Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,761 (Sat 25 Jul)/Araucaria – Darn good

Posted by rightback on August 1st, 2009


Solving time: 15:50

Perhaps one of Araucaria’s easier puzzles, although the last couple of clues, HATCHERIES and DARNLEY, stumped me for a good while. I thought 9ac (SOPRANO) was the best clue.

Music of the Day: Give a Little Whistle, sung by Jiminy 8ac.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

1 HARPER (2 defs) – Harper Lee wrote To Kill A Mockingbird. It is with some astonishment that I have just discovered she was a woman.
5 MURRAY; U (= ‘for all’) in (MARRY)* – two definitions, ‘Scotsman’ and ‘far away river’, the River Murray in south-east Australia.
8 CRICKET – Jiminy Cricket was Pinocchio’s ‘conscience’ – see the music link above. The cricket, meanwhile, is going rather well (at least, at the time of publishing…).
9 SOPRANO; S[trauss] + OP[e]RA + NO – a superb clue, requiring the splitting of ‘Strauss opera’.
11 ROBINSON COLLEGE; ROBINS + ONCOL[ogy] + LEGE[nd] – the newest of the Cambridge Colleges. Despite knowing this I rushed into ‘Homerton College’, seeing ‘homer’ = ‘bird’ (as in homing pigeon) and not questioning the rogue ‘T’.
12 UP TO MY EYES – because if you wear the burka you are covered ‘up to’, i.e. apart from, the eyes.
13 HAT + CHERIE’S – the ‘hat’ here, whimsically clued as ‘should be feature of wedding’, took me ages.
17 PUCKERED UP; PUCK + ERE, + rev. of PUD
18 STAR[t]
23 DARN + LEY – this was the clue I got stuck on, although when I spotted ‘darn’ I remembered that Araucaria has used this before, and realised what was going on with ‘its clue’. Lord Darnley married Mary, Queen of Scots, to whom the surface reading of the clue (‘Scottish queen – imprisoned queen indeed!’) to 21 (MARRY) could refer.
24 IN SOOTH – ‘being emollient’ is SOOTHING, so ‘bein’ emollient’ is SOOTHIN, which ‘inversely’ gives IN-SOOTH.
26 LONGER (2 defs)
2 ADIABATIC; A, + (A BIT ACID)* – meaning ‘without loss or gain of heat’. ‘Thermodynamic formula’ is a very loose definition, but refers to gas laws – there’s more here.
5 MUSIC; “MEW” + SIC (= ‘that’s correct’) – ‘sound’ here seems to do double duty as the definition and homophone indicator, which I think is why the ‘Yes’ is included in the clue.
10 OVERSTRETCH; OVERS + T + RET + CH – I think ‘ret’ is short for ‘return’ (= ‘go back’) here, but that’s not really satisfactory. Perhaps I’m missing something?
14 CHURCHILL; CHURL around CHIL[d] – Churchill College is 19 years older that Robinson.
15 IN THE ZONE; (ZENITH)* + ONE – the ‘for’ in this clue is superfluous to the cryptic reading and rather unfair.
16 LETHALLY; LET + HALL[e]Y – as in Halley’s Comet.
19 UNISON (2 defs) – UNISON is the Public Service Union.
21 MARRY; R (= ‘queen’) in MARY – ‘marry’ being an old word for ‘indeed’ and Mary, Queen of Scots being the Scottish queen in question.
22 NO YES – an English poet.

9 Responses to “Guardian 24,761 (Sat 25 Jul)/Araucaria – Darn good”

  1. Mr Beaver says:

    Thanks for the blog rightback. 13a was our last to complete – twigged the ‘Cherie’s’ bit, but had to find words ending that way before the penny dropped.

    I thought there were some great clues – 17a, and 4d had nice surfaces (the latter expressing a sentiment dear to my heart !) and the key 5d had a typically groan-inducing pun.

  2. The trafites says:

    13ac HAT = feature at wedding! Preposterous clue :) My second to last entry.
    23ac was my last entry too – googling Mary Queen of Scots was the only way I got that.

    Thanks for explaining how 24ac worked – it had to be IN SOOTH, but I couldn’t work out the word play at all.


  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback

    I did enjoy this.

    Like you, I struggled with DARNLEY (whom I’d never heard of) and MARRY without realising the help given by 5a (MURRAY) until after I had finished.

    I also had HOMERTON which threw me for a time.

    Could this be a case of Great Minds, d’ye reckon?

    Today’s was a very enjoyable cinch (when I finally figured out the theme) but please ignore anything I write that’s off topic.

  4. Biggles A says:

    10d. I think ret as short for return – usually in adverts for return fares – is OK. I’m sure you aren’t missing anything at all!

  5. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, rightback. The one I struggled to get was IN SOOTH. 22dn brought back memories of having to learn ‘The Highwayman’ by heart in primary school…

  6. Ralph G says:

    Thanks for the blog, rightback. I needed a few explanations on this one.
    2d ADIABATIC. Further to the helpful derivation in the link, there are some interesting cognates.
    The IE root is *gwem, giving rise to Gk baino batos (Mod. Gk pronunciation ‘veno’ ‘vatos’); Latin venio, ventum; and Proto-Germanic kwemanan.
    From the Greek batos we have adiabatic and acrobat, both straight borrowings of classical Greek words. No others come to mind.
    From the Latin ventum we have innumerable compound derivations eg convent, prevent, invent:- come together/before/upon.
    The Germanic kwemanan in due course produced Old Saxon cuman which became Old English cuman, before 830. The modern spelling ‘come’ developed about 1300 and is found in Chaucer.

  7. John Dean says:

    It wasn’t hard to see what 14d was but the ’19 years’ is difficult to pin down. By its own website, Robinson College was ‘formally opened’ in 1981. Wikipedia says the first fellows joined in 1977 and the first undergraduates were admitted in 1979.
    Churchill doesn’t seem to have a history on its site, but Wikipedia says its charter was approved in 1960, the year the first postgrads arrived with the first undergrads arriving in 1961 but full college status not achieved until 1966. So I’m not sure which dates are to be used for the time span if a like for like comparison of coming into existence is to be made.

  8. maarvarq says:

    Re: 13ac (my last one to solve), I don’t get why “Euan Blair’s” maps straight to “Cherie(‘)s”. I know she’s his mum, and from the Wikipedia article I thought “Euan Blair’s wedding” might be “AT CHERIES”, i.e. she provided with living accommodation, so she’d provide him with a wedding venue as well. That would then leave “H” to explain from “feature”, which doesn’t work – I think though that “HAT” as “feature of wedding” is less than compelling.

  9. Hamish says:

    Nearly five years on, I thought I’d comment on this puzzle, to try to explain why some of the clues were a little unusual. In about May 2009, I wrote to Hugh at the Guardian, asking if I could commission a crossword as a wedding present for a couple for whom I was being best man. Shortly afterwards, I had a phone call from Araucaria; he offered to set a puzzle with a few clues relevant to the couple, and to put it in the Guardian on their wedding day (25 July). Of course, I jumped at the chance. It was the marriage of Harper and Murray, in Churchill; she’s a soprano, he’s a bass, and they’re both fans of cricket (and crosswords, of course). They did the puzzle during the day, much to many of the guests’ bewilderment.

    It sparked five years of friendship with Araucaria, and it’s because of him that I’m now a crossword setter. Happy memories.

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