Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,296 by Araucaria

Posted by PeterO on April 14th, 2011


I note the number of times in this post that I have added a note on the definition, more often because of obliqueness than obscurity.

I am fortunate to draw another very satisfying offering from Araucaria, with a theme. If I were to give it a title it would have to be “Hail to thee”.

1. Late boss to tidy 5 (8)
DEADHEAD Charade of DEAD (‘late’) + HEAD (‘boss’). Definition: tidy flower (deadheading not only tidies a dying flower, but may prevent the plant from expending its energies in setting fruit).
9. Applause for bowler at place to race (8)
GOODWOOD The bowler is not at cricket, but bowls, where “Good wood!” might well be an accolade. Definition, Goodwood, the racecourse (or perhaps the Goodwood Festival of Speed).
10. A supplier of milk at sea? (6)
AFLOAT A (milk) float.
11. Miss one’s train, the last having gone, unhappily (8)
SENORITA Anagram (‘unhappily’) of ‘ones trai[n]’. Definition: miss. Splendid surface.
12. Sense personified by 5 turning to gold (6)
ELINOR Charade of ELIN, reversal (‘turning’) of Nile (‘5′, flower) + OR (‘gold’). Definition: ‘sense personified’, Elinor Dashwood in Jane Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.
14. Think about setting task for aquatic insect (4,6)
POND SKATER Envelope (‘about’) of SKAT, anagram (‘setting’?) of ‘task’ in PONDER (‘think’).
Pond skater

Pond skater

18,5. What is 6? 2 says “fruit and veg” (10,6)
MELANCHOLY FLOWER Life is butter, melon, cauliflower  (try it to the tune of Frère Jacques, maybe as a round or catch).
22. Village drama society’s production? (6)
HAMLET Double definition, a village and Shakespeare’s play.
23. Return of food without tear from land of lucky finders (8)
SERENDIP Envelope (without’) of REND (‘tear’) in SEIP, reversal (‘return’) of PIES (‘food’). Definition: Serendip is an old name for Sri Lanka, and appears in the (originally Persian) tale The Three Princes of Serendip; the princes had a way of making discoveries while not looking for them. Horace Walpole coined the word serendipity for this lucky knack.
24. Marks heard in Surrey (6)
STAINS Homophone (‘heard’) of Staines, a town in Surrey.
25. Painter, one into movement of light (8)
RADIANCE Charade of RA (Royal Academician, ‘painter’) + envelope (‘into’) of I (‘one’) in DANCE (‘movement’).
26. Quoted poet sounds like Mary’s garden (6)
SHELLY A reference to the nursery rhyme: 

Mary, Mary, quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With silver bells, and cockle shells,
And pretty maids all in a row.

This must give the definition, and the wordplay is a homophone (‘quoted’) of Percy Bysshe Shelley.

27. English bird to Italian unknown for ever (8)
ETERNITY Charade of E (‘English’) + TERN (‘bird’) + IT (‘Italian’ eg vermouth) + Y (‘unknown’).
1. Summary of what stomach does (6)
DIGEST Double definition.
2. A catch in the neighbourhood (6)
AROUND Charade of A + ROUND (‘catch’, in the sense of a simple musical canon).
3. Housekeeper for Norfolk? (6)
HOWARD The Duke of Norfolk has come from the Howard family (‘house’) since the 15th century; or perhaps the ‘house’ is Arundel Castle.
Arundel Castle

Arundel Castle

4. Frequently unwarranted intruder presenting a job for the right workman? (10)
APOSTROPHE Charade of A + POST (‘job’) + R (‘right’) + OP (‘work’) + HE (‘man’). ‘Frequently unwarranted intruder’ refers to the greengrocers apostrophe’s.
6. Realistic precursor of a dome of many-coloured glass (8)
LIFELIKE We are back with Percy Bysshe, and the poem Adonaïs, which contains the quote “Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, stains the white radiance of eternity”. See 24-27 across and 20 down.
7. Musical sound in court to end dispersal (8)
WOODNOTE Charade of WOO (‘court’) + DNOTE, anagram (‘dispersal’) of ‘to end’. A woodnote in Milton is birdsong.
8. Part of car or tram or distributor (5,3)
ROTOR ARM Anagram (‘distributor’?) of ‘or tram or’.
13. Corrupter of mature queen by worker (10)
ADULTERANT Charade of ADULT (‘mature’) + ER (‘queen’) + ANT (‘worker’). Some well-tried particles. An adulterant is something added, but ‘corrupter’ makes me think at first of the one who does the adding.
15. M’s extract from “A for ’orses” causes stress (8)
EMPHASIS M for sis; a reference to the Cockney alphabet, A for ‘orses, B for mutton, C for yerself….
16. Picnic that puts the meat into sweetmeat (8)
CLAMBAKE Envelope (‘puts … into’) of LAMB (‘meat’) in CAKE (‘sweetmeat’).
17. Gather nuts and lichen initially from hell (8)
INFERNAL Charade of INFER (‘gather’) + N A L (‘Nuts And Lichen initially).
19. Stocking unit I say didn’t happen? (6)
DENIER Double definition.
20. Lord hasn’t finished the poem involved in 6 (6)
ADONAI Adonai is a Semitic title ‘Lord'; Adonaï[s] (‘hasn’t finished’) is Shelley’s name for John Keats, on whose death the poem is an elegy.
21. Swift agent keeping 5 upside down (6)
SPEEDY Envelope (‘keeping’) of EED, a reversal (‘upside down’) of Dee (‘5′, flower as river again) in SPY (‘agent’).

51 Responses to “Guardian 25,296 by Araucaria”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO, for a brilliant blog of a very tricky and erudite puzzle.

    I particularly liked the use of “distributor” as the anagrind in 8 as the ROTOR ARM is not just a car part but also the main part of the distributor!

  2. Bryan says:

    Many thanks PeterO

    This was too tough for me with its numerous obscurities.

    And, just think, my eyes had actually lit up with pleasure when I saw the setter’s name!

  3. Dad'sLad says:

    Thanks PeterO,

    I didn’t understand half of this until your blog. “Obliqueness”…..hmm.

    I liked 9a, good to escape the over-used cricket references.

  4. slipstream says:

    Thanks for explaining “melancholy flower.” I wouldn’t have cracked that in a million years.

  5. blaise says:

    In 3 down, I thought the wordplay was a charade of ‘HO’ = ‘house’ and ‘WARD’ = “keeper’

  6. Brian (with an eye) says:

    Apparently, these are the full words to the Round (which I had never heard of – maybe it’s a campfire (or clambake) song, and I was never in the Scouts):

    Life is butter, life is butter,
    Melancholy flower, melancholy flower,
    Life is but a melon, life is but a melon,
    Cauliflower, cauliflower.

  7. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, PeterO, for an excellent blog of, for me, a wonderful puzzle.

    So many literary layers! I sensed there was going to be a theme and thought I’d got it when I reached 22ac, knowing A’s love of the Bard, but not this time: instead, another area of my long-ago English A Level, ‘Adonais’, beautifully woven together with various other strands of the puzzle – a work of art in itself.

    Although I loved all the literary content [including ELINOR] my top favourite clue has to be APOSTROPHE – a truly brilliant surface, evoking pictures of incompetent signwriters and, in my mind, having a connection with 18,5, after our discussion the other day about the ‘greengrocer’s apostrophe’!

    I read the wordplay of 3dn as blaise did – but thanks for the picture!

  8. duncan says:

    on a saturday, I would’ve had time to enjoy this. on a weekday, such as this, the imminence of the commute & my self-imposed “do as much as you can in one hour” meant I had to seek assistance. like so many others today, I was lacking the necessary literary b/g to tackle this, though I knew 5ac had to be what it is because of 1ac. favourite was 4d, though, & I like the deliberate errors in the parsing above.

    I must confess to having misused the possessive apostrophe until quite recently myself (& reading ms truss’s book); I’d ALWAYS used one for the possessive “it’s”, so that it looks the same as the contraction of “it is”, reasoning to myself that if one replaced “it” with any other noun, the apostrophe would be there. logical, but wrong.

    & now the commute.


  9. tupu says:

    Thanks PeterO for an excellent blog and Araucaria for an entertaining and testing puzzle.

    Agree with blaise and Eileen re 3d. :) I imagine you do too.

    Towards the end I was left feeling pretty illiterate and uncultured. I knew Adonai (commonly Adonoi) but the Shelley ref. – which I must have come across long ago – escaped me. I guessed and was amused by the ’round’. Also guessed Elinor but did not place her in Sense and Sensibility till I googled her. It’s all very well knowing about Cargo Cults etc. but I really should know more about my own culture!

    20d was actually quite a teaser because I first tried to make sense of it with Lord Adoni(s).

    The rest was much more straightforward.

    4d recalled fun blog discussions a few days ago. According to David Crystal, the apostrophe was introduced into English in the 16th century, and it was only in the 19th century that grammarians tried to tidy up the mess it had got into by then. Nouns were supposed to have it in their genitive case, but not pronouns, yet ‘one’s’ is an exception to this. :) Today’s mess seems to be just par for the course (apart from the Victorian stuff!).

    I much enjoyed 11a, 4d, 7d, 15d, and 16d.

  10. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks PeterO for illuminating what was after all an excellent puzzle, marred only by my own ignorance of Eng Lit., for which I echo tupu’s sentiment above.

  11. Ian says:

    Thanks go to Peter and Araucaria for a special puzzle brilliantly blogged and set respectively.

    I got really excited about a sub 20 minute solve till I hit the buffers in the SE corner refusing to accept that 23ac would end in a “P”. Then the penny dropped!!

    As Eileen says in #7, this was crammed with top notch surfaces. The 18,5 ac came after the 1995 Smashing Pumpkins collection came to mind. 4dn was guessed (was I subconsciously reminded by the lengthy interchanges on here the other day?) and pieced together for confirmation. What wordplay from the master!

    16dn, 17dn and 19dn all very admirable.

    Solving time 33′

  12. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Very enjoyable (and quite tough).
    20d escaped me because I was obsessed with theLabour Lord (Adonis).

  13. otter says:

    Thanks for the blog, and thanks to Araucaria for an enjoyable struggle, which I managed to complete even with my complete ignorance when it comes to poetry (an ignorance I do wish to put right at some point). So I managed to write in all the clues from the wordplay without knowing the literary connections, although it wasn’t easy at times.

    It’s odd: often I come here after really struggling with a puzzle and read lots of comments about how easy it was; today, although I didn’t find it easy, I didn’t struggle as much as I often do, but others found it much tougher, by the sound of it. I think it must be because, of all the setters, I have got to know Araucaria’s way of thinking best.

    I didn’t know the round ‘melancholy flower’, either, but remember a similar song ‘melon cauli dream’ from my childhood. Anyway, an enjoyable clue in an enjoyable puzzle.

    And now to the garden. Those tomato seedling aren’t going to repot themselves.

  14. Robi says:

    A difficult puzzle, with which I struggled, largely because of my literary ignorance.

    Thanks to PeterO for explaining all – I hadn’t realised that Dashwood was ELINOR; I always think of spelling this as ‘Eleanor.’ I did like APOSTROPHE, especially after our discussion about grocers’ apostrophes the other day (does John G secretly read these posts?) Thanks to the link for the cockney alphabet; I got EMPHASIS straight away as it is one of my favourites. I’ll add ‘L for fitness’ to the list!

  15. Tom Hutton says:

    I feel this crossword is playing to a rather select audience for a national daily. I hadn’t read the poem Adonais which made 6dn solvable but unintelligible and made 20 down impossible as I am also not familiar with Semitic titles. I didn’t get much pleasure out of working through this clever clever stuff.

    L for fairy surely.

  16. Geoff says:

    Thanks PeterO.

    Excellent puzzle, I thought (sorry, Tom H!)

    I did the dead tree version on a train, without any additional sources of information, so it took a while, but I managed it in the end. (I did the Dac in the Indy cheapo as a bit of light relief half way through…) Fortunately I got ADONAI quite quickly, and surmised the Shelley link, but my knowledge was all too fragmentary to speed things up much.

    Some good surface readings (11a, especially – my joint favourite clue with 4d, although there were a lot of good ones today) – Araucaria seems to be paying more attention to them recently.

    I agree with other comments on the parsing of 3d.

  17. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Peter

    I normally complete Araucaria puzzles but this one beat me. I had a suspicion that Lord Adonis had something to do with 20d but because I didn’t get SERENDIP I failed at that one too. Seemed slightly harder than normal. Still you will never please everyone.

  18. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO. And thanks to Araucaria, again!

    I read the Shelley poem many years ago, but failed to remember the line that linked so many of the clues here; I’ve also never heard of the round, so the explanations have only increased my appreciation of this fantastic puzzle. ELINOR I did spot correctly.

    Like Eileen, and others, I loved 4dn. And the surface of 11ac was also superb. I also parsed 3dn as ho/ward.

    SERENDIP was my last one. I had no idea of its origins, so thanks Peter, for that information, too.

    This puzzle and the blog just about sums up why I like crosswords and fifteensquared so much!

  19. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog PeterO.

    I wish I could thank Araucaria but I feel unable to do so. There were several clues referring to poetry (and each other) but no hint that I could see that the subject was a poem. That left me out in the cold.
    Bryan@2 put into words what I feel about this one.

    I did like 11 eventually. I saw ‘gone unhappily’ so thought anagram. Having solved 1d I then tried to make signorina fit but it would not go. Then I read the clue properly and then got the answer immediately.

  20. stiofain says:

    I thought this was excellent and got all the references without knowing the poem except ADONAI so consider them fairly clued.
    Im surpised serendip(ity) isnt clued more often with its wealth of constituent parts
    (lucky) dip
    and surprised Eileen didnt mention it as i remember her previously waxing lyrical over the word.
    As for APOSTROPHE Im afraid to use them and dont think it could be due to the (too) recent comments here.

  21. Daniel Miller says:

    Still in the process of doing this but thought I’d treat you to Bufo’s Comic Alphabet (hopefully not above)- Re 15 down!

    A for ‘Orses
    B for Mutton
    C for Miles
    D for Ential
    E for a Brick
    F for Vescent
    G for the Police
    H for Themselves
    I for Lutin
    J for Orange
    K for Teria
    L for Leather
    M for Size
    N for A Penny
    O for the Wings of a Dove
    P forming Flea
    Q for Everything
    R for Daley
    S for Children
    T for Two
    U for Mism (or for Me)
    V for La France
    W or Quits
    X for Breakfast
    Y for Heavens Sake
    Z for Breeze

    Some variations of course.. Now back to do the crossword!

  22. Tom Hutton says:

    P for a penny surely. Those were the days.

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi stiofain

    I was tempted! :-)

  24. james G says:

    surely D for Kate!
    I loved this puzzle. Hard, and I needed help, but doable and very satisfying.

  25. Robi says:

    Thanks Daniel @21; the surprising thing about PeterO’s link was that there was only one entry for ‘L,’ which is why at 14 & 15, we added two more. Perhaps in the spirit of crosswordland, we ought to add L for Dis, or even L for eel, as well.

  26. Robi says:

    P.S. (last one!) I’ve just remembered ‘L for bet’ – nice one!

  27. yedrom says:

    I too thought that this was a great puzzle and thanks to all for enlightening me on the “Arts” side of this. Being an engineer I struggle with too many Literary references in the same crossword.

    Seeing Bufo’s comic alphabet reminded me of the Latin alphabet that appeared in the Grauniad around forty years ago, which had entries like alpha bitter and delta good hand. Does anybody know the rest of it by any chance ?

  28. Daniel Miller says:

    Yep, spotted the link to the Cockney Alphabet – most of mine are Bufo’s Comic Alphabet which, if I’m not mistaken, was the subject of an Araucaria Saturday Crossword several years ago.

  29. Derek Lazenby says:

    Always reassuring to know there are others in the same boat as oneself! I finished eventually, or should I say the gadgets did, and that despite getting absolutely none of the literary references. Very clever, but completely wasted on me. Where I was brought up, those authors were (in those pre-politically correct days) regarded as being only “for girls and poofs” (I merely quote the then current vernacular). Amongst the football/cricket/rugby/”who can we beat up next” (usually me) brigade, even the fact that I read loads of cowboys and sci-fi was regarded with deep suspicion. I hate to think what life would have been like if I’d read the above references.

  30. Robi says:

    yedrom @27; couldn’t find your Greek alphabet, so I tried one myself (apologies in advance for cringeworthiness):

    Alpha lfa
    Beta egg
    Gamma ray
    Delta jack
    Epsilon the crossword today (!)
    Zeta Jones
    Eta burger
    Theta p
    Iota give it back
    Kappa letti
    Lambda nsak
    Mu rine
    Nu Year
    Xi lophone
    Omicron ic back
    Pi le of rubbish
    Rho the boat
    Sigma Freud
    Tau el
    Upsilon ward go
    Phi le
    Chi ley Minogue
    Psi mon met a pieman
    Omega in, in time for tea

  31. blaise says:

    BTW there’s lots of cross-references to the poem Adonais. In particular the key lines

    The One remains, the many change and pass;
    Heaven’s light forever shines, Earth’s shadows fly;
    Life, like a dome of many-colour’d glass,
    Stains the white radiance of Eternity,

    contain not only the reference for 6d (with a 4d in the original!) but also 24a, 25a, and 27a

    The opening lines of the poem go:

    I weep for Adonais-he is dead!
    O, weep for Adonais! though our tears
    Thaw not the frost which binds so dear a head!
    And thou, sad Hour, selected from all years
    To mourn our loss, rouse thy obscure compeers,
    And teach them thine own sorrow, say: “With me
    Died Adonais; till the Future dares
    Forget the Past, his fate and fame shall be
    An echo and a light unto eternity!”

    …giving not only the last light, 27a (again) but also 1a from the rhyming words of lines 1 and 3, while “rouse thy obscure compeers” seems a very appropriate exhortation…

  32. Pete says:

    Me and my friend had Lord A DON + AI (in 6 lifelike – Artificial Intelligence)

  33. Carrots says:

    `Eee, by gum, this nearly did for me. I only “got in” via dangerous and cavalier guesses. Two pints later I was still staring at a puzzle with more holes than answers and it has taken another hour at home to finish enough of it to seek explanations in Peter O`s blog.

    Yes, it was erudite. Yes, it was obscure. Yes, it did result in the dog (metaphorically) being kicked…but it was a great puzzle from The G.O.M. He can bend his elbow at my expense as often as he likes.

  34. Aoxomoxoa says:

    Thanks for the blog.

    Finished apart from 20 and 23.

    Alternative clue for 1ac might be “Late boss follows late band”?

  35. Ian says:

    Aoxomoxoa @34,

    Aoxomoxoa is in my Top 50 Psychedelic albums ever.

    Good to see another Deadhead on the forum!!!

  36. Derek Lazenby says:

    Just to make Ian feel even more at home, I watched them open air in Manchester. Imagine the line “Dark star crashes, pouring it’s light into ashes” bang on sunset!

  37. Davy says:

    Thanks PeterO,

    I enjoyed this puzzle and completed all of it (bar 20d) despite my literary ignorance. One of the last clues I got was MELANCHOLY (one of the four humours) and I still didn’t understand its significance. For 20d I played around with Lord Adonis and even thought of Anthony Eden who was in fact an earl. Also, within LIFELIKE there is the Kipling poem IF but sadly I was on the totally wrong lines and ended up hitting the buffers.

    Despite the obscure theme, this is the crossword I’ve done best at all week. I particularly liked APOSTROPHE and SERENDIP. Thanks Arry.

  38. Aoxomoxoa says:

    Re #36 (Derek)

    Surely you mean Wigan? If so, I too was there ‘tidying flowers’.

  39. Sil van den Hoek says:

    What a bargain!
    Four crosswords in one.
    Puzzle #3 (the SW) stayed completely empty for a long while, but in the end there were only two missing from Puzzle #4 (the SE): RADIANCE (25ac) [which we should have found, but we were focused on a possible anagram of ‘painter+a/i’] and ADONAI (20ac) [which is an impossible solution for someone who doesn’t have the Lord as His shepherd, like me].

    We found it very challenging, but at the same time missed The Theme completely. Therefore we didn’t understand LIFELIKE (6d) at all. We didn’t have a parsing for EMPHASIS (15d) either, and I still don’t fully see it [shouldn’t there be a homophone indicator?].

    All these cross-references to The Theme are indeed quite clever and made four little crosswords feel like one Big One.
    Thank you PeterO ánd Blaise #31 for all your brilliant explanations.

    But see, this is one of these Araucarias that is way too British for me.
    Not sure what the average Man in the Street made of it.
    Yet, just like Davy, I must conclude that it wás possible to solve the crossword and to have fun without even having the slightest idea of what was going on.
    Maybe that’s one of the definitions of a good crossword?

    For us today’s winner was SENORITA (11ac) because of its very fine un-Araucarian misdirecting surface.
    And we thought HAMLET could just have been “Village drama”, full stop.

    Apart from that …. Phew!

  40. t'n't says:

    This puzzle stank. I hated it. Normally Araucaria sets a stiff challenge but this was way off beam. Hated it.

  41. Gaufrid says:

    Harsh words indeed. Perhaps you would like to be more constructive and explain why you hated this puzzle.

  42. t'n't says:

    Fair comment, Gaufrid. Guess we were frustrated because we weren’t up to the challenge! We found 7dn, 18,5ac, 23ac, and 6dn too obscure even after we had decided on the solution. Hope we haven’t caused offence :)

  43. Scarpia says:

    Thanks PeterO.
    I found this difficult but very satisfying to complete.Due to my ignorance of the Shelley poem I was unable to finish until I got home to my reference books and a quick check in the ODQ confirmed a few of my guesses and led the way to the last couple of missing entries.
    I love this type of puzzle,where the research needed to complete can lead on to many wonderful things.
    Thanks Araucaria!

  44. Derek Lazenby says:

    Yeah, Wigan. You know what it was like, your mates say Manchester, so you get in the car just outsdide London, and eventually you arrived somewhere not noticing too many of the details!

  45. slipstream says:

    She can dance a Cajun rhythm, jump like a Willys in four wheel drive.

    For Ian.

  46. yedrom says:

    Robi @30 A very good effort I thought, I’ve been looking for years for the original Greek alphhabet. It all started in the letters section and must have amused lots of people for a good month.

  47. Ian says:

    Thanks slipstream #45

    Sugar Magnolia. Bliss

    Incidentally Derek, I saw them at Hollywood……………….. Staffordshire (1970)

  48. darkstarcrashes says:

    Good to see that the Grauniad xword is a haunt for flower tidiers. As Aoxomoxoa and I discuss from time to time it’s quite amazing how often Dead references can be found in the clues.

  49. Gaufrid says:

    Hi darkstarcrashes
    Is your comment adding any value to this post or should I treat it as spam?

  50. Daniel Miller says:

    Entertained @30 but caught out by a few of your puns

    Epsilon the crossword today (!)
    Theta p
    Kappa letti = unless a reference to Cappaletti a Bridge convention!
    Lambda nsak
    Upsilon ward go
    Omega in, in time for tea

    No doubt I’ll see them in due course :)

  51. rfb says:

    Despite being a computer nerd for forty years, I have no problem with a poetry-oriented crossword. I really ought to have enough classic poetry to be sure about the solutions, but I confess to looking up Shelley in my Biographical dictionary, which led to Adonais and then I could confirm. As someone said above, that’s what I like about Araucaria – you can normally get the clues without knowing as much as the Great Man. Then you can do the research & add to your store of knowledge. When I found the stanza with the “many-coloured glass”, I was mightily impressed to see all the other references in the answers: STAINS, RADIANCE, ETERNITY.

    IMO, one of the best Araucaria ever.

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