Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,130 – Arachne

Posted by Andrew on October 1st, 2010


The kiss of the spiderwoman turned out to be not too severe today, with help from easy clues to the long answers at 1ac and 7dn. There’s some quite devious wordplay, though, that took me a while to work out, even when the answer itself was fairly obvious.

1. BODYBUILDING (I’D IGNOBLY DUB)*.An easy anagram to start with – it’s always nice to get a long 1 across like this. The surface reading is appropriate too.
8. LATERAL LATER + A + L[oving]
9. AVENGER ENG[lish] in AVER (maintain). The Hillman Avenger was first made in 1970 – does it qualify as a “classic car”?
11. MAMMARY MAMMA (mother, or dam) + RY. “In Bristol” is a cheeky definition, from the rhyming slang “Bristol City”.
13. INNIT Hidden in “tINNITus” It’s a “rough” way of saying “isn’t it” rather than just “isn’t”, innit?
14. CAMBRIDGE C[andleford] + AMBRIDGE. The pub in The Archers is called The Bull.
16. GREY AREAS Double definition
19. ALPHA Alpha is “[the equivalent of] A [in] Greek”. It’s not (I think) a specific star, but is used to denote the brightest star in a constellation – e.g. Alpha Centauri.
23. AVARICE A + AR[istocrats] in VICE
24. SERRATE (edges of ) S[cyth]E + RR (“are, we hear, doubly”) + ATE (corroded). A more unusual variant of “serrated”.
25. DANGLER D[eep-sea] + ANGLER
26. CONSISTENTLY SIS (relative) in CONTENT (“what’s inside”) + [wil]L [sa]Y
1. BATSMAN BAT (Fledermaus) + S[anctioned] + MAN (Mr). Misleading reference to this batsman, not the composer of Die Fledermaus.
2. DORMANT DO[O]RMAN (“no-ball bouncer”) + [somerse]T. Although the “no-ball” bit is clever, I’m not entirely happy with it, as there is still a ball left behind. See also 18dn for a similar complaint.
4. IN ALL Hidden in fINALLy, though “assimilated” seems to be in the wrong place.
5. DREAMER D[ebate] + RE (=on) AMER.
6. NIGGARD DRAGGIN[g] reversed. This word is unrelated to the similar-sounding offensive racal term – see my remarks in 19dn in this posting.
7. OLYMPIC GAMES (A GYM COMPLIES)*. Another helpful easy one to match 1ac.
10. RIO DE JANEIRO (REJOIN ROADIE)* … and another
15. MISHANDLE M + HAND in ISLE (key=island)
18. ALL EARS ARREARS with the first two Rs changed to Ls. I’m not too happy with the way only some of the hands change..
19. AGAINST Double definition (for “touching”, as in “against the wall”)
20. PAISLEY IS + L[acerate] + E in PAY
22. STEWS WESTS*. Stew, I learn, is an old word for a brothel.

43 Responses to “Guardian 25,130 – Arachne”

  1. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew

    I found this a mechanical slog with no delightful interludes.

    Re 3d is a Belle really synonymous a Femme Fatale?

    I#m sure that someone will say ‘Yes’ – according to some Chamber Pot or other – but in my mind they are totally different.

  2. Bryan says:


    Re 3d is a Belle really synonymous WITH a Femme Fatale?

  3. Uncle Yap says:

    Times today has a clue with a similar answer to 21A. Able to get about a shilling for decorations (7)

    Thank you, Andrew for a most informative blog

  4. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, for an excellent blog.

    I share your niggles re 2 and 18dn but I thought there was some fine wordplay and great surfaces, notably 13ac [ I liked the use of ‘ringing’] and 1, 10 15 and – best of all – 17dn.

    I liked the way Arachne avoided the obvious ‘plumbago’ clue for 12ac.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I liked this puzzle, beginning with the saucy 11a: one query though, is the clue’s last word in this sense seen in the singular? I wasn’t troubled by 2d: only one ball was removed, singular is right in this case. But a pair, in 23a, didn’t look so good. On 9a, Chrysler and Dodge had Avengers, perhaps more classical.

  6. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Andrew
    A couple of errors have crept into your post.
    5dn should be D[ebate] not D[ream] and the anagram fodder in 10dn should be (REJOIN ROADIE) not (BLUR JOIN ROADIE).

  7. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    I am happy to give Arachne the benefit of the doubt on 9a. You can also have classic as ‘of a well known type’ as in ‘a classic mistake’. So for me it is both cleverly misleading but accurate.

    But then of course I am of the vintage to recollect when the Avenger was a well known type of car……

  8. don says:

    As molonglo #5 says, surely 2d is OK, otherwise the clue would have been Goebbels?

  9. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I enjoyed this, particularly the surfaces of 1ac, 10dn and 17dn. I had ALL EYES at 18dn for a while until I realised my mistake (and worked out the wordplay). Does this mean we get Shed tomorrow?

  10. Eileen says:

    Hi liz

    It’s Audreus [Shed’s mum] who usually precedes him.

  11. Martin H says:

    Thanks for the succinct commentary, Andrew. I really liked this, in spite of one or two misgivings – ‘mammary’ is strictly speaking an adjective while ‘Bristol’ is a noun, although the slang word in the clue could be taken to indicate a loose usage in the solution; I too wasn’t happy with the partial L/R changes in 18, although ‘no-ball’ seems OK in 2. 17 seems a bit convoluted with ‘capricious’ perhaps superfluous.

    However, there were also many excellent clues, both in construction and surface: 2 and 3 Down, and 8 and 13 Across stand out.

    Is ‘assimilated’ (4d) in the wrong place? It puts the definition in the middle, but can be read perfectly well cryptically, and is not ambiguous. Some would no doubt say this is somewhere we do not want to go, and I can see it being badly done, but if it’s clear like this, I’ve no problem with ti.

  12. Daniel Miller says:

    This was remarkably straightforward but I did enjoy a few of the clues.

  13. Martin H says:

    …..or it.

  14. Andrew says:

    Gaufrid – thanks for spotting my careless errors: now corrected.

    Martin H – in 11ac I thought the definition was “in Bristol”, indicating an adjective; but I think “mammary” can (loosely) also be used as a noun.

  15. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I absolutely loved this one: no way was it a slog, and there were plenty of delightful interludes, Bryan!

    How about all the ‘ooh you are naughty’ stuff? Breasts, balls, bit on the side and brothels; if that doesn’t make you smile on a Friday morning, what will? MISHANDLED was very good, as was GREY AREAS. Add a bit of politics with the clever reference to Mr Mugabe and what’s not to like? Sex and politics – only religion missing, otherwise I’d invite Arachne down the pub for a chat over a pint.

    Just one niggle, though: Ambridge is not imaginary. Everyone knows that The Archers is real.

  16. Kathryn's Dad says:

    And sorry, Andrew, I got carried away with my enthusiasm for the puzzle and forgot to thank you for blogging.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi K’s D

    Perhaps religion just scrapes in with the reference to one of the deadly sins?

    [And I agree about Ambridge. :-) ]

  18. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Eileen – I knew the sex/politics/religion theme was there somewhere. Now I’ll definitely have to clear my diary for the date with Arachne. If she’s available, obviously.

  19. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Arachne

    A very good blog and a puzzle that grew on me as I went along. I feel quite forgiving about the ‘all or nothing’ issues.

    Clues ticked as I solved were 19a, 24a, 2d – my only worry here was ‘o’ for ball, 3d, 15d – I kept trying to fit in ‘mismanage’ at first, 18d and 20d. I also liked ‘ago’ = ‘back’ in 12a.

    17d has a brilliant surface with which I am personally pretty sympathetic. On the other hand, many are not (though few of them may do this crossword).

    Re 11a, OED gives mammary as a medical noun ‘Anat. A mammary artery or vein’ esp. internal mammary, so ‘in Bristol’ is quite accurate.

  20. liz says:

    Eileen — thanks for sorting out my muddling of Arachne with Audreus!

  21. PeterO says:

    Many thanks for the blog. I agree with your reservation over 2D; ‘no’ with a singular (‘No child left behind’) should indicate the exclusion of any and all. On the other hand, my 9th edition of Chambers does give mammary as a noun (an older edition only gives the adjective, as does the OED), meaning a breast, so that the number in 11A tallies.

  22. PeterO says:

    Our blogs crossed. You are right: I hadn’t read the fine print. The OED does give mammary used absolutely.

  23. Geoff Chapman says:

    ‘Innit’ in the cryptic?


  24. Eileen says:

    liz – you’ve got me wondering now who we might get tomorrow, as it occurs to me we’ve had both Araucaria and Paul already this week…

  25. Wysawyg says:


    I’m guessing it’s a reference to la belle de sans merci who was certainly a femme fatale for the knight.

  26. Carrots says:

    A & A….thanks to you both. This must be the first puzzle I`ve finished without understanding at least half a dozen of the word-plays. I was astonished to discover, from subsequently referring to Andrew`s solution, that my snswers were correct. I`m ashamed to admit that a couple of his rationales still elude me (but I`m far too shy to admit which ones in case I look a complete pratt).

    ….And, is it just me or are our setters on heat this week? We seem to have had a few risque references, all of which were a bit of a laugh. INNIT is in Chambers, would u believe?

  27. walruss says:

    I like…. Bryan’s posting @ #1! Dreary stuff, I was bored by it I’m afraid.

  28. muck says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew, and especially for explaining 17dn EMBARGO
    I had ‘striate’ for 24ac but SERRATE make sense

  29. SteveTheWhistle says:

    In the copy of the New SOED that I have on my computer (1996), “innit” is included. Until recently, the local Leeds pronunciation of it was “i’n’i’, with the ‘s representing a glottal stop.

  30. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Innit is interesting. Obviously it’s an abbreviation in dialect of ‘isn’t it’, and has been for a long time; but if I’ve picked up correctly on common usage, then (young) people use it these days as the equivalent of ‘n’est-ce pas?’ in French – in other words, as a question tag at the end of a sentence. For example: ‘The party was totally cool, innit?’

    I remember first noticing it in the film ‘Bend it like Beckham’, which brought Kiera Knightley to our attention.

    SteveTheWhistle, it’s also in my recently purchased copy of the SOED, so clearly here to stay. Always thought it was more southern than northern, though, but if it’s arrived in Leeds then maybe not.

  31. SteveTheWhistle says:

    Re innit

    I have the impression that it is mainly used by the young of the South Asian communities around Yorkshire but, as I live alone, am unemployed, and with the amount of TV that I watch, I may be getting a false impression.

    I agree that the usage is the same as “n’est ce pas”. Are there equivalent phrases with the same translation and uses in other languages?

  32. SteveTheWhistle says:

    Re innit

    Following from post 31, the traditional Yorkshire usage, and my own. tends to keep the same tense and person as the original sentence of which confirmation is been asked (eg wa’n’t he?).

  33. Dynamic says:

    I was thoroughly hooked by 1d and 11a which I found amusing and inventive, and very much enjoyed the puzzle. I thought there would be some controversy over the no ball and change hands, but I still enjoyed the puzzle. The level of difficulty was about right for me to have an enjoyable quick solve and I learned some new meanings too. Hadn’t worked out the derivation of 26a. Thanks Arachne and Andrew.

  34. Dynamic says:

    Oh dear, and the winner of the “how many times can you fit the word enjoy/ed/able in one paragraph is…”. I’d better get a Thesaurus :^)

  35. Tykeitfromme says:

    Kathryn’s Dad, I gather Bristolians (no ref to 11!) were using ‘innit’ in that way long before it became ‘street speak’. But they would say that, innit?

  36. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    Also many thanks to Arachne for producing this excellent puzzle. I found this tough and it took me ages to finish it (I’m sure rightback would have done it in 6 minutes) plus I got the Bristol clue wrong. This was Arachne encroaching on Paul’s territory and also doing it in a devious way.

    Like KD says, I did not find this a slog at all and there were so many good clues that I can only mention a few ( who do you think I am, Sil). The anagram ‘rejoin roadie’ was marvellous, LATERAL was very well put together, DANGLER was amusing and BELLYACHE was also good (can’t really see anything wrong in belle=femme fatale). I was thinking more of actual ladies such as Clara Bow, Greta Garbo, Lily Langtry or Mae West.

    There was a lot of devious clueing today and it took me a while to understand the word play but full marks to Arachne for producing her spider’s web.

  37. Gerry says:

    Quite enjoyed it, though cricketing references are dull (for me).

  38. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, Gerry, I don’t understand cricket at all [and to be honest, I don’t want to be enlightened either], but I thought 1d was a pretty clever clue (I like this kind of ‘body swerve’)

    A very good crossword of the Spider Woman – because, well, because of the thought put into all these clues.
    And so we should forgive her some Minor Quibbles.

    BTW, saw my name in #36, but I have no idea why that is [???].

  39. Davy says:


    You must be joking. Your analysis of each puzzle would normally refer to most clues therein. Your analysis is normally one of the highlights of the blog.

  40. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Davy, I am nót joking.
    Really didn’t understand it – I am just another solver with at times some kind of (I admit, strong) opinion, but always with a :).
    My opinion tonight being once more: I do like setters who put a lot of thought into their clues (which may compensate minor quibbles) – Arachne’s surely one of them.

  41. ernie says:

    Thanks, Andrew (and Arachne).

    As Carrots @26 says: finished it but not with full understanding of a few clues until your blog enlightened me.

    1a 7d 17d were very nice: but I don’t like the convoluted way some odd (~random) letters in the solutions are derived: eg the AR in 23a and the RR in 24a.

    The real Bull Hostel was quite a famous inn in Cambridge – now part of St. Catharine’s College.

  42. Huw Powell says:

    I agree with the “complaint” about “INNIT”. Only missed DORMANT. Oh well. Lots of very UK-specific clues forced lots of “research”, but all in all, plenty of fun (my definition of fun, again, is “solved most or all of the puzzle”).

    I was proud to enter PAISLEY based on the wordplay without bothering to check if it was actually a Scottish town. Well played, Arachne, and very fair.

    As always, thanks to Andrew for the blog and Arachne for the puzzle.

  43. Huw Powell says:

    @ Gerry @ 27, I don’t recall any cricket references, except for the clue I didn’t get, which I thought was one but wasn’t.

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