Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,220 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on January 22nd, 2011


This is one of those puzzles that make your [or, at least my] heart sink when you see a long quotation that covers what seems about half of the grid and, when it’s Araucaria, there’s often devilish wordplay involved. This time, fortunately, or not, depending on your preferences, it was one of his anagrams and, for all I know [knowing nothing about the [mis]fortunes of Swindon Town or Gerard Houlier’s possible involvement – where are you, Rightback?] it could well be on a par with his classic virtual &lits:

“O hark the herald angels sing the boy’s descent which lifted up the world”, an anagram clue for “While shepherds watched their flocks by night, all seated on the ground”

and,  “Poetical scene has surprisingly chaste Lord Archer vegetating”, for “The Old Vicarage, Grantchester”.

The quotation here is a comparatively less well-known [to me, anyway] one from Sir Walter Scott and / or Thomas Osbert Mordaunt [see:] ONE CROWDED HOUR OF GLORIOUS LIFE IS WORTH AN AGE WITHOUT A NAME, anagram of  O SWINDON TOWN OUTED FROM HIGHEST LEAGUE A FAIR COW OR A HOULIER – indicator ‘needed’?? The problem with this type of puzzle is that if you know the quotation, it goes in almost immediately, leaving a rather depleted puzzle, or, if you don’t know it at all, without any wordplay it’s practically impenetrable – and / or you lose interest. Once I’d got something that could be ‘crowded / clouded’ and ‘glorious’, I resorted to Google and did then dimly remember it.

As well as the mistake of the Guardian publishing an old Paul puzzle in the paper, which I started solving without realising that I’d blogged it only a month ago – oh dear! – there was also confusion as to which ’22’ formed part of the quotation – not helped at all by clicking on ’23ac’ in the online version, since it highlighted 22dn! This was irritating, as I spent some time trying to find a quotation containing ‘lady of’, which seemed very feasible. These Guardian errors really are getting beyond a joke.

Apart from the quotation,  there were some nice clues, my favourite being 5dn.


12 SPOOKY: O [love] + OK [authorised] in SPY [agent
17  ENDORSE: ENDOR [witch’s home] + S[outh] E[ast]: the witch of Endor  was a woman who called up the ghost of the recently deceased prophet Samuel, at the demand of King Saul  in the First Book of Samuel, chapter 28:3–25.
20 SWEET PEA: WEE [small] in STPEA [anagram of TAPES]
22,14  LIFE IS TOO SHORT – e.g. to stuff a mushroom? [Shirley Conran in ‘Superwoman’]: the second part of the clue refers to the Latin translation of a saying of Hippocrates: Ars longa, vita brevis – ‘[the] art is long, life is short’, used by several Roman authors and orators and by Chaucer, and variously translated. Such is the succinctness of Latin that it is usually interpreted as something along the lines of  ‘Art lasts forever, but artists die and are forgotten’, but Hippocrates was talking about the art of medicine and therefore meant something like ‘it takes a long time to acquire and perfect one’s expertise (in, say, medicine) and one has but a short time in which to do it’. [Just four words in Latin!]
24  NICE: triple definition and the first of two clues which might be tough for non-UK residents. NICE is a [now not exact] acronym for the National Institute for Health and Clinical Excellence, which used to be the National Institute for Clinical Excellence.


1 BIG APPLE: double definition: a large cooking apple and a nickname for New York City
2,24 SHOE NAIL: anagram of HE’S A LION
4   CASH DOWN: ‘settle there and then'; C[arbon] + ASHDOWN [forest]: originally a deer hunting forest in Norman times, Ashdown Forest in East Sussex is known as the ‘home’ of Winnie-the-Pooh.
5   FRENCH LOAF: être fainéant is French for [to] be lazy, or ‘loaf’, and ‘French stick’ is another name for a baguette. Lovely clue!
6 BEGGAR: ‘one wanting': EGG [food] in BAR [pub]
8   AERATE: ERA [time] in anagram of TEA
: OYSTER [shellfish] + CARD [comic character]: the second of the ‘parochial’ clues – less familiar to those living outside London but, at least, the wordplay was absolutely straightforward: the Oyster card is a form of electronic ticketing used on public transport services within the Greater London area.
16  REPROOFS: REP [the agent this time] + ROOFS [anagram of SO FOR]. I’m not happy with ‘organiser’ as the indicator.
18  STITCH-UP: TITCH [little guy] in SUP [drink]
19 LAPDOG: P DO [quiet party] in LAG [convict]
21  WINDOW: WIN [get prize of] + DOW [a make of vintage port
22,15 LADY OF LEISURE: LAD [boy] + YO [call] + FLEI [anagram of FILE] + SURE [reliable]

28 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,220 / Araucaria”

  1. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Eileen, welcome to the Saturday spot.

    Despite (ánd thanks to) the anagram we managed to solve this crossword without too many problems.
    And despite the fact that 5 out of 7 across clues started wit “See …”.

    Even so, we didn’t understand LIFE IS TOO SHORT (22,14).
    While it is [life’s too short, I mean], we think this isn’t really fair. Is it cryptic anyway?

    Microsoft’s idea = WINDOW?
    Don’t think so.
    And DOW in the clue refers to a brand name for port – don’t like that. [Do like the port, though :) ]

    Gérard Houllier is a football coach, but with two Ls.
    So, not that good.

    Agree with you that ‘organiser’ isn’t an acceptable anagrind.
    But then, some setters get away with it.

    + & -

  2. sidey says:

    These Guardian errors really are getting beyond a joke.

    Easily cured with a new editor who knows what he’s doing.

    The quotation is sufficiently obscure that it’s not in my edition of the ODQ. Not that you should need any edition to do a prize crossword. Or Google translate for 5d even if it was rather good once translated.

    And crediting Microsoft with having an original idea? Whoops.

    Anyway, to damn with faint praise, I’ve solved worse puzzles by A.

  3. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen – nice blog. You’ve feminised fainéant, no objections, though. A couple of gripes however in the puzzle itself, one the long quote which I got in the end. I hadn’t time, having got 22,14, to waste working out what the second half of the clue had to do with the answer: thanks for the clarification. On 21d, is this ever singular with Microsoft? Still, I had a happy hour mucking about with the darn thing.

  4. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Eileen for your blog. Appreciate your explanation for 13D. Since I do live 7707KM (great circle route) outside of London, OYSTER CARD was unknown to me. Just wondering, who did come up with the idea of Windows that Microsoft stole?


  5. Tokyo Colin says:

    Many thanks Eileen, your blog was just what I needed. I had all the correct answers but needed your explanations for 17ac, 22/14, 24ac and 13dn. Anything parochial goes right over my head I’m afraid. I solved the long anagram the same way you did and got very little pleasure from it.

    I am glad I am not the only one to object to Microsoft being credited with the idea of windows. To answer grandpuzzler, the Windows/Icon/Mouse/Pointer user interface “paradigm” was invented by Xerox at their Palo Alto Research Center (PARC) and (in)famously rejected by Xerox management as being of little value. It found its way into high end workstations first (I first saw it on Charles River device) and then to the Apple Lisa, predecessor to the Macintosh.

  6. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Eileen. For me, the long anagram was spoilt by the (deliberate?) misspelling of Houllier. BTW, what’s happened to the solution to 23,25,26,22,11,7,1 in the blog? It’s missing in my view of it. Now back to the marmalade.

  7. Eileen says:

    Thhanks, molonglo: rogue ‘e’ now deleted.

    It’s in the preamble, cholecyst – I’ve highlighted it now.

    I didn’t comment on 21 down, because I’m not knowledgeable enough, but I thought there might be some reaction. :-)

  8. Mr Beaver says:

    The quotation was too obscure for either of our dictionaries, but it was quite fun working out what it might be as more crossing letters dropped in. It’s a thought-provoking sentiment; like a lot of A’s obscurities, one felt grateful for having been introduced to something interesting!

  9. PeeDee says:

    Re 21dn, technology is clearly not the Reverend’s stong point.

    I don’t mind the very long linked clues, I like the sheer excess of it. It would be annoying if we got them every day, but for weekends they make a nice change. It would be dull if every puzzle had the same anodyne format.

  10. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen for a very good blog and Araucaria

    All a bit messy – I suspect Araucaria and the editor might well echo Eric Morecambe’s riposte to André Previn “I’m playing all the right notes, but not necessarily in the right order!”

    I had to wait till quite late in the solving to get the long quote, I’m afraid, and then had to check it to make sure. I also had to guess 5d.

    Some clever clues as usual, but not really vintage Araucaria. Was it another special occasion effort?

  11. tupu says:

    Hi Molongolo

    re Window (singular). Yes – at least on my ancient version of Word. Look at the Menu Bar where there is a heading ‘window’ and where the drop down list offers ‘new window’.

  12. Robi says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Eileen for a comprehensive blog.

    I found this rather frustrating, having to spend some time Googling to find the quotation, but I suppose it is educational for those of us not from a literary bent. Thanks, didn’t understand the ‘art’ reference in 22,14 until I read the blog. I did like 5d even though having to use a translator.

  13. linxit says:

    I always enjoy these long convoluted anagrams when they come up, but I managed to work out the quotation from crossing letters and context, without bothering to check the exact letters were all there. Shame about the misspelling of Houllier, but not as bad as the incorrect assumption at 21D. Araucaria knows his literature and religion, but he’s obviously not so hot on football and modern technology! I didn’t let that spoil my enjoyment of the puzzle though.

  14. paul8hours says:

    Quite a fun puzzle despite the gripes already referred to. I have to say I am very grateful that French is the language of choice for most setters (more so recently ?) as I have some familiarity with it. Clues in Germanic or more in Latin would floor me.

  15. Robi says:

    P.S. Perhaps the reverend reads the Daily Star: ‘GERARD HOULIER TO BECOME DIRECTOR OF FOOTBALL AT ASTON VILLA’ from:

  16. liz says:

    It’s lovely to see you on a Saturday, Eileen — I really enjoyed your blog, especially your comments re 22,14. I didn’t know the quotation, but solved it exactly the same way that you did. I also enjoyed 5dn a great deal. Probably not vintage Araucaria in a few other respects, but I quite enjoy puzzles with these long quotes once in a while…

  17. Eileen says:

    Thanks for that, Robi.

    I did mean to say that, if you google ‘Gérard Houlier’, you find umpteen examples! :-)

  18. molonglo says:

    Hi tupu @ 11. I mean with a big W. Webopedia rightly defines small w window as ‘an enclosed, rectangular area on a display screen.’ Not Microsoft, especially, as per 21d.

  19. Jan says:

    Thanks, Eileen, especially for the bit of Latin – I had underlined ‘how about art?’ knowing that an explanation would appear here. My O-level Latin went in one ear and …..

    I loved 5d and chortled when the penny dropped. Chambers actually has, fainéant = n. do-nothing, so I worked from that. My O-level French didn’t cover Merovingian kings.

    Grandpuzzler, I had to check that such a thing as an Oyster Card existed and I’m only 50 miles from London. I also had to ask who on earth Houlier is.

  20. Uncle Yap says:

    The Oyster Card is so familiar, having recently travelled all over London with it. Alas the technology is a tad flawed. On the day that the train did not arrive and I missed Paul’s talk at the Guardian, I waited at the platform of Sydenham Hill station for close to two hours and was charged a whole day’s rate of 6 pound plus for the dubious pleasure of freezing on the platform !!!

  21. g larsen says:

    Hi Linxit @13: Araucaria may have misspelt Houllier, but he does know something about football – the reference to Swindon Town was very satisfying and appropriate, as they are one of the clubs which had a meteoric rise to the top rank, only to fall back after one season.

    And Uncle Yap @20: my Oyster card was similarly charged when I descended to the platform at Pimlico tube station but aborted the journey on discovering that the trains were going nowhere. I did eventually get a refund, but only after much persistence: the system seems to assume that few people will bother.

    I thought this was a very satisfying prize puzzle, if not one of The Master’s best ever. I have no problem at all with mammoth anagrams.

  22. Eileen says:

    Hi g larsen

    Many thanks for the information re Swindon Town. That’s just what I was hoping for in the preamble. As to the misspelling, as I said @17, he’s by no means alone there.

    [It’s just the anagram indicator I’m not happy about.]

  23. Ken says:

    Thanks Eileen and A.

    Count me as one who eventually got the quotation without knowing it in advance, but also without the help of Google. But I was stumped by the R. side owing to 17a, 18d, 24a and 4d, none of which clicked in my American brain.

    As for 22, 14 – I’m glad to learn this meme is even older than I thought; I learned it as Chaucer’s “The lyf so short, the craft so longe to lerne” which has always been a favorite. The useful double meaning in the 4-word Latin version reminds me of another favorite – ‘ad astra per aspera’.

  24. engineerb says:

    I have been doing Guardian crosswords for about 10 years now (currently going through a Paul phase) & found this site about 2 years ago. Thank you for all of your help in decoding many clues in that time.

    I haven’t contributed because I felt that I had nothing worthwhile to say. However this puzzle made my blood boil. What is the point of a Cryptic Crossword if you cannot solve the core clue as a standalone? I cannot believe for a moment that any solver dcoded the saying from the anagram alone – in my case I got “Life is” & “Glorious” & various crossing letters, and then googled quotations to fit the word sizes. I finished it but I think that it was a travesty of a crossword.

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Well, engineerb, yes and no.

    It is very hard to solve a clue like that as a stand-alone one, you’re right.
    But we impersonated your “anyone” that solved it by writing out the letters on paper from the anagram – of course, after having several crossing letters.
    Never heard of the quotation though.
    And to be honest, can’t be bothered by rather old fashioned quotations like this, too.
    But then, as I always say, we are all different.

  26. amooti says:

    I can give engineerb some 40 years in doing Guardian crosswords, so perhaps I can defend Araucaria on this. His generation (and he must be in his 80s, possibly even 90s) would take the ‘crowded hour’ quotation in their stride, coming as it does from an author far more popular in those days than he is now.

    For comparison, look back at archive crosswords from The Times in the 1940s or 1950s, which demanded a comprehensive knowledge of the most abstruse Eng Lit quotations, with no concessions to weakness such as anagrams or cross-references: you either knew it or you didn’t. Fortunately, things have changed, and compilers nowadays cater to intelligence over schoolroom rote-learning.

  27. declanor says:


    I have no idea whether a comment like this to a two-year old blog will ever reach you, but I feel I have to comment. I lived in the UK for a few years in the 1960’s and enjoyed solving the Guardian and other cryptics at that time. I now live in the US and have taken to the FT lately. I have seen and enjoyed your comments on the FT blog. My reason for commenting is that some clues and answers from those days still stand out in my memory for one reason or another. The one that stands out as having the longest answer is the ‘crowded hour’ quotation. I believe the clue back in the 60’s was “Sixty full minutes, if our follies go wrong, is equivalent to an undesignated period” – decidedly easier than the anagram. I just Googled it today to see if it was referenced anywhere and found your blog from the past. I believe the clue appeared in the Guardian back then but have no idea who set it.

  28. Eileen says:

    Hello declanor

    It’s never too late to post a comment, because the blogger gets an email of every one.

    I wonder why you gave up doing the Guardian puzzle in favour of the FT?

    I hope we’ll hear from you again.

    [I just googled your clue and was directed [only] to this comment of yours. ;-) ]

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