Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,860 – Araucaria

Posted by Ciaran McNulty on November 18th, 2009

Ciaran McNulty.

I found this a bit of a slog today, though admittedly that may be due to the work Christmas party I was at last night.  Aracuaria managed to work in a few little sets of connected clues, but unfortunately I wasn’t familiar with the main one and had to resort to Wikipedia a few times to check my answers.


6. MORRIS. MOR(R)IS. MORI is a polling agency, I suppose MORIs are therefore polls.
10. LANDSEER. I suppose you’d be grateful for one.
12. ROCK AROUND THE CLOCK.  Aggregate from comets = ROCK, Article about security = THE + C + LOCK. THECLOCK amid ROCK is the same as ROCK around THECLOCK.
23. GALLEY. G + ALLEY. You get proof of a pudding by eating it… in a galley?
25. BRACES. Double def. 2=pair rather than referring to another clue.


1. MARIANNE. MAR(IAN)NE. Apparently a character from the book!
2. ELINOR. NILE< + OR. Ditto.
3. JOHN PAUL. 2 Beatles, plus the name of two Catholic popes.
4. PRESTO. PRESTO(n).  Especially satisfying given the name of the football team.
5. BICEPS. “BUY CEPS”. Interestingly the muscle is called the ‘biceps’ in the singular because it has two parts.
7. SIENNA. ANNE + IS<. Not clear why ‘royal corpse’ is Anne aside from there obviously being a few historical royal Annes.
20. YOGURT. Y(GO<)URT. Used to be an americanism but now seems the common spelling in the UK.

60 Responses to “Guardian 24,860 – Araucaria”

  1. Ian says:

    A moderately difficult puzzle made easier by the Austen novel and its key characters and the fairly clear reference to Bill Haley and co. in the other large space taker.

    Within it all some characteristically cunning wordplays esp. 5dn, 7dn and 16dn.

    A lot of fun in the 60′ solving time.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks Ciaran.
    Like you I struggled to parse 12ac.
    For 23ac, printers and photographers review “galley proofs” so that’s where the “proof” comes in but pudding??
    In the book, each of the two sisters presents either the character trait of “sense” or “sensibility”; thus the reference of 1 and 2dn.

  3. Ian says:

    23a Proof as in ‘Galley Proof’ – a publishers advance reading copy. Keith Floyd would have eaten his puddings in a galley!!

  4. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Ciaran. I think 7dn is a nod in the direction of the saying (to a bearer of stale news) “Have you heard Queen Anne is dead?”

    According to Wiki, Elinor and Marianne was the title of the first draft of S & S. Have we any Janeites here? I’m not one!

  5. John H says:

    I’m a Janeite, for some reason.

  6. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Ciaran, I thoroughly enjoyed this. However, without your explanations, I would still be wondering how some of the clues worked.

    Perhaps inevitably I first looked for links where none existed (5a, 25a). Marvellous misdirections. I also struggled with 6a MORRIS but what a wonderful clue!

  7. liz says:

    Thanks, Ciaran. I’m a Janeite, too, so didn’t find this too difficult. I liked 10ac and 16dn.

    23ac says pudding ‘from here’ ie a galley or a type of kitchen. Back in the old days, when I was first working as an editor, galleys were the first proofs you’d see — long strips of typesetting that were unpaginated and uncorrected.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks Ciaran. Got off to a decent start but then struggled. Not being a Janeite didn’t help with the two sisters, who were the last to go in. Some clever clueing and very enjoyable. First one that I’ve finished this week though!

  9. Paul (not Paul) says:

    Good fun today but couldn’t get Morris or Open-Eyed.

    I do appreciate the blogs to help me understand the details of the solutions that I’ve not always fully grasped but… and I understand that this isn’t a personal service dedicated to me…sometimes the blogs don’t tell me what I need to know.

    The explanation of Open-Eyed was so complex that it was harder to work out than the clue. And there are components that are left unexplained – why is BIS encore in 16 down? Is IDE a fish in 18 ac. I can google Ide but I’ve a feeling BIS is some crosswordese I’ve yet to encounter.

    Oh…and I had no problems with today’s theme which at least was from a novel it is entirely reasonable to assume that people have read or seen film/TV versions of.

  10. Tom_I says:

    Paul, BIS means ‘twice’, and can be used in musical notation to indicate that a section is to be repeated, hence ‘encore’.

    And you are right, IDE (or id) is a freshwater fish of the same family as the carp.

  11. NeilW says:

    Paul, think “Biscuit” – “twice cooked”.

  12. Tom_I says:

    And just a tiny detail, isn’t the wordplay in 11,21 DEEP + O (profound love) containing YEN, all reversed?

  13. IanN14 says:

    Paul (not Paul)
    OK, it’s fair enough to admit not knowing some elements of the clues, but you only have to ask…
    Bis and Ide are both clearly defined in Chambers (and I expect other dictionaries which are available), why use Google for this?
    I had to use it to find out about the “theme”, which you suggest is entirely unreasonable to assume people have never read (or seen).
    I’m glad you had no problems with it; neither did I when I looked it up.
    Sorry, but we’re all different in our assumptions…

    By the way Ciaran, thanks for the blog, I didn’t understand 7d. either.
    9d. should read “bok”. Bock is a type of beer…

  14. IanN14 says:

    ..Oh, and why is Open-eyed so complex?
    As Tom_I says, it’s just DE[YEN]EP O reversed.

  15. Bryan says:

    Yes, Tom_I, which is why Ciaran indicated a reversal with the < sign.

  16. IanN14 says:

    Actually, Bryan,
    Tom’s right. Ciaran had, technically, put the O at the beginning of the wordplay…

  17. Median says:

    I got there with help from the web for the literary stuff. Although I like much of Araucaria’s output, I do resent his assumption (and that of several other setters) that solvers have a wide knowledge of literature and the other arts. Would it be seen as equally fair to expect a wide knowledge of science or technology?

  18. Bryan says:

    Yes, IanN14, but Ciaran had also put an O + before the reversal.

  19. Peter says:


    I’d resent it if setters felt that they shouldn’t expect much of us..

  20. Bryan says:

    A ‘wide knowledge’, Median?

    That ain’t me: I guessed MARIANNE and ELINOR from the clues and then assumed that they were heroines in the novel.

    PHOSGENE is a bit technical.

  21. Median says:


    I like a challenge as much as the next solver. What I’m grumbling about is the bias of setters towards the arts. It’s part of the wider, deeply entrenched, bias in Britain – that to be regarded as ‘educated’ one must know about the arts but it’s fine to confess ignorance about maths, science, technology, engineering and other subjects upon which modern societies depend.

    OK, rant over.

  22. Median says:

    Thanks, Bryan, for illustrating my point: “‘PHOSGENE’ is a bit technical.” Not to me, it isn’t. Phosgene is a basic building-block chemical with many applications other than poisoning people.

  23. Peter says:

    So there you go – Araucaria is being perfectly fair!

  24. IanN14 says:

    Bryan @ 18.
    Yes, I know…
    That’s my point.
    It should be at the END of the wordplay, before the whole thing is reversed.
    “Love” comes AFTER “profound” in the clue, does it not?

  25. JohnR says:

    On 11,21 – I’m more worried about the definition than the wordplay. I wanted it to be WIDE-EYED. To me, OPEN-EYED equates to “alert”, “attentive”, not to “surprised” or “amazed”. The OED supports that view.

    Presumably Chambers doesn’t?

  26. cholecyst says:

    Median. You’re right – there is a bias towards the Arts in these puzzles. Suits me. Too much maths and science would have me struggling. Perhaps mathematicians and scientists are too busy to compose crosswords? But I notice there is much learned maths/logical debate on Sudoku sites.

  27. Ian says:

    I think it is fair to say that Guardian crosswords are apt to clue puzzles with a high percentage of Arts based subjects as a reflection of its music/books/cinema/ballet/opera loving readership.

  28. Grumpy Andrew says:

    First, as a newcomer I much appreciate this site and enjoy the comments.
    Today’s gripe is 1d. I believe there are some people in countries other than Scotland called Ian.
    If from Scotland should not the spelling be Iain?
    In any case, using Scotland to indicate Ian seems unreasonable.

  29. Chunter says:

    JohnR: Chambers gives 3 definitions of ‘open-eyed’, the most relevant of which is ‘astonished’.

  30. IanN14 says:

    Grumpy Andrew,
    Speaking as a non-Scottish Ian, I’ve always been irritated by its use, but it is a common device, so I expect it’s here to stay.

    And, (erm) Ian @27. Whoa there, I think you’re opening a huge can of worms…
    That’s a massively sweeping statement.
    How many here can tick off all 5?
    I can admit to one (cinema), plus another if the music is non-classical.
    I like a bit of technology, and sport too, but I’ll accept any theme in a crossword becaus it means I’m looking up stuff that I don’t know about.

  31. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hmm … interesting discussion. PHOSGENE was one of my first to go in, but then my background is science- rather than arts-related. I don’t mind literature and arts based clues, even if like today I didn’t twig the links between the book and the characters. Would it be controversial to say that there are more scientists who have a knowledge of the arts and literature than ballet and opera lovers who have a basic grounding in science and technology?

  32. cholecyst says:

    CP Snow, thou shouldst have been living at this hour!

  33. Peter says:

    Might it be that setters are artists, and solvers are scientists?

    Solving crosswords is like science – there’s only one correct answer..

    Setting them on the other hand is creative. Your imagination is the only limit.

  34. Paul (not Paul) says:

    I was just asking (post 9) that more obscure references be more fully explained. (and also having a bit of a whinge about the shorthand which sometimes takes me an age to unpick).

    As has been revealed since, however, what is obscure varies from solver to solver.

    I’ll carry on asking nicely (or doing my own supplementary research). Thanks.

  35. Bryan says:

    I now wonder if Araucaria is any good at solving puzzles?

    Maybe, collectively, we should set him one … and see?

  36. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I’d add that I would support non-Scottish Ian at no 30. What I’m really enjoying at this stage in my cryptic career is learning new things and new words; if you have to do a bit of research to get there, then that’s the pleasure, as long as it’s not stupidly obscure. We can’t all be polymaths, can we? Or maybe, since we’re Guardian readers …

  37. Dave Ellison says:

    I enjoyed this and thought it was straightforward for an A. – finished on the way in.

    12, 15a Rock around the clock was performed by Bill Haley and the COMETS.

  38. Pasquale says:

    A ‘Christmas party’ this early? Help!!

  39. Martin Searle says:

    31: K’s D: ‘Would it be controversial to say that there are more scientists who have a knowledge of the arts and literature than ballet and opera lovers who have a basic grounding in science and technology?’.

    Probably, but speaking as one of the former, I’m happy to go with it.

    Actually, with ‘phosgene’, my instant recognition of that comes less from my chemistry training than from a reasonable knowledge of WW1 and the War Poets.

    I am also quite embarrassed to confess that one of the last clues I solved was ‘Morris'; and me a Morris Dancer! Actually, I’m not sure which part of that sentence is the one causing me embarrassment…

  40. sidey says:

    Re Arts v Science. I have moaned a bit at setters cavalier attitude to scientific definitions however PHOSGENE is a historical fact of WWI and is celebrated (?) in at least one poem I know and in a song in O, What a Lovely War. There we are, science, history, literature and film all in one go.

  41. sidey says:

    Snap Martin.

  42. IanN14 says:

    I think suggesting that “phosgene” could be familiar to those with a cinematic background is a BIT of a stretch (you could also argue that we should also be on nodding terms with Marianne and Elinor, as they’ve been in film versions) but it’s a very good point, well made, about the individual diversity of interest and knowledge…

  43. muck says:

    I managed to confuse myself by confidently entering 6ac: BALLOT=polls, from BALL=dance plus TO<

  44. Paul B says:

    Setters appear to come from a variety of backgrounds. (Some are camouflaged however, and blend into it.)

    You might expect wordsmiths to come from logocentric histories, but the county folk (cryptic defintion there, eh what) are really hot on the old SI = answer equations, and bloody picky about grammar. And, of course, at the tricky end of puzzledom the maths or numerical puzzle is quite a winner.

  45. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Funny discussion tonight.
    Not so very long ago I was a bit critical about Araucaria because of the fact that – in my opinion – he used too many specialist words in his crosswords – that is, for the average (or slightly above average) solver.
    Today I didn’t have any problem with that.
    So what’s wrong with me then?
    I think the main difference between this crossword and some others is, that most of the (perhaps) unfamiliar words were guessible from the clues, like MARIANNE, ELINOR, PHOSGENE.

    The only words we didn’t get were LANDSEER and (hence) SIENNA – although we thought of Dan Brown.
    Both of us haven’t heard of the painter Landseer.
    We eventually entered LANDSMAN, a “landsman” being an unexperienced sailor, maybe longing for a “man from land”. And I thought that Landsman was perhaps a Dutch painter, which he wasn’t (but Landman is).

    Just like yesterday’s A Day At The Races I guessed SENSE AND SENSIBILITY from the numeration (5,3,11).
    I don’t agree with Ciaran that this an &Lit.
    “Novel” is just doing double duty, as the rest of the clue has nothing to do with S&S (although Blessedness And Inanity could probably be a book title as well).

    I think IanN14 (#13) is right when he says that there should have been a homophone indicator for “bok” in 8d.

    Speaking of homophones, we had an argument here about 5d (BICEPS). Apart from the fact that my PinC thought BICEPS is “muscles” (so plural, which it is not necessarily), I had my doubts about defining a homophone with a homophone definition.

    As to #9 & #10:
    the word BIS is not just “twice” or an indication that a musical section should be repeated, (at least) on the continent it is also what people shout when a concert’s over, wanting more, “Bis, Bis …”. It is a bit old fashioned, true that is, but just the same as the French asking for an “encore”.
    Or the Germans (especially during rock concerts) : “Zugabe, Zugabe”.
    Or the Dutch (especially during rock concerts): “We want more, We want more …” :)

  46. Judy says:

    I thought ‘utter’ was the homophone indicator in 8d.

  47. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Dear Judy,
    I don’t think so.
    “Utter vain boasts” = “bluster”.

  48. Stephen and Lucy says:

    Just finished this! Unbelievably we nearly wrote Sienna for 2d as the clue worked there also!

    As we see it for 8 down:

    antelope utter = homophone for BOCK
    vain boasts = BLUSTER

    good xword today!

  49. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, Stephen, Lucy & Judy, I see your point, but then “vain boasts” for “bluster” is still not completely correct, me thinks, because the first is plural and the latter singular.
    Bit sloppy then.

  50. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Stephen, Lucy & Judy, OK, I’m with you now.
    Though not sure if Araucaria meant it this way, but probably he did.

  51. Lanson says:

    I thought that many spoonerisms were homophones, roars with pain/pours with rain, hollow cylinder/silly hollander, they don’t need to be exact in spelling

  52. Lanson says:

    sorry second example isn’t a spoonerism

  53. Sil van den Hoek says:

    OK. Lanson, end of discussion.
    You’re right.
    BTW, like your homophones.

  54. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And your Spoonerisms.
    Especially the second one!

  55. IanN14 says:

    Sil @45,
    Just noticed you used me as an example.
    Sorry, but I hadn’t intended what you said.
    I was just pointing out that a bok (not bock) was an antelope.
    As Lanson says @51, a spoonerism doesn’t require correct spelling.

    I think the clue reads:
    “antelope” = “bok” + “utter vain boasts” = “bluster”, (all Spoonerised).

  56. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I know, Ian, I was wrong.
    But when something’s nesting in one’s head, it stays in there for a while.
    In my case, just a bit too long.
    So, excusez moi.

  57. IanN14 says:

    Consider yourself excused, Sil.

  58. Bryan says:

    57 Comments, before this.

    I wonder is this the most Commented puzzle ever?

    Curious of Hove

  59. KG says:

    Nobody may ever read this – but coming back from travel, did the puzzle, enjoyed another excellent Araucaria.

    I am amazed that ‘phosgene’ can be used as an example of science being used in a crossword. Vey few chemists I know educated after, say 1975, would be familiar with it. Historians, of whatever age may well be. A bit like glauber’s salts.

    Perhaps we can look forward to the next generation of setters using solutions like 2:4:dimethyl chloride, or whatever.

    And Sil, when I’ve been to operas in France, ‘bis’ was what they wanted. I believe that only the English ever used the encore word, comme le ‘cul-de-sac’. I think bis is the latin for twice.

  60. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi, KG (without a B, I hope), here’s “nobody” …
    Damn those French ….
    Anyway, at last someone who does understand the meaning of BIS.

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