Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,183 – Arachne

Posted by Andrew on December 2nd, 2010


This was mostly straightforward, with a few very obvious clues, but there was some good fun too – I liked 14ac, 27ac, and especially 18dn. Sometimes the clues took a bit of working out, even when the answer was fairly clear, with 7dn taking the most work.

1. BRASS BAND BRASS (money, for [Geoffrey ]Boycott as it’s a Yorkshire term) + B (bishop) + AND
9. GUANO Hidden in nicaraGUAN Organic
10. RESIDENCY R (“Eastern” edge of Upper) + E SIDE + NYC*
11. TEDDY BEARS TE (Lawrence, of Arabia) + D[a]D[d]Y + BEARS (brings)
12. KYLE Remove I from KYLIE (Minogue – a popular chanteuse, m’lud) to get this daytime TV presenter
14. PANTIES PETAIN’S* Easy to solve, but a very nice idea that I don’t remember having seen before
17. GODSEND GOD’S END, I suppose, Richard Dawkins being (perhaps unfortunately) more famous these days for his atheism than for his work as a biologist and geneticist
26. INGOT GO in TIN*. Fit = GO as in putting in a jigsaw piece, perhaps: will it go/fit there?
27. KETCH KETCHUP skipping (i.e. omitting) UP (out of bed)
28. TREASURER Double definition – using Arachne’s “trick” in the first one of using a feminine pronoun where a masculine one (or “person” or “one”) might be more usual.
1. BIGOT BIG (radical – as in a radical change) + [midl]OT[hian]
2. ABANDONED Double definition
3. STORY LINES S[hock] TORY + LINES (ranks)
5. DESERTS Double definition
6. AIDA A + IDA . I’m sure I’ve seen this idea before: Gilbert & Sullivan’s (comic) Princess Ida and Verdi’s (tragic) Aida
7. FANCY FAN (one who supports) + CY (city “hulled”); the definition is “Like”. This was my last one in, and it took me a while to work out – I was trying to justify FANNY (like a fan) but couldn’t find a connection with Hull City
8. LAY READER Double definition – a LAY is a poem
13. DOWNSTAIRS I’m not quite sure how to describe this – there’s an anagram: (IT’S ONWARDS)*, and you can go upwards from downstairs; and it’s sort of &lit too..
16. KISSINGER KISSING + [h]E[n]R[y]. You could say that Henry is doing double duty here, or (as I prefer) that it’s cleverly and misleadingly used as part of the wordplay rather than the definition
18. DENTIST DENT IS T[hrill] & lit – very nice!
19. WREATHE WEATHER* (though perhaps moving one letter hardly constitutes being “stormy”)
21. MOTET MOTE (a small piece of something, = whit as in “not a whit”) + T
23. SATYR SAT (took, as in an exam) + Y[ou]R
24. ARCH hidden in patriARCHy. Hidden clues where the answer is inside a single word always seem a little unsatisfactory to me, especially here where the ARCH part of “patriarchy” has the same sense as the answer

34 Responses to “Guardian 25,183 – Arachne”

  1. Martin H says:

    Thanks for showing that there was something cryptic about 18d, Andrew. There were one or two uncharacteristically weak clues here from Arachne, (5, 12, the definition in 16) and I had this down this was the worst of the lot. I had your difficulty with FANCY, so thanks for that as well.

    Boycott, Ian Bishop and Henry Blofeld (Blowers) are of course all cricket commentators.

    9 was nice, satisfactorily getting the definition in to the middle of the clue. Also both 14s, 19 and 27. Don’t like radical = big, but I may be in a minority.

  2. Martin H says:

    ….apologies for poor proofreading in the above.

  3. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for a great blog, Andrew.

    Arachne’s puzzles seem to be becoming more frequent – but I’m not complaining: I enjoyed this.

    I really liked 1ac and also 7 and 18dn.

    A minor quibble is the repeated use of the ‘regularly’ device – and I’m absolutely with you, Martin, re radical = big.

  4. Martin H says:

    Glad to hear it Eileen – we’ll present a strong united front before Somebody gets his dictionary out.

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Martin, sorry but I’m also anti radical = BIG! It was pretty obvious though so I’m not sure it’s much to complain about…

  6. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Arachne

    Enjoyable and quick solve but with some stings in the tail (is spiderwoman really scorpion lady?). A poor parsing day for me I’m afraid – hopefully simply the result of a festive late night.

    I missed Kyle and had Vyne (wrong spelling for TV and did not check Vayne).

    I got Brass Band but missed the parsing again. I thought of it as Brass (money) + Ban (Boycott) + ‘d’ somehow for Bishop but no apparent good reason for this last.

    Thanks too re dentist which I got but did not fully understand.

    I enjoyed 14, 17, 19, 3, 13 (last in), and 14.

    A bit disappointed in myself I’m afraid since simply solving did not do justice to the subtleties of the puzzle and I got 12 wrong.

  7. tupu says:

    I too was troubled by big/radical but deided that it was more or less OK as in ‘Think Big!’ which can I think refer to more than just size.

  8. Stella says:

    The very English references – to cicket commentators and TV presenters – were lost on me, but didn’t prevent this being a quick and enjoyable solve.

    Thanks Andrew for your parsing of ‘fancy’ – it didn’t occur to me to read ‘hull’ as a verb – brilliant!

    Personally, I had no problem with ‘big’, and understood it the same way you did. In any case, the answer was obvious.

  9. Robi says:

    Thanks Andrew for a good blog and to Arachne. I can actually do these when there are a reasonable number of anagrams. Didn’t get the cryptic nature of 18d – thanks for the explanation. As to big: radical is listed as a synonym in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary, so I guess that counts.

  10. Robi says:

    P.S. Do you think in 28a there might be a reference to ‘Mummy’s little treasure’ for a feminine link. See also

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Andrew and Stella
    re 7d. I hesitate to write after missing other things. I wondered if ‘cy’ is rather ‘hull (of) city’ rather than a command which would more logically leave ‘it’.
    I also assumed perhaps wrongly (and certainly unnecessarily) that someone was doing double duty.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I thought this was on the easy side, but enjoyable; but I now see that there were some subtleties that I missed. One or two weaker ones, but a very pleasing web that our setter has woven for us this morning. I liked BRASS BAND and GODSEND, which I thought was witty. I went to see Dawkins lecture when I was a student in the mid-seventies, Andrew: ‘The Selfish Gene’ had just been published and was causing a stir among the establishment who didn’t like its radical (big?) ideas. Now they are accepted as one of the cornerstones of genetic theory. But you’re right, nowadays he’s better known for his crusade against religious privilege.

    Cheers for the blog.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. I enjoyed this and didn’t find it too hard. My favourites were 1ac, 4dn for the surface and 14ac. Didn’t spot the wordplay at 18dn but if I had I would have put a tick beside this one too.

    Less keen on big=radical at 1dn. Attempted to justify it to myself along the lines of ‘a big change’ being similar to ‘a radical change’, but I don’t think that quite stands up…I also thought 5dn and 6dn were a little well-worn.

    But this is nitpicking. Overall I thought it was good fun and witty.

  14. Uncle Yap says:

    Thanks Andrew for the usual great blog. I see you have recovered from last night :-)

    The dentist is only &lit for the character played by Olivier in The Marathon Man. Most dentists work for the money so instead of thrill, Arachne could have used tin.

  15. Carrots says:

    Thanks to you both, Arachne & Andrew.

    I`ve often thought that Arachne has more in common with Robert The Bruce`s spider than a Tarantula or Funnel-Web, but this time she has spun a web beyond my reach at FANCY & KYLE. Chambers does not list “hulled”, but refers to “hull” as the vt. Has Arachne found a new cue to the disembowelment of words? To “hull”, one would think, describes adding a structure to something in order to enable it to float.

    I`d never heard of Jeremy KYLE, but went through torturous deconstructions of all the other TV “Jeremies” I could think of: Clarkson, Vine, Keith, Paxman & Beadle. All in vain, of course.

    I got BRASS BAND, more by guesswork than parsing and, if I`m honest, I still find the clue stretching the gossamer.

    Still snowed-in, so off to the pub now. Awmygawd, no crossword. I`ll have to talk to people.

  16. Mr. Jim says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    I saw “regularly brings toys” in 11A and put in SANTA CLAUS without bothering to parse — d’oh!

    Never heard of a LAY as a poem before, and I share your reservations about 24D, especially as I nearly entered DADS early but thought better of it (rare for me).

    Does 17A really hold up to scrutiny? It seems to be a single definition that only makes sense if you interpret the answer as both GODSEND and GODS END.

    WINDSOR was good, being the royal house as well as the castle.

  17. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Hi Mr Jim

    As I said, I really liked GODSEND, and I think it works well: a blessing is a GODSEND (‘It’ll be a godsend when it stops snowing in Derbyshire’) and Professor Dawkins would be very happy to see the end of God (GOD’S END).

    That’s how I read it anyway.

  18. Stella says:

    Hi tupu@11, you may be right :)

  19. Judith says:

    Carrots @ 15 and others: To hull can mean to remove the hull of, with hull being the husk, shell, or outer covering of a seed or fruit, or the calyx of certain fruits, as the strawberry. That seems to mean you could use it to indicate the removal of the inside or the outside, but I have only ever used “to hull” in connection with strawberries, when I take the stalky bit out of the middle.

  20. Eileen says:

    Hi Judith

    That’s the only context in which I’ve heard the verb, too, so my reading was the same as yours.

  21. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen and Judith
    A small point. To hull only means to remove an outer covering e.g pods of peas. In the case of strawberries it is, as Judith notes, the calyx which is also an external covering. In theory then all uses of the verb leave the inside, and in this case this strictly speaking ought to be ‘it’ rather ‘cy’. I suppose it is arguable that you have the removed hull in your hand and can use that. In either case (noun as I suggested or verb) the admittedly neat surface doesn’t work quite perfectly.

  22. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Arachne and Andrew. Could not finish the NE Corner. Tried to make FANNY work at 7D and hadn’t heard of Jeremy Kyle; he’s not big (radical?) in the Colonies.


  23. Eileen says:

    Hi tupu

    I know just what you’re saying but, like Judith, I was taking the ‘stalky bit’ as being in the middle. :-)

  24. Carrots says:

    Many thanks Judith, Eileen and Tupu….and for the new word you have introduced me to. “CALYX” actually sounds lovely, whereas HULL seems dreary and lacklustre in comparison). Being snowed in allowed me to watch (what I could without running out into the snow, naked and screaming)of the Jeremy Kyle Show. It will take a long time for the cerebral scars to heal.

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen
    No harm meant! :)I know what you are saying, too, and am simply noting it is ultimately a common (and perhaps therefore acceptable) misreading of ‘hull’ (trans. to remove the hull, shell, or husk of; to strip off the outer covering) and ‘calyx’ (in sensu stricto not the stalk but the green outer petals).

    Incidentally, and more interestingly I hope, I have just accessed the new OED which came on line yesterday. I understand no printed edition will be produced. I gather from earlier comments that a variety of libraries including local ones can provide home access – in my opinion, at least, it is well worth getting.

  26. Davy says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    In contrast with some, the first clue I got was KYLE which just seemed so obvious. I have no interest in the man or his dreadful show but he is often referred to by assorted people including comedians and so the name sticks.

    I had an interesting answer to 17a which unfortunately was wrong. I put GODLESS which I thought was a poor homophone for godbless. This of course screwed up DENTIST for which I put SENSIST ie a thrill seeker. Hey ho!.

    Thanks Arachne for an entertaining puzzle

  27. rrc says:

    I think kyle did a spot on radio before moving to TV – sort of agony uncle I quite enjoyed this and even grinned at times

  28. Bob says:

    I arrived at the same answers as Davy. I thought I detected a theme of removing letters from, usually, the middle of words, so I took 17a to be GODBLESS, drop the B somehow, gives GODLESS; then 18d SENSATIONALIST, drop the ATIONAL somehow, gives SENSIST. It all so nearly worked!
    For 12a KYLE I consulted my teenage daughter, who knows about these things.

  29. Roger says:

    Not that happy, K’s D @17 (should you or anyone else happen on this late comment). It would, after all, deny him a fair chunk of his livelihood !

  30. mhl says:

    Thanks for the post, Andrew – this was another enjoyable crossword in a strong week, I think.

    I’ve never seen the Jeremy Kyle show, but I gather one can get a sense of the programme from this compilation of its guests repeating a particularly irksome cliché:

  31. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Roger, you’re right, of course! But I don’t think there’s much danger of the (oftentimes heated) debate about His influence in our lives disappearing any time soon … Hitchens and Blair was interesting, for example.

  32. Roger says:

    Indeed so K’s D (reservations regarding lateness as above ~ the which may prevent this from being ‘Gaufrided’ …) although I’d certainly have picked someone commanding more respect than Blair to fight my corner in a debate of this sort. Don’t think he stood a chance. The real winners here seem to have been the organisers anyway, who ended up quids in !

  33. Arthur Hay says:

    Here I come again, with the _Guardian Weekly_ a week after everyone else.

    I took 21D (motet) as whit=mo + tet=religious (festival in Vietnam. Remember the Tet offensive?))

    But I’m probably wrong.

  34. Gordon Roy says:

    I’m late again as usual too.

    I took ‘elements’ in 24d to be Argon, Carbon and Hydrogen; giving ARCH. Maybe I’m wrong too!

    For anyone reading, have a great Christmas

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