Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,777 / Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on August 13th, 2009


Tough going with Araucaria today. I got 22/21 quickly, which led immediately to 15/14 and a couple of others, but still struggled to finish it. There were a few references that I had to look up, and there a still a couple of places where I’m either stumped or dubious about my explanation.

* = anagram
dd = double definition
< = reverse

8. WOOD PULP I’m getting off to a bad start by not being able to explain this – wood pulp goes into paper, and there’s pilp fuction, but why does wood=crazy (or crazy type)?
10. ESPY ESP + Y (last letter of “telepathy”)
11. JANE AUSTEN JANE (girl) + AU (gold) + STEN (gun). She PRODUCEd (19d – the D being a letter to add, not “down”) Emma (22dn)
12. BERING BE RING – just a homophone of a definition: straight=”strait”
17. BEGUILE Not sure how this works: BEG is “ask”, and UILE on its own could be a homophone of HUILE (French for oil).
20. OBJECTOR OBJECT (aim) + OR (gold again)
23. EVERGLADES E + LAD in VERGES. Verges is a character in Much Ado About Nothing
25. PROMPT dd
26. CLAYMORE Sort of dd, I suppose
2. IDLY I think this must be an anagram IDYLL less L.
3. JUG-JUG JUG (prison) + JUG (vessel). A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square, and “jug-jug” is apparently the noise they make, according to T.S Eliot among others.
4. SPIN-OFF dd
6. HOUSEBOUND HOUSE + BOUND – “grounded” as in what happens to naughty teenagers, and (guessing here) “house” is a name for the Stock Exchange
7. CAREER dd
13. IN THE FRAME Sort of dd – cucumbers are likely to be “in the frame”, and if you’re “in the frame” you’re in line to be chosen for something
18. LAMBOURN LAMB + OUR N(ame) – “we” being The Guardian. Lambourn is a village in Berkshire with horse-racing connections.
19. PRODUCE PRO DUCE = in favour of Mussolini. This made me laugh when I got it.
24. EMMA Mme Bovary’s name was Emma, but I don’t get “Miss halves of 8 and 6″.

64 Responses to “Guardian 24,777 / Araucaria”

  1. Eileen says:

    Hi Andrew – thanks for the blog. Quite tough, as you say..

    24dn: Jane Austen’s Emma was Miss Woodhouse.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Eileen, very clever (you and Aracuaria!)

  3. Eileen says:

    Having done it for A Level helps!

    Apparently ‘wood’ does mean crazy [or used to].

  4. Bryan says:

    This was too difficult for me and I gave up with 5 to go.

    Knowing nothing about horses, 18d LAMBOURN was way above my head.

    I’ve never heard of JUG-JUG although Berkeley Square reminded me of nightingales.

    WOOD PULP, IDLY and BERING were my other fsilures.

    Thanks, Andrew, if even you found it difficult then what chance did I have?

  5. Monica M says:

    Thanks for the explanation of jug-jug … solved it but didn’t have a clue, the same for Rousseau.

    For some reason, I knew wood = crazy … I’d probably stumbled on it in a cross-word.

    As an aside, there really are quite a lot of words I only know as a reult of solving crosswords (all types) … I hadn’t realised until now.

    My mother is in hospital and has never done a crossword in her life. As a result of boredom, she has taken to looking at the “straight” crosswords in the local paper and doing remarkably well … but when she asks me for the words she’s missing, it is invariably a “crossword” word.

  6. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Andrew. I loved “The girl with the golden gun” as the subsidiary indicator for JANE AUSTEN :)

    19d is very similar to an older Araucaria clue (in Monkey Puzzles volume 2, if I remember right) which I slightly prefer: “Yield, fascist! (7)”

  7. Uncle Yap says:

    Looks like we all enjoyed today’s puzzle, with Jane Austen my COTD. 26A is a charade of clay (earth)+ more (extra), not a dd. Among many definitions, house (in Chambers) also included “Stock Exchange”. 4D spinoff, like 19A produce, gave me a laugh

    Very enjoyable puzzle and thank you, Andrew for the blog.

  8. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I enjoyed this too. 19dn made me laugh and I also liked 25ac and 11ac. The one that caught me out, appropriately enough, was BEGUILE.

  9. Geoff Anderson says:

    I have a major problem with 2d IDLY.

    I thought it was a golden rule that a setter couldn’t clue a word which then had to be anagrammed (after, in this case it seems, being edited!). I thought the letters of the anagram had to be in the clue – the envelope has been pushed already by setters including words to be abbreviated and then used in the anagram, but that’s only a slight extension of the rule, whereas what Araucaria has done here is pushed the envelope clear off the desk.

    I realise the ‘rules’ governing the craft of compiling are always developing, and Araucaria, as the Father of Cryptic Crosswords, is in a position to test new ideas, but this development threatens to take clue-solving beyond little-brained bears like me.

  10. Geoff Anderson says:

    I can see that to idle is to be on standby, in the sense that an engine is ready to be used, or a TV is ready to be switched on. But I’m having difficulty equating the adverb ‘idly’ with ‘be on standby’ or ‘on standby’. ‘The TV was on standby’ = ‘The TV was idle’ OR ‘The engine was on standby’ = ‘The engine was idling’. ‘The TV functioned on standby’ could not be translated by ‘The TV functioned idly’, could it?

  11. Monica M says:


    To IDLY standby. Well, that was my understanding.

  12. Andrew says:

    Geoff, I had the same concerns as you about both the indirect anagram and the dodgy definition in 2dn. In fact it’s an indirect partial anagram, which is even worse.

  13. Radler says:

    Geoff – I too felt uneasy with 2d IDLY and its breaking of the rule. But then I started to think about the purpose of the rule which is to ensure that the clue can be solved without unreasonable demands of the solver. This is not only in the interest of the solver, the setter too wants his clues to be appreciated.
    In this particular clue, I don’t think the demands were unreasonable, despite its breaking of the rule.
    IDYL is instantly recognisable as IDLY, (whereas LDYI, for example, is not).

  14. The trafites says:

    This was well tough, and I failed on BEGUILE (I was convinced there was ‘EAU’ = water in there somewhere) and LAMBOURN.

    JUG JUG I got, but couldn’t work out the Berkeley Square bit.

    I also got held up a tad after reading 11ac girl with the golden… as I couldn’t get Anne Aston out of my head.

    Very difficult indeed for a daily.


  15. The trafites says:

    Andrew, your link to ‘A Nightingale Sang in Berkeley Square’ is broken.


  16. fish says:

    24a: halves of 8 and 6 = Wood House, name of Emma in the same titled book.

  17. sidey says:

    “and Araucaria, as the Father of Cryptic Crosswords,”


  18. Andrew says:

    Nick – thanks, link fixed.

  19. Chris says:

    I share Geoff’s reservations about 2d, although I take Radler’s points.

    I also have serious reservations about 12ac, as this also breaks what I’d consider one of the golden rules – ie that the definition bit of the clue can’t be cryptically indicated. It can, of course, be a cryptic or misleading definition – ‘flower’ for ‘river’, ‘wicked thing’ for ‘candle’, ‘number’ for ‘anaesthetist’ being well-known examples of this. But you can’t, for example, define ‘reed’ as ‘animal running backwards’ (although that could of course consitute the cryptic part).

    Basically, the definition bit should be able, without manipulation, to be seen as a reasonable definition of the word being clued.

    And ‘see straight, do you hear’ falls foul of this and is, I’d argue, unfair.

  20. DaveEllison says:

    I didn’t like this at all, and I thought it was one of the poorer Auracaria’s. Many of my objections have already been covered. One more is 24a for which I had SORE, which seems perfectly fine – what is the A doing there otherwise?

    I didn’t get very far (I had 11a but not 15a) and tried to cheat. I checked on-line on 3d and 17a only to find that my putative answers were correct. What sort of day is it when you can’t cheat succesfully?

    Isn’t the French pronunciation of HUILE something like WEEL? If so 17a doesn’t really work.

  21. PaulG says:

    Uncle Yap said: “Looks like we all enjoyed today’s puzzle” …. I hope his tongue was firmly in his cheek whilst typing that!

  22. Simply Simon says:

    Does anybody miss the cartoon faces? I don’t.

  23. Richard says:

    17A. Could uile, as in beguile, possibly be intended as an Irish (“over the water”) pronunciation of oil? Or is that too fanciful?

  24. Uncle Yap says:

    PaulG, whenever I approach a cryptic crossword puzzle, the purpose is to enjoy myself and be entertained during this battle of wit and mental challenge between setter and solver. I do not, as a rule, go and look for defects or whine about purported imperfection which will be counter-productive to my primary purpose, ie to enjoy myself and be entertained.

    There is a reason for disclosing the name of the setter. With setters like Araucaria, Paul, Enigmatist, Brendan, Pasquale, Brummie and others, I know they are considered “libertarian” and so I do mentally allow some leeway about strict adherence to Ximenean rules such as absence of anagram indicator, maybe (like today) indirect anagram (for a short 4-lettered word) and the like.

    In a standard set of 30 clues, I would not allow some perceived imperfection with a couple to detract from my enjoyment of the other clues.

  25. Chris says:

    Pasquale’s not libertarian – he’s about as Ximenean as it’s possible to come. Brendan and Brummie are both pretty Ximenean too.

  26. enitharmon says:

    Well, I must say I thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle, the master at his mischievous best, but then I’m not so anal as to get upset because the rules weren’t adhered to rigidly. Every clue got me there in the end, even if it took me quite a while over several sessions, and the more troublesome and ingenious clues had me smiling broadly when the penny dropped, if not laughing out loud. I can’t ask for more from a puzzle.

  27. Radler says:

    17ac. Could over the water allude to “Isle” which is a better homophone than the French “huile”?

  28. Bryan says:


    I can’t see how ‘isle’ would work in the clue which specifies oil viz:

    ‘Cheat to ask for oil over the water, say’

    I prefer ‘huile’.

  29. NeilW says:

    So how did Geoff et al get on with Araucaria’s Saturday gem: “Edoverth!” (9)? For those who missed it, that is the whole clue… 15dn.

  30. NeilW says:

    (To me, it’s pushing the envelope, yes, but crosswords have to evolve.)

  31. Eileen says:

    Re 17ac: I took this the same way as Andrew, ie that the ‘say’ refers to the fact that the French would pronounce their ‘huile’ as ‘uile’.

    Re 24ac: I agree with Dave Ellison. For me, the clue pointed to SORE, which I confidently put in but, fortunately, I was even more confident about EMMA, when it came to the down clues. I remember someone recently saying s/he hated this kind of clue – so do I! I almost invariably go first for the wrong option.

    Re my comment 3: I was doubly lucky today in that I also did ‘Much Ado’ [v 23ac] for A Level. AS I’ve said before, why can’t I equally now readily remember what someone told me last week?!

  32. cholecyst says:

    Re #24. I’m with Uncle Yap . It’s supposed to be fun , isn’t it? In any case, the essence of cryptic crosswords is ambiguity, elusiveness and allusiveness. If we end up with totally rule-driven puzzles, we may as well throw in the towel and delegate their solutions to our computers.

  33. The trafites says:


    I am glad you mentioned “Edoverth!” (9). I got this very late on during the puzzle (I was baffled for ages), and was more surprised at the cheek. But no way could this clue be solved ‘cold’ without checking letters in the grid.

    It reminded me of the old chestnuts ‘Gegs (9,4) and ‘HIJKLMNO (5)’ type clues.

    But, if people can solve it (as I did), then I guess it works somewhat… I think.


  34. Bryan says:

    I dunno about Geoff, Neil W but, eventually, I did get Araucaria’s Saturday gem: “Edoverth!” (9)? For those who missed it, that is the whole clue… 15dn.

    Having got it, I then considered that both the clue and I were brilliant.

    However, it would be wrong to say more before Saturday.

  35. NeilW says:

    Yes, agree with both of you… just that I think setters should be applauded for really original clues…. Anyway, Nick, sun will be up soon here so I think I’ll go for some breakfast by the pool.

  36. Eileen says:

    “However, it would be wrong to say more before Saturday.”


  37. NeilW says:

    Come on, Eileen. Nobody’s saying anything specific!! We’re talking construction only and I think everyone was careful to generalise. I don’t think saying it was an original clue gives anything away to someone who had solved the rest. Sorry if you are criticising me for being off-topic but I think I was just following the thread of today’s crossword.

  38. Eileen says:

    NeilW – I hope I’ve caught you before you go off for breakfast.

    Of course I wasn’t criticising you for being off-topic – I’m one of the worst offenders! It’s just that there’s been a bit of discussion lately about discussing prize crosswords. You’re quite right right that noyhing was given away.

    I wonder if your introduction refers to the song that my children have plagued me with for years?!

  39. Eileen says:

    Apologies for the rather garbled second paragraph.

  40. NeilW says:

    Thank you, Eileen – hee hee. You’re right. As I typed it, I thought to myself, “Will she get the joke?” Glad you did!

  41. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Neil. We’re both now seriously off-topic!

    ‘Come on, Eileen’ has actually cropped up on this site once before. I’m quite chuffed!

  42. Gaufrid says:

    Please do not discuss a current prize puzzle and please keep your comments relevant to this one. ❗

  43. Chubfuddler says:

    Sorry, always late to this because I’m on the West Coast, but I thought that with the “say” and “over the water,” “beg oil” might be some presumed humorous Hibernian pronunciation of “beguile.” I’m just running it up the flagpole to see if anyone salutes.

  44. mark says:

    No Uncle yap we did NOT all enjoy it.

    I’m sure none of us “go and look for defects or whine about purported imperfection which will be counter-productive to my primary purpose, ie to enjoy myself and be entertained.” as you (I’m sorry but it does sound)pompously suggest.

    I like a battle of wit etc but I need to know what the rules or boundaries are. It’s taken me years to understand cryptics and then to find that a certain setter plays fast and loose and thus that I had no chance of ever solving is very annoying and not fun at all.

    I love 19D. I probably never would have got it – too clever for me – but I see and appreciate the wit now and it’s fair; I could have got it in theory. I had no chance with 2D and 12A & 17A left a bad taste as I couldn’t be sure I had the answer.

    And Cholecyst, I couldn’t disagree more. As I say above you can stick to the rules and still be witty and inventive. Show me a computer that is witty and I’ll book my flight with Dignitas or whatever they’re called.

  45. Brian Harris says:

    Some of this was OK, but have to agree with mark and others here that some of the clues were pretty poor. I don’t think it’s anything to do with “being anal” or about how rigidly setters stick to the rules. I think that if, having read the answer, between us (as a group of people who do cryptic crosswords every single day), we still can’t fathom how exactly the answer is constructed, then it’s fair to say that clue is a bad one. When you can’t be sure if the answer you’ve put in the grid is correct, then it points to a poor clue. Too many examples of that today.

    I think there was enough consternation over some of this puzzle to more than justify PaulG’s questioning of the statement that we “all enjoyed today’s puzzle”. I enjoy these debates about good and bad cluing, but I worry that there’s a bit too much instinctive deference to Araucaria’s reputation to allow for an objective discussion of some of his more questionable constructions.

  46. C & J says:

    We agree with Uncle Yip, and think the need for occasional flights of fancy add spice to a puzzle, but must say on this one we did occasionally mutter ‘that’s not really Araucaria”, having been used. even with difficult ones, to finding there’s usually a logical explanation with him once one has solved the clue. 2d, 12a and 17a did not really satisfy on this point.

  47. gerardus says:

    One last comment on jug-jug. Probably from Thomas Nashe’s Spring the Sweet Spring.
    Although I must admit I did not know that it was the sound made by nightingales.

  48. Richard says:

    In answer to Chubfuddler, yes the Irish explanation was what I was hinting at yesterday (comment 25), though I have since come to the conclusion that his explanation is more convincing, in other words it’s a (stage?) Irish pronunciation of beguile rather than of oil. Can Araucaria put us out of our misery?

  49. Radler says:

    Perhaps it wasn’t intended as a homophone of the second syllable of beguile. Clues sometimes simply indicate a missing aitch with ‘arry or cockney. In this one we have “huile” as said by the French, which leaves the letters “uile”

  50. PBE says:

    ‘jug jug’ turns up in The Waste Land, which is how I got it — mind you that was about all I did get.

    …yet there the nightingale
    Filled all the desert with inviolable voice
    And still she cried, and still the world pursues,
    ‘Jug Jug’ to dirty ears.

  51. Chunter says:

    1dn: ‘of customs’ – Henri Rousseau is also known, on account of his day job, as ‘Le Douanier’.

  52. gerardus says:

    Re jug-jug a further google search leads to

    What bird so sings, yet does so wail?
    O, ’tis the ravish’d nightingale–
    Jug, jug, jug, jug–tereu, she cries,
    And still her woes at midnight rise.
    – John Lyly (Lylie or Lyllie),
    The Songs of Birds

    Perhaps we should also make clear, for younger solvers who do not know the song, that the reference is to
    I may be right, I may be wrong,
    But I’m perfectly willing to swear
    That when you turned and smiled at me,
    A nightingale sang in Berkeley Square.

    sung by Nat King Cole and others, and written, it seems, by Eric Maschwitz (melody – Manning Sherwin, 1915)

  53. gerardus says:

    Sorry, I did not check the link given with the solution, which gives all the details, before posting the last message.

  54. Geoff Anderson says:

    I salute you Chubfuddler! Begorrah, you’ve begoiled me with your West Coast charm!

    The clue was: ‘Cheat to ask for oil over the water, say.’

    To put that in non-cryptic clue English: ‘Cheat: the first 3 letters = to ask for, and the other four letters are pronounced ‘oil’ over the water *when they say this whole word*.’

    ‘say’ applies to the whole cryptic section: An Irishman asking for oil would begoil, which is a homophone for him of ‘beguile’.

    Again, Chubfuddler, I salute you and I hope you don’t have to wait an age to get this salutation.

  55. Geoff Anderson says:

    What Uncle Yap and Enitharmon fail to understand is that we anals enjoy being anal. (I know Uncle Yap didn’t use the word ‘anal’ but Enitharmon did, in a kind of extension to Uncle Yap’s Comment).

    Different people get their enjoyment in different ways, but it’s still enjoyment. What comes over as ‘whining’ to the non-anal person is actually the anals’ way of expressing our engagement with the puzzler. Our picking over minor details, which non-anals think ‘spoils the fun’, because their idea of fun is to laugh, let it go, and pass on, is veritably *part* of the fun.

    A crossword without anally debatable points would be like a football match without contentious decisions – a bit boring (in football’s case, totally boring). To say a crossword solver is not enjoying the crossword because they’re whining about a clue is like assuming a football fan is not enjoying the match because they spend half the time slagging off their team’s players!

    Anals know that perfection doesn’t exist, so we *enjoy* the cut and thrust of dissecting life’s imperfections. Anals make good surgeons and lawyers … and cryptic crossword solvers.

  56. manker says:

    With regard to Geoff’s uncertainty over 8a ‘but why does wood=crazy (or crazy type)?’, this link may throw some light on the subject:
    In spite of having no chance with LAMBOURN and some misgivings about BEGUILE, I quite enjoyed solving most of this puzzle with a couple of friends.

  57. Sil van den Hoek says:

    It is quite late (Sun 16th) to comment on this puzzle, but we only finished it today
    (no, we didn’t start on Thursday …).
    Most of it has already been said.
    Wood=Crazy still eludes us a bit, but some of the comments above say it is right, so it must be right (but we would like to see a real confirmation).

    But there is one thing that we want to bring up right now.
    It is about 26ac.
    The clue says “Earth’s additional”, while the answer reads “clay-more”.
    Question: where is the ” ‘s” ??
    Araucaria’s done this before, but we think it is not right (even though we are Libertarians – at least, I am).
    And nobody seems to be bothered about it.

  58. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    I’d expand “earth’s additional” to “earth has additional” and interpret the “has” as “charade glue” meaning “goes next to”. Given enough experience of different uses of ‘s, this is fairly routine, and that’s probably why no-one’s bothered.

  59. Peter Biddlecombe says:

    wood=mad/furious is in both Collins and Chambers, though it was news to me.

  60. Owen Baxter says:

    RE Earths additional weapon is “clay” more” and claymore is a type of landmine therefore weapon

  61. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #59:
    That’s clear then (and thank you).

    Re #58:
    We think most people would read “Earth’s additional weapon” as “additional weapon of Earth”, so possessive.
    Indeed, it can (can,can,can) be seen as “Earth has additional weapon”,
    but don’t tell us that it is ‘fairly routine’.
    As Shed said a while ago, and he was absolutely right, this is Crossword Land – so in the end we’ll accept it, but …
    The fact that no-one complains is, we think, more due to ignorance than to acceptance.
    Nonetheless, many thanks for your (very experienced) view on this.

    Re #90:
    Of course, the construction is crystal clear.
    However, we don’t think you get the point.

  62. RB says:

    I know I’m very late but I tried this crossword only in the last day or so. Exiled Pom – living in Melbourne for many decades – been doing the local DA crossword for a while – thought I’d try some Guardian fare over the last week. So far I’ve tried a couple of Araucarias (didn’t enjoy them), an Arachne (awful), a Paul (very good), and a Brummie (excellent). I know that’s a small sample but, taken with the comments in this 15squared blog, it’s given me a pretty good indication.

    As for this particular Araucaria, I found it far too abstruse and recondite. The comments above were far more entertaining! I identified with nearly all the above whinges! I thought Uncle Yap’s attempts (#24) to stifle dissent heavy handed (you vill enjoy zis, or else!) For my part I took issue with 8A, 12A, 17A, 20A (a minor quibble, but a quibble nevertheless – I would accept “he disagrees”, but not “I disagree”), 24A (eros or sore?), 26A, 1D, 2D, 3D, 13D, 18D. Toss in a few more “iffy” ones and you’re looking at half the crossword! Methinks it’s Paul and Brummie, from now on.

  63. maarvarq says:

    I think I’m going to have to quit attempting Araucaria’s puzzles, because what other solvers find delightful I find bloddy-mindedly obscure.

  64. maarvarq says:

    *sigh* bloody…

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