLE reversed + th(E)end + of the French (DE)?

    Maybe “…th(E)end of French(DE) would have been less confusing.

  36. NeilW says:

    Yes, aferick, you’ve precisely described the problem and the best solution! Bad light’s stopped play now, I see…

  37. aferick says:

    NeilW: Vey nice, very witty. But “bad light”, Araucaria? How is that possible? We’re still going to win though. (I mean”, however”)

  38. mike says:

    preppy – liked the clue but my son tells me “quite quiet” is not “pp” which is VERY quiet. Hence in my ignorance I got it and he didn’t.

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    Maybe I missed it, too many posts to check accurately, but Bedivere was the last knight of the Round Table, the one that throws Excalibur into the lake.

    I’d guess those that said they didn’t know it really did and were just having a senior moment. I’m good at those, so I should know! :)

  40. liz says:

    re 39 Thanks, Derek. No one so far has mentioned who Bedivere was.

    I guessed the connection to Arthur (eventually) from the -ere ending. I did read the legends years ago, but the name Bedivere has never stuck. Funny what does and what doesn’t! Great stories, though, I should read them again.

  41. Eileen says:

    Andrew, re comment 34: [sorry, I’ve been out quite a while in the meantime]: that’s really the point I was trying to make at comment 20 – it’s just so unlike Araucaria!

    mike, I thought along the same lines as your son initially but ‘quite’ can, paradoxically, mean both ‘rather / somewhat / fairly’ and also ‘exactly’, hence, presumably, ‘very’!

  42. Mr Beaver says:

    Re comment #29 – I can see why John and others lose patience with Araucaria, but for me he gets away with ‘loose’ (I prefer ‘unconventional’) clueing because of the humour – which is of course a matter of taste.
    11a was a good example – I nearly threw my pen down when I twigged the the wordplay. Single T! How dare he ? But found I was smiling at his cheek…

  43. NeilW says:

    Gosh, Mr Beaver, I hope you couldn’t be accused of “brown-nosing”! :)

  44. Mr Beaver says:

    NeilW – hah!

    (thinks) where’s the emoticon for two fingers when you need it ?

  45. NeilW says:

    I’m truly sorry, Mr Beaver, I just couldn’t resist it! Meant only in jest.

  46. Chunter says:

    Yesterday evening’s Prom (broadcast live on Radio 3 and BBC 4) included a performance by the Scottish Chamber Orchestra of Stravinsky’s ballet suite Pulcinella, a ‘reworking of rediscovered 18th-century scores (reputedly by Pergolesi)’. Pity I didn’t mention this before the performance, but the recording is available on iPlayer ( (radio) and (TV)).

    Mendelssohn’s Italian Symphony (Thursday’s puzzle) will be performed in next Thursday’s Prom.

  47. Mr Beaver says:

    No need to apologise, NeilW, it made me laugh – just annoyed I hadn’t spotted it myself!

  48. Dinos says:

    As a newbie do these generally get SEVERELY HARD towards the end of the week?

  49. Mr Beaver says:

    Dinos, it’s difficult to generalise. You can generally rely on Monday being Rufus, and fairly easy, but apart from that it depends more on which setter it happens to be that day.
    I’d say Araucaria is perhaps more variable than most – he does set easy ones, but also some right tough ‘uns!

  50. cholecyst says:

    I know I’m a bit late but the 19ac debate about “of the French” = DE: surely you have to understand that THE French word for “of” is “de”?

  51. Radler says:

    Cholecyst (and others) – I think that’s what was intended and the use here of “of the French” is not incorrect. The debate has arisen because the convention would be “of French”.
    I wonder why his unusual cluing involving “freesias”, or the one requiring changes of strings resulted in fewer comments. Perhaps those clues were so unconventional that it wasn’t clear which rules had been violated.
    One of the things that makes Araucaria puzzles refreshing is his disregard for convention and I admire the fact that after half a century of compiling, his clues remain inventive and contain fewer clichés than most.

  52. Shed says:

    Putain de merde. Anyone care to translate that?

  53. Radler says:

    Just back from the pub and can’t think of a witty response to Shed’s comment (or a translation that wouldn’t offend).
    How about an attempt at a clue? Not a very good one, I’m afraid.
    Made pie with turn of French cooking (you’ll have to pardon my French) (6,2,5)

  54. Paul B says:

    Quelle surprise.

    Perhaps The Debate should be about whether The Convention really is that ‘of French’ (never mind ‘of the French’) = DE.

    Such travesties of indication have always been allowed in the Grauniad, and so are in that particular respect conventional.

    If you can be bothered to chatte about it, that is.

  55. Neil says:

    Two days late so nobody will read it, but:

    if Andrew, #4, is right about Albat being a supposed homophone for Albert, the Rhotic half of England should be outraged and offended. It’s SO rude and thoughtless to so many of us (let alone the Scots, Irish and North Americans)!

    As for 19, I just took it that ‘the French cycle’ was the VELOCIPEDE, ‘cos it is.

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