Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,991 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on April 22nd, 2010


A good puzzle from Araucaria, much of it quite easy (a relief to me) with perhaps 3 more difficult clues. I don’t get the subsidiary of 14 across, so any explanations would be much appreciated

1. CONSTELLATION CONS = “Prisoners” + TELL = “narrate” + A + (INTO)*
10. LITTLE DOG Double definition: the constellation is better known as Canis Minor, and the other reference is to the rhyme “The Cow Jumped Over The Moon”
11. TWILL [sui]T + WILL = “is going to” = “demand”. Thanks to tupu and Gaufrid for suggesting this different parsing of the clue below…
12. UNFIT F = “Female” in UNIT = “group”
14. HAY WAIN Not sure about this: the definition must be “Picture”, referring to The Hay Wain by Constable, but I don’t understand “confusion when made by 25″. Update: there are some suggestions below, I think alluding to the Plough / Big Dipper / Ursa Major also being known as Charles’s Wain or Wain – possibly “to hay” meaning “to confuse” has some bearing on it. I’m still looking for a really clear explanation, but perhaps I misunderstand what’s obvious to others… :)
16. ETHERIC ERIC = “Boy” around THE = “article”
18. DECRIES EC = “the City” in DRIES = “hard-line Tories” (a reference to the Thatcherite terminology “wets and dries”)
20. CAPTAIN CAIN = “Killer” around APT = “suitable”
21. INVENTION IN VENT = “in hole” + I = “one” + ON = “attached”
23. CHINA Double definition: “Mate” as in Cockney rhyming slang, and “great power” as in China, the superpower
24. LARNE L = “left” + ARNE = “composer”
25. GREAT BEAR GREBE = “suitable [?] bird” around A T = “a time” followed by A R = “a river”
26. SOUTHERN CROSS SOU = “minimal money” + RN “the sailors” + CROSS = “angry”
3. SPLIT SLIT = “cut” around P = “page”
4. EIDOLON Difficult, I thought: EID = “festival” (in Arabic – one of many, but paritcularly the end of Ramadan) + O = “round” + LON[don] = “half the capital”
5. LEGIBLE LE GIB LE = “The French for the Rock [of Gibraltar?] and the”
7. ORION OR = “or” + ION = “charged one”; the constellation of Orion has a very clear belt
8. PLOUGHED FIELD PLOUGH = 25 (another name for Ursa Major) + E = “English” + (FIDDLE)*
9. ALPHA CENTAURI Sounds (vaguely!) like “‘alf a century”
15. ALIGNMENT G = “good” + N = “new” in ALIMENT = “food”; the definition is “Dressing”, as in “to dress / align a row of soldiers”
17. READINESS DINE = “eat”, with RE = “in the case of” + ASS = “a fool” around the outside
19. SHINGLE Double definition
20. CANTEEN Double definition (something of an old chestnut)
22. VIRGO VIR = “man” in Latin, so “VIR GO” might be “[Constellation] that’s bidden man to depart?” – I think the Latin is a bit unfair here, but the image of Virgo bidding a man to depart is nice
23. CATER CAT = “authorised spectator” + ER = “sovereign” – I puzzled for a while about the former part, but finally remembered “a cat may look at a king” from “Through the Looking Glass” “Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland”

50 Responses to “Guardian 24,991 / Araucaria”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, mhl, I enjoyed this as far as I got – mainly the top half. At first, I thought ‘this is easy’ and, like you, I opted for HAY WAIN without fully knowing why.

    Would some very clever person please explain?

    And to think that only yesterday I pleaded for more Englishness in our puzzles and today Araucaria reacts by taking us out of this world!

  2. Octofem says:

    Hi, mhl and Bryan. I think 14a is a reference to the various names by which The Great Bear is known. In the North of England we always called it ‘Charlie’s Wagon’, and ‘Wain’ is also used. 8d has another name for it : ‘The Plough’

  3. Ian says:

    Good morning mhl and everybody.

    Pleasant enough from Araucaria today. The theme well handled, relatively simple when the 1ac is clued to make the solve very straightforward.

    Among the highlights for me was the wordplay for solving ‘Decries’, the construction for ‘Southern Cross’ & ‘Great Bear’ and the wonderful dd for ‘China’


  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks mhl. I agree this was easy. Re 14 and 25a I assumed the Constable link and the wain=plough but note from the Net that there is apparently a history of confusion on the Plough constellation re Charles (of Wain fame) and nearby Arcturus, an Arthur/Charlemagne muddle of a sort. Not fully satisfactory, I agree. The 9d was outrageous even for the philohomophonic Araucaria.

  5. molonglo says:

    I should add that different cultures have seen a Plough and a Great Bear – the hay wain/ploughed field could only be linked to a Great Bear in a confused way.

  6. rrc says:

    This was very straightforward but satisfying. Its nice when a theme is getable quickly and maintains itself throughout!

  7. Martin H says:

    ‘Straightforward and satisfying’, says rrc, and that about sums it up. DECRIES and CATER terrific, but what a shame about CANTEEN.

    mhl, I guess the grebe in 25 is ‘suitable’ because you would see it on the river which appears later in the clue.

  8. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Octofem @2


  9. Brian says:

    Like most people I guessed 14A but I wasn’t sure why. In Chambers “make hay (of)” is defined as “to throw things into confusion”, so I think hay is being taken to mean confusion . I’ve never come across this definition before.

  10. Mick H says:

    I didn’t find it that easy, the last half dozen clues took a while. But those were among the most satisfying, including the laugh-out-loud ‘alf a century (I don ‘t think you can complain when the homophone material is given so directly) and the wonderful CATER.

  11. liz says:

    Thanks, mhl. This was enjoyable and straightforward. The first clue I got was 1ac, which helped! And although EIDOLON and ETHERIC were new to me, I didn’t find them too hard to solve — I know of Eid.

    I went for HAY-WAIN at 14ac without the slightest idea why, so thanks for the explanations. My favourite was also CATER.

  12. Another Andrew says:

    I should have guessed that, because I actually finished it for once, you would all be saying how easy it was! But I had to guess quite a few because I didn’t know the keywords (Eid, Vir, Cat, Hay wain, EC).

    My favorite was 26ac because I got it in reverse: the ‘cross’ bit first, then the ‘rn’, then the ‘the’, and finally the ‘sou’.

    Also, is it fair to use ‘by’ in 1dn? I thought The Plough was inside Ursa Major, not by it.

  13. Another Andrew says:

    Sorry, that should have been 8dn, not 1dn.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    I suspect 9d might have been Araucaria thumbing his nose at some of us!

  15. Mister Sting says:

    The Plough and the Southern Cross are asterisms, rather than constellations.

    …Well, someone had to point it out.

  16. anax says:

    C’mon Eileen…

    Eileen, if you see this message could you please email me – anaxcrosswords at yahoo dot co dot uk.

  17. Richard says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl

    I really enjoyed this on my train journey this morning – got all but three in the 50 mins available.

    Didn’t get EIDOLON (never heard of it), CAT=spectator was naughtily obscure, and I kicked myself for not getting CHINA as I love cockney rhyming slang.

  18. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks to Araucaria and mhl, esp. for explaining HAY WAIN, which was the only thing we didn’t understand.

  19. Mr. Jim says:

    Now I look at it, was there a little mini-theme of “hey diddle diddle”?

    CAT as an “authorised observer”
    LITTLE DOG “laughing”
    FIDDLE as anagram fodder
    and I guess you might have a SPOON in your CANTEEN. (Probably not running away with your dish, though)

  20. Dave Ellison says:

    I enjoyed this, being an ex-astronomer, so Wain was no problem for me. Thanks for the explanation of 4d, mhl.

    I do take exception to 9d’s pronunciation, however, Mick H at #10. I have always pronounced it sen-TOR-eye; I can’t remember the province for this, but I have good authority at Sky and Telescope, where you can hear it pronounced.

    I believe the constellation was a Roman name (the Greeks called it Thyrsus ), so how would it have been pronounced there, Eileen?

    (Incidentally, why does the spellin checker on these posts somtime work and dometimes not?)

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl. I read 11a. ’twill’ differently. I assumed the going to was the placement of ‘t’ on ‘will’ and that ‘will’ was ‘demand’ in phrases such as ‘I will have you know’ or even ‘I will my pet unicorn to my nephew’. Otherwise ‘demand’ = produce or generate this fabric seems a little odd. Does this make sense?

  22. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Dave
    “(Incidentally, why does the spellin checker on these posts somtime work and dometimes not?)”

    Assuming you are referring to comments added to posts then this problem is down to your browser. There is no comment spell-check facility in the site software. I believe Firefox has a spell-checker built in and I use an add-on for IE8 which has picked up the three errors in your query. I don’t know about what is provided with other browsers.

  23. tupu says:

    Re ‘will my pet…’ I am getting at the idea that ‘I will’ (in a will and also a will itself) is an authoritative demand on executors and others. Perhaps I am in a hole here and should stop digging!

  24. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave #20

    The Latin pronunciation would be Ken tow [as in how] ree – but Sen-TOR-eye follows the usual pattern of Anglicising of Latin words.

    I agree with Mick H and Bill Taylor: I don’t think you can take this one too seriously! :-)

  25. Gaufrid says:

    Hi tupu
    No, you are not digging a hole for yourself. Chambers thesaurus gives ‘demand’ as a synonym for ‘command’ and one of the definitions in Chambers for ‘a will’ is ‘a command’ and for ‘to will’ it gives ‘to issue a command’.

    If your parsing is not correct then ‘demand’ in the clue is superfluous.

  26. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid, I have just tried Firefox, and that picks up the errors.

  27. tupu says:

    Thanks Gaufrid (25).

  28. sidey says:

    Dave Ellison, in Firefox right click the box and select Languages, you may have to add English/United Kingdom.

  29. ixion says:

    I think 25A still requires explanation – grebe/suitable bird – Martin H has made a valiant effort but grebes are open water birds not river birds

  30. John says:

    Thanks for a tricky blog mhl.
    Just a point or two:

    Re 8. PLOUGHED FIELD PLOUGH = 25 (another name for Canis Major) + E = “English” + (FIDDLE)*

    Isn’t there some confusion here between Canis and Ursa?

    The Great Bear/Plough thing is typically tenuous but just about discernible.
    For 8 dn I had it that “Land (has been made ready for) use by (Great Bear = Plough)”, followed by the E fiddle weak-enough-to-be-non-existent anagrind.
    I didn’t think much of “being prepared” equating to READINESS either; different parts of speech IMO.

  31. Daniel Miller says:

    What’s this – an Araucaria that can be done in 30 mins – by me and my (non-crosswordy) family? What’s the world coming to!?

    Actually it was fun – apart from 4 down which I just don’t recognise – so thanks for the help!

  32. mhl says:

    John: oops! Thanks, I hope I’ve fixed the Canis / Ursa mistakes now. (That exact mistake has cost us points in a pub quiz in the past…) With regard to READINESS, I think you could say both “in a state of readiness” and “in a state of being prepared”.

    Thanks to everyone for their comments – I’ve tried to apply corrections to the post above.

    Eileen: although (as is ever clear!) I’m no Latinist, I thought there were a number of traditions of modern pronunciation of Latin, in particular an Oxford / Cambridge division? Or is that one

  33. tupu says:

    Re being. This seems OK to me as used since
    -ing words are both verbal adjectives e.g. ‘he and his wife are parting’ and verbal nouns e.g. ‘parting is such sweet sorrow’.

  34. ixion says:

    25A again – grebe/suitable bird – could it be that grebe is contained in agreeable? – tenuous i know…

  35. tupu says:

    25a I thought I would have a further hunt via google on this one. First it seems that some grebes do live on rivers. Second there are a lot of references to grebes on the Bear River in Utah. Also there is a Great Bear river in Canada but it is not clear that there are grebes there! If all this does not seem obscure enough, there is also a Thomas Hardy short story ‘Barbara of the House of Grebe’ who is the object of Lord Uplandtower’s earnest suit. Nuff’s nuff!?

  36. tupu says:

    p.s. After all that I should perhaps echo others and say that this was generally a very enjoyable puzzle.

  37. scarecrow says:

    A very enjoyable puzzle, by the way Ixion, I must tell the grebes on our local stretch of the Thames that they must leave at once and head for open water. :)

  38. ixion says:

    Scarecrow – it would be better to ask them politely!

    Well great bear is anag of grebe at a r – so I guess my ornitholigical outrage is misplaced!

  39. tupu says:

    Perhaps it is as simple as that after all – grebe is the only bird suitable for making the anagram?

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Enough about birds and stars [and birds that want to be stars] for me.
    Everything’s already been said about this [IMHO, very average] Araucaria.
    Except something about 5d (LEGIBLE).

    In the clue there’s three times ‘the’ and in the solution only twice ‘le’.
    ‘The French’ = ‘le’ , I guess.
    Gibraltar seems to be called ‘the Rock’ or ‘Gib’.
    But why should the third ‘the’ then be ‘le’ [because ‘French’ is linked to the first ‘The’]?
    And if Araucaria means ‘French for the Rock and the’ [= LE GIB + LE), what is the first ‘The’ doing there?
    I think this is not right, but maybe I’m missing something.

  41. ixion says:

    Fellow pedant – I think the initial “The” is superfluous – French applies to what follows ie “the rock and the”.

  42. Martin H says:

    Sil, and other fellow pedants – It’s common to ask, “What is the French for…….?”; rather than “What is French for?”, so here we have ‘the French’ for ‘the’, ‘Gib’, and ‘the’, as you suggest, and the first ‘the’ is OK. But is the French for Gibraltar ‘Gib’? And if not, does the clue still work?

  43. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Martin H, I don’t think I’m a pedant, rather someone who does not always know what is common in the Streets of London.
    But I am completely happy with your explanation.
    And indeed, the only thing that’s uncertain is whether the French say ‘le Gib’ or not. The French Wikipedia doesn’t.

  44. ixion says:

    Apologies Sil – I didn’t mean pedant to sound insulting – I applaud your attention to detail in pursuit of the truth!

  45. snigger says:

    Please explain “hay wain” ??

  46. Bryan says:

    Sil @43

    It’s masculine:

    Le rocher de Gibraltar

    De rots van Gibraltar

    I’m sure that Ary would have checked this very carefully.

  47. Martin H says:

    Sil – to echo ixion @44, in my book pedant is anything but an insult.

  48. Daniel Miller says:

    Alpha Centauri – relatively straightforward to get from the clue but perhaps an anagram might have been vaguely possible! :)

  49. EdUS says:

    I parsed 25A as G = “good/suitable” + REA (rhea misspelling) + T + BEAR (river flowing into Great Salt Lake)

  50. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yeah, Bryan (#43), if you’re still there, I know that it is Le Rocher de Gibraltar, so perhaps: le Gib.
    But do the French say ‘le Gib’, just like the English?
    If so, then it’s fine, if not, then Araucaria is zigzagging through Le French & The English: LE (Fr) GIB (Eng) LE (Fr).
    That was in the end my point and, I think, Martin H’s.

    Indeed, Araucaria normally knows what he does, knows a lot more than me anyway – so I am not at all bothered.
    [nor am I insulted by the word ‘pedant’ :)]

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