Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,385 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on July 27th, 2011


My second Araucaria blog in less than a week. I’ve learned a couple of new words, where the cluing fortunately made them gettable, and wrestled with several of Araucaria’s characteristic long clues, which took twice as long as getting the answer – but we’re used to that. There were fewer outrageous liberties than last week, I think, but some might find 1dn a step too far!


1   SUBWAY: SWAY [rule] around [t]UB[e]
4   UPMARKET: PMAR [reversal {repelled} of RAMP – swindle] in UK [country] + ET [the ubiquitous crosswoerd alien]: I would have expected a hyphen here: Collins has one, Chambers doesn’t.
9   OCCULT: OC [Officer Commanding / Officer in Charge – person running] + CULT [religious business]
10  ATMOLYSE: MOLY [magic herb] in anagram of TEAS: first new word – fortunately, I knew MOLY, the herb given by Hermes to Odysseus, to counteract the spells of Circe, and there was no other possible anagram of TEAS
11  PHENOBARBITONE: HEN [bird] in [that’s breached] PO [postal order] + B [note] in BARITONE [singer]
13  DISSIMILAR: RA [artist] L[eft] I [single] MISS [girl] ID [instincts] all reversed [going the other way]
14 BENT: BEST [from 8dn] with S [pole] changed to N: I got 8dn first, so I could see what the answer was – and BENT is a tendency – but couldn’t at first see why both ‘footballer’ and ‘one’. Then I discovered that, as well as George Best – of whom I had heard! – there was a footballer called Darren Bent [Kathryn’s Dad and Raich may never speak to me again!]
16  VICE: double definition
18  TIMBER WOLF: TWO round IMBER [deserted village] + L[ow] F[requency]: Imber is one of several villages ‘borrowed’ during the Second World War for military training and never given back. I haven’t been to Imber but I have visited Tyneham  in Dorset and found it very moving to read the message left on the church door.
21  SYMPATHETIC INK: YM [reversal of MY] + PATH [way] + ETIC [reversal {turning} of CITE [quote] in SINK [cesspool: I didn’t know this term for what I know as invisible ink.
23  ABOMASUM: AB [sailor] +OM [Order of Merit {worthy folk}] + A SUM a lot: I didn’t know this word – the fourth stomach of ruminants – and thought for a while it was going to end in ATUM
24  ROCOCO: This one has me flummoxed, I’m afraid: RO is ‘or otherwise’ but COCO = 2 2s? I’m ready to kick myself when one of you speedily enlightens  me.
25  ELFLOCKS: EL [the Spanish] + FLOCKS [sheep]
26  BILLET: BET [speculation] around ILL [sick]


1   SHOT: a groan-inducing clue: S-HOT is warmer than S-WARM – and it’s a try
2   BACCHUS: the Roman god of wine sounds a little bit like ‘backers’ [supporters]
3   ATLANTIS: anagram [carved up] of LAST around ANTI [objector]
5   PETER RABBIT:  TERRA [land] in PEBB[les] [a lot of stones] + IT
6   ADONIS: A DO [a tonic – perhaps more usually spelt ‘doh’] + reversal [turns up’] of SIN [evil]
7   KEYHOLE: cryptic defnition; when the key isn’t in the lock, you can see through the hole.
8,12  THE BEST OF BRITISH LUCK: definition: ‘Ironic wish': TUCK [food] around [eating] HEBE’S [shrub’s] + TOSH [rubbish] around [concealing] RIT [go-slow – ritardando / ritenuto, musical direction to slow down] in [among] FBI [detectives] + L [pupil] Phew!
13  DEVASTATE: DEVA’S [of Indian deity] + TATE [pictures / gallery]
15  BROCCOLI: BROC [Manx – without a tail – BROC[k] [badger] + COLI [species of bacterium] I don’t think badgers have tails!
17  COME OFF: double definition: if a footballer is substituted, he comes off the pitch and if something comes off, it succeeds. And ‘Come off it!’ is an expression of scepticism.
19  OWN GOAL: OWL [bird] round [covering] N [north] GOA [Indian region] – another expression for SHOT [1 dn] in the FOOT [22dn] with the FOOT.
20  HAD A GO: H[ard] A DAGO: Chambers has this as ‘offensive’ for a man of Spanish, Portuguese or Italian origin.
22  FOOT: reference to Michael Foot, leader of the Labour Party from 1980 to 1983 and yet another reference to football.

40 Responses to “Guardian 25,385 / Araucaria”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I found this very hard going, and I’m afraid can’t help with ROCOCO.

    Badgers certainly do have tails – see the picture here for example.

    I hadn’t heard of Imber (or Tyneham) – it’s a fascinating story.

  2. Gaufrid says:

    Thanks Eileen
    In 24ac I think it is a reference to ‘two’s company …’ so 2 2s would be CO CO.

  3. Robi says:

    Eileen; I think 24 is from the expression: “two’s company”. Thanks for a good blog and to Araucaria for an enjoyable solve.

    Even with scientific training I didn’t know ATMOLYSE or ABOMASUM. Hadn’t heard of SYMPATHETIC INK either.

  4. Robi says:

    ………thanks, Gaufrid; we crossed. And I didn’t know ELFLOCKS or MOLY (except in molybdenum.)

  5. Median says:

    Yes, very hard going. I gave up without getting SWARM but, having seen the explanation, it’s OK by me. On the other hand, I got ROCOCO but, like some others, I couldn’t see why. Well done, Eileen, for sorting out THE BEST OF BRITISH LUCK – it had leapt out at me after a few crossing letters had gone in but I flunked the parsing. Araucaria in particularly cantankerous mode, I think.

  6. Median says:

    Oops, I meant SHOT, not SWARM.

  7. Roger says:

    Thanks Eileen. Ditto your remarks regarding Tyneham and Imber.

    Rather liked SHOT (clever construction) and KEYHOLE. The ‘?’ is perhaps justified at 2d for the homophone … although I guess the supporters of BACCHUS may well be somewhat audible after a few glasses … and ‘:it’ in 5d was a sly misdirection, I thought.
    ELFLOCKS, what a lovely (and new for me) word although the ODO gives it as hyphenated. ATMOLYSE also new.

    LAST seems to have escaped from you comments at 3d !

  8. cholecyst says:

    Thanks, Eileen and Araucaria. Hadn’t seen elflocks for a while –
    “…This is that very Mab
    That plaits the manes of horses in the night,
    And bakes the elflocks in foul sluttish hairs,
    Which once untangled, much misfortune bodes.” (Mercutio Romeo and Juliet).
    There is an echo of another answer -ATMOLYSE- earlier on in M.’s speech – “O, then, I see Queen Mab hath been with you.
    She is the fairies’ midwife, and she comes
    In shape no bigger than an agate-stone
    On the fore-finger of an alderman,
    Drawn with a team of little atomies
    Athwart men’s noses as they lie asleep”

  9. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Eileen.

    This was difficult and it’s probably all my fault for having expressed my disapproval of the setter’s Desert Island Discs selections. I must try to be more careful.

    I’d never heard of 10a, 21a, 23a or IMBER.

    Also, sorry, I can’t help with ROCOCO.

  10. Anna says:

    A lot of fun and thanks Eileen for a thorough explanation of my antipodean guesses. I don’t mind references to UK institutions when the rest of the clue points me in the right direction. Whether badgers have tails or not, I interpreted the Manx reference as an indicator that the word for badger would lose its tail (last letter). So clear enough to put in broccoli after flirting with zuchinni and others. I would so love to join you for the bloggers and setters and intend that when I next plan a trip to England I want to tie it in with one of your functions. As a person born in NL but raised in Aus I so enjoy the comments from Sil which I contextualise in my understanding of the Dutch psyche. Thanks to all of you from this lurking admirer (insert smiley) I also relate to the concept of “Auntie” Eileen.

  11. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    This one yielded quite steadily for me, though I found the top half harder than the bottom half.

    I was pleased that I knew all of the words (‘Imber’ included) apart from ATMOLYSE, but for 10a the anagram of ‘teas’ was clearly signposted, an ending in ‘-lyse’ seemed plausible, and I remembered the classical reference. (There is a rather handsome wild garlic that grows in the Med region called Allium moly but this is probably not the Homeric herb).

    The ABOMASUM is apparently sometimes eaten as ‘reed tripe’ but is much less common than ‘blanket tripe’ (‘rumen’) and ‘honeycomb tripe’ (‘reticulum’) from two of the other ruminant stomachs (at least, I’ve never seen it on Bury market!).

    IMHO, SHOT is a great example of Araucarian inventiveness – cheeky but not too outrageous and pretty well Ximenean in construction.

    I was relieved to get 11a without cheating, after being embarrassed by my failure with TNT last week!

  12. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Gaufrid and Robi, for the COCO illumination. [I’m slightly reassured by the fact that Andrew didn’t get it, either. :-) ]

    Hi Anna

    Nice to hear from you. Perhaps you’d better let us know when you next plan a visit, so that we can make our arrangements accordingly!

    [If you ever want to add a smiley, Gaufrid showed us how, here: ]

    Thanks for pointing out my omission in 3dn, Roger @7 – sorted now.

  13. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Although 8,12 was my third in (via 14a, easy enough) I couldn’t parse it. Nor the ‘swindle’ part of UPMARKET. With only two to go I did resort to Google, for ‘magic herb’ and that gave 10a. Really liked 13a which needed one other cheat, via TEAS. Good stuff.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I found this hard and struggled with the NE corner. 10ac defeated me by the letter L.

    Like others, I got 8, 12 once I had a few of the checking letters — as for parsing it, rather you than me :-)

    23ac I only knew from crosswords — we’ve had it here before, I’m sure. I did like 1dn, though.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Now that’s what I call a proper crossword PUZZLE.
    A real challenge and full of delights.
    1 down is sublime,it was my last in and I almost collapsed with admiration.
    In spite of above attempts I still do not entirely understand 24ac.
    I took the second 2 to refer to ‘bacchus’ but now think that was wrong.
    However two companies is not two’s company and in any case how is two’s company related to the rest of the clue.
    Anyone help?

  16. RCWhiting says:

    Yes, I can help.
    The second 2 is ‘company’ in the expression ‘two is company’.
    How slow you were RC.

  17. Eileen says:

    Hi liz

    You’re absolutely right. [You know I can’t resist the ‘search’ facility!]

    ABOMASUM appeared in an Araucaria puzzle

    clued: ‘Nearly a lot of money, a 12 to stomach’

    almost exactly a year ago. [I was away on holiday that week, so I missed it.]

  18. Dave Ellison says:

    Too hard for me – gave up after spending a long time doing about a third of it.

  19. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen. Took me a long time to solve this one. I don’t know where Araucaria gets some of these words and phrases. I couldn’t understand the IMBER in TIMBER WOLF till I read the blog.

    Lots of new ones for me today. ELFLOCKS, SYMPATHETIC INK, and MOLY as in ATMOLYSE

  20. Kathryn's Dad says:

    I didn’t do the puzzle, Eileen, but Darren who? He plays these days for some fourth-rate Midlands team rather than the red-and-whites …

  21. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    This crossword made me really angry and ruined my (busy) day!

    I’ve had a few complaints about slack editing of crosswords recently and this falls into the same category, although for an entirely different reason: I would have loved this on a Saturday when I would have had time to savour it fully, not rush at it and give up half way through. I just don’t understand the editor’s selection. If Araucaria’s too prolific, why not swap this for one of his recent prizes, which have been pretty gentle?

    By the way, when you mention Darren Bent, you shouldn’t use the past tense – he’s currently seen, by some, as the great hope of the current England team!

  22. NeilW says:

    Sorry, K’s dad – we crossed! I don’t support either team though – just reporting what I’ve heard. :)

  23. Eileen says:

    Hi K’s D

    Sorry for intruding on private grief: I was just going on this, which I found:

    I also found Marcus Bent, who apparently once played for my home team – but I hadn’t heard of him, either. [As I’ve said here before, it’s the wrong-shaped ball!]

    Hi NeilW

    Sorry – it wasn’t a value judgment. I was just being my usual pedantic self and following the grammatical sequence of tenses: ‘I discovered that there was …’

    And I long ago gave up trying to understand the reasoning of the Guardian crossword editor!

  24. Geoff Anderson says:

    Since two’s company, perhaps the setter had in mind the TWO Bents: Darren and Marcus Bent. Marcus is curremtly without a club as far as I know, but this year was seen in the gold of Wolves and the red and white of the Blades.

  25. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I managed to guess 8,12 but never managed to parse it.

    I liked 1d – perhaps because I managed to solve it pretty quickly :) .

    On 10a I tried to make ‘pot’ take the place of the magic herb but got nowhere. I also found that *(herb teas) gives ‘breathes’ which could be thought of as separate gases! I had never heard of moly so thanks again to Eileen.

    I liked 2d.

  26. FLS says:

    Clunge (again!) X

  27. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks for the insight, FLS! I also tried the anagram mentioned by chas@25. Several new words for me on this one including ELFLOCKS, ATMOLYSE, PHENOBARBITONE, SYMPATHETIC INK. I thought I was transported back to Sunday with AZED. Thanks to Araucaria and Eileen.


  28. NeilW says:

    Off to bed but was caught by FLS’ interesting comment @ 26. (Wasted half an hour tonight already trying to discover the etymology of SYMPATHETIC INK!)

    Wondered what he meant so investigated and found this:

    Rather wished I hadn’t! A typo perhaps?

    Eileen @ 23: Yes, I know, but I keep hoping that perhaps he occasionally looks at this blog…

  29. NeilW says:

    I should have said “what he/she meant”…

  30. don says:

    “As I’ve said here before, it’s the wrong-shaped ball!”

    Given the above comment, Eileen, I should have thought you would have quibbled at substitutes coming OFF the pitch. Like ‘replacements’ in the better-shaped ball game, I thought substitutes went ON the pitch and those who COME OFF would ‘be replaced’ rather than ‘be substituted’.

  31. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    I found parts of this very hard. I had to guess and check 10a and 23 (in this case had to search ab+ I’m afraid but was running out of energy and, I’m afraid interest, by then).

    I messed up in the NW. I put in ‘oracle’ for 9a and that sank me with 2 down! I kept thinking it must be one of the ever recurring ‘bra’ words.

    I liked several clues inc. 11a, 13a, 18a, and 1d (sorry!).

  32. Eileen says:

    Hi don

    You’re absolutely right, of course. :-(

  33. Median says:

    Neil W @21 and Eileen @23, on 15 July, after a midweek run of – I thought – difficult puzzles, I wrote to Hugh Stevenson, Guardian crossword editor. Here are extracts from my email.

    I’m an experienced solver, happy to have a go at all Guardian cryptics. I’m usually successful if I persist, especially when I use my copy of TEA software. These days, I think I’m a pretty good judge of the level of difficulty of the puzzles you publish.

    I support your apparent policy of having cryptics of different levels of difficulty – it widens the appeal and, over time, helps solvers improve their skills. However, I can’t spot any pattern in the degree of toughness, apart from often having relatively easy Rufus puzzles on Mondays (to encourage novices who have spent ages on a puzzle at the weekend, when they have had more time?). It seems fairly random, even with the Saturday prize puzzles which, on occasion, I find easy.

    If I were in your shoes – editing the puzzles for the Guardian (not a magazine for crossword enthusiasts) – I think I would reserve the most difficult puzzles for Saturday, when solvers have the incentive of a prize and (perhaps) more time. Like you, I’d start most weeks with a relatively easy one and vary the level on Tuesdays to Fridays.

    Any comments?

    No reply so far. I’m not holding my breath. Sigh.

  34. Sil van den Hoek says:

    This was Araucaria on top form and a lot harder than his recent Saturday offerings. And therefore, Median, I am once again with you [even though, for the two of us, this puzzle was a treat]. Perhaps, Mr Stephenson will come back to it in one of his monthly contributions at the Guardian website. It wouldn’t surprise me.

    Bravo Eileen! You unraveled THE BEST OF BRITISH LUCK! We didn’t, we gave up.
    Bravo Araucaria! I am not always keen on your liberties, but the one at 1d (SHOT) was outrageous in the positive sense of the word. Because of the cheeky wording. I’d wish my mind would still work like this when I’m 90. :)

    Nice to see the use of ‘Latin’ in 20d (our first entry HAD A GO)being different from what it usually is, here meaning “relating to Spanish, Portuguese or Italian people” – spot on.

    I think 13d (DEVASTATE) needed a Question Mark.
    But the crossword as a whole deserved an Exclamation Mark ! (sic)

  35. mismanager says:

    Thanks for the blog, Eileen. I remember that Co-Co is a type of railway locomotive with two bogies, often used for freight trains. There is also a Bo-Bo, more often used for faster passenger trains, and probably many other configurations – not my specialist subject! I’m not sure if it helps but I’m not too convinced by any other explanation either.

  36. Carrots says:

    After yesterday`s drubbing at the hands of RichWA and rfb, I hardly dare put my head above the parapet. Dave Ellison @18 sums it up for me. With FOUR unheard-of words, a couple of inexplicable usages and a smattering of wordy and byzantine clues, I felt I was up against a stacked deck. I was sorely tempted to use my new i-phone, but I resisted until I had access (on the BIG SCREEN!) to Auntie E`s essential blog. WhaddaGal!!

    It may be apologia on my part, but I don`t think this was anywhere near Araucaria at his best. There was little wit, ironed surfaces or AHA! moments, all of which are the GOM`s signature.

  37. Eileen says:

    Hi Median @33

    Sorry for the delay – I’ve been out on a lovely evening ramble, followed by an excellent pub meal.

    Thank you for sharing that. I’d be interested to know if you receive any response but the relative difficulties of the puzzles is not one of my main causes for concern – one of them being the lack of response to comments!]

    Hi Sil

    “This was Araucaria on top form”.

    I agree! – and I can say that now, at the end of the day. Having established a reputation as an avid Araucaria enthusiast, I do try, now, early on, to curb my enthusiasm – to the point, last week, I think, of overplaying the part of Devil’s Advocate! I really enjoyed this, despite – and perhaps I don’t really mean that [it’s nice to think he can still pull one over us] – having been foxed by 24ac.

    “You unraveled THE BEST OF BRITISH LUCK! We didn’t, we gave up.”
    That’s a luxury afforded to bloggers only ‘in extremis’ [v 24ac] [as you now know!]

    20dn was my first entry, too, so, you can imagine, as it was the penultimate clue, I was, as the blogger, fairly desperate by then! [And I’m more used to ‘Latin’ in its ‘usual’ meaning]

    Hi mismanager

    Back to 24ac

    Thanks for the suggestions but I’m now totally convinced! I think I’ve been incredibly dim about this clue today. Even after accepting Gaufrid and Robi’s explanations, I still couldn’t really get my head round it – it seemed the wrong way round, somehow – then RC Whiting came along with his musings / explanation and it all made sense [but then, Proteus-like, still kept escaping me until I really tied it down]. It’s so simple really! :-): the saying is, ‘Two’s company’, i.e two = company, so two twos must = CO CO. What on earth took me so long?

    Hi Carrots

    Your comment arrived while I was typing this. In my post-pub state, I can’t possibly start a whole new discussion now so must just say I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy it – as I said, I did! :-)

    Good night all!

  38. Paul (not Paul) says:

    One for the A* students not the class plodders. Too hard for me to enjoy the few I got.

    I put Breathes in for 10 across. Its an anagram herb and teas and breathing could be described as a process of seperating gases. I like it more than the real answer actually! Certainly didn’t help me with the rest of the puzzle.

  39. Sylvia says:

    I know it’s late, but did no-one else think of coco as being co (company) and co (company)i.e. 2 x co?

  40. Huw Powell says:

    This was very hard, and not very rewarding to me. I don’t mind – I even like – when I have resorted to various levels of tools to finish a clue, from reading up on topics to using onelook to find possible words, etc., and when I get the answer I can see how the clue was fair, if subtle or using an unfamiliar trick. Paul does that to me a lot. This puzzle didn’t, sadly.

    Starting with 1a – I don’t would never think of “sway” when clued by “rule”. Influence, maybe, or a tricky definition of some of its other meanings. 2a. “Ramp” would never have occurred to me, although I see it in Chambers online, got the answer via onelook and checked letters. Had to look up far too many things for various reasons. Researching the stomachs didn’t even give me the check for the long clue, since there are a few related words. At least the ink one I was able to deduce from some checks and the wordplay, then found it redirects to invisible ink at wikipedia. Too many whines to list, really. If a word is obscure, the wordplay can’t require knowing yet another obscure word (“moly”, to me anyway).

    I knew what I was supposed to do to the badger, but not knowing what the “tail” letter (or letters) was that was hacked off just exhausted the brain.

    I’m with NeilW, Median, and Sil on this one – if I had printed this out on a Saturday and it took until Wednesday using all tools I can think of, I would think that fair, I expect the prize puzzles to be very taxing. Odd that I can remember a few of the Reverend’s that weren’t.

    Well, that’s me done complaining, thanks for the monumental effort on the blog, Eileen, and Araucaria for the untimely challenge. Please, next time you put this much effort into a puzzle, whisper to Hugh “psst, this one is very hard, save it for Saturday”. Cheers.

Leave a Reply

Don't forget to scroll down to the Captcha before you click 'Submit Comment'

XHTML: You can use these tags: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

7 × = seven