Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian N° 25,421 by Arachne

Posted by PeterO on September 7th, 2011


Again my lot comes up with Arachne, which is fine by me. There were several clues where I was reasonably sure of the answers, but the exact wordplay came to me afterwards, and one, 15D, for which I still await enlightenment.

1,9. Ulysses remake represented modern-day exiles (6,7)
ASYLUM SEEKERS An anagram (‘represented’) of ‘Ulysses remake’.
5. Dames popular with sailors? (6)
BROADS Double definition: not the nice girls, and the Norfolk Broads, famous for its yachting.

Yachts on the Norfolk Broads

8. One is getting skinny without essential nutrient (7)
THIAMIN An envelope (‘without’) of I AM (‘one is’) in THIN (‘skinny’). Thiamin or thiamine is vitamin B1.
9. See 1
- See 1
11. I have ruled as tsar, haven’t I? (4,3,8)
IVAN THE TERRIBLE IVAN THE, a reverse anagram (TERRIBLE) of ‘havent I’.
12. Does once make orthographical mistake (4)
DOTH DOTH, the old form ‘does once'; and it is i that should be dotted, not h.
13. Sadly concur more than half of drugs can be found in abundance (10)
CORNUCOPIA A charade of CORNUC, an anagram (‘sadly’) of ‘concur’ + OPIA[tes] (‘more than half of drugs’). The definition is a noun, answering to ‘abundance’, with ‘can be found in’ as connective tissue.
17. They love football team’s jockstraps? (10)
SUPPORTERS Double definition.
18. It’s nasty, brutish, short (4)
CRUD CRUD[e] (‘brutish, short’). The clue is largely a quote from Thomas Hobbes’ Leviathan. Very neat.
20. Extremely dangerous and revolting, the trematode devours other’s innards (5,2,3,5)
ARMED TO THE TEETH An envelope (‘devours’) of THE (‘oTHErs innards’) in ARMED TO TEETH, an anagram (‘revolting’) of ‘the trematode’.
23. After essentially easeful death, poor beggar’s finally buried and returned to the ground (7)
EARTHED I think this is E (‘essentially easEful’) + ATHED, an anagram (‘poor’) of ‘death’, with R (‘beggaRs finally’) inserted (‘buried’). ‘Easeful death’ comes from Keats’ Ode to a nightingale.
24. Provide new material for extremely familiar Private Eye gag (2-5)
RE-EQUIP Here ‘extremely’ seems to refer to the ends of the words ‘familiaR PrivatE EyE‘ + QUIP (‘gag’).
25. Devotee starts to find Lady Gaga unbearably boring (6)
DEADLY A charade of DE (‘DEadly DEvotee starts’) + an anagram (‘gaga’) of ‘lady’.
26. Country bumpkins died for the king, making horrible noises (6)
YODELS YO[k]ELS (‘country bumpkins’) with the k (‘king’) replaced by D (‘died’). I might have described the definition as a value judgement if I did not agree wholeheartedly with it.
2. Pretend group performed in theatre? (6,3)
SPINAL TAP Double definition: the spoof rock group, and the procedure of lumbar puncture in an operating theatre.
3. Without these I’m it (6)
LIMITS Without limits, ‘lIMITs’ is ‘Im it’.
4. Bloke has to leave vegetables (9)
MANGETOUT A charade of MAN (‘bloke’) + GET OUT (‘leave’). A mangetout may be a snow pea or a sugar snap pea.
5. Count brass (mine regularly goes missing) (5)
BASIE Alternate letters (‘regularly’) of ‘BrAsS mInE’. William ‘Count’ Basie is best known as a jazz bandleader and composer.
6. Obsessive finds love on the web a source of pain (3-5)
ONE-TRACK A charade of O (‘love’) + NET (‘web’) + RACK (‘a source of pain’, literal or metaphorical).
7. Eejit in America taken in by weel-faur’d wee bletherskate (5)
DWEEB Answer hidden in ‘weel-faurD WEE Bletherskate’.
8. English actress’s assets for part of the political system (5,6)
THIRD ESTATE A charade of T[hora] HIRD (‘English actress’) + ASSETS (‘estate’). The three estates of the realm recognised in mediaeval times were the clergy, the nobility and the commoners respectively.
10. Management employing waitress with PhD (11)
STEWARDSHIP An anagram (‘employing’) of ‘waitress’ + ‘PhD’.
14. Doctor only ignoring adult’s rather trapped wind (9)
NORTHERLY An envelope (‘trapped’) of ‘R[a]THER’ without the a (‘ignoring adult’) in NOLY, an anagram (‘doctor’, verb) of ‘only’.
15. Constant review of university in recent study (9)
PERPETUAL The wordplay (if that applies here) eludes me altogether. Any ideas? Thanks grandpuzzler et al for filling in my blind spot – it surely is a reversal (‘review’) of LATE (‘recent’) + PREP (‘study’) with U (‘university’) inserted (‘in’).
16. Moved like the wind around end of haunted outhouse (8)
WOODSHED An envelope (‘around’) of D (‘end of haunteD‘) in WOOSHED (or whooshed, ‘moved like the wind’).
19. Amateur race which is dangerous, being over the limit in Escort (6)
ATTEND A charade of A (‘amateur’) + TT (‘race which is dangerous’) + END (‘limit’). The capital to Escort is a red herring.
21. Diminutive, fat and married to Homer (5)
MARGE Double definition: the abbreviation (‘diminutive’) for margerine margarine (‘fat’) and Marge Simpson (‘married to Homer’).
22. In the manner of 1, 9 — perhaps in a strange way (5)
ODDLY I suppose this counts as a cryptic definition – ‘1, 9′ being the numbers, and nothing to do with asylum seekers.

38 Responses to “Guardian N° 25,421 by Arachne”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks to Arachne for the puzzle and PeterO for the blog. Re 15dn: How about L(U)ATE + PREP – all reversed. Love the anagram at 1,9. MANGETOUT was a new word for me.


  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Peter. I read 15dn in the same way as grandpuzzler.

    This was a great puzzle with some really excellent surfaces, especially in the mid-acrosses!

  3. caretman says:

    Thanks, PeterO, for the blog.

    Definitely an excellent puzzle. I did about 3/4 of it before heading off for my evening dance workshop, but still puzzling out 1/9. I got home and that clue fell almost right away; taking the time off helped my brain get out of the rut it was working in and allowed me to see new possibilities.

    I agree with NeilW that there were a lot of neat surfaces scattered throughout the puzzle, and like grandpuzzler MANGETOUT was new to me.

    Thanks, Arachne, for a wonderful puzzle.

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks PeterO, especially for revealing 4d (I could kick myself) and parsing 12a and 24a for me. I, too, was bamboozled by PERPETUAL, and don’t see a reversal indicator: but grandpuzzler is probably right on this. Funny how we vary: I got 1,9 the moment I looked at it, but that may be because they’re headline news here daily. I laboured with the bottommost clues, but 26a was a real aha. Thanks Ariadne.

  5. caretman says:

    Hi molonglo.

    I think the reversal indicator was ‘review’. I read it the same as grandpuzzler.

  6. Eileen says:

    Many thanks, PeterO [lucky you!] for a great blog and Arachne for an excellent puzzle – a real treat to begin a wet, miserable day.

    As usual, so many great clues but my particular favourites were the virtually &lit ASYLUM SEEKERS [and I loved the misdirection in 22dn] IVAN THE TERRIBLE and MANGETOUT, which made me laugh – as did DWEEB, which my Scottish husband would have loved – CRUD [very clever] and EARTHED, because it quoted my favourite poem.

    [I’m sure it’s a typo but in 26ac the DE comes from ‘devotee’ – another laugh out loud surface!]

    As well as writing brilliant crosswords, Arachne does [or doth] other remarkable things, which I shall unashamedly plug – again! ;-)

  7. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO

    Once again I failed to solve an Arachne puzzle. Can’t seem to get on the same wavelength. Perhaps we could have Arachne on alternate days till I suss it out.

    Finished most of it but the clue to PERPETUAL didn’t make sense to me. I refuse to start watching the Simpsons in order to solve a crossword puzzle!

    Yes, you do detect the chagrin of the failed solver.

  8. Roger says:

    Thanks PeterO. For what it’s worth , I took the first E in Easeful to be the essential one, smiled at WOODSHED, and thought THE IVAN was TERRIBLE … I loved it !

    Perhaps ‘horrible noise’ was a bit harsh (sorry) at 26a … my trusty Pocket Oxford Dictionary even refers to yodelling as melodious.

    Toyed with Does one’s DUTY for a while at 12a until DOTH came from somewhere.

  9. PeterO says:

    As I suspected, it did not take long to get me sorted out on 15D. I had even considered reversals, and still the penny did not drop. And to cross my qs, Eileen, 25A is now corrected. Thanks all.

    Roger – I started off with the first E of easeful also, but immediately on publishing the blog, I decided that the second E was closer to the heart of the matter.

  10. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Nobody’s really commented on the difficulty level, but I found this a real toughie. Got going, but really struggled to finish it, and needed Peter’s explanations for a good few.

    Quite liked the reference to the blue-haired beehive, and the jockstrap clue made me smile too.

    Thanks to both blogger and setter.

  11. Gervase (formerly known as Geoff) says:

    Thanks, PeterO

    Not an easy one, this, but extremely rewarding – full of clever and very funny clues with excellent surface readings.

    Some great anagrams (1,9 and 10d especially), some very cleverly misleading use of words (8a, 12a – which I failed to parse – 18a, 3d, 8d, 22d), and the sublime reverse clue for IVAN THE TERRIBLE.

    Brava, Spider Woman! You are rapidly becoming my favourite setter – few of the Guardian’s many illustrious compilers can match this puzzle for wit and ingenuity.

  12. Gervase (formerly known as Geoff) says:

    PeterO: There is an orthographical mistake in your explanation of 21d. MARGE is a colloquial abbreviation of ‘margarine’ – always spelt with an ‘a’, although usually pronounced with a soft ‘g’, for some inexplicable reason.

  13. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog.

    I’m with K’s D @10: it took a lot of work to get started and I needed this blog for several explanations.

    I loved *(haven’t I) when I finally spotted it. :)

    I also liked 20a.
    I have never watched The Simpsons but at least I guessed which Homer was meant so a brief google gave me the answer.

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    This was a splendid puzzle.It had me struggling all over the grid.
    There was some magnificent mis-direction (22d,2d); and some novel ideas (11a,3d).
    The best challenge for a while.
    I was surprised that so many of you expressed ignorance of ‘mangetout’ which is present on every supermarket shelf and a frequent ingredient of Chinese cookery.

    Those who complain when I criticise puzzles and setters should realise that a constant series of sycophantic eulogies makes a comment like mine above meaningless.

  15. William says:

    Thank you PeterO. Whew! That was a toughie and took me a number of hours to finish. I needed your help (and GrandPuzzler’s) with parsing LIMITS, PERPETUAL, & ODDLY, which I thought very cleverly misdirected.

    Eileen @6 – thank you so much for the link to Sarah’s other remarkable activities. Isn’t she fantastic!

    RCWhiting @14 thank you for reminding us how clever you are, it’s so easy to forget while we ordinary folk are composing sycophantic eulogies.

  16. Phil says:

    She put together a device to stretch us – it’s said nearly a third completed.(7)

  17. otter says:

    Thanks, Peter, for the blog, and thanks, Arachne for a terrific puzzle, which had me taxed for a fair while, but never without the possibility of answers coming. One thing I enjoy about Arachne’s puzzles is that she uses so many different ways of, for example, suggesting an anagram, so I can often spend a lot of time trying to work out what sort of clue I’m looking at. Excellent stuff, and very enjoyable to tackle.

  18. anax says:

    Phil @17:

  19. anax says:

    16 even.

  20. anax says:

    I give up! Phil, I was applauding your clue but everything went wrong in a uniquely comical way.

  21. scchua says:

    Thank you PeterO and Arachne (nice one Phil @17) for a puzzle that is one of your best I’ve tried.

    My COD was IVAN THE TERRIBLE. Last one in was MANGETOUT, which required me to Google. I must confess I haven’t come across a Chinese restaurant (or even a recipe) that mentioned mangetout even if they had snow peas or sugar snaps in their dishes – or maybe I’ve been going to the wrong restaurants :-)

    And as a defence (sort of):
    “R(_____) can, with haughtiness innate, tell it no gentler” a la …

  22. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Arachne and PeterO.

    A special thanks to Eileen@6 for the link to a remarkable woman’s feats.It can be no joke at all running round the Umbrian hills. It’s hard enough to stroll along with a car to fall back on!


  23. Paul B says:

    I would only seek to swim against RC’s ugly and near-incessant tide of sycophantic eulogy by complaining about the avoidable tense problem for IVAN etc. With the utmost respect to all concerned, given the blue pencil (highly unlikely) I might have plumped for something like

    He ruled as Tsar: I havent!

    I can’t see anything wrong with 1, 9 though, which I think is a great clue in one of Arachne’s best presentations so far.

  24. Quink says:

    Loved the puzzle. 2dn had me stumped for ages …. until the groan out loud moment.

    I too have been surprised by the comments on mangetout. My favourite use of this word occurs in Only Fools and Horses, when, in a restaurant – obviously grander than they are used to – Del Boy says to Rodney – as a malaprop for Bon Appetit – ‘Mange Tout, Rodney, Mange Tout’ !

  25. Sil van den Hoek says:

    I know that for Arachne it’s *all about surfaces*, so when I saw all these exciting clues I was pretty sure that this would be another satisfying crossword. And it was.
    Funny enough, it was a puzzle of two halves. The North fell rather quickly in place, the South was much harder.

    On a couple of occasions Anax told me that when a crossword has 4 or 5 exceptional clues, things hardly can go wrong.
    Well, this puzzle certainly contained some of these.

    Our first entry was IVAN THE TERRIBLE (11ac), which has a device that we see more and more nowadays. Despite Paul B’s objections one of the highlights for us. Many others liked 1,9ac (ASYLUM SEEKERS) and we ticked that one too.
    Perhaps one will not believe it, but I am completely with RC Whiting today, especially agree with his appreciation of 3d (LIMITS) – indeed novel.
    Tick #4 goes to the very fine anagram/surface of 10d (STEWARDSHIP). Strange that hardly anyone mentioned this one.

    We found DOTH (12ac) but didn’t get any further than “Does once”. Now that we have seen your explanation, Peter [many thanks for that] we think this clue deserves a tick too.

    On the other hand, there were a few things that we disliked (although they weren’t wrong). My PinC didn’t like “Devotee starts” for DE: she thinks there can only be one start. And I wasn’t very happy with TT in 19d being clued as “race which is dangerous” [it’s just a professional motor race like the GP for Formula Ones – so it’s dangerous for someone like me, but …].

    22d was nicely misleading with its “1,9”.
    A bit of a pity that Arachne had to use a dash here. A hyphen would have been better for the surface, but at the same time have caused a conflict with the comma in “1,9”.

    Although I do not like yodeling at all, I agree with PeterO that “horrible noises” is absolutely not what the Bavarians and Austrians think it is …. :)
    Oh, and haven’t I seen T.HIRD before clued in a similar way? Was it in a previous Arachne [perhaps not, she’s not really the type to repeat herself] or maybe Araucaria? I am quite sure, but too lazy to dive into my archive.
    Some of you found MANGETOUT (4d) one of the hardest to find. For me, though, it was readily there. Just take a look at my comment #13 in the blog of the most recent Anax (Independent) puzzle to see why.

    Finally (I can hardly stop talking about this puzzle – sorry), our second entry was DWEEB (7d). No idea what Arachne was talking about, nor did we understand what “weel-faur’d wee bletherskate” stood for …. Brilliant gobbledegook.

    Yes, this puzzle was gobbledegookly brilliant! :) :)

  26. Arachne says:

    As spiders large and small are creeping into your nooks and crannies for the winter, I’m just popping in quickly to say thank you to PeterO for the excellent blog, and to everyone else for kind comments. Have been v busy today practising being a beer bottle, so have rather run out of time to respond, except to say that I *still* think yodelling is an abomination. Finally, whatever *an expert* may have said on PM this afternoon, please don’t hoover up the arachnids – a big smile would be nicer.

    Love, hugs and smiles (especially to those who are generous enough to help Gambian children get an education by going to )

    Arachne x

  27. Arachne says:

    Graah, I knew I shouldn’t have had that last glass of brandy! Please go to:

  28. Arachne says:

    Graaah, I knew I shouldn’t have had that last glass of brandy. Please go to:


  29. tupu says:

    Finished this earlier but only got to the blog now. Thanks PeterO and Arachne as usual. As Sil says, the south was harder. I got cornucopia from the definiton and the final a, but then carelessly misparsed it. A number of other excellent clues with good surfaces etc leading clearly to the solution without other help. I had to guess Spinal Tap.

  30. RCWhiting says:

    I see your point about ‘devotee starts’ but would your PinC be happier if ‘starts’ was a plural noun rather than a verb?

  31. Arachne says:

    ‘starts’ was definitely intended to be a plural noun. Thanks, RCW

  32. Brendan (not that one) says:

    I enjoyed this puzzle and like a few others found the bottom half a lot trickier than the top. Although I completed it 4 minutes quicker than the last Arachne I attempted on 2nd August.

    I’m surprised nobody else mentions another interpretation of 22dn. I didn’t “see” the 1,9 as odd numbers but interpreted the “seekers” as in search of another type of Asylum. These people may indeed behave oddly. Perhaps I’m not PC enough for the modern era!!!

    No “sycophantic eulogy” from me I hope. God forbid.

  33. Scarpia says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne for another delightfully spun web of clever clues.
    Thought this might be interesting –

  34. Ann Kittenplan says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne.

    Took two goes. It will never cease to amaze me that I can be completely stuck, leave the crossoword for an hour, return to it and the answers fall in to place more or less immediately. This time for me it was the NW corner.

    Have to say unlike others I didn’t find this at all to my taste. That said I did enjoy WOODSHED.

  35. Sil van den Hoek says:

    RCW/SH @30/31: of course, we/I did understand “starts”. But my PinC is much more Ximenean than I am, and this difference is what I wanted to make clear.

    BTW, re-reading that post, I saw that I wrote:
    A bit of a pity that Arachne had to use a dash here. A HYPHEN would have been better for the surface, but at the same time have caused a conflict with the comma in “1,9?.
    Which should have been:
    A bit of a pity that Arachne had to use a dash here. A COMMA would have been better for the surface, but at the same time have caused a conflict with the comma in “1,9?.

    But as I said earlier: *gobbledegookly brilliant!*

  36. RCWhiting says:

    Marathons often have two starts (but only one finish!).

  37. Roger says:

    I loved “woodshed” did no-one pick up on the Cold Comfort Farm reference, in which Aunt Ada Doom “saw something nasty in the woodshed? A haunted outhouse for sure!

  38. Huw Powell says:

    Some wonderful clues, but sadly my SE corner is rather bereft of answers. I admire 15, which I just never quite sussed. I like Paul @ 23’s improvement on 11, but I managed it anyway.

    Did anyone else (if anyone else ever reads this…) think the clues were vaguely thematic – lots of repeated words and concepts throughout?

    Thanks for the blog, PeterO, to show me where I fell short, and for the puzzle, Arachne, which certainly had its moments of joy along the way to 20% failure :)

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