Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24929 – Araucaria’s Party Time

Posted by Uncle Yap on February 9th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

Another well crafted puzzle themed on P, which I fortuitously happened to cotton on from the very beginning. As usual, The Master led us all on a fun chase … nothing too convoluted in a fair puzzle. Learned two new words which I do not think I will ever see or use again. My favourite clue must be 10 Across.

1 BIRTHDAY I was extremely lucky to cotton on to the theme at the very first clue. Harold Pinter (1930-2008) is such a well-known playwright who has even won the Nobel Prize for Literature and I have see a performance of The Birthday Party before. The well-known broadcaster, Robin Day (1923-2000) with his signature bow-tie confirmed the answer althought I haven’t unravelled John’s gas.
5 CHAPEL Cha of Chap (fellow) EL (an elevated railroad)
9 COCKTAIL Cha of COCK (prepare to shoot) TAIL (follower) and the allusion to The Cocktail Party by T.S.Eliot
10 LABOUR What an absolutely lovely clue that got me rolling on the floor. Before a mother gives birth, she must undergo labour pains.
12 POLYPHAGOUS Ins of GO (become) in *(happy soul) A new word for me meaning adj (of an animal) eating many different kinds of food; given to eating excessive amounts of food, esp as the result of a pathological condition.
15 COACH A coach party and to coach is to train
17 ROSE APPLE an E Indian tree of the clove genus; its edible fruit. I can see Rose as got up but pupil as apple? Anyone?
18 ENLIVENER ENLI *(line) + VENER (worship or venerate minus ate)
19 THIRD Third in a race is still a placing and someone else is a third party
24 BOTTLE Welcome to the Bottle Party for people with courage (bottle)
25 TIVERTON TI (rev of IT) VERT (green) ONCE minus CE (Church of England)
26 DOGGED dd
27 TEA PARTY Ins of APART (separated)in TEY (rev of yet, but)

1 BACKPACKER Cha of BACK (support)  PACKER (1977 cricketing circus)
2 RECALLABLE RE (King in Italian language) + ins of ALL (everything) in CABLE (TV provider)
3 HET UP Cha of HE (very masculine) TUP (ram, sheep)
4 ANIMATRONICS Ins of MATRON (nursing officer) in *(is I can) Nicholas Wulstan “Nick” Park, is an English filmmaker of stop motion animation best known as the creator of Wallace and Gromit.
6 HEAD START Ins of ADS (publicity) + T (Henry Ford’s Model) in HEART (middle)
7 POOP A party poop is a spoilsport and poop is the stern of a ship
8 LARK dd
11 CONSERVATIVE Ins of AT IV (four) in CONSERVE (jam) for the Tories
13 OPHIOLATER Cha of OP (opus, work) H (hard) I O (round) LATER (in due course) a person who worships snakes … new word for me
14 MENDICANCY MEND (repair) + ins of CAN (vessel) in ICY (cold)
16 HAVE A CLUE Ins of C (first letter of calf) in A VEAL (a calf) to form AVEACL which is inserted into HUE (shade)
21 GEE UP to proceed faster; to encourage, stimulate, buck up; (as interj) a command to a horse to move on or go faster
22 ABED A (first letter of AT) BED (bottom of sea)
23 STAG S (first letter of self) TAG (day in German) a party for men only, esp one held for a man about to be married.

Key to abbreviations used
dd = double definition
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

41 Responses to “Guardian 24929 – Araucaria’s Party Time”

  1. sidey says:

    1a John BIRT + Hydrogen

    17a A good pupil could be the apple of a teacher’s eye.

    4 Nick Park is famous for claymation, not, I think animatronics Very different beasts, but hey, it’s The Master, what’s an incorrect definition here and there?

  2. Macca says:

    What’s with The Master business ? After one response, The Master seems a bit much.

    I enjoy the reviews of all setters on fifteensquared, but every time an Araucaria puzzle comes along, all sins are forgiven.

  3. PaulG says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap
    Yes, an enjoyable puzzle – I agree about 10a. Ophiolater was new to me and polyphagous, also a vaguely known word for me, is nicely defined. I’m not sure about 27a having party in the solution. A double-bluff to round it off?
    Not sure if Macca has tongue in cheek but I always forgive the Rev, just as he probably believes he can get mine forgiven.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. I was also early to the party, having seen the Pinter play – but skipped over John’s gas, hoping you would explain 1a. It was a bit like crosscountry running in the mud, this puzzle – some speedy bits, some boggy ones. Struggled with the SW corner, even after getting the tricky 18a. All good, though.

  5. Eileen says:

    Thank you, Uncle Yap.

    Re 17ac: the ‘apple of the eye’ is the pupil, hence ‘something or someone especially dear’. [Chambers].

    In 7dn, POOP is a verb [which I was surprised to find is Shakespearean – ‘to cheat, befool’] SOED]; ‘to undo, to do for’ [Chambers]. The spoilsport is a ‘party pooper’.

  6. RichardSmyth says:

    I think 21d incorporates a charade of ‘Gee’ (slang term for a horse, as in gee-gee) and ‘up’ (riding), as well as the definition ‘increase your speed’ – bit more satisfying that way.

    Great puzzle, great blog. Thanks all.

  7. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. I also cottoned on to the theme straight away but that didn’t help as much as I thought it would! A bit of a struggle to finish and I had to resort to the check button to do it.

    I liked the use of the theme very much, especially 15ac, 19ac and 10ac.

  8. Pete says:

    1 AC

    Johns gas – John Birt followed by H Helium – Robin Day

  9. John Appleton says:

    I do like Polyphagous and Ophiolater, words that I could only get through the word play. Didn’t manage to finish this, but a typically enjoyable Araucaria.

  10. Ian says:

    Great blog Uncle Yap for what for me was a tough one.

    Whilst the theme was relatively straightforward – I suspect few would have had difficulty with arguably Pinter’s best play – the rest was Araucaria at his most cunning and, on occasion, fiendish. Almost, if you like, the Guardian crossword editor responding to comments on here suggesting that this setter’s puzzles of late have been a bit of a cakewalk.

    The John Birt reference had me thinking to the Private Eye running joke that was ‘Birtspeak’ often culled from the inhouse BBC staff publication ‘Ariel’ and doubtless inter-office memoranda.

    10 ac, 24 ac and 13 dn typically Araucarian.

  11. rrc says:

    Really enjoyed 1d and 11d 13d and 10a 24a 25a. another great puzzle

  12. Tom Hutton says:

    Usual mix of excellent clues and fairly sketchy ones. I can’t see that go=become though that may only be me and I feel that food and drink as a definition of tea party is weak. 4 down is just wrong. Not struck on 16 down either. On the other hand, 2dn is excellent and the whole thing was solvable so I suppose I shouldn’t moan too much.

  13. Andrew says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, but the blog was rather a party-pooper for me, as I saw the title of it (via the RSS feed) before I’d started the puzzle, giving away the theme.

  14. Brian Harris says:

    @Andrew I also glanced at the RSS feed title, but stupidly (and fortunately for me) didn’t make the connection
    @Tom Hutton – had exactly the same question mark over “go” in polyphagous, hence discounted it, assuming the answer to be something similar, but a word of which I was unaware.

    Typical Aracauria mix of nice theme, some great clues, some WTF?! moments and some that just don’t really work.

    Eg 4 down – Nick Park is not known for animatronics. He animates plasticine. Very, very different.

  15. Richard says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.

    I must remember to take a dictionary to the pub with me at lunchtime on an Araucaria day…
    As usual some very good clues. I thought ‘John’s gas’ was pushing the limit a bit, though…
    Is EL (5ac) really an elevated railroad? That’s a new one on me too.

  16. Peter W says:

    I wasn’t sure about ‘go’= ‘become’, but then thought about its use in eg ‘I go green at the thought of pickled eggs’. The El is the railway in Chicago, I think

  17. Bill Taylor says:

    “El” is (or was) very common American usage for an elevated railway and, back when I lived in England, I was aware of it. Most cities have gotten rid of their Els, which can be very noisy, but Chicago still has one. A great way to see the city.
    This was Araucaria (and, yes, I regard him as the Master) on top form. Great fun, not easy but even the words I didn’t know, I was able to figure out. 23d was the clue that gave me the theme. 10a was indeed a lovely clue but I liked 11d, too.

  18. Martin H says:

    Never a dull moment.
    1A, with ‘John’s gas’, is one of those clues, typical of Araucaria, which come out quite easily from the other information given, but leave something unresolved to mull over and get, or not, later.
    I’d say GEE UP was a cryptic definition, and an example to Rufus et al of just how to do one, elegant and effortless.
    Uncle Yip, you missed the emphasis in HET UP: a tup is already a male sheep, so a ‘he tup’ is VERY masculine.

  19. sandra says:

    thanks for a great blog uncle yap.
    to me he is definitely the master and it was good to have the brain stretched today.
    i had a slow start, not spotting the link until i had got stag and bottle. kicking myself now over the birthday party – i just didn’t read it in the right way.
    i do agree that some answers were questionable, but they could all be found from the wordplay, so the niggles were just that. just pleased to have this puzzle after the slew of relatively easy ones of late. but then, i probably have more time than most.

  20. sandra says:

    sorry, meant to say, thanks sidey and pete for explaining john’s gas. i had the answer but was befuddled about john’s gas.

  21. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Please let there be other people who detested this as much as me.
    Polyphagous, lophiolater, mendicancy? What’s the point in trying to work out an answer from a clue if the chances are that you’ve never heard the word that’s the answer?
    Recallable? No such word.
    Archangelic? When was the last time you heard that in conversation? Or saw it in the Guardian?
    As for 1ac, so John stood for Birt (of course, no one else has ever been called John), Robin stood for Day (naturally, he was the only person ever called Robin), gas was H (well, there are no other gases).
    Yes, another cracker from The Master (Of Words So Obscure They Effectively Don’t Exist).

  22. Stella says:

    Surely H is hydrogen, not helium?

    It took me a while to get the theme, as the Pinter play I studied wasn “the Winslow Boy”; and I’d never heard of John Birt, which didn’t really matter, or Dick Park, which did :).

    As for the obscure answers, they were perfectly gettable, and the meaning was obvious – and I don’t think, Grumpy Andrew, that “recallable” is any more objectionable than the Ubiquitous “gettable” used in this blog. Cheer up, man, it’s just for fun!

  23. Gaufrid says:

    Grumpy Andrew
    Quote: “Recallable? No such word.”

    Recallable is in Chambers, Collins and COED so hardly ‘no such word’.

  24. cholecyst says:

    Does the Duchess’s baby remind us of anyone?
    “He only does it to annoy,
    Because he knows it teases.”

  25. J&C says:

    A real treat – foxed by 12a, which we tried to make an anagram of ‘happy soul’ and ‘to’. Not being familiar with Polyphagous this made it difficult, having got the rest.

  26. Martin H says:

    Apology to Uncle Yap – just noticed I mis-spelled your name, above.

  27. Val says:

    Grumpy Andrew @21: me too.

    27ac – I don’t see how “food and drink at party” can constitute a definition for TEA PARTY. Or have I missed something?
    16dn – does no one else object to “a veal” for “a calf”?

    While some parts of this were good I had my usual annoyance with the very loose clueing The Master (tongue very firmly in cheek) is always allowed to get away with.

  28. Derek Lazenby says:

    Grumpy Andrew, until you came along I was the resident chief grumpy, but you’ve been carrying the torch well enough with out me, and anyway I’m still on chemo so not always in the mood for this. So, no, you are not alone. I think you got carried away at the end of your post, but in essence I agree entirely.

    1ac in particular is not the work of a master. It simply does not stand up as a clue. If one is unfamiliar with Pinter, and such people do exist, go into any bar and ask around, then the definition part makes no sense, even if you have spotted the theme. Therefore, the clue must be solvable from the word play alone. It is not. As Andrew rightly points out, if John then why Birt, if gas then why Hydrogen, if Robin then why Day. There is nothing in the word play that leads to those conclusions. Absolutely nothing. The only way the word play makes sense is not as a seperate clue part but as a mere confirmation of what one suspects from the definition. And if you didn’t get the definition then it is totally useless. Ergo, pathetic clue, designed to show off the setter’s erudition rather than help the solver.

    I couldn’t even be bothered to start this one when I saw the general way of it, so a complete waste of time, but I felt someone had to make Andrew feel someone understands what he is getting at, otherwise I wouldn’t have commented on something I hadn’t tried.

  29. Brian Harris says:

    @Derek You’re not alone. I had almost the exact same conversation about why I didn’t like 1ac earlier today, and you’ve described my argument very eloquently. I wouldn’t put it quite so vehemently as you, but I share your dislike of clues in which the component parts only make any sort of sense once you’ve arrived at the answer some other way. With these ‘hindsight’ clues, there’s no lightbulb moment, just a kind of depressed groan..

    One thing in Araucaria’s favour is that he always provokes an interesting debate on this site.

  30. Richard says:

    It is reassuring to see I’m not the only solver who is not uncritical. At least now if I see “John’s solid” in an Araucaria clue I’ll know it must define “DOES”!

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We thought, it wás Party time!

    Even if we agree with all of the “buts” mentioned in the posts above (all, that is including Grumpy Andrew’s! :)).

    Indeed, unfair to clue BIRT with just John (the same for Robin and DAY), but as the answer was so obvious (in fact, our first) we had no problem with it in the end (even though I didn’t know these people at all, but then my PinC did).
    [… should make a poem for her and call it a PinC-ode …]

    It was a crossword full of difficult words that were perfectly guessible from the construction, which was flawless.
    Just like J&C in #25 we thought 12ac had to be an anagram of “happy soul” and “to” which it wasn’t (but how nice to find an almost-anagram of “happy soul”).
    ARCHANGELIC was very well hidden in 20ac, we thought. We were initially trying to find a surname for Michael (just like in 1ac).
    As someone from the continent (familiar with Italian TV) I thought that “Italy’s TV provider” had to “RAI”, after which the insertion of something with remembering would give a “King”. Wrong.
    Good to see that no-one had any problems today with the German word TAG in 23d (we expected some “British” comments).

    Unlike you, Uncle Yap, we weren’t rolling on the floor after finding LABOUR (10ac) – would have been fun here at Waitrose …
    We found CONSERVATIVE (11d) a much better clue – but then we are only talking about clues ….. :)

    We didn’t like GEE UP that much nor are we convinced that APPLE is rightly clued by “pupil” (although we exactly understand how it works).

    Favourite clue? Probably 25ac (TIVERTON): this is so elegant, almost un-Araucaurian good surface reading.

    We found the whole thing extremely satisfying, a real challenge, precisely clued (though not always completely fair) and rather “linguistic”.

    And for all you out there who are looking forward to an Araubetical, this was surely a good starter (1/26), wasn’t it?

    Thanks Uncle Yap for your fantastic blog – you’re one of the best!

    But please, please don’t do it again: SPOIL THE PARTY!
    This morning before work I looked at the Guardian site to see what’s on today (ah, Araucaria – “P has the same meaning throughout”).
    Then just a quick look at 15^2 to see if there was perhaps any reaction from Rufus himself on yesterday’s BUS clue.
    And there it was: Araucaria’s Party Time!
    One of the reasons that the format of 15^2 has changed, was to avoid spoilers.
    And did it spoil the day? Well, because my PinC immediately saw BIRTHDAY, the damage wasn’t that big.

  32. Bill Taylor says:

    No wonder you had trouble, Stella, if you were assuming Pinter wrote “The Winslow Boy.” That was Terence Rattigan.

  33. Mick H says:

    To be fair re 1ac, it wasn’t just any old John – the clue reads ‘broadcasting John’ so while it could have been other people e.g. Humphreys, it couldn’t have been e.g. Smith or Brown (I don’t think).
    As for Nick Park, that is clearly a mistake that should have been picked up along the line. But I’m not keen on 4d anyway as I can’t see an anagram indicator for ‘is I can’ – reveal? Employed? But that would leave ‘Nick Park’ as the definition.
    Very enjoyable for all that, and despite some rather odd words one had to guess. Personally I don’t mind being led by wordplay to guess an unfamiliar word, but then I have been doing Azed for many years.

  34. Dave Ellison says:

    Well, I didn’t get 1a straightaway, I don’t see how it can be obvious. I was convinced the Robin was Hood, which fitted with 3d, though I did suspect the H was hydrogen. In fact I didn’t get the theme until I had about three quarters of them solved; which is why I had PRESERVATIVE for 11d, which fits the clue perfectly, given you don’t know what P is. That ruined 11a which I suspected was POLYPHAGOUS – the PHAGE I knew was about eating.

    I am not griping – as I have said before I enjoy a good theme, even though it was hard to spot today. I got STAG first and thought P must be PUB. Then I got BOTTLE, COACH and some others but still couldn’t see a connection. This was despite practising on Only Connect last night!

    Not happy with 20a in that there is no hidden indicator?

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, Mick,re #33, that was a thing I forgot to mention: the anagram indicator in 4d – reveal? One can always tend to see an anagrind in a word (like here “reveal”) when you know it is an anagram, but I doubt if we should want things like that.
    And if indeed ANIMATRONICS isn’t Nick Park’s technique, we better forget about this clue.
    Finally, on second thoughts, I think you’re right about “broadcasting John” (and after reading at Wiki about him, I think it’s fair).

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, Dave (re #34), for me Pinter is linked with “The Birthday Party” because in the late Sixties I saw that play (in English!) somewhere in Holland as part of an extracurricular event at school. That’s why I said “obvious” – and my British PinC got it rightaway as well.
    On hindsight, I agree with you about the hidden indicator in 20a.
    Again a case of “it is hidden, so one cóuld see ‘going to help’ as an indicator” – but do we want this?
    Sometimes Araucaria has his own rules, and – to be honest – I do (40%) and I don’t (60%) like them.

  37. Sylvia says:

    Loved it! Only struggled with 13 (I was trying to fit in ophidian, which I knew)and 27 (double use of party) while suffering with a heavy cold. Also looking forward to an araubetical.

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    And guess what?

    Tomorrow (or, for some, today) the FT’s Cinephile offers us:
    “O has the same meaning wherever it appears in the clues” !!

  39. Macca says:

    Re my post #2, IMHO The Real Master thankfully is published today.

    Brendan is the best setter in the Guardian stable. Paul is second best.
    Every Brendan is worth doing.

  40. Uncle Yap says:

    Thank you for filling in the few blanks that I left. When I wrote the title to this blog, I reckoned that nobody who has not done the puzzle would place any significance to the word ‘party’ … sorry if I had spoiled anybody’s pleasure.

    What I like about this community is the sheer diversity of people and opinions and tastes. For every one who loves the work of the good Reverend John Graham, there is another who isn’t quite so enamoured. Thank goodness for that; otherwise life would be so predictable and boring.

  41. TC says:

    Completely agree with the grumpies. I think all I can do in future is forego the pleasure of a day’s crossword when he is the setter. When I got ‘archangelic’ early, my heart sank at the amount of licence this setter takes.

    Completely agree with Derek at 28.

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