Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,561 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on February 17th, 2012


A very entertaining puzzle from Araucaria, and not too difficult, with a variety of linked answers and an unorthodox device in 25, 26 and 27ac that I don’t think I’ve seen before.

1. CAYMAN A type of crocodile, and I presume a reference to the tax haven of the Cayman Island.
4. COUGAR Anagram of OR + AG + CU (gold, silver and copper)
9. LULU Lulu the singer, lulu as “an outstandingly bad or impressive thing”, and a repeated syllable
10. LIGHT VERSE VE (VE Day, 8th of May 1945) in (THE GIRLS)*
11. MUGGER Another type of crocodile, occasionally sighted in crosswords, and a street robber. Nice link with 1ac.
12. IN A WHILE A reference to the exchange “See you later, alligator”, “In a while, crocodile”
13. PERSONAGE ER + SON (= prince) in PAGE (part of a book)
15. PUMA “Pew” + MA[t]
16. TIER Double definition – draw=tie as in various sports
17. CROCODILE Reference to “crocodile tears”, and “a double file of school pupils taking a walk”, who could be girls, though they don’t have to be.
21. DRAMATIC DRAM (small helping of whisky) + “attic” (= of Athens, so Greek)
24. PADEREWSKI (WEIRD SPEAK)* Ignacy Jan Paderewski, renowned pianist who became Prime Minister of Poland
25. GOLD G (=good=virtuous) + OLD (venerable). There’s no definition, unlike the next two clues which are definitions only, so the linkage of the three to make a kind of cryptic sequence of metals. Correction: the definition is “First”, and the other two (almost) follow the sequence of Gold/Silver/Bronze
26. SILVER Long John SILVER, pirate in Treasure Island.
27. COPPER Slang for policeman
2. YOUNG YOU (solver) + NG, and we won’t be young for ever (though Araucaria seems to be having a good try)
3. AILERON AIL (suffer) + [h]ERON. I don’t think an aileron is really the same as a flap, but perhaps an aeronautical expert could advise
5. OUTLAY An “OUT LAY” would be an unfashionable song
6. GREYHOUND Spoonerism of “hay ground”
7. ROSELLA ROSE + reverse of ALL. Rosella is an Australian parrot
8. AGEING PROCESS (EGGS PAIR SCONE)*, and the ageing process starts when we are young
14. SPERM CELL S + PERM[anent wave] + CELL (small room)
16. THREADS TRASHED*, and reference to the 19th century song Silver Threads Among the Gold
18. CASSINO S in CASINO. Monte Cassino is a hill with a Benedictine monastery
19. LOCULAR L (learner, pupil) + OCULAR (of the eye)
20. STEELE E[nergy] in STELE (a stone tablet). Richard Steele was one of the founders of The Spectator
23. LEG UP E.G. (say) in LUP[in] – a typically Araucarian “shortening” I’ve maligned him by jumping to conclusions here, it’s actually a LUPIN that is “short of ” IN.

37 Responses to “Guardian 25,561 – Araucaria”

  1. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew. The device at 25, 26, 27 is odd.

    I liked “bloomer in short” for LUPIN minus IN. 24a’s “Premier pianist” is very elegant too.

    I hope the mini-theme of 8d doesn’t mean our Prospero is thinking of putting away his staff.

  2. NeilW says:

    Thanks, Andrew. A in particularly whimsical mode – a pleasant start to the day for me. I agree with Miche that 25, 26, 27 was a curious device but, at the same time, just wrote itself in so seems fair enough. Surely the def in 25 is “First” as in GOLD medal so the only thing wrong with the sequence of clues is that the solution to 27 should have been bronze not COPPER.

  3. NeilW says:

    Although, of course, bronze is an alloy of COPPER…

  4. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. I liked this a lot, except for 7a: the variety pictured in your hyperlink abound in my back yard and the idea of cageing them pains. With this 25a setter, all sorts of liberties are okay, including the elisions and lack of definitions sparked by that clue. Last in for me was 13a, one of the best.

  5. molonglo says:

    7d that is

  6. molonglo says:

    and it’s the top one, the crimson

  7. JollySwagman says:

    Lovely puzzle and well blogged Andrew – didn’t get 20D until I saw your explanation.

    Gold – Silver – Copper

    In the periodic table these are normally shown vertically in line at their three different levels. Also in coinage the order of value is like that – obviously the basest coins are really alloys but we still say copper – so ignoring sport (which I normally do) it;s a reasonable sequence.

    Maybe there’s a hint in some of the answers that (a) A was 91 yesterday and (b)he’s still banging out fantastic puzzles as though he were still a youngster.

    Happy birthday for yesterday – Big A and many more to come.

    @miche #1 “thinking of putting away his staff” – yes – I hope that’s not the implication.

    As a Big A devotee I have to say I thought this one exceptional, even by his own standards, and you can’t help wondering whether it was done ahead of time and saved up for a special occasion.

  8. scchua says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria for a puzzle which I thought was a little easier than usual.

    First in was 12A IN A WHILE – just yesterday there was mention, jokingly, of a Bill Haley-themed crossword. That gave CROCODILE, which in turn gave the related clues. Got 25, 26, 27 early on – read them as a sequence of “first” (place) – GOLD, “then” second (place) SILVER, “then” third (place) bronze = COPPER as a colour, and copper in content. And that gave the other related clues, and there were few liberties taken with the rest, perhaps only 23D.

  9. scchua says:

    PS. Actually I would correct the last part of my@8. There were no liberties taken – during solving 23D, I did parse LUP as lupin minus “in” (“in short”), but forgot about it when typing my post.

  10. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I didn’t find this one easier than most of the recent puzzles from the good Rev – but I haven’t found any of them particularly hard. It was particularly good fun, though, with its overlapping themes and references. The only thing that popped out on first read through was LOCULAR, which didn’t bode well! But I soon got the metals, and the crocodilians, and the rest was fairly plain sailing.

    I agree with scchua that LUP is ‘lupin’ without ‘in’ (‘in short’). Nicely done – Araucaria is notorious for clueing ‘part of [something]’ without any indiction of how much of the word is to be incorporated, but emphatically not in this case.

    I especially liked the linked clues, PADEREWSKI, and the misleading ‘out’ in 1d – at first I was trying to take ‘in’ out of a word for a cleric. All in all an exemplary piece of libertarian setting.

  11. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria

    After a nice start (with crocodile) and a few others, I began to stall and feel the puzzle was a little bit ‘bitty’ but I came round to liking it a lot as the final answers and parsing came to me.

    I found 10a particularly teasing because, although the answer was clear, I saw that it also contains an anagram of ‘eight v’ and puzzled for a time about what to do with the other letters. I also realised that there was an anagram of ‘the girls’ around VE but, because of the notion that V = 5 (May), it took a little time for the VE Day reference to hit me.

    I ticked quite a few along the way – 10a, 13a, 24a (a fine anagram and an &lit for English speakers who find POlish inpenetrable), 5d, 8d (another unlikely anagram).

    I seem to have heard that A does not reaed the blogs but ‘Happy Birthday’ just the same!

  12. sidey says:

    Shirley Gold (first), silver, copper is simply their respective values as coins.

  13. Gervase says:

    Re 25, 26, 27: I read GOLD as ‘first’ in the medal sense, then the following sequence as coinage (as sidey says). But it probably doesn’t matter too much – this is one of those typically Araucarian devices where the conceit is obvious once the penny drops (pun intended), although quite how it works remains a bit of a mystery.

  14. Andrew says:

    Thanks all, especially for pointing out that I jumped to the wrong conclusion about the truncated LUPIN; and GOLD = First. I’ll correct the blog. I didn’t think to check about A’s birthday – remiss of me: my only excuse is that I can’t believe it’s a year since I went to the lunch for his 90th birthday.

  15. PeterJohnN says:

    Andrew, speaking as a one time aeronautical engineer, re 3d AILERON, you are right that an aileron is technically not the same as a flap, though it is a part of the wing that “flaps” up and down.

    True flaps are located on the inner part of the wing, and are lowered when taking off and landing to increase the curvature and sometimes area of the wing, and hence increase lift at lower speeds. Modern airliners usually have flaps on both the trailing edge and the leading edge of the wing. The port and starboard flaps always move in unison.

    Ailerons,however, are located on the trailing edge only of the outer wing, and when one goes up, the other goes down, creating a decrease in lift on one side, and an increase on the other, causing the aircraft to bank into a turn.

  16. PeterJohnN says:

    Re 25, 26 and 27, I would have pointed out that “or” is the heraldic term for gold, whereas “Ag” and “Cu” are the chemical symbols of siver and copper, “Au” being the chemical symbol for gold.

    Re COUGAR and PUMA, these are synonymous terms for the Mountain Lion, deriving from French and Spanish respectively. However, “cougar” now seems to have been adopted as a term for a sexually voracious older woman!

  17. Thomas99 says:

    Thanks for the blog, and thanks and Many Happy Returns if you see this site, Araucaria! Glad others seem to have enjoyed this as much as I did. I’ve just noticed I had a different parsing of 9a from, presumably, most people; don’t really know that other meaning of “lulu” so I may just be wrong. But I had “outstanding” as “out standing” and standing=lieu, pronounced (“out”) “lu”, repeated. Maybe I’ve just seen too many split up words in recent weeks!

  18. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew. And Happy Birthday to Araucaria!

    I thoroughly enjoyed this, although I solved it in a slightly weird way. The Spoonerism at 6dn was the first one I got (unusually for me) and my second was PUMA, which I put in without fully understanding the wordplay. Then I got COUGAR, again without understanding the wordplay — until eventually I worked out what was going on with 25, 26 and 27. I’m used to solving Araucaria clues without working out why…

    I didn’t know ROSELLA.

    V inventive clueing, I thought, and a lot of fun!

  19. Andrew says:

    PeterJohnN – thanks for confirming what I suspected (but didn’t want to make a fool of myself by saying out loud) about flaps and ailerons.

  20. Kayoz says:

    Happy 91st Birthday Araucaria. Wow, way to go!! I taught my mum and dad to do cryptic crosswords about 20 years ago. They still do them daily, and and they are 89 and 90 this year. I also put them onto Sudoku – why not?

    An old work boss taught me how to do The Times cryptic about 30 years ago. I haven’t looked back. I have been doing the Guardian cryptic through newspapers for about a long time spaced out over those 30 years. I must admit that until about 4 years ago, I thought you (Araucaria) were a really clever bitchy woman. Then I found out that you are a man. That made me say Wow again. After a number of years you have an idea in your head of the setter. I wouldn’t like to be the woman who took you on, as she might get beaten.

    I am in awe of your work. Very happy returns.

  21. Kayoz says:

    Now, to bag his crossword (joke?)

    Absolutely good fun.

    1ac Thought the word was CAIMAN which is a common term used with alligators, but obviously needed to take the money into account and go for the islands.

    11ac MUGGER crocodile. Had to look this one up. But it made sense when I saw it. We don’t have those in Australia, ours just eat you straight up. No money required.

  22. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Wow. This certainly wasn’t set weeks ago – it is an instant response to our appeal yesterday for a Bill Haley theme.
    Obviously he didn’t have time for Rock around the Clock but still shows excellent reaction times for an oldster.
    As I often do, I looked for a short one in the SE. Solved ‘leg up’ quickly and then the GSC trio, which really opened things.
    I did waste some time thinking that ‘silver threads among the gold’ meant that 8d was a composer.
    I knew ‘stele’ but not Mr ‘Steele’ which was last in.
    I enjoyed yet another clever A.

  23. Kayoz says:

    PeterJohn @15 Your description of flaps and ailerons is perfect. I was an Air Traffic Controller for 10 years so I totally understand your explanations. I think that you could break it down to explain it to others.

    14down jumped out. I hadn’t heard of Paderewski but it was easily found. I was in Poland when they were reaching for independence with Lech Walesa in the early 80’s.

  24. Conrad Cork says:

    Just to be accurate re 12 across, while everybody thinks it was ‘in a while crocodile’ that isn’t what was sung or what is in the published lyrics.

    The line is question goes

    See you later alligator, after ‘while crocodile

  25. Bryan says:

    Happy Birthday, Rev, and Many Thanks. This was a cracker!

    Also, Many Thanks, Andrew.

    I hesitated about the spelling of 6d, suspecting that the dog might have been an American variety but the crossing letters proved otherwise.

    GREYHOUND Spoonerism of “hay ground”.

    I do wish our American cousins would learn how to spell properly.

  26. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks Andrew and of course Araucaria.

    Nice puzzle but I failed with 20d STEELE. Didn’t ring any bells with me.

  27. William says:

    Phew! I found that tough but enjoyable. A abides with fewer rules than ever before. No point in making the usual comparison with the more Ximenean approach of the other setters – both can be good fun – but A certainly keeps one on one’s toes.

    ROSELLA, LOCULAR, STEELE, MUGGER & CASSINO all new to me which made it tougher.

    Many thanks, for the excellent blog, Andrew.

  28. duncan says:

    doesn’t anyone else remember windsor davies’ character in “it ain’t half hot, mum!” referring to the troupe’s pianist as paderewski? that’s where I first heard the name, though having a piano-teacher mother helped.
    enjoyed today, though I couldn’t complete it. some of the comments over at the crossword itself seem to be raising objections about being driven to the extra research if a solution is unknown to them; me, I don’t mind discovereing a new word, whether by google, wikipedia or whatever. I had no idea what rosellas were, though I could see the bits & had the crossers. didn’t know mugger as a kind of handbag material. never heard of mr steele. but now I have. :-)


  29. RCWhiting says:

    Agreed Duncan:
    “seem to be raising objections about being driven to the extra research if a solution is unknown to them;”

    The critical word there is “them”. I’m guessing here, but I estimate that each day around 75% of the solutions are unknown to at least one solver. Note: solver, not poster on this MB!

  30. Mr A Writinghawk says:

    Many happy returns to A and many there be many more such crosswords, and allow me to point out, to still any suspicion of the slightest flaw in this sublime outing, that Chambers s.v. ‘aileron’ says “a flap on an aeroplane wing tip for lateral balancing”.

  31. Cosafina says:

    wonderful puzzle which I only just got round to, having been in a training course all day. Didn’t get 20d, and have only heard of “the cat sat on the mat” (never a pew) so 15a flummoxed me until I got 4a and worked backwards.
    Happy Birthday Araucaria – long may you reign!

  32. Derek Lazenby says:

    Re posts 15 and 30. Who would you rather believe? Chambers or an aeronautical engineer? Tell you what, you fly in a plane designed by Chambers, just don’t invite me!

    As to the crossword, way over my head, so commenting would be unfair.

  33. pangapilot says:

    My comment #55 on Arachne’s most recent [Spooner’s kinkajou is BUNNY HAIR.] is borne out by the word order in The Master’s 6d. That is, “Spooner’s fodder” prompts you to spoonerise a synonym for fodder and get a dog, not vice versa. Similarly, I still maintain that Arachne’s clue asks you to spoonerise a synonym for kinkajou (i.e.honey bear) and get a phrase for rabbit fur. But maybe I should just drop it!

  34. pangapilot says:

    re #33,line 2: I should have spelt it out in full “to spoonerise fodder put through the mill [i.e. hay ground]”

  35. Gordon says:

    Hi Andrew
    If you are still checking this blog, could you please explain how ‘Loud’ is used as part of 21a. I understand the ‘Atic’ bit being Greek, but not the reference to loud.
    Thank you

  36. Andrew says:

    Hi Gordon. “Loud” indicates that a homphone is to be used, so the second part of the answer is the non-word “atic” rather than “attic”.

  37. Gordon says:

    Hi Andrew
    Thanks for responding.
    I had thought of a homophone, but still could not make it work; and as ATIC is given in my Collins as a legitimate suffix of Greek origin I got fixated on that, trying to somehow make that ‘Loud’. I had forgotten about Attica the place and only thought of attic the room.
    Its amazing how I can finish the Genius usually, but get stuck on what I now see as a simple clue!

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