Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,912 – Auster

Posted by Andrew on January 20th, 2010


There was nothing too difficult in this puzzle from Auster, though I caused myself a little trouble by guessing wrong at 4d (plausibly, I think). Altogether very enjoyable, with a gentle wit showing through. It was nice to see a couple of Australian words too (for those who don’t know, Auster is an Australian, and a woman).

dd = double definition
* = anagram
< = reverse

5. CANCAN You might psych yourself up by saying “Can! Can!”
10. AVENGE VEN[ice] in AGE
15. GLAIR Homophone of “glare”. Glair is “the clear part of an egg used as a varnish.”
18. NIT-PICKER IN< + P (English copper) in TICKER. What some bloggers and commenters here may be.
19. EVENT EVE + N[o]T
20. CANDLE-LIGHT L in CAN DELIGHT. I liked this one
24. POPLAR POPULAR less U (upper-class)
25. BEECHNUT BEE + C (about) + HUNT*
1. GREASE GUNS GREASE (film) + GUNS – Australian experts, especially in sheep-shearing, I learn.
3. NASHO NASH (Ogden nash, poet) + O. I can’t find the word in Chambers, but I presume it is, or was, Australian slang for a national serviceman.
7. CENT Homophone of “sent”
8. NEED NEE + D. A good surface reading – nice clue.
13. DIVERGENCE VERGEN (homophone of “virgin”) in DICE. I’m not keen on “partial homophone” clues, and in any case the “vergen” part doesn’t really sound like “virgin” to me. Maybe in an ozzie accent..?
16. RAINCOATS CASTRATION* less T. I’m uneasy about “timeless” meaning that only one of the Ts is removed, but otherwise a clever and witty clue.
21. LOCAL Low-calorie foods are often described as LO-CAL
22. SPUD Hidden in christmaS PUDding
23. SPOT dd – to be “in a spot” is to be “in a jam, and a spot can be a stain

35 Responses to “Guardian 24,912 – Auster”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. You’re right about virgin – it’s said that way here. Nasho was national service, long since abolished.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, also for your advice that Auster is a Sheila – which explains the various Antipodean allusions.

    Even though I’ve been to the Land of Oz on several occasions, I’d never heard of NASHO – although it was well signposted in the clue.

    Very enjoyable. Please keep up the good work, Sheila!

  3. Monica M says:

    My thanks too Andrew,

    25ac … I still don’t understand the C = about.

    A gun shearer is a fast shearer, but the fastest shearer is the ‘ringer’.

  4. Andrew says:

    Monica – C is for circa = about or approximately.

  5. Monica M says:

    Thanks Andrew … for making me look like a goose ;-) Sooo obvious.

    Quite a few years ago there was a campaign here, “Bring back Nasho” as a response to the bad behaviour of young people.

  6. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Found this quite challenging, but managed it, with PSALTERS my last to go in. I loved 16d, but there were some delightful clues in all parts of the grid.

    The ‘virgin’ homophone works for me, but then I talk funny.

    I really enjoyed this Auster – can we have some more, please?

  7. Monica M says:

    Kathryn’s Dad,

    Auster (or as I knew her ‘Southern Cross’) retired a few years ago, so I’m not sure now many more you will get.

  8. Max says:

    Andrew, thanks for the blog.

    2d PARTS is just ‘strap up’ (i.e. reversed), not an anagram.

  9. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. I did the same as you at 4dn, then corrected it when I got 12ac. I enjoyed this very much, especially 16dn and 21dn. I thought 20ac was good too!

  10. Andrew says:

    Thanks Max, I knew that really! (blog corrected)

  11. Tom_I says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Good puzzle, I thought.

    NASHO is in the Cassell Dictionary of Slang, though not in Chambers, as you say in the blog. It was readily guessable from the clue, though.

  12. sandra says:

    thank you andrew.
    nasho is in collins, useful for aussie words. it was easily solvable but needed to check the dictionary as i had never heard it before.
    some of these clues raised a smile – i liked candle-light and safe cracking especially. i enjoyed the puzzle, albeit with some reservations.
    psalter was my last – easy once you see it!

  13. Ian says:

    Thanks Andrew

    This Auster struck me as being somewhat trickier than the last two.

    Witty & entertaining in equal measure and two words I came across for the first time, GLAIR & NASHO.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    Even though I whipped through this one, I didn’t enjoy it. CANDLELIGHT, SAFE-CRACKERS and, especially, CANCAN were decent clues but NASHO??? I know Auster is Australian but this Canadian feels it’s a bit much to have obscure (to me, anyway) Down-Underisms foisted on us. Is this another language cryptic-solvers are going to have have a smattering of? Similarly, GREASE GUNS was easy enough but who knew “guns” were Aussie experts? There might have been some fun in the Sesame Street-linked clues (9a and 17a) if they hadn’t been so obvious.

    I’m sorry, I hate to whine and I realize I may be in the minority today. But after yesterday’s very entertaining Boatman, this left me seriously underwhelmed.

  15. JamieC says:

    I enjoyed this. I don’t have a problem with NASHO, where the answer is so obvious from the wordplay

    For those who have been debating the use of homophones that don’t work for non-RP speakers, 13d is a nice example of the biter bit.

  16. JamieC says:

    I enjoyed this. I don’t have a problem with NASHO, where the answer is so obvious from the wordplay.

    For those who have been debating the use of homophone clues that don’t work for non-RP speakers, 13d is a nice example of the biter bit.

  17. JimboNWUK says:

    Well said Bill @ 14!

    If it ain’t in Chambers it don’t bil-lab-ong here!

    Blimmin NASHO indeed…what next a “chav-text-speak” puzzle with M8, l8ters and 2moz as the answers? Shizzle my mizzle.


  18. Bryan says:


    I don’t even have a copy of Chambers and, in any event, I always do my puzzles unaided and off-line.

    From Oldham in the NWUK and I bet that NWUK ain’t in Chambers.

  19. JimboNWUK says:

    Me too Bryan, the check in Chamebers was retrospective!

    And neither is Oldham for that matter, nor Salford where I solve or Sintellins where I live apropos of nowt much.

  20. sandra says:


    sesame street linked clues? are you serious? if so, that really would be obscure for me. on the other hand nwuk probably wouldn’t be, as i originally came from neuk! now there’s a word to play with and it must be in chambers!

  21. sandra says:

    sorry – i meant bill taylor, re sesame street

  22. Mike M says:

    I must confess, Im not a big fan of the Auster-alianisms…. they’re signposted clearly enough, so don’t make the xword too hard – but I just can’t see the point of them…. it’s not like there aren’t enough English words to put in an English xword, is it?

    Maybe they just keep doing it to cause controversy on 15^2….

  23. cholecyst says:

    Bill Taylor & JimboNWUK.

    Think yourselves lucky. Have you forgotten the infamous “Hump the Bluey” in Guardian 24544 / Auster?

    I enjoy learning new Aussie and NZ words (“cowfeteria” anyone?). Is there a setter from Canada I wonder to further mystify us?

    By the way, I noticed in the Guardian the other day an estimate that the UK users of the On-line edition are now very much in the minority. Although I realise that it would be unsafe to assume the same is true for on-line solvers of the Crossword, I frequently need to remind myself that the compass of English is very much wider than these British Isles.

  24. Brian Harris says:

    Some nice clues today – 8d, 16d, 27ac… and I don’t mind Australianisms when they’re either blindingly obvious from the construction (3 dn) or the context (1dn).

    One of the main reasons I love cryptic crosswords is that I learn so many new words by doing them. And from time to time, I’m prepared to learn a few Ozzie terms….

  25. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Sandra at no 20: like you, I come from neuk originally, but I doubt that the word is in Chambers. However, if my rusty Dutch holds up, then when Sil pays us a visit later he can probably tell you that where he comes from, it definitely is a word to play with. But not in this kind of polite company, obviously …

  26. muck says:

    13dn DIVERGENCE. I got this from the wordplay, and don’t mind the homophone.
    But not convinced by ‘distraction’ as the definition.

  27. Bryan says:

    It really is a shame that our Dutch colleague (Sil) never gets a chance to put his linguistic skills to the test in a puzzle.

    Having lived in The Netherlands for 5 years, maybe I can help the Setters with 3 much over-used phrases from that country:

    even kijk


    een ogenblijk

    Now let’s see what Paul and/or Araucaria can do with these.

  28. sandra says:

    kathryn’s dad

    neuk is scottish for nook, which is why i said it must be in chambers. just checked, and it’s there. i lived in scotland for 22 years and i wouldn’t be surprised if it came up in a crossword one day – so bear it in mind! by the way – this is in no way one upmanship!

  29. Dave Ellison says:

    19a Eve the first wife? That was Lilith, surely.

  30. Bryan says:

    Dave @29

    I have been unable to find positive evidence about when or where Adam and Eve married but, if Chambers has the details, then it must be so.

  31. sandra says:

    dave ellison #29

    that is what crossed my mind when i saw the clue.

  32. Radler says:

    Wife can simply mean “woman” (see Chambers) – related to the old fashioned German word for woman – das Weib

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, very kind of you to pre-welcome me tonight, but, Kathryn’s Dad, I am sorry to say I am not going to translate ‘neuk’ into English. And to you, Bryan (#27), I would like to say: it’s not clear to me what you want to express in your post (BTW: ‘even kijk’ should be ‘even kijken’ (let me see) and ‘een ogenblijk’ ‘een ogenblikje’ (wait a second/hang on)).

    Today we had the choice between Enigmatist’s alter ego IO in the FT and Auster. Although Auster’s previous crossword (30 Nov) was more or less thrashed (something that everyone seems to have forgotten, which is good), we did hers and saved IO for later. I am happy to say that, for us, it was fairly OK today.

    Maybe Eve’s not ‘the first wife’, the clue (19ac) reads well, just like 8d – although this was already the third time this week that ‘ne/nee’ turned up, so let’s not use it for a while (just like Emma).
    Our favourites were the very well constructed 20ac (but why is CANDLE-LIGHT hyphenated?) and the, in our opinion, fantastic 16d (RAINCOATS), worth a Paul – I get Andrew’s point (and thx for the blog) that ‘timeless’ could mean ‘remove every t’, but for us it was fine this way.
    Oh, and 21d (LOCAL) – very funny.

    So, high marks from the Dutch Jury? [to be fair, in cooperation with the British]
    I fear not, but perhaps that is mainly because we are very sensitive (at the moment) when it comes to imprecise cluing – and there was some here, especially in the first few Across clues.

    In 1ac, GAMINESS is a noun, so the definition must be ‘a wild flavour’, but then ‘with’? The inclusion of that word in the definition would have meant an adjective, something that confused us.
    Then 9ac: EMU is, of course, the Big Bird (why capitals? – Australian?), but ‘is to fly out’ for the rest is a bit unusual. One might expect IS + FLY*, but instead we get IS attached to FLY, and then turned into LSIFY. That little word ‘to’ in the middle – well, not sure about it.
    And talking about ‘about it’, there is a similar thing in 12ac. First we have SCHOOL and then ‘Nothing’ (O) with RICH about it, which surely can’t be the words to say that RICH has to go around O ánd at the same time the anagrind. Or is ‘needs’ the anagrind for the whole thing, which would be a bit odd given the fact that the first part (SCHOOL) is completely intact.
    And then there’s the somewhat dubious or misleading use of ‘about time’ in 10ac. VEN with ‘about it’ AGE? We thought, this time we would like to see the word ‘it’ somewhere.
    When we were looking at the clue of 18ac, we thought: What does this mean? The construction is fine, but it is not much more than a construction, isn’t it?
    The last word we got was COMPTROLLERS. Bit of a pity that the first part of it (CO+MP) is more than an Araucarian ‘some’ of the word ‘Company’.

    My PinC was rather annoyed by the fact that she couldn’t be sure whether clues were precise or not. It didn’t prevent us from completing it.
    And fortunately, there’s a lot more good than bad.
    But still.
    [It would be nice to see a Puck, Shed or Crucible again]

  34. toby says:

    Bill – “I’m sorry, I hate to whine”, but goes ahead…

  35. Brendan says:

    27. I think it should be even kijken (rather than kijk). You omitted what I think must surely be the number one most used Dutch phrase: gezellig.

    I had grease cans for 1 down which made me try to make ‘clair’ work for 15 ac. I see now why it wouldn’t.

    Sorry I just spotted that 33 had made the same correction to the Dutch phrase as I did. Neuk has, as its English equivalent, another four letter word ending in ‘k’ and sounds quite like one of the trinity of setters that Sil (33) would like to see again.

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