Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,110 – Arachne

Posted by manehi on September 8th, 2010


Found this pretty slow going. 13, 29 and the last part of 7 were unfamiliar but guessable, whereas 15dn went in almost immediately.

1 HOODING =the use of a hood in torture. HOOD=criminal + IN=”At home” + G[ood].
5 FOREMAN rev(Name of) around(=”boxing”) [traine]R
10 CEDE sounds like “seed”
11 COUPS D’ETAT (cadets up to)*
13 NETSUKES (knesset)* around U[ranium]
14 CORPOREAL E[cstasy] inside CORPORAL
16 KRAYS sounds like “craze”, “utter” being the homophone indicator.
17 EPOXY =resin. E[xtremely]=”Source of extremely” + POXY=”poor quality”
19 PANSEXUAL Not sure if there’s more to this than the pun on “pan”.
23 FACE UP TO FACE=”effrontery”[?] + (pout)*
24 ANIMAL rev(Lana) around I=single + M[ale]
27 ARIA [Antiqu]ARIA[n]
28 TORTURE TORT=wrong + U[niversal]=”for all to see” + RE[prehensible]=”extremely reprehensible”, &lit.
29 SYRINGA (Gray’s in[n])*
2 OREGANO O[ld] + rev(ONAGER)=ass
3 DREAD [gunne]R inside DEAD=complete (e.g. a dead halt)
4 NUCLEAR (UNCLE)* + A + R[ight]
6 ONSETS (Victorian conservationist)* minus ECCENTRIC
(conservationist)* minus (Victorian)*
7 EXECUTRIX A female executor i.e. “Will woman”. EXECUT[E] + RIX, Brian, who appeared in many bedroom farces.
8 ACADEMY [f]ACADE=”show doesn’t start” + MY=”well!” as an interjection
9 GUANTANAMO BAY ([O]bama agony aunt)*
15 PIXIE LOTT (exploit it)*
18 PLACEBO PLACE=rank + BO=smell
20 SLAVERY S[outh] L[ong] + A VERY=”an extremely”
21 AMAZING A + MA=ancestor + ZING=spirit
22 SPIDER [hi]SPID ER[emite]
25 IRAQI IRA + rev(IQ)=”counter-intelligence”

30 Responses to “Guardian 25,110 – Arachne”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Manehi

    This was truly awful and even with your blog I am still left wondering …

    Moreover, I would never have got Pixie Lott even if my life had depended on it.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks manehi. I failed only but totally on the NE corner, despite toying with ONSETS for 6d and ACADEMY for 8d: I couldn’t make them work, and was discouraged by some gluey clueing elsewhere, including 12a, 17a and 28a: U=for all to see is feeble, but that had to be the right answer given 1a (also feeble) and the actually laudable 9d, making a theme of a sort. Never heard of 15d, but 13 and 29 were familiar to me. Not much fun.

  3. beermagnet says:

    Phew. Tough top right quarter.
    For 6D I reckon it’s an anagram of CONSERVATIONIST minus VICTORIAN, which means there is a choice of Anagrinds in the clue: Eccentric and Unusual?

  4. manehi says:

    beermagnet – thanks for pointing that out.. I think it’s an anagram of CONSERVATIONIST minus an anagram of VICTORIAN (thus justifying two anagrinds), but something got garbled between my notes and the blog. Edited now.

  5. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, manehi.

    Perhaps some of the clues here are rather weak – I wasn’t keen on 19 or 26ac, for instance – but ‘truly awful’ needs some justification!

    I liked the inventive construction of 6dn and 5ac is very clever, too.

    Throughout, there are some wonderful story-telling surfaces – too many to mention, really, but I’ll just highlight 16ac and 4, 7, 9 and 25dn and the idea of Gray’s Inn getting such a make-over is hilarious! I also, of course, liked SPIDER – perhaps my favourite of all.

  6. Brian (with an eye) says:

    I really enjoyed this, but immediately thought it’s going to upset a LOTT of people (do you see what I did there?). (Look – I’m an old geezer with my radiogram permanently tuned to Radio 3, but I’ve heard of her!)

    I thought there was a good variety of clue types and difficulty, and some smart definitions (“will woman” being my favourite).

  7. Martin H says:

    I thought this was a nice one. FOREMAN, IRAQI, and SPIDER (if just for the image the clue gives) were all excellent, and there were plenty of other strong clues. PANSEXUAL was the weakest – like manehi I wonder if there’s more to it; and I wasn’t keen on ‘will woman’. Thanks for the explanations of ‘academy’ and ‘onsets’, which I entered without understanding, but which are quite coherent after all. U does mean ‘for all to see'; what’s wrong with it?

    Interesting to see torture and slavery defined morally rather than descriptively. And the link between ‘animal’ and ‘sensual’ (24) – clearly the connection is accepted, but it always seems problematic to me (even more so the word ‘brutal’ when applied to human cruelty).

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Ok, this was tortuous, but quite fun, to evoke the mini-themes. I was actually trying to justify an executrix as a dominant sado-maso woman, till I realised the significance of ‘will’ here :lol:

    I didn’t know 13ac or 15d, and couldn’t see the parsing of 6d and 8d, – well done, manehi -, but I usually enjoy Arachne’s puzzles, and this one was no exception. Much less of a slog than yesterday’s

  9. liz says:

    Thanks manehi. Struggled with a number of clues at the top of the puzzle, but the effort was well worth it for some great surfaces. 5qc for its neatness and clever misdirection, 9dn and the hilarious 29ac, which made me think of Derry Irving and his wallpaper!

    I didn’t see the wordplay for 6dn, so thanks for that! Another example of a good construction, I thought. Least favourite, as others have pointed out, was 19ac.

  10. Moosebranley says:


    I think your explanation of 28a is slightly wrong.

    Extremely reprehensible is R[eprehensibl]E

  11. walruss says:

    I agree with Stella, but only just! Goodness me what a couple of lame ones we have had these past days. Perhaps 6 down is a good example of the tortuous nature of some of today’s clues, but it does work. I suppose you’d have to say ‘conservationist is ignoring the anagrammed letters of victorian, which is then itself anagrammed’. Or something in proper English!! Thanks to Manehi for his VERY patient blog!

  12. beermagnet says:

    Ah, Yes, but (6D ONSETS):
    You don’t need to anagram the result after removal from CONSERVATIONIST of the anagram of VICTORIA. If you pick the right letters to remove, you can leave the answer letters clear in the correct order:

    But that doesn’t really matter. Main reason for this comment is the following link for anagram fans:

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for the tube map, beermagnet! Great fun!

  14. sidey says:

    Trivia Co is most apt.

  15. Martin H says:

    Thanks beermagnet – they (you?) must have had great fun doing it. ‘Nabk’ – Yes!

  16. beermagnet says:

    Nothing to do with me – I just got sent the link too.

  17. Maure says:

    Many thanks Manehi

    Good start, 9/11/18/23 are quite obvious (I tend to search literally to compensate for my lack of skill). I’m very glad that I manage to solve ac10 (simple though it is).

    Time well-spent in 225

  18. Tokyo Colin says:

    Thanks much Manehi. I have a little more respect for this puzzle after your explanations but was relieved to see Bryan’s comment @1 after I struggled mightily with this and wound up hitting the cheat button in every quadrant. Several names and terms I didn’t know and others where the real meanings were buried too deep for me. No problem with 13ac of course.

    Beermagnet’s tube map must be hilarious for those of you who know the stations but they look just as plausible as some of the real names to me – Mudchute, Barking, East Ham etc.

  19. otter says:

    Thanks manehi for the blog, and to beermagnet for the wondrous tube map.

    I raced through a third of the clues for this, thought it was going to be an easy one and then ground to a halt. Was tough going from there in. In the end gave up with five or six to go, including Pixie Lott, whom I have heard of. Just couldn’t see what was going on in the clues for 8d, 12a, 15d, 17a or 28a. Learned a couple of new words (SYRINGA and hispid).

    Don’t think I have a problem with any of the clues here, as some of you seem to. Thought this was a perfectly fine crossword. Thought 6d was particularly clever, must have taken some coming up with.

  20. William says:

    Thank you, Manehi, for what must have been a painstaking blog.

    I don’t agree with most; finding this a clever & witty offering. 8d ACADEMY is particular smooth clueing.

    The ones I didn’t know NETSUKES, SYRINGA, PIXIE LOTT etc were all derivable and Googleable to check.

    I wonder what upset people about PANSEXUAL? I thought it was a nice little giggle.

    Thank to Beermagnet for the map…I often get off at Bromley-by-Bow and will always smile at the memory of Wobbly Embryo.

  21. carneddi says:

    Obviously a bit Marmite today. I liked it and thought 8d also referred to the poor take-up of Michael Gove’s new academies (School show doesn’t start well)!

  22. Geoff says:

    Tricky one from Arachne today, but some wonderful surface readings. Like many others, I thought it was going to be an easy puzzle but slowed down dramatically with about half of the grid completed.
    I got SYRINGA and NETSUKES very early on but struggled with some of the more familiar words! (Incidentally, I thought the plural of ‘netsuke’ was the same as the singular, but the Shorter Oxford Dictionary states that the plural can be with or without the ‘s’).

    On the subject of the curious anagram-minus-anagram clue for 6d, my suspicion is that Arachne had been playing around with possible clues for CONSERVATIONIST (a good 15 letter word!), in connection with another puzzle, and discovered that it was *(Victorian onsets). But I may be doing her an injustice!

  23. Abby says:

    There is no plural form in Japanese (or there are many(*) if you want to be that way), but Japanese words are usually made plural in English with an ‘s’. I’d usually argue that that’s right unless you italicize it to show that it’s foreign. “3 Ninjas” “3 Ninja” Actually that opens the whole (*)counters can of worms, so maybe it’s best to forget I said anything.

  24. Lenny says:

    I was going for the quadruple today, having cruised through the Times, Independent and FT. I found this not too difficult and very ingenious. Unfortunately I fell at the last fence guessing Yardie for the villain. I did not consider Baddie since I have never heard David Badiel say anything remotely comic.

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    We thought, not the best one of the Spider Woman.
    But … for every weak or obvious clue (like 26ac, 27ac, 18d, 3d) we were offered two good ones. [which isn’t possible with 29 clues :) ]

    As ever with Arachne, a US Politics/Bush clue – GUANTANAMO BAY, 9ac.
    Very clever 5ac: FOREMAN, though in the same (hard) area ONSETS was, in our opinion, ‘over-constructed’.
    I never had heard of the KRAYS, but my PinC had (oh, they were (in)famous …) – and she cracked PIXIE LOTT too, while I am the pop savvy one among the two of us.
    Well, shame on me – but I guess, she’s a star (with already one hitsingle, wow).
    Pop music? Not sure. It’s how you define it.

    And what can you make of ?O?DING, when you already know that it has has to do with ‘torture’? It’s not thát obvious, we thought.

    In the end, our verdict is just a bit like the ‘highest common factor’ of the posts above: mixed, but tending to the positive.
    Arachne is clearly a setter who puts a lot of thought into her puzzles (with nice surfaces and a good spread of devices), which we appreciate and a thing that puts her ahead of some other fellow setters.
    Was this a good crossword? Perhaps, it was, yes.

  26. Dynamic says:

    In 26a, I think U (Universal – film classification) = “for all to see” is a fine and fair, though potentially misdirecting abbreviation. When blogging, though, I’d like to see it spelled out more than U[niversal], because I don’t associate the word Universal immediately with U-certificate film classifications, so if I came looking for an explanation of the wordplay I could think it pretty weak and unfair.

    An informative blog, some new words to me, and some very nice clues and well-spotted anagrams.

  27. DorothyS says:

    I thought this was a good, tough challenge with very creative clueing. Especially liked 5a FOREMAN and 6d ONSETS. Despite never having heard of Pixie Lott, Brian Rix, David Baddiel, and the brothers Kray, I managed to figure out the answers in the end. Just read the Wiki entry on the Krays and I must say I’m shocked! I never suspected there was such a thing as organized crime in England! Thanks, Arachne.

  28. Paul B says:

    Ignoring eccentric Victorian conservationist’s unusual beginnings (6)

    Point of interest for me, and Walruss is right about the clue as written: but Beermagnet is right about the way the clue (very probably) should have been written. An excellent spot, so very well done B – prior to your well-thought-through remarks I’d been quite happy to see that one as a variant of the compound anagram genre.

    And the puzzle? As always, the blog reflects the general sentiment. Thanks indeed for your hard work, Manehi.

  29. TokyoColin says:

    Looked back at this today and thanks to Dynamic @26 I now know why most seemed to accept U as “for all to see”. The “for all ages” classification I have seen most often is G. I had no idea it was U in Britain.

  30. The Architrave says:

    Thanks to all at 225 – I am a recent returner to cryptic crosswords and this site makes it so much more enjoyable as I used to hate not being able to understand the reason for everything.

    Does the ma in ma = ancestor mean mother, or is there a subtler meaning that I’ve missed?

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