Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,045 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on June 24th, 2010


What a treat! – my favourite compiler and a number of theatrical / literary allusions. I realise that, on both counts, this will not be everyone’s cup of tea but it was right up my street – after the Maths yesterday! Not the easiest Araucaria but fairly typical, I think.


1   LORD CHAMBERLAIN:  anagram of CHARM OLD + A in BERLIN [capital]: until the Theatre Act 1968, the Lord Chamberlain was ‘the licensor of plays in the City of London, Westminster and certain other areas’
9   NAPPING: a [rather loose] reference to the phrase ‘caught napping’
10  WOODCUT: cryptic definition
11  GAS: double definition
12  KILL THE BILL: double definition – two in a row: not an Araucaria speciality
13  ATTENUATED: much more like him! ATTEN [borough – the famous brothers] – I’m not sure it quite works! –  + anagram of A DUET
15,18 KNAPSACK: NAPS [tips – ‘nap: a racing tip that professes to be a certainty': Chambers] + AC[count] in KK [kings]
20  EDITH EVANS: THE VAN [the front] in reversal of SIDE: this made me laugh out loud, for the ridiculousness of the surface and the audacity of the wordplay. I’ve always felt sympathy for every actress since Dame Edith who has had to deliver the ‘handbag?’ line from Oscar Wilde’s ‘The Importance of Being Earnest’ and so was interested to find this:
23  ALL THAT FALL: triple definition: play by Samuel Beckett
25  ASH:: double / cryptic definition: key is the winged seed pod of the ash – I’m more familiar with the sycamore version.
26  PAINTER: A[dult] in PINTER [Sir Harold – playwright 1930-2008]
27  OLIVIER: I [one] in OLIVER [ Lionel Bart musical]:   Sir Laurence Olivier starred [with Marilyn Monroe!] in ‘The Prince and the Showgirl’ – and I remember seeing it.
28  NATIONAL THEATRE: I in NATO [alliance] + N[ew] + ALTHEA [Richard Lovelace {1618-1687} wrote a poem to her] + TRE – here I wondered whether there was any way ‘rendering’ could mean ‘taking alternate letters of’ [!] then realised that, of course, it means ‘translating': TRE is Italian for ‘three’. The National Theatre has three 14dns, The Lyttelton,  Aldwych and Olivier.  [Correction, thanks to Cosmic Tigger, Comment 13: I had written ‘Cottesloe’  in my notes, then,  inexplicably, typed ‘Aldwych’.]


1   LONG GRASS: LONG [crave] + GRASS [drug]
2   REPOSIT: anagram of SPORT + IE [that is]
CHICKENS: CHIC [smart – of course, I looked for Alec!] + KEN’S [lad’s – preferable, I think, to ‘little boy’]: reference to [not] counting your chickens before they’re hatched.
4   ANGEL: double definition [or even triple: an angel is a financial backer but also a backer of good – no need for ‘good’, really].
5   BOW STREET: BOWS [acknowledges] TREE [is this the first time that that crossword stalwart, Sir Herbert Beerbohm, has actually been designated as an old actor?] + T: reference to the Bow Street Runners, London’s ‘first professional police force’, founded  by the writer Henry Fielding in 1749.
6   RHODES: homophone of roads – a rather tired old clue
7   AUCTION: double definition
8   NATAL: double definition – two more of them!
14  AUDITORIA: A UDI [Unilateral declaration of independence – mutiny]  + TO +  reversal of AIR [atmosphere]
16  POST HORSE: THOR’S  [god’s] in POSE [attitude]
17  VERLAINE:   VER [reversal of REV – parson] + [Cleo] LAINE: ‘poet-parson’ immediately called to mind John Donne but it’s Paul-Marie Verlaine, French poet, 1844-96.
19 CELLIST: reversal of ILL [‘in CEST’]. I like this kind of clue but I’m well aware that not everyone does – and perhaps, after a similar device in 20ac, Araucaria is pushing it a bit!
21  ARABIST: A BIS [Latin ‘twice’ – a musical direction indicating that a section is to be repeated] in ART [painting]: reference to T.E. Lawrence:
22 WHAT HO: HAT [cover] in WHO [doctor] : I’ve never read any Wodehouse but I had a feeling there was a book entitled, ‘What ho, Jeeves’ but now find that it’s  ‘Right Ho, Jeeves’ but I’m sure this is the kind of thing he used to say.
23  ASPEN: AS [when] PEN [writer]
24  ABOUT: A BOUT [fight]: a disappointing ending!

49 Responses to “Guardian 25,045 / Araucaria”

  1. KB Pike says:

    I doubt Dame Edith Evans ever considered herself an actor.
    A current usage I deplore.

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks, Eileen, this was a truly wonderful puzzle in which I managed correctly to guess those that I didn’t know: 23a and 17d.

    Many thanks, Araucaria, I do believe that you are getting better, as your Prize Puzzle last Saturday was also a wow.

    More of the same, please!

  3. Bryan says:

    Eileen re 4d: An ‘Angel’ is also an old coin.

  4. Eileen says:

    Yes, sorry, Brian: I omitted to spell that out: it was one of my three definitions.

  5. Ian says:

    Thanks Eileen and to Araucaria for this very enjoyable challenge.

    Thankfully, Araucaraia served up a few dollies like ‘Chickens’, ‘Napping’, ‘Auction’, ‘Kill The Bill’ and ‘About’ to get me off to a reasonable start.

    However the southern segment proved a real problem for me, not least because of my ignorance of the Beckett play. All in all, I thought it a cleverly put together crossword from the old master incorporating a splendid theatrical subject matter throughout.


  6. Martin H says:

    inDEED; inSIDE, etc – is this wordplay really still thought of as audacious, Eileen? It does seem to be under-used – in contrast to double definitions recently!

  7. Richard says:

    Thanks for the thorough and early blog, Eileen.

    Like Ian, I got off to a good start on the top half. I have to say there is larger than usual contrast between the very easy and the very obscure in this one.

    Too difficult for me, I’m afraid – I’d never heard of Althea, didn’t get the ASH reference, didn’t get UDI – mutiny, never heard of the Becket play, never heard nap = tips, didn’t get the bridge reference (again), never heard of encore = bis, and please could you explain why Shaker = ASPEN?

  8. Richard says:

    Oh and I forgot to mention the front = the van. What is that all about?

  9. Eileen says:

    Hi Richard

    Collins: ASPEN: a kind of poplar tree in which the leaves are attached to thew stem by long flattened stalks, so that they quiver in the wind’.

    Ibid: ‘VAN: short for vanguard.’

  10. Dave says:

    I assumed that “of state” in 11ac means Ga’s i.e of Georgia. Am I right

  11. Berny says:

    Re 1 down, you can talk about things being ‘kicked into the long grass’ I believe

  12. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Eileen. NAPPING was my entry to this — and so ‘loose’ as you put it that I had to check it was right! Plenty to enjoy afterwards, with 13ac being my particular favourite and the one that made me smile.

    I didn’t see the wordplay at 25ac, so thanks for that.

  13. Cosmic Tigger says:

    Eileen, I wasn’t sure about the names of the auditoria of the National Theatre, so I checked their website. Apparently their third performance area is the Cottesloe (not that that made any difference to my failure to complete the puzzle. I fell down on the Beckett play.)

    Dave, Gas is one of the STATES of matter – I assume that’s what the clue referred to.

  14. Eileen says:

    Hi Dave

    That’s an interesting idea and, in view of the question mark, you could well be right. I took it to be one of the ‘states of matter': solid / liquid / gas.

  15. Cosmic Tigger says:

    PS Richard, this article might shed some light on UDI. I vaguely remember all this going on when I was in school…

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi Cosmic Tigger

    Crossed in the post!

    I’ve no idea where ‘Aldwych came from – of course you’re right!

  17. walruss says:

    What a good puzzle! Very entertaining, and hard. Just right for a Thursday, I think, with the Edith Evans clue a standout.

  18. Shirley says:

    Eileen – don’t beat yourself up about Aldwych. It was the home of the RSC in London before the National theatre was built.
    What a great crossword and some very tricky references for a weekday.

  19. Richard says:

    Cosmic Tigger @15

    I know all about UDI – I just didn’t think of it as a mutiny as it didn’t happen at sea!

  20. Derek Lazenby says:

    Nearly. Just 17 & 23. But I needed too much gadgetry to that far.

    Gosh, I knew something that Eileen had to guess! And in the literary field too! Bertie Wooster was always saying “What ho Jeeves” and similar. Does that mean you also missed the excellent Fry and Laurie TV version too? My advice then is watch the repeats on cable. Hmm, now I can disreputably slope off down to the bookies this afternoon feeling less uncultured than I had supposed. LOL.

    Agree with @1. Only the anally retentive don’t say actress when that is what they mean. Oh and venerable setters who have a misguided idea of what might or might not offend.

  21. Richard says:


    Thanks for the vanguard explanation.

  22. Bryan says:

    My take on 11a was G(eorgi)A’S.

    Well, it worked for me!

  23. cholecyst says:

    Derek and KB Pike. From The Guardian Style Guide:
    for both male and female actors; do not use actress except when in name of award, eg Oscar for best actress.
    Derek et al. From The Guardian style guide.
    “One 27-year-old actor contacted the Guardian to say “actress” has acquired a faintly pejorative tinge and she wants people to call her actor (except for her agent, who should call her often). As Whoopi Goldberg put it in an interview with the paper: “An actress can only play a woman. I’m an actor – I can play anything.”

    As always, use common sense: a piece about the late film director Carlo Ponti was edited to say that in his early career he was “already a man with a good eye for pretty actors” … As the readers’ editor pointed out in the subsequent clarification: “This was one of those occasions when the word ‘actresses’ might have been used””

    Bet that this does not convince you!

  24. cholecyst says:

    #23 Gaufrid – no, I didn’t utter the italicised 1st line.

  25. Gaufrid says:

    I will contact you via email to explain.

  26. MarkB says:

    In 21d “Bis!” is also what French (and Italian) audiences shout instead of “Encore!” (despite the fact that encore is a French word).

  27. adam says:

    hi all

    can i ask a dumb question
    7d/ event with lots of bridge

    the answer is given as AUCTION

  28. FumbleFingers says:

    Nicely blogged, thanks Eileen.

    I got into a bit of a muddle on account of putting ARCHERY for 7d and POST HASTE for 16d. The second of which was my own fault for not holding back until I could fully parse the clue.

    But I still think ARCHERY was a good answer (apart from the fact that eventually it didn’t fit!)

  29. adam says:

    why is it auction??

    many thanks


  30. Eileen says:

    Hi adam

    An AUCTION is ‘an event with lots’ – and an early variation of the game of bridge.

  31. FumbleFingers says:

    Even in today’s “standard” bridge (using “acol” conventions in uk), the initial “bidding” phase of the game is often called “the auction”.

  32. Coffee says:

    Having had Beckett, Pinter et al stuffed down my throat at college, this was great -except my first stab at 23D was SPEAR… oops… luckily got 23A soon after. Much better than all that maths!
    Was really disappointed in the end though, had to cheat on 21D!
    And calling women actors is PC gone mad… poor Dame Edith! Whoopi Goldberg can be an actress and still play Prince Charming, it works in the UK. Right up (or down) there with waitpersons and letter carriers. Goddess help us!
    Back to Saturday’s…

  33. Eileen says:

    Thanks FumbleFingers.

    I know nothing about it – and should have consulted Collins rather than Chambers!

    Back to that preposterous tennis epic …

  34. Dave Ellison says:

    I went for and prefer the “of Georgia’s” explanation at 11a. “of state” wouldn’t suggest GAS; and “state” by itself, overlooking the “of”, also doesn’t suggest GAS. It would have to be “state of matter” or some such.

    I found this quite hard today. Must have worn out the old brian after yesterday’s speedy one.

  35. FumbleFingers says:

    Regarding GAS, I think Araucaria is more than capable of intending both Ga’s (of the state of Gorgia), and one of the three most familiar states of matter. The fact that I didn’t get the first meaning until I came here just reflects my limitations, not his.

  36. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    Another triumph from Araucaria,full of his customary wit and cleverness.Hard to highlight particular clues as so many are praise worthy,but 20 across and 19 down were brilliant and 7 down is about as good as a double definition can be.

  37. sidey says:

    Gosh, Araucaria fans are easily pleased.

  38. KB Pike says:

    Fao cholecyst
    You’re right, of course – I am not convinced.

    Stick to actor & actress – as the Oscars and BAFTA do – and you won’t go far wrong.

  39. Martin H says:

    Why is that, Sidey?

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    If you are serious, sidey (#37), then we’ll agree.
    I think this was a good crossword, but not exceptional.

    The puzzle was drenched in references to Old England, fine by me, but the favourable critics here say just as much about the solvers as they do about our beloved setter.
    I thought it was pretty much archaic.

    For someone who doesn’t have an antenna for these exponents of English culture [I admit!], there weren’t that many smiles.
    Don’t get me wrong, it’s OK, but “a treat”? I am not sure.

    It’s a known fact that Araucaria doesn’t care that much about surfaces, it’s all about construction. Today there were several examples to confirm that. So, for example, a good clue from a construction point POV like 6d: what does that mean?? [Just like 16d]

    But there were also far too many d(or t)d’s, including weak ones, like 10ac (WOODCUT), 12d (KILL BILL plus THE) and 23ac (ALL THAT FALL).
    And dubious things like calling T.E. Lawrence [of Arabia] an ARABIST. Chambers: ARABIST = “someone who is an expert in, or student of, Arabic culture, history, language, etc.”. Maybe the English are proud of his achievements – as one from abroad I associate him with war & imperialism.
    And “lad” for KEN, well, I do get it, but do I like it??
    “borough with David and Richard” = ATTEN, well, maybe yes.

    It was a good crossword, and not even that hard.
    But “sheer delight”? Not for me.

    Sorry, folks.

  41. FumbleFingers says:

    @sidey & Martin
    Maybe some of us are feeling a bit sheepish ‘cos we’ve tended to be a bit sniffy about certain clues / puzzles / compilers lately. But the undeniable fact is obviously we like what they do or we wouldn’t be here anyway, so perhaps given Araucaria is the acknowledged top man there’s a tendency to want to prostrate ourselves before him on behalf of all. Bit like a dog who’s done a whoopsie on the carpet laying back & begging for mercy.

    Only joshing. If I were a compiler I’d think lottsa people here are some of the harshest critics around. But quite apart from his cruciverbalist skills, I personally also admire Araucaria because for me he embodies the Queen Mum’s dictum – “never apologise, never explain”.

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Your last quotation could be one from David Cameron [or even worse, from Nick Clegg] :( ( or for a minority – I hope – :) )

  43. FumbleFingers says:

    Now now, Sil. Some of us are British, what? No sex, no religion, and no politics, please.

  44. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Some of us are British, so what?

  45. FumbleFingers says:

    Well, to speak plainly – in British English, “, what?” is a jocular term, whereas “, so what?” is an aggressive one. Anyway, I must away to the land of nod now.

  46. Cosmic Tigger says:

    To Richard @ 19

    That’s one problem with the interweb, you can never tell the ages of the people you’re talking to. I’m a mature student and find myself having to explain lots of stuff I remember to the youngsters – I guess it’s become a bit of a habit now. Sorry if I implied you were a mere slip of a lad 😉

  47. mhl says:

    Eileen: thanks for the excellent post. We’ve going back to this one every couple of days (having seen your very positive billing in the preamble!) and I’ve only just given up on the last few. (Out of those, I’m not surprised I didn’t get GAS, but was annoyed it stopped me from getting LONG GRASS – “receiver of kicks” is lovely :)) NAPS = “tips” is very difficult…

    It turns out that the audiobook that I have of “The Importance of Being Ernest” actually has Edith Evans in the role of Lady Bracknell (and John Gielgud as Ernest):

  48. Plutocrat says:

    I feel I ought to comment on this. It was an exceptional crossword indeed, as its the first one ever in which I’ve been unable to get a single clue. Nothing. And even when they’ve been explained to me, I still don’t get half of them. A strange one from Arucaria – I’ve been doing his puzzles for about 25 years, and I can normally get around half of them without recourse to a dictionary.

    Just thought I’d mention it.

  49. rfb says:

    Plutocrat – I wonder why you had such difficulty. I found it about par for an Araucaria. I grew up in England, but haven’t lived there for forty years … but few clues required a current knowledge of English culture. If you’ve never lived there, or have only lived there since the 80s, I can see you would have trouble with e.g. 1ac, 13ac, 20ac.
    You probably won’t see this, but if you do, I’d be interested to see the list of clues that you didn’t understand even after they were explained to you … surely not half of them???

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