Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,350 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on June 16th, 2011


I found it very hard to get started on this one, but once I’d got a few answers in it yielded steadily, with the exception of a phrase I’d never heard of at 1dn. This and three other expressions form a theme that is vaguely expressed by another answer. There are quite a few Araucarian liberties in this that rather annoyed me, including an outrageously vague “part” of a word in 19dn.

1. COCKSCOMB COCKS (prepares to shoot) + COMBAT with “at lost”
10. TRIER TRIER[ARCH]. One of Araucaria’s vague “parts”, but it gets worse later – see 19dn
12. NEAREST ARE in NEST. Neighbours as in “nearest and dearest”, I suppose
13. ISHMAEL IS H.M. + LEA reversed. In Genesis, Ishmael is Abraham’s son by his wife Sarah’s servant. After Sarah gives birth to Isaacm, she makes Abraham drive Ishmael and his mother out into the desert, which I suppose makes him an outlaw.
14. AGAINST NATURE A (first) + GAIN (increase) + N in STATURE – this could describe the animals in the phrases at 1dn, 5dn/2/6, 9dn and 23dn/24
21. MILREIS Homophone of “mill race”. Naturally I tried to justify ESCUDOS here, but this came before those, being replaced as the Portuguese currency in 1911
22. NEW IDEA Hidden in oNE WIDE Aake.
25. TIGHT Double definition – drunk and stingy
26. LOST LO (see) + ST (saint, good man), with definition “in hell”
27. TOLERANCE Double definition
1. CAT IN PAN CA[lifornia] + TIN PAN [Alley]. I’d never heard the expression “to turn cat in pan“, meaning to change sides, as the Vicar of Bray repeatedly did in the famous song.
3. SURGEON GENERAL SURGE + N GENE in ORAL. “Top operator” is a nice quirky definition, though I don’t suppose Surgeons General (a government post in the USA and a military one here) actually perform many operations themselves.
4. OUGHTN’T [b]OUGH + TNT. I was expecting H.E. for the explosive, so the use of TNT came as a nice surprise.
5,2,6. BULL IN A CHINA SHOP (PHALLIC BUNION HAS)* – a hilarious surface, worthy of Paul.
8. PAYOLA [ital]Y in PAOLA. Payola refers to various scandals where bribes were paid by record companies to have their records played on the radio.
9. FISH OUT OF WATER SHOUT + OFWAT in FER. I don’t like tricks such as “infer” = “in FER”, and I think it’s a bit of a weakness that Ofwat‘s name implies the word WATER
15. AWFULNESS (FLEW UN)* in ASS. Another sneaky splitting of a word, where you have to read the clue as .. “flew un perturbed”.
18. INSIGHT If something’s IN SIGHT then it can’t be over the horizon.
19. GONERIL GONER + [cam]IL[la]. In King Lear, Goneril’s sister Regan is married to the Duke of Cornwall. It’s a nice idea to link this to the present Duchess of Cornwall, but IL as “Camilla’s part” is pretty outrageous.
20. AMYTAL Hidden in steAMY TAL. Now known as Amobarbital, Amytal is a sedative, and has also been used as a “truth serum”.

33 Responses to “Guardian 25,350 – Araucaria”

  1. Mystogre says:

    Thanks for putting me out of my misery Andrew. This is the first from Aracuria that has defeated me for quite some time. Like you, I had never heard of 1d and was getting “Suessy” trying to get a cat in a hat somehow, but it didn’t seem right no matter which way I tried.

    Did love the bull though. I thought that one an excellent cover.

    My other two (yes really) problems were OUGHTN’T because I have this problem with apostrophes not being signalled and I think they should. I could get nothing that fitted there. Secondly was GONERIL as I didn’t look far enough to get to Lear.

    All in all, a tough one for me but I do enjoy his challenges as they require a greater understanding.

  2. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, Andrew, for a great blog.

    I smiled at 27ac, which seemed like Araucaria’s wry comment on his puzzle! ;-)

    As an unashamed Araucaria fan, I enjoyed most of his liberties: I was less put out by the ‘part’ in 19dn, because it was so clever, I thought, than that in 10ac, since ‘trierarch’ is a relatively unfamiliar word.

    And I’m afraid I do like clues like 9 [but I agree with you about OFWAT] and 15dn. I’ve seen ‘infer’ used this way several times but I laughed at ‘flew un perturbed’ – a new one on me.

    There’ll probably be objections to 4dn, which I really liked, too.

    I had heard ‘cat in pan’ before, but only in ‘The Vicar of Bray’ and always wondered what it was about but never bothered to look it up so I’m quite pleased to have been led to do so. I found this, too, in my search:

    I thought ‘California alley’ was a great clue!

  3. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew, this was very enjoyable although I had to cheat on 1d (CAT IN PAN) and 21a (MILREIS) both of which I’d never heard of – even though I’ve been to Brazil and Portugal many times.

    I hadn’t heard of AMYTAL either but this was very guessable.

    I had considered COW IN HAY for 1d and I hereby claim this as my own invention. So (c) 2011 Bryan. However, I have not yet given it a meaning but, hopefully, Araucaria will be able to advise and also put it to good use in due course?

    Many thanks Araucaria

  4. superkiwigirl says:

    Yes indeed, many thanks Andrew for your blog and for your explanations – whilst I got this one out (eventually) it was a real slog, and not all that enjoyable by the end, so I had mixed feelings about this puzzle: horses for courses, maybe.

    I also tried various combinations of cats in hats, cats on mats, even cats in rats (that would have been a real “turn”) but I don’t complain about 1d as the solution simply comprised an expression that was unknown to me and Tinpan Alley was something that I should have seen earlier.

    Other clues struck me as less fairly constructed, however, and it was only by coming to this blog that I was able to appreciate their correct parsing – I would include here in addition to those that have already been mentioned a comparatively simple clue like 1a – shouldn’t the word “in” have been used before “battle”?

    My COD is also 5,2,6.

    Thanks Araucaria for setting such a stiff challenge – it’s inherent in the struggle between setter and solver that you should try your best to defeat us I suppose, but I clearly need more practice to get on to your wavelength.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew for a good blog. The master was being naughty (OUGHTNT! Can we have I’D’VE?) today, with many obscurities. I divined almost all these (10a, 13a, 14a, 1d and 19d) but was forced to Google for the old Portuguese money, and groaned when I saw ‘reis’ along with cruzados, escudos, dobra and peca. Quite fun, though.

  6. Roger says:

    Thanks Andrew. 1d was new for me also … in the spirit of 14a, tried to make CAT IN BAG work since it’s very often OUT of it !

  7. nusquam says:

    I’m not worried about the punctuation in 4, but surely’oughtn’t’ is in no way past. The setter ought to have written ‘has no business’.

  8. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Andrew, and congratulations – it was quite a feat to parse some of these clues, even though I managed to find the solutions.

    “Find” being the operative word for two of them: I’d heard of the Vicar, but couldn’t remember anything about him, so I looked him up, read the song, and there it was,1d; then with only 21ac to go in, I resorted to Chambers Puzzle Solver. BTW, Bryan@3, unless you were born before 1942, it’s hardly surprising you hadn’t come across the coins before :)

    I’d never heard of “trierarch”, but left it at that. I did enjoy the trickery in 15d, once I saw it, and the various animals in a pickle :)

  9. Stella Heath says:

    Hi nusquam@7. OUGHT is one of the so-called defective verbs, which have only one or two forms, but it is used in the past tense, as in “You oughtn’t to have done that!”

  10. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    This was a lot tougher than the Rev’s recent offerings – a grid with a lot of long lights was partly responsible. I did enjoy it, though.

    There are some clever little clues in here: 12a, 25a, 26a; the two ‘hidden’ clues (22a and 20d) were well concealed; 4d was LOL when I eventually got it; phallic bunions and top operators are very entertaining.

    1d was new to me also, but I Googled it as soon as I spotted the TIN PAN possibility. Of course I tried ‘escudos’ for 21a – AMYTAL and MILREIS were my last entries.

    I was comfortable with Aracuaria’s notorious ‘part of’ device in 19d because the surface is so perfect; 10a is rather more iffy. I love the ‘in-joke’ employed in 9d and 15d, which is rather a Ximenean/libertarian shibboleth.

    nusquam @7: The modal verb ‘ought’ is used in both present and past constructions. In the expression ‘I oughtn’t to have gone’ it is at least ambiguous as to whether the obligation still remains (which would make ‘ought’ present) or has expired (which would make it a past tense).

    I was comfortable with Araucaria’s ‘part of’ device in 19d because the su

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew for an excellent blog and Araucaria

    Completed with some difficulty but much of this puzzle was very enjoyable.

    I had to hunt 1d from the song – should have guessed it since tinpan crossed my mind at one stage. The ‘turned’ was very misleading however – it is part of the song (‘turned the cat in the pan’) rather than an instruction.

    By the time I finished, I hadn’t enough ‘steam’ to see the sense of 14a which is rather nice.

    Most enjoyed 1a, 13a (a story of surrogate birth turned sour!), 4d, 5 etc d, 9d.

    Andrew – you have a small typo in your explanation of 15d.

  12. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew

    Likewise this was the first Araucaria puzzle to stump me for a while. Never heard of the expression Cat in Pan before for 1d.

    My new word for today MILREIS. Where does he find them?

  13. Robi says:

    Thanks Araucaria; only he would use G?N?R?L without making general. The surface of that clue was so good that I think ‘Camilla’s part’ could be justified, even if, as Andrew said, it is rather outrageous.

    Thanks Andrew for parsing FISH OUT OF WATER, although I think in ‘fer’ is clever enough to be OK. I spent ages in searching for the lost battle of COMB, so thanks again for the parsing – probably my COD now I understand it properly.

    I would always say: “dog-in-a-manger,” although Wikipaedia gives ‘the dog in the manger.’ Like others I had not heard of CAT IN PAN. I tried in vain like superkiwi(/wiki)girl to get ‘cat in hat’ to parse. I managed to get CHINA BULL IN A SHOP until I realised I had clumsily not read the numeration properly! I thought DOG IN THE MANGER was DOG=love, IN THEM with ANGER=peril (not very good), but I missed the old chestnut of GIN=trap.

  14. tupu says:

    re milreis. I was pleased to guess this on the assumption that it originally meant 1000 kings or royals and from the apparent ‘homophone’. It strikes me though that this probably demands an English pronunciation of this word for obsolete coinage (and even then one with an unvoiced ‘s’). I imagine the Portuguese might say something like ‘millreish’ – on the analogy of Lopesh for lopes?

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A strange mix of very easy, very enjoyable and obscure.
    I had to admit defeat over 1dn.
    The’changing sides’ and ‘like the Vicar of Bray’ are a double definition, one of which could have been dropped. The reason this was significant (to me alone, perhaps) was that I took the former as an instruction to swap L for R, or vice versa.
    I loved the ‘Flew un-perturbed’.

  16. Robi says:

    RCWhiting @15; I, too, thought ‘changing sides’ might be R to L, or vice versa.

    tupu @14; not sure how you can pronounce MILREIS with an unvoiced ‘s.’ Try this one.

  17. Geoff says:

    Robi and tupu: Bizarrely, the dictionaries do give the pronuciation of MILREIS as equivalent to ‘mill-race’ – with an unvoiced s. This is presumably because the word is re-analysed in English as a singular noun, although it is really a plural (‘reis’ is the plural of ‘real’ – ‘milreis’ is one thousand reals).

    The (European) Portuguese pronunciation is quite different, with a longer i, a ‘dark’ l and a fricative s – more like ‘mew-raysh’.

  18. tupu says:

    Robi and geoff


    Robi and unvoiced ‘s’ (as in the recording) is the ‘s’ sound we make at the end of a word like ‘cats’. A voiced one is the ‘z’ sound we make at the end of ‘dogs’.

    Some English words vary regionally – e.g. ‘us’ in received pronunciation and ‘uz’ in some (Northern?) dialects. I think I’ve even heard ‘buz’ for ‘bus’ in East Lancashire.

  19. Geoff says:

    tupu: Terminal or intervocalic ‘s’ does vary in its voicing in different regional vaieties of English (eg ‘buzz’ for ‘bus’ in the W Midlands, or the Scottish proununciation of ‘houses’ as howssiz or hoossiz, for example). However, I think all varieties pronounce the plural ending ‘s’ with voice if it follows a vowel or voiced consonant sound: ‘cats’ but ‘dogz’, ‘kittenz’ and ‘puppiez’.

    Therefore MILREIS can only be pronounced ‘mill-race’ if it is interpreted as a singular noun. There is a lot of precedent for this, of course: ‘data’ and ‘media’ are often taken as singular nouns, and using them as plurals is starting to sound a bit precious. And more recently we have the horrid double plural in ‘paninis’, which always makes me choke over my macchiato.

  20. Robi says:

    tupu @18; sorry, I thought by ‘unvoiced’ you meant silent….. :)

  21. tupu says:

    Hi Geoff (and robi)
    Thanks – that all fits. The s/z plurals case is commonly given, I recall, as an example where we apply linguistic rules (even to non-existent made up words) without (usually) understanding them, and where our stock rule ‘add an ‘s” won’t do. :)I may have mentioned before how we once had a Swedish visitor who asked for ‘pans’ (instead of ‘panz’) in a department store and was directed to underwear.

  22. Andrew says:

    Ah, tupu, linking back to the sense/scents discussion from a couple of weeks ago!

  23. Andrew says:

    .. which in fact is where you last told the story of the pan[t]s ;)

  24. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.
    This time there were 3 cases where you explained why I had the right answer.

    On 3d I gave myself trouble. I spotted surgeon but assumed something like ‘brain surgeon’ (for top opearator) and pencilled in surgeon in the second word while I tried to find the correct first word. In due course I got dog in the manger then realised that surgeon should be the first word. Sigh.

    I liked 5d and 9d.

  25. tupu says:

    Hi Andrew

    :) Thanks and apologiez!! Oh dear – does ‘last’ mean more than once?

  26. Carrots says:

    After my idiocies of yesterday, I was relieved to finish this with four (correct!) guesses, which I needed Andrew`s welcome blog to both parse and confirm.

    I think this puzzle was really clever….and not without wit and Ah! moments either. It was heartening to see tupu and some of the other usual suspects having such fun with the terminology.

    Well done, Araucaria & Andrew: they don`t come much better than this and I will open my last bottle of Savennieres with supper tonight…an offering to the gods for giving me my marbles back.

  27. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew, and Araucaria for once again providing a most enjoyable puzzle.

    Though I managed to complete, I couldn’t explain 1A COCKSCOMB “at lost combat”, 8D OFWAT does not mean much if you’re not connected to their water supply, and 17A FEEDING BOTTLE. Liked the split/part words “flew un”, “[cam]il[la], “in fer”, trier[arch]. Last one in was 1D CAT IN PAN, after I saw TIN PAN alley, though perhaps it would have been nicer with a pointer to indicate a specific example of an alley.

    But very enjoyable from the Master, with favourites: 14A AGAINST NATURE, 8D PAYOLA and 21A MILREIS.

  28. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew, and thanks, once again, to Araucaria. I’ve a bad cold at the moment, which is my excuse for failing to get 4dn. I didn’t get 21ac either, but given the answer, I’m less upset by that!

    Cat in pan was a new expression for me, but that was one I managed to parse.

  29. RCWhiting says:

    OFWAT doesn’t supply water (to anybody).

  30. scchua says:

    I stand corrected: the companies that OFWAT regulates supply the water. Illustrates my point about not knowing about it :-)

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Thanks Andrew. Just like you we found it very hard to make a substantial start to the puzzle. But we got there in the end with only MILREIS and OUGHTN’T to be confirmed by The Dictionaries.

    This was surely (together with Bonxie’s) the hardest puzzle of the week. But where Bonxie’s was a bit of a slog, Araucaria’s just wasn’t because of this underlying ‘theme’ [no, please, no discussion on what is a theme and what isn't ... :)].
    That just saved his soul here.

    And Andrew, normally I would agree with you re the ‘part’ bits in 10ac and 19d, today we let Araucaria get away with it. Surely in GONERIL with its beautiful surface.
    My PinC still cannot get used to the infer/unpertubed tricks, but I’m fine with it.
    Personally I find a thing like “at lost battle” for “battle with at lost” a lot less attractive. But I know, it happens in Crosswordland.

    Best clues: the (indeed) Paulian 5,2,6 and the cleverly hidden (because in a natural surface) NEW IDEA – probably our Clue of the Day.
    Enjoyable puzzle.

  32. Malc says:

    I worked out 1 dn but didn’t put it in because I didn’t believe it was a proper phrase.

  33. otter says:

    I’ve only just come to this blog as I didn’t manage to complete this puzzle yesterday, defeated as I was by MILREIS, AMYTAL and LOST. I did eventually get CAT IN PAN, but have never heard that phrase.

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Just one point: in your entry for 9d, you say (and a few others concur) that ‘it’s a bit of a weakness that Ofwat‘s name implies the word WATER’. I don’t agree that this is what is happening here: OFWAT is for ‘utility regulator’ in the clue. The whole clue as I read it is:

    I (‘one’) + SHOUT (‘to cry’) + OFWAT (‘utility regulator’) all inside FER (‘infer’) = FISH OUT OF WATER (‘[a] being unable to breathe’).

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