Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,417 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on September 2nd, 2011


Our favourite nonagenarian is in literary mode here, with an author and the title of several of his novels. I got the name early on, and that led to several long answers as the titles, so I finished the puzzle quite quickly. There were a few places, in the titles and elsewhere, where the answer was fairly obvious but the wordplay took some working out. There are a couple of Araucarian liberties which I mildly harrumph about below, but they didn’t detract from the enjoyment. I can’t fully explain 25ac at this time of night, so I leave it in the capable hands of early commenters.

1. ASSASSIN BUG ASS ASS (fools) + IN + BUG, giving a family of insects that gruesomely kill their prey by injecting lethal saliva
9. OCARINA Hidden in intO CAR IN A hurry. I’m not keen on this for two reasons: “into” has to be read as “in to”, and “hurry” is redundant
10. FORSTER FOR ST (Saint) E.R. A easy (but nice) clue for E M Forster, whose works provide some other answers.
11. MISSHAPEN IS SHAP (Cumbrian village) in MEN (=folk)
12. STEAM S[econd] + TEAM
13. IAGO I A GO (shot) for the villain in Othello
14. HOWARDS END D is the last letter of HOWARD. Note that there’s no apostrophe in the title of the Forster novel.
16. HATCH BEAMS To HATCH BEAMS could be to produce beams of light from [egg]shells. “Timber balks across a hatch on which the hatch covering planks rest”, says Chambers, so “undercover timbers”.
19. STET TEST* for the printer’s instruction to ignore a correction
20. VYING YIN (female principle, as in Yin and Yang) in V[ery] G[ood] (=splendid)
25. APPREHENDED I can’t quite get this to work – it looks like PAPER* + HEN (female), but that overlaps with NDE for near-death experience. I’m sure someone will explain an obvious answer. The consensus seems to be that the near-death experience is DED, coming from either D[i]ED or DE[a]D.
1. A PASSAGE TO INDIA A PAS SAGE is “has not wise” in French, so it’s a translation of “has unwise”, plus another “translation” or anagram of AN IDIOT.
2. SMITH Double definition
3. SHAMPOO S + HAMP[shire] + O O (loves)
4. INFANTA IN (at home) + FAN (supporter) + TA (territorial army = volunteers)
6. GATHERED TO A HEAD THERE in GAD[fly] + A HE in TOAD. This is not an expression I’m familiar with – anyone else?
7. ROOM WITH A VIEW OM (Order of Merit = people of quality) + WIT + I in HAVE, all in ROW. A bit naughty, as the title of the novel is A Room With a View.
8. PREMEDITATION REMED[y] IT in PATIO + N (“some necessary” – hmm!)
15. THE GROUP (TOUGH PRE)* – it’s a 1963 bestseller by Mary McCarthy
17. ENTITLE TIT in (held by) EN LE (“in the” in French)
18. MAURICE M (1000 in Roman numerals) + AU (gold) + RICE (grains), and another Forster novel
22. HOUND HO (house) + UND (German for “and” or “added to”)

33 Responses to “Guardian 25,417 – Araucaria”

  1. Tokyocolin says:

    Thanks Andrew. You were on the right track at 25ac. The leftover letters are actually DED which is almost ‘dead’. I have the benefit of doing it in the morning.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Colin gets a two hour head start on me :) but I agree with him about DEaD. A typical Araucarian liberty, of which as you say, there are a number in this puzzle!

    I really liked VYING and didn’t see a problem with GATHERED TO A HEAD, which seemed common enough.

  3. caretman says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    As you say, if one gets 10a (and it was a pretty easy clue), a lot of the rest falls out quickly. I read 25a as did Tokyocolin and NeilW, and I echo your harrumph over N = ‘some necessary’ (unless there’s something more going on there than I’m seeing).

    All in all a mostly straightforward puzzle.

  4. Mystogre says:

    For an Araucaria this is very straightforward, although I had a BEE instead of a BUG because of the East European bit. I now know the latter is a river. Rather devious that one. Of course, that ruined my 6d and it is an expression I also have not heard before. I suppose gathered can mean brought.

    But, once FORSTER was there, a lot of the rest fell into place nicely, except I thought the book was “A room with a view” and that made me hesitate, so I agree with your naughty tag Andrew. And, yes, DED is almost dead.

    But, a nice way to pass half an hour. And I enjoyed it.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. Agree with all of the above. Knocked it off in good time without recourse to any aid. And found it satisfying.

  6. jackkt says:

    Didn’t know THE GROUP, GATHERED TO A HEAD or BUG river but it was all solvable one way or another. Mystogre, A ROOM WITH A VIEW is the song by Noel Coward.

  7. Bryan says:

    Many thanks Andrew & Araucaria, this was very enjoyable.

    All the novels are well known – at least to me which is what I care about.

    I’d never heard of ASSASSIN BUG:

  8. Andrew says:

    Thanks Colin and Neil – I toyed with the idea of DE[a]D but it seemed too outrageous even for A.

    jacckt – “A Room With a View” is indeed a Noel Coward song, but it’s also the title of the novel, as I mentioned in the blog.

  9. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Very straightforward, this one, for anyone familiar with the titles of EMF’s novels. I had FORSTER quickly, which gave me half the puzzle almost without trying. The parsing of the linked clues was ingenious (in places tortuous!), but with these ‘closed set’ thematics it isn’t necessary to work out why the clue works if only one possible answer will fit.

    ‘Gather’ in the sense of ‘muster’ is not so unusual, surely? But GATHERED TO A HEAD is a rather strange way of expressing ‘got ready for action’ – I have only heard it used in connection with boils and abscesses.

    Some neat clues here – I particularly liked 11a and 20a. 19a is a well constructed clue for a word that often appears as a filler in odd corners of crosswords.

  10. jackkt says:

    A Room With A View

    Sorry, I seem to have misread an earlier comment.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria

    A quite enjoyable puzzle of mixed difficulty.

    Thanks for the parsing of 1d

    25a is ‘nearly died’ I think.

    As Mystogore notes, in 1a Bug is also an East European river.

    I liked 9a, 14a, 20a, 4d.

  12. tupu says:

    Hi Andrew – re Bug. Apologies, I missed your link.

  13. Stranger says:

    On 25, I thought D[i]ED worked better – “nearly died” is closer to “near death experience” than “nearly dead”.

  14. NeilW says:

    Hi tupu and Stranger,

    I think you’re probably right but that’s the problem when Araucaria goes for one of these extra liberties!

  15. tupu says:

    Hi NeilW

    Thanks. Yes it makes more sense grammatically and idiomatically, I think. But you are right – I remember feeling the same about a Gordius clue or two. If anything goes, one is more ready to accept first thoughts.

  16. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. Like others, I found 10ac an easy way into the theme but was slightly held up by the lack of an article at 7dn, which was the one long one I didn’t manage to parse. I also had BARDSIDE at 5dn and didn’t bother to check to see if it was right :-(

    I’m another one who thought it was D(I)ED in the wordplay for 25, which didn’t really bother me. But I agree ‘Some necessary’ for ‘n’ is a bit of a liberty! My ‘mild harumph’, however, was reserved for ‘to go ahead’ as a definition for shampoo!

    An easyish Araucaria, on the whole, which makes me kick myself harder for the mistake at 5dn.

  17. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew

    I was a bit slow in getting into this one due to my habit of going through all the down clues first then the across ones. Took me a while to get to FORSTER which helped greatly.

    Didn’t like the clue to PREMEDITATION, ROOM WITH A VIEW was a bit of a liberty, never came across the phrase GATHERED TO A HEAD but it was solvable

    I thought the clue to APPREHENDED was ok and I had heard of the ASSASSIN BUG and HATCH BEAMS. I am sure that I came across the river BUG in a puzzle not that many moons ago.

    Another enjoyable mind work out.

  18. William says:

    Thank you, Andrew, tricky blog to sort out.

    The Master is himself, I am pleased to see – fun, difficulty, and outrage in roughly equal parts.

    The “A PASSAGE TO INDIA” clue prompted me to dig out an old email from a colleague in France. We were discussing a mutual vile salesman acquaintance and I had made the comment that he was not only a crook, but also not very bright. My chum’s actual words in reply were, “Parmi les défauts de caractère nombreuses que ce bandit a, «pas sage» ne pourrait jamais être incluse!” Astonishing. It may not be perfect French but it’s certainly colloquial.

    Bravi, Maestro.

  19. Disco says:

    Plenty I hadn’t heard of today (GATHERED…, HATCH BEAMS) but learning new words and phrases is all part of the fun. Not that I expect I’ll ever use these!

    Sorry to counter liz’s harrumph but “to go ahead” made me laugh. A it of a liberty? Sure. It amused me nevertheless.

    I have to echo the comments of others that this was an easier Araucaria than the norm. I’m happy to be given a break from time to time though. I think the fact that I completed even an easier Araucaria puzzle speaks volumes for how much reading these blogs has improved my solving skills.

    So – thanks for the blog Andrew.

  20. James says:

    I thought the SHAMPOO clue would be better as “go on ahead”.

    I had a little trouble with STET and BURNSUDE (as I’d never heard of IDE as a fish), but otherwise a fun straightforward puzzle.

  21. cholecyst says:

    James I agree. But still… googling GO Shampoo produces a surprising variety of brand names containing GO.

  22. Conrad Cork says:

    Thanks Andrew and The Rev. One of my few claims to fame is that I had dinner with E M Forster 50 years ago. He was highly knowledgeable about train timetables.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks for the blog Andrew. There were several cases where you explained why I had the correct answer.

    I agree with Liz: “go ahead” is a horrible definition for shampoo!

    My approach to the theme was that I solved 1a (somehow) which immediately gave me 10a but there I ground to a halt as I only know one of Forster’s works. That meant a lot of extra work.

    I liked 21a. My first reading was *(amid utter) but that got me nowhere. Eventually I realised that the anagram fodder was just “utter” then I was able to finish it. A fine piece of misdirection by the master :)

  24. Derek Lazenby says:

    That’s not right. It’s Friday, it’s Araucaria, there were things I didn’t know, and the class dummy still got there in record time! Very unsettling. I’d better do something normal now, feed the dog and go to the bookies to select some slow dogs!

  25. Disco says:

    With 21a, I thought “utter destruction” suggested a homophone for a word meaning destruction.

    Misdirections galore!

  26. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria.

    A mellow Araucaria this time, with an easily accesible mini-theme. (Last week’s prize monster still awaiting completion…I hopes).

    Lots of good cluing, liberties notwithstanding: Liked 14A HOWARDS END, even though having FORSTER early on helped, 5D BURNSIDE, and 25A APPREHENDED.

  27. Dave Ellison says:

    I expect Paul would clue it as something to do with SHAM POO.

    Incidentally, someone was musing recently about definitions – Radio 4’s “I Am Sorry I Haven’t A Clue” in Uxbridge English Dictionary produce excellent examples.

  28. Eileen says:

    Many thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    I’m writing this from Copenhagen, where I’m cuddling my new grandson. I finished the puzzle on the train to Stansted, despite not knowing ASSASSIN BUG, GATHERED TO A HEAD or HATCH BEAMS, so I guess that means, as others say, that it was on the easy side for A.I, too, had qualms about entering 7dn for a while.

    The only thing I have to add is that I think there’s a little more to 5dn. The clue has ‘his’ stream and I think that’s referring to the fact that Burns, a Scot, would call a stream a burn.

  29. slipstream says:

    The Tempest, act V, scene 1, line i, Prospero to Ariel: “Now does my project gather to a head.”

  30. mike04 says:

    I’d add this to some of the earlier comments about 25ac:
    “having had near death experience” can be read as “having nearly died”.
    So nearly DIED (DED) has to be attached to “APPREHEN”.

  31. Sil van den Hoek says:

    mike04, your reading of 25ac is indeed the most plausible one, I think.

    But what I do not like about it is that one:
    -first has to ‘translate’ “having had near death experience” into “having nearly died”
    -and subsequently has to see “nearly died” as DED, which is perhaps clear enough but still dubious. In Crosswordland “nearly” (nearly :)) always means: “take the last letter away”, but not here. What if some average setter would have clued SPAN by “near Spain”? I think we would have put him on the BBQ :).

    My conclusion: one of these typical Araucarian liberties which – once more, fair enough and much to his advantage – didn’t stand in the way of finding the right solution.

  32. Huw Powell says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew – answered a couple I missed and explained a couple I got but couldn’t parse. And thank you Araucaria for the “accessibility”, I enjoy your style but your harder works can be truly vexing.

    I didn’t really know any of Forster’s work “directly” but thought I had a vague idea of his topics, so I held off on the obvious (wikipedia’s EMF article – might have made things too easy), but took the liberty of testing possible answers (a passage to india was first).

    I got a chuckle when I finally filled in HOWARD’S END, among several others. Quibbled with OCARINA and the missing A in 7d, but oh well, once they are seen, they are certainly the intended answers.


  33. mike04 says:

    Hi Sil

    I thought perhaps I was too late to join the party. Thank goodness there are still some
    revellers (well one anyway) propping up the bar! Many thanks for your feedback.

    I agree that my explanation requires a two-stage approach – and that this may well be one
    too many. But I always try my best to understand every clue after solving a crossword.
    This can be quite a task, of course, when dealing with our Monkey Puzzle friend.
    I can’t think of any specific examples right now, but I am often left at the end with one or two
    of his clues which I think require this sort of re-wording. I think that is how he has constructed
    such clues and he expects his solvers to follow the same (rather devious?) route for a full understanding of the solution.

    Long may he entertain us!
    All the best, Mike.

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