Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,807 – Araucaria

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on September 17th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

Quite a challenge today, mainly due to the problems with getting started in such an interlocking grid.  Once 15dn was cracked the rest became easier, however.


7. SCARLET. A reference to Will Scarlet from the Robin Hood legend.



11. DE WINTER. DEW + INTER. Maxim De Winter is a character in Rebecca.

13. UNSWERVING. U + N.S.W. + ER(V)IN + G.


19. I AM A CAMERA. A book, stage production and a 1955 film.

22. TUCK. Double definition.

23. STANSTED.  Not sure how this works, it’s got a couple of boys’ names in.



26. IMITATE. I’M + 1 + TATE. TATE=pictures seems a stretch, but the def is clever




5. SATNAV. Cryptic def.



15. FLATTERY WILL GET YOU ANYWHERE. FLAT + TYRE* + WILL + GET YOU + WHENYEAR*.  Not sure this is really a phrase but it’s forgivable for such a complex clue.


17. FANTAIL. F(ANT)AIL. Presumably an insectivore?

18. ACONITE. A CON(IT)E. Poisonous genus, e.g. a buttercup.

20. ANNECY. ANNE + C(it)Y.  ‘City’ seems to be playing double duty here.

21. ASSUME. ASS + U + ME. Has ‘U’=’You’ made it into crosswords?

41 Responses to “Guardian 24,807 – Araucaria”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Ciaran, I really enjoyed this even though, stupidly, I got 14a wrong.

    Unusually, however, the Master slipped by his own impeccably high standards in that ‘I AM A CAMERA’ was not the title of Isherwood’s book; it was just the play and a movie, both of which were based on his stories in ‘Goodbye to Berlin’ and, in particular, ‘Sally Bowles’.

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ciaran. I got 15dn early on but there were still some tricky bits after that.

    23ac is one of those naughty ones: S “in STANT” + TED

  3. IanN14 says:

    23ac. S (second) in STANT + ED
    I liked this one.
    Not too many Araucarian liberties (eg.26ac. “First” for “I”, and, likewise 13ac. “Fifth” for “V”).

  4. Eileen says:

    Hurrah for some humour!

    I liked ‘Maxim of Du Maurier’ and ‘tyre problem’ and laughed at STANSTED, though I know some people won’t!

    Ian, I don’t mind V for ‘fifth’, as in regnal numbers.

    [I had LAMB for ‘folded food’ on the first run-through, before I got 7ac. :-( ]

  5. IanN14 says:

    OK Eileen,
    But wouldn’t 1 work just the same (Charles I for example)?

    (I’m not defending it, though….).

  6. Eileen says:

    Yes, Ian, you’re right [except you mean I, not 1, don’t you?] I’d be happy to defend I = ‘first’, as in 26ac – less happy with ‘I = one’.
    [But, as I’ve said before, I’m always more ready to defend dodgy devices if there’s something to smile at.]

  7. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Eileen – LAMB is a far cleverer answer than the ‘correct’ one! Well done.

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Ciaran – I was feeling pretty stupid!

  9. Andrew says:

    I initially had TACO for “folded food”, which made 7ac very confusing!

  10. Rob Lewis says:

    I did notice satnav was anagram of savant which is quite clever if you think that satnav is a knowledge based system – I must get out more

  11. Mike Laws says:

    Strictly speaking, with regnal numbers , “I” is “the first” and “V” is “the fifth”.

  12. Dave Ellison says:

    I was concerned at first this was going to be very difficult, as the only one I got first time through was 21d, the last one! Then 9d followed, and not too long after 15 etc popped out of the blue. What a day for popping; whilst working on 24a SATNAV came from nowhere – if only every day were like this. In the end it wasn’t too difficult – I almost finished it on the way in – and quite enjoyable. I had to google “I am a camera” for confirmation

  13. Trench Adviser says:

    Great fun today. I only failed on “Annecy” and “sincere”. Cere is new to me as a waxy substance, and I’d never heard of the French place.

    “Get you!” made me laugh out loud. Araucaria’s great!

  14. mhl says:

    aargh, yet again I’ve messed up my days and written a whole redundant post on this. I must remember to check both (a) the schedule and (b) what day it actually is…

    Anyway, thanks for the post, Ciaran. The cross-referencing of the clues here was nicely done, and raised a few smiles (particularly SATNAV). I also liked CONE for “traffic controller” a lot for some reason. Some fairly tricky words in here for a daily puzzle, I thought. I wonder if anyone else went through every US state abbreviation beginning with “N” or tried to work out how “sods” could mean “goals” in 9 down? :)

    Bryan: after failing to find a separate book called I AM A CAMERA, I wondered if it might just (!) be a triple definition with the fist being “I can take picture[,] book”….

  15. Bryan says:

    mhl (re your 14) I realise it’s sacrilege to question the Master but the phrase I AM A CAMERA did come from an Isherwood book:

    “I am a camera with its shuter open, quite passive, recording, not thinking. Recording the man shaving at the window opposite and the woman in the kimono washing her hair. Some day, all this will have to be developed, carefully printed, fixed.” (from Goodbye to Berlin, 1939)

    And, anyway, who expects Mr Harry Karia to comply with any rules?

  16. niloci says:

    21 across is as good an example of a ‘non-Ximenean’ clue as you will ever find!

  17. Simply Simon says:

    I can’t find a 21 across in my grid, so cannot comment on whether it is non-Ximenean or not.

  18. JimboNWUK says:

    OK apart from “I am a camera” which I guessed but hated simultaneously. Never heard of it couldn’t care less about it, too obscure by far and purely aimed at luvvies. Yuck. Likewise De Winter… phooey.

  19. Bryan says:

    JimboNWUK (A Faroe Islander?)

    I ain’t no ‘luvvie’ but I do like Isherwood’s stuff and ‘Cabaret’ in particular – the musical version of ‘I am a Camera’.

    Simply Simon

    21a will be in Saturday’s Prize Puzzle. Just you see.

  20. Trench Adviser says:

    Someone once told me that “I am a camera…” is the first line of the book that inspired the film “Cabaret”. I remembered the line and so it popped out at me. Also, Isherwood gets mentioned a lot in articles about Berlin between the wars etc. So I just knew it, and confirmed it with the answers going off it.

  21. Tom Hutton says:

    I too had lamb in mind for 22ac and was looking wistfully at making sods fit for 9dn. In the end I put in everything except satnav as I don’t have one and never think of one, liking maps almost obsessively instead…so I lost my way there. A most enjoyable crossword once I had got into it which took a bit of time. I still don’t think it’s fair for setters to expect solvers to know relatively old popular culture like Isherwood and Du Maurier (although I suspect most solvers are of a mature nature)but I am glad that they don’t draw on today’s popular culture much because I know more about Du Maurier that I do about hip hop.

  22. Bryan says:

    Trench Adviser

    ‘I am a camera’ is not the first line of Isherwood’s book. It actually starts the 2nd para of ‘A Berlin Diary’ the first of his six short stories in ‘Goodbye to Berlin’.

  23. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Typical Auracarian fare.
    But if I’m honest, I get a bit tired of all these cross references.
    As Ciaran already mentioned, ‘city’ does double duty in 20ac, and I don’t think it’s right (my partner in crime got annoyed again). After constructing the lot, we are left with just ‘French’ which then should be the definition. If Fannecy would have been a city in France, it would have been perfectly acceptable being a (more or less) &lit.
    Some of the above posts enjoyed the FLATTERY bit, but here I put a question mark as well. ‘Tyre problem’ = ‘flat tyre’ OR ‘tery’. Not both.
    Araucaria tries to solve it by subsequently saying ‘the same’, but that doesn’t convince me at all. If he would have said e.g. ‘and again’ it would have been fine by me.
    Of course, I see the great cryptic opportunity of FLATTERY, but something’s not right. And although I am a fan of Araucaria’s, I must say he gets away with it (as he always does).
    By the way, STANSTED was indeed a nice clue, but I am quite sure that he (or Cinephile) used that word not so long ago, also clueing it with boys’ names (Stan’s Ted). Nonetheless, clever clue.

  24. Sil van den Hoek says:

    One more thing.
    In 17 ac ‘seems to miss’ = ‘fail’?
    Of course not, ‘to miss’ = ‘fail’.
    But what’s the use of ‘seems’?
    The only thing I can think of, is that Araucaria tried to find a way to describe ‘fail’ instead of ‘fails’, but it this right?
    Anyway, nobody, um, seems to make a point of it.
    (But we did)

  25. Niloci says:

    I meant 23 across not 21; Stansted, spendidly unXimenean clue…

  26. Eileen says:

    Hi Sil

    You’re quite right about 17dn [not ac] and I’ve been trying, unsuccessfully] to see a way round it.

    Re 23ac: I don’t understand your ‘but': I expected more outcry about IN STANT but your ‘complaint’ seems to be that Araucaria has clued this word before, ‘not so long ago’. It was actually almost a year ago [24th October 2008], with different boys’ names: ‘Boy’s boy in airport’. You’re not really saying that setters should not clue the same word more than once, with totally different wordplay, are you?

  27. mhl says:

    Eileen: there was a more recent one – the 24th October 2008 clue you mention was “Boy’s boy in airport”, but Araucaria also did “A boy’s a boy to be flown from” for INSTANT on 17th September 2009.

  28. mhl says:

    Sorry, I mean “for STANSTED”, of course :)

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you for your ‘support’, mhl.
    But I don’t think it wasn’t on 17th September 2009 ….

  30. Sil van den Hoek says:

    But I don’t think it was on 17th September 2009.

  31. mhl says:

    :) Sorry, I’m completely losing it. (See “not knowing what day it is”, above.)

  32. Eileen says:

    Thanks, mhl, yes, I thought there was an inkling of something more recent but I only looked up STANSTED on the archive.

    But, again, different wordplay, so, for me, that’s not a ‘but’!

  33. mhl says:

    I meant 53 across in 29th of August 2009.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    So, quite recently.
    But (sorry to use that word), of course, it’s OK to clue the same word every now and then. I just had a déjà vu, enhanced by the fact that he used the word ‘boy’ again.

    But my ‘but’ still stands for 15dn.

  35. Radler says:

    I thought this crossword had just the right amount of Araucarian liberties. He had “city” doing double duty, plus “in stant” – but each device was only used once. And despite the quirky theme, there were no particularly forced cross references between clues, (as I feel is sometimes the case).
    Enjoyed “Flattery” and his use of “the same” – perhaps a rare case of Sil’s excellent English producing a slightly different analysis. (I wouldn’t criticise – my Dutch is very rudimentary, picked up from listening to pirate radio in my youth.)
    “Seems” in 17dn is superfluous and just for the surface, but I would say a valid link word as the wordplay describes how the solution seems. It didn’t strike me as wrong when I solved it, but I’m happy to agree to disagree.

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I have not much against Araucarian liberties, mostly because you might expect them to be there.
    So, no problem whatsoever with ‘instant’ (for me just as good as describing STONEWALL with ‘install nothing new’ ). And I accept ‘the same’, although I don’t like it (but then, indeed, I am not British, and maybe I don’t have the right ‘feel’ about it because of that, just like I don’t see (yet) that ‘sincere in flattery’= ‘imitate’).
    I commented on it because the blog didn’t mention the ‘same’ bit.
    And I accept liberties like TITIVATE for ‘garnish’ and TATE for ‘pictures’. And U for ‘you’ is fine as well – time goes on.
    But I still think that the double duty of ‘city’ is not right, although it looks very attractive. And, of course, I immediately saw what the setter meant, so no obstacles to find the solution.

    And, again, all these (Araucarian) cross references do annoy me.
    ‘… to be 25 in 15′ , ‘diverting 24 that 12 3 4′.
    There is formally nothing wrong with it, but why should you define a clue saying ‘to be 25 in 15′. And it just looks ugly as well (to me, that is).
    Well, I guess, it’s just a matter of taste.

  37. stiofain says:

    “Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery” is a saying.
    I thought it was a great clue nicely cross referenced.

  38. C & J says:

    This was a most enjoyable puzzle to finish, with lots of smiles on the way, unlike some recent ones where painful convolutions had to be worked through in order to arrive at the solution.

    Thank you so much maestro.

  39. Dave Roberts says:

    Just to be pedantic, 23ac is actually: S “in STANT” + ED

  40. Dave T says:

    One of the reviews of I am A Camera was:-

    Me No Leica

  41. Catharine WT says:

    Just to say I had “wrap” for 22 ac., which had me fooled for a long time as it seemed so obviously right.

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