Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,343 / Araucaria

Posted by mhl on June 8th, 2011


There are lots of nice clues in this puzzle, but this was a typically problematic Araucaria for me, in that there were lots of references I didn’t know …..

 (LAUD, HYDE, MECHLIN, NOCTULE, SCABIOSASCABIOUS). There’s plenty to enjoy here anyway.

1. PLAUDIT LAUD = “archbishop” in PIT = “hell”; Definition: “cheer”
5. CATARRH Sounds like Qatar = “Gulf state heard”; Definition: “nasal problem”
9. PACHYDERM (CRAMP)* around HYDE = “Clarendon”; Definition: “Big beast”
10. PANEL PANE = “Glass” + L = “left”; Definition: “experts, perhaps”
12. THE HARD WAY A “Metalled road” would be a HARD WAY (“way” as in road); Definition: “when things get tough?”
14. MYTHIC MY = “setter’s” + THIC[k] = “endlessly stupid”; Definition: “Fabulous” (as in “of fables”)
15. MECHLIN CH = “church” in (MILNE)*; Definition: “Town making lace
18,11. THRONE ROOM THRONE ROOM is an expression for the loo, and a literal throne room would be somewhere where audiences are held
20. EXERCISERS EXCISERS = “cutters” around ER = “hesitation”; Definition: “muscle trainers”
21. SCAB SCAB[iosaious] = “Half a purple flower” Definition: “unpopular with union”
25. AGONY AUNT ONY = “Any Scots” in A GAUNT = “a haggard”; Definition: “counsellor?”
26. ARTISTE Hidden in “heART IS TEnder”; Definition: “Performer”
27. TRAGEDY AGED = “Ancient” in TRY = “shot”; Definition: “Hamlet, perhaps”
1,24. PAPER TIGER PAGER = “Caller” around PERT = “forward” + I = “one”; Definition: “person less powerful than he looks”
2,16across. ANCHOVY ESSENCE AN + CHOSEN = “elected” + CE = “church” around V = “very” + YES = “positive”; Definition: “makes a contribution to fish sauce”
4,5. THE CHICKENS HAVE COME HOME TO ROOST (I’M HE TEACH COCKS HENS TO HOVER ME TOO)*; Definition: “this [TRAGEDY]” in the context of the whole clue
6. TAPE-RECORD TAP = “sound” + [rac]ETAPE = “end of race” + RECORD = “that was fastest ever”; Definition: “Reproduce soundThanks to NeilW for correcting my parsing of this one
7. RENEWAL RENÉ = “French boy” + LAW reversed = “backing of law”; Definition: “Extension”
8,3. HALCYON DAYS (CLAY)* in HONDA = “Japanese car” + YS = “say the wise” (“wise” sounds like “Ys”); Definition: “Happy time”
13. RHINOCEROS C = “caught” in between RHINO = “money” and EROS = “love” – “rhino” is slang for money, according to the OED; Definition: “[PACHYDERM]”
16. ELECTRA ELECT = “picked” + RA + “the Sun” (as in the Egyptian god); Definition: “[MYTHIC] matricide”
17. SLEIGHT “a slight” sounds like “aspersion”; Definition: “The trick”
19. NOCTULE (CLUE NOT)*; Definition: “aviator?” a NOCTULE is a type of bat – in fact the Latin name for the “birdlike noctule” is Nyctalus aviator
22. BATTY Double definition: “Mad” and “as a [NOCTULE]” (i.e. like a bat)
23. LYRA Double definition: “Constellation” and “with daemon” – the latter refers to Lyra Belacqua in Philip Pullman’s “His Dark Materials” trilogy, who, like other characters in her universe, is accompanied by an animal known as a “daemon” that forms some integral part of their personality

35 Responses to “Guardian 25,343 / Araucaria”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog mhl. I managed to finish this quite quickly, but with lots of guesswork. I knew Archbishop Laud and Mechlin lace, but not Hyde=Clarendon (I was trying to get OUP in there..), scabiosa or the Pullman reference. The answers using those were all reasonably clear though, and as usual with such clues I didn’t bother working out the wordplay of 4,5 once I’d guessed the phrase.

  2. Geoff says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    There will be a lacuna or two for most people in this interesting puzzle, with its very wide range of references. Clarendon/Hyde rang only a vague bell for me (although the ‘big beast’ could be nothing else) but MECHLIN was my own black spot (and here the word play was obvious). I’m happier with famous ex-Archbishops of Canterbury, Chiroptera and Pullman characters!

    SCAB could be half of the scientific name for the genus Scabiosa, but I read it as half of the English name for these, and other similar looking but not closely related, plants: scabious.

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, mhl.

    An enjoyable puzzle, with A Level History to the rescue once more for both Laud and Hyde.

    I know the flower as scabious but, of course, it makes no difference.

    I’d like to add ‘… or Nora’ to 22dn. 😉

  4. Eileen says:

    We crossed, Geoff!

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, mhl.

    I could see it was SCAB but thanks (plus Geoff and Eileen) for supplying the other half of the flower.

    6 – I read it as “end of race” TAPE, as in running race with the definition being “reproduce sound”.

  6. MikeC says:

    Thanks mhl and Araucaria. As you say, a wide range of references. I’m with NeilW@5 re 6 – but it works either way.

  7. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks for the illuminating links, mhl, although the last one, for Lyra, doesn’t seem to work.

    I read 6d the same way as NealH@5.

    As usual, an enjoyable and instructive puzzle from the Master.

  8. Ian says:

    Thanks mhl for blogging this typically hard but fair crossword.

    Four of the answers needed referencing – Laud, Scabiosa, Electra and Lyra.

    I saw 6 dn is exactly as NeilW did at 5 across. It was first in. 12 across followed.

    Much headscratching across the whole grid. I particularly struggled in the SW corner. Quite why now that I examine the piece I’m not sure.

    26 across was a particularly clever hidden answer, 27 across splendidly cryptic and best of all was the excellent 1,24.

  9. Geoff says:

    NeilW @5: I parsed 6d in the same way as you.

    Eileen @5: Checking further on ‘scabious’, I have found at least three plants with this name that are not classified in the genus Scabiosa – the sheep’s bit scabious (Jasione montana), the devil’s bit scabious(Succisa pratensis) and the field scabious (Knautia arvensis).

  10. Taxi Phil says:

    I used to work in HYDE and occasionally drank in a pub on Market Street called the CLARENDON. Since it seemed unlikely that Araucaria had ever darkened the doorstep of that particular den of iniquity, I resorted to Google, and am now fully clued up on Edward Hyde, 1st.Earl of Clarendon. He originated in Cheshire (albeit at the other end of the county to Hyde !) and that may just explain the appearance of Clarendon in many road names in the area. The 6th.Form College in Hyde is known as Clarendon, and stands on the road of the same name. This was the only clue to give me trouble today, and I was through it all in just under 15 minutes. Decent, but not an Araucaria classic.

  11. Bryan says:

    Many thanks mhl & Araucaria. This was very enjoyable.

    The SE corner made me struggle and I had to Google LYRA, NOCTULE and MECHLIN. And, even though I’m reasonably familiar with Belgium, this lace place was new to me. I have a friend whose wife makes lace. Will now check to see if she’s au fait.

    Taxi Phil @ 10 – I used to work in Denton and I have often been through Denton to Hyde. Small world!

  12. tupu says:

    Thanks mhl and Araucaria

    Hard but several enjoyable clues. I was with NeilW and others re scab(ious) and tape = end of race.

    I had to hunt out Lyra. It seemed likely but I did not find it directly in Chambers and only afterwards saw it was under ‘lyre’ there. It is not in COD. I did not know the Pullman reference either.
    I guessed hyde since the clue was obvious enough.

    Enjoyed 25a, 7d, 8,3d, 13d, and 16d.

  13. mhl says:

    Thanks to everyone for their comments – I’ve fixed the problems people pointed out with “end of race” and scabious / scabiosa.

    My reason for coming up with scabiosa rather than scabious was that I slowly typed S-C-A-B into the Wikipedia search box on Firefox, and looked through its autocompletion suggestions to find a flower :)

  14. molonglo says:

    Thanks all above for explaining my lacunae (Geoff@2 is right). Inspiration came fitfully – I got the long central down clues with only two Cs and an H. Only the last clue beat me completely, and I guessed ‘Myra.’ I looked up one thing, NOCTULE, to see if it indeed was a word and 23d flowed instantly. Only one quibble: ‘gutter’ is a better rendition than 5a for Qatar.

  15. caretman says:

    As I find when I solve an Araucaria, often I will have solutions I know are right and also have no idea why since the master’s areas of knowledge cover such a broad range. So I knew LYRA the constellation from my years lecturing in a planetarium but the Pullman reference passed me by. SCAB was clear from the definition so I didn’t bother to figure out the related flower. Thanks, mhl, and others in the blog for the research explaining these. As with the others who have responded in the blog, the references to Archbishop LAUD, the flying NOCTULE, and MECHLIN lace were unfamiliar (although for the last, after figuring that was the most likely spelling of the answer, I felt a dim echo in my mind as though I may have heard of it sometime in the distant past). But all in all it was a fairly gentle solve for an Araucaria.

  16. chas says:

    Thanks to mhl for the blog.
    Once again there were several cases where I thought the answer must be xxx but why? e.g. LYRA

    I had got a strong idea about 4d,5d but could not make it work. When I looked closer I found ‘cocks and hens’ in my anagram fodder had to be replaced by ‘cocks hens too’ then it fell out!

    I was totally baffled by Clarendon/Hyde so thanks again to mhl.

    My favourite was 27a: I tried to find a character in Hamlet named TR….Y or T….RY but there was nobody. When I finally got it I was really pleased.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi again mhl [I’ve been out in the meantime.]

    I don’t think you needed to change the blog. I didn’t mean to imply that you were wrong with ‘scabiosa’ – just that I arrived at the answer by a different route. [Or root. 😉 ]

  18. superkiwigirl says:

    I clearly found this one harder than most folk above, and was really pleased to have completed it after a pause in the SW corner threatened to become a full stop. My day as the one soldier in step maybe, since I parsed 6d in the same fashion as mhl did originally.

    Our British history lessons didn’t include HYDE/Clarendon so far as I’m aware, so I had to google that for verification, likewise NOCTULE, today’s new word. Before I’d worked out the anagram there I gave myself a laugh by stumbling upon BATTY in trying to dredge up the name of an old NZ aviator/trix – poor Jean Batten!

    Many thanks mhl for your blog and Araucaria for a most entertaining (and instructive) puzzle.

  19. walruss says:

    A lot of meat on this tasty fare, lots of ‘unfair’, though not at all really, definitions and bits of clue. But I think He is song today. Great stuff, and as a big fan of Pullman’s distaste for the Catholic Church I was chuffed to see young Lyra. COD for me, the chickens. Thanks to St A & mhl.

  20. philshep says:

    A quibble in another enjoyable and wide-ranging puzzle. In 16d was Electra not an accessory with Orestes the matricide?

  21. Brian Harris says:

    Learned a new word, “noctule” but otherwise, found this of rather poor quality. The surface readings of many of these clues are clumsily constructed and lack any elegance or wit. I’m not an Araucaria fan, but this was one of his worst. My co-solver and I both agreed on “awful” as our verdict. (Generally, I do enjoy his Saturday outings though, so maybe he just had an off day).

  22. Carrots says:

    As a retired aviator, I was really miffed at not getting NOCTULE, although I had three of the four operative letters in, so the anagram was in little doubt. Otherwise, I enjoyed this, but couldn`t imagine what word could precede COME HOME TO ROOST. It was only four letters, but took awhile to account for all the letters in the anagram in order to arrive at HAVE.

    I can`t imagine where my fly-paper brain picked up LYRA and MECHLIN….but it had!

    Might I also join the ranks of those preferring not to see answers or themes directly referred to in our bloggers preambles?

  23. Paul B says:

    No answers appear in the first paragraph of this preamble, which is the only thing you see before you click on ‘read the rest of this entry’. And I think, in order to facilitate any kind of relevance in introductions to clue sections, bloggers must be allowed to reveal aspects of the puzzles at that point.

    I’m in the camp that asks why on earth are people visiting the blogs prior to completion in the first place. Perhaps like a good few others, I just do as much of the given puzzle as possible, celebrate victory or admit defeat as appropriate, and only then open the blog to enjoy the comment and criticism. Point?

  24. mhl says:

    Paul B: my original version of the blog had a single paragraph as introduction with those spoilers in it, but Gaufrid split it shortly afterwards this morning to avoid that. (I left them in because I assumed that no one would care, but given the history of complaints when there’s any information at all in the preamble, I’m sure that he’s quite right to make the slight edit to avoid that…)

  25. mhl says:

    Eileen: no problem, I just changed it because (a) I know virtually nothing about flowers and (b) four different people had said they’d read it the other way by that time :)

  26. Roger says:

    Thanks mhl. Fascinating stuff from Araucaria. Re the HYDE/CLARENDON connection, there were in fact two 1st Earls of Clarendon. The title, having become extinct, was revived in the 1770’s through the family of Jane HYDE, wife of the second 1st Earl. Their home, The Grove in Watford, is now a rather grand hotel. Our meal there on Saturday was a bit special.

    I’m with Paul B in that I only come here once the thing has been completed by fair means or Google.

    I see the rhinoceros at 13d still seems to be on walkabout !

  27. Gaufrid says:

    Hi Paul B @23
    The policy of no spoilers in the part of the preamble that appears on the home page is there because quite a few visitors solve more than one of the puzzles that we cover on 15².

    Some may do, say, the Indy first then visit the site to look at the blog. If spoilers are visible on the home page for, say, the Guardian that they were going to solve next then some of the enjoyment of that puzzle will be lost.

    Also, some people visit the site before starting any puzzle, even if they only solve one each day, to catch up with the comments on the previous day’s puzzle and again we don’t want their enjoyment to be spoilt.

  28. Paul B says:

    I think I’m agreeing with you then, Gaufrid. Nothing showing on the home page, but after that, why not? For the reasons you give, I’m absolutely clear that fun should not be spoilt by the title (even where an opportunity for wit may be lost to the blogger) and first para.

  29. Paul B says:

    mhl – I hadn’t realised your first para had undergone surgery. I called in sometime after tea.

  30. mhl says:

    Roger: the missing RHINOCEROS has been now located and reinstated. Thanks :)

  31. PeeDee says:

    Thanks mhl for the blog.

    I thought I wasn’t even going to be able to start this one, but once I eventually got going I finished quite quickly.

    If it were anyone other setter I would get annoyed by the various stray words thrown in here and there just to make the clues read better, but the ordinary rules no longer apply to Araucaria. He has reached a level now where he can just ignore the rules and do whatever he wants, I think the same applies to Rufus too.

  32. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Only Rufus doesn’t ….. :)

  33. stiofain says:

    How about the first para being “xxxx blogged by xxxx”
    Then bloggers can be as inventive as they like after.

  34. PeeDee says:

    Hi Sil. True, but sometimes Rufus’s clues are not actually cryptic at all! Because it’s Rufus I don’t mind, it feels a sort of traditional.

  35. Malc says:

    I got on fairly well with this although it did take me some time. I got Lyra by default though as I’ve never heard of Pullman and would have had to spend hours on Google trying to suss it out.

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