Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,863 (Sat 21 Nov)/Araucaria – Gray area

Posted by rightback on November 28th, 2009


Solving time: About 20-25 mins, one mistake (24ac).

The theme of this puzzle was Thomas Gray’s Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard, lines 51-52 and 57-60. Not knowing any of these lines made this puzzle rather difficult! The hardest thematic answer for me was HAMPDEN in the bottom right, where I also struggled on CURRENT and STALIN.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X'; thematic answers in red.

1 PENURY; PEN + [cent]URY
4 AMO MUM – I liked this: AMO is Latin for ‘I love’, while Oedipus (unknowingly) married his mother, so AMOMUM can be read in a sort of pidgin Latin as ‘I love mother’.
9 GRUB (2 defs)
10 GO(O)DLINESS – not quite sure about the definition here (‘Plenty’); perhaps ‘a goodliness of something’ can mean a lot of it, but I wondered if there was an element of ‘&lit’ here.
11 ABSEIL; AB’S + rev. of LIE (= ‘tale’)
12 NEON + AT + A + L
15 SOUL; “SOUL” – nice clue.
16 RAGE; [SUFF]RAGE – I thought ‘sufficient leaders’ might give SU but didn’t go any further so struggled with this, given the lack of definition.
17 APOCRYPHA; A POP around CRY, + H.A. – ‘H.A.’ for ‘Heavy Artillery’ isn’t in Chambers, but it looked likely, and ‘Disputed books’ was a kind definition.
21 CROMWELL; C[D]-ROM + WELL – because the D of CD-ROM stands for ‘disk’.
22 RACE ME – another one I liked.
24 CORN + CIRCLE – not ‘moon circle’, which I put, thinking ‘moon’ might be an old word for ‘sentimentality’ (perhaps I was thinking of ‘moonshine’ or something like that).
25 [w]INDY – I didn’t know ‘frightened’ = ‘windy’.
26 SOL + ELY
27 STALIN; L in STAIN – my last entry, partly because of doubts over at least three answers in the bottom right.
1 PARABLE; PARLE (= ‘Talks French’) around A,B (= ‘first two’)
2 NOBLE; rev. of BON, + LE (= ‘the French’)
3 REGULUS; RE + rev. of LUG (= ‘drawback’) + U.S. – a star in Leo.
5 MILTON; MIL (= 1/1000 inch = ‘Small length’) + TON
6 MAN + D.A. + TORY
7 MISCALL; SCA (= ‘fell’, as in ‘Sca Fell’) in MILL (= ‘grinder’)
16 RE-ROOFS; (FOR ROSE)* – I don’t think ‘show’ is sufficient as an anagram indicator; ‘could show’ might do, if it could be worked into the surface reading.
18 CURRENT (2 defs) – this took me ages to see, partly because this was a thematic clue which might have lacked a definition.
19 HAMPDEN; (AMP + D) in HEN – very difficult given the lack of definition, especially without 18dn solved (‘Some of which…’ = some CURRENT = AMP).

22 Responses to “Guardian 24,863 (Sat 21 Nov)/Araucaria – Gray area”

  1. Tom_I says:

    Thanks, rightback. I quite enjoyed this.

    I didn’t immediately spot the theme, and in any case wouldn’t have remembered the lines from Gray’s Elegy (‘O’ Level English Lit. was a long time ago!), but having got a few clues, the phrase ‘chill penury’ rang a distant bell. Having looked up the verse, everything then fell into place.

  2. rrc says:

    really enjoyed this lots of clues caused a smile

  3. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Awful awful awful. I’ll happily never attempt another crossword by Araucaria.
    Such obscure instructions should be banned, along with any crossword in which the grid is not numbered, another painful Araucaria novelty.

  4. Jacq says:

    Grumpy Andrew. Araucaria is the god of the cryptic. I know your pain; at 30yrs old lot of the references go over my head. When I look at Azed I feel similar. But the Rev is an irreplacable talent. Stick with him! In 2 years we’ve gone from not getting a single solution to finishing last Saturday’s nonsense over morning whiskey
    In 20 mins. Jacq

  5. Ian says:

    A typical araucaria x-word designed for the typically literate Guardian reader who is familiar with classic literature/poetry.

    Once the theme was cracked, everything else fell into place pretty much. Very enjoyable.

  6. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hardly possible to finish this crossword without additional resources, I think.
    (Don’t want to start a recent discussion again, maybe a Saturday crossword should be different from a Weekday one)
    But we got there in the end.

    I can imagine Grumpy Andrew’s critical notes (surely an understatement), but this is the world of Araucaria.
    He regularly makes things more difficult than they probably should be. And I admit
    I’m not always keen on these “special effects” either.

    Having said that, there were lots of splendid clues.
    We especially liked the very concise 18ac: the Flower and the Present for the surface being a Rose, say, and a Gift – but then turning into a Stream Of Water and Happening Now to give CURRENT, which was subsequently converted into an Electrical Flow.
    Also very neat, the anagrind in 20ac. Although lacking a definition, “Ealing production” makes sense because of the famous film studios (the oldest in the world probably).

    Although “Fell into the grinder” (7d) reads very well, we found the addition of “name wrong?” to obtain a definition somewhat silly – put something inside brackets, add it to the clue and we have a definition. And why this question mark?

    As I said on earlier occasions, I don’t like solutions containing two words (like CORN CIRCLE) to be clued as two separate words. However, technically spoken, there’s nothing wrong with it. Just a matter of taste.

    Finally, re 2d: is BON a word for “Good” in English? If so, then you can stop reading here. If not, it must refer to the French word “bon” (which surely means “good”), but then one should read “for” as “given to”. Which gives a perfect explanation for the solution as well.

    Thanks, Rightback, for (again) an excellent blog, so very detailed and full of personal notes (which I like).
    Apparently no music of the day?
    Did 15ac confuse you?
    (“What should I take, The Sound Of Music or some soul music?”)

  7. Chunter says:

    10ac: GOODLINESS is the noun formed from ‘goodly’, meaning ‘ample’ or ‘plenty’.

    2dn: BON (‘good’) is in both Chambers and the OED.

    Good-bye (for the moment).

  8. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Rightback. I enjoyed this – the theme gradually becoming clear. I hope people will follow your link above to the poem and then read it. Although I dimly remembered it, I was surprised to see how many phrases it has bestowed on the English language (paths of glory, madding crowd, full many a flower is born to blush unseen …)

  9. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Re #7:
    Thanks, Chunter, for mentioning BON is in Chambers – would have guessed so.
    But would you also be able to tell me how the English use this word, if ever?
    I can see BON in combinations like ‘bon ton’, ‘bon vivant’ or ‘bon voyage’, but I’ve never heard someone using the word in its own right.
    In Holland they/we use it sometimes in an expression like “Bon, that’s it then” for “Alright, that’s it then” (with, of course, everything else apart from ‘Bon’, in Dutch).

    I am just curious.
    (I know when something’s in the (or a) dictionary, it’s valid for a crossword, that’s not my point. It would just be nice if words like ‘bon’ would have a meaning in real life as well)

  10. cholecyst says:

    Sil: How about (from Love’s Labour’s Lost):-

    He draweth out the thread of his verbosity finer
    than the staple of his argument. I abhor such
    fanatical phantasimes, such insociable and
    point-devise companions; such rackers of
    orthography, as to speak dout, fine, when he should
    say doubt; det, when he should pronounce debt,–d,
    e, b, t, not d, e, t: he clepeth a calf, cauf;
    half, hauf; neighbour vocatur nebor; neigh
    abbreviated ne. This is abhominable,–which he
    would call abbominable: it insinuateth me of
    insanie: anne intelligis, domine? to make frantic, lunatic.


    Laus Deo, bene intelligo.


    Bon, bon, fort bon, Priscian! a little scratch’d,
    ’twill serve.”

    OK. Guess that proves your point!

  11. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Point made! :)
    And now I need a bonbon …
    (THE END)

  12. Jacq says:

    Sil I got one for you: Novel Skinhead bullied Cambridge clue crafter (3,3,3,4)

  13. Ralph G says:

    Re 10a, 7 above. Chunter, could you by any chance provide a citation for ‘goodliness’ meaning ‘plenty’? I looked myself; perhaps not hard enough.
    10 above. Thanks for the splendid quotation, cholecyst.
    Thoroughly enjoyed this puzzle.
    19d HAMPDEN was my breakthrough, rightback! He has cropped up in the Guardian before; somebody else may remember when.
    One other niggle (in addition to 10a). I couldn’t see any word play in 8d. It might as well have read “Horse force; completion due (anag.)”
    Re 2d BON, Sil, 6 above. I have the impression that setters often use a word which is part of a phrase and never stands alone and in this case Chambers provides at least seven French phrases in common use by English speakers and therefore not needing to be flagged as French.
    A while back I objected, myself, to an assumption that a non-German speaker would know the German for ‘bath’. ‘Und’ and ‘mit’ occur quite often without causing complaint, and in fact no-one else complained about ‘bad’.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Rightback. I enjoyed this a lot. Once I had a few of the theme clues, I was able to finish with the aid of Google. I would never have got HAMPDEN otherwise. I also liked AMOMUM.

    I haven’t read the poem in a long time, so it was nice to be reminded of it and read it again!

  15. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi, Jacq, re #12: I got it!
    With your permission, I would like to use it in a Cryptic Christmas Crossword that I like to compile (just) for colleagues at work (as a kind of Christmas card) – but only if you don’t mind (and I will mention the source (which is an anagram, of course)).

  16. Jacq says:

    Yeah Sil it’s all yours. J

  17. Biggles A says:

    The reference to ‘froze’ in the instructions tolled a knell for me and the rest followed quite readily.

    4a. I am no botanist but I find that grains of paradise are the seeds of aframomum melegueta, a species in the ginger family. Amomum is a genus incuding cardamom and rather different I think.

  18. John H says:

    I liked it very much. You will notice, I trust, that all clues may be solved as they stand: it is a normal cryptic, whether or not you are familiar with Gray’s Elegy.

    And that poem is, IMHO, the best piece of English poetic literature ever.

    Cheers, Monkey!

  19. Sylvia says:

    27a: Why is Stalin Georgian?

  20. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Hi Sylvia,
    Stalin is Georgian because he was born (on 18 December 1878) in Gori, which is in Georgia.
    According to our friend Wikipedia his real name was Ioseb Besarionis dze Jughashvili.
    The last part of it sounds indeed typically Georgian.

  21. Mr Beaver says:

    Wot? No Auster blog today? I know it was easy, but all the same 😉

  22. Sylvia says:

    Many thanks for that clarification!

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