Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24784 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on August 21st, 2009


Having an appalling ignorance of history, I found this difficult, and only worked out the theme after filling the grid and Googling the names. The joke is that CABALLEROs might have been members of the Cabal Ministry. (As it says on that page, the initials of CLIFFORD, ARLINGTON, BUCKINGHAM, ASHLEY[-Cooper] and LAUDERDALE spell out CABAL.)

[Links to the puzzle as HTML, PDF and Java Applet]

1. POLECAT POLE = “Rod” + CAT = “whip”
5. CODICIL CID = “Sleuths” reversed in COIL = “wind”; the definition is “will part” as in “part of a will”
9. LAURA L = “student” + AURA = “distinctive quality”
10. REBELLION RE = “about” + BELL = “what to do to cat?” + [l]ION
11. CREDITABLE RED = “left” + IT all in CABLE = “message”
12. AFAR [s]AFAR[i]
14. HORSE GUARDS (URGES)* in HOARDS = “stockpiles”
21. ESME LINESMEN without L = “left” + INN = “pub”
22. TWO MINUTES 28 = COMPANY = “two” (as in “Two’s company, three’s a crowd”) + MINUTES = “records” (as in to minute a meeting); I suppose it’s “a quiet time” in the sense that one might ask for “just two minutes” Andrew suggests that this is a reference to the two minutes of silence on Remembrance Day
25. ARLINGTON [d]ARLING = “loved one topped” + TON = “100 mph”
26. HEGEL HE = “Boy” and GEL = “girl” for the philospher; he produced synthesis from thesis and antithesis, so he’s a “synthesiser”
27. LAST WAR LAST = “Continue” + WAR = “till peace comes”
28. COMPANY COP = “catch” around M = “number” + ANY
2,6. LAUDERDALE LAUDER = “Scots joker” + E LAD reversed
4. TERRA The definition is “Here we are”, I suppose – and it sounds like “terror”?
5. CABALLERO CAB = “vehicle” + ALL + [z]ERO
7. CLIFFORD CLIFF = “feature of coast” + OR + [lan]D
8. LUNARIST (SUN TRIAL)*; a LUNARIST is “someone who thinks the moon affects the weather” (Chambers)
13,1. BUCKINGHAM PALACE BUCKINGHAM + PAL = “friend” + ACE = “winner”
15. ROSE WATER AWE = “Dread” reversed in ROSTER = “Roll”
19. STIGMA ST = “holy one” + [en]IGMA
20. ASHLEY ASH = “tree” + LEY = “line”, as in “ley lines”
23. MANIC MAN = “Chap” + IC = “in charge”
24. SNOW S = “pole” + NOW = “for the moment”

34 Responses to “Guardian 24784 / Araucaria”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks mhl – definitely a tricky one for the historically ignorant such as me. I guessed BUCKINGHAM PALACE, ASHLEY and LAUDERDALE from crossing letters and partial clue-solving, and googling the names led to the theme.

    22ac – probably a reference to the Two Minutes’ Silence on Remembrance Day.

    I think your reading of 4dn is fine.

  2. Eileen says:

    Hi mhl – and thanks for the blog.

    i was fortunate enough to have done Tudors and Stuarts for A Level History, so the theme pretty well leapt out at me and it was just a case of finding out where each ‘caballero’ [lovely play on words] went, but it must have been pretty tough going otherwise.

    5ac and 16dn made me smile.

    I agree with Andrew re 4dn – with the usual reservation. :-)

  3. Mike says:

    Didnt enjoy this – as a heretic, Im not a huge fan of Araucaria’s in general, and this summed up why for me. Many of the clues were simply obscure, and required too much googling to be fun. And the surfaces were pretty awful. Still, his fans will have loved it no doubt, and Im sure Im in the minority!

  4. The trafites says:

    Very tough, but got there in the end.

    5ac ‘will part’ had me mislead for ages as the definition – good stuff.

    I also thought 27ac was some sort of pun on “War and Peace”, i.e. until peace comes just leaves ‘war’.


  5. Derek Lazenby says:

    Don’t feel lonely Mike!

    This puzzle was unusual for me for two reasons. I still haven’t finished many by Araucaria, this was only #4. The other reason is I’ve never finished any crossword where so many answers were not only guesses, but guesses I wasn’t sure where the idea came from. And even having guessed, it needed the blog to see the derivation for several of them. So I’ve no idea how I finished this really, which is kinda spooky.

    Maybe it’s the new painkillers for my back! (see chat room)

  6. harry says:

    Found the theme very easy, I never thought that a childhood love of George MacDonald Fraser would come in handy (Cabal crops up as a quiz question in “MacAuslan in the Rough” and for some reason the answer stuck.
    I read 22ac. as “continue till peace comes”, i.e. last the war out.

  7. mhl says:

    Andrew: Thanks – I thought it was normally one minute of silence, but I see that that’s not quite right. I’ve updated the post.

  8. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. I found this really tough and only doable with much googling. Even so, I missed ESME and TWO from 22ac and I didn’t get the theme’s reference to CABAL.

    My favourite clue was 5ac. I thought ‘will part’ was brilliantly misleading. I also liked 16dn.

  9. Shirley says:

    10Ac – what to do to a cat. This is a reference to an old proverb meaning “who will give his life to save others”. Who will save the other mice lives by being the brave mouse who volunteers to put a bell on a cat so that they can hear it coming.

  10. IanP says:

    I’m on a day off at home, so I’m at a computer. Had I been trying this crossword on the train as usual, I’d have had a very hard time, because I’m not a historian, and having given up at O Level had never come across the Cabal. Appalling ignorance? You may well have a point.

    Even when I was doing O Levels many years ago (mid 70s) a lot of emphasis was on “new” history – Ghandi, Mao, Mussolini, Hitler etc – so current claims that a lot of stuff is omitted in favour of more recent events to which the dear children can “relate” aren’t really that current. Although I must say, reports that World War 2 is miss-outable take things a bit far!

  11. Brian Harris says:

    We pretty much guessed all the surnames in this puzzle. It only made sense as a jokey reference to the acronym of their names when we checked Wikipedia after completing the puzzle. Strangely, as an Araucaria heretic, I didn’t mind this one too much. None of the clues stood out as annoying me, which is very unusual for Araucaria!

  12. Brian Harris says:

    The misleading non-anagram of 14 ac was quite devious.

  13. enitharmon says:

    Sometimes I feel it’s me who’s the heretic and there’s an anti-Araucaria movement within this site. For me he is the master. When I see a puzzle is an Araucaria my day is given an automatic boost – unless I’m in a hurry because then I know I can’t walk round it (as it were) a few times to find the way in. Once I find a crack, I generally find that the while puzzle will then yield in a very satisfying way.

    As it happens, the names Arlington, Clifford and Lauderdale fell quickly into place from their cryptics without meaning all that much but once I’d got Horse Guards and thus Buckingham (Palace) along with the 17th Century hint they all fell into place. Having recently read Claire Tomalin’s excellent biography of Samuel Pepys certainly helped, but I can’t be the only one who did the Civil War and its aftermath in school history (and I didn’t even do history O-level).

    Thirty years ago, when doing the crossword on a daily commute between Hull and Leeds, an Araucaria was a sign of a good day to come and I’d be disappointed iof I hadn’t tied it up by Selby. A Bunthorne, by contrast, was bad news and I’d have given up in despair by the time I got home again that night.

  14. NeilW says:

    What a lovely puzzle. One of those Araucarias where it’s only when you’ve finished it you can survey the whole thing and appreciate the composition. When I was at school “cabal” seemed a particular schoolmaster favourite for quizzes – the only reason I remember it in detail, even now. My favourite was “two minutes” for the two minutes it took me to figure out where the “two” came from!

  15. mark says:

    Glad to see the Araucaria heretics out in force.

    Disliked this for the reasons others have stated.

  16. NeilW says:

    Mark, if you’re uncomfortable with the Araucaria style of puzzle, there are many quick crosswords you could try instead.

  17. Eccles45 says:

    I confess that I too am an Araucaria heretic. I seldom manage to finish one without recourse to Google, and today was no exception. I didn’t have a clue about the Cabal bit – I got Buckingham and then thought it was something to do with Charles II – so Googled under that. I might have finished it with the same “Yes!” feeling I used to get with the late great Bunthorne puzzles but without any of the same pleasure.


  18. Dave Ellison says:

    I enjoyed this, not so difficult as A can be. Good, steady progress through it. I also didn’t get the theme till I googled Buckingham and Lauderdale, being a history drop out at age 11. I had mistakenly thought that CABALLERO was Spanish for a knight, so had in mind Don Quixote and errants and other stuff, which clearly didn’t help.

  19. anax says:

    I have to confess that after a few successful attempts early in my solving career I moved away from Araucaria. It wasn’t a case of disliking the clues – simply that there was a different type of clue that appealed to me more. It was entirely a matter of personal taste which I suspect has something to do with the very individual nature of sense of humour. Monty Python, Ricky Gervais, Lee Mack, Frankie Boyle… they have me in stitches and probably leave others cold.

    Araucaria’s clues – and perhaps their difficulty – are of a style that’s different to what floats my barge, but he is a constant source of delight to countless thousands of solvers.

    And that’s brilliant – exactly how it should be. I dread the day that every setter appeals to every solver, since that day will mark the advent of blandness.

    Araucaria didn’t get where he is today (Reggie) by being unpopular. He is the most famous name in cryptics and should be celebrated. Vive la difference!

  20. aferick says:

    What a lot of mithering trollops you all(some of you)are. Araucaria is the purest of setters. Making a virtue of disinterest or ignorance is really too much. He is a master of elegance, wit and knowledge (and invention). The point of the crossword is pleasure. I don’t really want to spend any time whingeing about minor points. If I don’t know, I learn. If I do know, I am happy to be reminded.

    Araucaria heretics, indeed! Lilliput will welcome you. But I will defend to the death your right to go on about it.

  21. aferick says:

    Apologies to anax

  22. IanN14 says:

    A mithering trollop writes:

    aferick, I will defend to the death your right to go on about Araucaria, but you are on very thin ice suggesting that he’s the “purest” of setters.
    (Ximenes will be spinning violently in his grave).
    I agree he can be elegant, witty and knowledgeable, but I’m sure even his biggest fans would agree that there are some less elegant, etc, clues amongst his better ones.
    Sometimes (and I mean this with the greatest respect) you seem to have to guess what’s going on in his head. (Remember the “an omelette/anomalous” clue recently?).

    I totally agree with anax, it takes all sorts.
    Let’s agree to disagree…

  23. Stuart says:

    10 ac – I knew bell the cat from my primary school history. Archibald Douglas, 5th Earl of Angus became known as the “Great” Earl of Angus and, perhaps more famously, as “Bell the Cat”.
    He came by his nickname for an incident at Lauder, so linking nicely to 2dn! (read about him here –,_5th_Earl_of_Angus) I’m sure that’s a link that Auracaria will have been aware of, although I can’t see it in the clueing. Does that count as guessing what’s going on in his head? Anyway, I’m firmly in the Auracaria camp, he and Paul are above and beyond all other setters for entertainment alone.

  24. liz says:

    In the same vein, there’s a great quotation from Jane Austen (from ‘Emma’): ‘One half of the world does not understand the pleasures of the other.’

    While I’m in the half of the solver world that loves Araucaria puzzles — it was a ‘shipping forecast’ Christmas prize puzzle many years ago that first made me succumb (does anyone remember that one?) — I agree with IanN14 that he does take liberties and I accept that might upset people. But even with a puzzle like today’s, where I struggled, I found plenty to enjoy and smile about.

    For a while I was only prepared to spend time figuring out Araucaria puzzles. Now I get lots of enjoyment from the puzzles of other setters with very different styles.

  25. IanN14 says:

    Well said Liz,
    I totally agree with you.

    Stuart, I did say “sometimes” (perhaps “occasionally” would have been a better choice).
    I’m by no means an Araucaria “heretic” (I think some of his clues are genius (“a then s”, for example, and usually, but not always, he can “do good theme”), but I’m just saying that personally, at the moment, he’s not my favourite.
    (So perhaps the world isn’t split in half. Perhaps there is a grey area).

    I still think he’d be in my top 7 or 8 (if I was to make such lists), but, as enitharmon suggests about him @13, I feel the same about Virgilius/Brendan. Sorry; personal taste…

    (I agree with Stuart about Paul, though…).

  26. Jim says:

    Long time lurker. First time poster.

    I solved all of the “5 down” clues by guessing that they were surnames of “famous” 17th Century people that I had never heard of. And I didn’t google.

    Didn’t get 11ac (forgot “left” is not always “L”…schoolboy error) and didn’t get “Terra”, which is, to my mind, virtually impossible without all the crossing letters.

    Off-topic: Fifteensquared rocks. I’d spent so many years getting the right solution, but not sure why (or, more accurately, not getting the solution, and not sure why)…I salute you.

  27. sidey says:

    The height of emotion expressed whenever there’s a puzzle by Araucaria (The Master, The Big A etc) always reminds me of the childish flame-wars that occur between Apple fans and Wintel fans.

    It would be nice if people with the intellectual capacity to solve a cryptic crossword didn’t feel the need to resort to comments like “…, if you’re uncomfortable with the Araucaria style of puzzle, there are many quick crosswords you could try instead.”

    I shall now be infantile and ignore future Araucaria puzzle comments here.

  28. Neil says:

    Filled it all in and got it all right. Have no recollection of ‘Cabal’ in this particular sense and only barely recognised the names of a few of all those old geezers, so didn’t see the connection either. Had to look up ‘Hegel’ when Moog wouldn’t fit. Also had to look at the name-check in the back of Chambers as I didn’t know an Esme could be a bloke. (Of my earlier acquaintance, Esme Patey certainly wasn’t). My point is that, out of profound ignorance, I was still able to get there from Araucaria’s clueing. But sometimes you have to persevere a while. That may be why I’m a day late. The Reverend old boy is rightly revered I think. Patience, heretics! Not rightback, obviously (smiley face).

  29. Steve says:

    Came back to crosswords after a long sabbatical.

    I do them last thing at night to help me sleep. Araucaria was always my favourite.

    I didn’t get Hegel (26ac), Ashley (20d), Last War (27ac) or Snow (24d). I got the other names of the Cabal without knowing their definitions.

    I put “INST” (i.e. the current month) for 24 down because I thought it was pole N inside an anagram of IT’S, the definition being “for the moment”

  30. Cathy says:

    Liz – I remember the shipping forecast puzzle (must have been a long time ago cos I’ve been in the USA for 6 out of the last 9 Christmases!) and I also relish an Araucaria puzzle…even if like Friday’s it takes me 3 days to (almost – gave up 3 clues shy of the end) finish!
    Perhaps strangely, I got Buckingham (Palace) from the Horse Guards reference; then Clifford and Ashley from the other parts of the clues and googled them all to learn about the Cavalier parliament and fill in Arlington, Lauderdale etc: I got caballero thinking that was Spanish for Cavalier! Does it count if I get the right answers for the wrong reasons?!

  31. (another)IanP says:

    Just found fifteensquared after googling for the cabal. Excellent site. Thanks for all your help and comments. Did not solve all the clues (hegel/stigma/two-minutes eluded me and one or two others were lucky guesses).
    A lifelong araucaria fan, though I agree he sometimes seems to nod. He seems to have invented one or two words over time (entirely logically and get-ably) and recently he seems not to have stuck as rigidly to the ‘say exactly what you mean, even if you don’t mean exactly what you say’ rule as he used to. Or else I’m being obtuse: probably. Anyone know if there is a collection of those alphabetical jigsaws he does?

  32. mhl says:

    Welcome, (another)IanP. There are lots of collections of Araucaria’s crosswords (published by the Guardian and Chambers) that each have a good number of the Araubeticals [1] but I don’t there’s a single volume with just those ones.

    [1] A neologism coined by muck, a commenter here

  33. Bill Taylor says:

    I’m late posting as I’m in Toronto and only just got my Guardian Weekly. Like Harry, as soon as I figured out “caballero,” George MacDonald Fraser’s story leapt into my mind and I was able to fill in the names. Araucaria is my absolute favourite setter and I can crack him seven or eight times out of 10. This time I came up short on “hegel” and “terra.” I still don’t get the definition for the latter. If I have to google clues or go to the dictionary to come up with the solutions, I don’t count that as finishing the crossword.

  34. rfb says:

    Also late posting as, like Bill Taylor, I’m in Canada (Ottawa) & get my Guardian crossword from the Weekly. Took a couple of days to solve this (as usual), but I love the sense you get (I think with Araucaria especially) when you finally see the answer and it’s so blindingly obvious you can’t imagine why you didn’t see it before. Unless I understand *why* it’s the right answer, I don’t feel I’ve solved it even when it’s “the only word that fits”. I was particularly pleased to find fifteensquared (a couple of months ago); it’s been invaluable in helping me understand solutions.

    I particularly liked 5ac, 5dn (& the names linked to it) & 16ac. As far as the cabal theme is concerned, history was my worst subject at school (40+ years ago) & I’ve never studied that period. For me, it’s general knowledge, but to be fair to others I would say it’s the general knowledge of someone my age & older, and perhaps not of someone younger. Perhaps that’s another reason I like Araucaria: he doesn’t tend to refer to anything very recent, and such references are often very puzzling to those of us who left the UK over 30 years ago …

    One other note: “two minutes” (22ac) is not just for Remembrance Day; it seems to be the standard length of memorial silence at e.g. football matches.

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