Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian Cryptic N° 25,627 by Arachne

Posted by PeterO on May 4th, 2012


Arachne is becoming one of the most eagerly-awaited setters in the Guardian stable…
…and here she has me quite foxed with 5A. Doubtless I will receive enlightenment in due course.

1. Former president is about to pursue theory of nuclear deterrence (7)
MADISON A charade of MAD (Mutually Assured Destruction, ‘theory of nuclear deterrence’) + ‘is’ + ON (‘about’).
5. Meter inspector originally reported covering of dial in taxi (7)
MINICAB The wordplay eludes me. Pass.
9. Classic Loach film about sex and birds (5)
KITES An envelope (‘about’) of IT (‘sex’) in KES (‘classic Loach film’).
10. Capacity to endure retro rock band in semi-conscious state (9)
TOLERANCE An envelope (‘in’) of OLE, a reversal (‘retro’) of ELO (Electric Light Orchestra, ‘rock band’) in TRANCE (‘semi-conscious state’). Great surface.
11. See 8
See 8
13. Call by leaders disposed to form union (4)
ALLY ‘[c]ALL [b]Y’ with the first letters removed (‘leaders disposed’). The definition is ally as a verb.
14. Made good, clever move — invested in vibrator (8)
RECOUPED An envelope (‘invested in’) of COUP (‘clever move’) in REED (‘vibrator’ in a clarinet, for example. Why, what did you have in mind?).
17. Idiosyncratically vocalised exclamation directed back and forth (8)
YODELLED A charade of YO (‘exclamation’) + DEL + LED (‘directed back and forth’)
18. Expression of cold British basic school skills (4)
BRRR A charade of B (‘British’) + RRR (the three Rs, ‘basic school skills’).
21. Body language betrayed canoeist’s guilt (14)
GESTICULATIONS An anagram (‘betrayed’?) of ‘canoeists guilt’.
23. A quiet heart broken by primitive impulses in racist regime (9)
APARTHEID A charade of ‘a’ + P (piano, ‘quiet’) + ARTHE, an anagram (‘broken’) of ‘heart’ + ID (‘primitive instincts’ in Freudian theory).
24. Infinitely surpassing love right from the start (2,3)
AB OVO Abov[e] (‘surpassing’), with no end (‘infinitely’) + O (‘love’).
25. Flaneur insistently embracing Welshman (7)
ANEURIN A hidden answer (’embracing’) in ‘flANEUR INsistently’. A flaneur is an idler, someone who saunters about. I knew the name only from Nye Bevan, the Welsh Labour politician.
26. Desperate Athenians writing off 50% of loan with great speed (2,5)
IN HASTE An anagram (‘desperate’) of ‘Atheni[an]s’ with AN renoved (‘writing off 50% of loAN‘).
1,22,4. Pacifist slogan, kind which turns little people into doves (4,4,3,3)
MAKE LOVE NOT WAR Definition and cryptic definition. The results of making love are likely to be little people who, if they take after their parents, will be doves.
2. Mate is scheduled to be treated for infection of limbs and trunk (5,3,7)
DUTCH ELM DISEASE An anagram (‘to be treated’) of ‘mate is scheduled’. No, not your extremities, so calm down.
3. Online administrators are revolting bunch, protected by bodyguards (6)
SYSOPS An envelope (‘protected by’) of YSOP, a reversal (‘revolting’) of POSY (‘bunch’) in SS (Hitler’s ‘bodyguards’).
4. See 1
See 1
5. Manxman throwing up most of medicine for water-borne illness (3,2,3)
MAL DE MER A charade of MAL[e], (‘man’ without its tail, like a Manx cat) + DEMER, a reversal (‘throwing up’, all too appropriate) of REMED[y] (‘most of medicine’). Mal de mer is sea-sickness, which may not be the first thing that comes to mind, given the definition.
6. Teller and Oppenheimer disheartened after leaders of nuclear authority reveal traitor (8)
NARRATOR A charade of NAR (‘leaders of Nuclear Authority Reveal’) + RAT (‘traitor’) + OR (‘OppenheimeR disheartened’)
7. Cameron puts one to work, cutting higher element of tax at the same time (15)
CONTEMPORANEOUS An anagram (‘wprk’) of ‘Cameron puts one [t]o’, with a t (‘higher element of Tax’) removed.
8,11. Part of sermon offering solace to arms manufact­urers, we hear (7,3,3,11)
BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS From the Sermon on the Mount. There are a couple of weapons called peacemaker, but the ‘we hear’ suggests that Arachne has in mind PIECE MAKERS (‘arms manufacturers’).
12. Norwegian group supports gay star active in non-violent resistance (10)
SATYAGRAHA A charade of SATYAGR, an anagram (‘active’) of ‘gay star’ + A-HA, which Wikipedia informs me was a Norwegian pop band (and which should be written lower case; hoist with my own petard). I knew satyagraha as the title of the opera by Philip Glass; it is the philosophy and practice of non-violent resistance as espoused by Mahatma Gandhi. Sorry, nobody gets outed.
15. Nitwit is detained by Her Majesty in enclosed place (8)
CLOISTER An envelope (‘detained by’) of ‘is’ in CLOT (‘nitwit’) + ER (‘Her Majesty’).
16. Blue Caps from Connaught, exceptionally rugged and unusually slim (8)
CERULEAN A charade of CERU (‘caps from Connaught Exceptionally Rugged and Unusually”) + LEAN (‘slim’).
19. Practitioner of 12 imprisoned by Goering and Hitler (6)
GANDHI An answer hidden (‘imprisoned by’) in ‘GoerinG AND HItler’
20. Lawrence takes shelter from oddly rainy day in Arabian city (6)
RIYADH A charade of ‘RaInY dAy’ (‘oddly’) + DH (‘Lawrence’ – not TE for once). I suppose that the phrase ‘takes shelter from’ could just about indicate the order of the particles.
22. See 1
See 1

39 Responses to “Guardian Cryptic N° 25,627 by Arachne”

  1. Tokyocolin says:

    5A a homophone of Niqab, face cover.

  2. EB says:

    Thanks PeterO and of course Arachne.

    As you say Arachne certainly seems to be a firm favourite both here and on the Guardian cryptic comment blog – and quite right too IMO.
    Another fine offering from her here – lots of great clues – superb wordplay as usual.

    Re 5ac. If you think of dial as a face then:

    Niqab (pronounced ‘nicab’)is the term used to refer to the piece of cloth which covers the face, worn by some Muslim women.

  3. Miche says:

    Thanks, Peter O.

    1,22,4: If you replace WAR with O (love), DWARVES become DOVES.

  4. Lord Stackhouse says:

    Blessed are the compilers – especially Arachne.

  5. NeilW says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    I agree with Miche on 1,22,4. I must admit it took me a while to see it, although the solution was a write-in given the def and enumeration.

    A great sub-theme of peace and love, completely irrelevant to solving the puzzle. The topical 26 strangely jars though because I don’t think recent events there could be described as entirely peaceful and I suppose 23 sits somewhere in the middle.

  6. Mick H says:

    Very enjoyable puzzle, and quite took me back to the days of mass marches against Cruise and Trident – though I’m ashamed to say SATYAGRAHA rang no bells, which may be down to a lapse in concentration during the non-violent direct action workshops. But there aren’t that many known Norwegian bands, so it was gettable from the wordplay.
    I loved the Niqab homophone, and “arms manufacturers” for “piece/peace-makers” is a brilliant contra-definition.
    Second above praise for Arachne.

  7. nusquam says:

    This was an enjoyable struggle (thanks to Arachne), and I needed the blog and comments to explain 5ac and ‘aha’ in 12d.

    I note that in 1ac ‘pursue’ is stretched to mean ‘follow sequentially’, in 13ac ‘disposed’ is treated as equivalent to ‘disposed of’, and in 24ac ‘infinitely’ is stretched from ‘in a way which has no end’ to ‘in a way which lacks a final element’. All three seem a bit dodgy to me, but part of the fun of doing crosswords regularly is getting to know the setters’ individual styles.

  8. Mick H says:

    I think pursue meaning ‘follow sequentially’ is uncontroversial. Disposed, it’s true, should really have ‘of’, so that’s a slight stretch. As for infinite, what do people think? I tend to shy away from it because its sense of ‘going on for ever’ doesn’t seem to fit with cutting the end off. But I’m happier with ‘endless’, which is just the Germanic version of the same idea. Then again, some editors don’t like ‘endless’ for losing the last letter, because it could also mean losing both ends.

  9. eimi says:

    Arachne fans can look forward to a bank holiday treat from her alter ego in the Indy and i on Monday.

  10. Gervase says:

    Thanks, PeterO.

    Less than the usual amount of humour – not surprisingly, given the theme – but nevertheless a very fine puzzle with some ingenious wordplay and excellent surface readings.

    I am comfortable with all of the ‘instruction word’ stretches used here. ‘Take shelter’ in 20d seems fine for a down clue, where one part of the charade lies above, ie covers, the other. ‘Shelter’ and ‘cover’ can be used as container indicators, of course, but the ambiguity is all part of the fun.

    I ticked a lot of clues on the way through: the homophonic niqab at 5a; the Welshman at 25a who for once wasn’t a Dai; 2d, 5d, 12d (where I am ashamed to say the Norwegian band gave the game away for me) and 16d are all very clever. Best for me were the wonderful 1,22,4, and 6d, which incorporates the names of two of the scientists involved in the development of the atomic bomb in a clue with a perfectly plausible, though misleading, surface reading.

    More good work from the Spider Woman.

  11. Miche says:

    NeilW @5: Where you saw a sub-theme of peace and love, I saw twin motifs of peace and war. I don’t know whether that says anything about either of us.

    nusquam and Mick H (and everybody): I’m not quite sure what’s dodgy about “infinitely” in 24a. Is it that it’s indirect? That “infinitely” can mean “having no end”, which in turn can mean “with the end missing”, but you can’t go straight from the first to the last? To me it just seems playful and clever.

    But I do see the point about “disposed [of]”. Maybe Arachne is like a maker of Persian carpets, making sure to include a tiny flaw.

  12. Thomas99 says:

    Many thanks. Thoroughly enjoyed this.

    Gervase/Mick H – re Disposed in 13a, it seems a little odd, though you can see the connection etymologically. (Dis-pose perhaps once could have meant exactly the same as dis-place.) But I wondered if it was actually a small slip and she meant “depose”?

  13. PeterJohnN says:

    Thanks Arachne for an entertaining puzzle and PeterO for a clear blog which highlights the definitions!
    Didn’t get 3d SYSOPS, (presumably short for “systems operators”?) or 24a AB OVO, presumably meaning “from the egg”.

  14. liz says:

    Thanks for the blog PeterO and to Arachne for a great puzzle! Lots of wonderful storytelling surfaces.

    I needed the blog to explain 5ac and for the correct parsing of 1,22,4, which I wrote in without stopping to think as soon as I saw ‘peace slogan’.

    12dn was new to me. I probably wouldn’t have remembered A-ha, except for the fact that the band has been in the news recently in connection with John Peel’s record collection going online.

    It took me a really long time to spot that 25ac was a hidden.

  15. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    Hurray for Arachne (must be careful to not make any sexist comments).
    When Gervase says ” but the ambiguity is all part of the fun.” I take that as an admonition to the many other posters who have missed the point of cryptics. I agree with him, and isn’t this setter a mistress of the art?
    More like this please.
    Last in was ‘sysops’ (unknown to me and I didn’t know that SS were literally bodyguards.
    Amongst many favourites were 5 ac and 13 ac.

  16. Eileen says:

    Thanks, PeterO, for the blog, and Arachne for the usual high-class entertainment.

    Too many ticks to mention but some lovely story-telling, as liz says, favourite perhaps being 5ac.

    1,22,4 went in very easily, from the definition and enumeration – but what lovely wordplay!

    I loved the quirkiness of the non-Arabian Lawrence in 20dn – and I’m going to file the clue away as a mnemonic for the spelling of RIYADH, which has caused me problems in the past.

    And we’ve another treat in store for Monday!

  17. Hobnob says:

    Really enjoyed this puzzle – just a note to say that I think SS might be referring the the US Secret Service, who are the presidential bodyguards, rather than Hitler’s crowd.

    Lots of smiles today and some great topical clues (as well as the not-so-topical reference to the ‘canoeist’s guilt’, which I think refers back to this story)

  18. crypticsue says:

    I was delighted to see Arachne’s name at the top of the crossword when I printed it off as I knew it meant a great treat and I wasn’t wrong. Fabulous wordplay, great smiles all round and a bit of a giggle at 18a too. Thanks to Arachne and Peter too – can’t wait for Monday.

  19. Allan_C says:

    Thanks, PeterO, for the blog, particularly the parsing of 5d.
    As others have said, nice to see ‘Lawrence’ referring to DH rather than TE (in 20d) for a change.
    SATYAGRAHA was new to me; not knowing A-ha I only got it by working back from 19d and googling ‘Gandhi’.

  20. RCWhiting says:

    I have just re-read NeilW’s comment @5
    “A great sub-theme of peace and love, completely irrelevant to solving the puzzle. The topical 26 strangely jars though because I don’t think recent events there could be described as entirely peaceful and I suppose 23 sits somewhere in the middle.”
    Firstly,it made me realise what a brilliant clue 26 is (it even has the ‘surface’ which delights so many of you).
    But Neil’s comment made me wonder whether a theme (?) is supposed to apply to clues where there is no reference to it!

  21. Bertandjoyce says:

    Thanks PeterO for the comprehensive blog!

    We were also pleased to see Arachne’s name today and were not let down – another enjoyable solve over lunchtime. It took us a while to get started and we needed some electronic help for 12d which was a new word for us.

    We look forward to seeing you in the Indy next week Arachne!

  22. postrophe says:

    Maybe it’s my age, but I took bodyguards to be the Schutzstaffel(SS) -literally, Protection Squadron or defence corps.

  23. chas says:

    Thanks to PeterO for the blog. I needed you to explain 6d for me.

    Last in was 18a: I spent a lot of time trying to squeeze a vowel in there – anywhere!

  24. Cosafina says:

    Really enjoyed this puzzle, and thanks (as ever) for the blog which I needed for parsing 1ac. I did the puzzle in a cafe, so had to play around with the anagram fodder for 12d but was pleased to find (when coming back to the office and googling it) that my first guess was correct!

  25. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Thanks, Peter.

    Yes, lovely puzzle with an interesting interwoven theme. Some new words though: I got SYSOPS and CERULEAN, but needed online help with SATYAGRAHA. As others have said, too many good clues to mention, but I especially liked BLESSED ARE THE PEACEMAKERS, even though the enumeration was a bit of a giveaway.

    I am off to hunt out my copy of ‘Protest and Survive’ and the pictures of a much younger me on a CND march against American cruise missiles in the seventies …

    Many thanks to Arachne – looking forward to a leisurely Monday to tackle her puzzle in the Indy.

  26. Paul B says:

    SS is a tricky one, as it can be defined in as many ways as there were SS organisations, each of which had a different function.

    Not that a word like HASSLE would ever require it, the bodyguard lot were actually the LSSAH, or Leibstandarte SS Adolf Hitler. They were part of the Waffen (weapons) SS, which had two other bits, one looking after the concentration camps, the other forming combat divisions. After the war, I think only the elite SS lot were tried for war crimes: it is reckoned that of 70,000 SS, only 1,700 were ever convicted.

    One more interesting fact before I shut up: the ODESSA, as in The Odessa File, was real! It stands for Organisation der ehemaligen SS-Angehörigen (Organisation of Former SS Members). Nothing to do with cities on the Black Sea, it squirelled away thousands to Latin America, including Megele, who was never caught: he died from a stroke plus drowning (he was swimming at the time). All dead now of course. Only Nick Griffin left.

  27. Mikes says:


    Not only was 12 very contemporary with Glass and Wilson’s Opera Einsteinon the beach starting at the Barbican today, it also provided that much sought after AHA moment!

  28. scchua says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne.
    A lot of enjoyable story-telling in the clues, and, amongst many, liked RIYADH, MAL DE MER and APARTHEID.
    After entering them in, I had to refer to the blog for the parsing to CONTEMPORANEOUS – thought that “Cameron” was sufficiently = CON and “one to work” = TEMP, which of course left a great gap for the rest of the answer; and MINICAB, where I was looking for a homophone to “NICAB” – I wouldn’t still have got it, but my references say “niqab” is pronounced as a rhyme to “cub”, whilst “(mi)nicab” rhymes with “scab” – is it another of those regional accents?
    But of course, the above doesn’t spoil what was an excellent puzzle.

  29. Robi says:

    Nice puzzle, difficult in parts.

    Thanks PeterO, especially for your explanation of the manxman, which I thought must have had something to do with Mark Cavendish.

    A bit cheaty to use BRRR, but there is not much to choose from for ?R?R (no MicMacs here, RCW.)

  30. Gervase says:

    scchua @28: The homophone ‘niqab’ = NICAB is inexact in several ways. Not only is the second vowel of a different quality, but the Arabic letter transliterated as ‘q’ is different from that represented in Roman script as ‘k’ (or a hard c). The Arabic ‘q’ is articulated at the back of the throat, whereas the ‘k’ is much further forward. English speakers often make fun of the Japanese difficulty in distinguishing ‘r’ and ‘l’. Arabic speakers must be similarly amused by our trouble with ‘k’ and ‘q’, which in English are allophones of the same consonant: the initial sound of ‘cool’ is close to ‘q’, whereas the initial sound of ‘keep’ is more like the Arabic ‘k’.

    However, it’s a great clue!

  31. gm4hqf says:

    Thanks PeterO and Arachne.

    The spider lady always traps me but I thought that I had cracked this one only to find I couldn’t work out 24a AB OVO.

    There is always the next time.

  32. Nigel says:

    nicab = niqab. Full body cover worn by some Muslim women.

  33. Wolfie says:

    Little I can add to the above comments, but just wanted to pass on my thanks to Arachne for a most enjoyable crossword.

    Kathryn’s Dad – I still have my copy of ‘Protest and Survive’ too. I wonder if we were on the same marches?

    Thanks Peter O for your blog. I missed the nicab/niqab homophone.

  34. Gervase says:

    Nigel @32: What you describe is a burqa, not a niqab!

  35. Kathryn's Dad says:

    Wolfie, very possibly!

  36. Sil van den Hoek says:

    Yes, indeed, great puzzle.
    Some easy starters [1,22,4 (purely from the enumeration) and, for example, 19d (easy, but a clever surface)] that paved the way.

    Talking about surfaces. I know Arachne finds them very very important, but today it led to some very very long clues. I have no problem with that at all (perhaps some editors do) – I only wanted to mention it.
    I also know that Arachne doesn’t have that much affinity with pop music, but see: here they are, ELO and A-Ha.

    TOLERANCE and APARTHEID are placed symmetrically in the grid, as a kind of counterparts.
    If that’s deliberate, then Full Marks to Arachne.
    APARTHEID is a Dutch word and many of my compatriots are ashamed of that.
    The other Dutch reference (2d) is also not very positive ….. :)

    We had never heard of SATYAGRAHA (which was PinC’s option, I would have gone for TASYAGRAHA (sounds more Indian) – so, she won :)).
    Thank you, PeterO, for the blog which explained AB OVO [we knew it had to be it, but couldn’t get around the explanation].
    ANEURIN, the name of a Welshman? Whoa, named after Vitamin B? :)

    Clue of the Day, for me, by far, 18ac: BRRR.
    But as my PinC said, you won’t see that in The Times.
    Indeed, therefore my Clue of the Day.

  37. Rorschach says:

    Good stuff of course but no surprises there.

    If there is a quibble it would be in 12dn using an anagram for a word which you’re unlikely to be able to work out cold unless you are read up in South Asian peace politics…

  38. Labcastrian Bluenose says:

    Very good and clever puzzle.I will keep an eye out for Arache’s puzzles in future

  39. brucew_aus says:

    Thanks Arachne and PeterO.
    Excellent crossword as most others have quoted – a shame that I waited so long to get to it!!! Needed help with parsing of 5 and 1,22,4 – I had a homonym for ‘knee cap’ in as my effort :). The latter is brilliant and became my clue of the day. A few new words with 7, 12, 24 and 25 when not a Vitamin B!!
    Great work…

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