Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,566 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on February 23rd, 2012


My second Araucaria to blog in a row, and good entertainment again. I don’t think it’s giving anything away to say that many clues rely on a variety of different meanings and uses of the word “box”.

4,9. JACK-IN-OFFICE JACK IN (abandon) + OFF ICE> Mr Bumble the Beadle from Oliver twist is an example of a Jack-in-office, “a self-important petty official”.
6. FISHSKIN F (note) + SIKHS + IN. Another name for the disease Ichthyosis, which can cause scaly skin. As my erudite readers will no doubt realise, the word Ichthyosis itself comes from Greek Ichthys=fish, with -osis being a generic suffix for a disease.
10,21. THINK OUTSIDE  THINK OUT (calculate) + SIDE (spin given to a ball in snooker etc), and reference to the expression “think outside the box”
15. DEEJAYS DEE (river) + JAYS (birds)
17. ONSHORE A slightly dodgy construction to indicate an anagram of HONORS (American spelling) + E
18. PENALTY AREA PEN A L + YARE (River in Norfolk) in TA, and even with my limited knowledge of football I know that the penalty area is also known as “the box”
23. FOUGHT F[ragile] + OUGHT (should). Box=fight
24. PLEATING PLEA (an excuse) + TING[E]. This box is “a type of double pleat formed by folding the cloth under in both directions”.
1. DIDCOT DID + COT (archaic or poetic version of “cottage”)
2. HIGH SCHOOL Double definition – a group of smelly fish could be a “high school”
3. SHINGLES Double definition
4. JEOPARDY JOY with O replaced by [L]EOPARD
5. COFFINED C (100 – number) + OF + FINED (made to pay)
7,25. KNOT GARDEN KNOT (speed) + DANGER*. I suppose box hedge is often used in knot gardens
8. NOTE A, B etc are musical NOTEs, and E is missing from the list, so NOT E
12. RESENTMENT RE-SENT MEN + T (junction)
14. REFASTEN REF (one with a whistle) + A STEN (gun)
16. APPOSITE PO (postal order) + SIT (take chair) in APE (primate)
19. YEOMAN YE (solvers) + OMAN
20. STEP STEP[hen]. Boxing day is also St Stephen’s Day (hence the line “on the feast of Stephen” in the carol “Good King Wenceslas”)

28 Responses to “Guardian 25,566 – Araucaria”

  1. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew for a nice and early and concise blog. This puzzle had the Goldilocks measure of difficulty, and earned an exclamation mark for 10,21 when the penny dropped. Presumably 4,9 refers to Bumble the Beadle in Oliver Twist, a classic j-i-o. Looked up PLEATING and KNOT GARDEN afterwards and learned something.

  2. grandpuzzler says:

    Thanks Araucaria for the puzzle and Andrew for the early blog. Beside the two mentioned by molonglo, Jack-in-office was also new to me. Thanks for the education. Loved the puzzle.


  3. Andrew says:

    Molonlo, I’m sure you’re right about Mr Bumble, and in fact I meant to mention him in the blog (honest, guv). I’ve now added that mention.

  4. Eileen says:

    Thanks for the blog, Andrew.

    I spent the whole of the puzzle trying to fit TV in somewhere!

    I know how to make a box pleat but I don’t think I’d heard of a knot garden. Most of the Google references I found say that box is the traditional hedging for this kind of garden.

    I spent a while trying to work out the ‘before and after the box’ in 4,9 and eventually got there: jack-in-the box and box office – doh!

    [Your readers may also know ichthys=fish from this: ]

  5. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I’m probably alone here, but I found this more difficult than yesterday’s! A good example of the man’s work, I reckon, with a highly inventive use of the theme.

    Lots of imaginative clueing from Araucaria made the constructions hard for me to spot. I got the ‘IN OFFICE’ for 4,9 but had to ‘cheat’ to get the JACK, and thence 4d and 5d were straightforward. I put TIRESOME in at 22a to start with, which made 10,21 impossible until I corrected my mistake (yes, I know ‘ires’=’paints’ is rather impenetrable, but this is Araucaria – just because you can’t see why doesn’t necessarily mean it’s wrong). KNOT GARDEN took me ages – but my COD.

  6. Robi says:

    Interesting puzzle, made even more boxy by the fact that my computer didn’t display the sides to the individual cells. I don’t know whether that was deliberate or ‘knot’ (the printed version was OK.) Anyone else have this problem?

    Thanks Andrew. I was surprised that AHISTORICAL and TOILSOME were real words. I didn’t know JACK-IN-OFFICE, KNOT GARDEN or the tile reference in SHINGLES, so some difficulty here. Oh no, I’ve only just noticed the NOT E little joke, doh

    Strange grid; perhaps if you scan it, it reads something (probably not.) I thought there must be a NINA, but there didn’t seem to be one. There are some Lorraines and papal crosses, though.

  7. Pianoman says:

    I enjoyed this muchly. Didn’t get too boxed in! 8a was sweet, albeit the first I got. 2d was clever. Also didn’t know coffin could be a verb, thanks Araucaria – great fun.

  8. Robi says:

    P.S. After refreshing my browser, the grid seems to display correctly.

  9. Giovanna says:

    Thanks, Araucaria for the entertainment and Andrew for the parsing.

    When coffined @ 5d was the first in, I wondered if we were in for a death theme, especially when coffin was hidden in 4,9. Jeopardy went in easily which led me to jack-in-office which was unfamiliar.The theme was reinforced at 20d, as Stephen was the first Christian martyr.

    Much elegance of clueing and answers i.e. knot garden @ 7,25,

    Giovanna x

  10. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog.

    I had totally forgotten that Boxing Day is St Stephen’s day :( so 20d left me scratching my head.

  11. Mitz says:

    Thanks Araucaria and Andrew,

    Slightly boggling at Gervase (5) for saying that this was harder than yesterday – largely completed on the tube, so even the smart phone would have been no help if required!

    SW was last to fall – couldn’t see ‘tinge’ minus the ‘e’ in pleating for ages. Other than that, an unproblematic (square) dance.

  12. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I had a bit of trouble with NW. I know Dickens’s Bumble, but didn’t know his name was synonymous with “a self-important minor official” [Chambers]. As for 1d: should I ever apply to be on Mastermind, “places near Oxford” won’t be my chosen specialist subject.

  13. liz says:

    Thanks, Andrew. Like Eileen, I also expected a TV to pop up somewhere…

    Got a little held up in the SE, after incorrectly entering PENALTY SPOT.

    Robi @6 I had the same problem on my computer earlier!

    KNOT GARDEN and THINK OUTSIDE were my favourites.

  14. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Not too difficult but with enough tricky ones to provide an enjoyable solve.
    If there has to be a theme this is the way to use it. No wiki revelations,no googling ‘box'; every use a unique twist which we had to suss out before solving.
    Last in ‘pleating’ because I insisted the ‘little colour’ was tint. I often wonder how on earth I know some things: I was very familiar with ‘box pleats’ in skirts. My mother and grandmother made their own clothes 60 years ago so it must be from then!

  15. Gervase says:

    Robi @6: Re AHISTORICAL, I thought that the more usual word was ‘anhistorical’, but I seem to have been confusing the legitimate ‘unhistorical’ and the obsolescent practice of putting an epenthetic ‘n’ in front of an initial ‘h’ in an unstressed syllable, in expressions like ‘an historic building’, ‘an hotel’ etc.

    Mitz @11: I never said that this was objectively harder than yesterday’s, only that I found it so – and I did qualify the statement by saying that I might be unique in this respect! Anyway, I was perhaps being a tad hyperbolic ;-). But I do sometimes find that I struggle with a puzzle that most others find straightforward and (more rarely) breeze through one which everyone else finds tough.

  16. Paul g says:

    I’m probably being really dim, but why is “ye” solvers?

  17. Paul g says:

    … Or is “ye” meant as in the archaic version of you, I.e. the one solving?

  18. Gervase says:

    Paul g: ‘Ye’ is the old fashioned version of ‘you (plural)’. ‘Solver’ is crosswordese for ‘you’ because the compiler is addressing the person who is solving the puzzle. Similarly, ‘setter’ often stands for ‘I’ or ‘me’ and ‘setter’s’ can be ‘my”.

  19. Paul g says:

    Thanks, but then aren’t we missing some indicator to suggest the old “you”, I know Araucaria’s getting on but I bet he doesn’t speak like he’s in a Shakespearean play …

  20. RCWhiting says:

    It is usually indicated as archaic, in some way, paul.
    Although not old enough to use it he is old enough to not care about the niceties of crossword ‘rules’ – and nor should he.

  21. Gervase says:

    Paul g: Very possibly. The only slight hint is that Araucaria used the plural ‘solvers’. ‘Ye’ (subject)/’you’ (object) was originally plural, as opposed to the singular ‘thou’/’thee’ (although there is evidence that the plural form was used for a while as a polite singular form – like the French ‘vous’ – which is thought to be why ‘thou’ disappeared in all but a few dialects of English because it became to sound disrespectful).

  22. Paul g says:

    ” … He is old enough not to care about the niceties of crossword ‘rules’ …”, which goes some considerable way to explaining why I rarely finish his crosswords despite me managing fine with other setters. Ah well.

    Gervase, thanks for the background, very interesting!

  23. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria

    I found this very good puzzle more Daddy Bear’s than Baby’s porridge in places especially the SW corner which took a long time first to come and then to understand. I had to check knot-garden and Jack-in-office after solving and I did not know fishskin was a disease.

    Gervase – re an + h: this seems to happen with anhydrous.

    The puzzle was enjoyable overall. I 6a, 15a,18a, 2d, 4d, and 7,25. Like Eileen I kept expecting to see the tele but in vain.

  24. Gervase says:

    tupu: There are others – anharmonic, anhedral, anhedonia (which is what I felt half way through the puzzle). AHARMONIC seems to be the exception, so I don’t feel so anhedonic about my vocabulary!

  25. Gervase says:

    Sorry! I meant AHISTORICAL, of course. It’s such a long time since I did the crossword……

  26. Robi says:

    Gervase @15; now you’ve started me off. How I hate expressions like ‘an historic building’, ‘an hotel’ etc. An ‘istoric building or an ‘otel is fine by me. I know that people will say that the former is correct as it’s in popular usage, but just listen to the newsreaders stumbling over their words when they attempt it.

    In order to get the bile out of my system, I once wrote a short article, entitled: ‘An horse, an horse, my kingdom for an horse;’ maybe I should try to get it published somewhere………..

  27. CynicCure says:

    Could I just point out the mis-spelling of our reverend setter’s name in the pre-amble (Aracuaria). Surely he’s also old enough for us to get his name right after all these years…

  28. Andrew says:

    Thanks for spotting that, CynicCure – I’ll correct it.

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