Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Prize No 25,466 by Araucaria

Posted by bridgesong on November 5th, 2011


A largely delightful and allusive puzzle, with several laugh-out-loud moments,  but also one or two quibbles.  I’d particularly welcome suggestions for the word play at 11 across and 26 across.  I found the puzzle overall much easier than Bonxie’s offering the previous week.



Hold mouse over clue number to see clue.

1,14 BREAD-AND-BUTTER LETTER READ in BAND, UTTERL(y) in BETTER. A typical Araucarian charade to get us started, with a nod to the ghastly Rev Collins in Pride and Prejudice, and to his letter to Mr Bennet after a short visit “written with all the solemnity of gratitude which a twelvemonth’s abode in the family might have prompted”.
9 CHARLOTTE HARLOT in *ETC. Another reference to Pride and Prejudice (Charlotte Lucas, who married Mr Collins), and also to a poem (The Sorrows of Werther) by Thackeray.
10 LORCA L(ine), ORCA. The Spanish poet and dramatist.
11 SCION Sounds like “sigh on”? Not the most inspired clue, unless I’ve missed something.
12 TITLE DEED Definition and cryptic definition.
14 See 1
17 HOWLER Double definition
19 WIDE OPEN IDE, OP in WEN. It was William Cobbett who coined the term “the Great Wen” for London.
22 WARM FRONT M(onsieur) in WAR FRONT.
24 TUDOR TU D’OR. It’s conventional for setters to refer to solvers as “you”; here Araucaria has done so in French.
25 LEHAR Hidden in ” simple harmonies”. Franz Lehar was an Austrian composer of operettas, of which the best known is The Merry Widow.
26 DRACONIAN RAC(c)O(o)N in DIAN(a). I’m not sure about this, as Wikipedia suggests that raccoons are omnivorous rather than carnivores, and why is carnivores plural? Any other suggestions? “Tough” is presumably the definition.
27 PRIMROSE LEAGUE *(MORE LIES) in PRAGUE. The Primrose League was founded in 1883, and named after Benjamin Disraeli’s favourite flower.
1 BACKS TO THE WALL K’S TOT HE W(as) in (Lauren) BACALL. Another characteristic charade.
2 EVASIVE Double definition, referring to the phrase “to take evasive action”.
3 DELINEATE DELI, NEAT E(nergy). We seem to have had a lot of delis recently.
6 TULLE (Jethro) TULL, E
8 MANDARIN ORANGE MAN, NORA in DARING, (win)E. Another delightful charade.
15 ELECTRODE ELECT, RODE. Paul clued this word in a prize puzzle in August this year in a similar way: “Conductor, in waiting, took the bus this way, perhaps”.
18 WERTHER R in WETHER. Another reference to the poem by Thackeray.
20 PUDDING NIDD (reversed) in PUG.
23 FORUM OF (reversed), RUM.


27 Responses to “Guardian Prize No 25,466 by Araucaria”

  1. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Bridgesong. Re 11ac: I thought a person who was blue might sigh. I agree with your quibble about 26ac. Thanks for explaining 18d – wether was new to me.


  2. grandpuzzler says:

    Check that. I just remembered the real reason: CYAN is a blue color. I can’t remember what I did this morning let alone seven days ago.


  3. Rishi says:

    26a DRACONIAN is “RACON” (hom. of ‘raccoon’ or ‘racoon’) in DIAN, which stops short of Diana, the moon goddess.

  4. John Dean says:

    11 ac – I took the sound to be sighin’. Didn’t like it much and don’t agree that ‘scion’ is always a boy. Hence Byron’s “Herself the solitary scion left…”. Nor is a scion always young. But the annotated Guardian version says scion / cyan is the homophone.

    26 ac – ‘racoon’ is an acceptable variant of ‘raccoon’ and the animal is of the order ‘carnivora’. So even though it may chew on a bit of lettuce from time to time I suppose the clue is OK up to that point. But I agree I see no need for the plural.

  5. Paul B says:

    Raccoon = a raccoon, or lots of raccoons, just as lion = pride. I hope this helps, although I have no idea why it should.

  6. stumped says:

    Thanks, as always, to setter and blogger. Haven’t seen Annotated Solution yet.

    3 clues short.

    11a Scion only word I know that fits, but couldn’t parse clue well enough to consider it “done” to my satisfaction. Thanks grandpuzzler @2 for Cyan, a word I know but don’t really consider Blue. Spent a lot of time thinking about Gainsborough.

    26a. Definition tough = draconian is sound. I can attest from local raccoons upending our garbage barrels in the wee hours that they’ll eat anything, thus not obligate carnivores! I concur with above comments about misleading plural. That’s still no excuse for failure to solve

    27a Without knowledge of Tory Party history, how’s one supposed to conjure up Prague out of many 7 letter Capitals? My fault for being staunch Labour (Clause 4 forever..)

  7. stumped says:

    Paul B @5. Here in New England common parlance has a raccoon, many raccoons. Crossword-world allows all sorts of recondite variants in spelling and meaning, so… I spent ages considering lion as last 4 letters for 26a precisely because of what you said.

    Just to show how desperate I was trying to solve 26a, I also spent a long time trying variations of Kali & Durga for ‘tough goddess’ (I’m of South Asian ancestry :)

  8. stumped says:

    Oops, can’t count, Prague isn’t 7 letters

  9. molonglo says:

    Thanks bridgesong. Managed this nice one without trouble or aids: then, as ever with the monkeypuzzler, the pleasant task of learning from it all. So to the Thackeray poem about 9a and 18d, and 1a’s Pride and Prejudice connection. Never heard of the River Nidd, Mrs Batty or the Primrose League but am now better informed. Interesting clues were for TUDOR (neat) and DRACONIAN (last in, with free use of ‘lot’).

  10. crosser says:

    Thanks, bridgesong.
    Surely, in 26a, the clue says “a lot of American carnivores” which I took to mean “a lot of the letters of….”?

  11. crosser says:

    I forgot to say, above, that I had understood the scion-cyan wordplay in 11a but couldn’t quite see why a scion should be a synonym of boy (as opposed to girl) :) . It was necessary for the art reference, of course.

  12. Epee says:

    Scion is just wrong on so many levels. It doesn’t sound like ‘cyan’ and it isn’t a good synonym for boy. Epic fail my kids would say. Like some others I had seen ‘scion’ but did not enter it. Other clues were good –> excellent. Though ‘bread and butter letter’ is a very obscure saying it is interesting to discover. Thanks bridgesong !

  13. Robi says:

    Good crossword, made accessible by WERTHER, although I had to look up the Thackeray references.

    Hadn’t heard of BREAD AND BUTTER LETTER; I’m more of a PUDDING or CHARLOTTE person, myself.

    I thought SCION=cyan was fine, and the surface of 26 would not have read very well with ‘a lot of American carnivore,’ so I’m fairly relaxed about the cluing. I liked the simple HOODOO; thought it was ‘voodoo’ until the Robin penny clanged.

  14. Robi says:

    Epee @12; try this one for SCION pronunciation

  15. Stella Heath says:

    Thanks Bridgesong and Araucaria. I enjoyed this, despite no getting the literary references – I was looking for a connection between Goethe and Charlotte (Brontë?)

    To those who object to “scion” for a boy, I’d like to remind you that the clue contains a ?. The reference is, no doubt, the Gainsborough painting, “cyan” being the primary colour blue. As far as I know, the two are exact homophones, which cannot be said of “sighin'”.

    I agree with reservations about “raccoon”, though I expected the complaints to have more to do with the loose direction “a lot of” to remove letters from inside the clued word.

    What did raise an eyebrow for me was the equation HOODOO = “bugbear”?

  16. cholecyst says:

    Thanks Bridgesong. 1 14ac. I’m sure you knew (I didn’t) that Collins is the definition in this clue, meaning a tedious thank-you letter, according to Chambers. Has anyone ever seen it used in this way?

  17. r_c_a_d says:

    Thanks for the blog Bridgesong.

    I quite enjoyed this, although I had to resort to Google a lot earlier than I’d like. So I wouldn’t claim to have solved this one; and would have got nowhere if “out and about” as usual. Wrote in SCION last without really understanding why: prefer sighing to cyan, as I too don’t think of cyan as blue.

  18. bridgesong says:

    Thanks, all for your comments. I’m kicking myself over “cyan”, which just didn’t occur to me. I agree with Stella @15 that the reference is to the Gainsborough painting. I also realise that I should have explained that Nora in MANDARIN ORANGE is a reference to Nora Batty, a character in the long-running BBC TV series “Last of the Summer Wine”. I’m not sure that I knew that a Collins was a thank-you letter, but the quote I give above (at 1 Across) may help to explain how the term was derived.

  19. chas says:

    Thanks to bridgesong for the blog. You explained 19a for me: I have heard of The Great Wen but forgot it just when I needed it :(

    In the physics of light there is a colour triangle which had red, blue and green at the corners then white in the middle where they all meet. The middle points of the sides are yellow between red and green, magenta between red and blue and cyan between blue and green.
    I therefore think of cyan as green-blue so it never occurred to me to use it for just blue – as required for 11a.

  20. Paul B says:

    CYAN and SCION are listed in Collins as having the same sound, though the latter also attracts a variant.

  21. tupu says:

    Thanks bridgesong and Araucaria

    I quite liked this one, though I had to check ‘bread and butter letter’.

    I eventually plumped for cyan after toying with ‘sigh’ ideas. I also wondered about ‘agape’ as ‘love’ but only briefly.

    I particularly liked 13a, 26a (I agree with crosser @10 re rac(c)oon(s), 27a, 20d.

  22. Davy says:

    Thanks bridgesong,

    A very enjoyable puzzle which I had hoped might be an A to Z, as he hasn’t done one for what seems like ages. As I managed to complete this on the Sunday, it must have been on the easier side.

    Just to set the mind of ‘stumped’ at rest, I’d never heard of PRIMROSE LEAGUE either but just fiddled around with the ‘more lies’ anagram in the middle and taking into account the crossing letters, I guessed the expression. It was only afterwards that I saw PRAGUE in the answer. So it is possible to get an answer without knowing a word or words. Similarly, I didn’t know the quote or the lovers. I worked out the quote from the wordplay which is a rarity for this type of clue. Usually with Araucaria, I guess the answer and don’t bother trying to work out the wordplay if it involves a lot of complexity.

    Favourite clue was probably MANDARIN ORANGE which made me laugh. Thanks Arry and let’s have an A to Z sooner rather than later.

  23. tupu says:

    It appears that cyan is also a boy’s name, if a rare one.

  24. Roger says:

    One often meets interesting people in Araucaria puzzles and today it was Charlotte cutting bread and butter. Thanks for the introduction, sir. Also rather liked the you are golden TUDOR.

    I agree with Robi that 26a wouldn’t make much sense without the plural and at the end of the day, RACON is still a lot of racoons.

    Since 18d doesn’t seem to have appeared as an answer before are we allowed to say WERTHER’s original ?

  25. Stella Heath says:

    😆 Roger.

    I’d forgotten to mention “tu d’or” 😀

  26. Stella Heath says:

    The Indy’s page is still messing around!

  27. crosser says:

    Thank you tupu @23.
    I withdraw my objection to the use of “boy” in the clue for 11a.

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