Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,447 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on October 7th, 2011


An entertaining and enjoyable workout from Araucaria, with not too many liberties taken, I think.

A few weeks ago, I blogged an Enigmatist puzzle based on London Underground stations, some of which I’d never heard of. This one, based on *Underground lines, was rather more accessible but I suppose might still prompt complaints about parochialism. I didn’t spot the theme until I solved 6dn, worked out the anagram and still had RCIRC left over!


8   FIRESIDE: FIRES shoots] + IDE [the fish I’ve only ever met in crosswords]
9   TUNNEL: N[ew] in TUNE [melody] + L[ine]
10  STARCH: STAR [brilliant] + CH [Companion of Honour]
11  TAP WATER: WAT [Tyler, leader of the Peasants’ Revolt] in TAPER [gradually reduce]
12  LIMP: double definition [lacking starch]
13  MALEFACTOR: MALE [fellow] + FACTOR [estate manager]
15  ATHLETE: hidden in deATH LET Everyone – a rather macabre surface!
16  *JUBILEE: nowadays, we have Silver, Golden and Diamond Jubilees but, in Jewish history, a jubilee was held every fifty years, a year of release of slaves, cancelling of debts and return of property to its former owners
18  *VICTORIANS: VICTORIA [line] + NS [poles] – a rather loose definition!
19  CLUB: double definition
20  CINNAMON: CON [read] around INN [pub] + AM [before lunch]
22  RARELY: RA [artist] + RELY [trust]
23  NORTON: a Norton is a motor bike  and ‘Burnt Norton’ is a poem by  T.S. Eliot but is Araucaria really suggesting that NORTON is how the Irish would pronounce ‘Northern’ [line]? A step or two too far for me – I think I must be missing something: there isn’t even a question mark!

24  *BAKELITE: BAKE[rloo – line] + LITE [‘not much of that’ – used in advertising of foods / drinks that are low in calories, alcohol, etc]


1   *DISTRICT VISITOR: DISTRICT [line] + V [5] + IS IT [the thing] + OR [otherwise]
3   LIGHT METER: MET [came across] in LIGHTER [barge]
4   TEXTILE: when I only had the middle T, I was worrying about how to explain STETSON so it was a relief to see that it’s this cowboy, TEX Ritter +  TILE [slang word for hat]
5   STOP: reversal of POTS
6   *ANTARCTIC CIRCLE: anagram of R[ight] IN ACT ACT + CIRCLE [line]
7   HETEROSEXUALITY: brilliant anagram [and surface] of TEXTILES [plural of 4 down] + YOU HEAR
14  FOUR STROKE: Spoonerism of  STRAW FOLK: a man of straw is a worthless person
17  WANNABE: ANN [girl] in WABE, a word from the first verse of the nonsense poem ‘Jabberwocky':

`Twas brillig, and the slithy toves
Did gyre and gimble in the wabe:
All mimsy were the borogoves,
And the mome raths outgrabe.’

Wikipedia tells me that the characters in the poem suggest it means “The grass plot around a sundial”, called a ‘wa-be’ because it goes a long way before it, and a long way behind it”.
21  MINE: double definition – and a rather bathetic ending, after the whimsical ingenuity of the previous clue

29 Responses to “Guardian 25,447 / Araucaria”

  1. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. (Especially for explaining WABE which had me completely lost!

    I think you’re right about the NORTON line, although at the time I thought it was just that Norton is an Irish family name (well, according to Google anyway!)

    Like you, I even checked to make sure “Stet” was not an archaic name for a cow!

    Tiny point: in your explanation of 7, it’s 4 + S to give TEXTILES for the anagram fodder – I’m sure that what you meant to say.

  2. frank r says:

    thanks for solutions – 17d should be WANNABE and 24a (BAKELITE) missing

  3. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Neil. I did wonder whether I’d been explicit enough re 7dn – amended now.

    Re 23ac: yes, I kept thinking of Graham Norton and trying to imagine him saying ‘Northern’.

    And thanks, frank r: I’ll see to those now.

  4. Geoff says:

    Thanks, Eileen.

    This puzzle took me a while to get into, but as soon as I found JUBILEE I realised the significance of the ‘lines’.

    The four fifteen letter clues are all rather good, but my favourite was 17d – I spotted the Jabberwocky reference at once. However, I hadn’t come across ‘Burnt Norton’, but nevertheless plumped for NORTON at 23a on the basis of the motorcycle and the Irish pronunciation (???) of ‘Northern’. Not a great clue!

    I wasn’t sure at first whether 24a should be BAKELITE or BAKERLOO as the clue can be read either way, but only the former would fit.

  5. andy smith says:

    Re 23a I took this (FWIW) as a 3 part clue, with the primary defn being ‘line for the Irish’ – according to the Nortons have a line of descent from an early King of Ulster. I think the (Norton) bike was thrown for the surface reading. Other people have also suggested that Norton is e.g. an Irish pronunciation of e.g. ‘northern’, but that doesn’t make much sense to me.

    I imagine that Graham Norton as well as the eponymous bike manufacturer link back to the Norton line?

  6. andy smith says:

    Maybe I can just about hear ‘norton’ for ‘northern’, only Araucaria knows.

  7. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Nothing too hard here, but the last four in held me up: 13 a, 4, 14 and 17d in that order, the last two being clever. The Sponerism was , too, and qualified for a good groan – as earlier did NORTON. The only cue I didn’t much like was the BAKELITE one.

  8. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog Eileen, but you’ve given it a rather tautological title… ;)

  9. Eileen says:

    Thanks, Andrew – yet another senior moment. ;-)

  10. John Appleton says:

    7d – excellent clue. NORTON eluded me, however.

  11. Gervase says:

    My senior moment was to forget myself @4. Sorry, folks.

    Very slight correction to Eileen’s comment on 17d: it isn’t the characters in ‘Jabberwocky’ who explain to Alice the meaning of the poem, but Humpty Dumpty. ‘”When I use a word,” Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, “it means just what I choose it to mean – neither more nor less.”‘ He must have been a crossword compiler….

  12. Eileen says:

    Hi Gervase, or Geoff, or whoever you are ;-)

    Yes, I thought that sounded odd when I included it but I lazily lifted it verbatim from Wikipedia [which I know is a rash thing to do!]

  13. amulk says:

    Thanks to the blogger for a very comprehensive blog. A thoroughly enjoyable puzzle even if I wasn’t too sure about the homophones at 23ac 14dn. Being the non-literary philistine that I am I would never have made sense of 17dn without the blogger’s help. I suppose I must accept that Jabberwocky and Edward Lear form an established part of the crossword universe – still refuse to read them though ;-).

  14. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    An enjoyable puzzle once I got into it – I got 9a and then saw the theme.

    I did not know the Eliot poem and missed the ‘similarphone’. I also guessed that 17d had something to do with where one gires and gimples.

    Several pleasing clues especially 7d.

    I think Tex is a more general cowboy name but I have fond memories of Mr Ritter (and Buck Jones etc) on Saturday mornings at the local cinema, and later of his renderings of ‘Blood on the Saddle’ and ‘Ghost Riders in the Sky’.

  15. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    Enjoyable puzzle but when I checked my answers against the blog I found I had entered FERTILE for TEXTILE. Why, I don’t know, I thought I was too young for senior moments!

    Last in were WANNABE and BAKELITE.

  16. Strawberry Flann says:

    Being neither a Victorian or assuming a missionary position, I am glad to see a heterosexual reference in the Guardian rather than constant clues referring to UNDERGROUND behaviour! Goodnight Eileen.

  17. chas says:

    Thanks to Eileen for the blog. I know nothing of Eliot’s poems so I tried to use TS to construct an answer. All I could think up was BOSTON and I could not fit that into the clue so I gave up.

    I also tried to make STETSON go into 4d until I solved 8a so I had to think again :)

    Thanks for the explanation of 14d: I found myself trying to make sense of STROUR FOLK – and failed totally.

    My way in to the theme was to realise that CIRCLE in 6d was an underground line and then search for others.

  18. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Eileen for the enlightenment. Did finish the puzzle without fully understanding the theme. Include me as one who tried to make STETSON fit at 4d until I remembered the crossword fish at 8ac. Thought the Spoonerism at 14d might be Store Folk. If you have ever seen Wal-Martians on the internet, you’ll understand. If you haven’t, you’re a better person for it.


  19. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Although not as clever or varied as his recent ‘potter’ theme this was still very enjoyable.
    I especially admired the very vague (allusive) definitions at 8ac, 18ac, 24 ac and others.
    Just as well you didn’t know that Eliot Norton was a leading critic in Boston.
    I didn’t get ‘wabe’ (pre-Eileen) and entered Norton only from the ‘bike’.
    Having four 15 letter entries with no short words was a commendable effort – all adds to the puzzlement.
    It is probably redundant to say so but A. has now twice in a short time shown all the others how to use a theme.

  20. Eileen says:


    The definition in 8ac is not vague nor allusive but synecdochic: in fact, Chambers gives ‘home’ and Collins ‘the home’ as a definition of ‘fireside’. Unlike 18ac on which I commented, ‘in’ here is simply a joining word.

  21. chas says:

    If I had known of such a critic then I might, perhaps, have grasped Norton. At least I have heard of those motor bikes.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    I am sorry, Eileen, but ‘in the home’ could have a thousand meanings, all as equally related as ‘fireside’
    You knew the synecdochic connection only after you had decided the answer was ‘fireside’ because it fits the cryptic.
    If the cryptic had clearly given me ‘kitchen’ or ‘security’ etc I would have written them in with equal alacrity.
    I am not complaining, I like vague definitions which insist that you solve the cryptic – as you know.

  23. RCWhiting says:

    If you haven’t done so, go back to yesterday and read Arachne’s late comment.

  24. Eileen says:


    If this were not my blog, I wouldn’t be coming back to you [in fact, I probably wouldn’t have risen to your previous comment, since we both know we’re poles apart on [among other things] what I call ‘loose cluing’ and you call ‘allusive definitions’] but, as a former teacher, I [often irritatingly, to myself, and, I’m sure, to others!] find I can’t not respond to queries that arise on my watch.

    However, I can’t think of anything to add to my previous comment, so I’ll just have to paraphrase: the definition in 8ac is not ‘in the home’ but ‘the home’, for which, unlike ‘kitchen’ or ‘security’, ‘fireside’ is a dictionary definition, as I quoted earlier.

    “You knew the synecdochic connection only after you had decided the answer was ‘fireside’ because it fits the cryptic.” is a rather presumptuous statement. I would quite naturally talk of ‘my own fireside’ [and I’m sure I have], even if I didn’t literally have one. Thankfuly, i do – a rather nice Edwardian one. :-)

  25. Eileen says:

    Oops! – thankfulLy, I do!

  26. RCWhiting says:

    “definition in 8ac is not ‘in the home’ but ‘the home’”
    That’s presumptuous!

  27. Eileen says:

    Thank goodness I’m not a teacher any more. This is where I do give up!

  28. Martin P says:

    “Arsey writing” as Jonathan Ross might say.

  29. Tim says:

    NORTON – that’s the one I couldnt solve and I am kicking my self as that’s the way my wife pronounces “northern” as in “come on Northern Ireland” – she’s from Tyrone (pronounced ti as in tin roan). As for Eileen and RCW tiff, calm down. Otherwise as bogbrush would say “great stuff guys”. Now I must get on with tonight’s pub quiz.

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