Fifteensquared

Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,155 (Sat 30 Oct)/Araucaria – Pen Elaine

Posted by rightback on November 6th, 2010

rightback.

Solving time: 12 mins

The last 3 minutes of this, at least, were on 6dn (CHATELAINE) which I found much the hardest clue, although if I’d solved this a month ago it would have taken me a lot longer (see 5dn for why). There were several other tricky answers or bits of wordplay in this, and while old hands will probably have found it only of moderate difficulty, I suspect that the general consensus might be that this was a hard puzzle.

I can’t explain the wordplay for 27ac (ROOKERY) and would welcome explanations.

Music of the day (19dn) – Neptune from The Planets by Gustav Holst.

* = anagram, “X” = sounds like ‘X’.

Across
1 SWEEP UP; S + WEE (= ‘very small’) + PUP
5 TOC EMMA; (CAME TO + M)* – which is old signallers’ code for TM, i.e. ‘trench mortar’.
9 LUMINANCE; LUM (= ‘chimney’) + IN AN + C.E. (= Church of England, i.e. ‘establishment’)
10 A + FRIT
11 ALSO (hidden)
12 BAYONETING; (IN BYGONE T.A.)* – the double-T form is also acceptable.
14 RE + BECK – a rebeck, or rebec, is a mediaeval stringed instrument like a mandolin.
16 TRADE-IN; D,E (= ‘successive [musical] notes’) in TRAIN (= ‘followers’)
18,15 GIN AND ITALIAN – ‘gin’ can mean ‘trap’ and ‘it’ is short for ‘Italian vermouth’, as in ‘gin and it’, but this means that the second half of the wordplay is just the same as the definition. You could argue that the abbreviation ‘It.’ gives ‘Italian’ independently of the drink, but then ‘it’ would need a capital.
20 INARTISTIC; (IRIS[h] TACT IN)*
21 S + PEW
24,1 TONIC SOL-FA; TONIC (= ‘sequel to 18′ as in ‘gin and tonic’), + L[eft] in SOFA (= ‘seat’)
25,26 ANGOSTURA BITTERS; ANGERS (= ‘infuriates’) around (STOUT)* around RA[b]IT – I’d never heard of this but with the checking letters in place the wordplay seemed unambiguous. This is apparently a trademarked name which originally comes from the town in Venezuela, so named because ‘angostura’ means ‘[the] narrows’ in Spanish. From the definition, presumably gin turns pink when made with Angostura bitters.
27 ROOKERY? – I’m afraid I can’t explain this one. I initially thought it was OK (= ‘authority’) plus E.R. (= ‘queen’) all in ROY, but I don’t know why ‘old king’ should give ROY (I think ‘Rob Roy’ may have submliminally reassured me when solving). It may simply be an old word for king (cognate with ‘royal’ and the French ‘roi’, perhaps) but it’s not in Chambers which seems to be Araucaria’s favoured reference for obscure or archaic vocabulary.
Down
2 EN MASSE; (SESAME)* around [seaso]N – I thought ‘Sesame seed’ meaning ‘anagram of sesame’ was lamentable.
3 PINK – this word has eight separate headword entries in Chambers, most of which have several different meanings. In the sense of the colour pink, it can mean a pink hunting coat or the person wearing it, hence ‘Huntsman’, which might pass for the definition but I’m not sure why wordplay was eschewed here. The ellipsis is used because the answer also acts as the first word of the next clue.
4 PIN BACK ONE’S EARS; PINK around rev. of CAB, + (SEASONER)*
5 THE MOVING FINGER; (FRINGE)* – wordplay in the answer. By coincidence I solved a crossword in The Magpie only last month based on this line from The Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam (or rather Edward FitzGerald’s translation) which helped enormously with this clue and hence the whole of the right-hand side of the grid.
6 CHATELAINE; CHAT (= ‘conversation’) + ELAINE – some Googling tells me that the Lily Maid was Elaine of Astolat from Arthurian legend. I didn’t know this or the answer word (a female keeper of a large household or château (castle)) and took a long time to get to this, via a dalliance with a -NANNY ending.
7 MARTINI; MARTIN (= ‘swallow’, as in housemartin) + I (= ‘one’)
8 ANTIGEN; ANN around TIGE[r]
13 RECEPTACLE; CEP (= ‘mushroom’) in (CLARET)* + E[arth] – I think ‘E’ = ‘earth’ is an abbreviation used in the electrical sense (as opposed to, say, live or neutral) but I could be wrong.
16 TWIN-TUB; WINT[er] in rev. or BUT
17 AGAINST; AGAIN + S[ain]T (= ‘good guy’)
19 NEPTUNE; rev. of PEN. + TUNE
22 WEARY; WEAR (= ‘be clothed’) + Y (= ‘unknown’ as in algebra)
23 OSLO; OS (= outsize = ‘Large’) + LO – I liked ‘request to look at’ = LO.

16 Responses to “Guardian 25,155 (Sat 30 Oct)/Araucaria – Pen Elaine”

  1. Biggles A says:

    I enjoyed this one but, unlike rightback, thought it was rather less of a challenge than usual for the master. Perhaps I was fortunate in having some passing acquaintance with Tennyson and Fitzgerald.

    I’m sure rightback’s initial analysis of 27 is correct. An OED definitionof ROY is A prince; a sovereign, a royal person.
    Common in Sc. poetry of the 16th century.

    I can confirm that Angostura turns gin pink; I observe the phenomenon most evenings!

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks rightback. On 27a I assumed ROY was the old king,and Webster’s o/l I see gives roy=king as its first meaning (Chambers and Cambridge o/l don’t have it). As to the rest, the trap in 18a gave GIN straight away, and the theme. Full steam ahead until the NE corner, which had some nice tests, like 10a and 8d. Sought help guessing Tom Emma, and got corrected – then a final aha with 6d, last in. I found both 10a and 8d pleasing, in this last effort.

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Rightback I found this most enjoyable with several excellent clues.

    I knew CHATELAINE but hesitated before entering it because I had never heard of TOC EMMA. However, after assuming as anagram, I was able to get confirmation from Google.

    Having served in a Cavalry Regiment, I knew nowt about such things. We were above all that. Later, during the week, I asked an Army veteran (REME) who did know about Trench Mortars and he’d never heard of Toc Emma either.

  4. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Rightback.

    I got all of this bar 3d, though had I cross-referenced the clues it would have become apparent. Can’t improve on explanations so far for ‘rookery’.

    Unlike you I found 2d ok. The seed of sesame plus n seems reasonable.

    Overall no standout clues for me though a tough but fair puzzle nonetheless.

  5. Mr Beaver says:

    We enjoyed this one – particularly the gin-based clues – and finished it on the same day, which (for us) is good going.
    It was a welcome relief from the Biggles offering which we were still wrestling with from the week before !

    I hadn’t heard of Toc Emma (or Trench Mortars) but ‘Ack Emma’ and ‘Pip Emma’ for am and pm were fairly familiar, so it didn’t take a big leap to guess that TOC was the old phonetic for ‘T’. It would be Tango Mike now, of course…

  6. Biggles A says:

    And Toc H was Talbot House of course.

  7. Carrots says:

    For some reason I found this quite the easiest Araucaria I think I`ve ever encountered. Maybe I was just on form last Saturday (if so, it didn`t last!) or just relieved to lose my wife in the throng of the market and sneak into a pub instead of being dragged around frock shops and shopping. Either way, it was a delightful solve and thanks to The Master & Lightning for the fun.

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Rightback. I didn’t finish this, as I got stuck in the NE, being totally unfamiliar with the Rubaiyat and with gin and it – I’m not a cocktail person.

    I had heard of 25/26, on the other hand, though here in Spain it’s just called ‘bitter’, which was confusing at first for a real ale fan :)

    The Old French spelling for the word would almost certainly have been ‘roy’, which is how it would have come into English, along with the Normans.

  9. Chris Tompsett says:

    We discarded the solution to 8dn until we decided that there was no other possible answer. Our medical dictionary defines an antigen as anything that is recognized by the immune system as non-self – leading to production of a specific antibody. This appears to be the opposite of the definition in the clue – unless this is a subtle reference to an antigen-antibody complex.

  10. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I was very surprised to see an Araucaria last Saturday. He produced already the Wednesday puzzle (and moreover, I thought it was Pasquale’s turn by now – but he took his revenge a few days later).
    When I found out that he also had the Saturday spot in the FT (after being there three days before, too), I asked myself: is there someday special going on to celebrate? Certainly not his 90th birthday, we’ll have to wait until next February.
    So, four puzzles in one week (excluding the Biggles one) – quite a feat.

    However, I am not sure whether I liked this crossword or not.
    Some solutions were spotted quickly (ALSO, WEARY, OSLO, NEPTUNE and a few more), but eventually we made a mess of the North East – having hardly anything there.

    Maybe it was too noisy in the Arts Picture House here in Cambridge.
    The Italian wine was nothing to complain about though :).
    Yes, ITALIAN, why didn’t we get that word – too obvious perhaps?

    The anagrind in 2d (EN MASSE) is a bit dubious, isn’t it [but apt in the surface]?
    ‘Lamentable’ is probably a bit too strong, rightback.

    And the anagrind in 12ac (just “style”) was OK, though not fully satisfying either.
    The “reverse anagram” in 5d was indicated in a rather clumsy way, we thought – a very uncomfortable clue.
    Both were in the NE corner, where we should have found 8d ánd 7d (MARTINI), the latter in which Araucaria followed his disciple Paul in using (familiar) brand names [remember Brillo and Smarties?].

    We had never heard of TOC EMMA (5ac), but Mrs Bradford had [and my PinC saw the right construction but couldn’t make anything useful out of it – just like me].

    CHATELAINE (6d) is an interesting word, for me as a Dutchman, that is.
    It has its origins in the French ‘chateau’, which is ‘kasteel’ in my native language.
    The word is similar to the Dutch word ‘kastelein’ which is a ‘barman’ (who also may be the owner of the pub). Here, CHATELAINE, though, is a female and someone quite different!
    Talking about Dutch, the solution to 10ac (AFRIT) is a Dutch word too, meaning ‘a motorway exit’ (af=off, rit=ride). Of course, it has nothing to with this clue, but looking at AFRIT it is very difficult for me [as a Dutchman] to see this as an English word rather than a Dutch one.

    Despite loads of gin [in the puzzle, that is :)] we didn’t find it too exciting, but it was (I would say) of course generally well-clued.

    Is there a Clue of the Day?
    1ac (SWEEP UP) is quite funny, isn’t it?

  11. JS says:

    Sil #10

    “So, four puzzles in one week (excluding the Biggles one) – quite a feat.”

    I agree, especially when they were followed last Monday by his Genius 89; one of the best/most enjoyable crosswords I have seen in a long time.

    For anyone who hasn’t done it it is quite brilliant ~ Araucaria at his best and they don’t come better than that (IMO.)

  12. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks, JS, I haven’t done any Geniuses in the last few months, but your words did make me curious – so I printed one off.

  13. otter says:

    Thanks, Rightback and everyone else. Also I can’t come near competing with Rightback’s 12 minutes – I tend to me more of a crossword tortoise than a hare – I found this less of a problem than he claims to have. It was a fairly tough solve, but with nothing that really had me stumped. I’m lucky in that, through one source or another (particularly reading old crime fiction, which is something I’ve discovered over the past couple of years having never delved into it when I was younger) I had discovered such things as Gin and It and Ack Emma (which eventually led me to TOC EMMA, although I hadn’t heard that specific term before). Am a great fan of FitzGerald’s translation of the Rubaiyat so got that fairly quickly. And I am all too familiar with Angostura bitters, as that vile miniature bottle seemed to have pride of place of every cocktail cabinet when I was a child. (I did try them later in life but I don’t think I’ve ever had a pink gin – I prefer mine unadulterated or with tonic and lime or a splash of Kina Lillet.)

    My last was also CHATELAINE, a word I do know although was stumped by the clever running together of the two words ‘house keeper’ (ie keeper of a house; a woman who runs a household) to the form of a domestic servant, and didn’t know the ‘lily maid’ reference. I also spent a while in a ‘nanny’ cul-de-sac: although realising that this was not a housekeeper, I couldn’t take my mind off ‘nanny’ for a long time. (Armchair psychologists, do your worst.)

    Thanks, Araucaria – an enormously enjoyable, tricky and satisfying puzzle.

  14. CGK says:

    Unless parliamentary procedure is changed in the meantime, I believe we can expect Roy=king to make a comeback: royal acceptance of most bills will again be announced by the formula Le Roy le veult (The King wishes it). Or, eventually, Wills it?

  15. otter says:

    Boom, boom!

  16. Mac says:

    Thanks all and many thanks Araucaria, as always!

    Brewers has ‘Roy’ as Old Norman French for King.

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