Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25201 / Araucaria

Posted by duncanshiell on December 23rd, 2010


I like to work though all the clues first to see how many I can solve cold.  As the first clue I solved in this puzzle was 25d, I thought this was going to be a real struggle.  However, 1,4 was the next to fall and things improved rapidly after that.  

It took me abouit 40 minutes to complete and there were quite a few smiles as I saw how the wordplay was constructed.  Maybe the homonym at 17a will generate some comment, as the final answer is pronounced differently.   The component part though is fine and I think that is the important part of the clue.

My first thought for 19a was rat-a-tat but was obviously wrong (and I can’t find it in the dictionary anyway).  The crossing letters led me to the right answer.

Overall this was a puzzle for the literary , musical and theatrical buffs, with a good bit of history thrown in.  The scientists and mathematicians amongst us will have to wait for another day, although we did get a reference to Helium and Copper.

There wasn’t a single anagram in the acrosses and only two in the downs.

I really enjoyed this puzzle with its clever wordplay.  The clues that stand out for me are DOCTOR JOHNSON, LILAC TIME, CYMBELINE, BUS PASS, JOURNEY and JOHN LEWIS although many of the others were also very clever.

Wordplay Entry
1,4 (CT [caught] contained in [in] DOOR [entrance])+ JOHNS ON (wearing long pants; reference long johns [long underpants]) DOCTOR JOHNSON (a renowned ‘man of words'; Johnson’s Dictionary of the English Language)
9 (HELIUM [light gas] excluding UM, but still leaving ‘a lot of’ HELIUM, contained in [in] RICE [cereal]) + U (universal [film classification, open to all]) RICHELIEU (reference Cardinal Richelieu, 16th/17th century French churchman and politician)
10 DAD (parent) containing (keeping) VI (6) DAVID (reference biblical King David, harpist and painter.  See Book of Psalms)
11 VIOLA (major character in Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night) VIOLA (instrument in an orchestra)
12 PEN (write) + DEN (study) + NIS (Northern Ireland’s; Ulster’s – is this the same as ‘of Ulster’?) PENDENNIS (novel by Thackerey)
13 (SOUR [embittered] containing [about] JO [Scottish word for ‘beloved one'; sweetheart; a common word in barred crosswords]) +N (note) SOJOURN (stay)
15 YAHOO (a brutal or boorish lout) containing B (first letter [head] of BRUTE) YAH-BOO (derisive comment, shortened form of ‘YAH-BOO SUCKS‘)
17 F (fellow) contained in SHUT I (sounds like shuteye) SHUFTI (look, glance)
19 RUB (polish) + (BUDAPEST [capital city of Hungary, excludng {leaving ‘part of’} PEST], reversed [backed]) RUB-A-DUB (sound of a drum.  Chambers gives RUB-A-DUB-DUB)
22 (L [student] + ACT I [Act One is the start of the play]) contained in (in) LIME (reference Lime Street, a fairly well known street in Liverpool.  The main station in the city is Liverpool Lime Street) LILAC TIME (1922 [old] Musical)
24 IRONS (chains) IRONS (reference Jeremy IRONS, actor. ) I’m not sure what the ‘no way in which’ is doing  in the clue.
26 JEW (religious fellow) + EL (elevated) [railroad]) JEWEL (the best thing, e.g. ‘the jewel in the crown’)
27 CYMRU (Wales, excluding RU[Rugby Union]) + BEE LINE (direct path, excluding [that’s pointless] E [compass point]) CYMBELINE  (Early Celtic [possibly even Welsh] British King; play by Shakespeare)
28 SPA (spring) contained in (in) BUSS (kiss) BUS PASS (available in Britain, at least, to everyone over 60 (sexagenarians and upwards), and very useful it is too to those of us who have attained that age)
29 LAMINA (a thin plate or layer; sheet) reversed (turned back) ANIMAL (brute)


Wordplay Entry

DER (one of the many Geman words for ‘the’) +  IVES (reference St Ives, a town in Britain.  No doubt there was a religious gentleman of the same name, but Google just brings up the town on the first page)

DERIVES (originates; comes from)
2 CACAO (tropical tree, or its seeds, from which both cocoa and chocolate are made) CACAO (just a simple definition really.  I often think CACAO is an anagram of cocoa, but of course it isn’t.  Neither are all thye letters of CACAO in ‘chocolate’, so I can’t see any clever wordplay. [Afternote: Thanks to Ian W at comment 1 below, the wordplay is now blindingly obvious to me as the first letters [originally] of Cocoa And Chocolate Are One])
3 OPERA BUFF (devotee of Verdi and other writers of opera, and opera itself) OPERA BUFF (apparently Giovanni Pergolesi [1710 – 1736], composed his works in the style of ‘Opera Buffa’.  He may well have been described as ‘The Opera Buff’, which gives us the [definite] ‘article’ referred to in the clue.)
4 URN (container of tea) contained in JOEY (a baby kangaroo) JOURNEY (act of travelling, on the way)
5 (HOG [pig] containing [swallowing] the first letter D of [first of] DRUGS) + E (Ecstasy) HODGE (the name of Doctor Johnson’s cat; 1,4’s pet)
6 SOLD (disposed of) containing (round)  (EVEN [flat] + F [a musical note]) SEVENFOLD (reference The Seven Sisters, chalk cliffs on the South Downs, near Eastbourne in Sussex)
7 DIS (Pluto; the Underworld; Hell) contained in (among) NUT (reference National Union of Teachers) NUDIST (another term for a ‘nudist’ is a ‘naturist'; hence ‘deveotee of nature’)
8 PIP (charcacer in Charles Dicken’s Great Expectations) + PIN (reference Personal Identification Number [PIN]) PIPPIN (reference Cox’s Orange Pippin, which is , of course, an apple, not an orange.  Isn’t English wonderful)
14 Anagram of (use [new]) JEWISH and NO [number] + L (50) JOHN LEWIS (reference the John Lewis partnership, a major high street retailer in Britain where the company ethos is built around the concept of partnership.  I think the current coalition government has invoked the image of John Lewis when building the coalition, and also when considering some closer working between and within government departments)
16 HEBREW excluding EW, which leaves 4 letters HEBR, which could be considered a majority of the 6 letters of the full word + I (one) + DEAN (churchman) HEBRIDEAN (reference Doctor Johnson’s Hebridean Journey, 1, 4’s 4 down, in 1773)
18 ILIAD (reference Homer’s Iliad; saga) excluding (leaves) D (old penny; old copper) + CUS (coppers [CU]s) ILIACUS (triangular muscle in the groin)
19 RIMS (borders) containing (captures) HE (man) RHEIMS (reference the poem ‘The Jackdaw of Rheims’.  Google takes me to two sources for the poem – Thomas Ingoldsby and Richard Harris Barham.  Ingoldsby pre-dates Barham by some time)
20 SOB (cry) reversed (up) + WELL (source) BOSWELL (reference James Boswell, lawyer, diarist and author best known for his biography of Doctor Johnson [1,4])
21 JUL (short for July) reversed (up) contained in (cover with) FAB (excellent, marvellous; extraordinary) FLU JAB (protection)
23 Anagram of (playing) ALICE CELIA (reference Celia Johnson [4], actress [1908-1982])
25 OP (work) + I + UM (hesitation) OPIUM (narcotic)

36 Responses to “Guardian 25201 / Araucaria”

  1. Ian W. says:

    Thanks for the excellent and clear blog.

    Cacao is made from the first letters of “Cocoa and chocolate are one”, and I took the painter in 10a to be Jacques-Louis, though I’m sure you’re right that King David is the harpist.

  2. molonglo says:

    Thanks duncanshiell. Loved this, largely because it was completely doable in an hour or so without aids – even though half a dozen answers were beyond my knowledge or on its outer fringe (12a, 22a, 5d, 18d, 19d, 23d – as well as the Pergolesi and John Lewis references. The clueing was inspired (those three letter words!) with the possible exception of CACAO and IRONS which were a bit ordinary. Well done Ari.

  3. Duncan Shiell says:

    Ian W – thanks for pointing out the wordplay at 2d – the word ‘originally’ should have pointed me in the right direction.

  4. Andrew says:

    Thanks Duncan. This was very easy going for an Araucaria, I thought.

    In 3dn I read “article” as the A that you have to add to BUFF to get BUFFA. I thought this was a pretty weak clue.

    In 19a BUDA is more than just a part of the word BUDAPEST – it was originally two cities, Buda and Pest, which were united as Budapest in 1873.

  5. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for a great blog, Duncan.

    I really enjoyed this!

    I don’t think there’s a problem in 17ac: the ‘say’ refers to the letter I [homophone of ‘eye’] being added to SHU[F}T.

    I read 3dn as Andrew did.

    Thank goodness 1dn was easy and i was able to correct my mistake of FLUTE [the bellows mender] for 11ac!

  6. jim says:

    Is IRONS an anagram of No Sir!?
    Just a thought.

  7. MikeC says:

    I enjoyed this a lot – thanks A, and duncanshiell for the blog. Re 24a, apparently a sailing boat facing directly into the wind, therefore with “no way”, can be said to be in irons. Makes this a very neat triple definition.

  8. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Duncan,

    Yes there was a 13th century saint IVES in Brittany, of course referred to in France as St Yves.

    I found SW a bit tricky but the rest was easier. JOHN LEWIS was also the reference point for Parliamentary officials to test if an MP’s expenses claim for household goods was ‘reasonable’…..

  9. tupu says:

    Thanks Duncan and Araucaria

    An excellent, amusing puzzle with two mini J-themes. I particularly enjoyed the Dr Johnson references (my favourite Englishman!) and remembering his devotion to Hodge.

    Re St Ives in 1d. This is of course both a Cornish and a Cambridgeshire town. I understand that the good Rev. lives near the latter at Somersham, and (mis?)remember reading at some time that he lived in St Ives itself at one time.

    Much liked 1a, 22, 27, 28, 14, and 21.

  10. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks for the blog Duncan

    As usual quite a tricky puzzle from Araucaria, but enjoyable. 27a beat me, just didn’t see it as I was concentrating too much on the name of a Welsh king.

  11. Derek Lazenby says:

    Ta da! A Xmas present from “The Man”, or put another way, one the class dummy could finish. Not much use of the gadgets either, but a few guesses as I didn’t get all the word play until I saw the blog.

  12. Daniel Miller says:

    This was another excellent A crossword – albeit with the usual caveats about breaking all the normal rules. Thanks for an excellent breakdown.

  13. dupin says:

    Surely I can’t be alone in being bored by the old monkey puzzler – pension him off or put him out to pasture in the Church Times or whatever the hell it’s called.

  14. Martin H says:

    17a doesn’t seem problematic: F in SHUT followed by letter I (homophone of ‘eye’); there’s no indication that the I should be pronounced like that in the solution word itself.

    Greatly enjoyed this. Perhaps I don’t know the ‘normal rules’, Daniel (12), but it all seemed perfectly fair to me, everything solvable from the wordplay – even when the answer, as with John Lewis, remained a mystery; I still don’t really get it.

    Another excellent blog, duncanshiell. Thankyou. Merry Christmas to you and Araucaria – and to all correspondents here.

  15. Eileen says:

    Martin H

    Re 17ac: that’s just what I [thought I] said – probably less clearly – in comment 5. :-)

  16. Martin H says:

    You did indeed Eileen, and perfectly clearly – sorry, I was obviously in too much of a hurry when I read through the comments.

  17. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Martin. Glad we agree – Happy Christmas!

  18. tupu says:

    HI MartinH
    Season’s greetings to you too and others on this site!

    There is a lot I too don’t ‘really get’ in current (and past) governmental rhetoric of mutuality, and the John Lewis thing is apparently, like ‘the big society’, part of that.

    Cameron appointed a number of business leaders inc. the MD of JL as an advisory group. More particularly, Andrew Lansley has said a Tory government would create employee partnerships models within the NHS to improve staff engagement – based on a John Lewis-style partnership model, and JL seems to be a coalition model for the public services more generally.

    At the same time, it appears that the ‘John Lewis model’ has become a flag that Labour are also keen to salute as their own. cf.

    At the same time, another site makes it clear that few people know what the JL model of partnership actually is or how it and/or their image of it relate to reality. So it’s not surprising if one fails to understand the reference properly at several levels.

  19. tupu says:

    Sorry. Wrong website copied and pasted. See

  20. beermagnet says:

    HODGE was the first thematic answer that fell and thus I immediately and confidently etched in SAMUEL JOHNSON without looking too hard at the actual clue for 1A. Though it didn’t take too long to realize my mistake.

    There’s a lovely little statue of Hodge in Gough Square near Fleet Street, across the tiny square from Dr. Johnson’s House which is well worth a visit. (And several very decent pubs nearby too.)

  21. Stella Heath says:

    ‘Doctor’ was my first answer in, from the wordplay, but it wasn’t until I got ‘Hodge’ (idem) that I realised which particular one we were dealing with.

    I am totally unfamiliar with the present governments rhetoric, so the answer at 14d. remained a mystery to me until I visited the blog, although I am familiar with the high street chain.

    The saint of Cornwall is not the 13th century Breton, but a 5th or 6th century Irishwoman who evangelised Cornwall and was martyred and buried at the place where the town later grew up around the church. I have photos of this, which has some quite unique and colourful decorative figures adorning the ceiling. It’s a quaint little building with much reference to the local fishing tradition.

    If we ever move back to England, that’s one place we’d love to live.

  22. Carrots says:

    Superb puzzle with a “skin of one`s teeth” completion without aids. Duncan`s very clear (and much appreciated) blog was needed to fully explain some of the clues in the SE corner, but I didn`t help myself by putting a “Y” on the end of SHUFTI. I don`t know how Auracaria does it, but he usually prompts me to mis-spell at least one key word in most of his puzzles.

    Dupin: your comment @13 is, to say the least, ungracious. Anyone who tires of Araucaria must be tired of life. I`d get one if I were you…and demonstrate that you have done so by devising a puzzle with as much wit or intelligence!

  23. Kate says:

    What a lovely puzzle – just wish it had come tomorrow when I don’t have to work!
    Happy Christmas to one and all

  24. Dupin says:

    Apologies, it was a little more aggressive than intended – I’d been for a particularly vigorous run beforehand. I would still maintain that Araucaria doesn’t merit an automatic weekly berth because I can’t believe that a great percentage of adults in the 35-44 age bracket – where the Guardian readership peaks – find his stuff very accessible.

  25. Carrots says:

    Dupin @ 24: Apologies, however qualified, are always gratefully accepted. Your evident ageism (especially for a Grauniad reader!) is, perhaps, less forgivable, wherever you get your readership figures from. The whole point of a good setter is to NOT be “accessible”…so I take it you can`t/don`t “do” cunning/difficult?

    A cautionary tale: I once worked alongside three colleagues who were all decidedly crabby after their daily lunchtime “runs”. Something to do with Adrenalin-Rush apparently. Sad to say (although they were younger and much fitter than I), all are now long dead.

  26. cholecyst says:

    Carrots: “Anyone who tires of Araucaria must be tired of life” – now that’s really witty, given the Johnson theme!

  27. Stella Heath says:

    Hi Dupin, I’d like to say that culture, whatever your age, is accessible – particularly nowadays – and always welcome. The problem for us older solvers, particularly those who don’t live in the UK, is the speed at which new things enter into the realm of ‘general’ knowledge

  28. Eileen says:

    Hurrah, Carrots [22 and 25]! [and Cholecyst and Stella]

    You [and dupin] may be interested in this, which I saw on the Guardian’s comment site:

    “Today’s crossword turns out to be a present from my son to me on my 60th birthday (hence 28). I wasn’t told but had to solve the crossword first, and then be prompted by the family.
    I am:
    a Jewish, 11-playing medic (hence 18, a rather obscure muscle, even to a medic), with a love of 1ac 4. My name is 10 26l. And in an odd coincidence (because my son didn ‘t know), my father liked using the slightly slang 17.
    So very many thanks to Araucaria & my son, and apologies to some frustrated or foxed solvers.”

  29. rrc says:

    Dupin – if only Aracaria wrote for the Church Times i would rejoice, then I might understand some of the clueing. The Saturday double puzzle was utterly amazing for the breadth and depth of knowledge.

  30. Carrots says:

    Eileen: What a lovely idea! Setters could make a small fortune devising customised puzzles for special occasions…especially if they could get them published on the appropriate day!

    Cholecyst: Well done! I didn`t think anyone would spot the source of the piracy!

    XX to both.

  31. Eileen says:

    Hi Carrots, if you’re still there.

    I don’t know about ‘a small fortune’ but anyone can have a customised crossword from Araucaria:

  32. scarpia says:

    Hi Eileen,to follow on from your link/comment …
    My wife comissioned a customised Araucaria puzzle for my 50th birthday some time ago and I was very impressed by the amount of personally relevant clues.Apparently she sent him a list of info.and he managed to tailor the grid to include most of it.The clueing was up to his usual devious standards and I can highly recommend it as an excellent gift for the hard to please cruciverbalist.
    Plus she got to speak to him on the phone when he needed to check a couple of items(lucky woman!) – she told me he was a charming gentleman,for whom nothing seemed too much trouble.

  33. Carrots says:

    Hi Eileen….and there was I deluding myself that I had discovered a whole new diversity of income for impecunious setters!

    I`ve visited Araucaria`s site and have immediately decided that I must have one. All I need now is an excuse! (I`m working on it!)

  34. Daniel Miller says:

    What a lovely story relating to Bristol Dad (Guardian comments)

  35. Huw Powell says:

    I didn’t get JOHNSON until BOSWELL became obvious… Interestingly, while this puzzle was fully of answers I simply had no familiarity with, I often had them written out in bits and pieces and merely had to look them up to confirm that they were, indeed, words, or the correct answer, at least.

    Heck, CELIA was one of my first “in the margin” guesses, but one of the last answers inked in, after an amusing 20 minutes spent researching actresses who played Alice in live-action Wonderlands. Then I finally said “screw it” and looked up Celia Johnson.

    Still not thrilled with “No way in which” at 24, although the rest of the clue is obvious in its intent.

    Thanks again Araucaria and Duncan!

  36. maarvarq says:

    Some Araucarias are reasonable, and some I loathe, Unfortunately I can’t tell which is which until I’m enmeshed. Most of this one was reasonable, but some (3 dn and most of the SW corner) was vile.

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