Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,855 – Araucaria

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on November 12th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

I’ve had a run of Araucaria recently, and was hit by a pang of fear when I saw how many clues referred to 11ac today.  However, once that clue fell I relaxed as it became apparent the rest would be straightforward herb definitions.


9. ERMINE. “ER, MINE?”.  Traditional clothing for a judge.
10. DILL. (en)D + ILL.
12. GARLIC. GALLIC with L(eft) changed to R(ight).
15. ORNATE. NEARTO* &lit.
20. MARJORAM. MAR + JORAM. A joram is a large drink as well as a person in the bible, apparently.
24. MINT. dd.


1. POSITANO. POSIT A NO. I confess I had to look at a map.
3. PATHIC. APITCH*. Initially wondered about ‘haptic’.
5. IMPRIMATUR. IMP + R + 1 + MATUR(e).  R = ‘recipe’ in latin = take.
21. AIRBUS. A(BRI(tish)<)US.
24. MOLY. “MOLEY”.

35 Responses to “Guardian 24,855 – Araucaria”

  1. Peter Owen says:

    23 across. Did you mean G + RAM + MARIA + N?

  2. Andrew says:

    Thanks Ciaran. I think almost any puzzle would be rather overshadowed by yesterday’s brilliance, but this was very enjoyable, and without too many Araucarian liberties.

    I read 23ac as G+RAM+MARIA+N, otherwise the “new” in the clue isn’t used.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Ciaran, I got stuck in the NW corner and I now see that I also got 24d wrong, having entered MOLE.

    I entered LEEK for 2d in the mistaken belief that I was looking for a vegetable and this left me bewildered by 10a.

    I had absolutely no idea about 1d but then I am always vulnerable to obscure places.

    Otherwise quite easy although I know very few Herbs.

    I like 21d AIRBUS.

  4. liz says:

    Thanks Ciaran. This was very enjoyable and somewhat easier than most Araucarias I thought.

    MOLY was new to me and held me up. I also struggled to get PATHIC. I liked 14ac and 16dn.

  5. IanN14 says:

    Sorry, but I disagree with most of you here.
    First of all, I thought 15ac.was brilliant, and I liked the def. at 2d.
    However there were far too many niggles elsewhere.
    Stuff going on in 8d. and 21d. has been mentioned many times (do you think he’s now trying to do it on purpose?).
    But does United Nations really mean International?
    And why the words “look in the” in 26ac.?
    I just thought this one proved that having a theme doesn’t necessarily equate to a good puzzle.

  6. Norm says:

    It seemed to me that ‘look in’ = ‘eye’ and ‘mirror’ = ‘glass’, but that there was no definition in 26ac.

  7. IanN14 says:

    Actually, Norm,
    You’re right. I’d assumed eyeglass meant mirror, but it doesn’t.
    So where IS the definition?
    How very odd…

  8. IanN14 says:

    I’ve also just noticed it doesn’t appear in Ciaran’s blog, either.
    Is there some sort of Lewis Carroll type weirdness going on here?

  9. Ian says:

    The third Araucaria on the trot that I found easier than I normally expect. The Herb Garden solution is, as stated, a good straighforward introduction to the puzzle as was anyone familiar with the Amalfi Drive in that most beautiful part of southern Italy for Positano.

  10. Bryan says:

    I haven’t any problem with 26a.

    Look = EYE; Mirror = GLASS

  11. Bryan says:

    That is taking the anagram of ESSAY and LEG as read.

  12. IanN14 says:

    But Bryan,
    What’s the definition?

  13. Ciaran McNulty says:

    Yeah I seem to have skipped EYEGLASS when transcribing. I took it to be some sort if double-cryptic with no definition which is strange. Either the setter thought it meant mirror, or it was going to be a triple-def that got chopped.

  14. cholecyst says:

    The trouble with themed puzzles like this one is that once you’ve got the theme (quite easily guessed in this instance), it’s just a matter of compiling a mental list of herbs and then fitting them into the grid. Still enjoyable though. And because it was quickly solved, I was out and about in the morning sunshine gathering sloes to make sloe gin.

  15. billyo says:

    Hi there, I’m new to this site the last few days – my colleagues at work have started doing the Guardian each day together – this is the first one we’ve completely finished – getting better over the last couple of weeks.

    There is definition in 26a, or at least we think that “correct” is the definition, i.e. corrective lenses. It’s tenuous but does provide a definition.

  16. Neil says:

    I’m a fan (or have been) but I thought this was very disappointing: nearly all of it (sub-Monday) undemanding, with the herbs particularly straightforward. Then there were a few clues that were just silly. Is Mole ever called “Moley” in the book (maybe – I haven’t read it since I was seven)? That R in ‘imprimatur’! 21dn is ridiculous (sorry Bryan). And there’s the much mentioned 26ac, very easily solved but wrong! I finished it without a single ‘Aha’ or anything to smile at, let alone chuckle. No fun!

  17. Ralph G says:

    Re #5, IanN14, 6d UNWELL, I bridled at ‘International’ for UN, but on second thoughts, when I read comment 5 actually, and read the clue again, I parsed it as “International water supply” and UN WELL seems reasonable (for Araucaria).
    Quite agree about the lack of definition in 26a EYEGLASS unless we’re all missing something.

  18. IanN14 says:

    Good point Ralph,
    I’ll give him that.
    (I’m running out of ammunition here, aren’t I?)

    billyo @15. Nice try, but there’s no way “correct” = “eyeglass”, and anyway, correct is needed as the anagram indicator for one of the cryptic readings of the clue.

    Is this going to be a new “innovation”, definition-free clues?
    Very Libertarian, I’m sure…

  19. Eileen says:

    It really goes against the grain to say I’m disappointed in an Araucaria – which is why I’ve taken so long to say it – but this was a bit of a let-down. Like Neil, I didn’t smile once, which may well be a first. And 26ac does seem very odd.

    One or two points in mitigation:

    I thought the same as Ralph G about the parsing of 6dn.

    Re 24: I’m pretty sure that Mole isn’t ever called Moley in the book but I took the clue as meaning that he ‘might be’, by analogy with ‘Ratty’.

    Re R = take: I can’t understand why this has recently started causing comment every time it appears. It has been a perfectly respectable abbreviation for as long as I’ve been doing crosswords and it’s in the dictionaries.

    But, that said, I’m afraid for the first time I didn’t particularly enjoy an Araucaria. [The Indy ‘Punk’ more than made up for it, though!]

  20. cholecyst says:

    Eileen. Do you recall that moly was the gift of Hermes to Odysseus to ward of Circe’s spells? Maybe not the same as modern alium moly?

  21. cholecyst says:

    24 dn Have just looked this up – it’s non Moley!

    “Meantime the Rat, warm and comfortable, dozed by his fireside. His paper of half-finished [?87?]verses slipped from his knee, his head fell back, his mouth opened, and he wandered by the verdant banks of dream-rivers. Then a coal slipped, the fire crackled and sent up a spurt of flame, and he woke with a start. Remembering what he had been engaged upon, he reached down to the floor for his verses, pored over them for a minute, and then looked round for the Mole to ask him if he knew a good rhyme for something or other.

    But the Mole was not there.

    He listened for a time. The house seemed very quiet.

    Then he called “Moly!” several times, and, receiving no answer, got up and went out into the hall.”

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi Cholecyst

    Yes, I knew the Classical moly – I didn’t know about the modern one!

    Re #21: oh dear, another theory bites the dust – so the clue doesn’t even work as a homophone!

  23. jetdoc says:

    Nothing to add but my compliments. My working day was such that I had a few bits of time sitting alone in a horrible hot and stuffy meeting room with time to kill; this helped to pass it in a most amusing fashion (though I did get the Blackberry out to confirm Madonna’s hits).

    Despite considering myself quite a herb expert (as cook and gardener) I had not heard of MOLY.

    he clue for LIKE A VIRGIN is an real gem!

  24. jetdoc says:

    My editorial standards are a bit slack this eveing, but it has been a very long day…

  25. jetdoc says:

    I am so sorry — got lots of work-related complications and posted thses messages on the wrong thread.

  26. Ralph G says:

    Cholecyst, thanks for the Kenneth Graham excerpt at #21. It all came back to me after 65 possibly 70 years, which is more than I can say for ‘moly’ at Odyssey book 10 line 305.
    I like the Liddell and Scott definition of ‘moly’ in that context as ‘a fabulous herb’. Not, jetdoc, something either of us herbgrowers need to rush out and buy at the Garden Centre. Later writers use the word to mean ‘garlic’, ‘onion’ or, alarmingly, hypnotic strichnine.

  27. liz says:

    I’ve seen Ratty’s friend spelled ‘Moley’ in various cast lists for film adaptations of the book. My copy is packed away somewhere, so I can’t check whether the spelling varies in the text.

    Eileen — I do agree the puzzle was slightly muted for an Araucaria and certainly much easier than normal, but my ‘newbie’ — my daughter — was very pleased to get as many as she did.

    Though, in retrospect, I do agree that the lack of a def in 26ac is odd.

  28. rrc says:

    i thought araucaria was well on form in this puzzle. Quite a number of clues created a smile. Then again i do prefer araucaria to the earlier compilers this week.

  29. nick says:

    Re 26 the definition is look(eye) in the mirror(glass) no?

  30. Dave Ellison says:

    Not that it explains it, but I had visions at 26a of looking in the mirror at your glasses (provide you wore them, of course).

    25a What is the “person” doing? x just means an unknown in algebra, rather than an unknown person? Or does Araucaria mean X as in Mr X?

  31. IanN14 says:

    nick @29
    “look in the mirror” is NOT a definition of “eyeglass”.
    It is a cryptic clue for the word…

  32. Brian Harris says:

    Pretty easy for an Araucaria today. No major niggles for me, but nothing that particularly stood out either. Quite liked the theme but it did become a game of Fit The Herb in places.

  33. Neil says:

    Oh dear! Forming an approximate average of your impressions (including mine) we seem not to have been much taken with this crossword puzzle. Given that we know that the Guardian often publishes puzzles originally submitted years ago, might it be that this was one of Araucaria’s earlier, more callow efforts? To me, it seemed unworthy to be published as part of his distinguished and rightly acclaimed oeuvre. I shall still look forward to that frisson of pleasure when I notice that today’s is an ‘Araucaria’.

  34. Gary says:

    “R = ‘recipe’ in latin = take”

    much as I love Araucaria, things like this make me……well let’s just say love him less.

  35. Paul B says:

    In common usage.

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