Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,273 – Arachne

Posted by Andrew on March 18th, 2011


I found it quite hard to get going on this one, but I think that’s because of some very clever clues where the cryptic reading is well concealed, with 19ac and 7dn being particularly trick to decipher (and with a coincidental link between them). But it all came out in the end, and the puzzle was very enjoyable and satisfying to finish. I have a couple of minor quibbles, noted below, but nothing too serious. There isn’t exactly a theme, but there are a few smelly foods, and a couple of mentions of their possible result..

1. USELESS The inveterate consumer might be told to “use less!”
5. ABREAST A BREAST is one of two
10. CAMP Hidden in sCAMPering
11. ASAFOETIDA (SAFE AID TO A)*, with “curry” as the anagram indicator, and it’s an &lit as asafoetida “has a pungent, unpleasant smell when raw, but in cooked dishes, it delivers a smooth flavor, reminiscent of leeks”, which rather reminds me of Swift’s “It was a brave man who first ate an oyster”..
12. ADVENT AD (plug) + VENT (hole)
13. IN DEMAND IN (fashionable) + DEM[ocratic party] + AND (too)
14. GOLDENEYE GOLDEN (very successful) + EYE (detective). The goldeneye is a type of sea duck, so “one with a bill”
16. OBESE Alternate letters of gObBlEs SuEt
17. SPASM SPAS + M (monsieur)
19. EMERGENCY EMERGE (rise) + C (100, many) in NY (city)
23. NAPOLEON A POLE in NON (no in French). The definition is just “emperor”.
24. UNSHOE Anagram of N (last letter of “children”) + HOUSE
26. GORGONZOLA GORGON (ugly female) + ZOLA (novelist)
27. INTO I (me) + NOT*, with definition “interested in” as in “I’m into crosswords”. We had I=me recently; I can’t say I’m keen on it.
28. SPIDERY Double definition. The mythical Arachne was turned into a spider, giving a nice reference to the setter, but the clue is rather weak as the “thin and angular” meaning comes directly from the shape of the spider (well, the thin and angular ones anyway).
29. ABALONE AB(dominal) + ALONE – coincidentally this seafood also appeared in this week’s Quiptic
2. SO-AND-SO Double definition
3. LAPSE LAP (round) + SE[E]
4. SPARTAN SPAR (dispute) + TAN (brown)
7. ESTIMABLE EST (Eastern Standard Time, the time zone for the Bronx, and elsewhere) + I’M ABLE (one can)
8. SIDINGS ID[A] in SINGS. I’m not very keen on “little” to indicate removing the end of a word thanks to Eileen for pointing out the much more sensible version: DI in SINGS
9. MARILYN MONROE (EARLY ON I’M NORM[A])*. Very nice surface reading, as Marilyn Monroe’s real name was Norma Jean Baker (though her surname at birth was Mortenson), and she was not a bad actress.
15. DISGORGED Reverse of GROGS in DIED
20. RHUBARB R[ival] H[orticulturalists] + U + BARB (a dig)
21. CROUTON ROUT in CON. Chambers gives “rout” = “(of a pig) to grub up” (i.e. dig) – it’s a variant of “root”.
22. TENNER Reverse of RENNET, and a tenner is a £10 note or bill. Lots of throwing up in this puzzle – perhaps it’s the combination of 11ac, 26ac, 29ac and 18dn
25. STILL Double definition – sprit as in whisky etc


46 Responses to “Guardian 25,273 – Arachne”

  1. blaise says:

    Maybe the emphasis on throwing up was deliberate timing, to coincide with the aftermath of St Patrick’s Day?

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew, and Arachne for an enjoyable puzzle.

    Favourite clue: RHUBARB.

    Re 8dn: I think it’s the usual ‘little girl’, DI, in SINGS.

  3. Andrew says:

    Ah, thanks Eileen, that makes much more sense than my version.

  4. Dave Ellison says:

    Thanks Andrew and Arachne.

    I would like to extol the excellence of 5ac ABREAST; one of the best clues in a long time. Made me chuckle. Surely it is a kind of &lit, too.

  5. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks Andrew,

    Sounds like my solving experience was a bit like yours. I got ‘EMERGENCY but didn’t have time to work out why so thanks for your explanation. By contrast I saw and understood ESTIMABLE quickly. I agree with Eileen about DI in 8dn. Eileen is being characteristically diplomatic in describing her as ‘usual’, personally I’d retire Di to Ur.

    Hadn’t heard of ASAFOETIDA before and by the sound of it I am unlikely to try it. Overall the puzzle displayed markedly less FRAGRANTNESS than the recent Araubetical but was very enjoyable nonetheless.

  6. Eileen says:

    Hi Dad’sLad

    I actually almost added that I’m no more keen on DI being little girl [or eg Tim little boy] than Andrew was on ID[a]. I’m not sure whether it’s better or worse than the equally ubiquitous ‘princess’.

  7. Conrad Cork says:

    Hi Dad’s Lad

    Give asafoetida a go, you only use a pinch of it. I use it almost daily and am also glad that the Indian name ‘hing’ is much easier to say.

    Delightful puzzle from Arachne. Much ingenious misdirection and subtle humour.

  8. Roger says:

    Thanks Andrew. I read 2d as ‘and’ intrinsically (central to) ‘so-so’ (average) giving ‘someone unnamed’ as the definition.
    Had to smile at 6d after yesterday’s ‘*’ counting !

  9. Daithi says:

    re 10ac – I initially saw the CAMP in scampering also, but on reflection felt it was more of a double definition ‘scampering round’ & ‘army base’.

    Can I also thank you and your fellow solvers for shedding light on the many times i can see the answer but can’t see why!

  10. Martin H says:

    A beautifully crafted, and funny, puzzle. I don’t find bad smells and vomit remotely amusing in such programmes as The Young Ones or Little Britain, but presented insistently in a crossword, where they are part of an unrelated and more or less rigorous structure, they seem to come into their own – just as the best place for obscenity is in limericks. Childish really.

    Lots of superbly devious surfaces and ingenious constructions, which one or two quibbles don’t serve to spoil too much: ‘golden’ as ‘outstandingly successful’ – ‘excellent’, ok, but that’s not quite the same; and yes lets say goodbye to Di. The hidden CAMP didn’t really work; ‘Scampering’ is not round the army base, ‘sering’ is.

    I like this sort of concise, restrained commentary, carefully expressed, and informative where necessary. Thanks Andrew. Regarding 2d: a true dd? ‘Someone unnamed’ certainly, but ‘and intrinsically average’ seems like a construction – ‘so-so’ being ‘average’ with ‘and’ intrinsic (contained). The grammar is a little stretched, but it just about works.

  11. Dad'sLad says:

    Eileen @6 – equally bad, both overdue discharge for long service.

    Conrad @7 – ok will do, if I can source any.

  12. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, Andrew. Quite a bit of sick on display, but enjoyable nonetheless. Arachne seems to have quite a risqué sense of humour, which she showed with the excellent ABREAST, and there was much else to entertain and amuse as well.

    SPIDERY was the only slight disappointment, which is a pity since it showcased the setter’s pseudonym. I am a scaredy-cat when it come to our eight-legged friends. There are certainly some out there who could not be described as thin and angular.

    However, I can ignore my arachnophobia when this setter is on the oche. Fine puzzle.

  13. Jan says:

    Thank you, Andrew – I couldn’t parse LAPSE and I failed to get GOLDENEYE, even with all the crossing letters! It’s still a bit too early for me – I usually do these at bedtime.

    I’m chuckling at Dave Ellison’s suggestion that 5 could be a kind of &lit – ‘level with each other’ – nature is not usually so kind! ;)

  14. Robi says:

    Nice puzzle from Arachne, and thanks to Andrew for a good blog.

    I had trouble parsing 19 and 7. I thought 7 might be East Side (of Manhattan) for Bronx, plus T=time, but maybe both ways are correct. ABREAST was chuckle-worthy and I liked ADVENT.

    tupu’s comment @28 was prescient re BLOODY/bally – he must be psychic! :idea:

    I obviously knew foetid, but not ASAFOETIDA (‘stinky finger!’) – apparently, it is used in curries.

  15. Robi says:

    P.S. I meant to say tupu’s comment @28 YESTERDAY.

  16. Stella Heath says:

    I don’t usually make a list of my favourites, but the sheer audacity of some of these clues, masked in simplicity, makes them masterpieces: ABREAST, ADVENT, BLOODY, SPARTAN…

    11ac. opened my way into the NE corner, though I’ve no idea why it was familiar. I had no idea what it was – thanks for the link, Andrew – I think it’s the sound of the word, incongruously euphonic :)

    A very satisfying and enjoyable puzzle. Thanks Arachne.

  17. Geoff says:

    Thanks Andrew.

    Easily my favourite puzzle of the week. Brava, Spider Woman!

    I loved the &lits at 9dn and 11ac and the ingenious use of Eastern Standard Time in 7dn. My favourite clue is probably 3dn for its great surface and tight construction.

    Last in was 5ac, with a snigger.

  18. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew for the usual good blog and Arachne for an ebjoyable teaser.

    I seem to have failed on 5a putting in ‘obverse’ on the grounds that this is one of two sides which are exactly level with each other. Fits but less ‘titillating’.

    As soon as I solved 10a I thought Martin H will be here. Thanks for not letting me down – you are of course strictly correct.

    1 liked 1a (the down clue letters first suggested ‘use’ would be at the end), 12a, 14a, 24a, and my favourite was the delightful 9d – I’ll never forgive Jack Kennedy!

    I saw ‘emergency’ quite early but found it hard to parse at first.

    Thanks robi. It caught me by surprise too.

  19. Martin H says:

    Happy to oblige, tupu – but Daithi’s version @ 9 – beautiful…….oh dear…..

  20. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I meant to say earlier with reference to 18dn and 21dn that sons and daughters of the north would most definitely not be adding croutons to their pea soup. Dipping their stotty into it, mebbes, but croutons are what one sprinkles over one’s consommé in Islington.

    Still a good puzzle though.

  21. Robi says:

    tupu @18 & Martin @10 – according to my trusty Chambers Crossword Dictionary, ’round’ can be used as a containment indicator. So doesn’t ‘scampering’ then work?

  22. Scarpia says:

    Thanks Andrew.
    Excellent puzzle from the Spider Woman.
    Strangely enough ASAFOETIDA was the first in for me,probably because I had spent the early part of the morning cooking up a curry for this evening’s meal.It is very good at exacerbating one of the unpleasant after effects of eating curry.
    Dad’sLad @11 You could try this site

    So many great clues it is difficult to pick highlights,but ABREAST and GOLDENEYE(brilliant definition) really stand out.

  23. Ian says:

    Well blogged Andrew.

    A superb, brilliantly constructed, well mixed puzzle from Arachne.

    Apart from 11a which required referencing in Chambers, the entire exercise was a testy affair, ultimately satisying right to the very end.

    Favourites were ABREAST, MARILYN MONROE, ESTIMABLE, GOLDENEYE and the outrageously good ADVENT.

  24. walruss says:

    I’m not a big fan of this compiler, but I am or was a big fan of Buthorne, who of course came up with the like of ‘Amundsen’s forwarding address’ for MUSH, and ‘I was Norma in my role-play’ for the answer at today’s 9. Arachne not as bad as some of the others, though!!

  25. Martin H says:

    Hi Robi – ’round’ is a perfectly good containment indicator, signalling that something is round the word you’re looking for; but what was round ‘camp’?, ‘Sering’ – ‘scampering’ wasn’t round anything.

    I think I’ll go out and do some gardening.

  26. yogdaws says:

    Nice one Arachne. Thank you Andrew.

    Marilyn anag biographically inspired.

    And enjoyed low-key deviousness of 17a, 27a, 22d, 25d.

    Quibbles: The ‘golden’ of 14a and – re 18d – for me pea soup is more farty than ‘hearty’.

  27. Scarpia says:

    yogdaws – You should try adding some 11 across.

  28. AndyB says:

    I thought “spidery” refered to spidery writing which is definely thin and I suppose angular. But no reference to writing in the clue.

  29. yogdaws says:

    To Scarpia…

    Ironic, given it’s also known as ‘The Devil’s Dung’ and ‘Stinking gum’…

  30. Shirley says:

    I can’t remember the last time when almost every puzzle in a week was called, marvellous/brilliant/superb etc. It’s been a great week and hopefully tomorrow’s prize doesn’t let things down.
    Thanks Arachne and Brendan Brummie & Paul too.

  31. William says:

    Thank you, Andrew, smooth blogging.

    Got most but needed your help with the parsing. Delightful puzzle.

    Can you (or anyone else) recommend a crossword help reference book with lists of rivers/towns/ports etc? Once I’ve cracked the sense of a clue I find I can’t be bothered to run through the miriad options.

    Many thanks.

  32. RCWhiting says:

    Surely ‘golden’ (14a) is frequently used in a survey of a career.
    She had her golden period in the 50s. She was outstandingly successful.

  33. Andrew says:

    Thanks to those who’ve pointed out a better reading of 2dn, SO-AND-SO. I remember feeling slightly uneasy describing it as a DD, but didn’t pursue it further at the time.

    Marilyn Monroe, or rather Norma Jeane, appears today in the wonderful How to be a retronaut – just coincidence, I think, as there doesn’t seem to be a relevant anniversary.

  34. Wolfie says:

    Thanks to Arachne for a most enjoyable puzzle and to Andrew for the blog – especially for the explanation of ‘emergency’, which I had put in without understanding the wordplay.

    We see too little of the Guardian’s female compilers so this offering from Arachne was very welcome. When will Audreus or Auster next put in an appearance?

  35. Robi says:

    William @31; I find the Chambers Crossword Dictionary is very useful. Has the lists that you mention and also synonyms of most usual words, arranged in numerical order.

  36. RCWhiting says:

    I have a much used copy of Chambers “Back-Words for Crosswords” compiled by J.C.P. Schwarz.
    I bought it many years ago, second hand, and it is now very loose-leaf.
    I don’t suppose anyone knows where I might buy a replacement.

  37. Robi says:

    RCWhiting: you can find it at: . Don’t know whether it is any better than the CCD I gave above @35.

  38. Scarpia says:

    RCWhiting @ 36
    Only second hand copies now available,you could try

  39. MGWD says:

    Typed “safe aid a anagram” into google and was directed straight here! – A great place to come as a last resort in future. Congrats. I agree with Andyb – spidery was surely a reference to writing – and could have had some sort of indicator?

  40. Jim says:

    Foxed by abreast and goldeneye

  41. Gary says:

    sCAMPering is perhaps the most nonsensical clue I’ve ever seen. There must be some explanation that hasn’t been seen/explained yet

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I do like curries, my PinC doesn’t.
    But we both had never heard of ASAFOETIDA (did I spell it right? – there’s something of a foetus in it :(), so we didn’t complete this crossword in our away-from-any-kind-of-resources session.
    I was rather surprised to see that many of you knew this ingredient.

    It has been a good week for Guardian crosswords [and shirley @30, you should probably have thanked Rufus too].
    Talking about ‘too’, in 13ac that word is the definition for AND.
    Chambers gives ‘also’ as one of the definitions for AND, and I can see a situation in which they are interchangeable.
    But although ‘too’ is in the Chambers Thesaurus for AND, I can nót see their interchangeability. Just like my PinC, who thought this was a bit ‘impure’.
    So please, stand up and deliver!
    Andrew didn’t like I=me in 27ac (INTO), we didn’t like it either [but it looks like a great scientific formula :)].

    MARILYN MONROE and the fine ASAFOETIDA (tasty?) are splendid clues, but we agree with Geoff @17 : 3d (LAPSE) probably being the Clue of the Day.
    We liked UNSHOE (24ac) too.

    Don’t agree with him (Geoff) that it was our favourite puzzle of the week.
    1ac (USELESS) was not really good, 10ac (CAMP) under par too for reasons mentioned by several others.

    Don’t agree with walruss @24 either.
    “I’m not a big fan of this compiler, but […].
    Well, I am – even though the evenness of her puzzles varies [which might look like a contradictio in terminis], they always have something extra/special/personal.
    “Arachne’s not as bad as some of the others, though!!”
    The two question marks tell it all ….

    Good puzzle.

    Thanks Andrew and Arachne [alphabetical order … :)]

  43. chas says:

    I guess it is a mere coincidence – there is a batch of photos of Marilyn in today’s paper on P11 under the groan-worthy headline of Stripe Tease

  44. Daniel Miller says:

    A quite splendid slow burner. Several clues to admire – gave in with 2 to get..

    – 12 Advent (so simple really!)
    – 24 Unshoe – so well concealed

    – 6 Bloody – lovely surface
    – 7 The use of E.S.T.
    – 9 The clever anagram for MM
    -20 The well concealed Rhubarb – I’m thinking Rummage, Unearth etc. “Barb” from dig was very elegant.

    I missed out on the crazy 11 across (yes I saw the anagram but gave up on it) and also the Goldeneye (14) which I am familiar with but couldn’t see the “one with a bill”

    So, in conclusion, a tremendous crossword.

  45. mike says:

    late as usual. I read “bad” as an anagrind rather than a judgement in 9d, or as “not a bad”. Either way a great clue – great being defined as clever and making one smile when it’s solved. Thanks for the explanation of 7d and 11a, and I add my admiration for 12a. Excellent.

  46. Carrots says:

    A very entertaining puzzle indeed, which needed a second pinta to complete. Thanks, A & A

    When, in the late `50s and early `60s, the first “cruel gruel” curry caffs started to appear in the (then) industrial north, my fellow sixth-form habituaes and I were intrigued by a flavour that only “Indian Curry” houses could achieve. This was characterised by a slightly flat, anise taste which worked well with cardamoms and cumin in a long simmered sauce. I was a student away at college before I discovered that ASAFOETIDA was the missing, secret ingredient and I have not been without it since.

    If anyone fancies a nostalgic trip down memory lane, stewed and pureed cauliflower makes a great thickener for old-fashioned curry sauce, for which there are any number of recipes.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>

four × 3 =