Never knowingly undersolved.

Guardian 25,633 – Araucaria

Posted by Andrew on May 11th, 2012


It took me quite a while to make any headway at all on this one, but once I’d got in the swing it eventually yielded with just the right amount of struggle.

There’s a theme of UK cities (I would have said British but for 1ac), of which there are many in the grid, always clued by the word “city”. Rather unusually for Araucaria these days, there are no cross-references in the clues.

5. DEEP END E in DEEP END, with reference to the (rather illogical) expression “go off the deep end”
11. THEOSOPHY HOOPS* in THEY (the opposition)
12. BURKA RUB< (polish) + K + A
13,15. LEEDS-LIVERPOOL LEEDS (homophone of “leads” = guides) + LIVER (organ) + POOL (game) for the Leeds-Liverpool canal
19. HOREB RE in HOB. Mount Horeb , which may or may not be the same as Mounbt Sinai, is where Moses was given the Ten Commandments.
22. SERIF Reverse of FIRES. It’s perhaps a slight stretch to call a serif a “flourish”, but the meaning is clear. It’s not relevant, but anyone who hasn’t heard of it should read about the Guardian’s legendary April Fool supplement on the island of San Seriffe.
23. DEFERENCE REFERENCE (allusion) with its head (R) changed to D. Definition – “acknowledgement of superior”
25. BAILEYS Double definition, though a bailey, as part of a motte and bailey castle is really a courtyard. The other definition is this disgusting concoction.
26. CADDISH “Caddis [fly]” as pronounced by crosswordland’s resident drunk.
27. GIFT DAY GIFT (present) + DAY (time). I’ve never come across this as meaning a fund-raiser – it doesn’t seem to be in Chambers and googling reveals nothing helpful. In any case cryptic construction is a bit feeble.
28. LINCOLN Double definition – Abraham Lincoln was assassinated in Ford’s Theatre in Washington DC
1. BRISTOL Double definition, referring to “shipshape an Bristol fashion”
2. LUCRECE LUCRE + CE. Variant spelling (as used in Shakespeare’s The Rape of Lucrece) of Lucretia, who in legend was raped by Tarquin.
3. ALBUS A L (Roman 50) + BUS. First name (I learn) of the headmaster in the Harry Potter books.
4. TEST PILOT TEST (e.g. cricket match) + PI LOT (religious group)
5. DERBY Double definition – a derby (often “local derby”) is a sports match between two local rivals.
6. EDINBURGH EDIN (“dine” with the “last course” first) + (H GRUB)<
7. EMBARGO BAR (prohibition) in (M[y] in EGO)
17. ROSE BUG BOURGES* – a North American insect that feeds on roses
20. RONDINO (DONOR IN)*, A short rondo
21. BRECHIN C in HERB< + IN. Apparently Brechin is not technically a city, though often referred to as one.
23. DUSTY S in DUTY. Dusty is a common nickname for millers (presumably because they are covered in wheat dust) , and, by extension, people called Miller.
24. REDAN RED AN. A new word for me – a redan is part of a fortification, hence “fieldwork”. The etymology is from Latin dens =”tooth”, as a redan sticks out in a V-shape.

24 Responses to “Guardian 25,633 – Araucaria”

  1. Eileen says:

    Thanks for a great blog, Andrew, and the reminder of the wonderful San Seriffe.

    A contestant on ‘Pointless’ just the other day, bamboozled by his knowledge of football, wrongly gave BRECHIN as an answer for ‘non-English UK cities’.

    I’ve known churches have Gift Days, when people bring money for a specific purpose.

  2. Gervase says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    I also took a little while to get started properly on this one, but the answers were soon coming thick and fast.

    And I also saw the edition of ‘Pointless’ that Eileen referred to: BRECHIN and HOREB were my last entries. I had to check the latter, having wondered about HEREN (RE in HEN) before the bogus city came to mind. Also had to check REDAN, but the wordplay was clear.

    Not a classic Araucaria, I felt, but entertaining enough. My favourite clue was the neatly intricate 7d.

    Those who, like Andrew (and I), consider BAILEYS to be rather sickly might try a Brandy Alexander, the adult drink on which the commercial stuff seems to have been based.

  3. tupu says:

    Thanks Andrew and Araucaria

    Nicely clued which allowed me to arrive at the correct answers even though some needed checking at the end e.g Brechin, gift day, albus. I ticked some en route e.g. 13,15, 28 (easy but concise), and 16d.

    The theme was clued with a nice light touch which I enjoyed, though I know some people dislike ‘lists’.

    :) Before I got the well-clued Brechin I was convinced for time that 19 must, inexplicably, be ‘horse’ and then I wondered if it might be a Mount Heren somewhere, with ‘hen’ equalling a ‘boiling fowl’!

  4. tupu says:

    Interesting that we crossed re 19a. I wonder if this is or has been a northern usage.

  5. Miche says:

    Thanks, Andrew.

    Pretty straightforward, for the most part. I liked “flourish” for SERIF, and enjoyed the flying guinea pig. I must confess that I hadn’t heard of Brechin (or thought I hadn’t — I too saw that Pointless episode). Rochester lost its city status in 1998 through an administrative slip-up that went unnoticed for years.

    GIFT DAY was new to me. Googling it brought many mentions of church fund-raisers, and a curious piece of Pathé newsreel with Italian motorists handing bottles of wine and live chickens to traffic cops.

    I would welcome a moratorium on monarch/queen for ER. I know it’s a jubilee year, but she does seem to pop up almost daily.

  6. tupu says:

    ps to 4

    But see also

    My suggestion of possible regional use came from the fact that the boiling fowl gloss does not seem to be in Chambers or Collins.

  7. Miche says:

    Oh, I forgot to say:

    “Dusty miller” is a name given to several plants with tomentose leaves.

    Why “I would have said British but for 1ac”? Belfast is a British city.

  8. William says:

    Thanks Andrew. Needed you to parse EMBARGO for me. Will I never remember ego = I?

    Failed on HOREB & BRECHIN. Didn’t know the former and my list of cities let me down (not unreasonably) with BRECHIN.

    Burden as the def for INCUBUS seems a bit strange but otherwise, quite good fun for himself.

    Miche @ 5 couldn’t make your links work. It might be me but Gervase’s @2 were OK.

  9. Miche says:

    Thanks, William. Don’t know what went wrong. I’ll try again.

  10. medici says:

    Brechin City FC is a well known Scottish football team in the Irn Bru second division. At least it is well known to those who follow the beautiful game.

  11. William says:

    Thanks Miche @9.

    Gosh, poor old Rochester…let’s hope ER smiles on them in Her Jubilee Year.

  12. Gervase says:

    tupu @4: I’m sure that the expression ‘boiling fowl’ is not exclusively northern, though it may be obsolescent.

    Miche @7: Odd that DUSTY Miller is a common name for plants with tomentose, rather than farinose foliage (botany is full of wonderful adjectives innit).

    medici @10: BRECHIN is often styled ‘city’ and not just for its football team, as it has a cathedral and used to be a Royal Burgh, but doesn’t have this status officially. This was the mistake made by the contestants on ‘Pointless’, referred to by several of us above.

  13. Allan_C says:

    Miche @7. Depends what you mean by ‘British’. On the one hand we have the ‘United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland’, as indicated on passports etc, implying that NI is not part of Britain. On the other hand NI is within the British Isles. So I suppose you can take your choice.

  14. Miche says:

    Allan_C @13 — From the Guardian style guide:

    Britain, UK
    These terms are synonymous: Britain is the official short form of United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Used as adjectives, therefore, British and UK mean the same. Great Britain, however, refers only to England, Wales and Scotland.

  15. Eileen says:

    Hi William @8

    Have you come across Enigmatist’s classic clue: ‘I say nothing [3]’, which Sandy Balfour used as the title of one of his books, which I’m always recommending to crossword lovers?

    [I’m pleased to know I’m not the only Pointless viewer. ;-) ]

  16. Robi says:

    Entertaining puzzle, although I don’t suppose many people would know Mount Horeb.

    Thanks Andrew for a good blog; I didn’t know ALBUS or REDAN either. As to the Britain/NI thing, Wiki says: ‘Usually, it [The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland] is shortened to United Kingdom or the UK, though Britain is also an officially recognised short form.’ See further at:

    I would normally spell the word BURKA as BURQA, but then the latter is more useful in Scrabble. I liked the image of the ‘flying guinea-pig.’

  17. molonglo says:

    Thanks Andrew. This was easier than most this week. The NW corner went straight in, but the SE was tougher. Checking the abstruse ones afterwards I discovered that the setter ‘s father was archbishop of 21d.

  18. RCWhiting says:

    Thanks all
    A slow start and a slow finish but in between the grid filled up quite smoothly.
    The latter was due to my ignorance of ‘Albus’ and ‘Horeb’ (like tupu I was obsessed with horse).
    Brechin was well known from childhood when my duty was to mark off my grandfather’s pools coupon (always a loser) but I was unsure of its status.
    Also ‘rondino’ is under the headword ‘rondeau’ in my Chambers.
    All in all a moderately successful puzzle.

  19. Gervase says:

    Robi @16: I’m with you on the spelling ‘burqa’. In fact, I checked BURRA in Chambers before realising I had the wrong sort of king.

  20. chas says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog. I had EMBARGO but could not explain why :)

    On 17, once I had the initial R, I tried desperately to make something of ROTA without joy. When I then got the final R I could see that rota was no good – then got the right answer.

    I also have never heard of GIFT DAY. I note that Araucaria is often introducing phrases I have never heard of, that do appear to be standard.

    A while ago A had a crossword with the theme of Potter which included Dumbledore as one of the answers.

  21. Coffee says:

    ALBUS was the first one in, with rolling of eyes- easy to forget that not everyone has a 10 year old in the house!

  22. mhl says:

    Thanks for the excellent post, Andrew. For once in a long while, I’m actually doing the crossword on the same day that it’s published :)

    I found this a very enjoyable puzzle – I needed quite a bit of guesswork (e.g. the “burden” sense of INCUBUS was new to me, I wasn’t sure if THEOSOPHY was really a religion, ROSE BUG sounded plausible, but who knows, etc.) but nearly completed it unaided. In the end, though, I didn’t have the confidence to put in HOREB just based on the cryptic part and then failed on REDAN and CADDISH, never having heard of the first word or the Caddis fly… Oh well.

  23. Bardell says:

    Thanks to Andrew for the blog and to the Rev for an entertaining diversion.

    I solved 23dn thinking about Geoff “Dusty” Miller, ex Derbyshire cricketer and current chairman of selectors. I believe our setter is a cricket fan, so is it just coincidence that Dusty will be “doing his duty” this weekend, choosing the team to play the West Indies in the first Test?

  24. Ian Payn says:

    “She was handsome, she was pretty,
    Played on the wing for Brechin City”

    …or have I mis-remembered that one?

    Good puzzle. Horeb and Redan when parsed backwards tickled the memory (ie I shoved them in pretty certain I’d heard of them). Despite regarding the Resident Drunk as being almost as tiresome as the Reverend Spooner, for some reason I rather liked “caddish”.

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