Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,189 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on December 9th, 2010


I think this puzzle might not be everyone’s cup of tea but I enjoyed it, once I got started. 3dn was the first themed answer I got, before solving 25,22, so I went down a blind alley or two, before getting 2dn, which set me on the right track.

The theme is novels of Virginia Woolf.


1   STROUD: anagram of TUDORS – a town in Gloucestershire
5   MORALISE: ALI [Caliph – cousin and son-in-law of the prophet Mohammed] in MORSE [Samuel, cryptographer]
9   STALWART: anagram of LAW in START [beginning]
10  JACOBS: the first of the themed clues – a reference to Jacob sheep:
and Virginia Woolf’s novel, ‘Jacob’s room’.
12  HERB GERARD: HER [female] + reversal of REG [small boy] in BARD [poet]: another name for ground elder
13  NIM-OIL: anagram of IN LIMO [small limousine]: an aromatic oil from the seeds and fruit of the neem tree
14  DALLOWAY: ALLOW [permit] in DAY [time]: Woolf’s novel, ‘Mrs Dalloway’, hence ‘married woman’
16  THE WAVES: T[ime] + HEW [cut] + AVES [birds
19  URCHIN: double definition: an archaic / dialect word for ‘hedgehog’
21  THIRD WORLD: T. HIRD [Thora, the actress and national treasure]
+ L [pupil] in WORD [promise]
23,11  SLATTERN: SLAT [strip of wood] + TERN [bird]
24 TUXEDO: reversal of ODE [poem] + X [tenth] + UT ‘a syllable representing the first note of the scale, now generally superseded by doh’
25 VIRGINIA WOOLF: VIRGINIA [state] + WOOLF, homophone of ‘wolf’, as in the song, ‘Who’s afraid of the big bad wolf?’ – and, of course, there’s  also the play / film, ‘Who’s afraid of Virginia Woolf?’
26  BELLYFUL: BELL [ringer] + U [turn] in anagram of FLY
27  DURING: DU [French ‘of the’] + RING – reference to Wagner’s Ring cycle


2   TO THE LIGHTHOUSE: TOT [child] + L [pupil – for the second time] in HEIGHT [stature] + HOUSE [accommodate]
3   ORLANDO: OR [golden] + LAND [country] + O [love]
4   DIAGHILEV: GHI [fat -alternative spelling of ‘ghee’, clarified butter] in DIAL [face] + E [fifth letter of the alphabet] + V [fifth]: Sergei Diaghilev, founder of the Ballets Russes
5   MATURED: MAD [crazy] around anagram of TRUE
6   REJIG: RE [concerned with + JIG [dance]
7   LOCARNO: LO [see] + CAR NO [ should be on [number] plate]: reference to the Locarno agreement of 1968, which established an International Classification for Industrial Designs.
8   SUBURBANISATION: anagram of ROT [IN A BUS] X 2 – a rather clumsy and vague definition
: a corollary of ‘journalist over American city’ is LA [American city] UNDER ED [journalist]
17  WORRELL: RR [rights] in WOE [misery] + LL [lefts]: Sir Frank Worrell, first black captain, during the 1950s, of the West Indian cricket team:
18  SHRIVEL: H [hydrogen] in anagram of SILVER
20  CASHIER: double definition

41 Responses to “Guardian 25,189 / Araucaria”

  1. MikeC says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I thought this was quite a tough one. Nim-oil was new to me (I mistakenly put til-oil, as suggested by Chambers!). Re 8 down, I thought “rot” did double duty, as part of the definition as well as the anagrind, which makes it a rather neat clue, imho.

  2. MikeC says:

    Whoops – I meant anagram fodder, not anagrind. Sorry!

  3. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Morning Eileen. I did try, but the first 11 words of your blog about sum it up for me!

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi K’s D

    What a shame – I know you’re trying to like Araucaria!

    After being bamboozled by the wrong Paul yesterday, I did momentarily think, when I got ORLANDO, that we could be in for Guardian setters today, which might have been a more congenial theme.

    I see what ytou mean, MikeC, but I can’t see why we need ‘See’.

  5. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I’m another one whose cup of tea this was not, mainly because I’m not familiar enough with the works of Virginia Woolf (even though I blogged a puzzle on a similar theme by Brendan in April).

    5ac: I don’t think Samuel Morse can really be described as a cryptographer, as Morse Code is not intended to conceal the information it’s used to send. I didn’t know, or had forgotten, that he was also an accomplished painter.

  6. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. Like you, I got ORLANDO first but went down the “As you like it” cul-de-sac instead! Again like you, I had to get VW before it clicked. I’m afraid this wouldn’t make my top one hundred of A’s puzzles. Quite enjoyable but…

  7. Martin H says:

    Too many pet dislikes here: ‘list’ themes – if you are familiar with the theme the solutions come too easily; if you’re not they can be hopelessly obscure; and celebrity first names. The theme fell very easily – once ORLANDO was in it had to be either Guardian setters or VW, and that didn’t take long.

    Also some clueing I wasn’t keen on: ‘defeat’ to indicate an anagram in 1; ‘have’ doesn’t contribute anything to the cryptic grammar in 10, nor ‘makes’ to 23,11. 19 doesn’t really work as a dd – ‘urchin’ doesn’t mean ‘prickly’. I agree with you Eileen about 8, and with Andrew about Morse. So a disappointing Araucaria for me. TUXEDO and STALWART work well, though, as does LOCARNO, though I was blinkered on ‘plate’ until I read your commentary.

    Herb Gerard and nim-oil were not part of my world until this morning, so at least I’ve learned something.

  8. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew: I knew it rang a bell.

    You’ve reminded me that I meant to put inverted commas around ‘cryptographer’. I know what you mean but I think ‘Morse Code’ is so well known that, in Crosswordland, it’s OK.

    NeilW – I headed towards Arden, too, and – very briefly – Florida! It was the enumeration of 2dn that caused the penny to drop.

    Martin H, I agree with most of your cluing quibbles. I found this puzzle disappointingly [for this setter] low on smiles and pdms – 7dn came nearest. Best of luck in bringing you new-found phrases into conversation today! :-)

  9. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. DALLOWAY was my way into the theme, which delivered up quite a bit of the puzzle. DIAGHILEV was a lucky guess, tho I didn’t see all the wordplay.

    Struggled over NIM OIL and HERB GERARD, and needed the check button to finish.

    I enjoy themed puzzles — and I am a big fan of Araucaria — but I found this one a little lacking in something…

  10. walruss says:

    I was lucky in that I’ve read most of these books, but I still think this is a pretty good Araucaroia puzzle. best clue for me, and favourite of the books, TO THE LIGHTHOUSE. Thankyou, Eileen.

  11. James Droy says:

    Dear all,

    I’m always surprised that some solvers don’t like Araucaria to me he is the great uncle of the crossword world – first you have to listen to him rambling on until the penny drops and the puzzle falls into place.

    I thought 8dn was quite smart, that sea urchins are prickly while the boys are scruffy, that slattern and tuxedo were enough to make you smile and that Nim oil will never confound any of us again.

    I thought the Locarno treaties were more to do with settling the boarders of Germany after the great war. A reference to an industrial design treaty would see a bit too obscure.

  12. malc95 says:

    Thanks Eileen:

    19a Didn’t know about the old name for hedgehog, thanks for the information. I thought the answer came from the sea urchin.

    17d This must have been difficult for non-cricket lovers. Even I’m only just old enough to remember him!

  13. Mr. Jim says:

    This one stumped me. Didn’t get the theme clue, but after getting ORLANDO wondered if it wasn’t GUARDIAN ANGEL. Concluded it wasn’t (esp. after getting DALLOWAY) but I know nothing of Virginia Woolf. Gave up with only 6 answers entered.

    In fairness to Araucaria the clues were fair, but I don’t think I would ever get LOCARNO or DIAGHILEV.

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for the blog and Araucaria

    Solved most of this without trouble but got badly stuck in the NE corner.
    7d was nearly my dowbfall. Since ‘See’ is redundant in 8, I wasn’t too worried about it in 7 and went wrongly for Lepanto/onplate* (a battle of course rather than a treaty as I eventually found when stuck). I then had fantasies about hare pantry for ground elder
    and tupsby for 10a!! (didn’t know Jacob’s Room) All became clear eventually once I had decided that a rejig (also wondered about ‘retap’) was absolutely necessary.

    Morse seemed OK to me – his code has to be ‘deciphered’ – though I take Andrew’s point. I liked the ref. to Ali as caliph.

    Also liked 2d and 4d.

    Pleasure marred by the mess I had to unravel in NE – my own fault of course but Lepanto was tempting.

  15. Stella says:

    For some reason, the answer to 25/22 leapt out at me the moment I read the clue, so after a first run through, I went to Wiki for a little education, and immediately saw 2 and 3d. I already had crossing letters for 16ac. by that time so that went straight in, too.

    On the other hand I didn’t see 10ac., having no idea of sheep and not recognising the VW reference.

    Still, everything eventually fitted into place, except 23/11, which I stupidly read the wrong way round, and couldn’t think what could possibly follow ‘tern’ :(

    thanks for the blog, Eileen, and to Araucaria for the excuse to read up on Ms. Woolf

  16. Eileen says:

    James Droy

    I admit I had to google LOCARNO and found the 1925-6 treaties that you mention, which were, in fact, seven agreements, so I plumped for this

    further down the page, since the clue specified ‘agreement’.

  17. Carrots says:

    Hi Auntie E….and thanks for your blog which contained explanations for two of my guesses.

    Beer must be good for the brain…I pretty well did this in less than a pinta.

    A few quibbles and queries:

    Is STROUD “by” Gloucester or “in” it? If its the town rather than the river, shouldn`t the clue of “Gloucester” be “Gloucestershire”? (I honestly don`t know and won`t refer to Google or reference works until I have to).

    I thought the cryptographer was Inspector MORSE, who, like me, had a penchant for real ale and the Times Crossword)
    “ALI” seems to me to be a much broader Muslim appellation than “CALIPH”, which (I think!) refers to a ruler, does it not?

    LIM OIL is a poor anagramatical scraping from two words totalling 14 letters!

    I can`t accout for the “TU” in TUXEDO. (Which I almost grew out of on the Qneen Elizabeth recently. Still slimming!)….I`ve never “EV” as two-fifths either, but I`m sure that you are right.

    All in all, this seemed a somewhat lacklustre puzzle for an Araucaria.

  18. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks, Eileen – needed you for 13a and the explanation to 2d.

    I found this A. quite entertaining. I was on the bus so no cheat books and managed to get 3d, then VW straight after followed by 2d (which I have read and seen on telly), 16a THE WAVES(which I have tried two or three times but never got further than p3), and couldn’t quite bring 14a to mind – kept thinking of Mrs Doubtfire, or Dalhousie. Mispelling WOOLF and not being able to spell DIAGHILEV didn’t help, but once home and sorted, the rest followed. Thought 7d might be LOCARBO (carbohydrates on a plate), until I checked.

  19. Stella says:

    Hi Carrots @17, ‘ut’ was the original name of the musical nore ‘doh’, taken from the Latin hymn to St. John ‘ut queant laxis’. Like the rest of the fodder, it is reversed.

  20. Garry says:

    Thanks Eileen.

    A bit like Stella, when I saw 25,22 dotted all over the place, I went straight there and Virginia Woolf popped into my head before I’d finished reading the clue. Unfortunately I knew not a single title of any of her works so had to look them up. I usually enjoy Araucaria but I got a bit bored with this one. 7D made me chuckle though!

  21. Eileen says:

    Hi Carrots

    I took ‘by’ [necessary for the surface in 1ac – though I share Martin H’s reservations about ‘defeat’ as an anagram indicator] to mean ‘near’. It’s used that way in some Scottish addresses.

    I did wonder about Endeavour, rather than Samuel Morse but decided that a cryptographer would be a setter, rather than a solver, wouldn’t he?

    I got the information re Caliph Ali here:

    As I said in the blog, TU is a reversal of the note, UT.

    I think the E = 5th letter device cropped up in one of the puzzles just the other day.

    I’m glad that other fans of Araucaria [and they don’t come much more devoted than me] were somewhat disappointed in this one.

  22. sidey says:

    I don’t do fandom, I have enjoyed very many Araucaria puzzles over the years. The contrast between his extremely good offerings and some sub-mediocre efforts one can only hope is down to the lack of editorial input evident in other contributors’ puzzles on recent occasions.

  23. Brian Harris says:

    Didn’t enjoy this at all. To be fair to Araucaria, it may be because I am ever so slightly still hung over, but I found most of it rather painful and tough going, and the clueing not particularly inspired.

    Guessed LOCARNO, but didn’t get the “CAR NO” bit as something that should be on a (license) plate. That is rather nice.

    In summary, my groan today when I saw Araucaria’s name was justified.

  24. gm4hqf says:

    Not being a reader of fiction I don’t know much about the works of Virginia Woolf. This made getting started with this puzzle very difficult for me. Had to go back to it three or four times before getting 12a HERB GERARD and 13a NIM-OIL, both new ones to me, to finish it off. Also liked 7d LOCARNO, something else I learnt.

    Didn’t like 8d, in my opinion a terrible clue.

    Being, probably, the only radio ham on this list, I wouldn’t refer to Morse as a cryptographer. Morse code letters correspond to letters of the alphabet. Of course the message being sent can be encrypted to stop anyone reading it, and after being received, decrypted. Morse sent in plain language can be read by anyone.

    Just my tuppence worth on a very difficult puzzle.

  25. J&C says:

    This was our cup of tea, including the cricket reference. Maybe not vintage monkey puzzle, but enjoyable as always.

  26. Robi says:

    Thanks Eileen for an informative blog. Didn’t really enjoy this. Once I had 25,22 it was just a case of looking up novels and fitting them in. Has anyone heard of nim-oil before?? Had to cheat on a couple, and would never have understood Locarno without the explanation. I liked 15d and just about remembered Worrell, although I’m not really a cricket aficianado – apparently, there is a game going on some nights in Australia.

  27. Robi says:

    P.S. I thought 19a referred to a prickly sea urchin, although was your reference to hedgehog just a third meaning?

  28. Eileen says:

    Hi gm4hqf

    Forgive me if you’ve posted before but I wanted to say, ‘Welcome’, as I don’t remember your name, at least on my blogs.

    HERB GERARD and NIMI-OIL were new to me, too.

    Re Morse; I’ve no idea whether you’re the only radio han around here but, as I said before, for most people, Samuel Morse ‘invented’ the ‘Morse Code’, therefore wrote a code, ergo, for crossword purposes is a ‘cryptographer’. Maybe we shouldn’t be calling it a code’ :-)

    I didn’t mention this before but I was thinking that maybe ‘Mrs Dalloway’ was rather more widely known since the 2002 Oscar-winning film, ‘The Hours’, based on the 1998 Pulitzer Prize-winning novel of the same name by Michael Cunningham – both of which I’d warmly recommend – which examines the impact of the novel on the lives of three women of different generations, including Virginia Woolf herself.

    J&C and Robi

    I remember mention of Frank Worrell from my childhood – must be the same vintage as the Lovely Cricket Calypso:

    Yes, I’d seen the ‘sea urchin’ reference, too.

  29. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thank you, Eileen, for blogging this puzzle that made many cups of tea come along today.
    We unraveled the theme rather quickly and didn’t find this an extremely tough crossword – although, the NE could only be completed with external help.
    The definition of LOCARNO (7d) is a bit vagueish, and – as so often – I don’t like the word ‘by’ here.

    We thought Araucaria was in a very uneven crossword mood.
    Bit of a clumsy anagrind (if any) in 8d, SLATTERN (23,11) with its SLAT part showing too much resemblance to ‘slut’.
    T.HIRD being clued as Thora, well, we say: thát’s not great.

    On the other hand, the first clue that we found (STROUD – I still remember camping there in 1978 after cycling along a road that split a golf course in two, balls flying above us), TUXEDO, BELLYFUL, DURING and the splendid LAUNDERED made our day.

    Overall, not very good, not bad either.

    Maybe I shouldn’t have submitted this post.
    The main reason for it, though, is this.
    In last Saturday’s Araucaria blog I questioned the use of I and VI for ‘first’ and ‘sixth’, because IMO it should be ‘the first’ and ‘the sixth’. I was waiting for someone to convince me, but nothing happened.
    Today Araucaria tortured me again: V for ‘fifth’ and X for ‘tenth’.
    So, I will ask the same question again: is there anyone out there who can explain me in what sense they are used without the word ‘the’?
    [even Chambers can’t help me – eg V for ‘the fifth’ is not even in there]

    BTW, just like you, Eileen, I immediately recalled the use of ‘two fifth’ for EV as something recent, in a Cinephile perhaps?

  30. Eileen says:

    Sil, I see what you’re saying but I think this is one of those cases where speakers of English as a second language are rather more precise than we natives are.

    You’re quite right that Elizabeth II means ‘Elizabeth the second’ but I personally have no problem in equating ‘II’ with ‘second’. Perhaps I’m just being sloppy [which I usually try not to be! :-)

    Re “I immediately recalled the use of ‘two fifths’ for EV as something recent, in a Cinephile perhaps?” – I’m glad someone else remembered because I’ve failed utterly to find it – and I’m sure it was very recent!

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Eileen, I found it!
    It was indeed in a Cinephile (FT 13,557 – Dec 1, just a week ago) where the EV in ELEVATED was clued as 5-5.
    I am happy with the second 5, but the first … ? :)

  32. Eileen says:

    Well done, Sil, and thanks for letting me know [it’s so annoying not to remember]. I can go to bed now! [I’m off to Copenhagen quite early tomorrow morning]

    I’d only got as far as looking at this week’s puzzles. – I thought I remembered it as being more recent. How time does fly – thanks again!

  33. scarpia says:

    Thanks Eileen.
    I enjoyed this one,being familiar with the works of VW was obviously a big help.Guessed LOCARNO and didn’t see the wordplay until reading your blog.
    Glad you mentioned The Hours,it is a fantastic novel,especially if read just after Mrs.Dalloway.I’ve not seen the film,which I know is said to be very good.Saw a clip containing Nicole Kidman with a false nose and I don’t think I could take the film seriously.

  34. Martin H says:

    Hi Sil – I too was vaguely uneasy about ‘sixth’ and ‘tenth’ without ‘the’. We would find ‘first and last’ acceptable for A and Z, I think, particularly if they occurred together in a clue. Is it a step too far to call B ‘second’ and so on, with E being ‘fifth’? If so could we treat the numerals in the same way, 1 being ‘first’ and so on – even in their Roman forms? I’m not entirely convinced, but it is some sort of a rationale.

  35. Eileen says:

    Hi scarpia

    I actually included a comment about Kidman’s prosthetic nose [ludicrously unnecessary] and then decided to delete it, in order not to put people off: it mustn’t!

  36. paul8hours says:

    VW and the books went in very quickly for me which rather took the fun out of the puzzle, especially as it was not one of his best. Quite a low ‘kids solveability’ rating for this effort from the long serving Master although I have to say he has shown in many puzzles that he keeps up with modern events.

  37. Frances says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I enjoyed this but needed your explanations for several clues.

    In 4d, I took ‘E’ and ‘V’ to be the 5th from the front and the 5th from the end of the alphabet.

  38. Peta says:

    Thank you, Eileen.
    This crossword appeared in today’s Canberra Times (22 Dec). I usually enjoy Araucaria’s puzzles (along with Paul’s) but this one stopped me. Nim-oil, herb gerard, locarno and Diaghilev were the culprits. Orlando came quickly and soon after Dalloway pointed me to Virginia Woolf. I didn’t have a clue why Thora=third – thanks for the explanation.

  39. Huw Powell says:

    Just dropping by after finally filling in some long-standing blanks (all but NIM-OIL).

    The trouble with themes like this is once the theme is “cracked”, one either knows the answers or can readily pull up a resource (Woolf’s bibliography, in this case). I was reminded of the WW2 airplane puzzle from a few months back.

    I’m fine with Morse being a cryptographer – I think people are forgetting that *any* encrypting is decodeable if one knows the key. If one does not actually know Morse Code, a message just sounds like static (or flashing lights, or smoke signals, what have you). Granted, the encryption is not *intended* to conceal the message, but it does.

    Once I brute-forced DIAGHILEV (and I was so close in some ways!) HERB GERARD was hilarious.

    Anyway, thanks A. and E. for the puzzle and the blog!

  40. maarvarq says:

    Not particularly impressed by this one, particularly the obscurities of 13ac and 17dn. Why is 13 ac hyphenated, and why has everyone accepted without comment that DJ=tuxedo?

  41. Eileen says:

    Hi maarvarq

    Sorry, I don’t understand either of your queries: Chambers is the only one of my dictionaries that has NIM-OIL and it gives it a hyphen; DJ = dinner jacket [Chambers and Collins] = tuxedo.

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