Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 24,987 (Sat 17 Apr)/Araucaria – Plane sailing

Posted by rightback on April 24th, 2010


Solving time: 13 mins

The theme here was British World War II aircraft, not really my forte although I had heard of most of these (apart from the Vickers Wellington at 27ac); of the others, the Avro Anson at 8ac across was the only one to cause difficulty. The Typhoon at 17ac is not the Eurofighter of today which is so named but the Hawker variant of the 1940s.

Difficulty-wise I found this easier than average for Araucaria, especially given the grid in which most answers have unchecked first letters which usually adds considerably to the challenge. The clues were fairly concise which probably helped.

Music of the day: It really has to be the Dambusters’ March, but I think I did use that once before ages ago so as an alternative here’s Only The Strongest Will Survive by Hurricane #1 (25ac).

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

7 LANCASTER; LANE with CAST (= ‘throw’) inside, + R[ight]
8 ANSON; S (= ‘Pole’) in ANON – a very interesting clue (‘Pole coming in presently’); I wonder if Araucaria is aware that this year’s round of expeditions to the North Pole are coming to their conclusions around now? (It’s too difficult to extract from the ice by air once it gets much warmer.) See this fascinating blog for one such example, for which the deadline for finishing is Monday.
10 IRAQI; rev. of IQ (= ‘brains’) after (AIR)*
12 FREELY; FRY around EEL (= ‘fish’) – ‘fish’ is really doing double duty here, also influencing ‘How to cook’ (it should really say ‘One way to cook’ or something like that).
13 BLENHEIM (2 defs) – referring to the fruit and the Battle of Blenheim.
14 ASHMOLE; A MO (= ‘A minute’, as in ‘just a minute’) around SH (= ‘silence’), + LE (= ‘the French’) – Elias Ashmole, after whom the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford is named. After reading his biography I’m still little the wiser as to what he actually did.
20 DISCOVER; DISC (= ‘record’) + OVER (= ‘complete’)
22 CHATTY (2 defs) – apparently an earthenware water pot, from the Hindi chai.
24 AFOOT; A FOOT – I thought ‘in the Yard?’ was a bit unfair as wordplay without any indication that there are actually 12 of them.
25 HURRICANE; HURR[y] + I + CANE (= ‘stick’) – the ‘get’ here doesn’t make grammatical sense; ‘I’ as a letter should take a third person verb, but ‘…I gets stick’ wouldn’t have fit the surface. ‘…I will get stick’ would have worked, though.
26 GREEK (2 defs) – the hardest clue for me. I nearly plumped for ‘fried’, which could just about mean unintelligible, via some connection with ‘Siegfried’, but I think ‘fried’ in that sense actually means ‘peace’ rather than ‘war’. Once I’d seen the answer I thought the second part of the clue must refer to the Trojan war, but Google tells me there’s a proverb: When Greek meets Greek, then comes the tug-of-war.
27 TOWELLING; TO WELLING – because if you add TON ‘to welling’ you get Wellington.
3,21 ASHLEY-COOPER; COOP E.R. after (ASH + LEY) – take your pick. I’d never heard of any of them. A ‘ley’ is a field in some senses, probably mostly seen in place names; I think the enumeration here should have been (6-6).
4,9 DEATH BY CHOCOLATE; (DE + TOBACCO HEALTHY)* – the anagram indicator here is somewhat out of sequence, appearing before ‘from French’, which gives DE. I suppose you could argue that those letters are just part of the anagram, but that’s a bit tenuous (not to mention indirect).
6 MOSQUITO; MOS + QUIT + O[xygen] – MO for Medical Officer, a military term (appropriately, for the theme).
11 BEVY (2 defs) – the collective noun for larks (and quails and various other animals).
15 SPITFIRE; SPIRE around (IT + F)
16 LEVY (which rhymes with BEVY) – which can mean ‘troops levied’, i.e. raised. Luckily the initial letter was checked or I’d probably have got this wrong.
18 HEAD COLD – I think the intention here is two readings: the noun phrase ‘head cold’, and the literal reading ‘head [is] cold’. They’re virtually the same thing, though, so this seems very weak and barely cryptic – am I missing some wordplay?
22 CARTER (1 def, 1 whimsical def) – former President Jimmy Carter.

29 Responses to “Guardian 24,987 (Sat 17 Apr)/Araucaria – Plane sailing”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Rightback.

    This was very enjoyable but, alas, too tough for me with the SE corner being my undoing. I didn’t even get TYPHOON or TOWELLING despite their thematic relevance.

    Also, HEAD COLD left me with a cold in my head. And, although CHATTY did occur to me, I couldn’t work it out.

    Please wish me better luck today when I shall be tackling Paul on the train and again without any aids.

  2. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thank you Rightback. I enjoyed this one and the few words I didn’t know were easily derived from the clues and verified with Google. I twigged to the theme very quickly when 8ac had to be ANSON and Google revealed it was a British WWII fighter plane (as well as first name of the ex Chief Secretary of Hong Kong which is closer to home but an unlikely theme, unfortunately.) So I looked for and found LANCASTER and was away.

    At 26ac the expression “it’s all Greek to me” is very familiar to me, but I agree that anyone who hasn’t heard it would be entitled to grumble.

    A minor quibble – I haven’t used imperial measures for 30 years but I seem to recall that “3 feet make a yard”, 24ac.

  3. Biggles A says:

    As a former aviator I am ashamed to admit that when I solved 6 -“mosquito” – that set me off looking for other clues with an entomological connection. Once the penny dropped I managed to fit the rest in readily enough. I think 25 is OK if the I is the first person singular rather than a letter.

    My last was 26 too; I got there by Googling Greek and tug of war, having an idea that it was an early Olympic event.

  4. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Rightback. I found this quite easy, once I’d twigged the theme. I wonder what gave Araucaria the idea. I don’t think 17 April was a significant WW2 date. The Battle of Britain started later.

  5. jmac says:

    Re 3,21: Araucaria’s enumeration is correct – Ashley Cooper is not a hyphenated name, although if you did a google search you might find it given as such on some sites. I imagine Araucaria had the third earl in mind as he was the author of “Characteristicks”, a major philospophical work of the eighteenth century.

    My favourite clues were WELLINGTON and ASHMOLE.

  6. jmac says:


  7. jack says:

    Hi thanks for the above!

    I solved 3,21d from the wordplay – didn’t understand the ‘Shaftesbury’ reference until I Googled it – various Earls of Shaftesbury.

    But I did recognise the name Ashley Cooper as that of a very fine Australian tennis player of the late 1950s – he won 4 grand slams including 3 in one year – in 1958 he won the Australian, Wimbledon & U.S. titles.

    As usual I really enjoyed a crossword by my favourite (by far) setter – thanks all round.

  8. sidey says:

    I suspect that this will have caused problems to the many solvers who never made the Airfix models represented here. And the Anson was never a fighter.

  9. jack says:

    Hi sidey #8

    I’m puzzled by your comment – “And the Anson was never a fighter.”

    I don’t think anyone mentioned it was or should have been; the preamble to the crossword itself simply said “Seven solutions are of a kind” & rightback’s preamble said – “The theme here was British World War II aircraft” – The Lancaster, Blenheim (and Wellington) weren’t fighters either.

  10. jack says:

    Sidey re #8 & #9

    Many apologies!!!

    Just re-read the posts; Colin #2 said “… Anson …. was a British WWII fighter plane”


  11. sidey says:

    No problem jack. Funnily enough I’ve just been reading my dad’s logbooks, his experiences of the Anson are ‘interesting’!

  12. Jim says:

    Howdy, thanks for the blog, one of Araucaria’s slightly easier ones I thought, thoroughly enjoyable though for a novice like myself :) All fine though Ashmole nearly beat me, never heard of him or the museum, but a last hopeful google explained it to me. I also put in TOWELLING with no clue as to what it had to do with the theme, so thanks for explaining that one!

    Cheers, Jim.

  13. Tokyo Colin says:

    Re #8,9,10. Sorry for the confusion, my mistake. It was a week ago when I googled it and the memory plays tricks these days.

    Re jmac #5 – interesting to note that the better known (to me, anyway :-)) Wallaby, Adam Ashley-Cooper, is descended from the 6th Earl of Shaftesbury and his name is most certainly hyphenated. So it is a hyphenated name in some branches of the family.

  14. Bill Taylor says:

    This was a lovely crossword though, like Biggles A @3, I got MOSQUITO first and immediately started looking for insects! By the way, “Biggles” seems too good to be true — did you adopt it for this particular puzzle or is it your regular handle? Apologies if you always go by this name.

    I agree that Araucaria dropped the ball with 18d. My first thought was “cold head” but I dismissed that as too obvious. HEAD COLD wasn’t much better. I enjoyed 4,9d and 26a. Like Jim @12, I’d never heard of ASHMOLE. I had, fortunately, heard (vaguely) of the Ashmolean Museum so it became fairly obvious.

  15. rrc says:

    Definitely a mixed bag – iraqi and mosquito went in very quickly and initial excitement at having cracked the theme so early dissipated when insects failed to answer any of the clues. I felt irritaed that I had been caught out again with araucaria ‘s clueing. When the penny actually dropped I thought the clues for the planes were very good although i did have difficulty identifying all of them. I too was unfamiliar with the museum although a friend advised it was very famous.
    I did particularly like 19d Nevertheless this I found a challenge.

  16. Bryan says:

    The Avro Anson was a monoplane with a retractable undercarriage – the first plane with either of these features to go into RAF service.

  17. jmac says:

    Re Colin @ 13: I am sure there are indeed people who spell their name Ashley-Cooper. My point was about Araucaria’s correctness in his enumeration of the Ashley Cooper referred to in the clue. If Araucaria had been referring to the Australian rugby union player, I am sure he would have hyphenated it. As he didn’t, I think it is more likely that he was referring to the eighteenth century English philosopher who did not hyphenate his name.

  18. Biggles A says:

    The first Avro Ansons had retractable undercarriages all right but they were operated manually and it took 160 turns of a handle to get the wheels up.

    I hadn’t thought of adopting a different thematic nickname each week Bill but I guess I’ll stick with the one I’ve got.

  19. Martin H says:

    I enjoyed this one, not very hard once the theme became clear.

    I think that DE in 4,9 is part of the anagram, rb. Everyone knows what letters ‘from French’ signifies, and we don’t have to find an anagram of DE itself, so it’s not really indirect. All that makes it questionable is that it gives us two letters not one. If instead of ‘from French’ we’d had something like ‘North’, we’d not give it another thought, and just take the N as part of the fodder. Wouldn’t we?

    ‘Ice Cream’ was a bit grim, and as for ‘Head Cold': well, at first it seems even grimmer, but listen to the tone of voice, “Then wear a woolly hat!”, you can almost hear the “silly!” which follows. Is this Araucaria telling us that the clue is about as daft as it could be? Dropped the ball, Bill? Maybe he just sold us a dummy.

  20. Huw Powell says:

    @ Biggles and RRC, that’s funny – I got HURRICANE early on and that set me off looking for tornado, scirocco, mistral… then I remembered the aeroplane, and found spitfire almost immediately. Then I used google and found a site listing British WW2 aircraft which was a big help with BLENHEIM and confirming TOWELLING. Alas, the ANSON was not on that list. I loved DEATH BY CHOCOLATE. I didn’t love the seven clues I didn’t solve. I was ready to give up two days (and two more clues) ago, but alas, of course, the blog wasn’t up yet.

  21. Ian says:

    Thanks rightback.

    A fair bit of googling needed to put this one to bed. As someone with only a smattering of WWII avaition matters some of the thrmed answers as well as ‘Ashley Cooper’ had to be obtained this way.


  22. Colin says:

    A very nice set of clues. I got “Anson” and “Mosquito” first of the themed answers, and the rest just opened up naturally.

    “Chatty” was the only one that gave me any real trouble, purely because I couldn’t find the secondary definition confirmed anywhere.

  23. Tokyo Colin says:

    It appears we have 2 Colins, #2&13 (me) and another at #22.

    #22 Colin, if you have been contributing for a while, I will come up with a new moniker since I am relatively new to FifteenSquared (1 month?). However, if you are newer that that, perhaps you can choose a different name.

  24. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Colin @#23
    The other Colin has been commenting for far longer and used to post as Colin H. Had he continued to do so this identity clash wouldn’t have occurred.

    If you change your moniker (such as adding the first letter of your surname to give ColinF, or even your full surname) then I will amend the 28 comments you have already made so that there is continuity from the time you first contributed to the site. Just indicate what you would like to use in the future.

  25. Another Andrew says:

    Thanks rightback.

    Three missing this week, a good result for me given the prize/Arucaria combination. I knew the phrase “It’s all Greek to me” from my Asterix books (particularly Asterix the Legionary) but had never come across the tug-of-war reference. I would have guessed “Levy” if pushed (but I wasn’t, so I didn’t). Finally, I’m glad that all those half-baked attempts at building Airfix planes have come in handy at last.

  26. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thank you Gaufrid. In that case, may I become “Tokyo Colin”?

  27. Tokyo Colin says:

    Just to be clear – that was Colin F, #23, asking…

  28. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Tokyo Colin
    I have edited your previous comments to show your new moniker.

  29. maarvarq says:

    What, no complaints about the totally unindicated “SH” being between “A” and “MO” in 14ac, not to mention the answer being totally obscure for non-Oxbridge types? Between this, the feeble half-clue of 24ac and the obscure Greek tug of war proverb required for 26ac, the SW corner defeated me, and has moved me one step closer to having something else in reserve to do the days “the Master” inflicts more bastardry on his solvers.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

× 7 = fifty six