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Guardian Cryptic 25458 Araucaria

Posted by scchua on October 20th, 2011


Having done so many Araucarian puzzles (I’ve mentioned before that I cut my crytic crossword teeth on his Monkey Puzzles), this is the first time, I’m blogging one.  And it’s typically Araucarian, a couple of liberties, mix of long and short wordplays, some lovely descriptions and definitions, and he makes you work (hard) for your money, though I must confess that a couple of answers for the more intricate wordplays were obtained from the enumeration or definition.  Thanks Araucaria for the challenge and the enjoyment.  Definitions are underlined in the clues.  For a change, the hidden connections are in the last 2 pictures at the bottom.


1 Dessert country, say, with considerable dosage of sugar (5,9)

SWEET CHAMPAGNE :  SWEET(dessert course) plus CHAMPAGNE{homophone of(say) “champaign”,open country

Answer:  A type of champagne, in contrast to dry, whose production involves adding dosage, a sugar-in-wine solution.

9 Maybe prepare to roast, having bipolar disorder (7)

PARBOILAnagram of(disorder) BIPOLAR

Answer:  Precook by boiling partially or for a short time, perhaps before roasting

10 Credit more frequently given to smallholder (7)

CROFTER :  CR(abbrev. for credit, as opposed to “dr”,debit, in double-entry accounting) OFTER(the obsolete? comparative, oft = frequently, ofter = more frequently)

Answer:  One who owns or rents a small patch of land to farm or grow crops and vegetables.

11 It’s not nice to be harsh (5)

ROUGH :  Double defn:  1st: From nice = exact, as in “it fits nicely”, and not nice = approximate, as in “a rough calculation”; 2nd: Sharp,coarse,harsh as in “a rough temper”, or grating or unpleasant as in “sounds that are rough to the ears”

12 Tails twisted in marker between land and sea (9)

COASTLINEAnagram of(twisted) TAILS contained in(in) CONE(marker of that shape used eg. on roads, playing fields.

13 I believe about 80% of confrontation is getting louder (9)

CRESCENDO :  CREDO(what I believe in) containing(about) SCEN(4 out of 5,80% of letters of “scene”,confrontation in public, eg. created by little children versus their parents)

14 How Brer Fox lay? Leave after him? (5)

DOGGO :  GO(leave) placed after(after) DOG(him,Brer Fox,a member of the zoological family Canidae, whose members are called dogs – a male fox is also called a dog fox)

Defn/Answer:  Hide as Brer (brother) Fox of the Uncle Remus folk-tales was prone to do in order to trick his antagonist, Brer Rabbit

15 Is a girl a boy or a girl? (5)

ISSUEIS plus SUE(name of a girl)

Answer:  Biological issue, children who may be boys or girls

17 A lot of money made as evidence of being well protected (9)

BOMBPROOF :  BOMB(slang for a lot of money, as in “that bauble cost me a bomb”) plus PROOF(evidence)

20 Killer‘s mistake is to interrupt races (9)

TERRORIST :  [ERROR(mistake) IS] contained in(to interrupt) TT(Tourist Trophy, the motorcycle races run annually in the Isle of Man)

22 Fashionable firm appearing finally disguised (5)

INCOG :  IN(fashionable, as in “the in-crowd”) CO(abbrev. for company,firm) G(last letter,finally of “appearing”)

Answer:  Short for incognito,in disguise.

23 One in charge of unfinished new picture may be laid on pillow (7)

OCCIPUT :  OC(Officer Commanding,one in charge) plus anagram of(new) PICTU(“picture” without last 2 letters,unfinished – an Araucarian liberty, which some might frown upon, afraid of the slippery slope it might lead to?)

Answer:  The back part of the head which is laid on a pillow.

24 These days a French lover is very hard (7)

ADAMANT :  AD(anno Domini,the present era,these days) AMANT(“lover” in French)

25 Mutton dressed as lamb? That’s Prince Charles (5,9)

YOUNG PRETENDER :  Cryptic defn.  The idiomatic description is, usually disparagingly, used to describe an aging woman (a figurative comparison to mutton from an old sheep) dressed, and hence trying to pass off,pretending to be, young (a comparison to a young lamb).  Me, I don’t think that anything disparaging can or should be said about those who can pull it off, certainly not the examples below.

Found this extract from a 1911 social gossip journal involving another prince:

“Some one the other day asked the Prince of Wales at the Ancient Music whether he did not think some girl pretty. ‘Girl!’ answered he, ‘Girls are not to my taste. I don’t like lamb; but mutton dressed like lamb!’.”

The answer refers not to the current English prince, but Charles Stuart, Bonnie Prince Charlie, of “The Skye Boat Song” fame.  He was the “Young Pretender” to the English throne, to distinguish him from his father, who was also a pretender to the throne.



1 Byline pictures prison riots (14)


Answer:  A superscription is something that is written above some writing, and most commonly like so1.  A byline is the line above, say, a newspaper article, on which is written/printed the author’s name.  One could stretch the meanings to be synonymous, I guess. 

2 10 euro demand on the way (2,5)

EN ROUTEAnagram of(demand) TEN(10) EURO

3 Trouble ahead – also hot during growth ahead (9)

TOOTHACHE :  TOO(also) plus {H(hot, as displayed on your hot/cold water taps) contained in(during) TACHE(short for moustache,the growth on head,ahead,an Araucarian liberty?)}

Answer:  A problem,trouble in the head,ahead – same usage as in the wordplay, but in a different part of the head.

4 Man left picture on mount for inspiration (7)

HELICON :  HE(pronoun for man) L(left) ICON(picture,representation usually of a sacred or sanctified Christian personage, but in modern usage, more often those little pictorial symbols on your computer screen)

Answer:  The mountain in Greece, which, in Greek mythology stood for poetic inspiration

5,6,7 Turn African country into old Palestinian one — not hot during excursion in play (4,3,5,7)

MUCH ADO ABOUT NOTHING :  {U(Uturn) CHAD(an African country)} contained in(into) MOAB(old Biblical Palestinian one,country) plus {[NOT H(hot)] contained in(during) OUTING(excursion)}

Answer:  Shakespearean play, an answer obtained from the definition and enumeration, short-circuiting the intricate wordplay.

8 One man’s 20 is another man‘s style raised loudly in cargo carrier (7,7)

FREEDOM FIGHTERReversal of(raised, in a down clue) MODE(style,fashion) plus F(forte,musical instruction to play loudly,with force) contained in(in) FREIGHTER(cargo carrier, originally a ship, but now could be an aircraft, or even a freight train)

Answer:  Another one obtained by bypassing the intricate wordplay.  The full quote, “One man’s terrorist (answer to 20Ais another man’s freedom fighter” is attributed, as far as I can gather, to English writer Gerald Seymour from his 1975 novel, Harry’s Game.

14 Copy cat in romance after afters return (9)

DUPLICATE :  CAT contained in(in) LIE(a romance,fanciful thing) placed after(after) reversal of(return) PUD(short for pudding,dessert,afters, after the main course of a meal)

16 Wind nothing like this before capturing leg-endary (sic) bird (7)

SIROCCO :  {SIC(as such,like this,before any correction/amendment, see above line) placed before(before) O(=0=zero=nothing)} containing(capturing) ROC(legendary bird, like the one which carried Sinbad the Sailor)

Answer:  A hot dry dusty wind blowing from northern Africa into southern Europe

17 Report of beak on beast with horns where speed limit is likely (5,2)

BUILT UP :  BUIL{Homophone of(report of) “bill”,a bird’s beak) placed before(on, in a down clue) TUP(a male sheep,ram,beast with horns)

Answer: Part (or all) of a town/city which is congested with buildings and people and where, for safety, a speed limit is likely to be in force.

18 Gas found by setter around Frome (7)

METHANE :  ME(refering to the setter) containing(around) ETHAN(the novel Ethan Frome by American author Edith Wharton)

Answer:  The simplest hydrocarbon CH4, a colourless odourless inflammable gas

19 Picking scene where killer gets tough? (7)

ORCHARD :  ORC(the killer whale or one of J.R.R Tolkien’s killer ogres) plus(gets) HARD(tough as nails)

Defn:  Cryptic description of where one can be seen picking fruits

21 Some portraits by writer, an artist (5)

ORPEN :  OR(2,some letters from “portrait” – a liberty similar to 23A) plus(by) PEN(writer,something used for writing)

Answer:  Irish painter,artist William Newenham Montague (1878-1931)





39 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic 25458 Araucaria”

  1. Andrew says:

    Thanks for the blog scchua. I’m afraid 21dn is a liberty too far for me, and 1ac doesn’t seem to be defined very satisfactorily. Also, surely a “young pretender” would be more likely to be lamb dressed as mutton!

    In 13ac, I think CREDO is to be taken as literally “I believe” rather than “what I believe in”.

  2. tupu says:

    Thanks scchua and Araucaria

    I found this generally enjoyable. I nearly gave up trying to parse 3d but got there in the end. I was also stuck for a time trying to get ‘bumpproof’ (which should in any case be hyphenated) out of my head. The clues were mostly clever and interesting (not always found together).

    I liked the definition in 25a, the homophone in 17d, the surface in 19d, and the parsing of 5,6,7 though this came after getting the answer as did that of 3d.

  3. NeilW says:

    Thanks, scchua, especially for explaining the def of HELICON – I looked it up in Chambers and got some kind of tuba, which confused me enormously, wondering if it were possible to inhale when playing a tuba!

    Andrew, I’m not sure I agree with you about YOUNG PRETENDER, which I felt was fine as “someone pretending to be young.”

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks, scchua.

    I agree with the whole of Andrew’s comment, especially re 21dn., which, in my book is a different kettle of fish from 23ac. I’m among the most tolerant of Araucaria’s liberties and I’ve grown used to him [and others] asking us to remove the first or last letter[s] of a word but an arbitrary, unstated number from inside it? That is a step or two too far.

    But, as always, there’s much to like and I agree with tupu’s choices – and more.

    I took ‘young pretender’ as NeilW did.

  5. molonglo says:

    Thanks scchua. This took fifteen minutes to solve, so maybe the master is getting too predictable. 1a obviously started with ‘sweet’ and the1d anagram jumped out – as did the 5,6,7 play, while the not or barely knowns like HELICON and OCCIPUT fell into place with the cross letters. But working out all the liberties, well that’s another, longer puzzle.

  6. Eileen says:

    Oops – I rather contradicted myself – *nearly* all of Andrew’s comment! 😉

  7. Andrew says:

    I wasn’t really complaining about 25ac – I just thought it was a bit of a grammatical stretch to interpret “Young pretender” as “someone pretending to be young”.

  8. tupu says:

    Hi Eileen and Andrew

    Re 21d. I did not worry too much about this. Having got ‘terrotist’ I briefly wondered about ‘opera’ and ‘royal pretender’, but ‘pen’ = ‘writer’ is such standard cluing and Orpen is such a well know artist that the correct answer came almost at once. I agree though that seeing ‘or’ as part of ‘portraits’ was not a very helpful part of the instructions and a lot of more direct hints for ‘or’ were of course possible. But seeing the answer and only then working out why is a feature of a number of other clues as I and others have noted.

  9. Dave Ellison says:

    Third in a row completed, but at two sittings today.

    I am in two minds about 21d. If the SOME referred to the whole answer (as in a hidden clue), no one would care how many letters were not used (with the exception of superfluous words, of course); here, the SOME is just part of the answer, and I think I don’t really mind that.

    Thanks, scchua, for the blog; needed you for 24 ac.

  10. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Some good vague definitions (23ac,3d, 19d).
    I didn’t like 11ac, but I am not sure why!
    In 13ac A. avoided the common misuse of ‘crescendo'; of course.
    I struggled for a while with the NE and ‘helicon’ was new to me in both meanings.
    Although I got ‘sweet’ quickly it took me a while to get ‘champagne’ and Iam still not quite sure. The definition is certainly vague!

  11. crypticsue says:

    Lovely stuff thank you Araucaria. I particularly liked 25a. Thanks scchua for the blog too.

  12. Roger says:

    Thanks, scchua. At 17d, “where speed limit is likely” implies a noun, surely, and I’m not aware of ever having driven through a BUILT UP. Through a BUILT UP AREA, yes, or is this another example of what we might call an Arauliberty ?

    ORPEN was indeed one such and a new acquaintance. Thought ORCHARD was a lot of fun (where, btw, your comments are perhaps too easy [less HARD ?] scchua !)

    First thoughts at 15a were IRENE (‘a girl’) {RENE being male or female gives I RENE … ‘a boy’ or ‘a girl’} or else MORAG (‘a girl’) {M (male, ‘a boy’) OR A (G)irl}. Oh, dear, better go to the allotment …

  13. Stella Heath says:

    I don’t mind liberties if they lead me to the answer, as was the case here – which is more than I can say of your picture puzzles, scchua, attractive though they are. Maybe one day I’ll find a clue to solving them :)

    Thanks for a very complete blog, though I’m afraid you’re missing the second half of the parsing of 19d – not that it needs much explaining :)

  14. NeilW says:

    Stella, I’m assuming the left picture is a picture of a halicon, which I was trying to suck rather than blow and the right a VW Sirocco. Both are solutions and “wind instruments.”

  15. Thomas99 says:

    Roger (12) – “where a speed limit is likely” does not imply a noun. It’s an adjectival phrase.

  16. Wysawyg says:

    Am I alone in thinking that 15ac might also be a reference to Johnny Cash’s “A boy named Sue”? :)

  17. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks NeilW@14. I had gleaned the “horn” connection, but I’m no good at recognising car models, so didn’t go so far as “wind instruments”.

    Actually, I thought the landscape was rather similar to that in Orpen’s painting, but maybe that’s only me :)

  18. tupu says:

    Hi Wysawyg
    An intriguing idea. My doubly incorrect first thought for this clue was Sissy.

  19. NeilW says:

    Hi Stella – I’ve no idea if I’m right. Have to wait for scchua to rule on it! :)

    Hi Wysawyg – Johnny Cash is a particular favourite of mine, but despite his late gravitation to the religious, I don’t quite think Araucaria would be a fan. With his eclectic tastes, though, who knows!

  20. IanN14 says:

    …Erm, 2d.
    “Demand”? Really?
    Just me then?

  21. Norman L in France says:

    Not just you, IanN14.

  22. chas says:

    Thanks to scchua for the blog. I needed this for several cases where I had the answer without being able to parse it.

    I thought 13a was a liberty too far: I tried to get 80% of confrontation and got nowhere so I just had to put crescendo without understanding it :(

    As for the photos of three women: I think the third one is Helen Mirrim but I have no idea about the others.

  23. scchua says:

    Thanks Roger and Stella, for pointing out my deficiency with 19D, now corrected.

    For NeilW and Stella – the “helicon” (instrument) and (VW car) “Scirocco” (Italian for, and homophone of, “sirocco”) are both suggestive of alternative definitions for the 2 solutions in the puzzle. BTW VW had a series of model names based on winds – Passat (German for trade wind), Golf (the Gulf Stream, okay, more a liquid wind), Bora (Italian and Turkish for an Adriatic wind), Polo (the Polar wind) and Jetta (the jet stream). Thanks too, NeilW for the “wind” connection between the 2 pictures, which I didn’t realise when I did the blog.

  24. scchua says:

    Hi chas@22, I’m afraid I’m showing my age: they are Sophia Loren, Michelle Pfeiffer and Helen Mirren.

  25. Derek Lazenby says:

    Hmm. A lot of gadgetting for me. It must be really boring to be able do it in 15 though.

    Wasn’t happy with 17. The answer to the question “where are you likely to find speed limits” is “a built up area”, it is not, never has been and probably never will be “a built up”. The latter is just not English.

    8 brought to mind the old joke,

    I am a freedom fighter,
    You are a guerilla,
    He is a terrorist.

    (Not The Nine O’Clock News I seem to remember).

  26. stumped says:

    Very enjoyable, not least because I finished it on Wednesday! (Puzzle’s online at midnight, 7pm East Coast US, computer gremlins permitting.) Also completed his Saturday Prize and another earlier Prize by him I got from Guardian’s archive. Somehow I “click” with Auraucaria,
    on the other hand I’m still exceedingly rusty, finding my puzzle legs again. Had varying success with 1st 3 puzzles this week – Orlando, utterly baffled, to Gordius, did ok (Hi again Eileen, enjoyed your blog).

  27. stumped says:

    Hit send by mistake.

    Roger @ 12: nice analysis of 15a.

    23d was a liberty too far.

    17d Buil as homophone for bill is a leap of faith for me, I guess it is in Chambers? Birds aren’t beasts. In any case, concur with Roger @ 12 & Derek Lazenby @ 25 about it.

    As with others, I found some solutions obvious and then reverse engineered the parsing. Moab for Palestine is not something I would have thought of in a million years.

  28. mike04 says:

    Many thanks for your helpful blog, scchua.

    Re your comment about the YOUNG PRETENDER:
    The Prince of Wales is a British prince and Bonnie Prince Charlie was the “Young Pretender” to the British throne.

  29. gm4hqf says:

    Got to this one late and took quite a while to complete it.

    Thanks scchua. Much as I am a fan of Araucaria, as others have said, this puzzle contained too many liberties. I will give him another chance though!

  30. RCWhiting says:

    stumped @27
    I think you have misunderstood 17d.
    ‘buil’ in ‘buil(t) is a perfect homophone for ‘bill’ which is a beak (as on birds) but the beast with a horn is ‘tup’, a sheep.

  31. Martin P says:

    If I’m honest, although this diverted me for a while, I think as for enjoyment I preferred “Weatherwatch” to the NE


  32. MattD says:

    Mixed bag. Some good, but too many liberties in cryptic structures and definitions. I also don’t think that many of the surfaces make any sense either and that is half the fun for me.

    Shame. This is the first time I have posted negatively about a xword – I usually defend clues or setters, so please forgive me.

  33. Martin P says:

    RCWhiting says:

    “…the beast with a horn is ‘tup’, a sheep…”


    Now steady old chap. If you were going to make it singular you might as well have used the definite article.

  34. amulk says:

    I have to agree with those who thought that there were a few too many liberties taken here, especially in 21dn. Dave Ellison @9, the two cases of the usage of “some” that you talk about are entirely different. Where “some” refers to the whole answer, there would also be a definition, guiding us towards the answer: a generic clue of that sort would be: Some (EXPRESSION) is (DEFINITION). Ie we look for a word or phrase synonymous with (DEFINITION) inside (EXPRESSION), with the tacit assumption that are looking for consecutive letters. In today’s clue we are just looking for a random number of letters within “portraits” with no indication as how many letters or what they mean. Indeed, if we take today’s style of cluing to its logical limit, then there is no obvious reason why “some” should even refer to consecutive letters within the given word or phrase.

  35. Cinculus says:

    I am a freedom fighter,
    You are a guerilla,
    He is a terrorist.

    (Not The Nine O’Clock News I seem to remember).

    I suspect this might be Yes Minister. Bernard Woolley, I imagine.

  36. Derek Lazenby says:

    Doh, of course. I must have been thinking of Pamela S saying “guerrr–illa” and confused the two.

  37. Derek Lazenby says:

    Doh, of course. I must have been thinking of Pamela S saying “guerrr–illa” and confused the two.

  38. Stella Heath says:

    Now we’re back on the subject, good news today: ETA have announced a definitive end to their violence – hooray!

  39. stumped says:

    RCWhiting @30:

    Sorry, what I meant to say about 17d

    1. What is a “buil”? For it to be a homophone for anything it should be an actual word not just a collection of letters. I guess it’s in Chambers.

    2. For the uninitiated it could as easily be a homophone to “bull”

    3. Speed Limits aren’t restricted to built up areas so one can’t just guess the answer.

    In short, stumped me.

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