Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,956 – Araucaria

Posted by manehi on March 12th, 2010


A struggle for me today, even for an Araucaria. Managed to fill in the grid thanks to checkers but still can’t figure out some of the clues. Favourite clues were 23ac, 7dn.

Edits thanks to Mike

9 PIANOLA the self-playing piano using perforated paper rolls. PIA, girl’s name meaning pious i.e. good + NOLA[n]=”not the last of singing sisters”
13,10 HORS D’OEUVRE HORS[e]=”Starter… that doesn’t get to the finish” + (overdue)*
11 OUT OF WORK loose translation of 13 10. Not sure if there’s something more.
12 DARTS reverse of Strad[ivarius] i.e. violin that “can be played”
14 GRANNY KNOT often mistakenly tied when attempting a reef knot.
16 MONTE CARLO (locator men)*. The Man Who Broke the Bank at Monte Carlo is a song and a film.
19 DERV as in diesel fuel. Sounds like “d’oeuvre”
20 NEVER need help with the wordplay here – something to do with [Gui]NEVER[e]?
Half of NEVER NEVER=hire purchase=”HP”, found in [Gui]NEVER[e]
21 BIG BERTHA the howitzer. BERTH=”position” in BIGA[my]
23 TERRIER TIER=”row” around ERR=”stray”
24 OLD BLUE “topping yellow” => [g]OLD, + BLUE=”colour”
25 PERMANENT WAY cryptic reference to railway tracks, hence “training”
1 CHAPTER AND VERSE CHAPTER=”Canons” as in priests + ADVERSE around N[ew]
2 ALOOF A + rev(FOOL)
4 BODIKIN can’t see the wordplay – help?
I=1=”first” inside BODKIN
5 WEEKDAYS There are five of them. WEE + (ad Sky)*
6,8 ENVIRONMENTALLY SENSITIVE AREA (Revive many internationals else)*
7 UP TO THE MINUTE nice cd
15 HEBRAISM HEM=border around BRA=support + IS
17 AUBERON Auberon Waugh was a writer. Oberon=”king” with O swapped for AU=gold
18 LEGHORN the Italian port. LEG=walker + (cape) HORN
22 ENDOW END=last + OW[ed]

48 Responses to “Guardian 24,956 – Araucaria”

  1. Mike says:


    HP = Hire Purchase, once known as never never which provides the never as does the centre part of Arthur’s queen.

    A bodikin is a tiny thing. The word play is the numeral one in bodkin!


  2. Ian says:

    Thanks for the blog manehi . This was very enjoyable indeed.

    Relatively straighforward from Araucaria today I thought.

    A long time since Leghorn became Livorno to be sure! Several favourites here. Never as half of HP! Simply excellent!! A splendid reference to the late Auberon Waugh and best of all the ins for 15dn to get Hebraism.


  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Manehi, this was a truly wonderful puzzle.

    20a is half of ‘Never Never’ = Hire Purchase.

    I don’t understand 4d but a BODIKIN is a Bawdy House: something I would never have expected in a Grauniad Puzzle. Isn’t Araucaria daring?

  4. manehi says:

    Thanks Mike, I’ve made the corrections – I’d for some reason always confused bodikin for bodkin and assumed that “big needle” was the def…

  5. Bill Taylor says:

    I found this more straightforward than the average Araucaria (if there is such a thing!), too. I got through it in 35 minutes, way faster than usual.

    That’s how I read 20a, Manehi. Quite clever, I thought.

    4d was the last one I got. I loved 17d and 6,8d was a splendid anagram.

    If the crosswording week begins with the Saturday prize cryptic, then Araucaria has provided a very entertaining start and finish. I’m only sorry he won’t be doing tomorrow’s puzzle.

  6. jmac says:

    Great fun, lots of really inventive clues, yet very straightforward at the same time. A sparkling puzzle which really shows up some of the midweek stodge that the Guardian has served up this week.

  7. Tom Hutton says:

    I thought that 9ac was Pi(=good) + Nola(n) on a with the a doing double duty.

  8. Mike M says:

    Boy I struggled with this… you guys are either much cleverer than me, or Im having a really bad day….!

  9. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog manehi.

    Please could somebody explain 1ac?

  10. Mike says:

    Thanks manehi.

    MikeM – dont’ give up – I cruised this one but struggled with Rufus on Monday (hangs head in shame). And it took me a while to confirm from the OED that a bodikin is a dimunive body, a corpuscle or an atom.


  11. Bryan says:

    Richard @9

    A ‘Change Bowler’ is a cricketing term and also an allusion to a Bowler Hat.

  12. Rob says:

    Bodikin is a diminutive of body as in the phrase “Odds Bodikins” as a very old-fashioned (medieval?)minor curse. I think it’s from “God’s Little Body”. Where would I be without Rentaghost?

    Took me a while to get into this one but, as is often the case with Araucaria, once I had a few the rest came quite quickly, with the exceptions of 11, which I’m pretty sure I still don’t understand, 15 and 18.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks, manehi. I solved this in an odd way, getting the left hand side of the puzzle out almost completely without making many inroads on the right hand side. I loved the long anagram when I eventually got enough checking letters to work on it! BODIKIN gave me the most trouble in the end.

    Rob — I took 11ac to be a literal translation of the French ‘hors’ = ‘out’ and ‘d’oeuvre’ = ‘of work’. Maybe there’s something else going on, but I can’t think what it would be!

  14. Ian says:

    Rob #12

    Hors d’œuvre literally translated is ‘Out of the work’

    15 Hem (as in border) containing support (Bra) + Is

    18 Leghorn is old colonial name for Livorno.
    As in Walker (leg) Cape (horn)

  15. Rob says:

    Thanks Ian and Liz. Wood, trees, have you met?

  16. Rob says:

    sorry, hit submit too early. I managed to parse 15 and 18 fine once I saw the answers, it was more a case of knowledge gaps. Thanks.

  17. Martin H says:

    A fairly straightforward Araucaria, but a pleasure to do as usual. 11 and 20 particularly satisfying.

    I presume in 1ac, Richard and Bryan, that if it had been ‘his first ball’ he would have been the opening rather than the change bowler, which is fair enough but I didn’t find this definition entirely convincing.

    I read 7d as a sort of double definition, rather than a cd, manehi.

    Afterthought: can’t we now burn the bra (as in 15)….together with the church and the journalist, the French and the Spanish?

  18. Bill Taylor says:

    I like your bonfire, Martin. Can we throw on “onus” as a solution, too?

  19. Martin H says:

    Oh the smell of roast chestnuts!

  20. Mick Hodgkin says:

    I guessed BODGKIN (first to go=G) and was briefly quite excited at the prospect that there was in fact a rhyme for my surname that I’d so far failed to find.
    Good fun puzzle, though 20ac seemed to lack definition slightly – felt rather more like two subsidiary indications.

  21. Derek Lazenby says:

    Well, the class dummy increases his Araucaria finishes to 6! I’ll have to stop counting soon. Hard work for me of course, that’s why I’m the class dummy. And it’s also a rare full 5 days of finishes too, yee hah, maybe I’m improving, or just getting more stubborn about not giving up?

    Wasn’t convinced by the second part of 16 which can’t define the answer as it refers to the breaker of the bank not it’s location. No doubt somebody will find a way of twisting normal English to say otherwise, I await with interest.

  22. Andrew says:

    Mick, I agree with you about the lack of a definition in 20ac. My enjoyment of this puzzle was slightly spoiled by there being rather too many liberties taken, e.g. 11ac needs at least a question mark, inaccurate def. at 16ac (I agree with you, Derek!), 24ac: is OLD BLUE really a standard phrase? In 18dn I (as usual) don’t like “in Italy” as the definition. Of course we expact some of these from Araucaria, but there seemed to be more than usual here.

    On the other hand, I liked 3dn (after spending ages trying to use BON, of course), and 25ac raised a smile (and a bit of a groan).

  23. JimboNWUK says:

    Agreed with Mick @20 re 20 inasmuch as I looked for a typical Araucaria codicil about “clues x,x ,x etc are not fully clued but have a common theme” but there wasn’t one. Definitely a dud clue, as is the answer OLD BLUE — what’s that when it’s at home??

  24. crikey says:

    Manehi and Tom Hutton,

    I parsed 9ac slightly differently. PI=good + NOLA(n)=girl, not the last of singing sisters on A, the definition being “roll of notes” rather than “A roll with notes”, hence no double duty. However, I think either of yours are fine too.

  25. crikey says:

    Just to add… thought this was great on the whole (particularly the brilliant 7 down), somewhat marred by the Oxbridge elitism of 24 across. Unfortunately, there is (a little) too much of that in Araucaria’s puzzles generally in my opinion.

  26. Richard says:

    Martin H,

    I agree with you about 1ac. Does a ‘change bowler’ not bowl his own first ball?

    I too like the idea of a bonfire of old chestnuts…
    …can we add ‘these days’ = AD, please?

    20ac was frustrating. I spent far too long trying to associate Arthur’s Queen with brown, sauce, horse, or power! I always make the mistake of forgetting that setters so aften use expressions which are no longer commonly in current usage!

  27. Brian Harris says:

    We guessed “bodgkin” too, Mick. A quick Google led to an embarrassing moment when I discovered that it was the name of a disease.

    “Err, I think that’s just a typo of ‘Hodgkin'” said my colleague. At which point we figured it was probably Bodikin.

    Apart from some references that only a nonagenarian would spot immediately (“Leghorn” ?!) this wasn’t too bad. Some pretty loose (and non-existent) definitions, here and there but we finished (which is not always the case with Araucaria) so it can’t have been that bad.

  28. Martin H says:

    Mick @ 20, and others following – yes, you have a point about 20. I didn’t notice the lack until you pointed it out. But it didn’t – and still doesn’t, oddly – feel wrong. So can we say: definition – never given?

  29. mark says:

    Finished an Araucaria for only the second or third time.
    Unsatisfying as ever though. Too many answers that were “well I suppose it must be” and then a trawl through dictionaries and not enough “ahhhhh” lightbulb moments.
    Plenty of quibbles I can’t be bothered to raise but one polite
    plea for help. Fully willing to believe I’ve missed something obvious but, in 14A, how does bird = KNOT?

  30. Richard says:

    Martin H,
    crikey’s comment about Oxbridge elitism reminds me of an earlier gripe of mine. Please could you add ‘at University’ = UP to your bonfire too, please?

  31. Brian Harris says:

    @ mark

    A knot is some kind of bird, I think. I always find at least a third of Araucaria clues fall into the “I suppose it has to be x” category, without really knowing why – even after reading the explanations.

  32. Jerb says:

    @Mick, Martin H et al
    I can’t find the definition in 11a either, though I worked out what it had to be. Fun, but is it a lazy clue?

  33. Mick Hodgkin says:

    Let’s not take this incineration too far, folks… but while we’re at it, U=acceptable goes in my Room 101 pile.

  34. Bullfrog says:


    Mr Google, he say: “A sandpiper that breeds in the Arctic and winters in the southern hemisphere”.

  35. Martin H says:

    No Jerb @32, not a lazy clue – anything more would have spoiled it. Araucaria knows just when to use Occam’s razor. (As well as when not to use it!)

  36. Grumpy Andrew says:

    Painful. Leghorn, Old Blue, Hebraism, hated them all, but worst clue for me was 6,8d. Can we ban huge anagrams? This one had 28 letters. Possibly gettable with sufficient crossing letters, but if you haven’t got those then there’s no point continuing, the setter has you locked into an impossible puzzle.

  37. The FranTom Menace says:

    We managed to finish this one bar a couple of “Well the answer must be that, and x must mean y” clues.
    Grumpy Andrew, I sometimes get the long anagrams straight off with no crossing letters, today I had one or two when I got it. It’s not always the case, but sometimes these long anagrams are my lifeline!

    7d was a favourite, 11a I thought was an Araucaria ‘groaner’. ‘Hors d’oeuvre’ never means ‘out of work’, and it seems a bit cruel that you not only have to guess you’ve to translate it literally, but you also have to be able to.

  38. morpheus says:


    Rather than ditch the Oxbridge surely there’s plenty of scope to even things up? Eg how about “communist stalwart found at second rate university” (3,5)? 😉

  39. stiofain says:

    I find the bible and religious references much more annoying than the Oxbridge ones and I think all cricket references should go on this virtual bonfire.

  40. TC says:

    My least favourite setter. However, one comes here to learn and to approach the crossword with the determination of finishing it.

    Many cavils. ‘Hors’ is never ‘out’ but ‘outside’. Also 1ac was very loose, as commented already. How one is to guess that, in 9ac, ‘pia’ = ‘pious’ = ‘good’. I have been following these blogs daily for over a month and I would say that there is more latitude shown towards this setter to any other. He seems to be treated with a forgiveness not allowed (‘endowed’?)to any other setter.

    Of course, all tastes are catered for over a week, say. But a lot of excuses are made which I don’t see for other setters.

    Grumpy, yes. Perhap if I was more familiar with crossword conventions, more successful obviously, then I wouldn’t have such a downer on this setter. Harumph ….

  41. Martin H says:

    TC – Ticket machines on the Paris metro: hors service, out of order; a ball in tennis: hors jeu, out of play; and several other examples.

    Nice to see so much tired old stuff on the bonfire. (hands off the cricket refs though, stiofain)

  42. Mr Beaver says:

    Derek (@21) – I don’t think 16a can be parsed properly – it’s just one of those elliptical clues that Araucaria specialises in, which you know are right but can’t really explain. I liked it, but I can see why a purist wouldn’t.

    I also liked 14a, having mis-tied many a reef knot in my time!

  43. don says:

    TC #40

    I agree wholeheartedly. Without wishing to criticise Araucaria, I have said a few times before ” … there is more latitude shown towards this setter to any other. He seems to be treated with a forgiveness not allowed (’endowed’?)to any other setter”.

  44. Paul B says:

    It’s always good to give examples when you think a setter is wrong, so bravo to those who did. But it’s probably a bit harder, re the Grauniad, to condemn one setter for being shown ‘too much latitude’ in a week (or decade) where so many puzzles are deemed ‘stodgy’ (see above). Or in plain English cr*p.

    Fact is, whether you or Araucaria like it or not, this guy is seen as a Great British Institution, and if you look over his career it really is incredibly easy to see why. The invention and perpetration of a whole new style; of Araubeticals and so on: so let it rock: I’d have this allegedly unruly fare over some boring Ximenean rigidry any day.

    (Sorry about rigidry – I’ve been to the pub.)

  45. Bob says:

    So it’s on the bonfire with all references to Oxbridge, universities in general, the bible and religious references, is it? All future Guardian crosswords to be submitted to the Political Correctness Police before printing? Come on folks – it’s a crossword, not a manifesto.

  46. AlisonH says:

    crikey@25, morpheus@38

    How about

    “Where I learnt – shockingly – I’m a slithery velvety anus! (6,6,10)”?

    (Sorry about the long anagram, Grumpy Andrew)

  47. Richard says:

    Bob, it is not about political correctness, it is more about getting rid of some tired old references and using accesible references.

    For example I’d love to see an end to “ancient city” = UR, and instead see “you are texted” = UR.

  48. Paul B says:

    But that sort of thing is already being used (if you know where to look).

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