Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25282 Araucaria – Unofficial like Chang & Eng

Posted by Uncle Yap on March 29th, 2011

Uncle Yap.

What a lovely duty I have today, blogging the Master with his unpredictable devices that stretch Ximenean limits and torture his clients delightfully … don’t we all have this masochistic streak?
A most enjoyable and entertaining puzzle.

1 CAB-TOUT C (first letter of club) + ins of T (time) in A BOUT (fight)
9 THE GIFT OF THE GAB *(fought fight beat beast minus bus at)
10 OAKEN O (first letter of operations) A KEN (knowledge)
11 SMALL BEER A tichy way of saying half a pint ; a cd
12 MONTALBAN MON (day) TALIBAN (insurgent body) minus I (one) Ricardo Gonzalo Pedro Montalbán y Merino (1920 – 2009) was a Mexican radio, television, theatre and film actor who became world-famous as Mr. Roarke, the host in the television series, Fantasy Island.
14 TATTY Ins of TT (teetotal, drinking water!) in River TAY
15 FORGE dd
16 NANNY GOAT Nanny (grandma) GO (shot) AT
18 NECTARINE Ins of *(react) in number NINE
21 VASCO V (5 in Roman numeral) ASCOT (race course) minus T for Vasco da Gama (c. 1460 or 1469 – 1524) a Portuguese explorer, one of the most successful in the Age of Discovery and the commander of the first ships to sail directly from Europe to India.
22 TERRITORIAL ARMY Ins of I (first) ALARM (call) in TERRITORY (land)
23 CASPIAN C (sounds like sea) AS PI (pious or religious) AN (indefinite article)  for the Caspian Sea, the largest enclosed body of water on Earth by area, variously classed as the world’s largest lake or a full-fledged sea bounded by northern Iran, southern Russia, western Kazakhstan and Turkmenistan, and eastern Azerbaijan. Thanks EB for pointing out my omission
24 AMENDED AMEN (agreement) DED (sounds like did, performed)

1 CUTWORM CU (copper) TWO (couple) RM (Royal Marines or the slang term, jolly) for a caterpillar, esp of the moth genus Agrotis, that feeds on the stems of young plants near ground level.
2 BREAKING RECORDS Remember the vinyl used for making gramophone records played at 78 rpm … I won’t forget that one of my childhood chores was sharpening the metal stylus. Nostalgia isn’t what it used to be (sigh)
3 ORIENTATE O (nothing) RIEN (nothing in French) TATE (Gallery where many pictures are)
4 TITUS dd The Arch of Titus is one of two remaining arches on the Forum Romanum in Rome. Titus Flavius Vespasianus (39 – 81), commonly known as Titus, was Roman Emperor from 79 to 81.
5 KOFI ANNAN KO (knock-out or thumping) FIANNA (Fáil – The Republican Party, a political party in the Republic of Ireland) N (Northern) Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation 1997-2006.
UN official conjointed (like Chang and Eng, the world’s most famous Siamese twins) misleadingly as unofficial ; vintage Araucaria, my COD
6 SAHEL *(leash) Sahelian = concerning the countries south of the Sahara desert, incl Chad, Niger, Mali and Mauritania, generally between the desert and savanna regions.
7 RAGGED-TROUSERED Cha of RAGGED (teased) T (first letter of Tory) ROUSE (provoke) RED (left-wing) The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists by Robert Tressell is a very readable account of how capitalism operates in the workplace
8 LIBERTY *(by litre)
13 BAN KI-MOON Cha of BANK (financiers) I (one) MOON (body) Secretary-General of UNO from 2007 to now
14 TRYGVE LIE Cha of TRY (effort) GIVE LIE minus I (prove missing one false) Thanks to Ian Payn for the correct parsing GIVE (prove) minus I (one) LIE (false) First Secretary-General of UNO who served from 2 Feb 1946 to 10 Nov 1952
15 FANATIC Sounds like Fan attic (cool part of house)
17 TWO-EYED TWO (couple) EYED (looked)
19 ALIBI A LIB (part of liberty, answer to 8D) I (first)
20 EVITA E (English) VITA (Italian for life)

Key to abbreviations
dd = double definition
dud = duplicate definition
tichy = tongue-in-cheek type
cd = cryptic definition
rev = reversed or reversal
ins = insertion
cha = charade
ha = hidden answer
*(fodder) = anagram

42 Responses to “Guardian 25282 Araucaria – Unofficial like Chang & Eng”

  1. Dr. G says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap for great blog.
    5D is my favourite.

  2. EB says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and, of course, Araucaria.
    Agree with your intro – very well put!
    Liked the “unofficial” clues – although I guess not everyone will agree.
    24ac “amended” was strange for me – I kept repeating the word to myself to see if I pronounced it “amendid” or “amendead” and found I seemed to change each time – so I think “did” is OK.
    You haven’t explained 23ac “Caspian” – don’t know if this was deliberate or not; I saw it as:
    “Sea, it’s said, as religious article” = C-AS-PI-AN
    Sea is the definition of course then C = “sea” as pronounced, AS, PI = religious, AN = article. I thought this was s great clue.

  3. Paul B says:

    Well, as he’s probably not what you’d call a ‘Ximenean’ to start with Uncle …

  4. ACP says:

    How does DED sound like ‘did’ ? That’s a stretch indeed.
    How does 11ac, SMALL BEER, have an secondary meaning in the clue ? I understand ‘half a pint’ is a small serving of beer, but how does that relate to the expression ? A weak clue.
    Same again for 4dn, TITUS. Little joy in that.

    I liked all the UNofficial clues.
    I just wish this setter would at least try for some surface reading instead of it being seemingly accidental.

  5. Shirley says:

    ACP – try saying amended – I bet it sounds like amenDID!

  6. JohnR says:

    24a AMENDED – I also found this odd, but the OED gives the e in …DED as “pit, hill”. So Shirley @5 is right!

  7. Ian says:

    Thanks to both Uncle Yap and to Araucaria for a rather interesting if somewhat eclectic puzzle.

    Fortunately I’m well acquainted with Robert Tressell’s masterpiece whilst the 2 UN General Secretaries came easily enough.Good to see the appearance of the late, great Ricardo Montalban! Who – old enough – could forget his performances in Fantasy Island with his sidekick Tattoo (Hervé Villechaize).

    However both Cab Tout and Trygve Lie slowed the solving process a little. The former is an expression rarely used nowadays, to my knowledge anyway.

    More than usual were the number of giveaways. 19dn, 8dn, 6dn, 2dn and 17dn to cite examples

  8. tupu says:

    Thanks UY and Araucaria

    Much of this fell into shape very quickly, but it improved greatly with the ‘unoffical’ clues and some of the other less obvious ones.

    I liked territorial army (using the same sort of device), and also 16a, 22a, 7d.

    Evita probably needs putting out to grass ( :) like Eileen’s chestnuts las week).

    Amended seemed just about OK.

    ACP ‘Small beer’ literally refers to its strength rather than its size. As you seem to know, it also means ‘trivial affairs’ or an ‘insignificant person’. So this seemed a reasonable cd to me. In addition, in the form ‘half-pint’, we have an idiomatic reference to ‘a small person’. Not a very strong clue, but more than just literal, I think.

    BTW, 78 records were made of some sort of bakelite rather than vinyl. One also used ‘thorn needles’ to soften the hiss, and you could even get something out of a sharpened matchstick if you were desperate!.

  9. Conrad Cork says:

    78’s were made from shellac.

  10. Median says:

    An enjoyable solve. I needed ‘TEA’ to get KOFI ANNAN but, once I’d twigged the ‘unofficial’ theme, BAN KI-MOON and TRYGVE LIE were pretty obvious. Thanks to Uncle Yap for parsing 1d – “jolly” = RM was new to me.

  11. Ian Payn says:

    I think that it’s “give lie to” as equivalent to “prove false” rather than “give” = “prove” etc.

    “Give lie to” isn’t a particularly common expression these days.

  12. Geoff says:

    Thanks UY.

    Some great treasing from Araucaria in this one, with no fewer that four uses of the ‘indeed’ trick in one puzzle!

    BAN KI-MOON was my key to getting the Secretaries General, having puzzled for ages over what fitted in –N/-I/-O–. (I mistakenly took the enumeration 5,4 for 12a, which stymied me over Ricardo M until I eventually saw the error of my ways).

    The double use of ‘sea’ in 23a was sneaky, and also held me up a bit.

    The Ximenean ‘rule’ over capitalisation is that common nouns in a charade can be capitalised in order to mislead, but that proper nouns in a charade must ALWAYS be capitalised. In the correspondence about the most recent Araucaria puzzle, Eileen commented that she thought Araucaria always observed this one. Well he didn’t here! Unofficial, indeed.

    Didn’t we have RN = jolly in another puzzle recently?

  13. Geoff says:

    PS I meant ‘teasing’ and not ‘treasing’, although the latter does sound more Araucarian…

  14. Roger says:

    Thanks tupu @ 8 for your first line which saved me the trouble of composing something with much the same sentiments !
    Liked the double use of ‘sea’ at 23a but less so the apostrophe in 16a where the clue might well be better off without it, surely.
    I wonder if there’s a statistic somewhere to account for ‘speed’ in 5a and so nudge the clue in the direction of an &lit ?

  15. EB says:

    Geoff @12

    Did you mean – “Didn’t we have RM = jolly in another puzzle recently?”

    Rufus used it last week; his clue was: “Mean? No, jolly! (4)

    Answer was “NORM”

  16. Geoff says:

    EB @15 Yes, that is what I meant to say. Sorry, my keyboard skills are all over the plaec today…

  17. Wolfie says:

    A lovely puzzle today, completed quickly once I cottoned on to the ‘unofficial’ = ‘UN official’ device. Despite taking liberties with the conventions Araucaria rarely fails to entertain. Thanks to UY for the blog.

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Thankyou all.
    Very enjoyable and when a setter comes up with something as clever as ‘Unofficial’ I could not care less about capitalisation ‘rules’.
    Ian @7
    Yes, I would thoroughly recommend Ragged Trousered ……. If you like to laugh, cry and get a political education all in one book then try it.
    No, I am easily old enough but I have never seen Fantasy Island (and so failed to get 12ac)- SF is an area which I avoid totally.

  19. Robi says:

    Entertaining puzzle, although I pity those on the train trying to remember TRYGVE LIE.

    Thanks UY for filling-in the missing parsing. I can’t believe that I missed 78s referring to LPs as I got stuck on it being a reference to clues 7&8 – I can see the Rev. smiling. BAN KI-MOON was my first UN Official. I particularly liked NANNY GOAT, ORIENTATE (even with the ubiquitous TATE), BAN KI-MOON and FANATIC.

    Much better, I thought, than last week’s Prize (and this week’s.)

  20. Angstony says:

    Thanks Uncle Yap and Araucaria.

    Much to enjoy in this puzzle. It took me a while to get the mini theme but loved it once I did. I had to resort to reference works to get (and/or confirm) a number of answers (1a, 1d, 12a and 14d) but I have no problem with that.

    Unfortunately, I couldn’t parse the wordplay in a couple of clues: 14a (drinking water = “TT” is a new one on me) and 14d (prove = “GIVE” — I still don’t understand that one).

    Oh and I have to agree with ACP@4 re “ded” — homophones that rely on particular accents are one of my pet hates. To my Yorkshire ears the “ded” in “amended” sounds nothing like “did!”

  21. Chas says:

    Thanks to UY and to Araucaria – I think.

    I completely failed to see unofficial as UNofficial and also failed to solve any of those clues that used it.

    I liked 22a and 7d.

  22. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Uncle Yap. 13dn was my way into the theme –‘Unofficial’ really made me smile! I’d never heard of TRYGVE LIE and failed to get this one by the letter G.

    I wasn’t entirely convinced by the homophone element of 24ac and I wish Evita would retire, but otherwise an enjoyable puzzle!

  23. Mick H says:

    On the contrary, I think Evita needs to stop retiring – it’s quite rare to have her as an answer, rather than part of a word ending -ATIVE!

  24. Smutchin says:

    I managed to fill in about half of this, which is about par for me with Araucaria. You need to be very tuned in to Araucaria’s style to get some of these, and I’m not. I would never have got “UN official” in a million years. Ho hum!

  25. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks UY and Araucaria.

    I didn’t cotton on to the UN theme till the very end, trying to find a word to fit TRY?V?. I typed the first three letters into Wiki search and waited to see what popped up, and there he was (I’d already guessed his surname, though didn’t know it was that).

    Even then I didn’t read far enough to know he’d been a UN Secretary General, so had to wait for Kofi Annan, then look for the two together to find the name of the present incumbent – not that it’s not familiar, but it doesn’t spring readily to mind :)

    For those uncomfortable with ‘amenDED’ I’d like to point out that, when teaching English pronunciation, we tell students that regular past forms fall into three types: words ending in a voiceless sound, where the ‘d’ is pronouced ‘t'; those ending in a voiced sound, where it’s ‘d'; and those ending in ‘t’ or ‘d’, in which case, we say /id/. (The /’s indicate phonetic notation)

  26. tupu says:

    Hi Conrad Cork @ 9
    Thanks. A shellac compound seems to have been used. But UY turns out to be partially right too. Some were late ones were apparently made of vinyl!

    Hi Robi

    LPs were long-playing vinyl records and ran at 33 RPM. Smaller EPs ran at 45 RPM.

  27. tupu says:

    Hi Conrad again

    I have just checked a page of the Royal Society of Chemistry website. There I found:

    “Bakelite was developed by the Belgian chemist Leo Baekeland, working in New York, US, in the early years of the twentieth century. Baekeland was originally attempting to find a synthetic replacement for shellac, a lacquer originally used to decorate wooden boxes, but by the early twentieth century finding its way into a range of uses from insulating electrical wires, making 78rpm gramophone records and sealing wood surfaces from furniture to bowling alleys.

    Shellac is an expensive substance to produce. It is secreted by the female lac bug, then has to be scraped from trees, and also has a limited shelf life. Baekeland wanted a cheaper and more stable alternative, and by 1909 had settled on the product that would change the face of manufacturing.”

    I suspect a variety of materials have in fact been used.

  28. tupu says:

    RE Ricardo Montalban. He didn’t only play in Sci-Fi. I remember him from the TV series The Virginian and he was in a variety of Hollywood feature films, including Westerns, often playing ‘non-white’ roles. He was also in a remake of The Mark of Zorro.

  29. Robi says:

    Hi tupu @26 – of course, 78s were singles; I had plenty of them. Senility strikes again!

  30. Martin H says:

    ‘Free range item’ (8d) !

    Angstony @20 – hi – to my Yorkshire ear the ‘ded’ in ‘amended’ sounds just like ‘did’. Big place though, Yorkshire.

    TITUS was a bit obscure, but was a probable from the crossing letters. Thanks Ian Payn @11 for the parsing of 14d – I’d assumed and tried to justify the version UY gives, but it was clearly unsatisfactory.

    All in all an excellent puzzle. Thanks Araucaria.

  31. PeterO says:

    Uncle Yap
    As I got 5D before the other UN secretaries general, I thought of an alternative interpretation of the definition: as Kofi Annan stepped down in 2006, he is now an un-official. This would work for 14D also, but not 13. Either way definitely cheeky. On that tack, how about replacing ‘most of’ in 5D (almost an Araucarian trademark) with ‘successful party in Ireland’?

  32. hughr says:

    I was pleasantly surprised to get through most of this (with a bit of use of the check facility towards the end…….and eventually the cheat button for the final few!). I didn’t fully understand the parsing for some of the answers I’d actually got though, so it has been useful to look here.

    This has given me a bit of a confidence boost to have a crack at (i.e. stick with for longer) Araucaria puzzles, as I’d got into a bit of a rut of thinking that I’d never make much headway and just coming here to cross check the answers after an initial attempt.

  33. Angstony says:

    Martin H@30 — hi — well you’re saying one of them wrong then! :-)

    Seriously though, I think it depends on how the word ‘did’ is enunciated. If you say it in isolation the ‘i’ is usually clearly audible — at east, that is true of just about every Yorkshire person I know from across the county — but in conversation, if you say it quickly enough, I think the ‘i’ can become quite shortened, which does indeed make it sound a bit like the “ded” in words ending that way. Oh well, I guess it’s hard to please everyone with homophones when English has such an abundance of weird and wonderful accents.

    PS. Chambers has “free range” as one of liberty’s definitions, although that still leaves “item” as an apparent filler word.

  34. tupu says:

    Hi Angstony
    The ‘homophone’ debate drags on – though good-humouredly enough!

    I think it is only us ‘bloggers’ who use the word though. The setters don’t seem to, and this allows them a bit of room for manoeuvre. They also probably like to wind us up a little.

  35. Stella Heath says:

    Well pointed out, tupu. Though I studied in Leeds for two years, I don’t know how Yorkshire accents differ, but as I say above, the ‘official’ IPA transcription would be with an /i/ (or similar – I don’t know how to get phonetic symbols on my keyboard :))

  36. Angstony says:

    Hi tupu
    Who’re you calling a blogger? I’ll have you know I’m just a common-or-garden ‘poster’ of comments.

    I think I probably just need to remember to try and think in a southern accent and then most homophones will make sense. 😉

  37. tupu says:

    Hi Angstony
    :) at least I didn’t say ‘silly b…ers’. Also I wouldn’t want to call you a ‘poster’. I’m old enough to be puzzled by all this terminology I’m afraid. But the main point is that the setters don’t commit themselves to homophonic correctness (I’m glad I spelled that right!).

  38. Davy says:

    Thanks UY and Arry for yet another enjoyable puzzle. Favourite clue was KOFI ANNAN. For the first word I had K_F_ and the only word that I could find to fit was KOFF which is a two-masted Dutch vessel. I knew this couldn’t be correct and suddenly thought of the famous KOFI. I honestly thought that there would be more complaints about “unofficial”.

  39. Ron says:

    2d. Further to the discussion on materials used for 78s – if you’re ever near Williton (12 miles from Taunton), then I’d recommend a visit to the Bakelite Museum (, where you’ll find any number of items made from Bakelite, including coffins and dentist’s equipment.

  40. Mary says:

    What is a “Charade”?
    ( Please do not send any communication in any form to the above email address that is not connected with this.)

  41. RCWhiting says:

    I remember around 1960 that just before the demise of 78s and the arrival of 45 singles, Pye-Nixa produced a few vinyl 78s.
    I think the one I purchased was a Lonnie Donegan single.

  42. Sil van den Hoek says:

    For us this puzzle started off with a bunch of easy ones (20d, 18ac, 15d, 15ac, 10ac), giving us the false idea of a walkover today.

    As ‘Unofficial’ was quite controversial, I waited to see other solvers’ comments before posting one myself.

    Most of you seemed to like it.
    Yes, I can see the fun of it – the setter keen to use it in one way or another.
    But as Geoff @12 makes clear, is completely against the rules.
    Having ‘U’ capitalised and ‘n’ in lower case, makes it even worse.
    I am not a strict Ximenean (far from that), but the rules in situations like this are reasonable – no excuse for Araucaria to go beyond the borders of Crosswordland other than ‘following his own nose’.
    Araucaria did – I would nót have done that, and I guess that is what Paul B #3 tried to make clear, too [but I might be wrong].

    Apart from this, I didn’t like Araucaria using ‘couple’ twice to clue TWO (in 1d and 17d), not a major drawback though.

    My PinC wasn’t keen on SAHEL (6d), where the clue reads ‘off the leash’ – I agree with her, ‘the’ stands in the way.
    And just like Angstony @33, I wasn’t completely happy with “Free range item”, but perhaps that’s what makes the Libertarian.
    Just like ‘drinking water’ for TT.

    I tend to agree with Ian Payn @11 about 14d (TRYGVE LIE).
    For me/us LIE isn’t ‘false’ (not even with the ‘?’ as an excuse), so most certainly it is ‘give lie’ = ‘prove false’. Also given the fact that Chambers doesn’t mention a give/prove connection.

    For us, three clues stood out.
    The very well hidden KESTREL in 5ac.
    The nice (but destructive) dd in 2d (BREAKING RECORDS).
    And above all, the splendid CASPIAN (23ac), despite me not being a great fan of words doing double duty.

    Good crossword? Probably.

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