Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,295 / Arachne

Posted by mhl on April 13th, 2011


An enjoyable and fairly easy puzzle from Arachne today.

9. HOT POTATO HOT = “popular” + POTATO = “King Edward?”; Definition: “Sensitive matter”
10. ANIME A followed by EMIN = “modern artist” reversed (“rebellious”); Definition: “cartoon style”
11. CARGO CAR = “Motor” + GO = “travel”; Definition: “a kind of cult” referring to cargo cults
12. REHEARSAL (HER AS LEAR)*; Definition: “early performance”
13. PSYCHIC Hidden in “gyPSY CHICk”; Definition: “having special powers”
14. UMPTEEN [d]UMP[y] = “ignored extremely dumpy” + TEEN = “adolescent”; Definition: “Many”
17. PRAWN P[i]N[k] = “not evenly pink” (i.e. the odd letters) around RAW = “uncooked”; Definition: “Seafood”
19. WEE Double definition: “Small” and “leak”
20. OWNER [d]OWNER = “Not the first depressing experience”; Definition: “a mistress”
21. SPONSOR S = “Good chap” (presumably the less common abbreviation for “Saint”) followed by NS = “non-smoker” in POOR = “bad”; Definition: “back”
22. STEALTH TEAL = “Duck” in ST = “street” + H = “drug”; Definition: “secrecy”
24. EAVESDROP EAVES = “part of house” + DROP = “fall down”; Definition: “Earwig” (as a verb)
26. PUBIS PUB = “Maybe Prince of Wales” (a common pub name) + IS; Definition: “hip? Only a bit”
28. CURIE CRIE[d] = “almost wept” around U = “radio­active element”; Definition: “Physicist”
29. MAN FRIDAY (IF RANDY AM)*; Definition: “male help”
1. CHIC CHICAGO = “US city” without AGO = “previously”; Definition: “Stylish”
2. STURDY R = “runner” in STUDY = “learning”; Definition: “Strong and healthy”
3. HOMOPHONES (HEMP ON SOHO)*; Definition: “Perhaps I eye”
4. FABRIC FAB = “Brilliant” + RIC[k] = “Mr Stein‘s finally”; Definition: “silk?”
5. DOGHOUSE Cryptic definition, the surface referring to crossword setters, the cryptic reading referring to dogs
6. TA-TA T[o] A[ll] T[hat] followed by A[utobiography]; Definition: “Good-bye”
7. EINSTEIN (NINETIES)*; Definition: “genius”
8. WELL Double definition: “Source of water” and “free from disease”
13. PIPES Double definition: “Plumbing” and “makes a high-pitched noise”
15. PRO TEMPORE (TOPER MOPER)*; Definition: “for now”
16. NORTH Hidden in: “russiaN ORTHodoxy”; Definition: “Pole”
18. ALOE VERA E[mbrocation] V[aseline] in AREOLA = “part of nipple” reversed; Definition: “Emollient”
19. WAR CRIME CRAW = “crop” (as in part of a bird) reversed + RIME = “frost”; Definition: “an illegal act”
22. SUPINE U = “posh” in SPINE = “backbone” (you have to read “posh, without backbone” as “posh, without: backbone” or something); Definition: “Lazy”
23. LIBIDO I DO = “Marriage vow” under LIB = “politician”; Definition: “sex drive”
24. EACH E[urope] + A + CH = “church”; Definition: “Every”
25. SUET SUE = “girl” + [fa]T = “fat bottom”; Definition: “Fat”
27. SAYS [es]SAYS = “Tries” without “leaders”; Definition: “comments”

48 Responses to “Guardian 25,295 / Arachne”

  1. jim says:

    Thanks mhl.
    I couldn’t parse 2 at all: thanks for the explanation – but I’ve never come across r = runner before.
    A few quibbles:
    I really dislike clues like 22D where the English is so strangled it has to be read backwards. And haven’t we had Einstein’s anagram several times recently? Perhaps time to give it a rest. 8 and 13D were so simple I wondered if I hadn’t missed something.
    But I thought 17 and 28 were excellent – brilliant surfaces.

  2. Eileen says:

    Thank you, mhl, for a great blog.

    There’s some of practically everything I enjoy in crosswords here – wit, clever wordplay, excellent story-telling surfaces and a touch of Pauline audacity. And the typically Arachnean [Arachnidan?] touches: the use of ‘mistress’ in 20ac and the wordplay of 12ac! :-)

    Favourite clues: 14, 17, 19, 21 [great use of ‘back’!], 26, 29ac and 3, 4, 15, 22, 23, 25 dn – and I’ve probably missed some out!

    I hadn’t heard of ANIME or CARGO cult but the wordplay in each made the answer the only one possible.

    I finished this in fairly quick time: Arachne, like all good entertainers, left me wanting more. Very many thanks to her for a most enjoyable start to the day!

  3. Geoff says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    Some good fun from the Spider Woman.

    I smiled a lot at the anatomical 18d and 26a and the beautifully non-PC 25d.

    17a, 20a and 23d have particularly good surface readings.

    28a is a sort of tragic &lit, Marie CURIE having died of leukemia as a result of the ingestion of radioactive materials during the course of her research.

  4. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl for a very clear blog and Arachne for a very enjoyable puzzle

    I did not find this as easy as mhl seems to have done, but there was a lot of clever wit and a nice light touch.

    Supine (22d) needed thinking about – the instruction seems to be U and without (i.e. outside it)backbone.

    Otherwise lots of amusing clues inc. 9a, 3d, 18d, 19d.

    As others have said before, it would be nice to get more from this setter.

  5. tupu says:

    Cargo Cults were originally a feature of New Guinea and nearby colonial history. They involved local prophets who announced that ‘cargo’ (European style material wealh) would be brought in aeroplanes if the people cleared airstrips and behaved in specified ways. The fact that Europeans had great material wealth that they had not seemingly worked for was a stimulus to the development.
    They are sometimes thought of as part of the wider phenomenon of millenarian and messianic movements of which Christianity has of course been a prime example, and they were not simply materialist. Thus major books on them have titles like The Trumpet Shall Sound and New Heaven, New Earth. There is a fascinating paper by Fred Engels comparing early Xtianity and early socialist movements within this kind of frame – cargo cults had not yet started.
    Often the cults showed signs of missionary influence – e.g. there was a common belief that the bible which the islanders encountered had a missing first page which was the key to European prosperity.

  6. malc95 says:

    Thanks mhl

    2d – I think that the R = river ie “runner” (cf “flower” & “banker”)

  7. Geoff says:

    Re 22d and the forthcoming festival of Easter, I am reminded of the hymn by Mrs Alexander:

    ‘There is a green hill far away
    Without a city wall…’

    As a child, I was puzzled why green hills should have city walls in any case. ‘Without’ here means ‘outside’, of course – although whether the wall is outside the hill or vice versa is ambiguous, given the tendency to reverse regular word order for poetic effect. Arachne’s clue has the same ambiguity.

  8. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thank you, mhl.

    Pubis, nipples, randy, sex drive? As Geoff has already alluded to, more than a middle-aged man can be expected to take in over breakfast. I fancy that Arachne is indeed Paul’s twin sister.

    It was on the easy side, but a really entertaining puzzle nonetheless. If a setter makes me smile once, I’m grateful, but when it happens three or four times, I am a happy Easter bunny. HOT POTATO, PRAWN, MAN FRIDAY and EAVESDROP were the clues I particularly liked today.

    For the last one, I’ve heard ‘lug-hang’ in Derbyshire as an alternative to ‘earwig’.

  9. Ian says:

    Thanks for the excellent blog mhl

    Most trouble in the NW today. So solved more or haphazardly; mostly because of the longish clue at 3dn which not only took me the longest time but was the last to be entered.

    Sped along today with the low hanging fruit (3ac, 11ac, 12ac, 19ac, 28ac, 29ac, 1dn, 8dn, 6dn, 13dn and 23dn) offering plenty of scope for an early finish.

    Particularly enjoyed 24ac 22dn and 19dn. Plenty of well penned surfaces today from Arachne.
    Good stuff throughout.

  10. Robi says:

    Very entertaining puzzle where I got a bit stuck in the NW corner.

    Thanks mhl for a good blog – I can’t believe that I missed the hidden answer of NORTH – I was away with the fairies thinking about Russian Orthodoxy.

    As well as KD’s favourites, I particularly enjoyed MAN FRIDAY (brilliant surface!), HOMOPHONES, PUBIS and SUET (very funny.)

    Eileen @2; ANIME is very big in Japan – it says in this source that: ‘English-speakers occasionally refer to anime as “Japanimation”, but this term has fallen into disuse.’

  11. Eileen says:

    Thanks to Geoff for the additional information re 28ac, [I think I once knew that but had forgotten it] which makes that another excellent clue, and to tupu and Robi for filling in the other gaps – crosswords can be such an enjoyable way to broaden one’s knowledge! :-)

  12. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks mhl and Arachne for an entertaining, slightly ‘risqué’ puzzle.

    On which note, I’d just like to harp back to yesterday a moment to thank Eileen for the Latin origin of ‘seta’, ‘saeta’, which explains a lot, being a word still used in Spanish as an alternative to ‘flecha’, an arrow, expecially a short one.

  13. Robi says:

    And continuing the thread…… a flechette is a dart fired from a gun! :)

  14. Kathryn's Dad says:

    It was probably crosswords that alerted me to the within/without trick that setters employ. I think it’s perfectly acceptable: ‘without’ obviously means ‘not with’, so ‘coffee without sugar’, for example. But the two terms can also be synonyms for ‘inside’ and ‘outside’. Readers from north of Berwick will no doubt correct me, but I have the impression that Scottish people tend to use ‘without’ in this second sense more regularly, saying ‘Within or without the United Kingdom …’ for instance.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi K’s D

    Chambers gives ‘without = outside’ as ‘archaic’ but, yes, Scots do use it – and also ‘outwith’! My husband would use that occasionally and I’m sure I’ve heard James Naughtie say it.

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    The easiest G. for years. Some clues hardly merited a place in a cryptic crossword.

  17. Scarpia says:

    Thanks mhl.
    I found this easier than usual for Arachne,but what great fun!
    Clever clueing,lots of smiles and plenty of ‘Pauline’ smut.
    The clue for 5 down is very similar to the one by Jason in the FT puzzle 13,663.

    To Kathryn’s Dad’s list @8 I would add LIBIDO and Sue’s fat bottom!
    I think I’ll go and lie down now.

  18. tupu says:

    Was it the Crazy Gang who used to announce ‘The carriage awaits without’ followed by the inevitable unanswerable question?

  19. crypticsue says:

    A very cheeky Arachne today but great fun. I do object to 25a – not least because I haven’t got a *** ******!! The cardinal points in Russian Orthodoxy also appear in the Telegraph today too. Thanks to Arachne for the fun and mhl for the explanations.

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to mhl for the blog.
    Once again there were cases where I had the right answer without being able to parse the clue properly e.g. 2d.

    On 22a I spent an age trying to put ‘o’ (=duck) into ST and adding E (=drug) and make something of it. Eventually I remembered that teal is a duck so I succeeded.

    I liked 24a and 29.

  21. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl and to all the posters who’ve added illuminating comments.

    I’ve nothing much to add, except to say that I enjoyed this a lot, particularly, as others have said, for some excellent surfaces. 17ac, 28ac and Arachne’s trademark reversal of gender expectation at 20ac and 12ac were probably my favourites. The cheekiness was fun, too.

    I originally had HENHOUSE at 5dn, corrected when I got round to solving 9ac.

  22. EB says:

    Thanks mhl and especially Arachne for an enjoyable crossword – not very difficult maybe but very, very enjoyable (the most important criterion for me.)
    I’m surprised no one has reacted to RCWhiting’s comment at #16.
    I’m tempted to say “You cannot be serious!” – but maybe she/he isn’t.

  23. walruss says:

    Well definitely an improvement upon yestreday’s and upon previous work by Spider Woman ‘IIRC’. Some good clues here, and probably only RUNNER as mentiuoned would I have issue with.

  24. Dave Ellison says:

    Yes, also enjoyed this today; thanks mhl for 4d and Arachne, too, for the whole of it.

    Early on, when I had only H in 5d, I was trying to make an anagram of A ARACHNE (“bad setter”), but of course it didn’t work. I liked this clue.

  25. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Arachne and mhl. I enjoyed this puzzle while I learned about cargo cults and King Edward potatoes. Is Prince of Wales a common name for pubs or is this more cockney rhyming slang which always flummoxes me? The only pub we have in Bellevue is Paddy Coynes. Was stuck on 3d trying to anagram I EYE HEMP ON into a location in Soho. Is the runner in 2d a synonym for river? Inquiring minds want to know.


  26. Robi says:

    Grandpuzzler @25; yes, ‘Prince of Wales’ is a very common pub name in the UK. I also was originally trying your anagram for a place in Soho. As for r=runner: as you say, runner=river=r; also r=run(s) in cricket, and you may be able to make more sense of the following – R Runner (Mic-O-Say, Heart of America Council, Boy Scouts of America) found at I guess the former is the most likely answer (?)

  27. Eileen says:

    Hi grandpuzzler

    I’ve discovered on two separate websites that ‘The Prince of Wales’ is the 19th most common pub name in Great Britain, which surprised me.

    In the course of my [unfortunately deskbound] research I found this fascinating piece of history of my home town:

    [I used to know someone who collected [pre -internet days] newspaper cuttings of unusual deaths. I don’t think ‘choking on a tripe supper’ was one of them.]

  28. Robi says:

    P.S. Should have said foremost above, as posited by malc95 @6.

  29. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Robi and Eileen. A former girlfriend used to serve me menudo with tripe – I managed to survive. If I ever make it to the UK, I will definitely visit Leicester and join the Campaign For Real Ale.


  30. Carrots says:

    For some reason I cannot fully explain, I greet an Arachne puzzle with irrational dread. I have this mad idea that she will crawl up my trouser-leg and bite me where it hurts. But I neededn`t have worried: to-day`s puzzle was exemplary and “went through the menu”.

    Although (as Auntie E points out) CARGO and ANIME had to be correct, they both demanded further research on my arrival home. Of course Tupu @5 (who knows of all things) beat me to it, but prompted further digging into CARGO CULTS. I remember seeing these portrayed in a deeply impressionable film, “Mondo Cane” (Dog`s Life?)in the 1960s…and another, more recent, narrative movie (the title of which I can`t recall) depicting the same sort of phenomenon. Ring any bells with you Tupu?

    I must confess I scrutinised Tupu`s comment very carefully….not the first time he has tried to lead me up an exquisitely enticing garden path….but, for once, I learnt something!

  31. Andvari says:

    For the first time in a while, given my limited time to do it, managed to finish/guess in the whole grid. Really liked 3d, definitely my favourite, liked 20ac also. Good surfaces, misleading wordplay and amusement factor are my favourite things and this one had all of those.

  32. Andvari says:

    And find it amusing that a few people don’t know what anime is, which I’m very familiar with, and yet had no problems with opopanax from yesterday which mystifed me!

  33. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Although I haven’t really much to add today, I would like to write a comment as it is better than watching tonight’s Champion League game.

    The vast majority of Ye All was very positive – I am / we are, too.
    The minority in #16 I do not understand.
    Something’s wrong with you today, RCWhiting?

    Agree with KD @8 that at times Arachne is like Paul’s ‘twin sister’.
    Also another ‘US’ in today’s puzzle.

    ANIME (10ac) was one of our last entries. Though we had never heard of it, we thought it must be right because of Tracey Emin and ANIME sounding like something related to ‘animation’.
    We had a short discussion on ‘rebellious’ for a reversal indicator as we had not seen this before. It is as such in the Chambers Crossword Dictionary, though.

    The only solution that we didn’t understand was SPONSOR (21ac).
    Completely wrong-footed by ‘back’. Even though we saw ‘poor’, we still thought it might be ‘NS’ inside ROOPS (whatever that is) – no dictionary at hand. Meanwhile seeing the SPONSOR as ‘a good chap’.

    I had one déja vu today: when I saw the word ’embrocation’ in 18d I immediately went for ALOE. I had seen this in an &Lit clue recently – was it a Mudd, or an Everyman?
    My CinP (robi, that’s: Companion in Puzzles :) ) added VERA, so no problem to find the answer.

    There was some discussion on ‘the use of ‘without’ in 22d.
    I think, the comma in this clue is essential.
    Arachne must have thought about that – which is, if true, a thing I like.

    “Perhaps I eye hemp on Soho trip?” doesn’t mean anything sensible, but what a Great Clue.

    However, our Clue of the Day is a simple one: 24d (EACH).
    So smooth!!

    Thanks Arachne.
    Thanks MHL, too.

  34. tupu says:

    Hi Carrots

    :) Of course I know of some rather than all things, as you are well aware, but not the films you mention, I’m afraid. They sound interesting. I am sorry if my wild wanderings from truth into fantasy in the past has made you suspicious of today’s attempt to tell the truth about fantasy! I am also sorry that, as I realised later, the link kindly provided by mhl made my own effort here partly redundant.

  35. tupu says:

    Sorry. For ‘has’ above read ‘have’

  36. RCWhiting says:

    EB & Sil
    I think I am entitled to my view that it was very easy especially since several other posters expressed similar opinions.
    Like Jim in #1 I think clues like 8d & 13d do not merit a place in a G. cryptic. In fact both could have appeared in the Quick Crossword without causing a tremor.
    Nevertheless I am sure that tomorrow’s,like yesterday’s will provide more of a challenge.

  37. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, fine, very easy (for you), but …

    … saying “The easiest G. for years” and “Some clues hardly merited a place in a cryptic crossword” is IMO too harsh re Arachne.

    There is a lot that’s good about this puzzle, I think.
    I would say (to cite your own words): “several other posters expressed similar opinions”.

    But I accept that we are all different (aren’t we?).

  38. Arachne says:

    Love and kisses to all who have commented kindly on this and/or previous crosswords. To those who have been less than happy, love and kisses too, and I’ll try to make you smile next time. Toodlepip! Arachne xxx

  39. RCWhiting says:

    ” is IMO too harsh re Arachne.”
    Of course, but my comments wern’t re Arachne, but re: Crossword 25295, very different.

  40. tupu says:

    Thanks for the visit Arachne. Your comment is very welcome. Clever anmd precise though a crossword may be – and yours typically are – it’s good to have a setter with the ability to raise so many smiles. TTFN.

  41. Steve says:

    Although I’ve attempted cryptics on and off over the years, I’ve only been seriously trying to complete the Guardian puzzles for the last few weeks. As such I found Arachne’s puzzle just right, and the first I’ve managed to (correctly) complete :-)

    No problems with ANIME or CARGO, but struggled with PRO TEMPORE and WAR CRIMES (the later I could see it fited, but fitting it to the clue was a challenge). 5D has me stumped for a while, due to not reading Setter as a dog…

    I’m obviously all for slightly easier puzzles, but still enjoy bashing my head against my desk with some of the harder grids. I doubt I’ll finish Araucaria today, but will enjoy my brain being tied in knots until I give in and check here to see what I’ve missed!

  42. Carrots says:

    Hi Arachne…and many thanks for saying “Hello”. Your geeting has prompted the creation of a new Avatar for you: The “Soopah” Joyce Grenfell In A Gymslip!! Even if, (as it probably is), far wide of the mark, its something of an improvement on your previous one….which was a Tarantula!

  43. Arachne says:

    Tupu – many thanks for your comments. My philosophy as a setter – and more generally, come to think of it – is that one should try to raise a smile whenever possible (and appropriate!): there should be far more *fun* in the world!
    Steve – I’m delighted that mine was the first puzzle you managed to solve. Hope you have a long and happy solving career.
    Carrots – I have actually been known to say “George, *don’t* do that”…

    …and I’m certainly more Grenfell than Garbo so, although not really sure what the protocol is for setters (aren’t we expected to be aloof and mysterious?), I’ll try to pop in and say hello after my next puzzle. If I don’t it’ll either be because I’m on my travels, or because I’m busy dealing with something squirming in my web…

  44. Eileen says:

    Hi Arachne – I’m probably too late with this, as we can’t really expect you to keep popping back but, just in case …

    “…not really sure what the protocol is for setters (aren’t we expected to be aloof and mysterious?)”

    I don’t know who said that! – we’re always delighted when setters drop in, as several of them do, and a number of us were even more delighted to meet eleven of them / you at our gathering in Derby in January. It would be great to see you at our next one!

  45. Arachne says:

    Hi Eileen – Many thanks, I’d love to come along! Could you let me have more details?

  46. Eileen says:

    Hi Arachne


    No details yet but a bit of background: there has been an annual ‘Sloggers and Betters’ evening event in London for several years now and, a few months ago, some of us who live north of Watford decided to see if there would be interest in a Midlands / North-based equivalent. There was – and we had a very jolly lunch-time gathering in Derby at the end of January, attended by 40-odd [note the hyphen!] people, including eleven setters: quite staggering, really. People immediately started asking when the next one would be and I think we’ve managed to persuade Kathryn’s Dad, who worked very hard to organise the event, that this would be a good idea! I think we’re probably looking at early Autumn. Venue not decided yet but somewhere in the same region. The Guardian website says you’re Manchester-based, which is why I mentioned it. It would be great to see you!

  47. Arachne says:

    Hi Eileen

    And it would be great to come – sounds fun! I’ll watch out for details in due course. Thanks again. TTFN!

  48. Huw Powell says:

    Enjoyable puzzle… I tend not to remember to compile lists of favorites while solving, but I do remember enjoying some wonderfully smooth surfaces. OK, I did mark 28 as one. Lovely!

    As far as the “without” imbroglio at 22d… might it be meant to read “lazy” – without posh = backbone??? I don’t know, except that the solution is so certain perhaps a little lumpiness in the parsing to make a nice surface is forgivable?

    Oh and may I share a tiny gripe? When people present actual answers to *other* puzzles, they might be spoiling them for those of us who sometimes take days to finish the harder ones. It would have thrilled me to no end to guess that tree in yesterday’s puzzle from the wordplay and look it up to verify. Oh well. If I solved (or gave up on) them all in order there’s be no tribble at all.

    Nice puzzle, Spiderwoman, and thanks for the blog, mhl!

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