Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25091 – Araucaria

Posted by Uncle Yap on August 17th, 2010

Uncle Yap.

Another wonderful way to start the day, solving the Master who, as usual, tantalised and teased. Like all compilers, he would gladly that we all see throught his runic ruses and devious devices. My, am I in an almost alliterative mood today?

4 NUGGET NUG (rev of GUN, weapon) + GET
6 HUNTRESS Cha of HUN (barbarian) TRESS (hairpiece) What a lovely def chasing girl !
9,20 WHAT OF THAT W (first letter of words) + ins of OFT (frequently) in HAT – HAT (covers)
10 ABEYANCE ABBEY (Church) minus middle letter B + AN (article) + CE (Church of England)
11 INTERCHANGE Ins of HANG (oath) in *(in Crete)
15,14,16 HOW LONG IS A PIECE OF STRING Cha of HOWL (loud protest) ON (over) GI’S (soldiers) APIECE (each) + *(GIFTS New OR) traditionally regarded as rhetorical rather than seeking an answer. It’s a question often asked to parallel the unanswerability of another question.
17 MILLAIS Ins of ILL (poorly) in MAI’S (French for months of May) Sir John Everett Millais, (1829 – 1896) was an English painter and illustrator and one of the founders of the Pre-Raphaelite Brotherhood.
18 SCHOLARSHIP Ins of HOLARSH (ins of O, circle L, line in HARSH, tough) in SCIP (rev of PICS, films)
22 HAVERING Cheeky way to allude to what the best man at a wedding should, ie have ring. Havering is a London borough in North East London, England and forms part of Outer London. The principal town in Havering is Romford and the other main communities are Hornchurch, Upminster and Rainham.
24 TALENTED Cha of T (time) A LENT (fast) ED (editor, pressman)
25 BROGUE B (born) ROGUE (scoundrel) with dual def of a lilting Irish accent and a stout shoe, usu with a decorative pattern of holes; a rough shoe of untanned leather formerly worn in parts of Scotland and Ireland.

2 DUMB ANIMAL Ins of BAN (veto) I’M (setter’s) in DUMA (an elected council, esp the Russian parliament before and since the Communist era) L (left) In Numbers Chapter 22, there is an account of Balaam and his donkey which was enabled to talk in protestation of Balaam’s rough treatment of whipping.
3 STAY WELL Ins of TAY (river) in SWELL (movement of sea)
4 NEW LIGHT *(Glen with)
5 GRANTOWN Cha of GRANT (admit) OWN (confess) Grantown-on-Spey is a town in the Highland Council Area in Scotland
7 ERNE ha I wonder about the extra words and loughs and thanks to NeilW Lough Erne refers to two lakes in Northern Ireland, which are in effect widened sections of the River Erne.
8 SPEY Thanks to koran, rev of YEP’S ( dialect and informal variation of  YES, consent) for a river in Scotland and yes, there is a SPEYFEST from 29 July – 1 Aug 2010 where there was music and dancing.
12 HIGH-HANDED The English certainly have long memories (e.g. John Cleese and his reference to the Germans in WWII) and now another poke at the famous (or rather infamous) hand of God goal scored by Diego Maradona in the 1986 FIFA World Cup quarter-final between Argentina and England. Argentina won 2-1 and then went on to win the World Cup. Elsewhere, the erudite Eileen has correctly pointed out that reference is to the high-five celebratory gesture rather than to Maradona’s goal. I will let the mistake alone as it is still a good story.
13 YACHTING Y (first letter of you) ACHTUNG (German for warning) with U replaced by I
19 REFORM Cha of RE (about) FORM (class)
21,23 OVAL OFFICE Cha of OVAL (famous test cricket ground in Kennington, in the London Borough of Lambeth) OFF ICE (not on ice, therefore not skating) for the official office of the President of the United State

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

58 Responses to “Guardian 25091 – Araucaria”

  1. koran says:

    Thanks for the explanation for 2d. I knew what the answer had to be but didn’t get the parliament reference.

    Typo in 1d which should be ‘devour’ rather than ‘detour’!!

    8d could be reverse of ‘yeps’ (slang for yes’s) since there is a festival on the river that includes dancing?

    I did like 13d though!

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks UY

    The loughs in 7dn is a reference to the double lough ERNEs in Northern Ireland.

  3. NeilW says:

    17ac MAIS is actually French for “but”. The reference is to the month of May, MAI in French.

  4. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Uncle Yap and Araucaria.

    This was very enjoyable even though, having HUNted high and low, I failed to discover the first three letters of 2d and 6a.

    Aren’t I DUMb?

    But, overall, too many excellent clues to mention.

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, UY.

    An enjoyable puzzle, as usual. Favourite clue: 13dn.

    I took the reference in 12dn to be the celebratory ‘high-five’, rather than Maradona’s ‘hand of God’ goal.

  6. molonglo says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap. I look forward to blogs like yours when I get the answer to a clue like 18a and give up wondering why it’s right. I persisted with DUMB ANIMAL until it became clear. 4d puzzled me, as I failed to see it was an anagram – what’s the indicator? I forgive Araucaria everything, but both WHAT OF THAT and STAY WELL seemed laboured or outdated or something. Like Eileen, I enjoyed 13d – and indeed the whole thing.

  7. Uncle Yap says:

    Eileen, I think you are right (as usual :-)
    I overlooked the significance of “celebrate” and high-five is one thing that the little rascal of my grandson (in the picture) can do with me.

    Never mind the Maradona reference … the South African event is still very fresh on my mind

  8. Eileen says:

    Hi molonglo

    Re 4dn: if you think of ‘fragments’ as a verb it’s a perfect anagram indicator.

    Re ‘Stay well':I remember coming across this many years ago in Alan Paton’s ‘Cry the beloved country': the person staying would say, ‘Go well’ and this was the departing person’s reply. I don’t think I’ve heard it anywhere else: as you say, it sounds rather strange to our ears but I was quite charmed by it, for that reason.

  9. Coffee says:

    Most enjoyable, though 9, 20 went in last with eyes rolling…. rather like 3dn… but 15,14,16 and 13 caused much mirth (after much head scratching). How could 23, 21 have taken me so long? I suppose that’s an unanswerable question, too.
    Excellent, thanks again Araucaria – and Uncle Yap for explaining the eye rollers!

  10. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap, et al, espacially for the geographical references. I lived in North London (Borough of Barnet) for 20 years, but had never heard of the Borough of Havering. Is it a new one? Or am I just showing my geographical ignorance?

    A lovely poetic start to the morning, thanks to UY waxing lyrical. Your blogs are always entertaining and extremely informative, but today you’ve surpassed yourself. Perhaps the Master is an inspiration to us all :)

    Just one quibble, NeilW @3 – where do you see ‘but’ in the clue?

  11. Stella Heath says:

    Coffee @9 – re 23,21 – maybe because you read it the wrong way round – it was 21,23 :)

  12. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap.
    Another brilliant puzzle from Araucaria – caused a fair bit of head scratching and quite a few laughs.
    As is often the case,some of the answers were easier to get than the parsing of the wordplay.But with Araucaria it is always worth taking the time to work it out.
    18 across and 13 down stood out for me and I also liked the definition at 6 across.

  13. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap. Did anyone else think that 6ac(Barbarian…) contains a sly dig at the girl’s chosen “sport”? The unspeakable in pursuit of the uneatable.

  14. Mick H says:

    Lovely puzzle, though I sympathise with those unfamiliar with the London borough of Havering. I’m not sure how old it is – I suspect it might be a 1972 creation – but it’s not that well known (speaking as a current Barnet resident, Stella, and apologies to solvers further east).
    Loved 13dn – ‘if I were you’ to get from ‘achtung’ to ‘achting’ is inspired.

  15. Myrvin says:

    I see people woke up earlier today. And I’m late.
    Tough one for me. I know everyone loves 13d, but I think it’s fishy and unfunny. (miserable ***)
    I liked 6a when I got it. A dig at hunters eh? Good on ya A!
    For 17 UY, why put an apostrophe in MAI’S – the French don’t do they? I’m trying to think if they would ever need to say “mais mais” – “but Mays”. (The long winter evenings must just fly by Myrvin)
    I thought I knew Balaam’s ass – turns out mine was a totally different ass. The one set between two identical piles of hay. Hay ho!
    Haven’t we seen BROGUE somewhere else recently? Why does the clue have ‘to talk’? Is it a third clue? Looks like a hint for a pun.
    Looked to me as if the ERNE clue had extra words. But we think they were a third clue too, do we?

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Uncle Yap. As a fan of A, needless to say I enjoyed this! Initially put WHAT IS THAT at 9,20 and didn’t realise my mistake until I puzzled over 1dn. I thought that was my last and overlooked the fact that I still hadn’t solved 6ac! Wish I hadn’t been so hasty — nice clue!

    Myrvin @15 — perhaps ‘to talk’ is a ref to a brogue in the sense of a strong accent?

  17. liz says:

    Sorry Uncle Yap — more hastiness on my part! I see you have already pointed out the dual def in 25ac!

  18. walruss says:

    Sterling work from Uncle Yap there, for this very nice one from Araucaria. Very enjoyable. I will visit Mordred this afternoon, if I can get the time.

  19. NeilW says:

    Stella, if you’re still around: I didn’t see “but” at all. In the earliest version of the blog, UY said that MAIS was French for months; he’s since corrected it but I understand the confusion. Uncle Yap and I live in, almost, the same time zone so tend to get started quite early in the day on the discussion.

  20. Carrots says:

    After eventually running out of options, Im was obliged to put in STAY WELL whilst my instincts were screaming FARE WELL after the more usual and conventional FAREWELL. This is an abbreviation of FARE YOU WELL…or a parting wish for safety or success on one`s travels. Alas, there is no Scot`s river called The Fare!

    I still think The Master deserves immortality.

  21. Val says:

    Thanks, Uncle Yap.

    Re 2dn, I get it now it’s been explained but surely there’s something missing indicating that the “setter’s entry” should be reversed?

    Eileen @8, Paton’s Cry The Beloved Country is one of my favourite childhood reads (“the hills lovely beyond the telling of it” is a phrase I often return to). The “stay well” and “go well” are direct translations of the Zulu “hamba kahle” and “sala kahle” (I can’t do phonetics so you’ll just have to imagine the pronunciation), which is why they were used to indicate conversations in the vernacular.

  22. Eileen says:

    I forgot to say earlier that a strathspey is a dance [which I first learned at school] from the region of the same name, the valley of the Spey, hence ‘river round which to dance’.

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi Val

    Me too!

    The phrase that you quote, coming at the beginning of the book, had me hooked from the start and still brings tears to my eyes. I think I shall go and re-read!

  24. Myrvin says:

    So, is this a puzzle with Zulu, German, and French in it. How cosmopolitan.

  25. Myrvin says:

    … and Scots and an Irish accent.

  26. Eileen says:

    Well, commenters quite often complain about the puzzle being too parochial – setters just can’t win!

  27. irm says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap

    A nice crossword (I am more in tune with Araucaria than the other setters).

    Thanks for the explanations for 8dn.

  28. Roger says:

    Reading 9,20 without first noticing the letters per word (yes, I know, eyes in pockets .. although, to be fair, rumour has it that this paper has made the odd mistake before so it could have been (3,3,4) … ) the cricketing expression “how was that” sprang to mind ~ the oft heard first words shouted from between the covers in response to a bit of a muddle in the batsman department before realising the poor chap wasn’t out after all !

  29. muck says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for the blog, excellent as always.
    HOW LONG IS A PIECE OF STRING was my way in – so typical of Araucaria
    Lots of good clues, but YACHTING was my favourite

  30. Brigadier Carruthers says:


  31. tupu says:

    Solved this morning but late to the site – so most said already. I wondered at first if I was going to get anywhere but my mind went into the right gear after a slow start.

    In 21,23 I saw the answer and in haste missed ‘off ice’ – thinking vaguely there had been some real skating there!!

    In 25 I paid insufficient attention to ‘talk’ since the answer made sense without it.

    Umpteen good clues inc. 6, 9, 11, 15 etc, 18, 1, 3, 4, and 14!

    Val @21 – have I missed something? I see no reversal of setter’s = I’m. The M in DUMA comes earlier.

    Eileen – I think the strahspey = dance link you mention is important. Although ‘spey’ as a shortened form of this is not in my Chambers I think I did see ‘spey in one google entry.

  32. tupu says:

    I omitted a gernuine Thank You to UY and Araucaria. Sorry

  33. Stella Heath says:

    Hi NeilW. I saw your explanation @19 when I came back online. Consider yourself forgiven :)

    Thanks for the link to the dance, Eileen. How very complicated! It seems to involve a lot of people, with half of them just standing still for most of the time!

    Hi tupu. I missed ‘off ice’ too, but I was solving at a time when I’m normally just waking up, as I had a lot to do this morning.

    That’s my excuse, what’s yours? :lol:

  34. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen et al.

    I also omitted to comment on 3 down. ‘Stay well’ surprised me too and I checked that it fitted the clue perfectly as UY describes. My own first thoughts were that it is an Anglicised version of an East African idiom. In Swahili ‘ukae salama’ (may you stay safely or in peace) is the reciprocal of ‘nenda salama’ = ‘go safely’ (not quite the same as our ‘Go in peace’ but more like ‘safe journey’). ‘Stay well’ does not sound idiomatic to me but language changes.

  35. tupu says:

    Hi Stella
    :) I might be able to explain it (haste mainly) but I don’t have an excuse!

  36. Duke says:

    Living far away from Hornchurch, the town of my birth, I was delighted to see Havering appear today – with a clever clue. The borough was created in 1965 but the name is much older:

    …so the name is not a comment about the behaviour of the residents ;)

  37. Myrvin says:

    tupu adding Swahili – as you might expect – to the melting pot.

  38. cholecyst says:

    More for the pot. Arabic has something similar to Swahili: Goodbye (person leaving): ma’a salama

    Goodbye (person staying): alla ysalmak.

  39. Derek Lazenby says:

    Very very nearly fininished. Dang!

    Biggest combined groan and smile for me was OVAL OFFICE.

    So then, according to our illustrous Crossword Editor, the intention is start the week easy and get gradually harder. We are at the Araucaria level and it’s only Tuesday?! The less 24 of us are facing the rest of the week with more than a little trepidation. No doubt the experts will be in seventh heaven. It must be about time for that :)

  40. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu @ 31

    [Sorry for the delay – I’ve been out]

    Re Strathspey: I’m not sure what you mean about the abbreviation. The Spey is the river and ‘strath’ in Scotland is a broad valley, hence Strathspey, valley of the Spey, which explains ‘river round which to dance’, as I said!

  41. Davy says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap,

    Reading through the comments, I thought I could be useful in providing additional information but found that I had been pipped at the post by Eileen not once but twice. I thought ‘fragments’ was fairly obvious as an anagrind but didn’t expect anyone to mention strathspey as a dance. This is what happens to a late commenter. Ah well, must try earlier.

    I thought this was a decent puzzle from Arry and my favourite clue was HUNTRESS. When I read the first word of the clue ‘Barbarian’ and it was 8 letters, I immediately thought VIZIGOTH but unfortunately it didn’t fit the clue. Also, I was convinced that the answer to 18a was SPONSORSHIP until I realised that it wasn’t.

    All in all, not a difficult puzzle.

  42. Eileen says:

    Sorry, Davy! :-(

    I’ve said more than once here that, being retired, I have sympathy for those who are still working and therefore have to come late to the party – although I realise that there are some who can fit contributions into their working day [not possible for teachers! ;-) ]

    However, being the tenacious person that I am, I have to dispute your ‘additional information’ comment. I did expect the dance to be mentioned, since, as I’ve implied already [twice] I don’t think that 8dn makes sense without it!

  43. molonglo says:

    Eileen – your comments # 8 of course fair. Like tupu # 34, other languages do this, and I’m familiar with the Korean anyonghikasayo = fare well to which the answer is anyonghikesayo = stay well. No one has ever said it to me in English, though.

  44. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    :)It would not require the medieval pedantic skills, that I seem to be developing on this blog, to write all I know about scottish dancing on the head of a very small pin. But here goes!

    Firstly I am not wholly convinced that people dance ’round’ the river Spey since how one does anything round a river (as opposed to a lake) is a little puzzling. But I may be missing something.

    Secondly, on investigation I have found a number of websites which refer to Strathspey (the dance) as simply ‘spey’. So spey itself is a word for a dance.

    see e.g.

    In these sites there is also mention of ’round the room’ speys.

    So I began to wonder whether ’round’ was a description of a kind of ‘spey’ dance.

    On this tenuous basis (which still seems stronger than that for some fairly recent major political decisions, though that’s not saying much) the clue would have three definitions

    1. river
    2. ’round’ to be danced
    3. consent’s arising = yeps reversed.

    I can only add that Araucaria sometimes does his homework with remarkable attention to small print.

    :) I don’t know why but I suddenly rememeber a film in which Groucho Marx presents a nutty diatribe, leaps onto a bed and starts strumming a handy guitar while announcing ‘My case rests’!

  45. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    I think I said the other day that you and I seem fated to misunderstand each other!

    This is my last word, put as simply as I can manage:

    Definition: [River] Spey
    Region ’round’ river = Strathspey: ‘strath’ = ‘valley’ –
    Strathspey is the name of a dance from that region.

    I’m with Groucho!

  46. Myrvin says:

    8d I think this is a very odd clue.
    As a two-part clue, it could surely be just “River when consent’s arising”.
    The question is, what are the other words for?: “round which to dance”.
    Eileen suggests that the Strathspey, being a dance, and including the river, fulfills the whole thing. Still a two-part clue.
    I don’t see how that works. We have to assume (or lose) the ‘strath’ part.

    tupu reckons (I think) that ’round’ is a dance and so also is a spey. So the clue could be: “River round when consent’s arising”. With the words “which to dance” perhaps enhancing the idea that ’round’ is a dance(?) This would be a three-part clue.
    The OED talks of people dancing ‘in a round’.
    OED also has ’round': ” A dance in which the performers move in a circle or ring, or around a room, etc.”
    Is this a Strathspey or a spey? If so, “round which to dance” would be saying the answer is such a round to be danced.
    However, I can’t find ‘spey’ as (a) dance. a la tupu.

  47. Daniel Miller says:

    A pleasant diversion with some excellent A clues. All in all not too difficult I thought.

  48. mark says:

    8D is just another classically annoying clue from “The Master” – no hope of being sure without a computer/reference books galore and even then some of you are still debating.
    What of That & Stay Well (which I reluctantly wrote in)- others have already said it!

  49. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen

    Elegant as ever! And my experience tells me to respect your eye for a clue! But a niggle of doubt remains since the surface any way round is a bit strained.

    ALSO NB the OED defines ’round’

    11a. 11. a. A dance in which the performers move in a circle or ring, or around a room, etc.

    This fits my case quite well (see above website). ‘Spey’, as the websites show, is clearly a recognised form of ‘strathspey’ in the Scottish dancing world and often seems to be a ’round’ (which one dances).

  50. tupu says:

    Sorry. It should just be 11a (once)

  51. tupu says:

    Hi Myrvin

    We crossed. As you say the weaknes is lack of a dictionary ref. to spey + dance. But see the website (one of at least two).

  52. tupu says:

    Hi Myrvin

    OED also shows that ‘dance a round’ (or his, her, their round(s)) is a longstanding standard expression with both literal and metaphorical uses.

  53. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu and Mryvin

    As I said, I’ve had [almost! :-) ] my last word @ 45: you’ve both completely lost me! As I said, it seems to me eminently simple – maybe even, after all, for me, one of of the easier clues!

    Sleep well! :-)

  54. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen
    :) Stay well!
    Oddly, there is nothing complicated in my suggestion. Spey (strathspey) = round to dance – no more is needed. All connections are quite well supported.

    Let’s leave it with Mark @48.

    :) BTW I don’t think we are ‘misunderstanding each other’ – just possibly seeing a bit differently. And mostly I trust your judgment.

  55. Gerry says:

    Enjoyed this. Liked the NI and Scotland geographical answers.

  56. Val says:

    tupu @31 – yes, my misreading I’m afraid! I had got my ‘m’s mixed up. I see it now, thanks.

  57. Martin H says:

    Late entry – out all day yesterday. An enjoyable (mostly) crossword and the usual effervescent commentary from UY.

    The long charades which Araucaria is so fond of are my least favourite of his clues. I find myself getting the solution from a few crossing letters and the numeration and then checking against the always admirably ingenious charade. OK for the odd one-word solution maybe, but not when it involves so much of the grid.

    I’m as much of an admirer of Araucaria as anyone, and have been since he first began to set for The Guardian – but can I make a plea for an end to “The Master”: firstly it’s pushing an opinion unnecessarily – not everyone agrees and it does seem a bit like a challenge or a put-down to those who don’t; secondly, isn’t this sort of forelock-tugging a bit unseemly nowadays.

  58. maarvarq says:

    I really have to keep a spare crossword to save myself from exercises in frustration too often dished up by this complier, like this one. I got it out, but only because i was determined that he wouldn’t beat me.

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