Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize 25,454 / Araucaria

Posted by Eileen on October 21st, 2011


As always, I was pleased to see Araucaria’s name on the Saturday Prize puzzle but was rather disappointed at how quickly I finished it – I like to savour these weekend ones. There are usually a couple of clues at the end where the parsing, if not the solution, presents more of a challenge. 12 and 26ac were new to me but easily verifiable in Chambers and the wordplay was straightforward enough.

The anagram at 1ac went in quite easily and led nicely on to 13, 18 [with which I have issues] and 20ac, which led me to believe that we were in for more of a theme than it turned out – perhaps involving some of the 23dn – but it ended there. But then we had had something of a run of heavily-themed puzzles during the week and I know poets are not everyone’s cup of tea.

I was rather surprised to see clues like 14ac and 3,4, 22dn in an Araucaria Prize puzzle.

Looking back, belatedly, I see that I expressed disappointment a month ago on my blog of an Araucaria prize crossword. I think there may, in the meantime, have been one or two of his weekday puzzles arguably more worthy of this slot.

[Regular readers will know that I’m really only playing Devil’s Advocate / hedging my bets: I hope most people enjoyed it, as I did – I just wshed it had lasted longer.  I think we’re due an Araubetical (© Muck! :-) ]


1 Fortify Mosley? Confound it! That’s what always happens to me (5,2,2,4)
Anagram [Confound it!] of FORTIFY MOSLEY

10 Disputes with watcher about people taking time (9)
ARGUS [watcher] around [about] MEN [people] + [taking] T[ime]: reference to Argus, the hundred-eyed giant that Hera set as a watcher over Io.

11 Loner maybe put on like this outside (5)
SO [like this] round [outside] ADD [put on]

12 Ship’s company with slow start heard on tableland (5)
Sounds like ‘crew’ [ship’s company] exaggeratedly enunciated [‘with a slow start’] as if to distinguish it from ‘grew’, perhaps.
Chambers: ‘a high inland pastoral tableland’

13 I go back and knock hard, entering by 1, say (9)
I + reversal of GO + RAP [knock] + H[ard] in [entering] BY

14 Name for lots of strips of pasta (7)
N[ame] OODLES [lots]

16 Sky, it may be, keeps companion of unsophisticated taste (7)
Anagram [may be] of SKY IT round [keeps] CH [Companion of Honour]

18 One wearing long pants produced 13s of 23 down (7)
JOHNS ON: wearing long pants – but it doesn’t work, because ‘johns’ does not mean ‘long pants’! I can’t find ‘johns’, without ‘long’, meaning [long] pants anywhere.
 Dr Samuel Johnson wrote ‘Lives of the Most Eminent English Poets’, often referred to simply as ‘Johnson’s Lives’

20 Body part for important person who produced 13 of 18 (7)
BO [‘body part': typical Araucaria – which some may not like!] + SWELL [important person]
James Boswell wrote ‘The life of Samuel Johnson’

21 Paleface in political group reported — do I bother? (9)
CAUCAS [sounds like ‘caucus’ [political group] + anagram [bother] of DO I: we need to take ‘bother’ as a noun for it to be a satisfactory anagram indicator.

23 Absolutely sound? (5)
double definition – and a perfect description of this excellent clue

24 Shows former NCOs (5)
EX [former] + POS [Petty Officers – NCOs]

25 Oil producer in riot with levee being destroyed (5,4)
Anagram of RIOT and LEVEE

26 Peg to refuse and Daddy’s on a roll (6,3,4)
BRAN [refuse] + anagram [roll] of DADDYS ON A: this was my last entry – the definition is ‘peg’, which was a new one on me. Chambers: ‘a pin in a cup to show how far down one may drink, hence a drink measure, esp of brandy and soda’.


2 It reverts to seed with awfully hot and gaudy flier (5,4)
Reversal of IT + GERM [seed] + anagram [‘awfully’] of HOT

3 It’s capital to love a lover (5)
ROME [capital] + O [love]

4 Transport books put together (7)
double definition

5 Corn collected on road? Got it wrong (7)
MI [M1 – road] + STOOK [corn collected] – I liked that

6 Unction etc is commonplace in a girl (4,5)
TRITE [commonplace] in LASS [girl]

7 Far from pleased at policeman being promoted? (3,2)
Simple charade of FED [policeman] and UP [promoted]

8 Cheat outrageously holding high cards that may be worn out (7,6)
anagram [outrageously] of CHEAT around [holding] KING JACK [high cards]

9 Parrots talking back to very old-fashioned 15 in very long words (13)
POLYS [sounds like {talking} POLLIES [parrots] + reversal of BALLY [‘very old fashioned’] + LES from 15dn. I was quite surprised to see that all my dictionaries defined ‘bally’ as a euphemism for ‘bloody’. I’d never really thought of it that way – just as an old-fashioned word for ‘very’, as the clue says.

15 Comic bird interrupting instruction (3,6)

DAW [bird – Chambers: ‘a bird of the crow family, esp a jackdaw’]  in [interrupting] LESSON [instruction]

17 Money order on the debit side with squares (9)
CHEQUE [money order] + RED [on the debit side]: I do remember when overdrafts were shown in red on bank statements – much more scary than ‘DR’!

19 One odd record, unknown coinage (7)
Anagram [odd] of ONE + LOG [record] + Y [unknown]

20 Digs organised during prohibition, which is ominous (3,4)
Anagram [organised] of DIGS in BAN [prohibition]

22 Superior meal with no starter (5)
[s]UPPER: I think I’ve seen this one more than once before!

23 All fools, they say, take one drug among others (5)
E [ecstasy – one drug] in [among] POTS [more than one POT, so ‘others’]
I seemed to remember a quotation about all poets being fools but not all fools being poets and thought it would just mean  a simple google but it turned out to be extraordinarily difficult. The best I could find, after an exhaustive – and exhausting – search was this, on a queries forum:

“‘Sir, I admit your general rule:
That every poet is a fool.
Though you yourself may serve to show it,
That every fool is not a poet.’
(attributed variously to Alexander Pope, Matthew Prior and Samuel Taylor Coleridge)”

There’s also an oblique reference in Edgar Allan Poe’s ‘The Purloined Letter’

The online Oxford Dictionary of Quotations has no mention of it.
Can anyone shed any more light?

21 Responses to “Guardian Prize 25,454 / Araucaria”

  1. crypticsue says:

    I really enjoyed this user-friendly Araucaria puzzle so thank you to him.

    Thank you Eileen too

    Re the quotation: the ODQ (the old-fashioned book version) has it as being by Alexander Pope – his epigram from the French 1732

  2. Eileen says:

    Thanks, crypticsue.

    I’m going to bed now, rather embarrassed because I shouldn’t have posted so early – I pressed the wrong button: I promise to try not to do so again.

  3. stumped says:

    I was so pleased to finish it but have been brought down to earth by everyone saying how easy it was. I went back and did an archived prize by Araucaria and almost finished that too. Finished his midweek puzzle.

    Thanks for the blog Eileen.

    Favourite clue 23a

    21a I’ve always wondered about Caucasian being taken as synonym for having pale/pink skin tone. Here in the US, unlike back home in UK, any time I go to the hospital the admission form gets checked in the Boxes for “Race” as Caucasian, despite me being of subcontinental origin. Go figure :)

    26a “Peg” was widely used in British India. One called for a “Chhota (small in Hindi) Peg” if being particularly abstemious.

    5d. “stook” = corn collected. I get took, but how does Corn = S?

    23d Pot as a drug can’t be plural. Despite that I entered Poets as solution even though the literary allusion escaped em.

  4. Eileen says:

    Hi stumped

    Re STOOK = ‘corn collected': I was quite familiar with this but wondered whether it was a [Norfolk?] dialect word. However, I found that both Collins and Chambers have it as, respectively, “a number of sheaves set upright in a field to dry with their heads together” and ‘”a group of sheaves, set up in the field”.

    I think, in Crosswordland, pot, as a drug, can be plural, 😉

  5. Biggles A says:

    Thanks Eileen, It was a pleasant surprise to find your blog so early. After struggling with Paul last week most of these answers just wrote themselves straight in and I only needed to think carefully about explaining 9 and 12.

    I was a little doubtful about 11 and was no more successful than you were in nailing down a simple source for 23 but found sufficient oblique references to persuade myself.

    A stook is a pile of sheaves stumped.

  6. Biggles A says:

    Interestingly, the OED gives precedence to the noun SHOCK over STOOK and I had not come across SHOCK in this context. It does define the verb form of STOOK though as setting up sheaves in stooks.

  7. Smoz says:

    Liked this puzzle and very happy to complete, even if it is an ‘easy’ one. I’m not completely happy with the use of ‘plumb’ 23ac – can anyone explain this a bit further please?

  8. stumped says:

    Depth readings at sea (sounding) were taken with a line weighted with lead (= plumbum, Latin.

  9. molonglo says:

    Thanks Eileen. Yes, most of this was a doddle, beginning with the 1a anagram. SADDO was guessable, KAROO fortunately had just cropped up in a book I was reading. In 23d you can’t say ‘pots’ meaning drugs. Hardest and last for me was to find the 19d comedian, only by guessing after the excellent 21a.

  10. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Eileen. I wonder if the figures for entries sent in for the prize have been dropping off and so the editor has decided to throw a few easy ones in on Saturdays to boost the numbers. Today’s Bonxie is a bit better but not really any tougher than a couple of the daily puzzles in the last week. (When it comes to editorial policy, who knows, though!)

  11. r_c_a_d says:

    Thanks for the blog. This took me while because I stupidly wrote Les Dawson in at 6d. Is SADDO really a proper word? Amazing what they allow in dictionaries these days.

    I have no problem with johns as an abbreviation for long johns. It is commonly said in Lincolnshire.

  12. Davy says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I enjoyed this and the highlight for me was Arry using the term SADDO. This surprised me and indeed amused me greatly. I had visions of the erudite man himself saying to someone “You saddo”.

    As someone said recently on the blog, I too find myself more in tune with Araucaria than with any other compiler. At the other end of the spectrum, I find Enigmatist to be the new Bunthorne.

    Favourite clue was NOODLES. Thanks again Mr Graham.

  13. tupu says:

    Thanks Eileen and Araucaria

    Pretty trouble free apart from ‘brandy and soda’ which took some time to parse because I did not immediately see ‘bran’ = ‘refuse’.

    A pleasanr enough puzzle.

  14. Robi says:

    Fairly gentle for a prize puzzle.

    Thanks, Eileen for a good blog. Like tupu, I didn’t see BRAN=refuse; I thought it was ban=refuse with an ‘r’ for roll. Peg for BRANDY AND SODA was new to me.

  15. jvh says:

    Thanks Eileen,

    I thought 18A might possibly be referring to “Diddle, diddle, dumpling, my son John”.

  16. Eileen says:

    Hi jvh

    I’ve been pondering your comment all day butI can’t see how the [various] versions of the rhyme that know fit the clue. Can you clarify?

  17. jvh says:

    Hi Eileen,

    Sorry, I should have been more explicit. I was thinking of the version that continues “Went to bed with his trousers on” (as given in Wikipedia for example). Then taking ‘long pants’ to mean ‘trousers’ (‘long breeches’ in my Chambers) we have that John, son, was one wearing long pants.

    Or is this too far out?

  18. Eileen says:

    Hi jvh

    I’m afraid I think it is – even for Araucaria! 😉

  19. jvh says:


    I’m sure you are right — and especially as I have now looked at the annotated solution!

  20. Eileen says:

    Thanks jvh – I always forget about the annotated solution!

  21. Mary says:


    Hi ‘Stumped’ & ‘Molongo’

    Surely ‘e’ means ‘drug’ and ‘others’ refers to (other) ‘drugs’

    PS I didn’t like all the comments about Paul last week. I think He’s brill

    My favourite clue of his:’Hyperint’ 3 6 2 4

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